“I have the greatest enthusiasm for the mission”
Well, I have finally done it, created my own mission for Paranoia. As I said earlier, it was a combination of four movies, once of which I have not seen: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Event Horizon and Capricorn One. But before I go through the awesomeness that was this session, I’m going to take a look at how I see Paranoia missions are created. At least, how I created this one.
Ultraviolets only this way, please
I’ve mentioned this before, and I will say it again: every Paranoia mission has a subtext, and usually more than one. This falls into three categories with different variations of the same thing, and not all of them are true.
Firstly, there is what all the players are told in the mission briefing, in other words the information Friend Computer has permitted them to know. This usually is not extensive or even well-thought out. It can be vague, fabricated, result of a cover up and even down-right false. What the players are told could even be a ploy to get them to a certain place or meet a certain Alpha Complex citizen just so they can be the scapegoat for something bad. After all, troubleshooters are expendable and always willing to die for Friend Computer.
Second, there is the truth of what is going on. This is usually in the hands of only a few players, through either their Service Groups or their Secret Societies. And they may not be given all the information about what is really going on, what I have found fun is to give people different pieces of information and forcing them to compare notes.
And finally, there are the lies. Not just the fabrications by Friend Computer, but the information that gives people completely the wrong idea of what is going on. Again, this is done through service groups and secret societies, but mostly through the latter rather than the former. And it’s understandable, as many secret societies are bound to have wild and zany views of what is going on. This can lead to some interesting developments. I don’t think this third subtext is as important as the first two, particularly if you have conflicting facts which are both true, as you will see below.
Everything else is gravy, in my opinion, once you have settled on who knows the truth, who is told lies and who is supposed to believe what Friend Computer says. Bearing this in mind, let’s look at the mission I made…
Yes, the ship was called Discovery
Well, the mission I gave the players was to escort three Ultraviolet level scientists into space to complete some obscure mission which had instructions above their security level. Once they well were into space, and after being drugged slightly to cushion liftoff, they were told a bit more. That they had to find a second ship that had been launched about a year earlier and had only recently made contact after being presumed lost.
And here enters the first subtext. The first mission was a secret testing ground for a substance known as “grey goo”. It was initially developed by R&D to cure the terrible mutations happening to Alpha Complex citizens…except that on contact it activated and accelerated them. The secret society Psion managed to smuggle the grey goo aboard the ship, but have no idea what happened.
When I ran the session there was quite a lot of hi-jinx, particularly when players were given the orders to kill the scientists they were supposed to protect. In the end, all of the scientists died (it was pre-scripted) so the players could get to the Alien/Event Horizon part of the mission and look at the grey good.
Oh, and fight crazy mutants.
The second subtext I am afraid that no one got, which is simply because no one in the group has seen Capricorn One. As it turned out that the entire mission was just a drug induced haze done by Alpha Complex as they for some reaosn couldn’t actually send them into space. Budget cut, perhaps but I don’t know. I only wrote it. But it was a surprise when they stepped out into just a very large hangar where they had been the entire time.
And I know it doesn’t make sense, but who says it has to. This is Paranoia!