The Computer is your friend!

My good friend JethricOne asked me to bring him the second edition game manual for one of my favorite RPGs called Paranoia, which was originally published by West End Games back in 1987. The first edition was published in 1984 making this year the official 20th anniversary of the game, which makes me suddenly feel very old.

Anyway, it seems J1 is planning on running a few gaming sessions of this classic RPG and was unable to locate his copy, or at least all of his copy as the book had started to fall apart awhile ago. Not that mine is in great shape either as pages 41-56 have managed to detach themselves from their binding over the past 17 years. Naturally I extracted a promise of being invited to play in any sessions he actually gets around to running as I’ve always wanted to take a turn as a player in this game; in the past I was always the game master. Being the GM of such a twistedly funny game was a lot of fun, but I’ve always been a little bummed that I never got to try it as a player and now I may get my chance.

Then J1 hit me with news that brightened my day. There’s a new edition of the game being developed called Paranoia XP that is due to be released in August. I was surprised when I hit the web looking for info on the game how much stuff is out there for it and how many people still play it regularly. Not bad for a 20 year old game. The first link I provided above is to a site that lists off the rules for all three editions of the game for free as well as background material and links to other sites with all sorts of resources to take advantage of. Someone has even developed a Java based chat server/client specifically designed for playing Paranoia online called JParanoia. How friggin’ cool is that?! I’m definitely going to have to check that out later.

So some of you are probably wondering what the hell this game is about considering my enthusiasm for it. Imagine a cross between the classics Catch-22 and 1984 with an emphasis on dark humor. The game is set in a post-cataclysmic future where mankind lives in a giant domed city called Alpha Complex which is run by a huge computer AI known as The Computer. The Computer is, due to a number of different factors, well-meaning but more than a little insane. It is also the final authority on everything and rules with an iron fist. Think of it as a cross between a Soviet era dictator and a Christian Fundamentalist. Players take on the role of Troubleshooters who are The Computer’s agents for rooting out trouble and, well, shooting it. Usually this is in the form of treasonous citizens. Problem is, everyone is a treasonous citizen. Players belong to a secret society, secret societies are treasonous. Players also have a mutant power, mutant powers are treasonous. On top of all that, the GM is encouraged to set things up so that every player has some reason to have it in for at least one other player. Good thing you have 5 clone copies of your character as death is never far away in this game. Average life span of a newbie player’s first clone is less than 20 minutes.

In short Paranoia is a lot of backstabbing, bootlicking, conniving, scheming fun. It can take some time for folks used to more traditional RPGs to get into the spirit of it, but once they do they’re amazed at how much fun it can be. Given my sense of humor it shouldn’t be surprising why I love this game.

So I’m ready to try this out as a player. Best of all I’ve already got a home sector picked out for my character: SEB, natch.

4 thoughts on “The Computer is your friend!

  1. You’ll have to post some feedback on the play.  Anyone younger than 35 (give or take half a decade) will likely have a tough time getting the humor. 

    “Dude, why are there all these references to commies?  What’s a commie?”

    “Dude, what does Orwellian mean?”

    “Dude, what’s so strange about having a computer dispense drugs?  That would sure speed up my transactions.”

    Loved the game the first time around, I’d like to see how it stands up now.

    Now, if we could just get someone to re-do Skyrealms of Jorune, I’d be happy.

  2. Skyrealms of Journe! Damn, there’s a name I’ve not heard in awhile. That’s a pretty obscure one too!

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