Cell A ruthlessness discussion (archive)
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From: Jurgen Hubert

Recent posts got me thinking… how ruthless is Cell A when it comes to the lives of DG agents and friendlies? How prone are they to throwing away the lives and very souls of individual agents when it suits their agenda?

Some posters have implied that in their campaigns, Cell A is likely to kill off or sacrifice conspiracy members the moment they step out of line - or even when they didn't do anything wrong. In such campaigns, Cell A sees agents merely as resources to be used and discarded as the moment requires.

Personally, I see things differently. Most DG agents are part of the conspiracy because they are idealists at heart - and that includes Cell A. Yes, they will be harsh on their agents - but only as harsh as they need to be. Like any good drill instructor, they know that being tough on the agents now might mean that they learn their lesson and maybe survive a future mission which they otherwise wouldn't have.

Yes, sometimes Cell A has to sacrifice agents (as seen in Rules of Engagement) - but only because doing otherwise would create untold harm or expose the conspiracy. Otherwise they will do whatever they can to save the agents in question (which might admittedly be not all that much…). And even if an agent messes up big time, they will only kill him if he would be too dangerous to let live (i.e., if he looks like he is going to spill his guts to the media or MJ-12, or if he starts summoning Mythos entities or similar behaviour) - or if he is in such a horrible condition that it could be called a "mercy killing". Otherwise they will be retired to friendly status and possibly left to face the consequences of their actions (usually prison) - and even then Cell A might try to get them a good lawyer if that's possible.

DG is a conspiracy where it is vital that the agents are able to trust their leadership to do the right thing - and if Cell A starts to abuse the agents on a regular basis, desertions will become common. Plus, experienced agents are a valuable asset - it is always a big risk to recruit a new one, which makes it much more important to keep the agents the conspiracy has alive and happy - or rather, if they are becoming unhappy (and they will), they should direct their unhappiness at the enemies of the conspiracy, and not the conspiracy itself.

Some might think that such a "touchy-feely" version of Delta Green isn't horrific enough. I'd say that there is plenty of horror left. DG is spread out very thin, and for most operations, the conspiracy can't provide any backup simply because no agent with the right experience and equipment is available anywhere near the agents. In most cases, the agents are alone against the Mythos - as it should be. And even if they are not alone, the monster might simply eat the NPC agents first to show how dangerous it is.

And just because Cell A frowns on the casual sacrifice of agents it doesn't mean that there aren't any psychopathic veterans who feel differently about using and abusing newbies…

What are your thoughts on this issue?

From: Giles Hill

This has always been my take on it as well, Cell A must by necessity be cold hearted, but needless sacrifice is not in its interest. Fuck ups and failures get dropped never to be spoken to again, perhaps they get used but they are not killed out of hand. Andrea and the 9mm retirement plan, is reserved for Agents that are entirely lost - whether mentally or turned to the other side.

From: David Rodemaker

I have to admit that this is much my same attitude. I find it a better game when DG is the 'last best hope.' Yes, there are them members who lose it, and sacrifices must be made for the greater good, but Cell A is trying their best - and has the conspiracy members greater good in mind for all nights at the opera.

I just got _Millennium_'s first season on DVD (finally, it's out!) and after not having seen it for far too long I'm reminded about how much more DG this series is than _X-Files_. In some ways I think that Cell A is trying a great deal like the Millennium Group - looking for appropriate cases to investigate and having to spread their already thin resources across wherever seems the best bet for actually being effective, and then having the various agents stumble across stuff on their own.

I always figured that the more chilling message from Cell A wasn't the obvious suicide mission but the message to ignore something obviously horrific and evil because there was no chance for success, or because it would blow DG's cover - and there being no ambiguity about that. No 'we're pursuing this by other means' or 'leave that for the next cell' just the triage of 'ignore it, there's nothing we can do with our resources.'

From: Rayburn, Russell E.

Couldn't agree more.

The idea of an Agent working out of a grungy, half-finished basement just rings of DG conspiracy. The only funding they have is the retirement checks of dead agents and what they can steal.

No big shiny control room; at most a few offices rented in a bad section of town. No massive forensic labs, just a microscope and some reagents on a table in the corner.

As a side note, the _Millennium_ set also includes a brief documentary on the Academy Group which was the real-life inspiration for the Millennium group:


From: Nash Trickster

Some posters have implied that in their campaigns, Cell A is likely to kill > off or sacrifice conspiracy members the moment they step out of line - or > even when they didn't do anything wrong.

I guess you were refering to me (and a few others) when saying this, yet, I think you were somehow mislead by what I said… I never said Cell A considered Agents expendable. But that Cell A surely kept a close look upon Agents' actions. An asset may soon turn into a liability if it is tainted by the Mythos.

In my campaign, which as been going for a few years, the first group of players (the 3 original members of my gaming group) were all former "classic CoC" players, and they quickly started to want to acquire more Mythos knowledge (spells in particular). Of course, they were only newly recruited into DG and when Alphonse learnt they were looking for spells he "advised" (ie. ordered without actually saying it) them not to. But they went against this and Cell A (Andrea mainly) became alarmed and got them under surveillance.

Soon after this "small event", their next assignment went rhino (they almost created a problem with a real agency), and thus Cell A considered them liabilities.

Their next assignment was given to them by Andrea (a mail via the secure server)… Almost as soon as they arrived on the scene, they were under strong scrutiny by the cult they were investigating and realized they had been sent as bait when the last member still alive was saved "by accident" by another Cell. Needless to say this surviving agent was offered a retirement plan soon after…

We then started a "new campaign", creating another group and taking over were the previous cell had "failed".

Showing how ruthless Cell A could be served 2 purpose in my game:
- make the player realize this was not "classic CoC" and that they had to think differently.
- create (add to?) the necessary paranoid ambiance of the game.

But, later, when their new Cell found itself in trouble, Cell A showed that they could go to extremes to help them. It's kind of a give and take deal: do it right and you'll be rewarded with trust and help when necessary, do it "as you will" not giving a shit about 'orders' and you're on your own and expendable…

From: Bill Waters

And just because Cell A frowns on the casual sacrifice of agents it doesn't > mean that there aren't any psychopathic veterans who feel differently about > using and abusing newbies… > > What are your thoughts on this issue?

I think Cell A does what they have to do to fight the Mythos.

They may not send agents out on suicide missions, but they're willing to lie to them and send them out as stalking horses.

They would give them things that would lower their life expectancy if it helps the mission, because if the mission fails, their life expectancy is that much lower anyway.

I agree that they are the last, best hope, but that means that they are the _last_ hope. They know that if they fail, there's nothing else in the way. If they think the mission is important enough, they will send the agents in without assurance that they will succeed. They will also have another cell alerted to go in if they fail.

From: Janusz A. Urbanowicz

I'll join with the observation that every successfull organization has protection of its members as one of the top priorities. Look at the intelligence agencies. Look at Catholic Church. They need members' loyalty like DG does - and they protect their members, even from legitimate jurisdictions.

From: Jurgen Hubert

My point precisely. When Cell A sacrifices a DG agent, they must not only be able to justify that act to themselves, but also to any other DG agent who might hear about it. Otherwise the conspiracy will get some serious morale problems…

A good example of this is can be seen in "Rules of Engagement" - Alphonse has to sacrifice an agent, and has a hard time making this clear to the other agents involved in the affair.

From: Nash Trickster

Have you considered that what happened to Cell Y was not an accident? That Cell A sent them in the UK with knowledge that something afoul was going on just to "see if their info was right and maybe force the 'dark forces' to uncover themselves"?

I can picture Cell A dealing with Cells which are, ITO, not trustworthy this way: send them on the most dangerous missions to scout the area and take the first hits… Then set up a much more prepared investigation, thanx to the intelligence gathered by the "unfortunate Cell".

I think it also makes a simple way for a keeper to teach his players that they must behave "the hard way": wipe out their whole Cell, making sure they realize they were used as bait by Cell A, then have them create new characters (members of another Cell) which will be sent on the trail of their fallen comrades…

I have to say that in my game, neither Adam nor Alphonse know of this "cleansing policy" which was enforced solely by Andrea…

From: davekish2001

Running a little late on this thread (pesky Shia uprisings) but here goes…

I don't think that Cell A is so much bloodthirsty with its agents lives as ruthlessly committed to its mission at all costs. It wages the war against the mythos the same way a military or intelligence agency does, considering everyone expendible (though some more expendable than others) but it doesn't want to waste its resources either. DG is spread to thin to throw its agents away on suicide missions or wild goose chases. This sometimes still happens but isn't the goal of any particular mission. The risks are weighed and carefully thought out. Yes, agents were to be sacrificed in ROE but it was for the greater good of DG and its other agents. The quarantine of the UK is another example of such a policy. I would go so far as to say that DG is definitely interested in not only the survival of its agents but their career progression. The average DG agent seems to come at a mid-point in his "normal" federal career so that he can still act as a field agent for DG (realistically, you won't see too many generals, admirals or department heads out on a normal op). For faithfully serving DG, Cell A will get bones thrown their way: additional schooling, awards, promotions, choice duties, etc. If the agent survives, his normal career progresses, which in turn becomes useful to DG. You can never have too many ADAMs, Forrest James, or Harley Patton types because that is where the real strength and backing of DG comes from.

I also believe that DG will allow a certain level of corruption from its agents as long as it isn't dangerous to DG, a sort of unofficial reward policy. Any of Ellroy's characters could be at home in DG and the blackmail material is a useful leash.

On the other hand, I don't think many of DG's agents are idealists. They aren't necessarily "Mulders" who started out looking for the truth or to protect mankind. They stumbled over something and proved that they could sweep it under the rug. I think many are really caught up by events, trapped by something bigger than themselves that they cannot turn their back on. Probably, few even truly realize the magnitude of the mythos. They are seeing isolated incidents and maybe focusing on 1-2 enemies, such as Majestic 12, the Karotechia or the Fate. I would say you would find more idealists in the ranks of MJ versus DG, committed zealots to patriotism and country at all costs.

Anyway, just some thoughts…Use or abuse as you will…

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