Sometimes you read a game supplement which is worth taking note of, but isn’t quite substantial enough to waffle on about at length. When that happens to me, I make articles in this series. This time around, I have a couple of Delta Green offerings and an adventure book for Land of the Rising Sun.
Static Protocol (Delta Green)
This is a sort of little companion supplement to Impossible Landscapes, much as The Labyrinth had a companion booklet in the form of its Evidence Kit. Like that Evidence Kit, it’s a collection of handouts, but it’s more focused; in essence, it’s a little dictionary of likely subjects player characters may wish to research while playing through the campaign, and underneath each entry there’s a clutch of little clues provided as little text boxes with dates and salient facts – perfect for adding to red string boards! – arranged based on which sources are likely to yield that information.
This makes running research processes in the campaign nice and easy – just consider what avenues the players have chosen to take in their research, judge whether they need a roll (remember, Delta Green encourages you to let people have stuff for free if it’s fairly basic and they have decent skills), and then provide the items in question in response to successful research.
Like the Evidence Kit, this can be obtained in hardcopy via DriveThruRPG’s print on demand service, but I genuinely think it is most useful as a PDF, since then clues can quickly and simply be copy-pasted into whichever group chat or Discord server you’ve set up for your game (or PMed to players at the table). In-person, really the best way to do this is to provide index cards, write the clues on them, and let the players come up with a massive timeline or red string board on their own using them.
Jack Frost (Delta Green)
This is a fairly substantial Delta Green adventure – at nearly 100 pages the book is substantially thicker than most of the standalone adventures they have put out as smaller booklets (or compiled in volumes like Black Sites or A Night At the Opera), but not as thick as campaign volumes like Impossible Landscapes or Control Group. Penned by Shane Ivey, it’s really a scenario that works best using the pregenerated characters provided, in part because there’s significant clues worked into their backstories which might not otherwise land otherwise, in part because this isn’t a scenario about Delta Green agents.
Instead, Jack Frost casts the players as Majestic-12 researchers, out to research a paranormal occurrence with the intent to exploit it. Due to the Delta Green setting’s timeline, this requires that the scenario take place prior to the collapse of MJ-12 (or, depending on your point of view, the rebranding of MJ-12); the default date is around Christmas in 1998. That said, it feels like the adventure could be repurposed to be based around researchers working for some section of the Program fairly easily. It’s less Outlaw-friendly, mind, but that’s because a major dimension of the scenario involves a) the whole operation having quasi-official sanction and b) various security staff scrutinising the PCs and doing the whole “I will shoot you if I believe it is best for national security” thing.
It’s vicious enough that you wouldn’t want to run the major characters from a long-term campaign through it – but it’d make a great one-off, or potentially a clutch of “flashback sessions” sprung on your players when their PCs uncover a Majestic-12 trove of information (perhaps a report on how the incident went down, if you can swing it so that regardless of how the incident goes down, it fits the purposes of your campaign going forward).
Land of the Rising Sun Adventure Book (Chivalry & Sorcery)
This is a by-product of the Kickstarter for the Land of the Rising Sun supplement for 5th edition Chivalry & Sorcery – an update of Lee Gold’s original Land of the Rising Sun, which had been published by Fantasy Games Unlimited back in the day as a standalone RPG but was still powered by 1st edition Chivalry & Sorcery. It is a fairly brief book – at only some 44 pages, I do wonder why they bothered to make it hardcover, when I think most people would have been fine with a softcover, but I guess that’s a measure of how successful the Kickstarter was.
Graeme Davis offers Lady Mijiko’s Holiday and The Beast of Kazamura, whilst Ant Allan contributes The Dragonfly Temple – apparently originally pitched to White Dwarf back in the day, only to be rejected when they brought in their much-resented “no more coverage of non-Games Workshop” policy (which began the reduction of a once-great magazine to the status of a mere advertising platform), then reworked at the insistence of a different magazine to be for the AD&D Oriental Adventures setting, now reappearing here with Chivalry & Sorcery stats.
Ant’s introduction is unclear as to whether the original adventure was designed for Chivalry & Sorcery/Land of the Rising Sun or for some other system, and indeed many of the adventures here restrict explicit system discussion for the end or for sidebars, so it’s entirely possible that one or all of these adventures were originally devised for other systems. Still. there’s advantages to this method of presentation: it means that referees can digest the underlying facts of the scenario without game mechanics distracting them, and it means that if you want to run these adventures in a different system you can do. It would be pretty simple to convert these to, say, Bushido, or a RuneQuest campaign using Land of Ninja, since those games both use a fantastic take on historical Japan as their setting; with a bit more work you could probably do a Legend of the Five Rings take on the scenarios.
Cramming 3 scenarios when they have less than 15 pages each to get the job done (and Chivalry & Sorcery stat boxes aren’t small!) means that something has to give somewhere when it comes to depth, but by and large Allan and Davis make good choices about where to provide detail and where to leave space for referees to do their own thing (particularly when it comes to those parts of the scenarios where player action is likely to render any prepared material moot anyway). These are not adventures which will hold a referee’s hand and may be daunting to run as a result, since for best results you’ll want to be conversant enough with the Chivalry & Sorcery rules and Land of the Rising Sun setting to feel comfortable improvising.
One final thought. As I noted in my review of Land of the Rising Sun itself, Brittannia Game Designs made the sensible choice of getting in Japanese cultural editors to scrutinise the supplement, to ensure that its depiction of Japanese culture was a fair and accurate representation. This is good – but there’s no equivalent credit here. It’s possible that this was merely a mistake, or a by-product of the credits page being rather truncated in general, but it’s just as possible that they genuinely didn’t use cultural editors for this supplement. If that’s the case, I feel like it’s a mistake: if you are going to get the effort to get it right for the main book for the Land of the Rising Sun setting, why risk blowing it in the spin-off supplements?