"Stay Alert! Trust no one! Keep your laser handy!"
Paranoia is the RPG that turned RPGs on their head. Instead of players co-operating on their adventures, in Paranoia they actively betray, lie, cheat and kill each other numerous times...accidently of course. The main aim of the game is comedy.
The game is set in a post-nuclear holocaust future of domed cities run by mega-computers. The players are Troubleshooters, clones with five other siblings who quickly step in when they are killed (nobody last very long in Paranoia). The PCs and NPCs live in an extremely strict colour coded hierarchy of Security Clearance, with Infra-Red submissive to Orange, which answers to Yellow and so on. Everybody, and I mean everybody, is insanely paranoid. The slightest mistake, the merest hint of treachery, could mean immediate execution. Because inside the dome, nobody knows that the war with the Commies was over centuries ago.
Players are subjected to constant propoganda 'The Computer Is Your Friend', encouraged to inform on their colleagues in special recording booths (which often broadcast the message by mistake), are given strange equipment without proper instructions, take pills, hide their secret allegiances and mutations and generally desperately try to survive.
The adventures are hopeless, ill-informed, pointless and suicidal missions which open with a briefing and end with a de-briefing, a golden opportunity to grass up the other players with highly subjective reports.
Being promoted to Orange Clearance gives a player enormous control over the others. Defying an order is Treason = immediate execution.
The GM is directly encouraged to kill PCs on any whim. PCs should be accused of Treason constantly, kept in ignorance and fear and generally shouted at and trampled on at all times (it's okay, they love it). To quote the rules "Ignorance. Fear. Fear and ignornace. Dedicate yourself to these principles." As it says on the back cover, Catch-22 meets 1984!
First edition is a box set and contains mostly GM information; players are not encouraged to buy the rules or read the source material. In first edition there are a lot of rules, and the game is under West End Games d6 system, but you can mostly ignore them and run the game how you like. The GM can simply roll a bunch of dice behind a screen and say whatever they want anyway. All part of the paranoia. It's worth reading the book to immerse yourself in the theme and setting. There are lots of good catch phrases and tricks to pull on players.
The game really suits experienced RPG players. New players will not enjoy the game so much without the comparison to a normal RPG.
THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND!
Citizen, you are not authorized to read this. Please report to the nearest termination center. Thank you.