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Experience with Third Man Factor? (DG) [SPOILERS]

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Hi! After a successful year long CoC campaign, I'm finally moving on to Delta Green and I'm quite excited.


For my first session, I'll run the 2016 shotgun scenario Third Man Factor, for just two players. Seems a really good way to introduce DG, recruit new Agents.


Because it's fairly new, I don't find a lot of playtest or discussion on it. Has anyone here run it? I'm very curious about how it went, the approach you took, etc. 


I'll put my questions/thoughts/ideas down a ways, after a spoiler-countdown,























I really like how Shackleton can psychically project himself into the agent's senses, and if they pass SAN roll they "normalize" him, retcon their memories a bit etc. How did you use that, what was the approach you took?


I am considering a few options:

  • Drop him in RIGHT AWAY as if he is an agent on the mission with them. Like, as they are leaving the briefing room, he falls in with them, or he is waiting for them at the car before they drive away, or just start talking to them from backseat of the car as if he belongs there. If both players make SAN, they both just assume he missed the briefing but was meant to ride along with them. Risk: What if one player fails SAN and doesn't accept him? it gets challenging fast. (although maybe that early shock is a good way to kickstart a weird session). But if it gets too weird within 100 feet of the briefing room, why wouldn't they just run back to their handler? 
  • Similar idea, but have him join in the same way at a gas stop along the road. Maybe try to seed some doubt about what is real - why did they forget he was at the briefing, is there some mind manipulation at work?
  • Have him come running up to one of them at a stop, asking for help. Uses his manipulation attack to implant a Bond, and says "you gotta get me out of here, man!" ... Of course they want to help their old friend Shackleton.
  • Or, I think more inline with the shotgun scenario, simply pop in for 1-1 conversations occasionally when they are apart, start making them see things, etc.

The rest of it, I'm pretty sure I can improvise with a little preparation in advance. I have some research / reading to do, like learning about PISCES, Shan, Mi-go "protomatter constructs", and thinking about fun ways to do chase scenes and misdirects/theft-of-the-canister, but I figure that part I can handle.


Thanks all you wonderful minds-not-in-canisters!



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Reporting in after a successful run of the Third Man Factor: I loved my first DG session! Had some challenges with the combat and sanity rules, but nothing that got in the way of the game, will just review the rules before next game.  To help other Keepers, here are my experiences:


For atmosphere, I drew a lot on Fargo, Coen Brothers & Tarantino-esque moments (and North By Northwest as referenced in the scenario). I decided on a longer distance (24-30 hours) to spread the story out better.


Regarding worries about how to use Shackleton:

  • About 3 hours into the drive, I had him simply pop into the back of the car and making conversation as if he'd been there all along. I secretly made the SAN checks so they wouldn't know what was happening. 1 of them "remembered" Shackleton as having been in the briefing and on the team from the start, the other felt he'd just appeared and started yelling at everyone to stop the car. It made for some great moments, Shackleton trying to calm everyone down and acting very reasonable, the players fighting over who was right.
  • This became a bit challenging, since they didn't really have any way to resolve it, I just made him act reasonable and calm while they argued. Eventually he walked off into the night (where they couldn't see him fade away, so they just thought he left), and when he popped back in hours later, a player punched him & his fist went through him. "Oh I wish you hadn't done that". Players then decided he was a figment of imagination, or hallucination caused by chemicals from the canister, etc, and tried to ignore him.
  • He continually tried to convince them to take him somewhere nice like California rather than the research center. He eventually built connection to them showing impact: by warning about attackers, helping distract attackers, giving advice, guiding to a Green Box, etc.

I puzzled over how to have the different groups chasing the canister make their approach in a way that was interesting, tense and survivable, and would ramp tension throughout the journey. I dropped the Shan, and I settled on this progression

  • While camping in the middle of nowhere, MJ-12 mercenaries attacked. They only survived because Shackleton alerted them and they could counterambush. Straight out human firefight. They learned about existence of MJ-12 from a captive.
  • Mr. NoYes approached them in hotel parking lot - clumsy and rather noticeably not-quite-human (copied Grey's language problems from PXPokerNight), offered "the usual trade", offering a briefcase of technology in exchange for the capsule. It was revealed he assumed they were MJ-12 who had successfully acquired canister. They freaked out and ran.
  • Later Mr. NoYes attacked them at a gas station... after they shot him to pieces, they were pursued by flying lights (a helicopter? err... something else but it was too dark to tell... hint, it was a few Mi-go) in a midnight chase.
  • Shackleton led them on a desperate drive to a Green Box, where they uncovered some weird weapons and had a desperate time fighting off the Mi-go for the final climax. (I had a lot of fun generating random Greenbox contents and seeing if they could be useful)

After all this, Shackleton got the hint that he'd never be safe from the Mi-go, and accepted his fate to go to the research center. He gave them some wisdom on surviving in Delta Green, and they left him at the research center, quite a satisfying session.


And most satisfyingly of all, I got to use the classic Handler signoff to a phone call: "Handle It! [click]"

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Splendid, absolutely splendid. This definitely has inspired me to give this one a whirl. I might have him use his powers of illusion to confuse the agents a bit more, make them unsure of their senses, make the idea of them forgetting him possible. 

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Splendid, absolutely splendid. This definitely has inspired me to give this one a whirl. I might have him use his powers of illusion to confuse the agents a bit more, make them unsure of their senses, make the idea of them forgetting him possible. 


I like this idea a lot, the confusion of "wait, who is right, is he real or not? did we forget him?" didn't last as long as I hoped. To do this, start dropping in the "unsureness" pieces pretty early, before Shackleton shows up, so they are already primed. Shackleton is smart, so would be able to strategize like this.  (But I don't think I'd spend too much time on it, there is plenty of action to fill a full game session even without lots of weird visions)


There are a few ways to play him, and you have to set some goal/agenda for him other than just "mess with the players" - he's stuck in a jar, and pretty helpless on his own. I played him sympathetic and likeable. Once they figured out he wasn't physical, he just chatted with them about being happy to be out of the warehouse, enjoyed the night sky, and spent most of his time trying to convince the players to take him to California and let him see the beach again. I think the scenario writer had him more "evil", scenario describes mental attacks on the players and what happens if players open the cannister - but I couldn't think of a goal that would be served by him acting this way: if they dump him by the side of the road and drive off, he's kind of screwed even if the Migo don't find him.

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