By Adam Scott Glancy, (c) 2004
Editor’s note: Adam Scott Glancy’s “Directives from A-Cell” column first appeared in Worlds of Cthulhu and now can be found in The Unspeakable Oath. This Directive from 2004 touches on some elements of the Delta Green setting that have evolved since then.
Greetings agents, and welcome to the first of what will hopefully be many articles here at Worlds of Cthulhu concerning the sub-genre of Call of Cthulhu role-playing known as Delta Green. For those of you new to Delta Green, this is a subgenre of modern Call of Cthulhu combining elements of modern conspiracy theory, cloak and dagger espionage and international intrigue with that perennial favorite, the supernatural horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos. In this world, Delta Green is a conspiracy, a secret society if you will, made up of federal law enforcement and intelligence agents who have dedicated themselves to fighting the threat of the Cthulhu Mythos. Delta Green’s origins begin with the Federal raid on Innsmouth, Massachusetts, but their glory days were WWII, when they led the fight against the Nazi occult super weapon program, the Karotechia.
In the first Delta Green sourcebook we came up with a number of organizations for Delta Green to grapple with. Chief among these was Majestic-12, a rogue US intelligence agency dedicated to exploiting the technological secrets of the alien object that crashed in the desert outside Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Majestic-12 doesn’t care who gets hurt or who they have to make deals with to accomplish their goals. If Delta Green represents the America whose dedication and sacrifice saved the world from the horrors of fascism, Majestic-12 represents the cynical and ruthless America that recruited Axis scientists, Nazi intelligence officers and even war criminals to fight the Cold War.
Once Delta Green worked its way overseas, a number of European readers complained that Delta Green was too “America-centric” and that it was difficult for European players to access because it concentrated on U.S.-style conspiracy theories and U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. So when we published our second sourcebook, Delta Green: Countdown, we took great pains to expand the DG universe to include foreign agencies and locals. We included two new Mythos-aware (or tainted) agencies left over from the battle against the Nazi Karotechia during WWII. From Great Britain came the Paranormal Intelligence Section for Counter-intelligence Espionage and Sabotage, or PISCES, dedicated to exploiting psychic ability for covert operations. In the U.S.S.R. there was GRU SV8, which fought not only the Nazis Karotechia, but also destroyed Stalin’s attempts to harness the Cthulhu Mythos to win the Cold War.
Delta Green: Countdown, however, did not silence the folks who wanted more Delta Greens around the world. If anything it encouraged them. If Britain and Russia get Mythos-aware agencies, then what about France? What about China? Weren’t they both major-power victors in World War II? And what about modern Germany? Or Japan? Didn’t they have Mythos-aware agencies during the war?
The thing to keep in mind about Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green is that these games are about a secret world of supernatural horror hidden behind the patina of normality we all commonly accept. If we continue to expand the canon of Delta Green to include more and more government agencies that are Mythos-aware then that secret world is going to have an awfully hard time staying secret. The more government agencies that know, the more likely it is that some government is going to decide that the Mythos is no more dangerous than plutonium and try and add Azathoth to their list of weapons of mass destruction. And besides, if you start adding government anti-mythos agencies where do you stop? Does Belgium get an anti-Mythos agency? What about Brazil? Or Belize? Or Burundi? And if every nation on earth has a cult-busting agency then how the heck do the cults survive long enough to make an interesting role playing game threat?
The nation that comes up most often when new Mythos-aware agencies are discussed is France. There are a couple of good reasons for this. For one thing, France is one of the premier powers of the European Union, with a high-tech military, its own nuclear deterrent and the lion’s share of the European Space Agency’s assets. Secondly, France has one of the creepiest, scariest, most intrusive, and lethal intelligence communities this side of the Iron Curtain. Their spooks have performed operations that would shock even those who’ve grown jaded by the CIA’s crimes and misdemeanors. France’s spy agencies have powers and authority that are nebulous and ill defined and they routinely poach on each others’ jurisdictional turf, not to mention attempting to covertly influence politics in France by supporting one politician or party over another. Furthermore, France runs its diplomatic relations with a slipperiness that borders on the frictionless, playing fast and loose with the concepts of ‘ally’ and ‘enemy.’ But the most important reason is that Delta Green was translated into French, so we had more than a few French readers out there and they did not want to be left out of the DG universe.
Originally, we at Pagan Publishing envisioned no Mythos-tainted or Mythos-fighting government agencies in France. The rationale was that since the agencies of the world of DG universe were forged in the furnace of WWII, mostly as a reaction to the Nazis’ attempt to use the Cthulhu Mythos as a weapon of war, only the U.S.A., the U.K. and the U.S.S.R. would have emerged from the conflict aware of the existence of the Cthulhu Mythos. While the French, through the Resistance, would have helped agencies like PISCES and Delta Green fight the Karotechia, it is unlikely that the Americans or the Brits would have shared what they knew of the supernatural with the Resistance, especially give the possibility of their capture by the Gestapo. Another problem with using the French Resistance as the seed for a Mythos-aware spy agency is that the Resistance was principally composed of communists and socialists. An ugly truth about U.S. post-war policy in Europe is that we were more comfortable with ex-fascists in power than communists who had helped us defeat them. American influence made sure that the men and women who fought in the Resistance did not end up in France’s police and intelligence services, although a lot of former Vichy officers did.
The problem with using Vichy as a jumping off point for a French agencies’ connection to the Mythos is that the Nazis weren’t about to share their Mythos knowledge with people they considered conquered servants. Furthermore, the Nazi Karotechia recruited, shanghaied or executed every genuine (and fraudulent) expert in the occult sciences they could lay their hands on throughout the occupied territories of Europe. That meant that at the end of WWII, there would have been a shortage of experts on the occult and the Cthulhu Mythos across the continent. Those who were left behind after the Nazis had scoured the country were likely to be isolated cultists or sorcerers with their own agendas.
However, it seems a shame to leave France out of the DG universe, so I have been toying with the idea of introducing a French agency into the world of Delta Green, but one that has had no contact with the Mythos. This agency would instead come into contact with agencies like Delta Green, Majestic-12, GRU SV8, and PISCES, and thus begin the process of becoming Mythos-aware. Players working for this agency would be in a position to shape the agency’s Mythos policy from the ground up, unlike those other agencies where policy has been set by decades of experience with the Mythos.
For the time being let’s refer to this undefined agency as Section Disparu, or “the Section That Does Not Exist.” Section Disparu makes a good working name since not only does this imply a super secret agency, but since we haven’t written it yet, it genuinely does not exist.
When we start designing Section Disparu we are going to have to figure out its scope, mission, history and theme. ‘Scope’ defines the agency’s budget, manpower, jurisdiction, official sanction and chain of command. ‘Mission’ defines how the agency will come into contact with the DG universe, how it will relate to the Cthulhu Mythos. ‘History’ defines how it came into being and how its scope and mission changed since it was founded. Finally, ‘theme’ defines what concepts we hope to represent through the use of this fictional agency. Delta Green’s theme is the burden of responsibility that comes with knowledge. Majestic-12’s theme is the corruption of power. PISCES’ theme is paranoia. The theme of GRU SV8 is fading hope. So what is the theme of Section Disparu? After all, if we develop a theme, then matters of scope, mission and history will fall into place.
Well, to many Americans, the French represent a bunch of ingrates who hate us all the more for having saved their bacon twice in the last century. The last time they gave us anything it was a two-decade long war in their former colony of Indochina. They’ve treated our tourists like crap for the last sixty years. They feel that their culture so threatened by the crass American materialism of things like Disneyworld, Coca-Cola and McDonalds that they go to great lengths to purge what few English words have worked their way into their vernacular. Despite wielding an influence in NATO completely out of proportion to their commitment, current French policy seems to be to undermine and eventually dismantle NATO. It looks to America as if the French plan on replacing the U.S.-dominated NATO with a unified European Union military that they plan to dominate. Perhaps most frightening, France has been leading the effort to lift the post-Tiananmen Square arms ban against China so that the People’s Liberation Army can be equipped with Western European arms and thus provide a counterbalance to the hegemony of U.S. military power. Maybe Section Disparu represents the American fear that France hates us, fears us, resents us and covets our power?
With that as the theme, Section Disparu’s mission is going to be pursuing a policy of undermining America’s global hegemony. Now that may sound pretty sinister, but let’s look at it from France’s point of view. The Soviet/communist threat is gone and yet America is still throwing its weight around Europe, trying to dominate the continent through NATO. From the French point of view they are liberating Europe from American domination. Of course, the resulting European Union dominated by France is just a side benefit — much the same way that access to all that oil was just a side benefit of freeing the Iraqi people from Saddam’s tyranny.
There have always been elements in France that resented the domination of the postwar western world by the U.K. and the U.S. This anti-Anglo sentiment had to take a back seat to the very real threat of communism fueled by anti-colonialism. As the Cold War progressed and France’s faltering colonial empire eroded, France discovered that the Anglo-American partnership could not, or would not, protect France’s empire. Many French politicians began to wonder why they were part of an alliance that was not protecting their interests. While the colonial empire could not be saved, France has developed new ideas about empire beyond the 19th century model. Section Disparu was created just as the communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R. were collapsing. Officially was supposed to handle the covert action needs of the French Republic in the post-Cold War era. Unofficially, Section Disparu would help France build its new empire.
Section Disparu’s natural enemies will be Majestic-12 and PISCES, but not for the same reasons as Delta Green. Section Disparu will come into conflict with these agencies not because they have fallen under the influence of the Mythos but because they have technologies and information that Section Disparu wants. Section Disparu may not even notice Delta Green. After all, Majestic-12 is the one with the official status and secret budget and the access to all corners of the intelligence community and the Pentagon, and Delta Green is little more than a renegade conspiracy. As part of its agenda to end America’s global hegemony Section Disparu will attempt to steal Majestic-12’s technological secrets, including the gene-altering secrets of the ‘Cookbook,’ the mind-controlling technologies of the Outlook Group and the time-travel and gate technologies of Project Rainbow. Once they find out about The Accord, Section Disparu might try to woo the Greys away from their exclusive relationship with Majestic-12. They would also be interested in acquiring any knowledge PISCES has about applied psychic ability, and once they start poking around PISCES it won’t be long before they want to know about the Mythos.
With the current state of world politics, it might be possible for Section Disparu and GRU SV8 to become allies. After all, France and Russia often find common cause in opposing the U.S. on foreign policy issues. Perhaps Section Disparu can offer the Russians a better deal than Delta Green can? Once Section Disparu has access to all the Mythos knowledge of GRU SV8, the big question is whether they will use that knowledge to fight the Mythos, or use it to fight their fellow humans?
With theme, mission, and history covered, let’s take a look at the scope of Section Disparu. Section Disparu is going to need the jurisdiction to operate both inside and outside Metropolitan France. It would have the authority to tap the assets of the other agencies. Their agents would have the power of arrest and detention, but also the authority to carry out covert operations at home and abroad, including assassinations. Their budget would be comparable to other first world intelligence agencies, with the added benefit that it is subsidized by conducting illegal arms sales and illegal technology transfers, much of which Section Disparu has stolen from all corners of the globe, from both from the public and private sectors. This gives Section Disparu the feel of being the intelligence community’s version of ‘privateers,’ mixing free enterprise with espionage.
No doubt I’ve hacked off some of our French readers with these musings about France’s possible contribution to the world of Delta Green, but come on! The Fungi from Yuggoth have the directors of Majestic-12 corrupted, compromised, deceived or enthralled to the point where they are selling out humanity. Insects from Shaggai have cerebrally infested the directors of PISCES and have hijacked the agency to serve their alien agenda! At least humans are running Section Disparu for the benefit of humans, and they’re not even cultists. They’re just good old-fashioned sneaky bastards looking to get ahead of the competition and not too picky about how they do it. If Section Disparu is going to undermine and damage Majestic-12 or PISCES, can you be sure they are the bad guys?
—Adam Scott Glancy