WIRDG: ToO (M-EPIC)

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After a brief pause, we return with the much-anticipated Canadian chapter. M-EPIC is written by Warren Banks, with Adam Crossingham and Adam Scott Glancy. This is Warren’s second gaming effort, after Spaceship Zero — he’s the lead guitarist for The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets. He is also a real Canadian, so his credentials are rock solid.

The chapter is 40 pages. It begins with a shameless glorification of Canadian occult investigation prowess: Canada’s cops started looking into Mythos activity way back in 1903, before anyone else, and eventually formalized the efforts as M-EPIC. Lots of history and lots of Ithaqua follow. There’s an interesting strain of xenophobia in here, which picks up nicely from the Black Cod chapter — as of World War II, M-EPIC was quite wary of the Inuit and First Nations, since much of the Ithaqua worship took place in those cultures.

Onward through the Cold War. Mackenzie King is namechecked as a believer in the supernatural, which makes him a key player in the continued existence of M-EPIC. Ithaqua continues to be the big bad. It’s an interesting parallel to Delta Green, since there’s no Majestic-12 as a counterpart. Instead, M-EPIC is the organization with lots of political leverage. Cliches aside, the picture painted is one of a nicer, more functional organization.

The next chunk introduces M-INFO, the research division of M-EPIC, which was established in 1972. Any group dedicated to Mythos research ought to have problems, and without spoiling — yep. There’s the seeds of the same kinds of corruption that screwed up Majestic-12. We pause in our history at this point for a new set of Mythos tomes and a few spells.

Onward into the 80s! I’m really liking this history. The cool thing about it is that it’s full of incomplete investigations. Each one is something that a GM can pick up and embellish and turn into a present-day problem. It’s easy for this history to affect any campaign; none of it is static background. Great technique.

And that’s the first fifteen pages or so. Following that, we get to the current M-EPIC, which is I think mostly intended as background for an M-EPIC campaign. We get their legal scope of action, their organizational structure, and so forth. There’s room for both full-time agents and support staff, with both options clearly laid out. It’s way more open than Delta Green, which I think is wise — there’s no point in just presenting Delta Green Part II. On the other hand, you do lose some of the horror aspect if you’re playing in just another sanctioned agency, even if it’s a secret one.

Moving into GM territory: this portion starts with an outline of typical M-EPIC operations. M-EPIC’s cover story as an environmental organization is particularly useful here. A bit of horror creeps back in when we get to the question of M-EPIC’s intelligence resources. Look back at M-INFO and you’ll understand why. This is pretty brief, though.

There’s then a ton of material on M-EPIC’s interaction with other power groups in the Delta Green world. It begins with PISCES, from Delta Green: Countdown. That’s reasonably comprehensive, there. In fact, there’s more on PISCES, including an NPC and a lot of story hook, than there is on Delta Green. Also covered: Majestic-12 (brief) and GRU SV-8 (very brief).

On to NPCs. Solid stuff, more story hooks, and so on. We’ve got several pages of M-EPIC staff and several pages of adversaries. Nothing remarkable here, but it’s all quality.

The last couple of pages are the usual agency templates. You know what these look like.

So in summary… man, I really didn’t have as much to say about this chapter, did I? It didn’t do anything new. I can’t speak to how Canadian it is, not being from there, but it seems pretty good from an uninformed perspective. The Delta Green universe now has a well-defined Canadian occult scene. There’s nothing that made me sit up and go wow, but likewise there wasn’t anything disappointing. I’d have liked it better in a book dedicated to occult agencies worldwide.

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2 Responses to “WIRDG: ToO (M-EPIC)”

  1. Rob Says:

    Interesting.

    Your care with spoilers makes it hard to know if I will dig this or not. (I can’t remember – when can I order the softcover?)

    My question is, and I think a Canadian can get away more easily with asking this, why Canada? In the absence of an “occult agencies around the world” book, what does a Canadian setting add to the Delta Green world? Why would a group, Canadian or otherwise, choose to set a DG campaign in Canada, and if they did, what themes would they be wanting to play up?

    If it’s just fan-service for Canadian players, or because Warren Banks wanted to write it, well, ok, I guess. Warren’s earned a whole lot of good will in my book. But it doesn’t really answer the question. As you say, there’s no point in just creating Delta Green North. I never got into the “set your game in your home town” thing that brings us Moebius, the Dark Prince of Muncie, and her ilk. If I want to play a game of Cold War secret history, alien coverups, government conspiracy, paranoia, mistrust, and corrupted power, well, there are a lot of reasons for me to set in in the U.S.A., and the fact that I know a few bus routes in Toronto doesn’t change that.

    So what might a Canadian setting offer that would be genuinely different than vanilla DG?

    Well, I knew they were going to go with Ithaqua, that’s a cliche and given, but fuck it, go for it, the North IS scary. Isolation, the cold, puny humans dwarfed by vast impersonal forces of nature: the North has that. When the temperature drops way way down, like to -40, I always think there is something uncanny and horrible about it.

    The scary North would work even better in a historical game, I think. 1903, eh? Turn of the century Mounties at the frozen edge of the world – that’s a cool setting for a horror game.

    For a modern game, I don’t know how I would approach Canadian Delta Green. The Delta Green – Majestic 12 fight is of course a meditation on how the US either did or didn’t sell its soul in pursuit of the Cold War. GRU SV-8 is the story of how/if you can be heroic when your own government becomes almost as monstrous as any Great Old One. And PISCES is the classic tale of how aristocratic complacency allows rot from within. What’s Canada’s equivalent story?

    I think you’d have to make a feature, rather than a bug, out of how much smaller, poorer, less equipped any Canadian intelligence agency is going to be than its American cousins. One thing I’d point out is that, with a few exceptions, the Mounties are not watered-down *spies* but souped-up *cops*. They spend their time giving out speeding tickets and tossing drunks in the tank, not doing international intrigue. If you really embraced that, you might find your way towards a whole different flavor of game, that I could actually see working very well.

    AND MAYBE I SHOULD READ THE BOOK. 🙂

    • Bryant Says:

      Speaking as someone from the States, this chapter didn’t add much to the Delta Green mythos for me. I wasn’t trying hard to avoid spoilers, it was just… bland. I didn’t get any real new sense of Canadian national character. The twist to M-EPIC is that the intelligence arm (M-INFO) has been corrupted and is under the control of someone who’s gone native, as it were. But unless that’s fundamentally Canadian, it’s nothing special.

      Regarding your last point — yeah. And since Delta Green already occupies the niche of the intelligence agency on the fringe, unfunded and desperate, how do you do that? In contrast, M-EPIC winds up in pretty good shape.

      I wouldn’t be disappointed by M-EPIC if it wasn’t for the very high bar set by the rest of the Delta Green corpus.

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