Adventures In Random Roleplay: Paranoia Edition — Part 2 — Troubleshooting The Troubleshooters

Welcome back, dice fondlers! Last time, we started down a path littered with the bodies of innumerable clones and singed red jumpsuits… that’s right, we’re talking about the game known as Paranoia. It’s taken a bit of prep work, so let’s not waste any time now (that’s an act of treason against The Computer after all). We’re getting the ball rolling with character creation.

NOTE:  Keep in mind, I almost named this article “YES, HAVING A CLONE STAT MEANS THIS CHARACTER WILL DIE A LOT” but that was too long.

For those of you following along at home, here’s the character sheet. Note that you’ll need your entire table to participate when filling these steps out:

Download Character Sheet

Step 1 of Character Creation: Define

The first step of creating a character in Paranoia is DEFINE. What are we defining? The basics of our character. The fields are name, security clearance, home sector, how many clones of you are left, your gender, and your personality.

  • Name is simply and is usually written in the format Jas-ON-CLRK-001. The ending number is always 001 barring a specific choice you can make later in creation. You’ll know it when you see it.
  • Your security clearance is almost always RED, but your GM will let you know if they have other plans for you.
  • Home Sector is often either the last section of your name before your number, or some code your GM has determined for your group of troubleshooters.
  • Gender is irrelevant, as The Computer—per the game’s rules finds any sort of gender discrimination (including discrimination against intersex, trans, nonbinary characters, et al.) treasonous. After all, everyone has equal capacity to serve as shielding against reactor leaks or bullets. As far as sexuality is concerned, I’ll let you read up on that, but suffice to say, The Computer isn’t amused by antics that trivialize its clone vats, and any activity that doesn’t conform to a strictly utilitarian purpose only confuses it.
  • For personality, you choose three adjectives, usually positive, but that’s your choice.

Also, you start with 0 Treason Stars, and 0 XP. Once you’re done with these, we move on to SKILLS.

Step 2: Skills

There are 16 basic Skills in Paranoia, each of which are generally used with a particular Stat. When you add your Stat and Skill, you gives you the total number of dice to roll. When your group sits down to make your characters, you all participate together in the Skills section. The player to the left of the GM selects a single Skill at +1. The player to her left then marks the exact same Skill as a -1. Then that player selects a single Skill at +1, and the player to THEIR left marks the same Skill as a -1. This continues until every player has selected a Skill at +1 and the player to their left has resented having to mark a Skill at -1. Then, the first person begins again, this time picking a Skill at +2, and forcing the person to their left to have it at -2. This continues with resentment simmering and building until every player well and truly hates each other, and everyone has selected a +2, +3, +4, and +5 Skill. Also, no cheating by picking a Skill you already have as a negative. Every Skill selected has to be unique. Once this has finished, and everyone is ready to pull out knives and stab each other, it’s time for STATS.

Step 3: Stats

For Stats, simply add up the number of positive Skills in each column and that’s your Stat rating. So for Violence, you’re checking for positives in Athletics, Guns, Melee, and Throw. For Brains, it’s Science, Psychology, Bureaucracy, and Alpha Complex. For Chutzpah skills, it’s Bluff, Charm, Intimidate, and Stealth. For Mechanics, it’s Operate, Engineer, Program, and Demolitions. Keep in mind, you’ll be adding your Stat to your Skill number to see how many dice you roll to succeed at given tasks… those negatives aren’t looking so lovely now, are they?

Step 4: Optimising

Once we have our Stats sorted out, it’s time to move on to OPTIMISING! Each character starts with 8 points of Moxie (think of it as a measure of how unflappably cool you are. I think of Moxies as Fonzies. Ehhh! ….I don’t actually do that. I’m embarrassed to have thought of it. Let’s please move on before I make an even bigger fool of myself). They also start with 6 clones. You can choose to spend up to 5 Moxie points before the game starts to raise your Skills at a cost of 1 Moxie per point raised. You may not raise a Skill above 5 this way. You may choose to burn clones in a similar manner, spending your future selves in return for Stat increases on a one-to-one basis. For every clone spent, you owe the table a description as to how that clone met its horrible fate. You should also record that death in the margins of your sheet.

Step 5: Details

Once you’ve spent your future resources on glory in the present, we move on to DETAILS. Each player will ask their GM to confirm their security clearance and to verify what equipment they have. Basic equipment is your red jumpsuit and a standard issue laser pistol. Other equipment may be assigned by your inattentive Yellow clearance manager (via your GM) as fits the task at hand. Your GM may also hand out cards specifying whether you belong to a secret organization or if you possess a treasonous Mutant Power. OOOOOOoooooo, spooky.

Step 6: Redefine

Finally, it’s time to REDEFINE. In the Redesign phase, remember that person you were abusing by selecting Skills that you would receive a bonus in, and they a negative? At this point, they now get to choose one of your Personality adjectives to “flip.” For example, Loyal becomes Treasonous, Smart becomes Dumb, you get the idea. Players may wheedle, plead, and beg for mercy. They may even offer in-game bribes by offering up Moxie or clones. Threats of violence and out of game bribery are strictly forbidden.

Once your adjective has been flipped, you’re finished! In front of you is your troubleshooter, fully formed, ready to take on whatever missions Alpha Complex and The Computer have for you… you poor, poor, fool.

Next week, we’ll talk about what sort of missions The Computer has for you and how your troubleshooter will, uh, shoot trouble. Until then, you know what to do. That’s right…



Written by: Jason A. Clark

Writer, Salesman, Cartographer of The Weird Realms In My Head

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