The computer is your friend. The computer wants you to be happy. No this isn’t the latest advertising slogan for Facebook, it’s part of the in-game universe concept for Paranoia (2nd Edition) by West End Games that was published in 1987. I just picked this boxed set up at a game swap last fall and I thought it would be perfect to use in the 2022 Character Creation Challenge. I never had the chance to play this game when it first came out, but I recall a co-worker telling me about a hilarious scenario that happened while he was playing. It sounded like fun.
For those of you not familiar with Paranoia, it is a role-playing game that is set in the future where humanity lives in a computer controlled Alpha Complex. No, this is about the future not about today. The central computer controls everything and is trying to keep you safe from conspiracies, communist plots, secret societies and enemies of the computer. Why do you keep asking if this is a game set in modern times? Your character is a troubleshooter for the computer trying to discover the hidden fiendish plot that is about to be sprung upon your paradise-utopian society. All while trying to hide the deep dark secret that you harbor from other troubleshooters. No, I’m tired of that question. The computer says we should move onto character creation.
So the first thing needed is a name. But just not any name. There is style to the name that usually involves a pun. Your security clearance level (represented by a color) is in your name. Pick a name you want to use. All characters start out at security clearance Red, so R is in the middle of the name. After the security clearance is the three-letter designation of where you live in the Alpha Complex. Since the character is also a clone (making clones is much easier for the computer than trying to have humans do it the old fashioned way) you start with the number one (since you are the first clone in the series). If your character gets terminated, then your back up clone will be activated and the number will increase by one. So this character is named Car-R-PET-1. Yea that should about cover it. What, where you floored by that pun?
Next comes your attributes which are Strength, Agility, Dexterity, Endurance, Moxie (think intelligence), Chutzpah (communications savvy), Mechanical Aptitude and Power (as in Mutant Power). You roll a D20 and go down the line for each attribute. Once that is done, the computer allows you to re-roll for two of your lowest rolls, but you must take the second roll no matter what. I ended up with a STR 17, END 7, AGI 15, DEX 5 (re-rolled to a 12), MOX 11, CHU 17, MechA 6 (re-rolled to a 10) and POW 16. Other than the low endurance, I think this character seems alright. From these attributes you get some secondary attributes in the form of capacity, bonuses and bases. I followed the RAW to fill these in.
Now the RAW directs you to your service group. Basically your job within the Alpha Complex. Car-R-PET-1 works in Power Services which maintains the power plants and primary maintenance of services like air, traffic, water, etc. Afterwards I get to roll the secret mutant power my character has (and should keep secret from everyone). I ended up with [HIDDEN] which was written down on the second secret character sheet. I did not roll for a membership in a secret society and I did not mark it down on my secret character sheet.
OK, next came the skills used in the game. Each group of skills uses a specific skill based that was determined above. Then I have 30 skill points to distribute between the individual skills (up to 12). I was able to get my skill selected, then the book went into some different details for the game. Um… where’s the equipment that I needed to select? There is a list with costs in the back of the book, but no info on the starting costs. Ugh, this happens in a lot of books. Fine, I looked at the sample characters and selected some of their equipment. There are still some blank spots on the character sheet, but I guess I’m done.
Having to move to the back of the book to find charts while following the rules was a bit annoying. Same with the lack of equipment allocation for new characters. Other than that, the system explanation was pretty quick and simple. I don’t think this game was meant for long term campaigns. Some quick fun games and then back to your regular system. You really need a sense of humor to play this game. Since I enjoyed “It Came From the Late, Late Show”, I think I probably would have enjoyed a game or two of Paranoia.
This character was completed on Day 16, but with the technical issues on my website it wasn’t posted until January 17th. I posted a picture of the character sheet on social media.
I did get a comment on social media after I had posted the sheet. Someone mentioned that the computer must have been generous by giving me a laser pistol. I had to be honest and let them know that I pulled some of the equipment from the pre-published characters in the back of the game.
Coming Up Next: