While the number of supplements and support material published for Dark Conspiracy over the years have been considerable, there will always be gaps left for the Referee to detail. This article explores three Dark Conspiracy-related RPG supplements that should be in every DC Referee’s kitbag.
Infantry Weapons of the World
If you base your Dark Conspiracy in an alternate world setting, then you are likely to find GDW’s Infantry Weapons of the World, an invaluable addition to have at your table. Originally written for the Twilight: 2000 setting, this 106 page book lists weapons of all types as equipped by the world’s military and para-military forces (at the time of publication, of course). It is fully compatible with Dark Conspiracy, given the adoption of the GDW House Rules (which ran not only DC and Twilight:2000, but also Cadillacs & Dinosaurs and Merc: 2000) and is presented in a format we are all used to (as per the 1st Edition DC rulebook).
From pistols through to machineguns, it offers an insight to the types of weapons being used when Dark Conspiracy was first published. For those interested in converting more modern weapons it also includes the Rating Formulas for each weapon statistic, allowing you to create your own (with a bit of calculus, of course!).
From a personal point of view, I always found this book invaluable both for adding a bit of variety for the antagonists at the gaming table (not everyone had be armed with a Mac-10 or AK-47), and was also a book I could throw out to the players for them to peruse at their leisure. For those on the hunt for this book, copies can still be found on places like Ebay or as an electronic copy via DrivethruRPG.
Published in the same year as Dark Conspiracy, Twilight Nightmares is a series of short, action packed adventures primarily written for GDW’s Merc: 2000 and/or Twilight 2000 game settings. While each of the scenarios are very different in nature – ranging from encounters with aliens (both friendly and not so friendly) through to giant Ants and intelligent warmachines – they bring to the table something that Dark Conspiracy lacked – one-off, one-night adventures.
Where as most of the published material for Dark Conspiracy (barring those in Challenge Magazine and at a push Ice Daemon) focused on longer more detailed conspiracy-horror adventures, few ventured into the short and sharp scenarios as seen here. While one must be open and honestly, and say that the collection here is of mixed quality, they certainty demonstrate how one can create a quick yet compelling story for that one-night affair.
Beyond acting as an example of this type of scenario, each one of the adventures can be transplanted into the Dark Conspiracy universe will little effort both in terms of mechanics and in theme (in fact one of the plots – Electric Slugs – is already a DC plot in no stretch of the imagination). As such, it is easy to carry this scenario collection in the Referee’s kitbag ready for those nights when a bit of “one-off fire and forget fun” is required!
Seems like Nightmares are common ground for conspiracy-horror games, and who can blame them. But in this case we aren’t looking at another GDW product, but rather a supplement for Palladium’s Beyond the Supernatural roleplaying game. For those of you who do not know, Beyond the Supernatural is another modern horror RPG, this time with a focus on monster hunting and investigation (much like games such as Chill) and utilises Palladium’s own house system. It has a lot in common with Dark Conspiracy, and it came out around the same time (1990); a period where a number of modern horror games were making their way onto the market.
Boxed Nightmares has been added to my Kitbag for three reasons. The first is that once again it presents a selection of short, one-off style adventures, which as I mentioned above are somewhat lacking for DC. Of course, those in this book will need a lot more conversion work than say the ones from Twilight Nightmares, but theme-wise they have a lot more in common with the DC setting than those from that book. The second reason is the addition of the Agencies Design rules; the process of creating a monster hunting organisation. While this, of course, doesn’t directly translate to Dark Conspiracy, the steps this process follows is much more robust than say the one for Minion Hunting groups described in The Empathic Sourcebook. Systems such as this have more recently appeared in games like Conspiracy X, but this one is more than worth a read as a guide on what sort of decisions a Referee should make when creating either friendly or ‘not so’ friendly organisation.
The final reason that this collection appears here, is its use of the beloved tabloid. We all know that DC has always had a connection to this type of plot lead – you know the one where the articles in the ‘News of the World’ turn out be be real (its been used in many other settings and various fictional media before as well) – but here Palladium gets it really, really Right. Included with this supplement is a 16-page newsprint newpaper called After Midnight, a prop that takes the tradition in-game handout to a new level. Each of the adventures provided in the supplement are referenced in the tabloid (along with a few humours additions in regards to Palladium’s other lines and some associated advertising), making it the ultimate handout to be used by the players during. If a Referee could learn something from this, it would be how to use such a document to foreshadow future adventures and provide hints and leads to the current mission. All in all a great addition to some really good adventures.
I hope that in presenting these three supplements you start to think about what other game material you might add to your Dark Conspiracy Referee’s kitbag. Each one listed here brings something different to the Dark Conspiracy setting and system, and in their own way supports how the game is played. And in the end that’s what gaming is all about – bringing fun and options to the table; be it to open up the selection of weapons your Minion Hunters have to throw against the darklings, by allowing you to be able to run a fun one-off adventure with zero prep or in watching your player’s faces as you throw down a neat prop on the gametable. Best yet, in this age of digital downloads, great older products, such as these, can be purchased for a song, and this allows you, me and every other gamer to have access to such wonderful tools with next to no effort!