PARANOIA is a tabletop RPG set in a future dystopian society ruled by the benevolent, well meaning, paranoid and frankly insane Friend Computer. It is a darkly comedic game that fosters crazy hi-jinks and creative backstabbing as players must contend with the impossible logic of Alpha Complex, the Computer and each other’s secrets, as Troubleshooters in the fight against omnipresent treason. Paranoia was originally designed by Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber and Eric Goldberg in 1984 and published through the now-defunct West End Games; it was revived with Mongoose Publishing in 2004 as PARANOIA XP and received periodic new editions since.What is Project Infinite Hole?Project Infinite Hole is a supplement to the 2017 reboot of Paranoia focusing on Research and Development, Alpha Complex’s department of ingenious solutions, problems, solutions to those problems, solutions to the problems those solutions caused, and experimental gear for Troubleshooter teams which they have been gladly volunteered to test. The expansion contains an R&D item catalog, a GM guide to R&D and a set of missions focused on the titular project, which absolutely does not concern the treasonous rumor that a black hole is slowly eating the sector.WJ MacGuffin, a writer from the 2004 edition of Paranoia, led an open call for new writers and directed the project with assistance and editorial from Gareth Hanrahn (formerly of Mongoose, who worked on the 2004 and 2009 editions, now with Pelgrane Press). Paranoia being one of my early tabletop loves (I have a minor contribution credit for a mission generation table in the GM Screen for Paranoia XP), I applied, was accepted and joined the fray.
What did I contribute? Five items for the main catalog, 25 cards (20 items, 5 actions) for the stretch goal expansion, four NPCs and a section of the GM Guide.
TROUBLESHOOTERS: THE GAME
[[[Art Direction: 1/4 page wherever it best fits
A cartoonish-looking caricature of a traitor (moustache, silly hat, cartoon bomb, whatever) filling most of the viewer’s vision, with the text ‘A traitor has appeared!’ flashing on the top. Behind the cartoon traitor, actual troubleshooters are panicking at something the viewer can’t see.
Experience The Action of Alpha’s Finest Defenders!
Citizen, have YOU ever wanted to be a Troubleshooter? (Of course you have!) If you are a current Troubleshooter, are you looking to hone your skills? (Of course you are!) Look no further than R&D’s latest AR sensation: Troubleshooters: The Game! With every install of this coretech module comes a LightLike Toy Laser Pistol (not to be confused with the real thing, because we painted the tip neon pink). Use the harmless light pistol to shoot virtual mutants and terrorists! You can even earn actual XP for doing so! Team up with friends for an even more authentic Troubleshooter experience! (Coming soon: mandatory bonus duties! Earn points for checking in at hygiene, happiness, loyalty, equipment, combat readiness and leadership stations!)
‘I get to earn actual XP and not actually get shot at? Sign me up!’ — Hope-ISE-1
‘A lot easier than the real thing, great for relaxing after a long day of hunting terrorists!’ — Stan-R-KUR-3
Action Order: Violence + 2
Size and Level: Small Level 1
When used as directed: Fighting virtual (cartoonish-looking, vision-obscuring, randomly-appearing when a player rolls the Computer on the Computer dice) traitors uses the same rolls as fighting real ones, except virtual traitors only virtually shoot back and randomly run away. You get 5 XP per virtual traitor shot. Failing to shoot virtual traitors only earns you half as much suspicion from the Computer. After practising on virtual traitors, you may add +1 NODE to your Guns rolls in your next firefight.
If traitors (including YOU) sabotage this: The virtual traitors are replaced by pointers to actual clones, who may or may not be actual traitors.
Safety Monitor: Felix-Y-GJY
HEALTH BOXES: 2
ACTION ORDER: 4
TYPICAL HARM: Hurt
‘Here, put these flash-protection goggles on. And these anti-shrapnel goggles over them. And you put on this facemask since you’re standing closest. Oh and how many of you do you think can squeeze into this padded vest?’
Keycards to several equipment lockers, full set of actually decent safety gear, pocket of safety notice cards.
R&D is never safe. Too much safety gets in the way of progress. Other Safety Monitors have given into despair when confronted by this fact but Felix-Y-GJY has distilled safety down to a simple principle: throw more protective gear at it.
Felix-Y’s cheerful and dogged adherence to this principle shows promise but it is an uphill battle. High-clearance visitors, engineers and he himself get first dibs on the best stuff. A visiting Red-clearance Troubleshooter team will have whatever is left thrust upon them, in as many layers and strange combinations as Felix-Y thinks will suffice to roughly equal ‘the good stuff’. They may have trouble hearing, trouble seeing and trouble moving faster than a waddle, but it will keep them safe! At least safe enough to not require more than minor surgery, and, well, there’s only so much one can do if the lab was going to be vaporized anyway.
Felix-Y struggles somewhat more with things you can not fix with gear, such as ensuring people know ‘do not touch the glowing chemicals’. The things he’s required to warn people about change regularly so he keeps a set of placards in his pocket so he can pull out the right ones at the appropriate time. It can take several seconds to shuffle through these, which often has him yelling frantically at people to stop screaming until he can do so. The stress of this, or of people willingly flaunting safety rules, has been known to crack through his cheerful (carefully medicated) facade, at which point the safety code becomes ‘do not stand near the angry Safety Monitor’.
Felix-Y is a good character to have escorting the players around the R&D labs; he has no agenda other than doing his job as well as he can and his devotion and ingenuity in the face of impossible circumstances sets an impressive example. Assign penalties and bonuses to players equipped by him as you see fit. The gear does actually help and players will be tempted to steal bits of it. Let them succeed if they can pull it off, then have it come back to bite them at a dramatically comic time once Felix-Y has had a chance to figure out what went missing.
HEALTH BOXES: 2
ACTION ORDER: 4
TYPICAL HARM: None
‘Oh, they laughed at me. I told them it was impossible to turn the mechanism from self-sealing stem bolts into a propulsion drive. The project got approved anyway. They were so sure that we should that they never stopped to think whether we could! Now watch me show them all…er, what was it I was going to show them?’
Safety goggles, datapad, pen and notebook, lab-coat with many pockets.
A person meeting Diede-G-BAI is often unsure what to make of them—and ‘them’ is the only pronoun that really fits. Diede-G lacks the distinguishing male or female appearance traits present in many clone genetic templates. For hygiene and safety reasons, Diede-G also keeps themself free of most body hair except for their expressive eyebrows (which occasionally get burned off in the course of work).
Diede-G survives in the cut-throat world of R&D by being a generalist. They know a little bit about everything, can step in to run pretty much any project and can not be made redundant when higher-clearance heads decide that a particular knowledge speciality has become outmoded. In the name of survival and maintaining their position, there are few lines Diede-G won’t cross. This adaptability also extends to their personality. Diede-G is sane, strictly speaking, but their mannerisms swing wildly depending on their audience, their mood and their current stress level. They have an utterly calm and cool persona they use for speaking to the Computer and higher-clearance clones. The rest swings between a number of caricatures including mad scientist, absent-minded professor, bossy manager, starry-eyed dreamer, erudite explainer and pessimistic doomsayer.
Playing Diede-G is an excuse to play with the whole grab bag of literary and nerdy engineer clichés; feel free to borrow from your favourite media and pull out a different one every time your players encounter them. Diede-G is primarily an exposition fountain, though their explanations almost always miss one small-but-important detail that will come back to haunt the Troubleshooters later on. Diede-G’s broad knowledge also includes knowledge the Computer prefers to keep suppressed; information brokering and plausibly deniable involvement in small treasons on the side are part of what keeps their head above water in the competitive sea of R&D. This makes them a tempting blackmail target; their particular skill sets and amoral attitude towards survival make them a dangerous one. Clones that get on Diede-G’s bad side may be subjected to the more ‘mad scientist’ elements of their persona.