The War on Dregs is a proposed extended campaign outline for Delta Green, taking advantage of common threads in newly published material (Eyes Only and Targets of Opportunity). It aims to provide the same sort of epic campaign structure that is provided for Classic CoC by Masks of Nyarlathotep, Beyond the Mountains of Madness, Walker in the Wastes, etc, without suffering from railroading. It does this by presenting a structure with a variety of both branches and PC motivations.
Most of the speculation about Delta Green after 9/11 has focussed on the War on Terror. We have said relatively little about the other perceived existential threat that justifies the surreal in US policy, the War on Drugs. But this is a common thread through many of the threats confronting DG. Three major occult organisations – The Fate, the Cult of Transcendence, and the Disciples of the Worm – are heavily involved in the drug and smuggling trade, using Gates or other hyperdimensional methods to bypass conventional law enforcement. Two others, Tiger Transit and the Karotechia, use conventional smuggling methods (including corruption) but use occult power as muscle and/or to enhance their products (Coca Loca, Zombie drugs, etc).
This will have several consequences:
Prices of drugs on the streets drop and the profits of drug sellers rise, leading to gangs associated with the 5 organisations expanding their arsenals and turf, which leads to more inter-gang violence.
As a result, agencies associated with the War on Drugs: The DEA, ATF, Customs, Coast Guard, etc, will be seeking expanded budgets and personnel, and more of their agents will have “paranormal bouquet” cases as they come up against Gates, Shugoran, Dimensional Shamblers, etc, used or deployed by the cults. As the FBI and CIA are heavily committed to the War on Terror and have less time for occult cases, this will result in a shift in Delta Green membership towards the drug-war agencies and their methods, which are geared to infiltration, money trails and busts.
This shift could have major consequences following Delta Green’s experiences in “Holy War” at the end of 2001.
The beginning: Holy War
Holy War should be viewed by Delta Green in much the same way that Britain viewed Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in May 1941. From their perspective, DG is fighting a lone defensive war for humanity and human values against a multitude of powerful, evil entities and organisations, the dregs of humanity and the universe, and their traditional ally (the US / MJ 12) is indifferent, even hostile. Suddenly, two of these entities – and not just their cults, but the entities themselves (Glaaki and Y’Golonac) – have gone to war against each other, and wiped out a serious annoyance (Belial) in the process. Moreover, this happened without DG having to break their forced “agreement” with The Fate. If A Cell has any comprehension of the overall Mythos at all, this event would force re-evaluation; what other latent conflicts between evils are out there, and how can they be exploited?
The enemy of my enemy should be played like a puppet
This is when the War on Drugs becomes relevant. Delta Green would be aware in a general sense of the involvement of Mythos cults in the drug trade, especially The Fate and Alzis, Enemy Number One. The details in the Background raise the possibility that, hidden within the War, Delta Green could act to set the mortal pawns and cults of the Mythos against each other, unwittingly drawing in their dark masters, in the guise of conflict over the drug trade. The ultimate aim should be to destabilise or destroy The Fate’s position in the organised crime of the East Coast, without involving Delta Green directly in f2f conflict and violating their agreement.
Infiltrate and destroy
This is where the expertise of the DEA and ATF, in particular, become relevant. The DEA are experts at infiltrating criminal organisations and setting them up for busts, and the ATF at busting them. Infiltrating them and setting them up for conflict with each other uses the same skill-set. Of course, infiltrating a drug gang that is actually a cult might get a lot hairier, but it also provides the opportunity for some great moral dilemmas. Are you prepared to, say, sacrifice an innocent to a Dark Young of Shub Niggurath in order to ensure that True Love/Tiger Transit trusts you enough for you to lead them to a prearranged slaughter by (or that looks like) los Gardos/The Disciples of the Worm? What would that do to your morality, your sanity? Some of the best DG fiction has featured infiltration of cults, but it remains an unexplored theme in scenarios.
This point is where an alternative plot can enter. The PCs might believe that the end doesn’t justify the means in this case; the stakes are too high and the collateral damage too great. In that case, this campaign can be run as a campaign AGAINST the War on Dregs, either because inter-cult conflict is happening independently of DG or because “rogue” Delta Green cells are following this path against the wishes of A Cell (or the PCs are the rogues, opposing A Cell’s policy). Conflict like this is particularly likely if Delta Green, or elements of it, follow the next option.
Infiltration in extremis
Delta Green has a unique class of assets enabling them to infiltrate any cult and (probably) survive – if they dare use it. That asset is Ghouls. As well as Agent Nancy, DG can create more Ghouls simply by handing them The Ghoul Manuscript (indeed this might be the only way to resolve Agent Nolan’s insanity); or, if they don’t want to go that far, the possibility exists of taking prisoners from New York’s Heretics or New Orleans’ DeMontes, both of whom are relatively easy targets, and giving them the classic “Serve Us Or Die” choice. A ghoul with Consume Memories and Consume Likeness is the ultimate infiltrator. Of course, exactly where do you draw the line? Once DG starts taking on Ghoul agents, how do you stop them eating their way to the top? On the other hand, Ghouls seem particularly attuned to tradition and continuing the ways of forefathers; what if DG started to become a ghoul cult, fighting the Mythos because that’s what they did when they were alive? The Ghouls of the Dream Quest were happy to give Nyarlathotep the finger, after all.
In the alternate “stop the war” plot, this course might be pursued by N cell and their sympathisers if they go rogue, endeavouring to prove that they are still loyal to the cause, and tearing Delta Green apart in the process.
A Pearl Harbour moment
An option to bring in MJ-12 on DG’s side, or at least parts of it. Intensifying potential conflicts between hyperdimensional cults will see them ratcheting up their use of Gates, the Astral Plane, etc. Eventually, a Fate, Cult, or Disciple sorcerer takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque and manifests, with a sack of cocaine and a really bad attitude, on the deck of the USS Eldridge. Lovable hijinks ensue as he summons shamblers, hunting horrors, etc in an effort to bust out of the most secure base on the planet before being finally baby-nuked. After any such incident, MJ-12 will a) revise their opinions of DG’s archived “paranoid ramblings” about magic and such and b) go hunting for those responsible.
Running the War On Dregs will vary a lot depending on which cults are involved (Karotechia vs White Fire? Disciples Vs Fate? Tiger Transit Vs Disciples?) but will feature infiltration, paranoia, and end-justifies-the-means problems. What if your or another PC or NPC becomes truly corrupted (cf Cult of Transcendence sidebar “The Plant”)? What if you get asked to recruit others to the cult? Where do you draw the line?
The initial outline was written by James Haughton.