Monday, December 22, 2008

A Second Stab at Paranoia and a Possible New Year One Shot

Coming to you live, mid-session in a Paranoia game! A couple of the other players have left to take Maggie home, so the other half of the group is hanging out, fiddling with computers and things, and talking about Stargate.

I have a new appreciation of pre-rolled characters for one-shots. I'd been over at my Paranoia GM's house for about three hours before we finished our characters and actually started the game. It always takes my group ages to make characters, and yet somehow we always end up making them, even for short games, and characters we're never going to use again.

This is mostly because none of the other GMs in my group tend to bother rolling up characters ahead of time. Neither do I, honestly, but that's usually because the one-shot games I run tend to be out of the blue, "oh, hey, we're hanging out, we should game" kinds of affairs, or games where character creation is supposed to be short and easy. This is a lie. Character creation always takes between 30 minutes to an hour, even if it is entirely random or for a character that will be used once and then discarded.

I'm making an exception to this general habit, and rolling up characters ahead of time for the game that I might be running on New Year's Eve. I haven't decided whether I'm going to run it, and I haven't decided what system I'm going to use, but I'm rolling up characters anyway. (I was planning on using Swords & Wizardry, but apparently one of my players has a never before mentioned life long dream of playing Traveller, so I might end up running that instead.) Luckily, they're characters for Traveller, so the generation process is pretty fun in and of itself.

Anyway, I'll probably do a more thorough session analysis once the whole thing is over and done with, but so far the game is going pretty well. There haven't been a whole lot more treason accusations than last time, but we haven't gotten very far yet, and at least one other character is keeping track of possibly treasonous activity. I've also read a bit more of the (red section of the) rulebook, and discovered that there is, in fact, a reason for wanting to turn your team mates in for treasonous behavior. You have to do it to get promoted. So there's a mystery solved.


  1. The next time you roll up characters for a one time game, put them in a folder. Next time you do a one-shot for that game, use those and have everyone pick something different from what they played last time. That should last you a few one-shot sessions and save you some time.

  2. One thing I've found that works great for pre-generated characters is to make them really, really odd-ball. Especially if everyone's on-board with the one-shot approach, a character who is a little bizarre can be more fun to play, and is usually easier to get into. Hinting at a quirk or odd physical feature works almost as well. Just don't be surprised if someone either just drops the oddness entirely to play the character they always play, or takes the oddness in directions you never expected.

    - Brian

  3. On the other hand, since in Paranoia you don't REALLY die forever and ever (yay clones!), theoretically we could reuse these characters whenever we play it. And we were talking about possibly running an online paranoia campaign, weren't we?

    I think that'd be cool. But I suppose it'd still be a logistical nightmare, as most of our games are...

  4. Oh, and also my Dad said I can borrow his set of Paranoia rulebooks. (Which splits into player-can-see and gm's-eyes-only!) So next time we won't be stuck with six people and one book, which was a big part of the problem.

  5. Viriatha: My Paranoia GM has done something very similar -- she has all the sheets from the various ill-fated D&D games of our youth, and uses them as emergency PCs and NPCs in her current game at college. I'm told the results have been quite amusing.

    trollsmyth: Oh, yeah. In general I think subtlety tends to get lost in most RPGs, but especially so in one shots, where you don't have a chance to really explore more than one or two angles.

    maggienotmegan: In this case, no, the efforts not wasted. (Hopefully.) I would really like to get back to that games. (And my sock puppet conversing character. Oh, to amuse.) An online game would be fun, but I can't see any of us really sitting down and making it happen. Maybe I'll be surprised.

    More books are always better! (At least, if your Dad's old stuff is compatible with the Mongoose version.) Really, the table ought to have three, for a game where the players reference it at all during play.

    (And sorry for taking so long to get around to comments. You guys are great.)