Game Title: Delta Green – Iconoclasts
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
Author: Adam Scott Glancy
Artist: Dennis Detwiller
Pages: 206 pages
Genre: Modern mythos horror campaign for Delta Green
MSRP: $44.99 for the hardcover or $19.99 in PDF at DriveThruRPG
Iconoclasts propels players into a tense, espionage-driven thriller as they race to contain an otherworldly threat in the middle of ISIL-controlled Mosul.
Due to the nature of the scenario, this review will contain spoilers not only for Iconoclasts, but for the larger Delta Green mythos. That said, proceed with caution.
Iconoclasts casts players as Program-aligned Delta Green agents tasked with stopping an unnatural incursion unwittingly unleashed by ISIL fighters; in a twist, however, it first casts the players as those same jihadists. It’s a nifty structural twist and a great way to introduce players to the scenario, though it is almost certainly too big an ask for a first-time roleplayer.
The real fun starts, however, when the Program’s agents find their primary source of information is, in fact, one of the Outlaws — a man named Sloan who claims to be a member of the real Delta Green. For in-the-know veterans, it’s fantastic to watch the fireworks as Sloan and the agents’ Program-aligned handler interact and trade barbs. For newbies or those who simply haven’t encountered the organization’s rift, it’s a wonderful snapshot introduction to the divergent philosophy of the two groups, as well as an opportunity to ratchet up the doubt and paranoia.
Delta Green often distinguishes itself from other modern takes on Lovecraft with a superlative research ethic and a dedication to grounding as many elements of the game as possible in reality. In order to make headway, players will need to engage in serious espionage and manipulation; the scenario offers plenty of guidance for GMs on how to make this happen while keeping the action taut.
In the larger context of Delta Green scenarios, Iconoclasts is one of the most structurally interesting and likely to be one of the more controversial. While Delta Green makes no secret of dealing in horror and has never hesitated to reference real world atrocities, the inclusion of ISIL may be difficult for some. Adam Scott Glancy and Shane Ivey aren’t afraid to confront the very real atrocities that serve as the backdrop for the scenario, including mentions of the genocide perpetrated against the Yazidi people, complete with mentions of sexual assault and human trafficking. While it’s impossible to categorize any substantial violation of human rights as more or less disturbing than any other, this scenario may cut closer for players simply as the result of its relatively modern timeframe and the persistence of ISIL as a power in the middle east.
Dennis Detwiller’s illustrations remain top tier, giving the impression of sorting through ephemera without having to worry about losing anything important. From color to framing to font, the visual world of Iconoclasts is tight and ties in neatly with the broader world of Delta Green. The hot-linked table of contents makes on-screen navigation easy, but the effect of the two-page spreads is somewhat lost in digital format.
Iconoclasts succeeds as both a spy thriller and a battle against the Unnatural, forcing players to risk it all while giving them the tools to push beyond their limits. The opening bait-and-switch point of view shift is a standout first act, while the taste of the Program/Outlaw division is a compelling hook to carry any survivors onto another adventure. Though the inclusion of ISIL may feel too rooted in reality for some, it’s clear the writing team dug deep to do their research. Iconoclasts is a strong addition to the library of Delta Green scenarios and may even be enough to draw in first-timers looking for a tense, spy-minded experience.