Unspeakable! Episode 13: Lovecraft Meets Tradecraft – Delta Green Scenario Workshop at GenCon 2014

Featuring Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, Kenneth Hite, Shane Ivey, Greg Stolze. Audio produced by Ross Payton.

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We arrive in the middle of Ken Hite’s story of exploring a derelict riverboat casino with Delta Green creator John Scott Tynes.


0:06:10 PROVIDE MULTIPLE SOURCES OF INFORMATION. Recognize when a clue is necessary and don’t make discovery hinge on luck. Use the dice to make things interesting. Include multiple ways to get necessary information.


0:13:55 KEEP THE HORROR UNPREDICTABLE. Don’t get locked into a certain pace. Most sources of fear should not be supernatural. The risk of exposure means tons of suspense.

0:18:30 APPROACHES TO SCENARIO DESIGN. Dennis: Build outward from the Mythos and come up with character motivations. Ken: What’s the fear or issue I’m trying to explore? Pick the supernatural element to fit that. Greg: Start with a creepy situation and build around it. Scott: Pick a threat that hasn’t been done much and look for a new, frightening way to approach it. Decide what’s the human agency that the players will confront. Explore their motivations and point of view. Also: Or arrange for direct encounter with the Mythos. Keep the NPCs believable. Remember the antagonists have their own plans and agendas. Don’t gloss over the terrible repercussions. Don’t let the players feel too secure.

0:48:40 MAKE THE MONSTERS FEEL NEW. Disguise the horror. Tweak enough to make the monster just slightly unrecognizable. Subscribe to Ken Writes About Stuff to read Kenneth Hite’s HIDEOUS CREATURES series. A cultural lense is also valuable. Go back to the source material.


1:02:05 DO THE RESEARCH. Ground the action in a world that feels real.

1:05:56 STICK THE PLAYERS WITH HARD DECISIONS. Once the players start making awful decisions, use friendly NPCs to bring the repercussions into sharp relief. “We are the good guys, right?” Isolation from official resources is one key to making sure they don’t have easy solutions.

1:18:23 NON-DG SCENARIOS WORTH STUDYING. Masks of Nyarlathotep. “The Raid on Innsmouth” (in Escape from Innsmouth). “In Media Res” (in The Resurrected 3; also a short film).

1:22:05 MANAGING PROCEDURAL DETAILS. Learn just enough to fake it. Take advantage of players more expert than you. A small amount of work covers a lot of the challenge. Learn the barest basics of how jurisdiction works. Remember the feds don’t have endless official authority. A few representative details serve to gloss over the rest. If in doubt, default to conflicts and confusion between the NPCs. Howdunnit books. Wikipedia and Google Earth.

1:36:33 MODERN THINGS THAT WE FIND PARTICULARLY HORRIFYING. Easy tracking and surveillance. Easy communication of dangerous ideas. Pontypool. Kairo (remade as Pulse). The dissolution of human society. The ease with which people switch to cruelty under pressure. The militarization of police. Mental illness.

It all leads to sorcerer gumbo.

This episode’s music is “Nyarlathotep” by the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, courtesy Divine Industries. Copyright 2012. Visit www.thickets.net.

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