So after taking a long hiatus from RPGing in general, both development and gameplay, a friend of mine talked me into running a RPG campaign for a bunch of relatively new tabletop gamers. This crowd had varying levels of experience, from "a short D&D 3.5 campaign and that's it" for one player, to someone who'd basically made a Serenity RPG character...and that's about it. All of them had a good deal of board-game and miniatures gaming experience though, so they all understood things like using dice, how to process rules, and so forth.
I was worried when the subject of what kind of game to run came up, and I received the typical "I dunno, I don't really have a preference" responses. In my experience, when people give such an answer, what usually happens is that something is put together that about half the players don't like, and interest quickly flags after the first session or two. So I fired off a couple of e-mails detailing a few ideas, and the idea of a "modern conspiracy game akin to the X-Files" stuck. Hello, Delta Green!
I'd had the DG reprint (with the D20 rules, not that it really matters) for a couple of years, but my current gaming group hadn't really expressed any interest in running this game. On the other hand, I'd been itching to run a modern day occult/weird conspiracy game for ages, and now was my chance. I put together some writeups on the sort of world DG was set in, glossing over a lot of the Cthulhu-heavy aspects of the setting (most of the players are only passingly familiar with the Mythos anyhow). We decided to have a one-shot adventure with pre-generated characters, to see what people thought of the game play before diving into the conspiracy itself.
As a one-shot, I decided to hand the characters a "nautical adventure" and by that, I mean a "ghost ship" of sorts. A freighter drifting into the Boston harbor islands, boarded by the Coast Guard only to find the crew slaughtered. Of the six players, we had three FBI agents, two Boston Police Harbor Patrol, and one Coast Guard security specialist. The pre-generated characters were really only "half-gen"s; I rolled up the stats and assigned some points to skills, but then let players distribute the rest to their liking.
Quick back-up; I settled on Goblinoid Games' GORE RPG as the system of choice. I preferred BRP to the D20 system my edition of DG uses, but both the original CoC rules and the generic BRP rulebook I considered too involved for a bunch of almost complete RPG newbies. The GORE rules are simple, straightforward, easily tinkered with for any desirable results, and of course, mesh nicely with all the other CoC material I have on hand.
We played the adventure out in about three hours. There was some good investigation, and the players all immediately began asking good questions, falling into their respective roles, and everyone got along very well. As no one at the table knew any more than half of the other players, I was expecting at least one bad pairing, but overall the group chemistry seemed to flow smoothly. By the end of the game session, those people who didn't have to immediately run all went out for dinner and drinks, which is always a good sign.
As for the adventure, I think it went quite well. Turns out that three members of the ship's crew were exposed to a dangerous chemical being transported in one of the cargo holds. The tank of chemicals, along with a lot of high-tech scientific equipment, was being shipped from Europe to a research think-tank in the Boston area. Somehow, that tank was punctured (a strange, five-pointed puncture mark was found on the ruptured tank...) and the three crew members suffered the most direct exposure.
These members of the crew went psychotic, destroying the ship's propulsion controls, navigation, and communications gear, and then slaughtering the rest of the crew. Of the three, two were killed and one captured; the surviving crew member had barricaded himself in the chain room, huddled in a hastily drawn, pentagram-like circle, raving about the devil being trapped aboard the ship, and about preventing the ship from getting to shore. The game ended with the party dropping that crewman with a non-lethal beanbag round from a shotgun, and taking him off the ship. As for the "devil", the Coast Guard security team did find some strange scratch marks on the hull and railing of the ship...
From here on out, the game will have a mix of government conspiracy coupled with a heavy dose of the "weird". We'll only be meeting once a month, but I think this game is going to have some good promise.