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Role Playing (Games)

Paranoia XP Tabletop RPG 'Goes Gold' 50

Posted by simoniker
from the it's-behind-you dept.
Costik writes "Paranoia XP, the new version of the cult tabletop RPG which first debuted in 1984, and in which a 'well-meaning but deranged Computer desperately protects the citizens of Alpha Complex, a vast underground city, from all sorts of real and imagined enemies', is done, and will appear at Gencon Indy later this month. The interesting aspect is that it was designed 'in public,' using a weblog, an online forum, and a Wiki, with enthusiastic support from the community. Fans of the game wrote text, debated rules, proofread, ran statistical analyses, and even wrote a computer simulator to test the game's paper-and-pencil rules. Allen, the game's designer, says 'We borrowed the tools and methods of open-source software development for a paper game, and it worked brilliantly.'"
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Paranoia XP Tabletop RPG 'Goes Gold'

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  • by Thedalek (473015) on Friday August 06, 2004 @03:32AM (#9897486)
    Paranoia is a great way to entertain someone for a few hours. Unfortunately, that someone is going to be the GM, and everyone else is going to wind up hating him or her, and to a lesser extent, each other.

    Now I know what many of you may be thinking: Just because I had a negative experience with Paranoia doesn't make it a bad system. I'll point out that I've had a particularly long string of bad experiences with Paranoia, even with GMs who, in other systems, do quite well. Paranoia seems almost structured to punish players for any action or inaction. Especially if you're testing technology for the lab guys.

    I will readily admit that I haven't really gotten into the resistance side of the game, so it may be that all the rest is to try to force the player into becoming a rebel.
    • by Kenegan (779723) on Friday August 06, 2004 @03:56AM (#9897536)
      Experiences will always vary. In the hands of a psychopathic GM, Bunnies & Burrows can turn nasty and Rocky & Bullwinkle may become more bloodbath than party game.

      Allen and the massed forces of the Paranoia fanbase have turned out a game that better caters to differing styles of play. You can continue to play old style blast 'em til they glow games, but the background is broader with support for less frantic and casualty-heavy styles of 'straight'-play.

      I would recommend that you give it another go if you get the opportunity.
    • by darkmayo (251580) on Friday August 06, 2004 @04:04AM (#9897549)
      It is obvious that Thedalek is under the influence of commie mutants, and he shall be re-educated immediately, friend computer told me so and friend computer is always right.
      • by Zab UvWxy (694326) on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:17AM (#9897946) Journal
        It is obvious that Dark-MAY-O is a commie traitor, since he would rather take pity and "re-educate" (whatever that is) a fellow Commie Mutant Traitor. Friend Computer clearly says that all CMTs are to be executed upon identification as a CMT.

        Please remain still as the Destruct-O-Ray cannons lock onto you. Attempting to flee is treason, punishible by death.
        • It appears that ZabU-VWX-Y doesn't know that re-education is done with high-powered lasers and explosives. He is obviously a Commie Traitor Spy and must be executed immediately!
          • ZabU-VWX-Y is not cleared for such information.
            Your release of this information to the public, uncleared masses constitutes a security breach and identifies you as a CMT.
            Friend computer has advised me that you are not cleared for this information either. Possession of the released information is treasonous and is punishible by death.

            What is my clearance, you ask? Asking such information is also treasonous and punishible by death.

            At this time, however, the merciful Friend Computer has chosen to give yo
    • by DaveTheTriffids (615229) on Friday August 06, 2004 @04:11AM (#9897568)
      I will readily admit that I haven't really gotten into the resistance side of the game, so it may be that all the rest is to try to force the player into becoming a rebel.

      Looks like you may have been playing it wrong -- or, if that seems too prescriptive a verdict for a free-form roleplaying game, then at the very least I'd say you've been missing out on a lot of the fun. Isn't trying to hide your activities on 'the resistance side of the game' the whole point of it for players?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Being killed in Paranoia is not punishment, it's fun. Fun is mandatory. Not having fun is punishable by summary execution. Have a nice day.
    • by Chelloveck (14643) on Friday August 06, 2004 @08:08AM (#9898223) Homepage

      Paranoia is a great beer-and-pretzels game. It sounds to me as if you and your group are taking it way too seriously. It's not really the kind of game suited to epic campaigns; it's more of a sci-fi version of Toon.

    • by Allen Varney (449382) on Friday August 06, 2004 @10:35AM (#9899357) Homepage
      Paranoia is a great way to entertain someone for a few hours. Unfortunately, that someone is going to be the GM, and everyone else is going to wind up hating him or her, and to a lesser extent, each other.

      I'm the principal writer for the new PARANOIA. The new edition of PARANOIA changes the relationship between Gamemaster and players from open malevolence (as established in the 1987 second edition) to a more interesting Skinnerian psychology. Briefly, the GM should condition his players, using a wide variety of tools explained in the rules, to reinforce behaviors he likes and punish behaviors he doesn't.

      Presumably the GM wants to condition the players to play more PARANOIA. He does so by letting them have fun, allowing them to occasionally win through despite obstacles (temporarily, anyway), and rewarding them for entertaining him and the other players.

      The GM's attitude should be a lofty, Olympian amusement at his players. This, I hope, will discourage bad experiences of the type you report.

      • The new edition of PARANOIA changes the relationship between Gamemaster and players from open malevolence (as established in the 1987 second edition) to a more interesting Skinnerian psychology.

        I loved to play the game (and even have an first price from a con), but I had to stop being a GM.

        The game content literally had me ROTFLMAO, but I couldn't really do the kind of stuff to people.

        Sigh, should post anon, really. I'm ashamed for being too much a wimp for my own (and others) good. :-(

    • by Colazar (707548) on Friday August 06, 2004 @11:15AM (#9899784)
      Now I know what many of you may be thinking: Just because I had a negative experience with Paranoia doesn't make it a bad system. I'll point out that I've had a particularly long string of bad experiences with Paranoia, even with GMs who, in other systems, do quite well.

      The thing is, the ability to GM a game of Paranoia well has no correlation to the ability to GM in any other system.

      Back in college our gaming group was co-founded by someone who loved to GM, but was absolutely horrid at it. We all avoided his games whenever possible. And then he roped some of us into a game of Paranioa, and it was amazing how fun it was.

      In Paranoia, it's OK for the GM to be harsh, unrealistic, and arbitrary, as long as he can keep the "cartoon logic" going, and is funny about it. It's definitely a different set of skills.

    • You must have been trying to play Paranoia *seriously* with a GM who took it too seriously or something. Paranoia was about maiming, killing off or outcasting characters at a blinding rate. That's why you had clones: so you didn't have to keep writing up a new character. It delivers pain and suffering, amusement at the folly of resisting the computer and backstabbing opprotunities at every corner. Basically we used it to blow off steam after long lasting campaigns or for one evening sessions of mayhem. I pi
      • Been there, done that, have the T-shirt design on standby.

        Worked surprisingly well after a couple of minor tweaks:
        Weapons are not standard issue equipment.
        Lethality level lowered slightly. (1 column shift on everything)
        GM establishing a coherent setting and letting players see that they could in fact survive and develop their characters if they were smart enough.
      • Back in college, I wrote a campaign for Paranoia, based on the idea that the "Trekkies" secret society managed to corrupt the government into building a real, working Enterprise starship.

        I was able to re-use the campaign materials with the same group of players four times, because the first three times the whole party was dead (and out of clones) before reaching the briefing room.

        For the record, players in my Paranoia games always had fun.

        My favorite moment from that campaign: The "Captain" had not yet
    • I can't speak for you (I don't know you) but the majority of people I've talked to who hate Paranoia are people who take RPGs way to seriously. They memorize things like 'rules' and offen do things like correct the GM ("What do you mean I don't hit him? I rolled a 12, the monster is a class-2 slime based creaper. I have a sword of +2 vs. plant which in the third edition rules gives me +4 on slime...")

      Paranoia is D&Ds evil twin. You play it to have fun. Your characters are more disposible then your bic-

      • It's a pure delight for Type-A GM's, too. Any kind of sadistic streak is wholeheartedly reinforced and encouraged. If the GM knows enough about the rules to effectively GM, he's going to be killing players left and right (whether they're Type-A or newbies) unless they are the specific kind of player who gets into the Paranoia mindset.

        From at least one of the posted responses here, it appears that the developers are aware of this issue, and have made every effort to correct it in this new version. Bully


    • Citizen, report to sector D for a vigorous brain scrubbing!

    • I will readily admit that I haven't really gotten into the resistance side of the game, so it may be that all the rest is to try to force the player into becoming a rebel.

      Actually, the point is to force the player to become just as corrupt as the system, and thrive on that corruption. Just as Wally in Dilbert comics has managed to "game" the corporate world for his own goals of laziness and confort, your best chance of survival is to become Part Of The Problem. Those who let go of such pre-Alpha concept
  • Open-source RPG? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Airwall (39346) * on Friday August 06, 2004 @03:51AM (#9897524) Homepage
    Apologies if this sounds like pimping...
    Obviously we're smaller and don't have the fan following of Paranoia, but a bunch of us are making a Free (capital F) tabletop RPG called Sacred Steel [sacredsteel.org]. The first public milestone release is being playtested now. Approx 40,000 words over 100 pages, nicely layed out, with artwork.
    • Just browsing through it and wanted to comment that I hate you. I was thinking about making a card-based RPG, although my idea was to have everyone have a hand of cards, so they could for example use their good cards on actions they really wanted to succeed at but they'd end up having to use bad cards at some point. However, I find myself wondering how your deck of cards, seeing as there are equal numbers of red and green cards, would be any different from just flipping a coin (or multiple coins if you ha
      • Yep, I think it mentions using different things - dice, coins, regular playing cards. The "official" cards are good because they are visually distinct, but yeah, you can use anything.

        As for the probabilities - the main advantage of a deck of cards is that your luck is guaranteed to balance out if you go right the way through the deck. Of course, some people think that's a disadvantage.
  • Please report to the nearest extermination center :)-
  • by numLocked (801188) on Friday August 06, 2004 @04:11AM (#9897570) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me the logical extension of this would be to build an actual open source engine based on a pencil+paper system, like perhaps GERPS. Creating the actual game could be left completely to fans, and the engine could be modified at will. A commercial model could be developed based on selling the engine along with popular fan-made extensions. If one could generate enough buzz for such a project, an entire game engine could conceivably be built for no cost and the contributers could split any profits that were incidentally made.
  • Tabletopism (Score:4, Funny)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday August 06, 2004 @04:15AM (#9897580) Journal
    How can you play a game which requires a GM without a GM? The scripted events must follow some sort of order and totally removes the "you pissed me off last game so this game I'm going to tentical rape you" element which makes pen and paper so fun...
    • Re:Tabletopism (Score:3, Informative)

      by Takyn-U-RUN (803154)

      If you're wondering about the computer simulator, I can let you know some more about it, since I wrote it. It's just a simple, dumb combat simulator, where Troubleshooters shoot Commies and vice versa until one of them is all dead. No backstabbing, no running away, no using mutations... not very Paranoia at all.

      But of course, the point of the combat simulator wasn't to make a Paranoia game, it was to help Allen balance out combat. You could adjust the amount of damage done by the weapons, the protective

  • by Anonymous Coward
    (posting anon so as not to karma whore)
    As I mentioned in the earlier article on this, anyone who enjoys Paranoia may also enjoy a knockoff game called InFiNiTy CoMpLeX that was on MajorBBS systems years ago, you can still get there:
  • I mean, I want to play with The Computer. The Computer is my friend. Isn't he your friend too, citizen?
  • They have paid their SCO license, right? You know, for any of SCO's rpg text that may have fallen in there somewhere... :)
  • We got a lot of suckers to work for us for free!
  • Great, I love Paranoia, but in the article description can't we point the to link that we get the headline from? Link three titled 'using a web log' was the only one of the six links provided that had any mention of it 'going gold.' Am I the only one who finds this annoying?

    Go ahead and mod me off topic, I've got karma to spare.
  • All citizens of Alpha Complex are ORDERED to read the story linked above. The story linked above is clearly marked as having blue security clearance. You may have noticed that after clicking the link once, it will automatically upgrade to violet security clearance. Clicking on a link you are not authorized to is TREASON punishable by SUMMARY EXECUTION. Failing to obey and order of the Computer is TREASON punishable by SUMMARY EXECUTION. All citizens who have committed TREASON either by reading this sto
    • All citizens of Alpha Complex are ORDERED to read the story linked above.

      You must be new to Slashd<ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <BLEED/> <BLEED/> <BLEED/> <BLEED/> <BLEED/> <BLEED/> nevermind...I'll just crawl into this bin here and wait for my replacem...

      Oh, hello there. Ummm, read the article? You must be new to Slashd<ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <ZAP/> <BLEED/> <BLE

  • and knows what I'm talking about.

    Is this game based in any way on Jean-Luc Goddard's film Alphaville? If I recall correctly that was about a city controlled by a computer, with non-conformists executed by teams of synchronized swimmers and such.

    • Is this game based in any way on Jean-Luc Goddard's film Alphaville?

      Not that I'm aware. Dan Gelber, the New York fan who created the Alpha Complex setting in 1983 for his roleplaying campaign, has never discussed his influences, that I know of. I would guess George Lucas's THX-1138 would be on his list, along with Logan's Run and The Prisoner. I doubt he was familiar with Alphaville, nor with Stanislaw Lem's 1971 novel Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, a quintessential PARANOIA setting.

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