Paranoia (role-playing game)

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Paranoia
25th Anniversary Troubleshooters edition
25th Anniversary Troubleshooters Edition
Designer(s) Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber, Eric Goldberg, Allen Varney (current edition)
Publisher(s) West End Games, Mongoose Publishing
Publication date 1984 (1st edition)
1987 (2nd edition)
1995 (Fifth edition)
2004 (Paranoia XP)
2009 (25th Anniversary edition)
Genre(s) Humor, Science fiction
System(s) Custom

Paranoia is a dystopian science-fiction tabletop role-playing game originally designed and written by Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber, and Eric Goldberg, and first published in 1984 by West End Games. Since 2004 the game has been published under licence by Mongoose Publishing. The game won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules of 1984[1] and was inducted into the Origins Awards Hall of Fame in 2007.[2] Paranoia is notable among tabletops games for being more competitive than co-operative, with players encouraged to betray one another for their own interests, as well as for keeping a lighthearted, tongue in cheek tone despite its dystopian setting.

The game is set in a dystopia future city which is controlled by an artificial intelligence construct called 'The Computer', and where information (including the game rules) are restricted by 'security clearance'. Players are initially enforcers of The Computer's authority, and will be given missions to seek out and eliminate threats to The Computer's control. The players are also part of prohibited underground movements, and will have secret objectives including theft from and murder of other players.

Several editions of the game have been published since the original version, and the franchise has spawned several spin-offs, novels and comic books based on the game.

Overview[edit]

Paranoia is a humorous role-playing game set in a dystopian future similar to Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, Logan's Run and THX 1138 among others; however, the tone of the game is rife with black humor, frequently tongue-in-cheek rather than dark and heavy.

Setting[edit]

The game's main setting is an immense and futuristic city called Alpha Complex, which is controlled by The Computer, a civil service AI construct (a literal realization of the "Influencing Machine" that some schizophrenics fear). The Computer serves as the game's principal antagonist, and fears a number of threats to its 'perfect' society, such as The Outdoors, mutants, and secret societies (especially Communists). To deal with these threats, The Computer employs Troubleshooters, whose job is to go out, find trouble, and shoot it. Player characters are usually Troubleshooters, although later game supplements have allowed the players to take on other roles.

The player characters frequently receive mission instructions from the Computer that are incomprehensible, self-contradictory, or obviously fatal if adhered to, and side-missions which conflict the main mission. They are issued equipment that is uniformly dangerous, faulty or "experimental" (i.e. almost certainly dangerous and faulty). Additionally, each player character is generally an unregistered mutant and a secret society member, and has a hidden agenda separate from the group's goals, often involving stealing from or killing teammates. Thus, missions often turn into a comedy of errors, as everyone on the team seeks to double-cross everyone else while keeping their own secrets. The game's manual encourages suspicion between players, offering several tips on how to make the gameplay as paranoid as possible.

Every player's character is assigned six clones, known as a "six-pack," which are used to replace the preceding clone upon his or her death. The game lacks a conventional health system; most wounds the player characters can suffer are assumed to be fatal. As a result, Paranoia allows characters to be routinely killed, yet the player can continue instead of leaving the game. This easy spending of clones tends to lead to frequent firefights, gruesome slapstick, and the horrible yet humorous demise of most if not all of the player character's clone family. Additional clones can be purchased if one gains sufficient favour with the Computer.

The Paranoia rulebook is unusual in a number of ways; demonstrating any knowledge of the rules is forbidden, and most of the rulebook is written in an easy, conversational tone that often makes fun of the players and their characters, while occasionally taking digs at other notable role-playing games.

Security clearances[edit]

Paranoia features a security clearance system based on colors of the visible spectrum which heavily restricts what the players can and cannot legally do; everything from corridors to food and equipment have security restrictions. The lowest rating is Infrared, but the lowest playable security clearance is Red; the game usually begins with the characters having just been promoted to Red grade. Interfering with anything which is above that player's clearance carries significant risk.

The full order of clearances from lowest to highest is Infrared (visually represented by Black), Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and Ultraviolet (visually represented by White). Within the game, Infrared-clearance citizens live dull lives of mindless drudgery and are heavily medicated, while higher clearance characters may be allowed to demote or even summarily execute those of a lower rank and those with Ultraviolet clearance are almost completely unrestricted and have a great deal of access to The Computer; they are the only citizens that may (legally) access and modify the Computer's programming, and thus Ultraviolet citizens are also referred to as "High Programmers". Security clearance is not related to competence or even authority: clearance is instead a measure of The Computer's trust in a citizen.

Secret Societies[edit]

In the game, secret societies tend to be based on sketchy and spurious knowledge of historical matters. For example, previous editions included societies such as the "Seal Club" that idolizes the Outdoors but is unsure what plants and animals actually look like. Even earlier editions, published by West End Games, had it named as the "Sierra Club". Other societies include the Knights of the Circular Object (based on the Knights of the Round Table), the Trekkies, and the First Church of Christ Computer Programmer. In keeping with the theme of paranoia, many secret societies have spies or double agents in each other's organizations. The 1st edition also included secret societies such as Programs Groups (the personal agents and spies of the High Programmers at the apex of Alpha Complex society) and Spy For Another Alpha Complex.

Of special notice is the secret society known as the Wobblies. The game's backstory indicates that the Computer was worried about this society, and sent a pack of Troubleshooters to investigate. Since the society didn't actually exist, the Troubleshooters found nothing to report, and were terminated for laziness and insubordination. After a couple of Troubleshooter groups were thus disposed of, a newly sent group founded the society themselves in order to have something to report on. By the time the game takes place, a number of other secret societies have sent spies to join the Wobblies, resulting in a group that consists entirely of spies for other groups. The in-joke for the Communist-hating computer is that this group is loosely modeled on the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the original "wobbly" trade union movement that attempted to stand up to the robber barons at the start of the 20th century.

The actual societies which would be encountered in a game depends on the play style; some societies are more suited for more light-hearted games (Zap-style, or the lighter end of Classic), whereas others represent a more serious threat to Alpha Complex and are therefore more suitable for Straight or the more dark sort of Classic games.

History[edit]

Five editions have been published. Three of these were published by West End Games - the 1st, 2nd, and "Fifth" Editions - whereas the later two editions (Paranoia XP and the 25th Anniversary editions) were published by Mongoose Publishing. In addition to these five published editions, it is known that West End Games were working on a "Third Edition" - to replace the poorly received Fifth Edition - in the late 1990s, but their financial issues would prevent this edition from seeing the light of day.

1st edition[edit]

Cover of 1st edition

1st edition (ISBN 978-0-87431-025-2) - written by Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber, and Eric Goldberg - published in 1984 by West End Games. In 1985, this edition of Paranoia won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Rules of 1984.[1] This edition, while encouraging dark humour in-game, took a fairly serious dystopian tone; the supplements and adventures released to accompany it emphasised the lighter side, however, establishing the freewheeling mix of slapstick, intra-team backstabbing and satire that is classically associated with a game of Paranoia.

2nd edition[edit]

Cover of 2nd edition

2nd edition (ISBN 978-0-87431-018-4) - written by Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber, Eric Goldberg, Ken Rolston, and Paul Murphy - published in 1987 by West End Games. This edition can be seen as a response to the natural development of the line towards a rules-light, fast and entertaining play style. Here, the humorous possibilities of life in a paranoid dystopia are emphasised, and the rules are simplified considerably from the first edition.

Dragon magazine issue #132 gave the initial 2nd edition release a glowing review while discussing some of the perceived shortcomings of the first edition:

[The first edition of Paranoia] promised hilarious fun and a combat system that didn’t get bogged down in tedious mechanics. It soon found a following among gamers looking for something different in their role-playing adventures. Still, a close inspection of the combat system revealed that it was slow moving and cumbersome. The mechanics were hard to grasp in places, making it difficult to get into the freewheeling fun.

Now, all that’s changed. The PARANOIA game has been treated to a revamp, and this time the rules are slick. All that tricky stuff which made the combat system such a pain to run has been shelved off into optional rules. If you want the extra complications, you’re welcome to them, or you can do what most people did anyway and simply ignore them.[3]

The review does offer one common reservation about the game: "It doesn't lend itself easily to long-term campaign play. This game is best treated as a succession of short adventure sessions in which players get to enjoy themselves doing all those despicable things that would spoil a more 'serious’ game." However the conclusion of the review stated that "As a tongue-in-cheek science-fiction game, this one is hard to beat."[3]

Metaplot and the Second Edition[edit]

Many of the supplements released for the Second edition fall into a story arc set up by new writers and line editors that was intended to freshen up the game and broaden roleplay possibilities. While they undoubtedly did so, giving roleplayers the opportunity to transcend time and space, play in a post-apocalyptic Computerless Alpha Complex, or play in a post-post-apocalyptic Alpha Complex in which the Computer battled for control with other factions, many fans felt these new settings ran counter to the spirit of the game. In particular, many felt the removal of the Computer - and thus the power structure associated with it - and the greater freedom given to player characters effectively wrecked the very premise of the game, which required that player characters had little freedom, had to appease the demands of the Computer, and were presented with insane situations that arose from the ludicrous rules of Alpha Complex society. Second edition supplements can generally be divided into four eras:

  1. Classic: No metaplot.
  2. Secret Society Wars: Introduced in The DOA Sector Travelogue, and supported by a series of Secret Society Wars modules. Individual missions can be run in the Classic format, but running themes and conspiracies persist from book to book.
  3. The Crash: Detailed in The Crash Course Manual, and supported by the Vulture Warriors of Dimension X series of time-travelling modules. Adventures occur in a fractured Complex in which there is no Computer, possibly as a result of the Secret Society Wars, possibly not.
  4. Reboot: Detailed in The Paranoia Sourcebook, and supported by a few modules and supplements. The Computer returns, but does not control all of Alpha Complex - plays as a hybrid of the other eras, with players free to choose sides.

"Fifth" Edition[edit]

Cover of Fifth Edition

"Fifth Edition" (ISBN 978-0-87431-171-6) - published in 1995 by West End Games - was in fact the third edition of the game released. (The game skipped two editions as a joke, and possibly also as a reference to the two major revisions to the game released during the lifetime of the Second Edition with the Crash Course Manual and the Paranoia Sourcebook.) It has since been declared an "un-product" (cf. "unperson") by the writers of the current edition, due to its extremely poor commercial and critical reception. Almost none of the original production staff were involved, and the books in this line focused less on the dark humor and oppressive nature of Alpha, and more on cheap pop culture spoofs, such as a Vampire: The Masquerade parody. As well as the lighter, sillier atmosphere, fans also disliked the lower production values of the new edition, in which most of the internal art consisted of extremely cartoonish and sketchy illustrations as opposed to the more detailed and thematically-appropriate Jim Holloway illustrations of previous editions.[citation needed]

In his introduction to Flashbacks, a compilation of Paranoia adventures from the West End Games era, Allen Varney fully details the management decisions which led, in the eyes of many, to the decline of the Paranoia line, and cites rumours that the line saw a 90% decline in sales before West End Games went into bankruptcy:

Art director Larry Catalano left West End in 1986. Catalano’s successor fired (illustrator) Jim Holloway and brought in a succession of increasingly poor cartoonists. (Writer/editor) Ken Rolston left shortly thereafter for unrelated reasons. In Ken’s wake, developers Doug Kaufman and Paul Murphy in turn briefly supervised the PARANOIA line. After they too departed, editorial control fell to—how do I put this tactfully?—people with different views of the PARANOIA line.[4]

Unreleased West End Games Third Edition[edit]

Following the extremely negative reception of the Fifth Edition, West End Games began planning a new edition of the game, which would be released as the "Third Edition". Pages from this planned edition were exhibited at Gen Con in 1997[5] - two years after the release of the Fifth Edition. Due to West End Games' financial problems this edition was never completed. In an interview in 1999[6] Scott Palter of West End expressed hopes that the Third Edition would be published that summer; however, he also disclosed that court proceedings had been begun by the original designers in order to reclaim the rights to the game. The designers would ultimately succeed in purchasing the rights to the game, putting an end to any possibility that the final West End Games edition would be released.

A single adventure has surfaced which contained a brief summary of the third edition rules.[7]

Paranoia XP[edit]

Cover of XP Edition

Following the bankruptcy of West End Games, the original designers of Paranoia banded together and purchased the rights to the game from West End in order to regain control of the line. The designers in turn granted a license to Mongoose Publishing to produce a new version of the game, with the result that Paranoia XP (ISBN 978-1-904854-26-5), written by Allen Varney, Aaron Allston, Paul Baldowski, Beth Fischi, Dan Curtis Johnson and Greg Costikyan, was published in 2004. In 2005, Microsoft requested that the XP be removed. As such, the name was shortened to just Paranoia. This edition of the game has received a much warmer critical reception, as well as selling well.

This edition also introduced three different styles of play, with some game mechanics differing between the various modes to support the specific tone being sought-after:

  • Zap is anarchic slapstick with no claims to making sense and little effort at satire. Zap represents Paranoia as popularly understood: troubleshooters who open fire on each other with little to no provocation. It is often associated with the "Fifth Edition". The symbol of this game style is two smoking boots, much like the front cover.
  • Classic is the atmosphere associated with the 2nd edition. While conflict inside of troubleshooter teams is common, it is less common and less frequently lethal. The symbol of this game style is a computer (representing The Computer).
  • Straight represents a relatively new style for Paranoia, although it is not entirely without precedent in the darker portions of the original 1st edition rules. Straight Paranoia is more serious and focuses more on dark, complex satire. In Straight Paranoia, players are punished for executing other characters without first filing evidence of the other character's treason; this encourages slower, more careful gameplay and discourages random firefights and horseplay. The symbol of this game style is an enormous eye, much like the eye on the front cover.

Primary designer Allen Varney, in the designer's notes, explained that his aim with the new edition was to return to the game's roots whilst updating both the game system and the satirical setting to take account of twenty years of game design progress. In both the core rulebook and the Flashbacks supplement - a reprint of classic adventures originally published by West End Games - Varney was highly critical of West End Games' handling of the product line in its latter days. In a posting on RPG.net he explained that the point of including the three playstyles in Paranoia XP was to counteract the impression that "Zap"-styled play was the default for Paranoia, an impression which had in part been created by the more cartoonish later supplements in the West End Games line (as well as "Fifth Edition").[8]

In order to distance the new edition from the less commercially and critically successful aspects of the West End Game line, and to discourage new players from wasting time and money on what he considered to be inferior products, Varney additionally used the designer's notes to declare many West End products, including the "Fifth Edition" and everything published for the 2nd Edition after The People's Glorious Revolutionary Adventure, to be "unproducts" - no longer part of the game's continuity, and not recommended for use with the new edition. An upshot of this is that much of the poorly received metaplot established late in the West End Games line, from the Secret Society Wars to the Reboot and beyond, was disposed of. Varney has explained that this is due mainly to his distaste for the direction the metaplot took the game line in, a distaste he asserts is shared by the game's fan community.[8] He has also stated that he personally has little affection for the "Zap" style,[9] and therefore may have given it short shrift in the main rulebook, although later supplements for Paranoia XP did provide more support for Zap play.

Long-time Paranoia artist Jim Holloway, called "the master of the fun-filled illustration",[3] drew the cover art and much of the internal art for the game until 1986. His art for the series generally portray comedic scenarios that capture the essential "deathtrap" feeling of Alpha Complex. Paranoia XP marked his return to the line as well; he has designed every cover of the XP edition, and many books contain both his classic and new Paranoia art.

While Paranoia XP kept Communists as the big bad scapegoat in spite of the Cold War being long over, the updated edition integrates several 21st century themes into its satire. Troubleshooters carry PDCs (Personal Digital Companion) that are reminiscent of PDAs and smartphones and can try to acquire gear by bidding on CBay (obvious pun on eBay). New threats to Alpha Complex include file sharing, phishing scams, identity theft and WMDs. Consumerism in Alpha Complex has been tooled into its economy and has taken on an element of patriotism, echoing sentiments expressed after 9/11 along similar trends. A mission pack released in 2009 titled War On (Insert Noun) lampoons government initiatives like the War on Drugs and the War on Terror.

In writing the new edition, Varney, Goldberg and Costikyan reached out to and actively collaborated with Paranoia's online fan community through an official blog and through Paranoia-Live.net.[10] In addition, Varney ran an online game, the Toothpaste Disaster, where players took the role of High Programmers documenting the titular disaster in a Lexicon format. Many ideas established in the Lexicon game were written into the rulebook. Later, some of the best players and writers from the game and a few other places were formally integrated as the Traitor Recycling Studio to write official Paranoia material; their first credited work was the mission supplement Crash Priority.[11]

In 2006, Varney's fellow Paranoia writer, Mongoose Publishing employee Gareth Hanrahan, took over as primary writer for the Paranoia line. During the lifetime of the XP line Mongoose released numerous supplements and adventures for the game. Notable amongst the supplements was Extreme Paranoia, which provided ideas for scenarios based around characters of security clearances Orange to Violet, with premises differing greatly from the standard Red-clearance Troubleshooter concept but remaining thematically appropriate to the game's setting at atmosphere. (This included an updated reprint of the 1st Edition supplement HIL Sector Blues, which focused on playing Blue-clearance IntSec agents.) The idea of devising new and varied concepts to base Paranoia adventures and campaigns around would be revisited for the next edition of the game.

25th Anniversary Editions[edit]

In June 2009, Mongoose Publishing announced that they would be retiring the books in the XP line to clear the way for the 25th Anniversary Edition line - revealing a new edition of the rulebook as well as two new rulebooks, one casting the players as higher-clearance Internal Security investigators and one as Ultraviolet High Programmers.[12] They stated that the XP material would "maintain a 90% compatibility rating with the new Paranoia books".[13]

Each of the three books is an entirely self-contained and playable game: Paranoia: Troubleshooters, Paranoia: Internal Security, and Paranoia: High Programmers. The Troubleshooters volume presents a slimmed-down version of the XP rules, the most notable difference being the removal of the Service Firms and the advanced economy of the XP edition, with the focus firmly on the game's traditional premise of casting the player characters as Red-clearance Troubleshooters. The Internal Security volume casts the player characters as Blue-clearance Internal Security agents, a refinement of the premise of the 1st edition supplement HIL Sector Blues (reprinted in the XP line as part of Extreme Paranoia). The third game, Paranoia: High Programmers, casts the player characters as the Ultraviolet-clearance elite of Alpha Complex society and focuses on the political plotting and infighting that dominates the High Programmers' lives, a premise not dissimilar to the Violet-level campaign ideas presented in Extreme Paranoia.

The Troubleshooters volume retains the play styles of the XP rulebook; however, the "Classic" playstyle is assumed by default, with "Zap" and "Straight" relegated to an appendix. Allen Varney, designer of the XP edition, explained in a posting on RPG.net[14] that this decision came about as a result of the XP edition successfully convincing the wider gaming public that "Zap" was not the default playstyle for the game; since it was now generally accepted that Paranoia could have a variety of playstyles and each GM would interpret it somewhat differently, it was considered no longer necessary to emphasise the different playstyles in the main text. The Internal Security volume includes an appendix listing three new styles tailored for the game - "Heist", "Overkill" and "Horror". High Programmers does not specify playstyles.

Related publications[edit]

First edition
Title Author(s) Pub. Date ISBN Notes
Paranoia Dan Gelber, Greg Costikyan, and Eric Goldberg 1984 ISBN 978-0-87431-025-2 First edition of the game. Consists of Player Handbook, Gamemaster Handbook, and Adventure Handbook with introductory adventure Destination: CBI Sector. Boxed set also includes two 20-sided dice.
Paranoia (Games Workshop) Dan Gelber, Greg Costikyan, and Eric Goldberg 1986 ISBN 978-1-869893-01-9 A Games Workshop printing of the first edition. Contains all three books of the basic set in one hardcover volume, as well as the three short adventures (Robot Imana-665-C, The Trouble with Cockroaches and Das Bot: Nearly a Dozen Meters Beneath the Sea) from the first edition Gamemaster Screen.
Acute Paranoia Ken Rolston and various 1986 ISBN 978-0-87431-034-4 Articles on supplementary rules and flavor material, including Sanity Tests, Playing Robots, New Secret societies and Better Living Through Chemistry. Contains the full-length adventure Me and My Shadow, Mark IV, mini-adventures Botbusters, Warriors of the Nightcycle and The Harder They Clone, and 8 short missions designated "Code 7": An ARD Day's Night, Reboot Camp, Whitewash, The Second Coming, Plumber's Helper, Miami Laser, Paranoid Clones in Savory Vulture Stew, and Outland-ISH. "Code 7" refers to a mission that takes Troubleshooters seven clones to finish; therefore, in 1st through 5th editions with a finite six clone limit, a suicide mission.
Clones in Space Eric Wujick 1986 ISBN 978-0-87431-042-9 An adventure in which the player characters are sent into space by The Computer. The covers are not stapled to the rest of the book and may be used as a small gamemaster's screen (the reference tables for this adventure are printed on the inside covers).
Double Paranoia John M. Ford and Curtis Smith 1986 ISBN 978-1-869893-03-3 Contains The YELLOW Clearance Black Box Blues and Vapours Don't Shoot Back (British spelling) reprinted in one volume by Games Workshop in the UK.
Gamemaster Screen Ken Rolston and Steve Gilbert 1985 Gamemaster's screen and three short adventures: Robot Imana-665-C, The Trouble with Cockroaches and Das Bot: Nearly a Dozen Meters Beneath the Sea. The player side of the screen contains reference tables for players.
HIL Sector Blues Ken Rolston 1986 ISBN 978-0-87431-051-1 A campaign pack for playing and gamemastering Blue-clearance Internal Security troopers. Contains three short adventures: First Blood and Then Some, IntSec Agents at the Earth's Core, and One of Our Petbots Is Missing. Also includes "Cardstock Commies" (cardboard stand-up figures) and rules for using miniatures. The name of the supplement references Hill Street Blues. The covers are not stapled to the rest of the book and may be used as a small gamemaster's screen (new reference tables are printed on the inside covers).
Orcbusters Ken Rolston 1986 ISBN 978-0-87431-050-4 An adventure in which an inter-dimensional portal causes a stereotypical fantasy roleplaying dungeon and its residents to appear in Alpha Complex. Dungeons & Dragons parody, takes place in the "DND sector". The covers are not stapled to the rest of the book and may be used as a small gamemaster's screen (the reference tables for this adventure are printed in
Send in the Clones Warren Spector and Allen Varney 1985 ISBN 978-0-87431-033-7 An adventure in which the player characters track Commie traitors through the sewers while someone is singing treasonous old hit songs over the Alpha Complex public address system. The covers are not stapled to the rest of the book and may be used as a small gamemaster's screen (the reference tables for this adventure are printed in
Vapors Don't Shoot Back Curtis Smith 1985 ISBN 978-0-87431-026-9 An adventure containing three missions in which the player characters attempt to carry out contradictory, incomprehensible, and usually lethal instructions from The Computer and a High Programmer. The covers are not stapled to the rest of the book and may be used as a small gamemaster's screen (the reference tables for this adventure are printed inside).
YELLOW Clearance Black Box Blues, The John M. Ford 1985 ISBN 978-0-87431-027-6 An adventure in which every secret society is after a black box of unknown content. Winner of the H.G. Wells Award for Best Role-playing Adventure of 1985.[15] Includes a two-page cardboard gamemaster's screen with reference tables for this adventure.
Second edition

[rp 1] [rp 2] [rp 3] [rp 4]

Title Author(s) Pub. Date ISBN Notes
Paranoia Second Edition Dan Gebler, Greg Costikyan, Eric Goldberg, and Ken Rolston 1987 ISBN 978-0-87431-063-4 Second edition of the game. Includes new introductory adventure Into the Outdoors with Gun and Camera.
Paranoia Second Edition (Games Workshop) Dan Gelber, Greg Costikyan, and Eric Goldberg 1987 ISBN 1-869893-21-1(sic) A Games Workshop printing of the second edition of the game. Same as the West End Games original, but hardcover. (The ISBN printed on the cover is invalid.)
Alice Through the Mirrorshades Ed Bolme 1989 ISBN 978-0-87431-154-9 First adventure in the "Vulture Warriors of Dimension X" arc. Crossover with Cyberpunk as the player characters travel back in time to pre-Alpha San Francisco. [rp 2][rp 4]
Alpha Complexities Ed Bolme 1988 ISBN 978-0-87431-080-1 An adventure that takes the player characters into the Outdoors hunting for invisible Commies.
At Your Service, Citizen... West End Games 1992 N/A A series of official Paranoia newsletters with articles by various authors. Five issues published from 1992 to 1993 in addition to the issue "zero" that appeared in The Paranoia Sourcebook.
Bot Abusers' Manual, The Ed Bolme 1992 ISBN 978-0-87431-164-8 Revised rules for bot player characters (updates those in Acute Paranoia for ReBoot Alpha). Also contains the adventure Been Hurt: A Sporting Adventure for Mostly Bots. [rp 3]
Compleat Troubleshooter, The Steven Gilbert and Doug Kaufman 1987 ISBN 978-0-87431-018-4 Introduces Mandatory Bonus Duties for Troubleshooters. Included with the 2nd edition boxed set.
Computer Always Shoots Twice, The Ken Rolston, Warren Spector and Allen Varney 1988 ISBN 978-0-87431-087-0 Consists of Send in the Clones and Orcbusters updated for second edition.
Crash Course Manual Doug Kaufman and Jonatha Caspian 1989 ISBN 978-0-87431-153-2 The Post-MegaWhoops (crash of The Computer) campaign setting. Includes introductory adventure A Passage to NDA Sector by Ed Bolme and Peter Corless. [rp 2]
Death, Lies and Vidtape Allen Varney 1990 ISBN 978-0-87431-159-4 The final "Secret Society Wars" adventure, in which Elizabeth-R is trying to bring the secret societies together to form a government in Post-MegaWhoops Alpha. [rp 1][rp 2]
DOA Sector Travelogue, The Steve Gilbert 1989 ISBN 978-0-87431-078-8 A campaign pack detailing the DOA sector of Alpha Complex. Contains some background for the "Secret Society Wars". Includes a poster-sized map of DOA sector. [rp 1]
Don't Take Your Laser to Town Malcom Mouvis and Vern G. Hargett 1988 ISBN 978-0-87431-104-4 An adventure set in old WST sector, an Alpha Complex re-creation of the American Old West (based on movie clichés) for amusement of citizens.
Form Pack Steven Gilbert 1988 ISBN 978-0-87431-079-5 Contains multiple copies of three Alpha Complex forms in triplicate, and a short bureaucratic adventure, A Hole in The Complex, which revolves around filling and filing these forms.
Gamma-LOT Grant Boucher 1990 ISBN 978-0-87431-158-7 An adventure in which a part of medieval England has been teleported to the LOT sector of Post-MegaWhoops Alpha. A sequel to Orcbusters. Contains parody of King Arthur, Knights of the Round Table and Robin Hood. [rp 2]
Iceman Returneth, The Sam Shirley 1989 ISBN 978-0-87431-152-5 An adventure featuring a frozen High Programmer from the past, who tries to "fix" The Computer. Includes one possible explanation for The Crash, which also forms the basis for Alice Through the Mirrorshades. Part 3 of the "Secret Society Wars". [rp 1]
Mad Mechs Paul Murphy 1991 ISBN 978-0-87431-160-0 An adventure featuring the return of The Computer after the Crash, and in which the player characters are sent to Australia to bring back a former Commie mutant traitor in order to save Alpha Complex. A parody of Mad Max. [rp 2][rp 3]
More Songs About Food Vats Karl Hughes 1989 ISBN 978-0-87431-151-8 An adventure in which the player characters are assigned to prevent sabotage to the Food Vats. Part 2 of the "Secret Society Wars". [rp 1]
Paramilitary Dave Lemon 1993 ISBN 978-0-87431-167-9 A campaign setting for player characters in the Armed Forces of ReBoot Alpha. [rp 3]
Paranoia Excessory Pack West End Games 1987 ISBN 978-0-87431-064-1 Contains a gamemaster's screen for the 2nd edition rules, 12 character sheets, 9 forms in triplicate (three different forms with three copies of each), and "Cardstock Commies" (cardboard stand-up figures). The player side of the screen contains reference tables for players and lyrics for "Alpha Complex Battle Hymn" (a parody of The Battle Hymn of the Republic).
Paranoia Sourcebook, The Ed Bolme 1992 ISBN 978-0-87431-163-1 Campaign setting and sourcebook "update" for the world of ReBoot Alpha (where The Computer has returned but does not control all of the pre-MegaWhoops Alpha Complex). Includes Emergency Services Manual and issue "zero" of the Paranoia newsletter At Your Service, Citizen.... [rp 3]
Paranormal / CTV Ed Gibson, Charles Ginsburg, Brian Schomburg, Jesse Van Valkenburg, and Bill Olmesdahl 1994 ISBN 978-0-87431-169-3 An adventure flip-book. Contains three short adventures in the world of TV and two short adventures in the world of the paranormal.
People's Glorious Revolutionary Adventure, The Ed Bolme 1989 ISBN 978-0-87431-150-1 An adventure in which the player characters are Commies in the CCCP (Communist Controlled Complex Population), under supervision of Tovarich Computer. Part 1 of the "Secret Society Wars". [rp 1]
R&D Catalog, The Ed Bolme and C. J. Tramontana 1990 ISBN 978-0-87431-157-0 A catalog of items sold by R&D in the Computer-less Post-MegaWhoops Alpha. Includes the mini-adventure Have Gizmo, Will Travel. [rp 2]
Recycled Pack West End Games 1989 N/A Contains multiple forms in triplicate, "Cardstock Commies" (cardboard stand-up figures), and a selection of 56 plastic miniatures. The contents of each pack are different.
Twilightcycle: 2000 Sam Shirley 1990 ISBN 978-0-87431-155-6 "Vulture Warriors of Dimension X", part 2. Crossover with Twilight 2000 as the player characters travel back in time to World War III. [rp 2][rp 4]
Vulture Warriors of Dimension X Joseph Anthony and David Avallone 1990 ISBN 978-0-87431-156-3 Time-travelling campaign pack, including the adventure Dr. Whom and the Paranoids of Alpha ("Vulture Warriors of Dimension X", part 3). A parody of Doctor Who. [rp 2][rp 4]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Part of the "Secret Society Wars" arc.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Part of "The Crash" arc, also called the "MegaWhoops".
  3. ^ a b c d e Part of the "ReBoot Alpha" arc.
  4. ^ a b c d Part of the "Vulture Warriors of Dimension X" arc.
Fifth edition
Title Author(s) Pub. Date ISBN Notes
Paranoia: the Fifth Edition Ed Stark, Greg Farshtey, and Daniel Scott Palter 1995 ISBN 978-0-87431-171-6 Main rulebook of the "Fifth Edition". Contains new introductory adventure Back from the Outdoors, which is a sequel to the 2nd edition adventure Into the Outdoors with Gun and Camera.
Creatures of the Nightcycle Jennifer Brandes and Chris Hepler 1997 ISBN 978-0-87431-172-3 An adventure spoofing Vampire: The Masquerade. The player characters are turned into "vampclones".
BUG Sector Chris Helper and Jennifer Brandes N/A N/A An unreleased adventure. The manuscript has been leaked on the Internet.
Paranoia XP
Title Author(s) Pub. Date ISBN Notes
Paranoia XP Allen Varney and various 2004 ISBN 978-1-904854-26-5 Main rulebook of the "Paranoia XP" edition. Reprinted in 2005 with errata as Paranoia XP Service Pack 1. "XP" dropped from later printings, making the final title of this edition just Paranoia. Contains the new introductory mission Mr. Bubbles by Dan Curtis Johnson.
Alpha Complex Nights Gareth Hanrahan 2007 ISBN 978-1-906103-06-4 Three missions: My First Treason, Sweep of Unhistory, and Spin Control.
Alpha Complex Nights 2 Gareth Hanrahan 2008 ISBN 978-1-906103-80-4 Two missions: Viva La Revolution! and The Communist Cafeteria Conspiracy.
Big Book of Bots, The Gareth Hanrahan 2008 ISBN 978-1-906103-60-6 A sourcebook on bots in Alpha Complex, including rules for bot characters. Includes a Mission Unthinkable, an adventure for bot characters.
Citizen's Guide to Surviving Alpha Complex Mongoose Publishing 2009 N/A A condensed version of the basic rules and Alpha Complex background, and the introductory mission Tube Jam.
Crash Priority! Traitor Recycling Studio 2004 ISBN 978-1-904854-35-7 Five short missions showcasing the different styles of play introduced in Paranoia XP: Stealth Train (Straight), Traitor Backup (Straight), Patch Job (Straight/Classic), Random Access Mission (Classic), and Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk (Zap). The Zap-mission Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk takes inspiration from The Three Stooges.
Criminal Histories Bill O'Dea and the Traitor Recycling Studio 2006 ISBN 978-1-905176-80-9 Supplemental rules for character background generation. The new rules replace the chapter on character creation in the main rulebook, and include the optional additions from Service, Service! and The Mutant Experience. Also includes Prehistory Pachinko, a set of over 50 tables for random background generation.
Extreme Paranoia Traitor Recycling Studio 2005 ISBN 978-1-905176-24-3 Supplemental rules for characters of security clearances higher than Red. After an introduction to security clearances in Paranoia, there is a section on each security clearance from Orange through Indigo. The Blue section contains a condensed and updated version of HIL Sector Blues, including two short missions.
Flashbacks Various 2005 ISBN 978-1-904854-40-1 Updated versions of the adventures Robot Imana 665-C, The Trouble with Cockroaches, Das Bot, Vapors Don't Shoot Back, The YELLOW Clearance Black Box Blues, Send in the Clones, Me and My Shadow Mark 4, Alpha Complexities, An ARD Day's Night, Reboot Camp, Whitewash, and the new introductory mission Pre-Paranoia by Jeff Groves. Updates to old missions include removal of puns from character names, but the original names are given in an appendix.
Flashbacks II Various 2007 ISBN 978-1-905850-04-4 Updated versions of the adventures Orcbusters, Clones in Space, and The People's Glorious Revolutionary Adventure. Does not include the original pre-generated player characters of any mission.
Gamemaster's Screen & Mandatory Fun Enforcement Pack Aaron Allston, Allen Varney and members of Paranoia-Live.net 2004 ISBN 978-1-904854-49-4 A gamemaster's screen and the Mandatory Fun Enforcement Pack, which includes 6 forms and "Mission Blender" tables for generating random missions. The player side of the screen contains humorous one-liners ("fortune cookies") about the game.
Little RED Book, The Allen Varney 2006 ISBN 978-1-905471-56-0 Abridged core rules containing just the information cleared for players (designated "RED clearance" in Paranoia materials; hence the title).
Mandatory Mission Pack Gareth Hanrahan 2008 ISBN 978-1-906103-81-1 Gamemaster ideas and aids for constructing Paranoia missions.
Mutant Experience, The R. Eric Reuss 2005 ISBN 978-1-904854-65-4 A sourcebook on mutants in Alpha Complex. Introduces new mutant powers and elaborates on the ones described in the main rules. Also includes rules for mutagens and medications affecting mutant powers.
Sector Zero Gareth Hanrahan, Saul Resnikoff, and Jeff Groves 2006 ISBN 978-1-905471-52-2 Contains three Classic-style "Sector Zero" missions: Bubblegum Run, The Dinner Party, and Lightning Rod. The term "Sector Zero" is introduced as jargon for punishment duty, or a dispiriting assignment nobody else wanted.
Service, Service! Traitor Recycling Studio 2005 ISBN 978-1-905176-72-4 A sourcebook on the service groups and service firms of Alpha Complex. Contains eight Classic-style missions, one for each service group: Spurious Targets (Armed Forces), The Lightbulb Missions (CPU), Rockumentary (HPD&MC), Nightcycle Shift (Internal Security), Going Postal (PLC), Both Sides Now (Power Services), Troublebots (R&D), and Three Up, Three Down (Technical Services).
STUFF Eric Minton and the Traitor Recycling Studio 2005 ISBN 978-1-904854-86-9 A sourcebook of equipment available for purchase in Alpha Complex, presented for players in the form of "CBay" listings with comments from "other buyers".
STUFF 2: The Gray Subnets Eric Minton and the Traitor Recycling Studio 2007 ISBN 978-1-906508-16-6 A sourcebook of (mostly) illegal/treasonous equipment, presented for players in the form of "CBay" listings with comments from "other buyers". The gamemaster's section lists the "real" properties of the same items.
Sweep of Unhistory / My First Treason Gareth Hanrahan 2007 ISBN 978-1-906103-04-0 A flip-book containing the adventures Sweep of Unhistory and My First Treason. The adventures were re-published in Alpha Complex Nights together with Spin Control.
Thin Green Line, The Gareth Hanrahan 2008 ISBN 978-1-906103-76-7 A sourcebook on running missions for player characters in the Armed Forces. Includes One Man Army, a short mission for Armed Forces characters.
Traitor's Manual, The Gareth Hanrahan 2004 ISBN 978-1-904854-27-2 A sourcebook on secret societies, detailing all 16 secret societies presented in the main rulebook of this edition. Includes the short Classic-style mission Down and Out in Alpha Complex.
Underplex, The Paul Baldowski 2006 ISBN 978-1-905471-13-3 A sourcebook on the abandoned and forgotten parts beneath and between the populated sectors of Alpha Complex. Includes the short Classic-style mission The One.
War on [Insert Noun] Gareth Hanrahan 2009 ISBN 978-1-905850-60-0 Three linked missions: Null Mission, War on [Insert Noun Here], and Heck of a (Screw) Job Citizen. In these missions the player characters are assigned to an entirely new service group, "Department of Complex Operational Defence".
WMD Traitor Recyclying Studio 2005 ISBN 978-1-905176-14-4 Four Straight-style missions: Infohazard, Hunger, WMD, and Hot Potato. Hunger is based on The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China, and places the player characters in charge of a new "miraculous" method of food production.
25th Anniversary Edition
Title Author(s) Pub. Date ISBN Notes
Paranoia: Troubleshooters Allen Varney and Gareth Hanrahan 2009 ISBN 978-1-906508-55-5 Self-contained rulebook for Paranoia games involving Troubleshooter player characters. Includes two missions: Robot Imana-665-C (from the 1st edition Gamemaster Screen supplement), and The Quantum Traitor (new).
Paranoia: Troubleshooters: Black Missions Allen Varney and Gareth Hanrahan 2009 ISBN 978-1-906508-62-3 A limited edition (1,000 copies) of Paranoia: Troubleshooters, featuring a black cover and including a CD-ROM with interviews of Paranoia authors, a selection of Paranoia sound effects, a Paranoia screensaver for Microsoft Windows, and PDF versions of most supplements published for the previous edition (Paranoia XP).
Paranoia: High Programmers Gareth Hanrahan 2010 ISBN 978-1-907218-09-5 Self-contained rulebook for Paranoia games with Ultraviolet-clearance High Programmers as player characters. Includes the mission Disaster Management.
Paranoia: High Programmers: White Washes Gareth Hanrahan 2010 N/A A limited edition (100 copies) of Paranoia: High Programmers, featuring a white cover in the same style as Troubleshooters: Black Missions.
Paranoia: Internal Security Gareth Hanrahan 2009 ISBN 978-1-906508-69-2 Self-contained rulebook for Paranoia games with Internal Security Troopers as player characters. Includes two short introductory missions: Six Clones Before Breakfastcycle (new), and IntSec Agents at the Earth's Core (from HIL Sector Blues, but tweaked).
Paranoia: Internal Security: Blue Line Gareth Hanrahan 2009 N/A A limited edition (100 copies) of Paranoia: Internal Security, featuring a blue cover in the same style as Troubleshooters: Black Missions.
Flashbacks Redux Various 2011 ISBN 978-1-907702-09-9 Updated reprint of the Mandatory Mission Pack and the following adventures for Troubleshooter player characters: Clones in Space, Orcbusters, My First Treason, Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues, Me and My Shadow Mark IV, Pre-Paranoia, Vapours Don't Shoot Back, and the short "Code 7" missions from Acute Paranoia.
Flashbacks Redux Redux Various 2011 ISBN 978-1-907702-33-4 Updated reprints of the following adventures for Troubleshooter player characters: Spin Control, Citizens' Guide to Surviving Alpha Complex, My First Treason, Sweep of Unhistory, The Communist Cafeteria Conspiracy, Viva la Revolution!, and The Peoples' Glorious Revolutionary Adventure.
Flashbacks Redux Redux - Materials Treacherously Deleted Various 2012 N/A Contains The Great Outdoors—a sourcebook for adventuring outside Alpha Complex—as well as reprints of the following adventures for Troubleshooter player characters: Alpha Complexities, Das Bot, Send in the Clones, and The Trouble with Cockroaches. The adventures were supposed to appear in Flashbacks Redux Redux but were accidentally left out; this supplement was offered to customers as recompense.
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Termination Booth, A Gareth Hanrahan 2010 ISBN 978-1-907218-17-0 A mission for Troubleshooter player characters, who are ordered to escort a noted traitor to his public execution. The cover incorrectly states that the adventure is "for use with Internal Security", even though the adventure is for Paranoia: Troubleshooters.
Mr. Bubbles Dan Curtis Johnson 2010 ISBN 978-1-907218-41-5 A mission for Troubleshooter player characters, involving trouble with e-mail spam, scrubbots and malware. Originally published in Paranoia XP as the introductory mission.
None of This Is My Fault Gareth Hanrahan 2010 ISBN 978-1-907218-22-4 Two missions and a minigame for High Programmer player characters: Joy in the Morningcycle where the player characters fight over the services of a famous chef, The Iceman Returneth (Again) in which a member of the Computer's original support staff is found cryogenically frozen (a remake of the 2nd edition The Iceman Returneth from a High Programmer perspective), and the minigame When Things Were Interesting in which each player character manages their own FunBall team.
Paranoia Forms Pack Gareth Hanrahan 2009 ISBN 978-1-906508-85-2 A collection of Alpha Complex forms. Includes 9 generic forms, 6 forms for Troubleshooters, 6 forms for Internal Security, and 3 forms for High Programmers. Unlike the 2nd edition Form Pack, the forms are presented as a book, not as actual forms in triplicate.
Paranoia Games Master's Screen Gareth Hanrahan 2010 ISBN 978-1-906508-67-8 A game master's screen for Troubleshooters, Internal Security, and High Programmers.
Termination Quota Exceeded Gareth Hanrahan 2009 ISBN 978-1-906508-71-5 Three missions for Paranoia: Internal Security: Where's the Beef about the theft of a genetically engineered organism, The Survivor, in which a team of Troopers ends up in an isolated town inspired by The Prisoner, and Termination Quota Exceeded, in which a large number of termination vouchers must be used before they expire in a matter of hours.
Treason in Word and Deed Gareth Hanrahan 2009 ISBN 978-1-906508-70-8 Three missions for Paranoia: Troubleshooters: Treason in Word and Deed, in which a team of Troubleshooter characters is locked in a vault for 72 hours of loyalty tests, Heroes of Our Complex, in which a vid-show action hero is assigned to a series of suicide missions along with the player characters, and Little Lost Scoutbot, in which the Troubleshooters are sent outdoors to find a missing bot or its remains.
Other Game Products
Title Author(s) Pub. Date ISBN Notes
Paranoia: The Mandatory Card Game Steve Gilbert 2005 N/A A card game for 3 to 8 players. Won Gamer’s Choice Best Traditional Card Game of the Year, 2005 Origins Awards[16]

Fiction[edit]

Novels[edit]

Comics[edit]

  • O'Connor, Paul (1992). Paranoia. 1–6. Adventure Comics (A Malibu Comics division). 

Paranoia-related software[edit]

JParanoia is freeware fan-made software specifically created for playing Paranoia over the Internet and can be downloaded from the fansite Paranoia Live. It runs on the Java Virtual Machine and consists of a client and a server with built-in features for character and gameplay management. In September 2004, both attracted some mainstream attention when the UK edition of PC Gamer magazine ran an article about Paranoia as one of their "Extra Life" columns and showcased JParanoia and Paranoia Live; coincidentally the publicity came right before the site was poised to celebrate the launch of the new Paranoia edition from Mongoose.[17]

Paranoia was also made into a video game called The Paranoia Complex released in 1989 by Magic Bytes. It was available for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. It took the form of a top-down maze shooter dressed in a Paranoia plot and trappings; reviews of the game from hobby magazines of the period pegged it as mediocre to poor.

Finally, a Paranoia-themed piece of "choose-your-own-adventure" hyperfiction (or gamebook) was published in issue #77 of SpaceGamer/FantasyGamer magazine in the late '80s. Since then, various unauthorised automated versions of the story (a Troubleshooter's assignment to undermine the subversive activity known as Christmas) have been circulating through mainframes and PCs, with machine-independent ports to C, Python and Inform as well as to Adventure Game Toolkit and for Applix, CP/M and the Cybiko.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "1988 list of winners". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design. Archived from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  2. ^ "2007 list of winners". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design. Archived from the original on 2009-06-04. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  3. ^ a b c Bambra, Jim (April 1988). "Role Playing Reviews: Playing it for Laughs". Dragon Magazine (Lake Geneva WI: TSR, Inc.) XII (132): 8–9. ISSN 0279-6848. 
  4. ^ Varney, Allen. Paranoia: Flashbacks. Mongoose Publishing. p. 2. ISBN 1-904854-40-0. 
  5. ^ Costikyan, Greg (2004-02-19). "Paranoia Returns". Games * Design * Art * Culture. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  6. ^ Haring, Scott D. (16 April 1999). "Pyramid Interviews: Scott Palter". Steve Jackson Games. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  7. ^ Hepler, Chris; Jennifer Brandes. "Down the Tubes". Archived from the original on 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  8. ^ a b Allen Varney. "Sell me on Paranoia 5th...". Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  9. ^ Allen Varney. "Sell me on Paranoia 5th...". Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  10. ^ Varney,, Allen. "Player-Prompted Paranoia". The Escapist magazine. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  11. ^ Varney,, Allen. "Crash Priority (Official PARANOIA Blog)". Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  12. ^ Mongoose Publishing. "State of the Mongoose". Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  13. ^ Mongoose Publishing. "Babylon 5 & Paranoia - Last Chance for Books!". Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  14. ^ Allen Varney. "Re: Paranoia 25th Anniversary Edition". Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
  15. ^ "Origins Award/H.G. Wells Award Winners (1985)". Archived from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  16. ^ "2005 List of Winners". Academy of Adventure Gaming, Arts and Design. Retrieved 6 November 2009. 
  17. ^ Cobbet, Richard (September 2004). "Treason for Dummies". PC Gamer UK (Bath, Sommerset, UK: Future Publishing, Ltd.) 11 (9): 114. ISSN 1080-4471. 

External links[edit]