Role Playing Game (1991). Game Developers' Workshop (GDW). Designed by Lester Smith.
The world of Dark Conspiracy is one of disintegration, in which both society and reality have begun to collapse. It is set in a twenty-first century where, as in Dark Future (1988), economic failure and ecological breakdown have led to political fragmentation; the superpowers of the previous century have broken up into patchwork quilts of minor states, struggling for dominance with newly powerful megacorporations. This is not a typical Cyberpunk dystopia, however. In Dark Conspiracy the flaw lies not in ourselves, but in our stars, or at least in what comes from them. In the game's secret history extraterrestrial explorers accidentally activate a gateway on a moon of Jupiter, opening the way for a return of the Dark Ones, malignant and often insane extradimensional entities which feed on the mental emanations given off by human pain. Unable to physically manifest outside their own realities, the Dark Ones have instead subtly influenced humanity towards self destruction, psychically cultivating greed and corruption. They are served by the (now possessed) aliens who released them and by their Dark Minions, who resemble supernatural monsters but never take quite the expected forms, being the original sources of the legends about vampires, werewolves and odder things. The invasion's high levels of psychic activity have caused some humans to develop Psionic powers, a phenomenon which the Dark Ones oppose by encouraging the Ecological devastation of Earth, since human Espers draw their strength from life. The player characters are individuals who have somehow become aware of a malign influence in the world, and chosen to oppose it. Dark Conspiracy is a game of effectively conveyed science-fictional Horror, where extradimensional technologies can be constructed from unknowable fluids concealed in the carapaces of gigantic insects, set in an altered America parts of which have been secretly colonized by a hostile alien reality. At its best, it is capable of evoking a striking sense of menace and mystery.
Related works: Dark Conspiracy (1998 Dynasty Presentations) designed by Lester Smith is a slightly revised second edition of the original game. Minion Hunter (1992 GDW) designed by Lester Smith is a Board Game set in the Dark Conspiracy milieu, in which players must cooperate to defeat the Dark Ones while competing for the highest score; Minion Nation (1992 GDW) designed by Lester Smith is an expansion. A Gathering Evil (1991), Evil Ascending (1991) and Evil Triumphant (1992) make up a trilogy of Ties, all by Michael A Stackpole. [NT]
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