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Conspiracy X

Entry updated 2 April 2015. Tagged: Game.

Role Playing Game (1996). New Millenium. Designed by Rick Ernst, Shirley Madewell, Chris Pallace.

The game of Conspiracy X shares much with its rather more haunting contemporary Delta Green (1997) (see Call of Cthulhu). Player characters are agents for a secretive organization known as Aegis which defends present day America against paranormal threats, frequently of extraterrestrial origin. The most obvious influence is the television series The X-Files (1993-2002), though Conspiracy X is set in an original world. Notably, most characters have some degree of ESP ability; the tone could perhaps be described as "Spy-Psi". Aegis itself is a morally grey group, all too willing to employ questionable means towards altruistic ends; it was, for example, largely responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy. In the game's secret history, Aegis is a descendant of the Watch, an organization which conducted an occult Weird War II against Nazi Germany before becoming involved in an investigation of Foo Fighters (an early form of UFO frequently observed during World War Two), leading to the eventual discovery of real, and ambiguously hostile, Alien visitors. Following a debacle at the American town of Roswell in 1947 (the supposed reality behind the famous UFO incident) the Watch split into Aegis and a group known as the Black Book, a military industrial conspiracy which has chosen to collaborate in Alien abductions in exchange for information. Aegis and the Black Book are now each other's greatest enemies. Not all of the players' likely opponents are Aliens or their allies; other threats include rogue Espers and the occult. Within the game, the supernatural is justified as a form of Psionics fuelled by the psychic energy of humanity's collective unconscious. As in the highly influential dark fantasy RPG Vampire: The Masquerade (1991 White Wolf) designed by Mark Rein·Hagen, characters who make too much use of occult forces are in danger of losing their essential humanity. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Conspiracy X is its moral ambiguity; players do not adopt roles similar to those of the heroes of The X-Files (1993-2002), but are instead part of one of the shadowy conspiracies they might oppose.

Related works: GURPS Conspiracy X (2002 Eden Studios [ES]) designed by M Alexander Jurkat is a version of the game which uses the GURPS (1986) rules, dispensing with some of the more exotic aspects of the original game, such as its use of parapsychologists' Zener cards as a mechanic for resolving the results of ESP abilities. Conspiracy X (2006 ES) designed by Dave Chapman, George Vasilakos is a second edition of the original game, using a third set of mechanics. [NT]

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