Thursday, April 2, 2015
12 Games April: Paranoia
Paranoia (Specifically the 2004 Paranoia XP Service Pack 1 Edition) is up this month and the easiest way to explain it is as the Monopoly of table top games. Right down to every table flipping moment.
With the month officially starting just yesterday I've only been able to get through a single reading of the core book so far meaning this is my initial impression of everything without much rereading for clarification at all. Speaking of rereading, I'm gonna need to do a lot of it because this book is simply oozing atmosphere. By the time I was about half way though everything I finally got used to the style of fluff and started actually seeing and understanding the mechanics going on. I also "cheated" a bit by checking out a couple videos to speed things up. Particularly Nerdarchy's look a the game as well as a great video by GuildmasterDan about using the game as a GM tool to condition players.
With all that out of the way on to my actual feelings about the book. Like I said it took me ab out half a read through to actually start seeing the mechanics and honestly I think that was one purpose. One of the main goals of paranoia is for players to not actually know the rules (at least not well enough to correct the GM because correcting the GM is treason). T counter this everything is written in the tone of the game. Namely as if it was created by a malfunctioning and probably psychotic AI known as Friend Computer. The over all tone is wonderful as long as you're willing to have a sense of humor reading more like deranged ramblings of Douglas Adams novel than a rule book. There is a way to play the game "straight" as a serious Orison Wellsian distopian future full of suspense and back stabbing, but when there's also two other styles of play each with varying degrees of vaporizing your friends I feel it's added to make certain gamers happy much more than a fully intended style of play.
Another thing I realized once the "fluff cloud" began to clear and I was seeing the mechanics for what they are is that if the publisher wanted to sell a full book they needed the fluff for, if nothing else, page filling. The actual rules to Paranoia can probably will a single page with only needed about four pages tops of reference charts for things like infractions and weapons. This isn't a bad thing as the system that is there is actually beautifully simple. Skills work in a way almost identical to a system my group and I was toying with when designing our own game and damage functions in the realm of wounds which I'm always a fan of.
For those not really aware of the basics of the game or didn't check out the videos above here's the basics. Rule 1: The GM is ALWAYS correct Rule 2:Know Nothing Rule 3: Be Entertaining This is a game so deadly players start with a six pack of lives and your doing something wrong if no one died in the first five minutes. Players are not expected to work together, but need to pretend to work together because not working as a unit is treason and treason is punishable by death. Everyone is a mutant (Mutants are treason) and part of a secret society (Secret societies are treason). In fact just about everything is treason and the best way to not get blamed is to shift that blame to the left. Preferably right after he gets up to go to the bathroom.
Next week: Character creation. Because let's face it, it's going to happen more than once.