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Paranoia

Crothian

Villager
Over the past many years I've been running Paranoia one shots at Gamedays and Gen Con. In the late 90's I used to run it at Marcon (local convention here in Columbus) but got burnt out running it as an official event at a Con. Everything since then has been off book with a select clientele of players. Over the weekend at Origins I ran it twice as a Con event and had a blast. I had people very familiar with the game and others completely new. I had a father who hadn't played Paranoia since 85 and his three gaming kids who were very new to the game. One table had seven players and the other had eight and while that is usually a bit many for RPGs it worked and we didn't have a bad player among them.

Origins theme this year was Superheroes. I'd never seen Paranoia done with Superheroes and thought that's silly enough to work. I was also the only person crazy enough to try it there. I based the troubleshooting team off of the Avengers. I wanted to use famous super heroes that everyone would hopefully know and not need to be into comics to get the characters. The NPCs they meet some were a bit more obscure but it worked out. In general I never used the pun names many Paranoia fans like Piratecat so enjoy. It's not because I don't like them it was always because I'm terrible at creating them. With Superheroes it worked out much better.

When I got back into running Paranoia Monte Cook had come out with Orc and Pie the simplest D&D adventure. I thought what would that look like in Paranoia? So for many years I ran Paranoia: O.R.C and P.I.E where O.R.C. stood for Organized Red Commies and P.I.E. always stood for something different that the players were unauthorized to know about. I really liked the idea of taking the most basic adventure ever and turning into a complex mess of Paranoia awesome. It seemed to really fit the themes of the game.

If people want to hear about the Paranoia Superheroes game and the characters I can post about that. I might run it once or twice more but the idea was to just run it at Origins though I think it turned into my best Paranoia adventure I've done. Not everything worked but for once more thinks worked then didn't.

I want to hear some of other people's stories and versions of Paranoia. I need to start jotting down more ideas nad have a larger pool of things to go to when the players go off track.
 

darjr

I crit!
I've never run or played it. Once at a Free RPG day I almost got into a game but the GM didn't show up. :( I've always wanted to run a paranoia game aboard the Warden deep in space. I think most of my players would get a kick out of discovering that.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Oh, goodness. Paranoia...

For several years, a couple of friends and I would run what we called "Paranoiafest". Simply put - a weekend-long Paranoia gaming event. Friday night would be a lightweight scenario just to get everyone in the mood. Saturday morning the players would have a real brunch, and then they were in for 24 hours of nonstop Paranoia.

We had three GMs (dressed all in white, of course). We usually had 12-14 players. We made food. Well, okay, maybe calling it "food" is an overstatement. We had things you could eat that represented the output of Alpha Complex food vats and kitchens. Hot Fun, and Bouncy Bubble Beverage, for example. The basic rule was that we would not make the players eat that which we would not eat ourselves - so everything was tested and tasted beforehand. It is surprising how much you can do to make food that is, honestly, not all that bad, and make it really unnerving for the players. For example, take some bologna and shred it. Mix it with a bit of mustard and food coloring (green, probably, as it is a pretty palatable bologna and mustard, so higher security clearance). Put that in a small plastic baggie, and toss it to the player (a gentle lob is sufficient, so they must catch it and feel it squidge in their hands). Then, have the food vendor bot ejects a bread-product-disk (Boston Brown bread, from a can, sliced) at them. They *could* have a sandwich, if they wanted. But, well...

(We aimed to make sure nobody lost their lunch, so to speak.)

As to scenarios... in 24 hours, you can go through a lot of material. I can hardly remember them all. Frequently, though, just getting characters through the mission briefing was enough - we lost more than one six-pack to briefings. Getting them through PL&C to get normal gear, and then through R&D for the equipment to test, was gravy.

I think I may now need to run Paranoia at the next Boston Gameday...

For your Superhero theme: we had a recurring NPC - Vatman! He lived in the VAT-cave (a cavern in VAT sector, which is devoted to the algae-vats used to grow much of Alpha Complex's food). He had a Vat-mobile, Vatarangs, and so on. We eventually had the PCs sent to hunt down Vatman (who, because he acted outside the normal chain of Alpha Complex command, was a commiemutanttraitorscum). My recollection is that an interaction between one of the algae vats and a plasma cannon from R&D created a vat-monster, such that fighting the monster allowed Vatman to escape....

We didn't have too many other superheroes (though once, we did have citizen Herc-U-LES show up. He was not happy, for many reasons).

We had one character with the mutant power of having a sock-puppet instead of one of his hands. It was never clear to the other PCs if the sock puppet actually had a mind of its own, or if the PC was just insane. But, he at one point spent a part of the game holding his own hand at gunpoint. Well, actually, at skin-sampler-point, but it was a skin sampler form R&D, so who knew whether it was lethal or not?

Another mutant power: Mint control. No, not mind control - mint control. As in, control over anything mint-flavored. Which, honestly, is a surprising amount of stuff in Alpha Complex, much of which you'd not want to put in your mouth...
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Hmmmm...Paranoia Supers?

I'm envisioning the likes of:

Wolf-R-INE
Spyd-R-MAN
Jonj-O-NZZ
Soop-R-BOY
Capmar-V-ELL
Bat-G-RRL
Fi-O-NIX
Juand-R-MAN

...and maybe the villainous Ult-R-Onn, a terminator-like infiltrator cyborg on a mission from another Alpha Complex.
 
What level crunch does Paranoia have? Nowadays, it seems like it'd be built pretty light, but it was obviously created in a very different era.
 

Crothian

Villager
For the characters it was pretty easy since they were all red clearance. I didn't try top disguise the names just forced them. With the Avengers theme I went with character that had almost all been on the Avengers at one time.

Team Leader: Mrsma-R-VEL
Loyalty Officer: I-R-Man
Communications Officer: Pete-R-PKR
Equipment Guy: Tho-R-ASG
Hygiene Officer: Wolve-R-INE
Happiness Officer: Joke-R-LAF

As I explained to my players the I have noticed in previous games that during combat the Communications and Recording officer has a tendency to sit back and just film the combat. So, to give that player something else to do during combats the Communications Officer could just fade away to the back ground and a new character Spide-R-MAN would appear to help out the Troubleshooters.

spoiler for my game
They are actually two separate characters. Pete-R has the mutant power of Invisible so the idea was he would just vanish. No one ever caught on that it was two different clones
 

Crothian

Villager
What level crunch does Paranoia have? Nowadays, it seems like it'd be built pretty light, but it was obviously created in a very different era.
I run it very light on the rules. There is some complexity to the rules that I just ignore because I don't need it in my game. There are ranks in Secret Societies that I ignore, there is a system for buying new clones and being able to buy equipment and an economy system that I also ignore.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
What level crunch does Paranoia have? Nowadays, it seems like it'd be built pretty light, but it was obviously created in a very different era.
It is pretty light - at least the versions I used to run were, in terms of the task-resolution and combat systems.

The game also has a built-in guard against rules-lawyering. The Rules are high security clearance. Displaying knowledge of the rules (by, say, arguing with the GM over them) is treasonous, and may result in termination...
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
As I explained to my players the I have noticed in previous games that during combat the Communications and Recording officer has a tendency to sit back and just film the combat.
*blink*

Your party *allows* the comm officer to film things? To actually gather evidence that could be used against them?

That is... insufficiently paranoid. Are they... actually working like a team?
 

Crothian

Villager
*blink*

Your party *allows* the comm officer to film things? To actually gather evidence that could be used against them?

That is... insufficiently paranoid. Are they... actually working like a team?
They did work together at times like a team. One group actually followed Team Leaders orders. It was a different strategy (actually listening to each each other) and worked at times. Honestly, as long as the group is having fun I just let them go as they want.
 

MerricB

Eternal Optimist
Paranoia was the first game where a new edition disappointed me greatly, and I didn't play it much after that. And no, I'm not talking about the retconned-out-of-existence 5th edition... I'm talking about 2nd edition. The game went from a percentile system to a d20 system, and made a few other changes that meant it never quite felt "right" to me again.

Back in my 1E days, the funniest adventure I played in saw one of the PCs vaporizing themselves with a ricochet from a laser blast *within the briefing room*, and then being executed for not reporting to the briefing as they were now locked out! :)

Cheers!
 

Storminator

Villager
Back in my 1E days, the funniest adventure I played in saw one of the PCs vaporizing themselves with a ricochet from a laser blast *within the briefing room*, and then being executed for not reporting to the briefing as they were now locked out! :)

Cheers!
I was in Piratecat's GenCon game many years ago where we killed 17 clones before the end of the briefing . . .

PS
 

Crothian

Villager
Here was something fun that had not happened to me before. A player who was new to the game had the following items on her character sheet. These are standard issue items that all Troubleshooters have always had in games I run and I just copied them from sample characters from the books.

Laser pistol body
3 Red Barrels

The barrels are for the gun, but she didn't realize that. She thought her character was carrying around actual large barrels. During one of the combats she wanted to throw it at the enemy Donkey Kong style. Her husband, and experienced Paranoia player, quietly corrected her. I cut in and thought it was a funny idea and let her have barrels to throw at the bad guys. The next game I played the Equipment Guy was requisitioning a new weapon for a character and so I gave him large sized red barrels instead.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
They did work together at times like a team. One group actually followed Team Leaders orders. It was a different strategy (actually listening to each each other) and worked at times. Honestly, as long as the group is having fun I just let them go as they want.
I'm all for having fun. But... there's something to be said for finding the fun by embracing the intended experience, as well. I mean, you can play Paranoia like a normal, cooperative adventure game, but... why? :p
 

Crothian

Villager
I'm all for having fun. But... there's something to be said for finding the fun by embracing the intended experience, as well. I mean, you can play Paranoia like a normal, cooperative adventure game, but... why? :p
In the character write ups I do mention not trusting the others and usually pointing one in particular not to trust. But players either don't seem to read it or don't act on it. If you have suggestions for making a Paranoia group more paranoid I'd love to hear them.
 

Enkhidu

Explorer
I'm all for having fun. But... there's something to be said for finding the fun by embracing the intended experience, as well. I mean, you can play Paranoia like a normal, cooperative adventure game, but... why? :p
You've never read "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Shot," have you?
 

Nytmare

Villager
In general, I find that a group of people playing a new game are going to test the waters by playing it the same exact way they play other games. Stressing that this game is different from the get go is important.

Introducing Paranoia to people almost always needs a ringer in my opinion, to show people how to point the gun at their friends and pull the trigger. If you can't do that I'd make sure that everyone has personal agendas and secret society goals that contradict each other and leave as many casualties as possible. If all else fails, handing out a very limited amount of R&D equipment with a blast radius is a safe bet.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If you have suggestions for making a Paranoia group more paranoid I'd love to hear them.
The usual way to turn them into backstabbing freaks is to force the issue. You have mounds of NPCs - briefing officers, PL&C drones, anyone of higher clearance they run into, as well as Friend Computer itself, to force the PCs into throwing each other under the bus.

For example:

Briefing Officer: Friend Citizen! Your regulation jumpsuit has a smudge upon it!
PC: Um. Oh. Sorry!
BO: Why, citizen, is it smudged?
PC: Well, we were in a bit of a scuffle before we got into the briefing room.
BO: And your Hygiene Officer? Where was he in this scuffle?
PC: Um, well... he was in the scuffle, sir.
BO: So, your Hygiene Officer was derelict in his duty, committing unsanctioned violent acts (we shall have to review the tapes from the Communications Officer) and has not been keeping your troubleshooting team up to regulation standards of cleanliness?
PC: Oh, no, sir! It isn't his fault...
BO: Then, you maintain the smudge, and the resulting failure to comply with regulations is all your own fault? Of course, I need not remind you, who are the Loyalty Officer, that failure to comply with regulations is treason! So, citizen, which of you is responsible?!!
PC: ...

They learn, very quickly, that trusting others is a good way to die. :)
 

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