Delta Green: Observer Effect

If we look too deeply into the roiling chaos of reality, chaos may look back. The Olympian Holobeam Array, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, was built to delve into a fringe theory of physics. A few hours ago, the Holobeam Array went online. A few minutes ago, it went offline in a catastrophic power surge. Its engineers soon restored power and communications. Its lead researcher said everything was fine. Working Group Icarus is sent in, under cover of a Department of Energy safety inspection. The Agents have no idea what they’ll find when they reach the Array.

Sponsor: If you enjoy this scenario, buy Observer Effect now on PDF! Also, Arc Dream has a lot of material for Delta Green on its official website.

  13 comments for “Delta Green: Observer Effect

  1. Urielfallen
    March 26, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Working Group Icarus: A short ride, but certainly a fun one.

    I was getting Steinbeck vibes from Tom’s vow to take care of Zinchenko, and I snorted aloud when Bill straight up quoted Of Mice and Men at ~1:20:00.

    Made me wish that good ol’ Zinchenko had been lucid long enough to assure Jordan that he’d be tending to the rabbits. 🙂 It probably would’ve been lost among all the ranting about DG being an Old One, though.

  2. Mark
    March 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    Was Shaun feeling okay?

  3. Astro
    March 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    I actually was also wondering if Shaun was ok. He seemed a bit off for this one.

  4. Ultrik
    March 27, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Zinchanko: how to ruin games and alienate players. Super fascinating scenario and valent efforts by everyone else trying to salvage it.

  5. FuzzyDan
    March 27, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Ultrik just established the tagline for Working Group Icarus.

  6. ZypherIM
    March 27, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    This one was weird because Zinchenko had an idea of how he was wanting to go out before the game started that others didn’t like, and the feedback between him and the other guy escalating caused some problems. Zin should have played a slower burn instead of straight raving, but the “start of the scenario I’m going to try to get the guy off the team” play kind of doomed the session. I was surprised that no one was all “hey maybe Zin is onto something” when you found the guy he was raving about with glowing eyes.

    Interesting scenario though, it’d be pretty interesting to see how different groups handle it.

  7. Ravn Rasmussen
    March 28, 2017 at 4:58 am

    This scenario is so creepy as written, and would’ve been awesome with less disruptiveness.

  8. March 28, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    I think the thing about Zinchenko is the misunderstanding that loosing lots of sanity points is not the same as loosing all your sanity and becoming an NPC.

    I can see that being annoying as a player along side them (if that’s the case?), but god-damn if it isn’t amazing to listen to the chaos. I loved the sanity spiral for Zin up to this session, it was like listening to Rust Cole with a dose of meta-looney tune. (Seriously that last 30 minutes was John Wick meets THAT seen from “The Kingsman”!)

    Also Zin’s ramblings of DG being a Great Old One keeps reminding me of Glancy’s remark during a Gencon panel. It was one where agents investigate a cult of soldiers or the like, only to discover the symbol of their eldritch lord is a green triangle.

    I would be interested to hear a post-mortem to this campaign.

  9. Harper
    April 2, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Sorry to come out of the woodwork to add more negativity to the thread, but here it goes:

    I’m normally a big fan of Shaun’s characters and I guess his play style, but this game was practically ruined by Zin’s shenanigans. I get that a low san character can tempt players to make increasingly irrational decisions, yet it was repeatedly stated that he was not insane so long as he was above zero.
    Shaun’s raving and actively working against the group at seemingly every opportunity damaged an otherwise interesting scenario. It handicapped the group’s efforts to solve the already complex web of clues/solutions to completing the mission and possibly surviving. If every encounter hadn’t been cleaning up Zin’s messes, there might have been a chance for the group to investigate. Again, sorry if that’s too negative, but jeez…

    Other than that, this was a fantastic episode, as usual. Thanks, guys.

  10. Chados
    April 5, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I ran OE for my group of mostly newbs to DG, and the ending was surprisingly similar. There were a few clues missed because someone started shooting, and then it’s very hard not to head into a TPK tailspin.

    Count me in the “You’re not coo-coo-for-cocoa-puffs cazy until you’re at zero San,” crowd. You’re at least mostly normal, unless you’re having a short-term/temporary insanity happening during a tense moment.

  11. Daniel
    April 8, 2017 at 2:56 am

    I will pretty much echo what’s been said by most people. Playing someone as loony and completely designed to de-rail the game when they are still a PC seems against the nature of delta green. I get playing someone with low san as more paranoid and prone to jump to conclusions..

    But rambling all about the mythos when your part of DG? Assuming/wanting what your saying to cause sanity checks? Fun ideas, yes, but those are things a DM would have an NPC do, not that a PC can do.

    Everyone had fun so no harm done. I think the issue people has is most of us expect the social contract in a game to be “We are working together to have fun” and for many people, someone acting like that in a game would be the opposite of that.

    Also, on a less critical note. While Ross did a good job of essentially letting the “Our Face is insane and no help from the start” be put aside and let people get the clues/interactions they need, the fact that there was only one person with social skills, and he was played as essentially a player-controlled villain from the get-go for a number of scenarios now was a real issue.

    That said, I enjoyed the whole run, and I doubt the way the character got played was designed to ruin peoples fun. Again, if the group had fun? That’s all that matters, despite criticism from outside observers.

  12. Calzone
    April 13, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Great campaign. I do not agree with previous comments on not going Coo-coo until zero san. A loss in sanity should illustrate a decreasing mental stability imo. Why should you not be able to play that out. To all off a sudden go ape crazy on zero san would be the most unrealistic scenario to me

  13. Jason
    April 14, 2017 at 3:41 am

    Calzone – I think it helps to *not* view SAN as a depletable resource in the sense that “the less of it you have, the kookier you are,” but simply as an abstract measure of one’s overall psychological health. I definitely agree that general SAN losses (less than 5 points in one shot) should have a noticeable effect, but only at the moment they happen; permanent effects of sanity loss are already an inherent part of the system (via a character’s Breaking Point and the disorders they will pick up as a result of reaching it), as well as temporary insanity that occurs from losing 5 or more points in a single roll.

    SAN losses don’t necessarily represent a *decrease* in mental stability so much as an *increase* in susceptibility to psychological trauma. If a character were obligated to behave like a nutjob simply by virtue of their SAN score decreasing (and discounting the aforementioned mechanics), they would be useless to Delta Green long before they hit zero. The game’s systems for SAN loss ensure that a character will pick up a couple of disorders (at the very least) along the way, so the scenario where a character instantly goes from 100% sane to completely insane isn’t really possible.

    As for this episode – well done. The scenario itself well-written and super creepy, and I plan on running it myself down the road, most likely as a campaign-ender. My main criticism is – big surprise incoming – Zinchenko. I don’t really know what sorts of disorders the character had, but I concur with everyone else who disagreed on the way he was played. If the other players had fun in spite of it, cool, but it just wouldn’t fly with me.

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