Stay Alert! Trust No One! Keep Your Laser Handy!

Sunday night, for the first time in far too long, I ran a game of Paranoia.

Paranoia, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, is an RPG originally published in the 1980s. It was an unholy union of Brave New World, 1984, and the Three Stooges. Players took on the role of Troubleshooters, hapless people in a futuristic underground complex run by the Computer, who is helpful yet insane, and who is entirely obsessed with rooting out traitors. As you might imagine, it finds a whole lot of traitors, especially since the players are given every reason to mistrust each other.

How’d it go? Towards the end of the night, a player managed to catch his one-ton power armor on fire. The fire broke through to the power unit, at which point the player managed to hit the explosive bolts, turning one giant exploding exoskeleton into a smaller exploding exoskeleton and many deadly flaming pieces of metal. Another player fired an experimental tangle gun to try to stop the metal, only to discover that the gun didn’t so much shoot sticky strands away from the user as drape those strands about the user. A third had little choice but to activate his experimental rocket boots, which consisted of two boots with twelve rockets each and a belt with twenty-four adjustable sliders, one for each of the rockets, making the whole get-up incredibly fiddly and near-impossible to use.

I don’t run Paranoia games because it gives me the chance to kill players. I run them because it gives me the chance to put tools in the players’ hands and let them kill themselves.