I’ve finished reading through the Paranoia XP rulebook. I already owned the second edition of the traitorously fun RPG, but I did not hesitate that long before buying this updated version.
At its core, it is still the same: you’re a Troubleshooter in Alpha Complex, a Utopia ruled by a benevolent (but paranoid) Computer. The Computer is afraid of evil commies, and of mutants, and of members of secret societies — those traitors are everywhere! The Troubleshooters are sent on perfectly safe and fun missions to eradicate traitors — but they’re secretly all mutants and members of secret societies too! The best tactic of survival is to ensure your fellow Troubleshooters don’t survive — but because false accusations of treason are themselves treason, there is a frantic rush to prove the treason of others. And all this while trying to survive the other dangers of Alpha Complex… Luckily, each Troubleshooter has six identical clones at their disposal — so death need not be the end!
The new version does add quite a few nifty things. The differentiation of the three play styles (Classic, Straight and Zap) allows GMs to tailor their scenarios to their desired style of play.
Also, with the addition of PDCs (Personal Digital Companion), Paranoia has entered the Brave New World of ubiquitous computing — with spam, viruses, adware and malware to torture your players with! The sample scenario, “Mr. Bubbles” uses these elements in a wonderful way to create slightly more ‘up-to-date’ Fear and Ignorance.
And the idea of adding an economy is brilliant: the Service Firms add another layer of strife, the Service Services leave GMs a handy way out of the trusted-but-a-little-tired R&D testing runs, and credits allow for a huge clandestine market which allows the Troubleshooters to buy an extra advantage against their fellows.
And the Perversity Points are a nice touch too — encouraging the players to screw around with their peers even more!
The only thing I’m not too sure of, is MemoMax. This technology would transfer memories from one clone to the next in real time. This puts a large burden on sneaky and back-handed attacks: you don’t want your victim to see who fires the deadly shot, or their next clone will have proof of your treason!
Of course, the players know who killed them and why, but it is just the fact that the next clone enters the fray as a relatively clean slate that makes it amusing. A rivalry between players is to be expected (and even encouraged, up to a certain level), but you want to preserve the Fear and Ignorance! Maybe I should ask around on Paranoia XP fora how GMs handle that.
Also, the Mandatory Card Game looks like fun…
Also also, sometimes when people ask me to do something, I answer with: “At your service, citizen!” Most people think I make a feeble attempt of channeling Pim Fortuyn — but nothing could be further from the truth! I just want them to answer with “Thank you, Friend Computer!”, but no-one ever does. I need more RPG-geeks as colleagues.