Paranoia: An Introduction

If Popular Fantasy RPG™ worked like PARANOIA…

SOURCE: Paranoia XP //Service Pack One//

Gamemaster: You’re in a long dungeon hallway with a dirt floor, stone walls and an arching stone ceiling. There are burning torches in wall sconces every ten feet. You see one door.
Warrior player: What color is the stone?
GM: Sort of orange.
Rogue player: Aah! I’m only Clearance RED! Get me out of here!
Priest player: I’m casting Mass raise security clearance to make us all ORANGE. [Passes note to the GM: ‘I’m also casting Subvert to Communism on the warrior.’]
Wizard player: I’m using the Gem of Memory to document the priest’s spellcasting. I, uh, may want to study his technique later.
Priest: Of course, of course. [Looks significantly at the rogue, whom he subverted earlier. The rogue nods and passes a note to the GM. The GM rolls a 20-sided die (1d20).]
GM: All right. You’re all ORANGE for the moment and can pass safely down the hallway. Your orders, you recall, were to investigate the door. [Passes note to warrior: ‘You feel a strange, treasonous impulse to overthrow the existing social order and restore power to the people.’]
Warrior: [Gulps] Come, Comra— fellow heroes, let us break down the door!
Wizard: Wait! Did you almost call us ‘Comrades’? That’s a Commie word!
Priest: Of course he didn’t. I heard nothing of the sort.
Rogue: Nor I. Are you leveling false accusations against our leader? That’s treason.
Wizard: Don’t anybody move! I’m not only leveling accusations, I’m leveling my Wand of Fireballs against all three of these traitors. By the way, I’m recording all this with the Gem of Memory.
GM: When you reach for it, you notice the Gem is missing.
Rogue: Uh-oh! You’ve lost a valuable magical item. That’ll mean a heavy fine at the guildhall.
Wizard: I’m firing a fireball at all of them!
GM: [Rolls a 20-sided die] I’m sorry, it appears your experimental Wand of Fireballs has backfired. In a trice you are immolated in a ball of flame. Fortunately the fire is orange, so at least your charred body hasn’t breached its proper security clearance. Scratch one wizard. Your next simulacrum has been dispatched from the guildhall and should arrive shortly.
Wizard: You bastards are gonna pay.
GM: No comments from the currently dead, please. Suddenly the door opens. A huge hobgoblin in leather armor stands there with his broadsword drawn. On his chest you see the mark of a silver hand.
Rogue: I attack him with—
Warrior: Wait! I wave my fingers at him from under my chin.
Priest and rogue: What?
GM: The hobgoblin nods at your recognition signal and lowers his sword. He waves you all inside. Who’s going in first?
Warrior, priest and rogue: [Pointing at each other] Him!

Proper Behaviour for Players

Most roleplaying games pit player characters against opponents and obstacles posed by the Gamemaster. These games encourage players to cooperate in pursuing a goal.

PARANOIA provides opponents and obstacles without encouraging cooperation. In fact, your fellow player characters are the principal opponents and obstacles. To succeed, you must terminate them. Repeatedly. With style.

Vicious, deceitful backstabbing is fun. You’ll feel no remorse as you shaft your fellow PCs, because you know they tried to shaft you first.

But it’s important not to let the paranoid atmosphere of the game bleed into the real world. Distrust and betrayal among characters is fine, but not among players.

Many activities that wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in other RPGs are bad form in PARANOIA. Looking at another player’s character sheet is an unfair way to obtain evidence against him. One Troubleshooter character eavesdropping on another PC is fine, but eavesdropping on a private conference between player and GM is cheating.

We encourage you to terminate your fellow Troubleshooters with style, and a certain amount of gloating. In the same way, if they get you first, you yourself should perish with style. If you expect to be rapidly transferred to a clone backup, demonstrate a generous, charitable forgiveness toward the traitor, exit more in sorrow than in anger, and on revival prepare a cold revenge. If repeated treason has gone against you, and your clone template is about to be erased permanently, etiquette dictates your last clone should go down fighting, shouting secret society slogans and defiantly mocking the other PCs for their cowardly servitude to The Computer.

If another Troubleshooter dispatches you, it is exceedingly poor form to trot up in your new body and start firing back. Instead, enact a cool, calculated revenge, delayed for maximum suspense. Plant evidence; concoct deathtraps; get him in trouble with his secret society. The game plays much better this way, and everyone has more fun.

Likewise, if you terminate Martin-R-TSD-1 for having the mutant power of Slippery Skin, don’t start firing immediately when Martin-R-TSD-2 arrives. You, the player, may know his skin is still slippery, but your character doesn’t. Making every clone identical is a game convenience; it saves a lot of time creating new characters, and is the basis for some cheap jokes. However, the idea that all backup clones have the Prime’s mutant power is unknown in Alpha Complex or to The Computer. Act accordingly.

For that matter, you don’t necessarily know the mutant power stays the same. The GM may give the new clone a different power. Don’t assume anything based on the rules. The GM can adapt the rules to his exceptional purpose.

PARANOIA is a comedy game full of absurd slapstick and insane situations, but to your troubleshooter it is deadly serious. Play your character to the hilt and never go for the cheap laugh or random laser blast when there's a ludicrously baroque self-justification or convoluted death-trap to go for instead.

Proper Behaviour for Characters

Acceptable Behaviour

The following behaviours and knowledge is not considered treasonous, and may be exhibited/possessed by players without fear of summary termination*

» Understanding of this chart and the Treason, Insubordination and Meritorious Conduct charts and their contents. (Drummed into every INFRARED from decanting onward.)
» Knowledge of the current Year of The Computer (214) and general awareness The Computer hasn’t always been here; knowledge that a corrupt, destructive Old Reckoning culture existed before the rise of our friend The Computer. (However, curiosity about that benighted time is very impolite.)
» Mere knowledge of the existence of specific secret societies, mutant powers, the Outdoors or Outdoor plant and animal life. (None of this is polite conversation, but it’s not treasonous.)
» Mere knowledge of various kinds of real food and drink; expressions of envy and the general living conditions of higher-clearance citizens. (Portrayed daily on glamorous vidshows.)
» Expressions of ambition; desire to rise in clearance, get rich, live in luxury, etc. (The Computer encourages aspiration to greater service, though blatant greed is impolite.)
» Casual joking or warnings about service firms, service groups, or higher-clearance citizens in general, as opposed to specific individuals or agencies. (Impolite and likely to draw suspicion, but not technically insubordinate.)
» Unauthorized vandalism or destruction of property of equal or lower clearance, in line of duty.
» Asking questions directly relevant to a mission or duty (these questions are grudgingly condoned).
» Asking whether a particular hypothetical question would be considered directly relevant to a mission or duty.

Insubordinate Behaviour

These are GUIDELINES ONLY to behaviours that are considered insubordination in Alpha Complex.

» Asking a question irrelevant to a mission or duty.
» Asking whether a particular hypothetical question unrelated to a mission or duty would be considered insubordinate or treasonous.
» Asking whether a particular hypothetical question, if it were hypothetically directly related to a mission or duty, would be considered insubordinate or treasonous (nobody likes a smartass).
» Being out of uniform or sloppy.
» Being unhappy.
» Bringing bad news.
» Curiosity about or postulation of supposed virtues of Old Reckoning times.
» Curiosity in general, undue.
» Evading Internal Security or Computer surveillance.
» Excessive impoliteness.
» Failing a hygiene inspection.
» Jokes, insolence, or disregard for the importance of a mission or duty.
» Jokes, insolence, or disrespect for a specific higher-clearance citizen.
» Jokes, complaints, or warnings about a specific service firm or group.
» Questioning the ability or judgment of a higher-clearance citizen.
» Questioning the ability or judgment of The Computer.
» Turning off one’s PDC (communicator) during a mission.
» Unauthorized vandalism or destruction of property of equal or lower clearance, not in line of duty.

Treasonous Behaviour

Accusations of treason
» Being accused of treason.
» Falsely accusing a citizen of treason.

Conduct and bearing
» Arguing with the Gamemaster.
» Assaulting a citizen.
» Being present in a location of higher security clearance.
» Damaging, destroying, or losing assigned equipment.
» Demonstrating knowledge of the PARANOIA rules above your own clearance.
» Failure to defer to a citizen of higher security clearance.
» Framing a citizen of lower clearance for a crime.
» Lying to the GM.
» Possessing a treasonous skill.
» Possessing unauthorized food, information, or equipment.
» Refusal to take a prescribed drug.
» Theft of equipment, possessions or files, including filesharing.
» Threatening the physical or financial safety of another citizen.
» Unauthorized destruction of higher-clearance property.

» Disobeying an order.
» Failure to complete a mission or service service, or failure to file a proper report of the completion.
» Refusing the assignment of a service service.
» Refusing to accept a mission.

» Banned mutation registration.
» Suspicion or proof of mutation possession.

Secret society membership
» Confessing to, suspicion of, or proof of secret society membership.
» Knowledge of Communist doctrine.
» Being a Communist.

» Terminating a citizen without sufficient evidence.

Meritorious Conduct

This is close to an exhaustive list of acts deserving rewards in Alpha Complex.

» Being extremely happy.
» Completing a mission.
» Completing it successfully.
» Completing a service service and filing a report.
» Doing a favor spontaneously for a higher-clearance citizen.
» Doing a favor for a secret society friendly to your own.
» Risking your life to serve or rescue a higher-clearance citizen, to save Alpha Complex or to serve The Computer.
» Terminating a traitor with sufficient evidence.
» Turning a traitor over to Internal Security.
» Unctuous flattery.

  • If you are experiencing irrational fear of summary termination, please remain where you are. A happiness enhancement team has been dispatched to your location. your mental balance will be adjusted shortly. Thank you for your cooperation, citizen.

Survival Tips for Troubleshooters

I never saw a boot I couldn't lick
Tell everyone what they want to hear. Lie with abandon. Embrace doublethink - simultaneously, you have to be the most loyal Troubleshooter, eager to exterminate traitors; and a committed traitor plotting against Alpha Complex.

If you’re making a citizen lick your boot, he might as well start with the sole
Don't be heroic; instead, invite others to perform heroic deeds, then claim credit for their deeds in the aftermath of their inevitable painful deaths.

Accidents will happen—the sooner, the better
Reduce the number of Troubleshooters in your team whenever possible. Less Troubleshooters means less lasers pointed at your back and dead scapegoats tell no tales.

Whoever heard of a trustworthy citizen?
Trust no-one. Especially not your team-mates.

Shoot only from a position of total superiority
You are not looking for an excuse to execture someone. You are looking for an opportunity to execute someone in such a thorough and risk-free fashion, he is dead before his weapon can clear his hoslter.

A sucker for every scheme, a scapegoat for every crime
Never do anything without having a scapegoat handy.

Nothing is more deadly than experimental equipment
R&D gadgets are like a magic genie, only yhe genie's gone insane and has a chainsaw. It can magically solve your problems by pressing the right button, but then it saws your legs off. Solution: get other people to press the button.

Traitors have nothing to lose by committing treason
You're a mutant and a member of a secret society. You're already a dead clone walking. Therefore, you may as well use your mutant power and your nefarious connections while you're still alive.

Debriefings go better when you are the only survivor
"I speak without fear of contradiction…" is the opening sentence of the ideal breifing.

When disaster looms, keep stalling
A gifted foot-dragger has one resource he can always count on: the impatience of other Troubleshooters.

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