Previously, I have expressed my frustration with the Paranoia Kickstarter project, and the ridiculously delayed delivery schedule for the Paranoia boxed set. Basically, we were told way back in the fall of 2014 that we if we helped fund the project we could expect to receive our box sets by July 2015 – at the latest. It’s now the fall of 2016, and I am happy to announce that the delivery of my boxed set is finally on the horizon! The game has went to the printers and should be in my hands in the next few weeks, and I have to say I’m pretty excited.
Much of my excitement is due in part to the fact that I already have PDF copies of the rules – delivered as part of my Kickstarter pledge – and I have to say that it sure looks fun! I don’t want to go into a lot of details about mechanics and specifics just yet, but you can expect that to happen once I’ve had a chance to actually play the game. I do, however, want to talk about one aspect of the rules that I look forward to seeing in action, which is how meta-game concepts such as experience points (XP Points) are incorporated into actual gameplay. At first this idea seemed weird to me, and it probably wouldn’t work in most roleplaying games, but it looks perfect for Paranoia. Basically, XP Points are in-game currency (the only non-treasonous currency, in fact) that characters are awarded for accomplishing tasks that The Computer approves of, and this currency can be spent on things like equipment upgrades or skill packages that can be downloaded to the your Cerebral Coretech, which is the tiny computer integrated into each character’s brain.
The Cerebral Coretech itself is a wonderful touch that facilitates the meshing of meta-game and in-game concepts. In addition to allowing you to spend your XP Points on in-game goodies, via use of the “XP Points App,” the Cerebral Coretech is also responsible for periodically backing up your clone’s memories to the cloud, so that when one clone dies the next clone will arrive possessing (most) of the memories and downloaded skill packages possessed by previous clones. Of course, mandatory bandwidth limitations, “abundance short falls,” the presence of “dead zones”(note: dead zones do not exist), or any number of (in)convenient excuses can allow for GMs to whimsically interfere with any and all of these fucntions. If your picturing a scenario where a character needs to diffuse a ticking bomb and decides to download some bomb schematics to his Cerebral Coretech, only to encounter severe buffering or a slowly filling progress bar, then you are probably in the right frame of mind.
This system also allows for direct communication with Friend Computer, which could be initatied by either party at any time, which of course will always be a fun and informative interaction that will in no way ever lead to your character acquiring additional treason stars or otherwise make your life more difficult. If you are imaging The Computer asking a character for a detailed progress update in the middle of a firefight then you probably have the right idea. You can also use the this system to communicate with your fellow troubleshooters, so you don’t have to worry with the bothersome inability to communicate with other players who aren’t in your immediate vicinity (although: see bandwith limits and abundance shortfalls, above).
Additionally, the Coretech is integrated with your character’s iBall system, which is a cyber-eye system that is not only capable of recording what your character sees, but also provides your character with a HUD system that displays the number of treason stars, clearance level, and the name of any citizen you look at. Via the iBall system, The Computer can also assist your character by helpfully pixellating things that it would be too terrifying or treasonous for your character to observe. Isn’t that great?
The combined effect of all of these things is that it removes the restrictions on certain elements of storytelling and fun-having that are necessary in other games for the sake of internal consistency. And don’t get me wrong – I think those restrictions are often necessary in other games, but in a comedy game like Paranoia the ability to circumvent or ignore these restrictions should make for a hilarious game.
Hopefully in a few short days/weeks I’ll be able to see if this is the case, and I look forward to reporting my findings here.