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Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
 
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Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
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Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
Publisher: Mongoose
by Cedric C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/12/2017 22:34:56

INTRODUCT-I-ION

I'll admit that I was backer #1 for the Mongoose Paranoia KickStarter campaign -- and dropped my pledge several days later. None of the original game designers? No James Holloway art? Cards?? I was quite happy with my first edition Paranoia, with its Falls from Great Height chart and specialized skill trees. And, I'd like to think that Paranoia isn't a game where you know all the rules. It's an atmosphere you create with the game as a framework. So, with that level of skepticism, I passed on the KickStarter, thinking that I pretty much had a High Programmer's trove of Paranoia, from first edition through XP.

Well, you know how dangerous thinking is with Paranoia.

OUT OF THE BOX

The boxed set comes with three softcover digest sized books: Player Handbook, Gamemasters Handbook, and Mission Book. Additional Player Handbooks can be purchased separately. The set also has 110 cards, four regular dice, one Computer die, and six wipe-off character sheets. The graphic design and art are perfectly fine (and the books are entirely in color), with the artwork a splended "next generation" of uncomfortableness suited for the complex of Paranoia.

PLAYERS HANDBOOK

The Player's Handbook covers character generation, basic actions, moxie, and combat. The game is appropriately rules-light and don't expect the gamemaster to follow them, either.

Character Generation: You have Attributes, and you have Skills. Random generation? Spending points? You may have remembered the Amber roleplaying game (okay, you didn't), where you bid against the other players to rank your ability score against them. Well, Paranoia has another "meta-generation" mechanic, where you screw your buddy before your character is made. Starting with the player to the left of the gamemaster, you pick a Skill (not Attribute) at level 1. Okay. Except that the player to that player's left gets the same Skill at NEGATIVE level 1. Then, it's that person's turn to pick a different Skill at +1. Once every player has a +1 and -1 Skill level, it goes to +2 and -2. Then +3 and -3. You get the idea. And, nope, you can't select a skill you already have (no adding a positive to your negative skill), and, double-nope, the direction of skill chargen is to the left, you're not going to get back at the player who gave you the NEGATIVE skill level -- at least not yet!

Okay, you do, thank The Computer. From the Skills you will generate your Attribute values, except that, yep, the player to the left, the same player who's received all these negative skill levels, gets to assign the values to the attributes. And, also, before you met your frienemies, you picked three adjectives to describe your character, such as "handsome, brave, loyal", and that player to your left gets to change one of the adjectives to its opposite. So you could be "ugly, brave, loyal", "handsome, chicken-hearted, loyal" or even "handsome, brave, traitorous filthy terrorist mutant scumbag". (Oh, and any rumors you have have heard about ditching Communists for Terrorists are untrue. Report to re-education for brainscrubbing.)

You can, of course, create characters in the boring conventional way (or use, gasp, pre-gens). Players can improve their stats by burning their Moxie and even Clone lives, but tell 'em later, once you and your bretherin find your comfort (or at least dead traitor) zone with the system. (I think the record number of clone executions in a briefing I've had was five. For a single player.)

Basic Action: Roll dice. Specifically, the GM tells you what Attribute and Skill, equipment, and other modifiers you will use, and you roll that number of dice. This is called your NODE, which is short for "Number of Dice [You're still not cleared for that]". For every five or six, you succeed. You need blah number of successes depending on the difficulty level. Huzzah! But, wait. What if your total number of dice is negative because your CHUTZPAH attribute is 0 and your STEALTH skill is -3 and you're sneaking past two Blue IntSec guards with neuro whips and too much free time? The Computer, in its infinite glory, encourages troubleshooters to try new challenges, and allows you to still roll the absolute value (hah! you thought you'd only use it once in that other RPG) of dice. Except that, for every one through four, you subtract a success. Huzzah! Oh, and did we mention that The Computer has blessed you with an additional credit-free die you roll with the six replaced with an icon of our beloved Computer (and not a Ghostbusters symbol)? The result of rolling this icon is that you lose one Moxie of stress and also [you're not cleared for that]. And the regular dice you roll are a combination of white high-programmer plastic with black infrared pips, so make sure you don't touch the white part when rolling the dice.

Moxie: So we've mentioned Moxie twice, and it's (ugh) hit points. But it's roleplaying hit points! Much like Call of Cthulhu's Sanity Points, where the more earnest players would say, "Hey, pass the Necronomicon", when you run out of Moxie (you can also spend it on stuff like rolling an extra die and [you're not cleared for that]), you can play one of your adjectives to the hilt, or the GM can roll your roleplay on the Losing It table. (Strangely enough, the text says that when you've lost all your Moxie, you may feel "All-consuming hatred of something or someone in the immediate area" which seemed to be SOP for most Paranoia players I've encountered even before combat.) You can regain Moxie through stimulants, spending XP, or activating a new clone. (You gain XP through surviving missions, achieving other objectives, and other Alpha Complex carrot sticks. You can spend XP on Moxie, Equipment, Clearance Level and... what happened to credits? What do you mean by "credits", Citizen??)

Combat: Combat consists of rolling a number of dice based on your VIOLENCE and GUNS, and saying "I hit it". Well, not just that. Each combat, player will receive a hand of shiny color cards, called Action Cards, typically one hand of four for the entire combat. Each round, each player chooses an Action card. After every player places their card face-down, the GM counts down, from high to low, and a player reveals his Action card at the Action Order number on the card. Okay, not just that. A player claims his Action card is at such-and-such a number (preferably higher than the other player pointing his laser barrel at them), and any other player may challenge him. If the challenger is wrong, the challenger loses an Action card. If the challenger is right, the challenging player immediately gets to make an action (so can have more than one action during a combat round), and the challenged player discards the card and takes a Basic Action at the end of the round. (So look forward to claims and challenge cards when players only have Action Order 0 cards in their hands!) You can always perform a Basic Action instead of playing and discarding what's written on the card. Yes, I do think that player wielding a Megaphone that lets him to act at Action Order CHUTZPAH +3 works in tandem with his laser pistol (until somebody like the GM gets tired of it and shoots him). Equipment cards and Mutant Powers cards are also Action cards. (Although they have no Action Order number, I suppose you could use your Secret Society and Bonus Duty cards as Action cards if your real-life Chutzpah was high enough...). And some of the Action cards are Reactions, used only during another player's turn (including GM). You can still play Paranoia with just Basic Action roll. But I think the cards do a good job as inspiration to do crazy things you might not think of at the moment. The cards certainly don't restrict options during combat. (Myself, I'm thinking of sticking post-its over the text of each card to encourage good roleplaying.) Paranoia also has wounds, which are entirely different from hit points (of course not). For every additional success rolled during combat, the target suffers a wound. Wound states are Hurt, Injured, Maimed, and Dead. Sadly, "vaporized" is no longer a status (and the Falling From Great Heights table seems to be misplaced), but, hey, there's always that computer icon on the red die when that character is out of Moxie...

GAMEMASTERS HANDBOOK

Much like previous editions of Paranoia, the boxed set does a very good job of providing the gamemaster helpful advice -- including for breaking rules -- to help him run a game of Paranoia. The handbook also tells us about Alpha Complex: Alpha Complex itself, The Computer, DAIVs, the Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed ("All data is recorded and stored. Not analyzed, however."), XP points (treason stars are still used, but gasp credits are now gone -- and, yes, Free Enterprise has something to say about that!), while service groups and societies have pretty much been relegated to a mention. Wait. Credits are gone?? Among other changes, Paranoia uses XP instead of credits to purchase equipment, luxuries, and higher security clearance levels. DAIVs are Deviant Artificial Intelligent Viruses, which the Computer is naturally afraid of, and will shut down entire sectors to get rid of. And, of course, DAIVs can infect a clone's Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed. The Cerebral Cortech and Data Feed is a HUD-slash-augmented virtual reality that every clone has (specifically every clone has Cerebral Coretech hardware on the inside of his skull). It's a useful way for the Computer to transmit data, and slow burn way for the Computer to helpfully interfere with troubleshooter activity. Alpha Complex does have "dead zones" which a gamemaster can conveniently use whenever troubleshooters need to or otherwise can do treasononus acts, like Secret Society shenanigans. Speaking of which...

About a fourth of the book are the secret societies (including Communist, which I though was announced as [REDACTED]). Personally, I thought the Secret Societies didn't get enough attention in previous editions (about half a page in first, second, and XP editions). Here, the gamemaster is provided specific tasks he can drop into an adventure, and bennies he can hand out to secret society members. We're also given some paragraphs of several High Programmers involved in their secret societies, as well as an "alignment graph" so gamemasters have a high-level view of how the secret societies have overlapping and opposing interests.

With Paranoia being a rules-light game system with its own uniquely absurd atmosphere, the Gamemasters Handbook also encourages you to modify and even relegate to heresay and rumor any aspect of Alpha Complex that you wish. It shouldn't be too difficult to bring back CBay (or, at least, Free Enterprise's attempts to bring it back!) or the ever-popular tongue-tattoo ID. ("Show me your ID." "NYAAAHH..." Fun times.)

MISSION BOOK

Although conventionally last, this book actually should be read first. The book consists of three related missions, and a new version of the classic White Wash scenario. The first mission actually starts the players at Infrared level (completely with bossy Red troubleshooter), and gradually introduces the game mechanics. Given Paranoia's rules-light game system, a gradual introduction isn't necessary, but not all gaming groups will be used to its game style, and it's novel for regular Paranoia players to play as Infrareds. The next two missions are of the more conventional SNAFU side. I did feel that, compared to first edition Paranoia adventures I own, NPCs took a greater role in the missions, and the missions were not as detailed as other adventures (not that a rules-light game system has to be). The missions do have more involvement by Secret Societies, which I felt was overlooked in adventures from previous editions. So, overall, while relatively lightweight, you do get four missions versus one in (some) previous versions.

CARDS

One reason I overlooked the KS was that I thought the cards were going to be the focus of the game. They're not. Think of them as mini-supplements, player inspiration, that sort of thing. Whee.

EQUIPMENT CARDS: The boxed set comes with twenty-two Equipment cards. Paranoia has three categories of equipment: Regular, Non-Standard, and R&D. Regular equipment, such as laser pistols and armor, don't have cards, nor does R&D equipment (you know what this stuff is). Non-Standard equipment includes combat-oriented stuff like The Minigun and Grenade X3, with some odd but usefull stuff like a Friction Enhancer and Fake Moustache. Their Action Order (see Combat) is an attribute plus a number, such as CHUTZPAH + 4 for the Fake Moustache. The add NODE dice based on their level, such as SMALL Level 1 for the aforementioned Fake Moustache. Equipment cards have additional text, which can be easily covered up with a small Yellow clearance Post-It if the Gamemaster so desires. In the meta-spirite of Paranoia, you could make additional Equipment Cards, hand them to players you don't like, then, later in the game after they've used the cards, question them why their Equipment Cards look like some gamer scrawled on them when they shoule using official shiny color Paranoia boxed set cards.

SECRET SOCIETIES: The boxed set comes with fifteen Secret Society cards, two printed with "NO SECRET SOCIETY" and two of the Computer's own Internal Security Secret Society (yep, it's official). During character generation, the Gamemaster deals each player a card. This assists character conflict, since each player will be in a different Secret Society (the Gamemaster Handbook's Secret Society chapter does give suggestions for faction play.) If you do enjoy factions (always fun to root out the competing splinter group, or participate in a friendly competition against your fellow Death Leopards), just make photocopies or use the PDF version. Use treasonous Magic the Gathering cards as backs, slip the card and photocopy into the card sleeve, slip the secret message from the player's Secret Society also into the card sleeve, maybe or not maybe tell the player that he has a secret message, and have his secret society chew him out when he doesn't find it. The cards are essentially player aids, to give them something sneaky to do. That's always a good thing.

BONUS DUTY: A set of six cards, either the team leader or The Computer assigns the role of each party member to their duty during the mission: Team Leader, Science Officer, Happiness Officer, Combat Officer, Equipment Officer, and Loyalty Officer. Again, these cards are player aids, assisting overt roleplay, as troubleshooters obstrusively abuse their role to annoy their fellow party members.

YOU ARE NUMBER ONE: A single pretty card that the troubleshooters will compete for to be The Computer's special [REDACTED] to receive special treatment from NPCs and The Computer. Use arbitrarily. Reassign favor when warranted and/or bored.

PDF SECTOR vs. PROCESSED DEAD ORGANIC MATTER WITH SPLENDED BINDING

Paranoia also comes in PDF format, but the cards and computer die make me recommend the boxed set. The Players Handbook, GM handbook, and Mission Book are separate books so there's none of that icky sharing stuff (at least between the GM and the riff-raff). The boxed set also comes with wipe-off character cards, or you can download an editable PDF from the Mongoose website. You're entirely welcome, citizen.

CONCLUSION

Paranoia's latest incarnation is a streamlined, rules-light, game system with new mechanics that should be easy to follow, and additional ideas you can add or ignore at your leisure. The missions were, imo, a little light, but, considering how much I ignored and faked my way through earlier edition adventures, I'm not going to worry about that. There is nothing to worry about. The Computer has everything under [REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED].



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
Publisher: Mongoose
by Tim B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/26/2017 12:07:34

A neuronphaser.com playtest impression!

TL;DR: This edition of PARANOIA ia the most immediately gameable, and best "balanced" version of the game, making it incredibly fun without being opaque or so beholden to GM fiat that it's completely ad hoc. Players will -- at the very start of character creation, even! -- get a sense of not only why but how they should betray each other, and the world and system reinforce the idea that doing so can't strictly be done just by shooting everyone on the field. You gotta plant evidence, record evidence, lie about what the evidence shows, destroy evidence against you, and otherwise run in circles to get to the next Security Clearance, and this game makes that fun!

If you need more than that, here are my thoughts after 3 sessions of play:

Character creation is amazing, and will net you a general hatred for your fellow player's characters. But you won't be so incompetent that you can't do most normal stuff, or find a member of your party that can.

The Treason Stars and XP Point Achievements are beautifully handled, and give the players incentive to not only work against each other, but also work with each other if they want to win the long game. It's a careful balance that the in-world stuff all perfectly showcases and reinforces.

Moxie is a thousand times better than Perversity Points, and much tighter as a game mechanic. In fact, the entire dice pool system + the Computer Dice, when combined with Moxie, makes for a pretty fantastic, super-sleak game system that can work for a lot of different situations.

The Action Cards took some careful thought on how to remove or use when gaming over the internet, but after coming up with several options, none seemed to break the game or anything. In fact, there were times when the game improved by not relying on Action Order of cards, and times when the cards clearly improved the game by adding additional narrative power to either the Players' or the GM's side of things. This proves how versatile the Action Cards are.

The other cards -- Mutant Powers, Secret Society, Mandatory Bonus Duty, and Equipment -- were mostly great. Having these pieces of info on hand in card-sized format was a fantastic reference aid. The only issues: (1) MBDs should contain a bulleted list of standard issue equipment for that role; (2) Equipment should have been duplicated as entries in one of the rulebooks, since there's some really basic Equipment Cards that everyone can get but since the rules only appear on a single card and only one player may be holding that card, it made it a pain to reference Equipment-specific rules at times when they popped up unexpectedly, or in multiples.

The included Missions have been a blast to play, though there's a few moments when they seem to expect the players to betray each other or play to the backstabbing angle of the game, but don't actually enforce it. This is problematic during the very first Mission, because it may accidentally give players more reasons to work together (against their leader, Roz) than to work against each other subtly, so that actually turns the adventure into a bad teaching tool for the game. The first Mission should have been a bigger hose job earlier on, whether consecutive clones more likely to succeed but also with more motivation to betray one another.

This is my favorite edition of Paranoia, mechanics-wise and world-building-wise, hands down. The books could use a some organizational help (I'm building my own index because some info is just all over the place), and the Missions could teach the game's skullduggery and backstabbing a bit better, but those are small prices to play for the incredibly fun gaming experience contained within this version of the game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
Publisher: Mongoose
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/30/2017 02:55:41

http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2017/06/30/ersteindruck-paranoia-red-clearance-edition/

Willkommen im Alpha Complex, Bürger! Für den Fall, dass Sie Interesse am Leben eines  Troubleshooters haben, hat Freund Computer Ihnen diesen Ersteindruck zur Verfügung  Nichtlesen ist Verrat!

Wer Paranoia – Red Clearance Edition liest, hat die bereits fünfte Edition eines Rollenspiels vor sich, das ursprünglich 1984 erschien, bezeichnenderweise. Die aktuelle Edition ist sowohl als PDF-Paket als auch als Box erhältlich. Beide Varianten bestehen aus fünf Teilen: dem Player's  Handbook, dem Gamemaster's Handbook und dem Mission Book sowie den für das Spiel benötigten Karten und Charakterbögen. Die Box enthält außerdem drei sechsseitige Würfel, darunter der spezielle „Computer Dice“. Ich sprach von bezeichnenderweise 1984, weil Paranoia in einer Dystopie spielt beziehungsweise der Satire einer solchen. Man findet Elemente von Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World oder eben 1984, allerdings ist fast alles auf humorvolle Weise ins Absurde gedreht, ohne den Hintergrund komplett zu vergessen, und ergibt so vor allem ein humorvolles Spiel. Diese Rezension beruht ausschließlich auf der PDF-Version.

Die Spielwelt

...ist der Alpha Complex, ein in sich geschlossenes Bunkersystem, dessen Herrscher der scheinbar allmächtige Computer ist. Dieser regelt die hochtechnisierte Umwelt. Menschen leben dort, seit irgendeine Katastrophe sie von der Erdoberfläche getrieben hat. Wann das war, das weiß keiner, denn es ist stets das Jahr 214. Es weiß auch niemand, was mittlerweile draußen los ist, beziehungsweise die Wenigsten haben ein Bewusstsein dafür, dass es so etwas wie „draußen“ geben könnte.

Dummerweise funktioniert im Alpha Complex fast nichts mehr richtig: Bots, Software, Versorgung der Bevölkerung, am wenigsten der Computer selbst. Alles dort hat seine angedachte Existenzdauer schon lange überschritten. Der Complex verfällt, für nichts ist richtig gesorgt und die Abläufe ersticken in Bürokratie. Ein System kurz vor dem Kollaps! Die Schuld dafür sucht der Computer nicht bei sich selbst, sondern bei Verrätern, Terroristen und Mutanten. Das vorherrschende Gefühl ist der Titel des Spiels: Paranoia!

Was, wenn man es bierernst nehmen würde, düster und deprimierend wäre, ist in Paranoia „dämlich düster“ („stupidly grim“). Das Nichtfunktionieren des Alpha Complex kommt nicht unterschwellig daher, sondern durchzieht das Spiel in jeder Faser! Terminals funktionieren nicht, per Algorithmus ausgewählte Ausrüstung ist völlig unpassend, der Computer blendet eine Umfrage über den Geschmack des neusten Softdrinks auf das HUD auf der Retina ein ...

Das kann er, denn die Menschen werden vom Computer nicht nur im Sechserpack geklont, sondern auch mit dem Cerebral Coretech, einem ganzen Paket Hard- und Software-Verbesserungen, ausgestattet. Diese Klone sind die einzigen Lebewesen im Alpha Complex. Ausnahmen bestätigen die Regel ... Ein Klon wird als junger Erwachsener aus seinem Klonbottich entlassen, um dem Alpha Complex zu dienen. Alles, was er wissen muss, hat man ihm schon einprogrammiert. Seine restlichen Abbilder verbleiben in Reserve, falls er sterben sollte, und werden regelmäßig mit den Erfahrungen des aktiven Klons upgedatet. Der wichtigste Unterschied zwischen den Menschen ist ihre „Security Clearance“, Sicherheitsfreigabe, die anzeigt, wie hoch sie in der Gunst des Computers stehen, was mit tatsächlicher Vertrauenswürdigkeit und Kompetenz allerdings nichts zu tun hat. Die Sicherheitsfreigabe ist durch Farben gekennzeichnet, die an den Overalls aller Einwohner erkennbar sind. Die Freigabe umfasst neun Stufen, von Infrarot, der niedrigsten Klasse, bis Ultraviolett, den High Programmers.

Spielercharaktere beginnen ihre Karriere in der Regel mit der roten Sicherheitsfreigabe, der zweitniedrigsten, verantwortlich für den Untertitel dieses Spiels. Außerdem sind sie Teil eines Teams aus Troubleshootern, also Leuten, die losgeschickt werden, um Ärger zu beseitigen. Aber die ganze Sache hat einen besonderen Clou: So gut wie jeder SC ist auch Mitglied einer Secret Society, Geheimgesellschaft, oder ein unregistrierter Mutant (meistens sogar beides!), und damit genau das, was der Computer fürchtet!

Daher versucht jeder Charakter nicht nur seinen Auftrag auszuführen, sondern auch im Geheimen seine Agenda voranzutreiben. Da jeder Charakter etwas anderes möchte, ist Chaos vorprogrammiert, und jeder geht früher oder später über Leichen, inklusive denen seines Teams.

Insgesamt lässt sich sagen, dass die Beschreibung der Spielwelt nicht detailliert, aber trotzdem gelungen ist. Das heißt vor allem, dass sie auf das abgedrehte und chaotische Spiel zugeschnitten ist, das Paranoia sein will. Es gibt keine Beschreibungen von Alltagskultur oder Pläne von Sektoren, aber das, was man bekommt, reicht, um mit etwas Phantasie schnell eine passende Umgebung zu gestalten.

Wer einen konkreteren Eindruck braucht, sollte sich die Szenarios im Mission Book zu Gemüte führen, welche sehr empfehlenswert sind, will man in das Spiel einführen. (Achtung, kleinere Spoiler folgen!)

In „Mission One“ beginnen die SC als frische, infrarote Klone. Nach einer Reihe abstruser Geschehnisse, wie einem zufällig zu Tode kommenden Terroristen, wertvollen Mopps und Piraten, die auf Tischen durch Dessertsauce schwimmen, werden sie genug XP-Points gesammelt haben, um die rote Sicherheitsfreigabe zu bekommen und zu Troubleshootern befördert zu werden.

In „Mission Two“ geht es um Reinigungsdienst, einen depressiven wie neidischen Reinigungsbot und einen Drogendeal. Perfekt, um das Thema Geheimgesellschaften anzuschneiden.

Letztlich wird es in „Mission Three“ richtig spannend, als die Troubleshooter einen Sektor untersuchen, den es nicht gibt, um einen Vorfall aufzuklären, der nie stattgefunden hat. Hier kommt die ganze Dysfunktionalität des Alpha Complex zum Tragen.

Die Regeln

Die Grundmechanik des Systems ist ein Würfelpool, NODE (Number Of DicE) genannt, der errechnet wird, indem man je einen Stat und einen Skill zusammenrechnet. Stats, die den Attributen in anderen Systemen entsprechen, reichen wertetechnisch von 0 bis 4 und umfassen Violence (alles Physische), Brains (alles Geistige), Chutzpah (alles Soziale) und Mechanics (alles was mit Technik zu tun hat).

Wie in anderen Rollenspielsystemen auch, werden die Fähigkeiten durch Skills verfeinert. In Paranoia gibt es davon 16 Stück, die verschiedene Tätigkeiten und Wissensgebiete darstellen. Ihre Werte reichen von -5 bis 5.

Die Anzahl sechsseitiger Würfel, die dem NODE entspricht, wirft man, wobei jede 5 oder 6 ein Erfolg ist. Alle Erfolge zusammen geben den Erfolgsgrad an, den man mit dem Schwierigkeitsgrad vergleicht, den der Spielleiter festgelegt hat.

Hat man einen negativen NODE, weil der Skill einen negativen Wert hatte, dann würfelt man trotzdem eine Anzahl an Würfeln, die diesem Wert entspricht, ohne Vorzeichen natürlich (zum Beispiel drei Würfel bei einem NODE von -3). Dafür reitet ein Misserfolg den Troubleshooter aber auch ganz schön rein! Dazu trägt auch der Computer Dice bei. Dieser Würfel wird immer zusätzlich geworfen. Fällt das Computer-Symbol, dann passiert etwas Ungewöhnliches, was darstellt, dass der Computer versucht, den Troubleshooter zu unterstützen. Was genau das heißt, liegt beim SL, aber es macht den Charakter auf jeden Fall nervös und er verliert einen Punkt Moxie, ein Wert der anzeigt, wie nervös der Charakter ist. Man kann Moxie aber nicht nur verlieren, sondern auch ausgeben, um beispielsweise Bonuswürfel zu bekommen.

Während diese Mechanik fast schon konventionell daherkommt, wird es beim Kampfsystem recht schräg. Besonders die Initiative bricht hier mit einigen Konventionen. Das System zur Reihenfolgebestimmung nennt sich DYNAMO (Dynamic Yet Narrative Action Melee Order) und basiert auf Karten, die die Spieler zuvor vom SL bekommen haben. Davon gibt es einige Varianten, aber für die Initiative gilt das gleiche Grundprinzip. Jede dieser Karten hat einen Wert Action Order, meist eine Zahl zwischen 10 und 0 oder ein Symbol, das die Karte als Reaction Card kennzeichnet. Diese dienen dazu, auf die Aktionen anderer zu reagieren. Denn beginnt der Kampf, dann geschieht folgendes: Alle Spieler legen verdeckt eine Karte vor sich hin. Dann zählt der SL von Zehn runter auf Null. Wenn die Zahl kommt, die der Action Order auf der gelegten Karte entspricht, dann ist der Spieler am Zug ... oder man lügt und sagt einfach, man wäre dran! Das können andere Spieler allerdings anzweifeln, und man verliert nicht nur seine Karte, sondern auch die Initiative, wird man beim Bluffen erwischt. Dann hat man nur noch eine Basic Action am Ende der Runde, wie diejenigen, die keine Karte gespielt haben, weil sie zum Beispiel keine mehr auf der Hand hatten. Reaction Cards, wie der Name schon andeutet, kann man regelkonform immer dann ausspielen, wenn man auf die Aktion eines anderen Spielers oder NSC reagieren will, sie können aber natürlich auch zum Bluffen verwendet werden.

Man kann drei verschiedene Dinge tun, wenn man mit seiner Karte an der Reihe ist: die Karte aufdecken und tun, was darauf steht (Action Cards), sie verdeckt zurück auf die Hand nehmen und eine Basic Action ausführen, oder sie abwerfen um einen Bonuswürfel für eine darauffolgende Basic Action erhalten. Auch die Karten mit Mutantenkräften werden auf diese Weise eingesetzt (plus Ausgabe von Moxie), nur dass man sie nie abwirft und jemand anderem als dem SL zeigt. Auch Equipment Cards werden nicht durch Benutzung abgeworfen.

Basic Actions sind alle Dinge, die keine Karte zum Ausführen benötigen. Darunter fallen auch normale Angriffe. Schaden wird schlicht dadurch ermittelt, dass man alle Erfolge zählt, die über dem Schwierigkeitsgrad des Angriffs liegen. Gesundheit wird in fünf Zuständen dargestellt (bei NSC auch mehr oder weniger): ohne Verletzungen, Hurt, Injured, Maimed und Dead. Erhält man Schaden, dann kreuzt man die entsprechende Zahl an Kästchen an. Außerdem bringt jeder Zustand Abzüge auf den NODE. Bei Maimed wären es beispielsweise -3. Und bei Dead ist der Klon halt tot.

Ausgewichen bzw. versucht, dem Schaden zu entkommen, wird nur im Nahkampf (hand-to-hand combat). Dazu muss der Verteidiger eine seiner Karten abwerfen, beschreiben, wie er den Schaden vermeiden will, und errechnet einen NODE. Resultieren aus dessen Wurf mehr Erfolge als aus dem Angriff, dann kommt der Troubleshooter ohne Schaden davon.

Um noch einmal auf den Tod eines Spielercharakters zurückzukommen: Das passiert bei Paranoia potentiell sehr häufig! Dafür hat man ja aber insgesamt sechs Klone. Stirbt einer, wird ein neuer an den Platz des alten befördert, identisch mit seinem Vorgänger.

Zu den XP-Points, den Erfahrungspunkten, sei gesagt, dass sie nicht nur das sind, sondern auch als Währung des Alpha Complex fungieren. Mit diesen können die Troubleshooter nicht nur Stats und Skills steigern oder Moxie regenerieren, sondern auch Equipment und persönliche Annehmlichkeiten erwerben. Sogar eine höhere Sicherheitsfreigabe!

Diese Grundregeln stehen im Player's Handbook. Leider werden manche Dinge nicht sofort erklärt, zum Beispiel mit welcher Art Würfel man eigentlich würfelt. Das muss man sich aus dem Kontext erschließen. Viel schwerwiegender ist allerdings, dass auch der Computer Dice nicht beschrieben wird. In der Box ist einer enthalten, womit sich die Frage erübrigt, wer aber nur die PDF-Version hat, der findet erst versteckt im Mission Book die Antwort: Er hat auch sechs Seiten und statt der 6 ist dort das Computer-Symbol. Kann man sich auch vorher denken, selbstverständlich ist es aber auch nicht. Ähnliche Phänomene gibt es auch an anderen Stellen. Manche Dinge werden leider gar nicht erklärt. Nirgendwo steht beispielsweise, was die öfters erwähnten Specialist Skills sind, die nicht zu einer der Secret Societies gehören.

Regeln für den Spielleiter

In den meisten Systemen gibt es einen Satz an Regeln, den hauptsächlich der Spielleiter kennen und zur Anwendung bringen muss. Die würde man im Gamemaster's Handbook erwarten. Paranoia macht es allerdings anders: Tatsächlich würfelt der SL nach Willen der Macher nicht einmal! Er legt fest, was passiert, bis hin zu Angriffen auf die Spielcharaktere. Zwar kann er theoretisch würfeln, aber vorgesehen ist freies Auslegen der Lage. Deshalb stehen im Gamemaster's Handbook statt harten mechanischen Regeln, neben Hintergrundinfos, hauptsächlich Verhaltensregeln und Interpretationshilfen für die Spielerregeln, damit diese freien Auslegungen auch tatsächlich zu Spaß und nicht zu Frust bei den Spielern führen.

Was man davon halten soll, ist sicherlich Geschmackssache. Dessen sind sich auch die Autoren bewusst und haben Optionen eingebaut, wie man als SL eben doch würfelt, um das Geschehen zu beeinflussen. Und tatsächlich ist die Würfelfreiheit auch nicht ganz konsequent umgesetzt. So wird dennoch, zugegeben sehr knapp, beschrieben, wie man NSC Werte gibt. Auch beim Ausweichen müssten theoretisch Würfel zum Einsatz kommen, sonst hätte die Regel wenig Sinn.

Charaktererschaffung

Als ersten Schritt der Charaktererschaffung legt man die grundlegenden Dinge fest: Name, Security Clearance (i.d.R. Red zu Beginn), den Home Sector, Gender und drei frei wählbare Eigenschaften, die den Charakter und das Verhalten des Troubleshooters beschreiben. Lustig wird es bei der Vergabe der Skills, denn die Charaktererschaffung ist gruppenbasiert: Im Uhrzeigersinn, mit dem Spieler zur Linken des SL beginnend, wählt ein Spieler einen Skill, für den er dann den Wert 1 bekommt. Der Spieler zu dessen Linken bekommt diesen Skill auf -1, darf dafür aber selbst einen anderen wählen, den sein Charakter mit dem Wert 1 bekommt. So geht es reihum und beginnt mit den Werten auf 2 von vorne, bis zu 5. Da entstehen schon die ersten Fehden, aber ein gebrannter Spieler hat später die Gelegenheit, sich bei der Vergabe der Stats zu rächen.

Die Charaktererschaffung enthält noch andere lustige Elemente, und es ist offensichtlich, dass die Spieler schon vor Spielbeginn dazu Lust bekommen sollen, sich IT gegenseitig an den Karren zu fahren. Das trifft den Geist des Spiels sehr gut, und man sollte sich diese Möglichkeit der Gruppenerschaffung nicht entgehen lassen.

Erscheinungsbild

Das Design von Paranoia – Red Clearance Edition ist insgesamt recht einfach gehalten. Das Gamemaster's Handbook und das Mission Book haben Titelbilder, die sehr gut zum Setting passen, während das Cover des Player's Handbook eher grafisch ist. Die Innengestaltung der Bücher wird vom Sicherheits- und Computerthema beherrscht, durch die Fußleiste und Grafiken zu Kapitelbeginn. Außerdem stehen die Seitenzahlen in kleinen Überwachungskameras. Illustrationen gibt es einige, die alle in einem Cartoonstil gehalten sind und Troubleshooter in misslichen oder zumindest unangenehmen Lagen zeigen. Diese sind ganz nett, nicht überragend, und passen gut zum Gesamteindruck des Spiels. Die Auflösung der Bilder ist nicht sonderlich hoch, aber durchaus ausreichend, was den positiven Effekt hat, dass die Seiten problemlos laden. Nur wenn in Bildern ein Schriftzug vorkommt, lässt sich dieser oft nicht gut lesen.

Die Schrift insgesamt ist recht groß und problemlos zu lesen. Das Layout der Seiten ist immer klar: Der Text steht in einem Stück, nicht in Spalten, und wird durch Kästen aufgelockert. Wo Auflistungen nötig sind, da stehen auch welche.

Bonus/Downloadcontent

Bisher keiner.

Fazit

Nach dem Lesen der PDF-Version ergibt sich für mich folgendes Bild: Paranoia ist ein Klassiker, der sich durch sein andersartiges Spielprinzip und die Abstrusität seiner Spielwelt hervortut. Beides weiß die Red Clearance Edition auf alle Fällen zu bewahren. Der durchweg humorvolle halb-In-Time-Schreibstil spiegelt das Gefühl, wie es sein muss, als Troubleshooter im Alpha Complex unterwegs zu sein, super wider. Leider geht dadurch aber etwas an Klarheit verloren, weil Elemente fehlen, die eigentlich jedes Regelwerk besitzt (ich erinnere an die Würfel). Es wirkt ein bisschen, als ob sich die Autoren vor lauter Freude am interessanten (und durchaus passenden) Schreibstil verzettelt hätten, wobei ein paar Aspekte, die für Rollenspielprodukte wichtig sind, auf der Strecke blieben. Deshalb bleibt von Paranoia – Red Clearance Edition als Produkt leider ein durchwachsener Eindruck zurück, während es als Spiel mit Sicherheit absolut gute Stimmung macht. Dadurch passt auch das Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis nicht mehr ganz, weil man merkt, dass eigentlich ein physisches Produkt vorgesehen ist.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
Publisher: Mongoose
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 12:15:18

Starting with the Player's Handbook we're confronted with the friendly invitation "Start with this book to become a proud throubleshooter of Alpha Complex". There's the air of one of those faintly embarrasing and over-eager corporate employee handbooks. The information is aimed at novice role-players and begins with an example of play... which ends up with everyone in soup. Why is anybody's guess. Perhaps we'll find out later. Next, the character sheet is explained, along with everything that goes on it. Each character's stats are Violence, Brains, Mechanics and Chuzpah; and these are used in combination with their Skills - they're listed with the appropriate Stat - when you try to do anything.

That explained, we get down to the character creation process itself, with a neat system of group creation that pre-loads the party with tensions and links between individual characters. Everyone gets to choose their own name, appearance and gender (with a note that gender is basically immaterial, the Computer doesn't care... but heterosexual relationships are treasonous as they mock the Computer's genius at cloning, but the Computer has no programming to understand homosexual relationships so they are neither banned nor condoned!). Then you start picking skills, in a manner such that when you choose a positive rating in one, another player gets a negative rating in the same skill. It sounds weird, and probably is to anyone new to Paranoia, but has a strange logic that fits this addmittedly unusual game well. Stats are generated by adding up the skill points under each one - but then your neighbour at the table gets to allocate the numbers generated across the Stats. It makes more sense (and more party conflict!) when you do it than it does to write about it! There are various other bits - treason points, XP points, Moxie and so on - then we look at Secret Societies and Mutant Powers, both of which are treasonous before we even start! The GM allocates these, no options here.

The core game mechanic used whenever you want to accomplish something involves rolling a number of dice equivalent to the appropriate Stat and Skill - this is your NODE (Number Of DicE). And a Computer Dice (no, this isn't a grammatical mistake, that's what it is called), which is always rolled even if the Stat and Skill combined is not a positive number. A 5 or 6 rolled is a success and the number of successes are added to give your result (with any appropriate modifiers added in). Like all game mechanics, once you've tried it a few times it becomes far less cumbersome than it sounds when written out. Puschasers of the hard-copy version of this set get a special Computer Dice, the rest of us have to improvise - perhaps a different-coloured D6 from the others you are rolling with one number designated as the 'Computer'. When you roll that, interesting things happen. The Computer is your friend, after all.

Next is a description of Moxie, which you want to hang on to because when you run out of Moxie points you freak out. This takes the entire gameplay to new levels of silliness, with some of the suggestions here being quite amusing. Then we get on to combat. This is moderated by Action Cards, which are doled out by the GM in a manner not explained here (but which may be expained in the Gamesmaster's Handbook when I get to that in a bit). You get one action per turn, and may play one Action Card during your action, then follow the directions on the card. Preprinted cards are provided (PDF users have to print them out, of course). Being Paranoia there is also a zany way to determine combat order, called the Dynamic Yet Narrative Action Melee Order system or DYNAMO. Just to add to the fun, combat is played real-time. It all sounds horrendously complex - and it is! - but it transforms combat into something quite unique... pretty much like the rest of this game, actually. It then calms down a bit to tell you how to actually resolve combat.

While the various new game mechanics - from character creation to combat stuff - all add to the flavour that is Paranoia at its best, we then hear about a new concept: the Cerebral Coretech. This is a kind of direct link from the Computer into your character's brain. To model communications with the Computer at the game table, it's suggested you text on your phone... passing notes is so old school. And then we get onto XP Points or Better Living Through Gamification (which is, I believe, the first use of gamification in a role-playing game, she says putting her academic head on for a moment!). These are not what you normally think of as XPs, rather than being used to rise in level or develop your character as in most games, they can be spent to get goodies - equipment or other advantages - to give your character a boost. Or you can increase skills or even security clearance... there's a whole catalogue of stuff to choose from. This book ends with equipment information (fairly general, most is on Equipment Cards) and decidedly treasonous information on Secret Societies.

On to the Gamesmaster's Handbook. Slightly saner in tone, this provides what you need to know to run Paranoia games, starting with an explanation of what Alpha Complex actually is like. Then there's advice on GMing Paranoia, including basic advice for those new to GMing at all. There are some revolutionary ideas here, like the GM doesn't roll dice, leave that to the players. It's fine to make things up and decide what happens rather than leave it to chance. It's not abitrary, it is appropriate and in the spirit of Paranoia. But you can roll dice if you really want to. There are notes on setting difficulty levels for players to roll against, and a discussion of what the Computer really is. Explanations of security clearances, mutant powers and secret societies follow... oh, and there are even non-treasonous societies clones can join too. There are cards for Secret Societies which you issue to players, with strict instructions to keep them, well, secret. Even from the other players, but there is considerable more information here. And there's more... computer viruses (which may or may not exist), much more about equipment and how it fails, issuing XP points, the use of the Number 1 Troubleshooter Card, and the all-important Running Combat section. The book rounds up with a bucket-load of good advice about running Paranoia, notes on creating adventures, and some comments about humour in RPGs. And random tables for the Computer Dice and for Losing It (just in case you need some ideas...).

The final book is the Missions Book. This provides three linked adventures all ready to go. There's some basic advice for someone who's never even role-played before and has still been asked to GM, then on to the adventures themselves, each ought to be capable of being run in a single session each. If run in order, they provide a good introduction to the game, and to Alpha Complex. Pre-generated characters are supplied for those who want to dive straight into the action, there's also a bare-bones summary of the rules. Everything is presented very clearly and simply: you could literally pick this up not knowing anything about Paranoia or even role-playing and make a credible stab at running the first adventure provided you follow the instructions. In the first adventure, the characters are Infrared clearance, the lowest of the low, but they ought to graduate to Red clearance, and Troubleshooter status, by the end. The next two build on that, giving more insights and more grief to the party.

Paranoia is back, and with a vengeance! The true spirit, the flavour of the original game, is well-reflected in its new incarnation, with some innovative quirks and new game mechanics that serve only to inhance it. Paranoia's not for everyone, but it makes an excellent antidote to more serious games, and this new edition will not disappoint newcomers or those who have played every previous edition alike. The Computer is your friend...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Paranoia Red Clearance Edition
Publisher: Mongoose
by Desmond D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/02/2017 12:29:19

This is by far the sleekest edition of Paranoia yet. Citizens who have played the series predecessors will know that's not the largest accomplishment, but will also know that such claims of Paranoia ever being clunky are treasonous. Nevertheless, this reboot manages to cut off most of the frustrating cruft that got in the way of games in the system. Notably, building characters has been simplified, with mutant powers, secret societies, and equipment bound to cards that can be randomly dealt, or distributed intentionally as appropriate.

Skill checks have a uniquely Paranoia feel to them, despite being a completely new system. It's a little sad to see the d20 leave the system, but I think the game is better for it. The new system is a variation of d6 dice pool. Combat leverages the system well, and has instanced scarcity that keeps your options improvised and limited.

The tone of the world has been smoothed out, it doesn't feel as disjointed where a serious game can't exist in the same world as a fun hectic one. In this system, the serious world is hectic. You can kill at will, but there are repercussions for doing so without authority. The world feels more real, but is still flexible enough to fit many past playstyles.

My primary complaint is that the system seems to throw the past secrecy out the window in favour of simpler play. For me, one of my favourite parts of the game was the secrets you would keep from other players. The passed notes, and brief suspicious walks into the other room before things start to explode. You can still do this in the new system, but the design seems to default towards players being open, but characters being in the dark.

Overall, great game, support these guys. I think this is one of the best intro-to-rpgs systems I've seen in awhile.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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