The Problem with Paranoia………….is Paranoia!

Paranoia 2nd Edition CoverThe problem with Paranoia is not really Paranoia, but what people think Paranoia is.

What is Paranoia:

  1. A darkly satirical game of intrigue, bureaucratic nonsense, and building despair as you find out that nothing in Alpha Complex is what you believe.
  2. A slapstick killfest where you are supposed to be the last one standing at the end of the briefing.
  3. A game that you haven’t played, but are sick of hearing about. People have been boring you to tears describing how they love/loathe it.

Reading the rules it seems like the game is supposed to be option 1. for the characters, and (a toned down) option 2. for the players. However because everyone knows the big reveals all the characters start out knowing that they’re in a crapsack world and begin plotting to destroy their rivals. They are paranoid about the rest of the party from the get go. That sounds like a great game, but I’d rather start with characters ‘doing their part’ for Alpha Complex and then take them through the looking glass…

I”m thinking a way around this would be to incorporate elements from Paranoia into another game. I think they’d fit well in both of the following:

  • Fallout – Replace the computer with the vault overseer and you almost the same situation. Especially since the vaults are all set up as sociological experiments. You have as much room to do whatever you like and still be inside the ‘canon’ setting.
  • Traveller: The New Era – Alpha Colony: a ‘mother’ variant of Virus has taken over an orbital space station or dome on an uninhabitable world. Rather than destroy everyone there, Mother believes she is preserving humanity from extinction. It would have a ‘darker’ feel, enemies could be anyone from RCES, The Regency or other strains of Virus.

The trick would be to make sure that the campaign stays true to the initial ‘pitch’ so the players didn’t feel like you’d pulled a ‘bait and switch’ campaign on them. (Note – Players only complain about it being a ‘bait and switch’ game if they DON’T like what happened, if they love it then it’s master storytelling.)


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