Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Saturday, 25 July 2020

A Sweet Treat

Sweetness is short, but harrowing investigation for use with Arc Dream Publishing’s Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game set on American soil. It can be played using the roleplaying game’s full rules or those from Delta Green: Need to Know—although there are similarities between Sweetness and Delta Green: Need to Know, which may mean the Handler may not want to run the two too closely together. The Agents are activated by Delta Green after the secret interagency conspiracy is alerted to the presence of a strange symbol on the door of the Bernier family of Tampa, Florida. Recently terrorised by a fire and weird graffiti, the local Police suspect that the Berniers, a multi-racial family, are victims of a hate attack, but one of Delta Green’s experts suspects that symbol on the door—carved with a horn or a claw and smeared with blood and effluvia—is the symbol of Kore, queen of the underworld, goddess of an ancient mystery cult. The agents are to get to Tampa, and once briefed, determine the origins of the mark and prevent any occurrence of it again from the same source or sources.

Sweetness can be roughly divided into three parts. First, is the briefing, which takes place in the middle of an estate agency seminar in a Holiday Inn. The utterly banal atmosphere of the briefing nicely contrasts with the horror to come, which will only come in the second part once the Agents investigative the Berniers and their home, which for the most part is quite mundane. The family is well-off, and consists of a married couple and two children, the youngest of whom is profoundly deaf, and each of whom will have a different reaction to the recent events. The family seems perfectly normal, and for the part really are—whatever the players and their Agents might suspect—but they are not without their secrets, and with a little questioning, these will be revealed. The husband divorced his first wife and mother of his children because she had psychological problems and was abusing both son and daughter, but there has been no contact in years, and then there might be something else stalking the rooms of the house. All of this will quickly become apparent with some questioning upon the part of the agents.

The second part will come to close once the agents have confirmed that there definitely is something strange going on in the house and the investigation switches to the first wife. This requires the investigation to switch to across country, from Tampa to Chicago, and once the agents locate her, it quickly becomes apparent that she is sick—both physically and mentally—and acting strangely. She is barely making ends meet and living in utter squalor without a care for her well-being. Although ultimately, she is the antagonist in Sweetness, there are good reasons for this, although the agents will need to dig into her background and history in order to uncover this.

Fundamentally, Sweetness is a good scenario, contrasting the ordinary with the outré, but it has a few problems which stem primarily from its length—or lack thereof. The Handler will need to do a little preparation before running the scenario, such as getting photos for the NPCs and writing up a quick handout detailing the family. There is no image of the monster given in the book, and whilst it would have been nice if one had been included,  the Handler will probably be able to get away with describing it from the details given. The bigger problems with Sweetness are twofold. First, there is no real advice on how to handle a dénouement between the agents and the wife, but second, and worse, it describes an action upon the part of the scenario’s ‘monster’, but abandons the Handler when it comes to dealing with the consequences of that action. Especially given that the action will escalate the investigation from a simple matter of a hate crime into a kidnapping, and so bring a whole heap of trouble down upon the agents. Which will be made worse by the fact that there is no way of getting the kidnapping victim back—or least no method is detailed in the book, so the Handler may want determine a method herself.

Physically, Sweetness is neat, clean, and tidy. Although it needs a slight edit, it is easy to read and the three pieces of artwork—one of them actually a handout—are excellent. The map is clear and easy to read, but could have done with a scale and some furniture as it would have also made for a good handout.

Sweetness is an easy scenario to add to a Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game campaign. Its short length means that it could be played in a single session and its conciseness means that it could be run with just a handful of agents—or even one for a one-on-one game. However, it needs a bit more preparation upon the part of the Handler in terms of handouts and in terms of what happens with regard to the potential kidnapping and how the agents confront the scenario’s antagonist. This should not be challenge to an experienced Handler, but to a less experienced one, it may be. Lastly, at just twelve pages, Sweetness may not appear to be good value for money—at least in comparison to other titles for Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game. However, it should provide the Handler and her players with at least one, if not two sessions’ worth of play, so the value for money is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Sweetness is a creepy, sometimes nasty tale of horror and mystery—though the agents will have to dig to bring out the true nastiness hidden in the scenario’s backstory. Nicely contrasting the mundane with the mystery, with a bit of work upon the part of the Handler, Sweetness should be a little ‘treat’ for her Delta Green: The Roleplaying Game campaign.

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