I don't play a lot of RPGs any more, and they're all one-shot games: my days of playing long term, regular campaigns are long behind me.

However, one of the few regrets I have about my role-playing past is that I never got to run (or play in) a Delta Green game. It's such a great idea for a setting, and brilliantly executed too.

So I've been wondering about whether there's any value in trying to run one of my one-night RPGs, Dread, with a Delta Green theme. These are the potential barriers I can see:

  • Delta Green is very much a setting that's keyed for long-term play, with the mystery slowly revealing itself across multiple sessions. I'm not sure it'll work as a one-off game.

  • I am not very experienced in running Dread games, which is likely to make my task even more difficult.

  • My weakest skill as a GM is writing adventures, so I'd certainly need to adapt an existing module. While I've got most of the existing DG source material, I'm not sure any of the adventures would adapt well to Dread.

Are my concerns valid? Is there anything I can do to help ameliorate the difficulties? Are there any other ways I might be able to get a quick DG gaming fix (other RPGs such as The Laundry, board, video games etc)?

EDIT: After answer and comment, I thought it worth making clear that I picked Dread because it's so well suited to one-night, standalone play. I have no problem with any existing rule sets for DG, but they - like the setting itself - are heavily geared toward longer-term play. I want something I can run a self-contained game of in one night and one night only and, ideally, which role-playing neophytes can play. Dread suits those criteria admirably.


1 Answer 1


I think your concerns are mostly valid. Before addressing them, I must admit I'm biased towards using Call of Cthulhu for Delta Green (after all, that's the system DG was designed for, and it's anything but complex), and am not a fan of Dread, seeing it as a game in which a player's (not character's!) physical capabilities play a significant role, upsetting game balance and player equality... but that's just my point of view. So:

Delta Green is indeed keyed for long term play. However, in my (our group's) experience, character death in Call of Cthulhu based games is part of the fun. We're handling this by considering the overarching story - and, at its center, the actual main villain - the real focus of the game. The events and the background are revealed gradually, episode by episode to the players themselves instead of the characters: part of the horror is meta-knowledge. The player character protagonists may change from session to session as they go mad or die and are replaced by/with new characters, but the opposition remains the same. For example, in the pilot story, a group of uniformed cops comes across a prehistoric monstrosity at a murder site, and the creature eradicates all but one of the team - and it's that single survivor who joins - as a friendly or an initiate - a cell of novice (but already initiated) DG agents, who are the new characters of those players whose PCs died last time. And if this novice group gets killed in this story, the third one-shot will feature a more experienced DG team who are thrown at the case, and have to deal with the newly revealed secrets of the very same monster that killed those poor cops in the beginning. So, this concern of yours, if you go for our solution, can be alleviated.

As for your not being experienced running Dread - that's a problem. Combined with the dexterity issue I've discussed above, I'd strongly suggest using a different system... but that's just me. Also, using Call of Cthulhu would free you from having to convert a DG adventure to a radically different system: you could use them as they are. So, unless you have serious issues with CoC (I know some don't like it... though you mention The Laundry as an option, whose BRP system, at its core, is practically the same), I'd go for Call of Cthulhu... or The Laundry. :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting take on it, and as someone who loves Dread, I like the ideas you've presented here Re: story focus. If the story is focused on the evil side of the plot, the cast of characters can and should change regularly which caters well to the Dread style of play. That said, I definitely respect your issues with the system and understand how they would be magnified in an extended campaign \$\endgroup\$
    – wax eagle
    Jun 12, 2014 at 18:46

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