New Orleans (1991)

The first sourcebook for Dark Conspiracy was New Orleans (1991). You might think it was a sourcebook, but it is really an adventure (though through the adventure, you learn quite a bit about the New Orleans metroplex).

Drawn to the city by a letter from a friend asking for help, players uncover a plot involving aliens, toxic waste and an interdimensional evil that plays out across several locations – a low rent neighborhood, a biochem plant, the sewers, swamps and a moldering old mansion, among others. While there is an investigative element, it mostly feels like a dungeon crawl. Most of the Dark Conspiracy scenarios follow this template – PCs are asked to investigate something, they arrive, uncover evidence of some bizarre plot and wind up killing a lot of critters. There is lots of potential for colorful weirdness, but it never quite gets there.

Something about New Orleans in particular feels very calculated to appeal to a certain 90s counter culture vibe without having anything intrinsically New Orleans in it (the biggest New Orleans vibe in the whole book is the background of the cover painting, with its French Quarter vibes). I mean, the best title they could come up with was the name of the city it was set in!

This is sort of true of the entirety of the Dark Conspiracy line, which did not last very long (six scenarios, four sourcebooks). It seems all over the place, under developed and coasting on cliches. It isn’t surprising that it was pretty quickly overshadowed by its competitors.

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