I also skipped the character creation rule that you can take
which are basically a little quirky thing you can do at +6 to a skill set's rating, one for each skill set, that doesn't have to be picked at character creation. They're good for doing small things that don't matter well or for briefly pulling your bacon out of the fire, but I personally don't see a hell of a lot of a need for them (sometimes) because of Perversity. But thanks for pointing that out: Paranoia is a game about doing well but not perfect because the Critical Roll hammer swings both ways.
And while I'm here, let's finish character creation.
Character Creation Part 2
So far Stacy-B-KLK has skills and a name and not a hell of a lot else but that's about to change! She's a member of a Service Group , the different industries that keep Alpha Complex running, and Internal Security is in fact one of these groups. It's totally possible for her to not be from IntSec but on loan from another group to be used as an IntSec Trooper. The other groups are:
ARMED FORCES : the standing military of Alpha Complex that has a big interest in explosions, parading, yelling and waging war (often against themselves in war games or anyone that looks at them funny).
CENTRAL PROCESSING : the schmoes who make sure Friend Computer runs "properly" and are also responsible for all the paperwork and half of the bureaucracy in Alpha Complex.
HOUSING PRESERVATION DEVELOPMENT & MIND CONTROL : HPD&MC is responsible for giving the citizens lodging, food, entertainment and education, AKA fat, docile, stupid and happy.
PRODUCTION, LOGISTICS & COMMISSARY : the heartless bastards who make sure people get things, or more often don't. Generally responsible for the other half of the paperwork.
TECH SERVICES : responsible for construction, repair, hard work and the quality citizens of Alpha Complex have come to expect. Also generally responsible for scraping vaporized burns off walls.
POWER SERVICES : handles power and electricity and the generation of it. If there's a problem or a shortage, you're better off trying to fix it yourself, then blaming them for denying your claim and saying that you need to turn it off and back on.
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT : mad, reckless, unreliable science, experiments and technology that the brave Troubleshooters often end up testing and breaking. Bestest buddies with Armed Forces and IntSec for making things go boom and for making interrogations a lot more fun.
Roll 1d20. 01-12 means you're a true-Blue IntSec agent. 13-20 means that you're from one of the other Service Sectors on loan for the time being. In the case of Stacy, she's an IntSec worker. But wait, there's more. IntSec has its own departments, as do the other Sectors when they work with IntSec.
Each assignment has a related skill attached which means that A: you can get a free +4 in one of those skills with no weakness or B: if you've already bumped up one of those skills then you can pump it up with a further +4. But what do these departments do? Good question!
Internal Affairs : IntSec handles IntSec's business. IA polices the beast, points fingers, handles accusations and investigates fellow officers and erases/terminates them if necessary. Nobody likes IA because IA is corrupt as hell and they always tend to overcharge you for your bribes. In IA, your job is to enforce the rules. And make them.
Thought Survey : You ask questions to people. Often irrelevant questions. Your job is to see how happy citizens are and see what they think. And if what they think is wrong, it's your job to arrest/shoot them.
Re-Education : The game book says it best. "Re-education broadens the mind. Sometimes it broadens it with a crowbar. Re-education makes for happier citizens, even if they do tend to drool more afterwards. Re-education changes people; living people to dead people is a common change." In Re-Education, your job is to politely correct wrong thoughts however you see fit.
Glee-Quota Adjutant : You're responsible for raising the Happiness Index in a sector, mostly with drugs, always with a smile.
Forensics Analysis : I don't want to be a bummer but people tend to hate you because you have a bunch of fancy machines that let you pull treasonous evidence out of a person's ass just by rolling a wand on their forehead. On the plus side, you should ask for bribes like IA does.
Surveillance Operatives : You get paid to watch TV and find places to put bugs. You're also paid to sit at a small desk and hold your pee for hours at a time.
Traffic Patrol : Your job is to safeguard the lives of high-profile citizens who actually HAVE cars to drive by protecting them from the unwashed masses who want to see what their car smells like. It's like being a bodyguard except you get to ride on the hood of the car holding a bazooka.
Complaints : Your job is to be as unhelpful as possible and make the citizens dread ever asking for your help.
Goon Squad : You get to be a jackbooted thug! And oh boy what a job this is. Marching, stomping, waving your clubs and guns, yelling at people. You get to all hold shields and march menacingly towards people while scowling. What a fun life you must live, carefree without a thought in your little angry head.
Association Determination : Your job is to have a big ol' wall of string and clippings to figure out if criminals acted alone or if there's some big society conspiracy brewing and figure out how treasonous friendships are.
Threat Assessors : You assess threats. You get paid to be paranoid all day and control when you're on high alert or not and what gets nuked first.
Enhanced Interrogation & Rendition : If Re-Education is like high school then you're a college professor and you get to coerce your charges into write papers on what they know and who is responsible for it.
Confession Booth Operators : You get to read sensors and indicators as citizens pour their treasonous little hearts out in "private" sessions with Friend Computer.
Counter Dissension : You get to run Secret Societies running counter-propaganda to try and catch dissenters and terrorists. Most of the time you're in too deep undercover and believe what you're saying.
Informants Hotline : You get to take calls from concerned citizens all day and figure out what's nonsense and what's a legit problem to handle.
Reality Control : Making citizens disappear is harder than it looks; you have to destroy their possessions, make their friends know they no longer exist and destroy every inch of their existence. You're responsible for making fake people real and real people fake.
Computer Security : You protect Friend Computer's code and stop citizens/programmers from tampering with it. Most likely you're an entrapped hacker.
Compliance Directorate : You're the diplomat that makes sure this whole beast doesn't crush the entire social structure of Alpha Complex by messing up too bad with their requests and actions. Good luck.
Stacy is a THREAT ASSESSOR with a specialty in BIOWEAPONS because why destroy the standing infrastructure when you can build a super-plague or shambling goo beast to eat your enemies?
Next step: lost clones. Like I said, being a Blue takes hard work. And sometimes that hard work kills you. Thems the breaks.
Stacy rolled another 11, meaning she's actually Stacy-B-KLK-2. And Stacy-B-KLK-2 works for IntSec because she questioned the status quo and the sanity of something about Alpha Complex.
Every playable Trooper works for IntSec because of blackmail that their superiors have over them, the carrot on a stick that makes them pull the policeman's wagon. Stacy rolled a 16 meaning that someone snitched on her doubts. Oh well, poor Stacy. Because on top of being a KNOWN traitor, she's also a mutant and in a Secret Society.
Stacy rolled a 2 on her Mutant Powers table, which in theory means she's Not A Mutant . But everyone in Alpha Complex IS a mutant and Stacy just doesn't know what she is. Her GM would roll for her mutant power and whenever she tries to use it, they get to fill in whatever details they want. In actuality, Stacy is a Vampire and just doesn't know it.
What Stacy DOES know is that she's in a Secret Society. Namely, two of them. Stacy's result came up as Spy which means she works for one Society spying on another and takes the skills from her cover. Stacy is a spy for Pro Tech , a bunch of engineers and designers who like making things explode and building super machines, for the Runners , who are citizens that sabotage IntSec operations in order to try and escape Alpha Complex and not live under the oppression of Friend Computer. As a "Runner" , her secret society skills are Survival 19, Sprinting 3 and Twitchtalk 8, meaning that she knows how to survive well, sucks at running and can talk using secret gestures pretty okay. Secret Skills are determined by rolling 1d20 and using the result. Her rank in her societies are half the result of 1d20, so she's a Rank 7 Pro Tech and only a Rank 2 Runner. Stacy can start the game with up to 3 IOUs she can redeem for her Secret Society; the downside is that each one means a random Secret Society can call on her in turn, determined by GM rolls on the SS chart. And because she's in a Society to begin with, she knows Propaganda skills for each of them at the rank of her roll in the Society; her Propaganda-Pro Tech skill is 7 and her Propaganda-Runner skill is 2.
Phew. That's a lot to chew on, isn't it? Let's wrap things up and I'll show you her finished sheet.
Every character has a pool of 10 Perversity Points which help you fudge the dice/hinder your "friends" (even if it's not your turn!). Your static amount is 10 with room for up to 30 for overall roleplaying and having a Tic (which is a noticeable character quirk). It's a little reward for being in character and your pool is refreshed at the start of every session.
Characters also have Access and Power which are respectively "how much pull you have in Alpha Complex" and "overall luck/Mutant Power strength" pool. They have a ceiling limit determined at generation and CAN AND WILL deplete during play as you use them. When do they regenerate? That answer is above your clearance, citizen. You aren't even supposed to know your number for them! But for the purpose of demonstration, I'll tell you Stacy's. Each stat is worth 1d20, so Stacy's Access is 4 and her Power is 10. She's a pretty good vampire, considering she doesn't know she is one! But don't expect her to succeed if she leans on a clerk and tries to play the "I know your supervisor" card to get a TacNuke.
Every Trooper starts play with a ME card with 10,000 shiny new credits on them. The ME card acts as your ID and credit card. Losing them is bad (and often inevitable). Standard Trooper equipment is X-317B full combat armor (explained more later), security helmet, jackboots with magnetic grapple and jet propulsion upgrades (explained more later), a Cone Rifle with Firepower Control attachment, a truncheon for whacking and smacking, a notepad and a nifty little Blue pen and a ME card reader so you can pull up a citizen's information at any time.
So let's take a look at Stacy's final character sheet:
Chutzpah 12, Intimidation 1.
Surveillance 12, Shadowing 1.
Demolitions 10, Projectile Weapons 10, Unarmed Combat 1.
Assignment: IntSec Threat Assessment
Mutation: Not A Mutant/Vampire
Secret Society: Runners 2 (Spy for Pro Tech 7)
Secret Skills: Propaganda-Pro Tech 7, Propaganda Runners 2, Survival 19, Sprinting 3, Twitchtalk 8
Equipment: ME Card, X-317B Power Armor, Helmet, Jackboots (magnetic/jet), Cone Rifle (with working Firepower Control), trusty truncheon, notepad, Blue pen.
Not bad for someone who made the wrong remarks to the wrong people.
Next time: game mechanics, brief overview of Trooper equipment and weapons, punishments Troopers give/receive.
Another daycycle, another credit, citizens!
So let's talk game mechanics. They're not particularly fancy because the main emphasis of Paranoia is for the GM to play fast and loose to help keep the game flowing and help keep everyone on their toes. I'll give you the "official" rules and then show what it really looks like.
I previously mentioned that a Skill roll is just 1d20, plus or minus Perversity modifiers, and if you roll under your skill number it's a success. Tasoth mentioned that a critical success can be as dangerous as a critical hit. These rules apply to Mutant Powers and Access too. That's really the gist of it! It even applies to combat: there is no real initiative in Paranoia. What happens is that everyone makes their roles and the GM tries to figure out how everything happens at once. The players can talk about what they're going to do as the GM rolls for the NPCs, then the players make their rolls, then everything happens at once. Anyone still alive can then move around until the next round when it all begins again.
For example: Stacy is armed with a Cone Rifle, an Orange Frankenstein Destroyers is armed with a Orange Laser Pistol, a Red Communist has a can of B3 and a Yellow Anti-Mutant is armed with Slugthrower. Stacy and the Red are PCs, the Orange and Yellow are NPCs. They're all in a stand-off but a Vendbot crashes through the roof and everyone starts firing.
1: The GM decides that the Orange is going to attack the Red and the Yellow is going to attack Stacy. He rolls a success for the Orange and a failure for the Yellow.
2: Stacy decides to attack the Red, the Red decides to attack the Yellow. Stacy gets a very bad failed roll, the Red gets a critical success.
3: Everything happens at once. The Yellow's bullet whizzes past Stacy's head, throwing her aim off as she fires at the Red, causing him to stumble into the path of the Orange's laser. He throws the can of B3 at the Yellow and the B3 explodes as it bounces off the Yellow's chest, blowing him to bits. The explosion, however, is strong enough to make the Vendbot explode, and then everything starts coming down around Stacy and the Orange.
In this example I'm playing pretty fast and loose with damage. Every citizen has a pretty fixed damage track: Okay, Snafued, Wounded, Maimed, Down, Killed, Vaporized. Perfectly fine, injured and can't spend Perversity on your own character, no perversity and missing a limb, knocked prone and gets one more action before being KO'd the next round, dead, a scorched pile of ash. The official rules are that you calculate damage using the rating of armor and the damage stats of the weapon. Weapons have "steps" of damage, meaning that they can do a minimum amount and a maximum amount. The steps of a punch are Okay to Killed, a TacNuke has the steps of Killed to Vaporized. Each type of weapon does a different kind of damage: I mpact, E nergy or B iological. Explosives, lasers and plagues. And Armor can protect against certain kinds of damage or not protect against certain damage. A radiation suit protects against Energy and Biological, Reflec armor protects against Energy only (and has the added benefit of automatically protecting against colors of laser equal to its color and under, so Yellow blocks Yellow, Orange, Red and Infrared), Trooper protects up to Energy 3 and Impact 3. And no armor is no protection. So what's the "official" way to calculate damage?
1: Check the weapon's damage steps and start with the minimum amount of damage it does. Let's use the Orange's laser pistol as an example. A Laser Pistol does W3K damage, from Wounded to Killed, the number in the middle is the Boost number used to figure out bonus damage. So this pistol Wounds the Commie at the very least.
2: Reduce minimum damage by the a number of steps equal to armor value down to Okay. If this guy had real armor, he'd probably be alright, but the Red Commie has no armor so he's still Wounded at least.
3: Divide the margin of success (the gap between the successful roll and the target number) by the Boost and round down if you need to. Let's say the Orange's skill with energy weapons is 12 and he rolled a 6. 6/3=2, so +2 steps up.
4: Add the Boost to the minimum. So the attack now Downs the Commie. One way or another he's out of the fight and at the mercy of his own explosion.
The "unofficial" way? "Let's see. Target is twelve, you rolled a six, he's unarmored. Okay, you shoot him in the chest and he collapses as he throws the can of soda." THIS EXAMPLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY BOUNCY BUBBLE BEVERAGE. B3: THE DELICIOUS TASTE CLONES CRAVE!
Being a Blue clearance citizen, you actually get some pretty cool stuff and access to your very own (shared) vehicle! For starters, your Cone Rifle, the bastard child of a rifle, a rocket launcher and a grenade launcher. The damage of a cone rifle depends on what kind of cone you're using in the rifle. Load a shell, put a fuse in, fire and pray it doesn't jam and flies true. The Trooper-issued Cone Rifle can hold up to six primed shells in reserve and will automatically switch to them if you say what kind of shell you want to use. Or if someone else does. Or if you sneeze. Protip: put your players in places full of nasal irritants and remember that "achoo" sorta sounds like "tac-nuke". Common shells include: solid, rubber, dum-dum, high-explosive, gas, napalm, flare, glue, net, electronic counter-measure, tac-nuke, anti-vehicle. Fuses determine when the shells explode (if they explode). Default is contact, so if they touch something hard enough it goes boom. There are also heat fuses, remote fuses, gauss (if there's electronic distortion it detonates), timed fuses and purity fuses, which detonate if they detect mutant DNA. Those're especially fun. Just remember: if your Cone Rifle jams, don't hit it on anything hard or shove anything sharp down the barrel to unjam it.
Blues also get Laser Pistols as side-arms and truncheons for beating insolent citizens. Laser pistols require barrels to be screwed on to fire, firing lasers colored by the barrel. Each barrel is good for six shots and crack on the sixth. A dumb citizen/Troubleshooter/Trooper would replace the barrel on the sixth shot. A smart citizen/Troubleshooter/Trooper knows that a cracked barrel can still fire (but every shot lowers the critical jam ceiling from 20 by one for each extra shot; when that critical jam inevitably catches up with you, your whole pistol is probably gonna explode in your hands).
The X-317b suit of armor for Troopers is pleasantly protective, unlike standard Red Reflec, and it's full body except for the head. It's perfect for the active Trooper on the go. Your helmet has some fun tools too, like the giant deafening siren on your head that you can turn on and off (or get stuck permanently on), a flatscreen computer visor for checking for information/talking to Central, a deployable built-in camera, Perception Filters so you can't be affected by evil Commie propaganda and a built-in airbag that triggers at the slightest tap on your forehead.
You also get JET BOOTS!
You want to be careful with your jet boots, considering how even tap-dancing jauntily can set the damn things off. The moment someone turns their jet boots on and makes a "Use Jet Boots" roll is the moment everything is gonna go off the rails, so make sure you keep a hand on your laser pistol for your own protection. You steer using either your feet or your helmet's controls, whichever works for you, but remember: if they're not hovering, you're not stopping.
On top of this armor, certain Troopers get access to the X-404 Powered Armor. It offers 5 protection against everything and covers your whole body and head, but it's only offered to Security Officer Trooper, it's pretty slow, it's a giant, loud target and it's got a battery that can be recharged from power outlets and cigarette lighters in vehicles. If the battery runs out, you're pretty much trapped in their until you suffocate. The major upside is if your allies ever decide to turn on you, you're probably gonna win that firefight. Therefore the only logical course of action is to kill anyone who suggest you step out of the armor.
There are also DRUGS available. You can take drugs, you can make people take drugs, you can shower the citizens with drugs and let the fun and truth flow like blood from an overdose nosebleed. I will let the Drug Chart speak for itself. Remember citizen, drugs are mandatory.
YOUR VERY OWN SQUAD CAR (TO EVENTUALLY DESTROY)
As a Trooper, you get a squad car to share with the rest of your team. Vehicles are used to navigate the Transtubes, which are massive underground tube-shaped highways where there is no speed limit and you're probably going to end up driving on the ceiling. Transtubes are clearance-coded like the rest of Alpha Complex, so despite being Blue there are a lot of detours you're probably going to end up taking trying to get to the scene of the crime. Could be worse; you could be a hapless Red Troubleshooter stowed away in the back of a Transbot who has to hop from car to car so they're not in a forbidden clearance zone. Transtubes have a central rail in the middle of the tube that provide power, and Power Services is responsible for maintaining these rails. In layman's terms, a lot of transtubes don't have power or have power that flicker. Some of them are underwater, some of them are flooded, and some of them are underwater and flooded and the central rail is live.
So you have a car and hopefully you didn't piss off the motor pool so you have a GOOD car. This means you have a hovering vehicle driving through the Autobahn equivalent of a railgun full of drugged maniacs flying alongside you and you have to weave and evade around them to get to the exit you need without crashing at any step along the way. Your car comes equipped with an autopilot, which is all well and good except their intelligence is tied to whether or not the tube your in has power issues, it doesn't account for construction, and it doesn't know how to evade incoming traffic or brake at intersections. So you're probably going to have to steer manually, and Vehicle Operations training is not included in IntSec training. One more thing to note: your vehicle is powered by a shiny microfusion generator so even if the power fails, your car will still keep going, just in freefall. The generator is also enclosed in plastic, not lead, and you might want to not hit the ground that hard.
In summation, transtubes and driving your shiny new vehicle is a great way to kill everyone on your team if you think they deserve it. And believe me, they deserve it. To increase your odds of survival, you should probably be/shoot the driver and jump out. Just another "accident" in Alpha Complex, citizens.
NEXT TIME: Trooper Duties, Investigations and Your Roles in the Group.
In Alpha Complex's war on crime, the worst Commie Mutant Traitors are pursued by the Troopers of Internal Security. These are their stories.
So, Trooper Jobs! Every Trooper in a team has a Special Officer Duty to fulfill in the group and that means you get to hinder your allies in some way, shape or form. You get a Teamwork Enhancement Upgrade to control and you have a responsibility you are accountable for. Your fearless leader is the...
LEAD TROOPER : The big boss, the captain of the team, the Lead Trooper is in charge of all of the others. This means that if anyone yells at the team, they'll yell at him first. The best candidates for Lead Trooper are generally incompetent and easily manipulated knuckleheads, wishy-washy hand-wringers who try to make everyone on the team happy, or sociopaths all too eager to put his allies in danger. The Lead Troopers moves the investigation, so don't be afraid to bully them into getting on with it if everyone's taking too long. They get the Teamwork Enhancement Upgrade known as the...
FIREPOWER CONTROL : the Lead Trooper has a belt-mounted wireless doodad slaved to the Cone Rifles of the other Troopers. If the switch isn't on, the gun can't fire, but unless you stare at your leader's crotch you generally don't know if your gun is on or not. The control on your gun can be hacked manually so you can use it whenever you want, or you can make excuses to hug or bump into the Lead Trooper and "accidentally" turn your own safety off. A good Lead Trooper would never tell his followers that their guns can fire and leave them defenseless in certain death, no sir, nuh uh.
COMMUNITY LIAISON OFFICER : The face of the team, the CLO has the job of interacting with the civilians and doing talky things like hostage negotiation or reading bomb-defusal instructions. They handle the requests and the paperwork and any complaints from the civilians and they're also in charge of the Compliance Index whenever they go somewhere. In a nutshell, they're a customer service agent with a big ol' gun and they will end up with the mindset appropriate for this task. They have control over...
DIRECTIVES CHIPS : little chips implanted in the skulls of Troopers (next to the remote-controlled cortex bomb) that temporarily paralyze anyone issued with it with a set of directives delivered by mental briefing. The main purpose is to educate Troopers on new tasks on the fly. The book recommends using them to kill people or lie to them by, say, turning their chip on as they try to scale a ladder over an active trash incinerator or by pretending you were the one with the chip and that other people have to do what you say. In short, it's a handy little bit of weaseling material.
SECURITY OFFICER : You get the blatantly fun and destructive toys. Like I previously mentioned, you get to control and ride around in the Power Armor, and you can go as slow as you want in it and the others have to wait for you. You also get to make sure everything is secure and you control manipulating the Security Index, which is generally making citizens feel secure. I'd say a good way to do that is to equip your Power Armor with a megaphone and stomp around issuing vaguely comforthreatening platitudes. But you also get...
CORTEX BOMBS : To ensure loyalty for all Troopers, every Trooper has a hole drilled in their head and a mechanical/electronic socket is installed. This is where all of your Trooper chips and your Cortex Bomb get installed. Don't put your finger right in the socket, that's gross and you don't need to poke your brain. The Security Officer has a little panel on his wrist that lets him detonate the bomb and POOF goes the Trooper head. This isn't to say that every single mission requires that your Cortex Bomb be live or even installed; you never know when the angry Security Officer is bluffing about his ability to kill you instantly.
SURVEILLANCE AND FORENSICS OFFICER : The S&FO gets to monitor security feeds and collect evidence. And oh boy is there evidence! Tons of it, most of it planted, all of it contradictory and it's up to you to fabricate or destroy evidence as you see fit. You also get a little forensic scrubbot to help you do stuff like dust for prints and find toenails or really just act like a little Roomba version of Friend Computer. The S&FO also gets access to all of IntSecs archives in Central, meaning that they can feasibly look up anything they want, such as past data relevant to your teammates. The big hazard of doing that however is that the archives are massive and sprawling and you're gonna have to work hard for your data. And who has time to go fact-hunting when you're in charge of raising the Loyalty Index to boot? Or you can just use...
SURVEILLANCE CHIPS : more head-chips that let you see through the eyes of another Trooper. It may or may not temporarily blind the other Trooper as you use it, it may or may not give you both a headache, and it may or may not cause a bizarre feedback that causes you to swap bodies or gives you a cerebral hemorrhage.
INTERROGATION & THOUGHT CONTROL OFFICER : Like the legendary gun-toting clerics of Christian Bale's youthful adventures, your job is to get confessions out of perps and citizens. They can send you to the Confession Booths or interrogate you and get what falls out of your mouth. I&TC Officers control Perception Filters on their allies' helmets, which is akin to temporarily deafening and blinding an armed maniac. Their job is to raise the Happiness Index, and who better to use for that than the guy who can beat nine shades of treason out of you with a truncheon? Their other tool is...
MEMO-MAX RECORDINGS : Brain chips that overwrite the personality of the Trooper who has it installed. The main mind can watch everything that happens as the stranger takes over, and in theory the chip has an upstanding citizen/Trooper on board. In reality it's a shadow of a mind on a chip and there's an equal chance a traitor or a criminal takes over your armed comrade. Also in theory you should be able to turn the chip off remotely. But it's a chip in a brain so why not just give his head a good, solid thumping?
DESIGNATED DRIVER : Aww. They didn't have any job for you. Your job is to drive, maybe. More often than not you're probably just going along with the others or shooting your gun. On the upside, you have nothing extra to worry about. On the downside, they don't really need you, so guess who they're gonna send to see if that Commie with a plasma gun is still shooting? You get...
NOTHING : Maybe the keys to the car, maybe some gear the others need you to carry.
INVESTIGATIONS AND MISSIONS
Nothing is ever easy in Alpha Complex, citizens.
For starters there's surveillance everywhere, strong or weak depending on where you go. Surveillance in an area is rated at a minimum of 0 (Outdoors, sewer tunnels, talking to the GM) or 1 (IntSec interrogation chambers) to 19 (Central Compnodes) or 20 (bathrooms). Everywhere is monitored to a certain extent, so the process of Investigation is pretty simple.
1: Receive your mission and mission briefing, receive additional supplies as necessary, buy additional supplies as necessary, make any pre-mission calls to "acquaintances" who might "help" you.
2: Review surveillance evidence, if there is any.
3: Head to the scene of the crime.
4: Keep alert at the scene of the crime. Search for evidence, question citizens, wave your gun around. Come up with your own damn conclusions based on stuff that's circumstantial at best or false leads fed to you by the GM: unless you're face-to-face with the source of the problem (PURGE terrorists, sewer mutants, Machine Empath controlling a warbot) you have to figure out who to blame and why they're responsible for it.
5: Pick up on clues and follow them to the next scene then repeat step 4. Keep collecting as much evidence as you can; the point of the game is to rack up 20 points of Treasonous Evidence for someone to take the blame, even if they're your allies. Don't be afraid to use your little Forensic Scrubbot buddy or cash in a Secret Society IOU for help.
6: Interrogate the traitor. Unless you're playing this in Straight mode where it's all intentionally horrifying and grim, don't dwell too much on what torture and rendition actually is and what it entails. IntSec agents have Telescopamine (truth serum) at their leisurely disposal, brain scanning probes/mind-reading machines and lots of very loud agents to Law and Order the heck out of the perp; if your players are uncomfortable with interrogation and torture, keep it simple and tread lightly on the details. The creators admit that torture is a means to an end and that answers given under duress are not inherently the right answers, they're just said to make it stop.
Interrogation Rules : The interrogator rolls Interrogation and the subject rolls a relevant skill to resist. Macho is good for resisting, so is Chutzpah, Suggestion or a blanket Violence or Management roll. Interrogation and torture inherently does some damage to the subject but not on a success; a success gets you the answers. A failure deals damage to the subject based on how big the margin of failure was, meaning you've simply hurt them but not succeeded. If the subject succeeds in their roll, they're hurt but they don't divulge anything. In a nutshell: a Trooper with a bad Interrogation skill is a bad interrogator . They're working them over but they're gonna kill them before they get an answer. There are alternatives to performing interrogation yourself as well. Interrogation Booths can do the job for you and just require you to put the subject inside, pay a few credits and wait a minute for a result. Interrogation Booths have a 10 in Interrogation. If the subject is strong-willed or if everyone's just very bad at doing their job, they can be renditioned and brought to MiniPOL Central who have a 15 and are scarily effective but are a giant bureaucratic department and it might be weeks or hours before you get an answer. Every confession adds to the subject's Treason points and Interrogation ends when the subject's score reaches 20 on top of evidence against them.
Again, I respect the creators for admitting that this is a touchy, possibly uncomfortable subject for people, and if you're not okay with it you can have an Interrogation Booth do the job. They also emphasize that you should not be reliant on torture to get answers, that interrogation and presentation of good, solidly built evidence and a case along with some perp-sweating tends to get the job done. We're operating on TV/video game logic, after all.
So you've got a person to blame, they're giving up the names of everyone they're associated with and the Commissioner is satisfied. Good job, right? Well, remember Troopers: everyone in Alpha Complex is in a Secret Society and playing Paranoia: IntSec lends itself well to episodic, continued gaming. The GM might have something big planned and they may decide that the Free Market Enterprise is mad that your arrests interrupt their operations or PURGE thinks that your busts means they should strike on IntSec first before the rest of Alpha Complex. The path of the Trooper is a dangerous one, citizens, and higher-clearance citizens are in Secret Societies too.
7: Punishment of the guilty. 20 points of treason mean that you qualify for termination; laser through the head, next clone pops out and this new one totally isn't a traitor. If the guilty party (or Trooper) is being punished for anything before 20 points of Treason, they can accept punishments to lower their Treason score. It's perfectly possible for you to build that 20 point case and have only half of them count, even after interrogation, which can lead to doling out punishment. Counting Termination (which resets your treason points to 1), punishment can go from slap-on-the-wrist to erasure.
Fines : Pay a sum of money, from cheap to outrageous, as your punishment. Removes 0 points, just takes a toll on your wallet.
Official Reprimand : An official or a counselor gives you a stern talking-to/yelling-at and you get to feel like a little kid when your dad is very disappointed in you. Removes 0 points, leaves you feeling kinda crummy.
Probation : The offender is reprimanded and given a time-out on top of that or issued a device that punishes you or reminds you of your misdeeds if you slip up. Removes 1 point of treason.
Censure : HPD&MC teams up to make citizens know this offender did something bad, from a mention of their offenses in the news or a forehead tattoo that displays their misdeeds. Expect lots of dirty looks from strangers and coworkers going tsk tsk tsk. Removes 5 points of treason.
Public Hating : Like Censure but HPD&MC makes you the face of public shame and ridicule for what you've done and encourages people to shun and ostracize you. In your shoes, I'd stick with the forehead tattoo, at least they can remove it. Also removes 5 points.
Demotion : You go down a Clearance level. Harsh. That means you have to give up everything of that clearance you own and you have to move to another lower place to stay. Removes 5 points from your Clearance level, if you're a Trooper this means that you have to listen to what other Troopers tell you to do.
Medication : You get pills you have to take. What drug you get really varies depends on what you did, what it does depends on how the GM rolls. Remember, try not to mix drugs, because then you end up with even more side effects. Removes no points if it's a one-time deal, if you're permanently stuck on that medication you get 7 points removed.
Brainscrub : You're taken into a nice bright room and strapped into a chair and a bunch of DocBots and other IntSec Troopers take a good look at your brain and using drugs and procedures help erase those treasonous thoughts. Best case scenario, you can still function. Worst case scenario, you have to rewrite your whole character sheet. Removes 10 points.
Imprisonment : Very, very rare, normally reserved for those being held before trial. Long-term Imprisonment actually adds 5 points to your Treason Points because you're surrounded by the stuff and probably learned a few new things.
Termination : Bring out the next clone!
Erasure : The last resort of punishment in Alpha Complex, normally reserved for Machine Empaths. Erasure doesn't just kill you; they erase your genetic codes from the clone banks permanently (unless you paid someone to back you up), erase your MemoMax recordings so your personality is destroyed (see previous statement) and then they kill you. Rough stuff, doesn't even factor into the removal of Treason points due to your cessation of existence.
So that, in all, is the general gist of what it's like to be an IntSec Trooper and an overview of Paranoia: Internal Security painted with rather broad strokes. If you're interested, I recommend picking up the PDF at least. It's a neat breed of creature and I will admit it's not for everyone. Also included in the book is some premade characters and some adventures to let you see what it looks like in motion.
Thank you for your time, citizens, and have a pleasant daycycle.
NEXT TIME: Anything I might've missed, anything anyone has any questions about. I'd like to answer questions about Secret Societies and Mutations too if you have any.
Errata Mattas: Odds and Ends of IntSec
I'm not gonna go into any real depth about ALL of the Secret Societies in Paranoia because you could just go to Wikipedia or check out the core book for information. I'm also gonna skip elaborating on the new/current mutations seeing as how they're pretty self-explanatory by name. The vanilla Societies are classic and pretty well known BUT IntSec adds new groups and a new way to classify the different types of Secret Societies. So I'll be showing off the new groups and giving a blurb about them.
IntSec classifies Secret Societies by A, B or C.
Type A's are societies full of wackos and crazies but are harmless, deep underground or at the very least ineffective. Some of them used to be social groups or initiatives dreamed up by Friend Computer and the High Programmers but they've kinda gone awry, though they don't pose any danger to the security of the Complex. Type A's: Death Leopard, First Church of Christ Computer Programmer, Free Enterprise, Program Group, Romantics, Sierra Club,
Type B's are smaller, weirder and more dangerous. They're possibly useful assets because they're obsessed with one certain thing in Complex life and might or might not be big threats to the security and the stability of the Complex. Type B's: Anti-Mutants, the C.L.A., Clone Arrangers, Corpore Metal, Mystics, Pro Tech, Runners, The Wobblies (International Workers of the World).
Type C's are ultratreasonous and are actively fought against by IntSec because they're big threats to the regime. Unless the decisions makers are on the take for them, then that's a problem. Type C's: Communists, Computer Phreaks, Frankenstein Destroyers, Humanists, The Movement, The Old Guard, PURGE, Servants of Cthulhu, Spies for Another Complex,
Type Unknowns defy classification, being too inscrutable or unknowable. The Illuminati are the sole occupants of this ranking.
THE C.L.A. : Standing for The Complex Laser Association, the C.L.A. hates Commie Mutant Traitors as much as anyone else. They hate them so much their hate bleeds over into a love for energy weapons; namely stockpiling them. They used to be a civilian militia who managed to buy some guns through the Infrared Market, but eventually enough of them began to believe that IntSec and the Armed Forces were corrupt and in league with the Commie Mutant Traitors so they should be brought down and replaced by the C.L.A. Despite the name they don't just like lasers. They're big fans of anti-matter, nuclear warheads and poison gas explosives. They hate the Communists, believe that every Citizen has the right to arm themselves for bear and are friends with the FCCC-P.
CLONE ARRANGERS : Free Enterprise controls the Infrared Market and the Clone Arrangers are the Free Enterprise of the cloning tanks. They essentially are a union that runs the entire cloning department of Alpha Complex and if you want to succeed there, you have to get in real good with them like a real paisan. They offer services most citizens can only get as Blues, namely getting more clones added onto your lifespan AND possibly getting your genome cleaned up to remove any genetic drift. You can also pay them to fuss with other people's clones or affect their MemoMax recordings, but their services never come free (though they are cheap compared to legal Alpha Complex channels). They're friends with Pro Tech, hate Free Enterprise because they keep trying to muscle in on their racket, and depending on the time of day they either love or hate Psion and the Anti-Mutants.
THE MOVEMENT : Once upon a time a bunch of Sierra Clubbers came to believe that Alpha Complex was gonna implode on itself and they were all doomed. These doom-sayers formed The Foundation, who ran around trying to warn people. Eventually most of the agents of The Foundation got tired of waiting for Alpha Complex's doomsday to come, so they formed The Movement. The Movement's goals are twofold: first, build their own Complex out in the Outside from blueprints and stolen plans and second, hasten the inevitable death of Alpha Complex with their own actions. Rumor has it they completed step one, so now they're working to blow up and level Alpha Complex so their new Complex will be necessary and they can be the new masters. They primarily steal construction equipment and supplies when they're not stealing and rigging WMDs and inciting terrorist riots. They're allied with the Humanists, Pro Tech and PURGE and they hate the spies from other Complexes because those other Complexes are just as corrupt and doomed as Alpha Complex.
OLD GUARD : Being an Ultraviolet and a High Programmer is THE most dangerous occupation in Alpha Complex, short of being used as a living reactor shield. And you're not safe on top; the other High Programmers didn't get there by being fat and lazy, they earned their position and got theirs and they want yours too. So sometimes High Programmers are disgraced bad enough they no longer can be Ultraviolets, or maybe they're killed a whole bunch and presumed dead. The Old Guard is a group of ex-High Programmers who live in secrecy in Alpha Complex, plotting to overthrow the current High Programmers and reinstate themselves. They mostly accomplish this by mooching off of citizens who believe in them and support them. They have no allies; revealing their existence would only screw them over. And they hate the other Program Groups created by the still-ruling High Programmers.
PROGRAM GROUPS : They are not, strictly speaking, Secret Societies. They're a bunch of citizens who were recruited by a High Programmer for a purpose and they can hire more citizens in. It's your job to do what your benefactor wants you to do, so you can be a goon squad, you can sabotage another High Programmer's Program Group, or you can just pick up a whole mess of Cold Fun for your leader's Cold Fun Social he's throwing next weekcycle. Program Groups hate the Old Guard and have a friendship with FCCC-P.
RUNNERS : Like the Sierra Club, the Runners want to leave Alpha Complex. Unlike them, the Runners are convinced they must because the entire Complex is out to get them and kill them. They operate a smuggling operation to get citizens to safety and they sabotage IntSec operations to catch them because IntSec is the hand of Friend Computer and they don't feel like getting squished by that hand. They're pretty benign, just paranoid, unless they're engaged in acts of vandalism and sabotage. They're friends with the Sierra Club and The Movement (even if they don't agree that the Complex should be destroyed) and don't like Humanists very much. Why rebuild the Complex in your image when you can just leave?
SERVANTS OF CTHULHU : The Servants of Cthulhu want to bring about the end of times by summoning the Great Old Ones when the stars are right.
No, wait, come back, I'm being serious.
The SoC are a legit cult of Lovecraftian beasts obsessed with ritual sacrifice and summonings and think their mutant powers are magical gifts from the Old Ones. However, most of them realize this is garbage and that the others are being dumb. IntSec agrees, seeing as how magic isn't a real thing, and they're mostly idiots who either read some bad Romantic books or are suffering from hallucinations due to certain drugs in the water. However this doesn't stop the more sane agents from repeatedly breaking into R&D to steal dimensional technology to force the fabric of space-time apart. Just because magic isn't real doesn't mean that reality-collapsing neutron bombs aren't . The Mystics heavily oppose the Servants of Cthulhu, trying to stop them at every turn (though they're both crazy drug fanatics so it's not particularly impressive) and the SoC are enemies with FCCC-P who as good servants of Christ, Computer Programmer will not stand for a heathen cult bringing lies into their midst. The only people who will be friends with them are Psion, because as far as Psion is concerned an interdimensional horror is a good ally to have.
WOBBLIES : Once upon a time the Computer found some buried info about the real International Workers of the World and demanded that they be brought to justice. The first Troubleshooter team sent to investigate came back saying that they weren't real and weren't up to anything, so they were terminated for treason. The second team came to the same conclusion and were also terminated for treason. The third said that the Wobblies were totally a real thing and a big ol' threat boy howdy, and that's how they were formed. Wobblies are really just spies spying on spies and nobody knows that they're not a real thing so they ended up being a mixture of PURGE, the Commies and Frankenstein Destroyers and IntSec likes to put agents into the Wobblies because their friends, coincidentally, are the Communists and the FD so they tend to get some hot tips. Being Commie-supporters and enemies of Friend Computer, they butt heads with Free Enterprise and FCCC-P.
To wrap it all up, let's talk about play styles. The core Troubleshooters book offered up three types of play, depending on the experience you wanted to have. They were:
Classic: Soda explodes, your powers backfire, everyone's a little nuts and the blame game will save your life. Follow the core environment of the book with that slightly silly black comedy vibe and you've got the gist of Classic.
Zap!: everything explodes, everything is treason, you're all gonna die and it's all wonderful. Zap! is zany slapstick, plain and simple. Everything is an excuse for a firefight, there's no real plot, it's really just an excuse to mess around and shoot your buddies.
Straight: Alpha Complex is terrifying . The evil is inherent in the system, it's not funny at all, and you're at the whims of competent, sane sociopaths who run a machine greased with clone blood and lies. And you're a part of the great machine tasked with making sure it runs. Straight is pure dystopia action where eventually you will be brought low as a traitor when they don't need you anymore.
IntSec offers up three different and new styles of play that complement the general tone, gear and goodies offered up by IntSec. They are: Horror, Heist and Overkill.
HORROR : Horror is a lot like Straight BUT not focused on the dystopian aspects of Alpha Complex. If you want to feel guilty over your actions, play Straight. If you want to feel like the last line of defense against an insidious, invisible menace, play Horror. There is something bad in Alpha Complex, subverting the irreverent, silly fascist dictatorship for its own greedy desires. There are things taking the places of loyal citizens and they are out for blood and control. Horror reduces the violence and silliness except for when it's needed, focusing in black comedy and slow-burning dread and suspense instead. It also adds the Infiltration Index, which measures just how much they've taken over the Complex's districts and its citizens. Horror is about trust, character evolution, secret societies banding together to survive while keeping an eye on their enemies and the fear that the teammate that you trust the most is one of them .
HEIST : Everyone in your team knows each other, they know they can trust each other. They're buddies, their Secret Societies are all friendly-like, that's why they're put together into this team. The point of Heist is that you're all working together to pull off a job while pretending to be real good Troopers. Work together to split the cash for the job or snitch on the others to get off good if you get caught by IA and let the others hang, it's all up to you. Heist is a game about actually working together but still keeping a hand on your gun as you watch the others, it's about looking like angels when they see you with your hand in the cookie jar, it's a game about knowing when to shoot and when to schmooze and when to book it.
OVERKILL : Overkill is a lot like Zap! but without the silliness. The point of Overkill is simple: you are the law. You have the big guns. They are the criminals. Put lots of holes in them with your big guns. Overkill is a playstyle that's all about jumping into the fray, outnumbered, while screaming and shooting, thumbing your nose at the book and the law while mowing down every scumbag that gets in your way. It's a game about morally grey men beating insurmountable odds and living to see the Commissioner demand their badges for how they behave.
And thus concludes Paranoia: Internal Security. A neat change of pace for a fan of everyone's favorite happy, functional dystopia, an interesting jumping-off point for those who are interested for the first time. The few times I've fooled around with it I've been moderately satisfied, and a lot of the things I explained are how I see them playing out or being understood. It can get a little bit heavy at times, but it's never afraid to let you step back and just have fast-and-loose fun and for that I respect the hell out of it.