Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Failed Anatomies reminds of how bleak Delta Green is

 Reading Delta Green: Tales from Failed Anatomies, I found myself thinking that I was reading literature based on a RPG that was, in turn, based on literature. 

Honestly, given the fact that more and more intellectual properties have become multi-media entities, that actually doesn’t seem unusual or strange anymore. Products exist in many different formats.

Really, it’s been that way for decades. The deregulation of the 80s allowed intellectual properties to become toy lines and cartoons and comic books and greeting cards all at the same time. And I think that it is safe to say that the definitive version of any intellectual property is whatever you want it to be.

And while the end goal of a multimedia franchise is $money$, I also think that it has become more and more refined to the point that some of it really is art. Because there is some good writing in Failed Anatomies.

Delta Green started out life as a supplement for Call of Cthulhu, the original RPG of Lovecraftian horror. The extremely short version is that it is centered around the government’s response to the Mythos.

The original source book (which I got out and looked at while reading Failed Anatomies) was heavily built around flying saucer conspiracy theories with the grays being actually literal puppets of the MiGo. The official stance of the US government is that of collaborators and Delta Green is a disgraced, officially disbanded, clandestine group trying to stave off the end of the world.

I was actually surprised how narrow the scope of the original Delta Green was. The franchise has grown enough that I had forgotten it’s humble beginnings. However, even from the start there is one core element of Delta Green that has really given some bite:

The stars _will_ be right. The end is coming. Unfathomable eldritch abominations will rise. It is inevitable. And Delta Green may not be fighting to give the world a little more time but only to extend the ignorance of what will happen.

Even by the standards of Call of Cthulhu’s cosmic horror, that is heavy.

Failed Anatomies embraces that bleak despair. The stories form a timeline from the Innsmouth raid (perhaps the only time Lovecraft had the government get involved) to the End. I’ve seen that formula before but Failed Anatomies uses it well. And there are no happy endings.

Failed Anatomies shows why Delta Green continues to be a part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Not because Call of Cthulhu needed the X-Files or Men in Black. But because Delta Green makes cosmic horror visceral.

No comments:

Post a Comment