Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Attention, Traitors!

West End's Paranoia is a roleplaying game of which I have many fond memories. It's also a game I haven't played in, literally, decades and doubt I'll ever play again. Part of that is that I no longer own a copy of the rules, but a bigger part is that I'm not at all sure how well a RPG like this would work in the present day. The real world is already so uncomfortably close to Paranoia's "darkly humorous future" at times that I wonder if it's even possible to satirize it effectively. 

I understand that there's a new edition of the available through Mongoose Publishing, though I've not seen it and so can't speak to how effectively it translates the irreverent and subversive spirit of the original into the very different world of the 21st century. If anyone has any experience with it, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it.


  1. I GM'd it once. At the first encounter with some hostile robots, the characters (and the robots) immediately all shot the communist in the group. The characters then all shot each in a TPK. The robots survived unharmed. Did I do it right?

    1. Actually yes. In my time, I DMed and played several Paranoia games, and your experience looks completely normal to me.


      Paranoia and Call of Cthulhu molded for years the way in which I DMed. Call of Cthulhu taught me that fragile PJs and defeat can be fun. Paranoia taught me that rules can be easily ignored as long as everyone is enjoying the game.

  2. I have the current main and acute boxes. It took me a long time to get through the first book in the main box because there’s a strong PvP component to chargen. I haven’t gotten over that. PvP is a common playstyle, but it emerges organically from the setting (there are 3 “factions” for each character, after all-mutation, secret society, and service sector). There’s just not a need to add actually winding up the players at the table—it felt small.

    I did get over the dice + cards mechanics. I haven’t actually *played* but I feel like I could cope with that difference. A lot of the rest of the text actually feels like the game I came up playing. So that’s nice.

  3. Totally agree with your thoughts! This is a game that has aged... too well? I can't imagine enjoying it now like I did at 15, but this makes me want to track down the rules just to remember what it was like.

  4. I own 1st, 2nd, and the first run of the Mongoose edition (Paranoia XP, later renamed when Microsoft got huffy about it) of the game. I contributed some material to XP as well.

    Overall, the Mongoose version is all right. My favorite part of it was the fact they defined three forms of Paranoia: Classic, Straight, and Zap. They also got Jim Holloway to do the art for the new edition as well, which was interesting because his style had changed from the 80's.

  5. An interesting twist on the new version(s) is that you can play it as straight - a sort of 1984/Brazil variant. It's ... challenging to do, and it's not something that you'll want to do all the time, but the stories that come from it are epic.