Player's Guide: Character Creation

posted by GorfZaplen Original SA post

You've probably heard of PARANOIA , by West End Games. It's about living in space-age futuristic vaults divided by color-coded castes ruled by a computer overseer after world ends. It has gone tremendous transformations over the years, from a darkly humorous dystopian slapstick nightmare to tongue-in-cheek dark-ish slapstick humor to awful pop-culture parody to tongue-in cheeck dark-ish slapstick with social commentary to tongue-in-cheeck dark-ish slapstick for all types. The adventures I have are for the darkly humorous dystopian slapstick nightmare, my personal favorite edition, and one (Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues) is by John M. Ford who wrote some neat stuff and helped make the Infinite Worlds GURPS setting, and another (Send in the Clones) was co-written by Warren Spector of Deus Ex and Thief fame. I will be reviewing First Edition because it is relevant to the adventures, and in my opinion the "purest" edition of PARANOIA before it became a sprawling monster of treason, namely that the satire is kept to a minimum and it has the space-age feel that drew me to PARANOIA in the first place. Later editions tend to pile on the satire pretty heavy, and Paranoia XP had parodies of eBay and the like. I'll review the latest edition and maybe XP if I can find a copy and if there is demand for it.

So, where to begin? At the beginning, obviously.

PARANOIA Player's Guide
Security Clearance RED
WARNING: Knowledge or possession of the contents by any citizen of Security Clearance INFRARED constitutes treason, and is punishable by summary execution.


PARANOIA is an adventure role-playing game set in an imaginary future. A well-meaning but deranged computer desperately protects the citizens of an underground warren from the real or imagined threats of innumerable traitors and enemies. You will play the part of one of The Computer's elite agents. Your job is to search out, reveal, and destroy the enemies of The Computer. You must protect your Alpha Complex from those who would harm her.
The problem is - who can you trust? Even your fellow agents are probably traitors. No one is free from suspicion. Not even you! And in fact - you have some secrets to hide. Dangerous secrets which might earn you a charge of treason. There is the constant threat of betrayal.

Stay alert!
Trust no one!
Keep your laser handy!

You grew up in a vast underground vault called "The Alpha Complex". You were raised with five identical individuals, a clone family, alongside dozens of other clone families. Your only experience has been limited to the only areas accessible to those with the lowest security clearance, INFRARED. Everything you know about the world comes from the official teachings of the Computer, and not from the treasonous legends and rumors of the outside world.

There is a war going on, a war that has always been and will likely always be. The enemy constantly seeks to infiltrate the Alpha Complex and rot it from the inside with the aforementioned rumors and legends along with other nefarious tools.

The enemy? "Commies", shadowy and sadistic forces from beyond the Alpha Complex who seek nothing less than the destruction of your superior way of life.

Everybody in the Alpha Complex is assigned a Security Clearance. Your clearance is RED. Beneath RED are the laborers and security drones, INFRARED. There is a clearance for all the colors of the rainbow: RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO, and VIOLET. Above VIOLET is ULTRAVIOLET, the highest possible status, reserved for the High Programmers of the Computer, unless you listen to the rumors that there are clearances higher than ULTRAVIOLET, which you don't because you're not a traitor.

A formal execution, PARANOIA style.

You wear red clothing. Everyone wears clothing the same color as their clearance. Their equipment is color coded, too. INFRARED wears black, though, and you hear that ULTRAVIOLET wears white, but you don't know because you've never seen anyone wearing white, or even a white wall or a white piece of equipment.

You can only move around in sectors of your color and lower, but why you would want to go into lower sectors is a mystery. You obey citizens of higher clearance, and can command those of lower. You don't tell them anything unless told to tell them, since telling things to people when not told to might constitute treason.

There are eight service groups in RED clearance. Everyone belongs to a service group. Internal Security; Technical Services; Housing Preservation & Development and Mind Control; the Armed Forces; Production, Logistics, and Commissary; Power Services; Research & Design; and Central Processing Unit. Each service group performs a different service and responsibilities for the Complex.

You're a Troubleshooter, part of an elite service unit made up of citizens from all service groups. When The Computer has a problem it wants solved, it sends you to do it. It's the fastest way to rise through the ranks. but also the fastest way to die, because there are traitors everywhere.

Admirable zeal in service to the computer.

You're also in a secret society. Being in a secret society is treason, punishable by death. But they can help you advance and give you equipment. Other people might be in secret societies, and might even be in enemy societies. These secret enemies are all around you.

You're also a mutant. This can help you stay alive as you try to advance in your society or in the Computer. However, being a mutant is treason.

Mutants and members of secret societies are traitors. You are both. You're a double traitor, but nobody knows that. If they did, they would report you to the Computer.

But there is one you can trust! The Computer is your friend! The Computer wants you to be happy! If you're not happy, the Computer has uses for you. The Computer is also crazy, but don't tell it that.

Living in an Alpha Complex is fun, because the Computer says so, and The Computer is your friend, and you can trust friends.

Getting rid of traitors is also fun. So is being a Toubleshooter. As a Troubleshooter, you will get shot at, stabbed, incinerated, stapled, mangled, poisoned, blown to bits, and occasionally maybe accidentally executed by accident. It's so much fun that most Troubleshooters go insane from the sheer amount of fun. You'll be working with other Troubleshooters. You all carry lasers.

Lasers are your only other friend than The Computer.

But who are you?

Character Creation

The face of a happy citizen.

My name is Gett-R-DUN-1. My short name is Gett, I'm R ED clearance, from the DUN Residential Unit, and the first of my clone family.

The Computer has taken measurements of my abilities. I'm not sure what the 1d4231 crap is about, and I'm not sure it's my place to know. The XdY is what you roll to determine said stat.

Apparently my Strength is 11. Strength represents my physical strength, how much damage I can do with certain hand weapons and how much I can carry. 1d10+8

Supposedly my Agility is 9. Agility represents my ability to dodge, balance, and perform actions requiring quickness and coordination. It also affects my ability to hit people in fights. 2d10

Manual Dexterity has a value of 18 on my charts. Manual Dexterity is my hand-eye coordination and patience and skill with Agility. It also adds to my ability to hit someone with a projectile weapon. 2d10

My Endurance is rated as a 16. It represents how much damage and pain I can take before buckling down. 1d10+8

My Moxie is marked as an 8. This shows how much I can comprehend the incomprehensible, learn new ways to communicate, perceive important details, and correctly choose the right course of action in unexpected situations. In a way, it's like my own personal Computer advising me. 2d10

What does the handbook say about Chutzpah ? Oh, here it is.


Chutzpah is defined as the quality of a man who kills both his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is an orphan.
2d10. My Chutzpah is at 2. I'm not kidding, this is what I rolled. Gett places at "Like Charlie Brown but even more of a doormat" on the "BALLS" scale.

My 9 in Mechanical Aptitude represents my ability to understand and operate machinery and equipment, and repairing said machinery and equipment, which apparently isn't too great. 2d10

Power Index is how strong my mutant power is. My Power Index is at 11. 1d10+5

There's other things on this chart. I'll tell you about them later, Computer.


Further Character Creation

posted by GorfZaplen Original SA post


Security Clearance RED
WARNING: Knowledge or possession of the contents by any citizen of Security Clearance INFRARED constitutes treason, and is punishable by summary execution.

Further Character Creation

I also have Secondary Attributes related to my Primary Attributes. The players aren't supposed to know the italics stuff, but for the sake of the review I'm consulting the GM Handbook for their purposes. It brings up a bunch of stuff we haven't come to yet. If you're not Ultraviolet, don't read them.

My Carrying Capacity is how well I carry heavy things. It's related to my Strength. My Carrying Capacity is 25, 25 what I'm not sure. CC is measured in kilograms. All equipment is measured in kilograms, except treasonous equipment. You can carry more than your CC, but you receive penalties based on how much more you're carrying.

The Damage Bonus is what strong people get if they have high strength. They hurt people more when they hit them. I'm not strong, though, so I don't have one. The number indicates how many columns to the right we read when consulting the Damage Table. More on this later.

The Macho Bonus is how well I endure damage and injury, and how well I survive serious injury. I have a -1 Macho Bonus, so I guess I'm not very Macho. He's fairly macho. The opposite of the Damage Bonus, this moves the damage column to the left.

Melee Bonus affects my chance to hit someone when up close and personal. I'm not good at being up close and personal. The melee bonus is added to the character's chance of hitting. A negative bonus, like the one Gett has, reduces the chance. Again, more on this later, sorry.

At least I'm good at something, though. My Aimed Weapon Bonus of +17% means I'm a pretty good shot, if I do say so myself. Same as Melee Bonus, but for aimed weapons.

My Comprehension Bonus measures my ability to use certain Hostile Environment skills. The skills come soon, I swear!

I suck at lying. My Believability Bonus is a -35%. Influences more than just lying, but the Communications skill in general.

The Repair Bonus represents my abilities to use technical skills, which are lacking. I have a -2%. What it says on the tin. Affects your chance of using the various repair skills.

Everyone is in a Service Group . I rolled a 1 for the chart.

Internal Security weeds out the Traitors and Commies that infiltrate our Alpha Complex, and help keep order for The Computer. I'm in Internal Security. We're sort of like a combination of law officers, secret police, and monitors of political orthodoxy. Nobody likes us and most people fear us. Our agents are everywhere.

Technical Services is in charge of maintaining all of our utilities and support systems in the Alpha Complex. They get in contact with other Complexes, so they're probably traitors.

Housing Preservation & Development and Mind Control maintain records and make living comfortable for us. They also help promote promising INFRARED individuals who deserve better than being among the unwashed masses. They aren't that important.

The Armed Forces are heroes. They carry out our eternal war with the Commies on the Outside. The amazing Vulture Squadrons are part of the Armed Forces.

Production, Logistics and Commissary makes our food and goods. They're pretty important.

Power Services keeps the lights on and the transports on time.

Research and Design develops technology for the glory and happiness of The Computer and the Citizens of Alpha Complex.

The Central Processing Unit supervises Troubleshooters like me. They've apparently close friends with The Computer.

Remember how you said I was a Mutant ? Well, that's obviously nonsense. Is it? I rolled a 5, which gives Gett Advanced Hearing . I'll give the specifics later, but basically if he concentrates he can hear really well.

Gett, being a terrible liar, has gone and registered his power. He is a marked traitor, but the Computer tolerates his presence because his power is useful. Gett wears a yellow stripe on his uniform at all times, but is allowed to use his power without being executed.

I'll cover the other mutations when we get to the GM Handbook, or if you want me to create several other characters to accompany Gett on his missions.

I also don't belong to a Secret Society . Gett is a member of Free Enterprise . I'll tell you more later (I keep promising that, don't I?) but the short version is that he's basically part of the Mob.

I also have various Skills . Each character starts with three required skill points, two specialized skill points, and one optional skill point. Required skill points represent basic Troubleshooter training. Specialized skill points represent skills you, well, specialized in. The optional point represents something miscellaneous you studied.

There are five categories of skills: Basic Operations , Personal Developments , Hostile Environments , Vehicle Services , and Technical Services .

Two of the required skill points go into Basic Operations (combat stuff) then Aimed Weapon Combat, and the third goes into Personal Developments (social stuff).

Skills are done with trees. The category is marked as (1), the specific branch is (2), and so on until the bottom of the tree. You can upgrade the skills at the bottom of the tree. You can't have Basic Operations (2), but you could have Laser Pistol (5).

Since Gett is Internal Security, his specialization points go to Basic Operations. So he is going to put his points into lasers. With these extra two points, we get him up to Laser Pistol (4).

We're going to spend his optional point on Weapon Maintenance (2). He's probably only useful to Free Enterprise as maybe a last ditch Hit Man. They'd probably have to kill him after to keep him from blabbing.

These are my skills. Neat, huh?



posted by GorfZaplen Original SA post

Holy shit it's been a while!

Security Clearance RED
WARNING: Knowledge or possession of the contents by any citizen of Security Clearance INFRARED constitutes treason, and is punishable by summary execution.

Let's get into the submeat and synthtatoes of this role-playing experience.

The basic rolling mechanism is d100 roll under. Everyone has a minimum 5% chance with all skills, and it can't go any lower than that. With 1 skill point in a category, you have a 20% chance in all skills in that category. For example, with one skill point in "Basics" all "Basics" skills have a base 20% chance. Each extra skill point in a category increase the base chance for all skills under that category by 5%.

For example, Gett has Basics(1)-Aimed Weapon Combat(2)-Laser(3)-Pistol(4). You would have a base 35% with laser pistols, 30% with all lasers, 25% with all aimed weapons, and 20% with everything else. If he had pistol(5), he would have base 40%.

A handy way to remember base percentages:

15% +(5 x highest skill number)

Now, your base percentages are modified by your secondary attributes. For example, Gett's Aimed Weapon Bonus of +17% means that his percentage with his laser pistol is now 52%.

You could theoretically determine your own percentages and make a guess as to common skill percentages that you will use a lot, like laser pistols, but because the GM can modify the percentages based on classified circumstances it's best not to rely too heavily on this.


Normally citizens are discouraged from owning private property, because keeping track of equipment is hard. The Computer provides everything for us. But now that I'm a Troubleshooter, I can buy and use certain things for myself.

I have accumulated 100 credits over the course of my life. I already have a suit of Red Reflec armor and a red hand laser.

I could personalize my equipment, but it costs a lot 25-50% of the credit value determined by GM fiat, might give bonuses like improved performance, durability or just appearance and I need my money for the fines that will probably be inevitably issued.

I don't really need anything else, so I'm keeping my money.

Clone Families

The Computer, in its infinite wisdom, produces six of every individual so we'll never be lonely, and in case the inevitable happens to one of us. My family was completely equal in skills and attributes as of the time of my promotion to Troubleshooter.

There are six of us in each family. I'm Number One. While I'm shooting trouble, they're out doing work in our service group. If I ever die, Number Two will be "activated" to take my place. The life of a Troubleshooter is hard. Any information I gather won't necessarily be available to my clones, but he might have more money or prestige than me.

If all six of my family die, it's over. There aren't any more of us.


In the Alpha Complex, things are measured in "points". Skill Points and Credits are told privately to the players at the end of an adventure or session. They're used to upgrade old skills and gain new ones, and to buy stuff/pay fines, respectively. Credits can also be gained in many other ways, such as testing experimental equipment.

Commendation Points are points that represent valuable service to The Computer, such as completing missions, discovering or eliminating trators, or just being a chill guy with The Computer. A commander of an expedition may assign commendation points for particularly superior performance. Gett only needs 2 Commendation Points before he's promoted to ORANGE.

Treason Points on the other hand are a measure of The Computer's suspicion and distrust of a character. The Computer might overlook some treasonous charges if the character is doing something particularly important and well for The Computer. If a characters treason points exceed his commendation points by 10 or more, then The Computer will attempt to eliminate him, either by ordering his fellow Troubleshooters to kill him, or taking direct action to apprehend and execute the character.

Treason points are gained by failing to fulfill orders, doubting the Computer, speaking or acting against The Computer, by damaging or destroying assigned equipment, by conspiracy or suspected conspiracy with others, by using mutant powers, or acting in such a manner to create suspicion of membership in a secret society. This isn't a comprehensive list. There are many, many other ways to gain treason points.

Secret Society Points are like commendation points, but for a characters secret society. If you get enough, you can advance in the society and get access to information, equipment and other assistance through the society.

Missions for The Computer

Our group is going to receive regular missions from The Computer. At the beginning of an adventure, the GM gives the players the mission assignment. This contains the objectives, the Troubleshooters to be involved, and a list of any equipment to be assigned. It may also include things like maps, special warnings, access codes in the form of briefing notes.

Live play in PARANOIA is fun. Even though the secrecy works better online, in real life it increases the paranoia for everyone. "Why did the GM just take him to the other room? What was in that note that he passed? Why is the GM smiling? Why is the guy across from me smiling? Oh God, am I smiling? Poker face, poker face, poker face..."

The GM might take players aside and give them confidential information about their character, other characters, the mission, or other things. Maybe it's from The Computer. Maybe it's from their secret society. Maybe it's complete bullshit.

I prefer notes, since they don't slow down play, and because private conferences too often allow the other players time to think about their objectives and what's going on, which isn't ideal. PARANOIA is best played as sufficiently fast paced so they don't have time to hatch a plan or figure out what's going on, but not so fast that they're just rushed along to their objective.

If a robot or other intelligent equipment is assigned, then The Computer will assign on Troubleshooter as the primary operator. This is the only person allowed to direct the equipment. He is allowed to assign a secondary operator from his team, in the event he is killed during the mission. Then the secondary operator becomes the primary operator, and can assign a new one, and so on. It's treason to direct it without authority.

Of course, not assigning a second operator makes you more valuable, and the team will have more incentive to keep your alive. This is a double edged sword (or a totally useful and deadly one-way sword if you're that type of person) because then, without someone to operate this special equipment, the mission fails and everyone is guilty of treason.

If the mission involves going Outside (GASP), then everyone is assigned a com unit, which allows long distance communication between Troubleshooters and is constantly monitored by The Computer. If you ever turn it off or remove it you are obviously conspiring against The Computer.

Dramatic Tactical Movement & Combat

This is really what I love about PARANOIA .

For a long time, PARANOIA has been a sort of grognard-repellant. It will likely be this way until the end of time. First of all, it's fun, and it's a documented and verified science fact that if a grognard's skin is exposed to even the smallest amount of fun they will explode violently in a burst of unholy flame. Or was that "vampires" and "The Sun"? I'm pretty sure grognards also burst in The Sun, but whatever.

When PARANOIA came out, many role playing games had combat and movement systems tied to their wargame ancestors. You used things like mats and figurines to figure out your place on the battlefield. As the book wisely and wonderfully points out, this is fine for wargames, but emphasizes competition and just slows down the game. PARANOIA uses a sort of unsystem where the GM has complete control.

You tell the GM what you want to do, and the GM tells you what happens. It encourages, instead of tactical optimization and powergaming, absolutely insane stunts that would get you thrown out of other less fun games. If you try something hilariously insane and entertaining, the GM will probably let it succeed. If you try the logical and tactical thing, you'll probably fail and maybe even be issued a Treason Point for knowing classified tactical and logical information.

PARANOIA Etiquette

PARANOIA is about keeping everyone ignorant and afraid, and about paranoia. Keeping players in the dark about the setting and adventure is important.

If you want to optimize your fun and you don't plan on GMing, don't read the GM Handbook. If you do read it, don't tell anyone what you know, because you (and by extension your character) know classified information, and it's treasonous that you even think you know it.

Every time a player metagames, he gets a treason point.

Besides, most of the information in the GM Handbook would just bore the average player anyway.

It's not cool to look at someone elses character sheet for an unfair advantage. Personally, I allow two people to share their character sheets if they really want to be stupid and take that risk, and I consider it as them pouring their hearts to each other in a really sappy and gay moment.

Basically, respect the privacy of the game master and the other players out of character. Ignorance, uncertainty and paranoia in PARANOIA are important elements in PARANOIA . Everyone is entitled to confidentiality of their character, character records, and their communications with the gamemaster.

Well, from each other, not from the GM.

Are you still with me?



posted by GorfZaplen Original SA post

I use XP when I play Paranoia, but I'm going over 1e because it's the relevant edition for our adventures, and because there is enough fluff change between 1e and XP that it's nice to plot the evolution of the setting and plot.

Straight 1e is still fairly dystopic, and it's really thanks to the art and the adventures published after that turned PARANOIA into the game we know and love.

Also, RE: Palladium, it's really sad that the system is such a clusterfuck and that Kevin won't let people who know what they're doing organize books, because some of the books out there would be fun to play, like Nightbane. I always wondered how an entire class table could be left out (it's either the bat form or the bear form for the Nightbane) but if Kevin really does insist on organizing all the books personally, then that mystery seems to be solved.

So, who wants to meet some of the brave folks that Gett will be working with? Too late.

Before I proceed, let me talk a bit about names.

There is a very good reason you are to select a name first. See, it's almost impossible to resist making the name a pun or something stupid like Gett-R-DUN or Ayn-R-AND. Perhaps you even imagine your character by this name. The first thing you forget when you do this is that their rank will probably change, simply because their name relies on that letter. Like, say, Ayn-R-AND will one day be Ayn-O-AND.

When I chose "Gett-R-DUN" I imagined him as a mentally deficient redneck who would always be ready to kick some ass. Instead, he's almost literally the opposite of his name. He is spineless, has no initiative, and instead of being a redneck he's basically a mob controlled cop.

The reason I like choosing the name first is that things like inevitably happen.

For example:



Strength 12
Agility 14
Manual Dexterity 6
Endurance 13
Moxie 12
Chutzpah 10
Mechanical Aptitude 14
Power Index 9

Carrying Capacity 25
Damage Bonus -
Macho Bonus -
Melee Bonus +7%
Aimed Weapon Bonus -5%
Comprehension Bonus +2%
Believability Bonus -1%
Repair Bonus +5%

Service Group: Armed Forces

Mutant: Chameleon (biological)

SS: Mystics


Basic Operations (1)(r) - Aimed Weapon Combat (2)(r)
Melee Combat (2)(o)

Personal Development (1)(r)

Hostile Environments (1)(s) - Primitive Warfare (2)(s)

What does this all mean? It means that Ayn-R-AND-1 is not only a New Ager (Mystics) and serves in the military (Armed Services) but also likely believes in a twisted Alpha Complex version of the Noble Savage (Primitive Warfare, although this would be even better if she were a Sierra Clubber), and should have ample opportunity to indulge this since she's supposed to be sent outside of the Alpha Complex on a regular basis. (But she's not, more on that later)

Let's meet another fellow Gett will be suspicious of soon.



Strength 11
Agility 12
Manual Dexterity 17
Endurance 18
Moxie 12
Chutzpah 22
Mechanical Aptitude 10
Power Index 6

Carrying Capacity 25
Damage Bonus -
Macho Bonus -1
Melee Bonus +3%
Aimed Weapon Bonus +15%
Comprehension Bonus +2%
Believability Bonus +27%
Repair Bonus -1%

Service Group: Power Services

Mutant: Superior Chutzpah (+1d10=7)(Mental)



Basic Operations (1)(r) - Aimed Weapon Combat (2)(r)
Personal Development (1)(r)
Vehicle Services (1)(s) - Operation and Repair (2)(s) - Autocar (3)(o)

Punch isn't too special, although he has tremendous Chutzpah, which is appropriate for a guy who views The Computer as a tyrant that everything (Man and Machine) needs to be freed from. PURGE is funny like that. He also works Power Services, a group nobody really likes and that Internal Security is always keeping an eye on.



Strength 11
Agility 18
Manual Dexterity 10
Endurance 12
Moxie 12
Chutzpah 11
Mechanical Aptitude 13
Power Index 14

Carrying Capacity 25
Damage Bonus -
Macho Bonus -
Melee Bonus +17%
Aimed Weapon Bonus -1%
Comprehension Bonus +2%
Believability Bonus +1%
Repair Bonus +4%

Service Group: Production, Logistics, and Commissary

Mutant: Advanced Taste (Biological)

SS: Pro-Tech


Basic Operations (1)(r) - Aimed Weapon Combat (2)(r)
Melee Combat (2)(o)

Personal Development (1)(r)

Technical Services (1)(s) - Engineering (2)(s)

Another boring one, sadly. Our version of Karl Marx works in a colossal bureaucracy that we will get to have fun with later during our adventures. I think it's appropriate that Marx works for the closest thing PARANOIA has to a corporation. I imagine that he uses his Advanced Tasting to test the foods before sending them off. It will be awhile before he gets to do office work.

Our incarnation of Marx believes that technology is the only thing that can save the world, even if they have to steal it from The Computer to distribute it. Technology will end all conflict and turn the world into an amazing playground of leisure and fun.



Strength 18
Agility 8
Manual Dexterity 7
Endurance 13
Moxie 12
Chutzpah 15
Mechanical Aptitude 10
Power Index 8

Carrying Capacity 55
Damage Bonus +1
Macho Bonus -
Melee Bonus -3%
Aimed Weapon Bonus -4%
Comprehension Bonus +2%
Believability Bonus +10%
Repair Bonus -1%

Service Group: Central Processing Unit (Any Skill Category)

Mutant: Superior Chutzpah (+1d10=4)(Mental)

SS: Spy for Another Alpha Complex (Joni-B-GUD-4)


Basic Operations (1)(r) - Aimed Weapon Combat (2)(r)
Personal Development (1)(r) - Leadership (2)(s) - Bribery (3)(s)
Interrogation (3)(o)

Joni-B-GUD-4 wasn't really much of good for anything in her home Alpha Complex, even though she was boringly loyal to The Computer. When she was told that her amazing strength could be used for the good of The Computer and to smash Commies, she leapt at the chance to do great good. All she's really good at is lying, despite never having had practice for it. She was probably chosen because of her registered power. So she snuck into the nearby Complex through twisting and lost trails, other spies already there registered her into the system and made new clones for her. She's now Strayt-R-LAC-1, and was assigned to Central Processing Unit.

So now she's right next to The Other Computer, right next to its treasonous hard drive, and she's been called on by This Computer to serve this Other Complex, because she has demonstrated excellent leadership skills and also because she can lift a lot of stuff.

I like the way this one turned out.

Sometimes, though, things go really right with the dice.



Strength 8
Agility 12
Manual Dexterity 12
Endurance 14
Moxie 16
Chutzpah 13
Mechanical Aptitude 4
Power Index 9

Carrying Capacity 25
Damage Bonus -
Macho Bonus -1
Melee Bonus +7%
Aimed Weapon Bonus +3%
Comprehension Bonus +10%
Believability Bonus +4%
Repair Bonus -20%

Service Group: Research & Design (Technical Services)

Mutant: Machine Empathy (Extraordinary Mutant Power)(Psionic)

SS: Death Leopard


Basic Operations (1)(r) - Aimed Weapon Combat (2)(r)

Personal Development (1)(r)

Technical Services (1)(s) - Computers (2)(s) - Operation (3)(o)

This is, more or less, one of the best (most hilarious) possible characters a GM can hope for.

Now, the only way to get an Extraordinary Power is either to have a stat total under 80 or to roll in the 97-00 range when rolling for your powers (this is how Alan got his).

Machine Sense and Machine Empathy are both powers that enable the user to better understand and command machines. Being understood scares the shit out of The Computer, so this is pretty much an instant death sentence, sort of. (MORE ON THAT LATER)

Machine Empathy means that machines (robots and computers and etc) will have an innate liking of the character. They won't attack or harm or kill the character unless under direct orders or have a strong reason to. This includes The Computer. The Computer will give characters with this power the benefit of the doubt when assigning treason points.

This is important because Alan is also a Death Leopard, a secret society whose entire motivation can be summed up with this . Their only goals are to have fun and defy The Computer, with special respect given to those who produce spectacular and absolutely insane acts of chaos and rebellion. They're generally short lived, give no fucks and lead double lives as intensely boring and loyal citizens.

Alan also has a bonus in that he works for Research & Design , a service group given lots of freedom and resources by The Computer for whatever untested and unstable devices they make. Internal Security has lots of trouble with them that is never solved, because The Computer is "exasperatingly indulgent with treason in those who develop for Alpha Complex".

In other words, The Computer has an innate liking of Alan and has reason to protect him, and Alan has lots of resources at his disposal to make insane devices that will destroy for the glory of the Death Leopards.

And to top it off, he's also really, really awful with machinery.

I actually rolled Alan right after Gett, but he's last because of the glory.

So, these are the fellow Troubleshooters in Gett's squad. They share a barracks together, and it won't be long before they're sent off on an amazing adventure for the glory of The Alpha Complex.

I have just now decided I won't yet go into the GM Handbook, not yet, since you'll go up in clearance alongside our heroes! Now I have to find that copy of the Adventure Handbook...

Gamemaster's Handbook

posted by GorfZaplen Original SA post


You have been granted temporary access to ULTRAVIOLET clearancy. Enjoy this privelege while it lasts.

PARANOIA Gamemaster Handbook

This is largely so we can compare XPs philosophy and tone to 1e. Although largely similar, first edition was fairly straight dystopia. Many of the concepts here will return in XP, though streamlined and elaborated.

GMing Paranoia well can be a challenge. Paranoia is a game where on any given expedition, half or maybe all of the party might die. Weapons are deadly as fuck, and almost anything you can imagine (including the ability to imagine) is treasonous.

You can't be a softy and let them off. If someone deserves to die, kill him. Even if they don't deserve to die, if they've accumulated too many treason points, kill em. If the dice say they fucked up, they fucked up.

By the same token, if the dice say they made it, they made it. The GM shouldn't kill just because he's bored. No, there are better things to do when he's bored. He should just kill because he feels like it. PARANOIA can be frustrating enough for the players; it's a game about ignorance and fear.

Those are the two concepts that the GM needs to know. That is how you maintain the proper atmostphere in PARANOIA. Fear and Ignorance. Ignorance and Fear.

If you're doing it right, the players won't get mad at you when things fuck up. If you're doing it right, they'll be at each others throats. They won't think "The GM made the Plasmotron explode", they should be thinking "the Weapons Officer knew the Plasmotron would explode, but he didn't tell us". They should be afraid of their equipment, of the enemy, of The Computer, and of each other. They should be Paranoid .

But they shouldn't know why. Information is incredibly hard to get, largely because Information is treasonous. Even in the exceptional circumstances where they somehow go through the insane bureacratic process to get information, the information should be incomplete, obscure, even misleading. Information that's reliable should look incomplete, obscure, even misleading. Make them paranoid to trust any information from any source.

For a game that often ends up as zany as Paranoia, you have to be logical about things. But that's later. Just remember to apply liberal dosage of Fear and Ignorance, and you'll be fine.



posted by GorfZaplen Original SA post

So, while we wait for Paranoia XP, I decided to apply the principles of FEAR AND IGNORANCE to other games and watch what happens, and what happens if we take the game and stick it in Alpha Complex.

Bliss Stage : Either it becomes more tragic or more hilarious. The kids don't even know what they're fighting for, and in all likelihood the aliens aren't even real and the government is just running tests to see if they can weaponize teenage angst.

In the Alpha Complex, you already fight a shadowy invading menace with your love for The Computer, only you have hormone suppressants so there's no sex.

Racial Holy War : This game is already so fearful and ignorant that any more would cause it to explode.

It's already a short logical leap for white supremacists to go from "Communist" to "Jew" to "Black People" in reality, so while the excessive fear and ignorance of RaHoWa fits into Paranoia, it parallels reality so well that it's more sad than funny.

Black Tokyo : Fuck you.

Cthulhutech : It's hard to apply Fear and Ignorance to stupid games, because they're already so ignorant that it just isn't funny. In the context of Paranoia, CTech would be a big sham. The Tagers would just be people in like, cardboard suits or something, and honestly they're the only thing I can remember off the top of my head from CTech that isn't brain meltingly stupid.

Feng Shui : Feng Shui already applies these principles perfectly, and in Alpha Complex there's probably a subsect of Romantics whose only information about the Pre-Whoops World is from martial arts movies. Or even better, Godfrey Ho movies.

Ryvah : I'm not sure I want to find out, but the concept of "Freedom" is extraordinarily treasonous so it's probably best we don't.

Now, when we apply it to Otherverse: America something magical happens.

The Lifers are already superpowered humans who put on robot death suits adorned with skulls and crosses to "protect the sanctity of life". In Alpha Complex, they're dedicated to protecting the sanctity of life and rights of the unborn in a world where life has no value and people are grown in vats. That's so tragic and hilarious that it fits in Paranoia almost perfectly.

Okay, that's all I'm willing to do before I get too deep into thinking about some of the awesome games that this would make. My mind is for some reason desperately avoiding mixing this with Mouse Guard, probably because it knows that the result would literally blow my mind.

An Unsummary of Fifth Edition

posted by GorfZaplen Original SA post

I leave for a few weeks and the thread dissolves into chaos and anarchy! Do you know what I think this thread needs?

Before you tell me your answers, let me talk to you about history.

You see, there was a minor issue with First Edition PARANOIA . It promised fun, hilarity, satire and fast combat. However, the combat was actually slow and the mechanics were sort of hard to grasp, which slows down the progress of the first three. Second Edition changed that. Now, I never played it or read it, but I hear it's pretty similar to XP's. All the fancy stuff that made combat a pain in First Edition was made into OPTIONAL RULES.

Then, a gang of roaming street producers strutted into West End Games, and thought they could improve something that was already perfect. Their excuse was that their work would "freshen up the game and broaden roleplay possibilities" but I heard it from a very reliable source that they were Commies out to sabotage our Fun.

Jokes aside, they introduced a METAPLOT , which generally doesn't work out well 1 . Here was their ridiculous, impossible and frankly, plain retarded metaplot, before it was erased by Friend Varney and declared never to have existed.

According to Friend Varney, this is how it began.

Friend Varney posted:

Art director Larry Catalano left West End in 1986. Catalano’s successor fired (illustrator) Jim Holloway and brought in a succession of increasingly poor cartoonists. (Writer/editor) Ken Rolston left shortly thereafter for unrelated reasons. In Ken’s wake, developers Doug Kaufman and Paul Murphy in turn briefly supervised the PARANOIA line. After they too departed, editorial control fell to - how do I put this tactfully? - people with different views of the PARANOIA line.

Let me sum up what some traitorous assholes claim happened.

If they are to be believed (which they aren't) it was a scary and retarded time that we should all forget (which we did).

This all led up to "FIFTH EDITION", which emphasized spontaneity and stupidity over FEAR AND IGNORANCE. It was also shitty puns and uninspired and hollow pop culture riffs all the way down. Remember, it's the mid 90s by this point, so it was easier to just make fun of World of Darkness than it was to actually be original in gaming satire.

Of course, none of this happened, so we don't have to worry about that.

"But, isn't that classified to an unwashed INFRARED like me?" you ask.

Yes, yes it is.

Welcome to RED Clearance, Friends.

More Unsummary

posted by Evil Mastermind Original SA post

Okay, so Paranoia 5th Edition, also known as The Edition Nobody Talks About.

Like GorfZaplen said, one of the problems Paranoia ran into was the attempt at metaplot, but that wasn't really that bad; it's more of an experiment that failed, and there are parts of the fanbase who didn't have a problem with Post-Crash Alpha.

That being said, nobody liked 5th Edition.

Technically, it was really the third edition of the rules, and was the first one not written by the original crew.

And that was the problem.

See, the WEG writers didn't really "get" subtle or wry humor; it was monkey cheese or nothing. The best example was the Ghostbusters RPG, where the skill-use example was "let's say you had to eat a telephone!" Because that's the humor style in the Ghostbusters movies, right?

By the time they got to Paranoia, the game had devolved into the tabletop equivalent of the Epic Movie franchise; they moved away from making fun of RPG and genre tropes, and went into "Hey, remember <thing>? This is a reference to <thing>!"

It didn't help that WEG artist Tim Bobko got handle the lead artist role for the game. We all know that art plays a big role in setting up a game's feel; look at the Halloway art, for example.

Tim, though...


The art for P5 was all very cartoony. And not even good cartoony.

What happened to the brunette there?

It didn't help that Bobko put in a few pieces like this both in P5 and in a few of the other WEG books at the time.

The art throughout the book is all like that, and it was a large factor in destroying the feel of the game. Instead of dark comedy, it was all zany slapstick and it alienated the core fanbase to the point that we didn't see a new edition of the game for almost a decade.