[Paranoia] The Most Evil Thing I’ll Never Do

Paranoia is one of my favourite games. In this post, I’ll go over one of my favourite little tricks I’ve got for it that I’ll unfortunately never get to use – Because it only works for a group of entirely new players, and all my friends have played Paranoia before. It’s my fondest hope that someone will get to use this, and maybe let me know how it went down.

For those of you not aware, Paranoia is a game fuelled entirely by dark comedy and gallows humour. Set in the future post-apocalyptic dystopia of Alpha Complex, where citizens are cloned rather than born, 24/7 surveillance is a fact of life, and the watchful eye of The Computer is cast over every facet of a citizen’s (usually short) life, the players take on the role of Troubleshooters, a military-ish organization whose stated purpose in the Complex is to find trouble and shoot it. They’re sent on contradictory, treasonous, often impossible or even completely non-existent missions with mostly useless equipment that almost never works anyway in order to suppress the ever-present threat of Communism. The Computer isn’t entirely sure what Communism is, but did find some old Cold War propaganda from which it learned that they’re responsible for everything bad. The Communists within the Complex are possibly even more confused, taking as their leaders the heroic historical figures of Groucho Marx and John Lenin.

It’s also heavily based on secret actions. You should have a stack of sticky notes to hand for you to pass to players, or players to pass to you. Sometimes these notes will say things like “I don’t do anything treasonous to my fellow players”.  When you get these notes, smile, laugh, roll some dice and wink at the person who passed you the note.

So essentially, it’s 1984 and The 3 Stooges thrown in a blender. Basically everything in Alpha Complex is treason (Treason is punishable by death), from trying to dismantle The Computer to touching the wrong colour door. This is okay for players though, because they each have six “Clones” who will replace them when they inevitably die.

Due to problems in the cloning vats, every single citizen carries a mutation that gives them fantastic (The ability to control fire) to weird (The ability to turn all their bones to rubber) powers. Being a mutant is treason.

The general oppressive atmosphere in the Complex has, furthermore, caused numerous “Secret societies” to sprout up, including the Illuminati, a society so secret that even they don’t know what they’re doing! Being a member of a society is, naturally, treason. Every citizen is a member of one.

With the background set, here’s my trick. Remember, it only works on new players who don’t know about mutants or secret societies yet for reasons that will become clear.

Start your mission as normal (Don’t tell anyone their Mutation or Secret Society), and have them get to the mission briefing without anyone dying. Have the briefing officer tell them that this mission is also a test of loyalty – Internal Security has determined that one of their number is a mutant, and another is a member of a secret society, but they don’t know who exactly it is! Start rolling dice. Look shocked.

Take every single player outside to speak to them privately and let each one know that through complete chance, the dice have decided that they are both the mutant AND the secret society member, and it’s their job to make sure the mission fails – But be careful, because the other members of the team are trying to hunt them down and turn them in!

Now run your mission as usual. It can be any Paranoia mission at all. Suddenly, bad things are happening, and people are dying! It must be those damn mutant commie traitors in the group! Watch with glee as everyone quite correctly blames everyone else, and attempts to deflect perfectly justified accusations away from themselves.

At the end of the mission (or when the mission area has been reduced to a pile of rubble and the mission has well and truly failed, whichever comes first), ask them if they want to know who the traitors were. Ask the mutant to put up their left hand, and the secret society member to raise their right, on the count of 3.

Count to 3, and watch everyone put both their hands in the air. Laugh.

Duck under the desk before people start throwing chairs at you.


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