Welcome back, dice fondlers! Last week we discussed the creation of your residents of Alpha Complex (those poor, poor fools). With character creation, we discussed things like STATS, SKILLS, and security clearance. This week, we’re taking a look at missions, objectives, ways to introduce new players to the world of Paranoia, and what the best voice is when speaking for The Computer and letting a player know that they are about to be liquefied as part of Alpha Complex’s new transportation initiative.
Like I said; those poor, poor fools.
The Red Clearance Mission Book’s Three Missions
With the latest Red Clearance Edition Starter Set, you get the Red Clearance Mission Book. In the Mission Book are… words. Technically, I suppose there are missions as well, but primarily there are words about playing Paranoia. The three adventures and pre-generated characters are a great way to introduce a group of players into Alpha Complex and how the game works. These are perfectly portioned into approximately three 2-hour sessions, keeping the group’s learning experiences from having to turn into the 4-6 hour slog that several other games are known for. They even have titles fully appropriate to the theme of Paranoia: [Your Security Clearance Is Not High Enough For This Title], [$title_not_found], and [Classified].
[Your Security Clearance Is Not High Enough For This Title]
For any Gamemasters looking to drag a set of new players kicking and screaming into their favorite RPGs, these three adventures are a great tool to learn from. The first mission, [Your Security Clearance Is Not High Enough For This Title], starts the table of players off at the lowest of the low Security Clearances: Infrared. At this point, the players are barely cognizant of their surroundings, both too uninformed and too overly medicated with compliance drugs to care. If things go… right(?) for them during the adventure, they’ll be promoted into Red Clearance Troubleshooters by the end.
For the second adventure in the Mission Book, [$title_not_found], you get a gradual introduction of deeper setting elements. The Secret Societies are a prime feature of this adventure, letting everyone get a good healthy sense that everyone in Alpha Complex is absolutely sure they know the secrets of the system, all while being absolutely, positively… wrong. Just like real life. (If you’re playing the secret drinking game that goes with these articles, take a shot every time you’re reminded why you turn to games as an escape. At a bare minimum, you’ll have a decent buzz going and my writing will seem a lot funnier.)
Finally, the third adventure, [Classified], takes the players on an adventure in THA sector, which does not exist. Once there, they’ll investigate the Omega Incident, which did not happen. As far as the rest of this adventure goes, I’ll leave that for you to discover because it is the most full-featured part of the three pack Paranoia provides for. Don’t trust me, read the book! Actually, unless you’re a gamemaster, *don’t* read the book. No, seriously, don’t. The Computer might be watching and you really don’t want to know how many Treason Stars you’ll receive for reading the adventure ahead of time. Or how many pieces you’ll find yourself in once The Computer is done reprimanding you.
(In Dungeons and Dragons, I follow the “Spontaneous Trap Realignment” protocol. A trap from much deeper in the dungeon trades rooms with an earlier room, or that the puzzle is adjusted just slightly so that the solution is a mirror image of what it “should’ve” been. The look on a cheat’s face when they realized they just reached into the wrong statue and that they’re now being pulled bodily into a Sphere of Annihilation… well, let’s just say, they don’t tend to cheat again in the future.)
Make Your Own Mission
“But, Jason,” I hear you asking. Wait, how do I hear you? Are you really that loud? Why are you asking when I’m writing this instead of when you’re reading it? Are you psychic? Man, that’d be sweet. Can you tell me where I left my keys???
…sorry, lost my train of thought there.
The question is, what to do if you want to create something brand new instead of playing the missions that come with the game? That’s easy. Make it up as you go along. I get it, that doesn’t sound super easy. However, have you ever worked for a large corporation? Or maybe volunteered for a group that was so large that even with all these helpers, no one really knew what they were doing? At very least, you were part of a project way back in school where a bunch of you were lumped together and with horror, you realized that none of you were really equipped to rally the others into making an actual GOOD project. Do you have that moment in your head? Good. That’s Paranoia right there.
Look, the players are meaningless pawns in the machinations of a Computer that rivals only HAL and GLaDOS in its malfunctioning glory. They have been minuscule amounts of information, are regularly tempted by shadow organizations claiming to have real answers, and answer to greasy middlemen who have no more answers than they do. They’re going to be put in harm’s way over and over again, and in many cases, the more extremely absurd the danger, the better. This is true if you’re playing relatively seriously or if you’re playing a silly, chaotic game. Tense distrust doesn’t lose impact when punctuated by knowing that you’re going to be murdered by a crazed AI if you can’t figure out who keeps sabotaging the machine that puts the caps on toothpaste—it’s only heightened. After all, who wants to lose their life over toothpaste tubes? That’s right, nobody. At least, I hope it’s nobody. That’d be a really weird line to draw in the sand.
By the way, if you’re looking for a hilarious example on how Paranoia plays out, I highly recommend watching this playthrough by Wil Wheaton and his zany gang of Redshirts (actual gameplay begins at about 7:42).
So, with that, we come to the end.
Next week, we’ll talk Mutant: Year Zero – specifically, the bundle that is for sale at the charity bundle site Bundle of Holding: https://bundleofholding.com/presents/MutantYearZero
We’ll see you next Friday, so remember…