Writer and game designer based in Austin, Texas. I've published eight books, three boardgames, two dozen tabletop roleplaying game supplements, 300 articles and columns, the 2004 edition of the PARANOIA RPG, and over 75 articles for the online gaming magazine The Escapist. I co-wrote the original design doc and co-created the plot for the Nintendo Wii videogame "Disney's Epic Mickey."
My new venture, Ultraviolet Books, offers all-new official ebook novels based on PARANOIA. The first three novels and an introductory anthology are available now for the Kindle family: - my novel "Stay Alert" (Book T1 of the trilogy "The Troubleshooter Rules") - Gareth Hanrahan's novel S1 "Reality Optional" - WJ MacGuffin's novel Y1 "Traitor Hangout" - A1 "The Computer is Your Friend," with stories by all three writers
This is the single most entertaining RPG book on my shelf. As far as reading the material goes, it's a perfect example of what you can do by turning normally frowned on RPG behavior into a drop dead riot of a game. The emphasis here is on the drop dead part.
While the text of the game goes to great lengths in instilling in the reader a sense of how the game is supposed to be played, in the end there are only two rules that need following.
1. The GM is always right.
2. Happiness is mandatory!
It's that simple, and it couldn't be more fun to read this book. Once you understand that every bit of it is cleverly written to convey the theme of Paranoia to the reader, you don't feel like you are being lectured yet again on the proper application of an attack roll. Rather you are learning what it is to be a GM/Player of this great game.
I only hold one complaint which is so minor that it didn't even effect me giving this game a perfect score.
Normally I don't find it necessary to print two seperate books for the core of a game. I actually prefer many games where GM and player information can be easily included together in one well laid out tome. Basically I don't think it's normally necessary to have to have two or more books to play and run a game. However in this case I think I would've preferred a division of the book into a distinct Player's guide and a distinct GM's manual. I think this is truly one of those games where the player's are better served to discover the ins and outs through regular play. In the case of Paranoia, the fun is in the failure.
ADVICE TO ASPIRING TROUBLESHOOTERS:
If you intend on playing this game, take the books advice and don't read the GM only section.Read more ›
Paranoia XP is the newest and in my opinion best version of the Paranoia game line. Here are people who need not apply (just to get you guys on to games better suited for your playstyle):
Gamers who like heavy combat tactics needn't look into Paranoia XP. Most of the weapons will kill a clone in one shot.
Gamers who like strategy in character generation or advancement needn't look into Paranoia XP.
Gamers who tend toward heavier systems (D&D, Rifts, HERO, GURPS) probably should tread with caution, as Paranoia XP's system is one die roll-under for everything. The rules are simple: roll a d20, get under Skill. Then if the GM decides you succeed, you succeed.
Gamers intent on character growth and development can find some support for such here, but under Classic rules, characters die often and hilariously.
If you like intra-party harmony, a good idea for nearly all RPGs, shouldn't look here. Paranoia is about backstabbing your fellow Troubleshooter.
If you enjoy having larger than life heroes, don't look into Paranoia XP. Paranoia XP characters are incompetant, ignorant, and insane.
Well, if you're still here, you either don't care about the above, or you're still interested to hear about the game itself, well, here goes:
By the way, you might have noticed I'm not bothering with any "HAPPINESS IS MANDATORY!" or "NOT AVAILABLE AT YOUR SECURITY CLEARANCE!" stuff, because I know it can be quite offputting to those looking into the game. It's an "in" joke, and using it against people who aren't "in" yet is a bit mean and/or foolish.
The game is about a complex, an underground post-modern utopia called the Alpha Complex, which is run by an AI called The Computer.Read more ›
I read this book from cover to cover, and I must say that it is cleverly written, well formatted, and easy to understand. Mr. Varney perfectly captures the essence of the original game (released 20 years ago with great success), while updating it with modern gaming concepts and themes relevant to the times we live in. I was a fan of the original "2nd" edition rules, but a definite non-fan of the rather unpleasant "5th" edition rules - as is the case with many of us old-timers. But I am happy to report that this edition stands on it's own - incorporating everything I loved about the "2nd" edition and excluding everything I hated about the "5th" edition. Well done Allen Varney, well done Greg Costikyan and crew, kudos to all. Buy this book - Friend Computer insists.
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The new Paranoia XP (PXP) is a refreshing breeze for the game. Well written, obviously very thought out, without the problems of 5th edition. It's hard to give a review without comparing it to older editions, of course. Suffice to say that this might be the edition that brings Paranoia out of gaming limbo.
Everything is well thought out, from mutations to secret societies to the history and functioning of Alpha Complex. The increased use of personal computers, PDAs and the Internet is now reflected in PXP. The humor is present, but in measured doses, and there was (thank goodness) no attempt to go "over the top" with things. No acronyms simply to make funny acronyms, for instance. Character creation is notably different from previous editions (no stats for Strength, Intelligence, etc.), but now characters can improve themselves. With the addition of three play styles - Zap, Classic, and Straight - they may actually live long enough to do so! ("Straight" Paranoia, for instance, presumes a dark, gritty, realistic game, while Classic is 1st/2nd edition style, and Zap is simply "everyone shoots everything and each other".)
The downside? Well, the index isn't as helpful as you might think, and it's hard to find the chapter breaks. Several times when I wanted to look up a specific table or information, I ended up leafing through the book to find what I wanted.
Also, a mention on the artwork. Jim Holloway was the original Paranoia artist in 1984. He's been tapped again for PXP, and it appears his style has not evolved or improved in 20 years. Paranoia purists might enjoy it, but I was hoping for something a little more updated, more in keeping with the times.Read more ›