Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's the suede denim secret police!

So I'm off work after taking a fall off my bike leaving me with a bad arm, broken finger and awfy sair skint knees. Luckily I can report that wearing a helmet is now officially a good thing as though my old noggin was cracked hard on the pavement I ended up with nary a lump. So as I'm laid up at home I can actually start on my RPG characters with a new edition of an old game,

Now Paranoia's a strange one to start with because in many ways it's the antithesis of what's expected in RPG's. In most games players are expected to co-operate to achieve their goals whilst in Paranoia they are gleefully encouraged to stab each other in the backs, other games have a clearly defined mission whilst here the mission is invariably impossible, an excuse for players to stab each other in the back or a long-winded joke and finally where other less fun games discourage random player deaths it's unusual to play though 5 minutes of Paranoia without somebody getting theirs and it doesn't really matter as every character has five clone backups ready to take his place. This all makes Paranoia the Marmite of roleplaying, you either love it or hate it and very little will convince you otherwise.

Before we make the character a bit of a skiffy to the background. Paranoia is set in Alpha Complex a gigantic post-apocolyptal underground city ruled by The Computer. The Computer was originally installed to keep the citizens safe but has gone completely mad and is now involved in a perpetual hunt for mutant commie traitors. The players play Troubleshooters who's job it to hunt down traitors which of course they are. Think Brazil, THX 1138 and Big Brother chucked into a blender with The Marx brothers and you're about right. Okay on with the character,

First we're asked for the characters name and gender. Making him male's easy enough as to name this is a bit unusual in that it's done as Name - Clearance - Sector. He's red clearance so we'll call him Ronnie-R-Gun and not worry too much about it. We then hace to roll a 20 sided dice/2 for 6 skills the assign specialities and such. Rather than bore you with details I'll nip off and do that.

We now roll for the characters Service group and appropriate firm to find his day job. Ronnie is in the Armed Forces working as in the Ammunition Fresheners firm. You then pick a specialized skill, Ronnie gets energy weapons to make him leet with lasers. We then roll for the mutant power, having a mutant power is treason BTW, Ronnie get's Matter Eater which allows him to munch down on just about anything which can prove very handy when trying to eat at the staff canteen. After this is a quick roll to see what secret society Ronnie belongs to, being a member of a secret society is treasonous of course, and we get Communist. Ronnie is a Godless Communist out to destroy all that is good in Alpha Complex! He also gets more skills particularly Propoganda which is very very treasonous. To finish off we give Ronnie two tics, Ronnie is an habitual nose-picker and giggles like a girl when stressed. And here he is,

If anybody's wondering the base mechanic is to pick the relevant skill then try to roll under it's number with a 20 sided die eg Ronnie would have to roll under 12 to shoot somebody with his laser. You know it's not until now that it hit me that the new Paranoia doesn't have any of the normal stat we'd expect in an RPG like strength, intelligence etc but instead replaces them rather niftily with the general Knowledge and Action skills. This works really well for the loose type of play encouraged in the game by keeping everything simple.

That was actually quite fun though I'm not sure if it's interesting to read as peeps who don't play RPG's will probably find it even more incomprehensible than my normal blog but there you go. I'll inflict more on you soon.


Chris Chalfant said...

Paranoia was the first game I ran at a convention. I figured it would be hard to screw up a game based on the players trying to kill each other. As it turned out, I had to spend the first twenty minutes re-training a group of old-schoolers NOT to work together to complete the mission but to blast the hell out of each other instead.
I think they finally got the point though. In one case, a player loaded his cone rifle with a nuclear warhead by accident and NUKED the entire party (along with an undisclosed number of unfortunate clones within a multi-kilometer blast radius).

Garry G said...

You've not played Paranoia until tha party's accidentally nuked themselves. :)

For all it's differences I've actually found Paranoia to be one of the better games for getting people to play in a role as they're constantly trying to outwit other players and the Computer and justify their actions in character. Of course loads of people hate the game for all the things other see as good so it's very much of a taste.