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Official development blog for the PARANOIA roleplaying game. No description is available at your security clearance. The Computer is your friend.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kremlin Kickstarter 

Comrades! Now to be viewink Jolly Roger Games Kickstarter commune-funding campaign to be reprintink glorious 1980s board game Kremlin, originally published by Fata Morgana and later Awalon Hill. (Boardgamegeek Kremlin page.)

Kremlin is game of secretly allocating influence to promote Soviet apparatchiks through ranks up to glorious Party Leader. Vinner is first player whose Party Leader waves at three annual Loyalty Day parades. (Is not enough just to be Party Leader -- you have to wave.)

Kremlin is played for up to ten turns, ending as soon as the Party Chief successfully waves three times at the May Day Parade, or when so many politicians are dead or in Siberia that the Party Chief can disband the Politburo and take complete power for himself.

Each turn has phases. The most important of these are the KGB trials (which can send party members to Siberia or the cemetery) and the Defense Ministry's Spy Investigations, which can also force politicians on a winter's gulag holiday. With the KGB, the catch is that the higher up the ladder the target, the more difficult to bring down, and Party Chiefs tend to change KGB leaders who take shots at the top. For the Defense Minister, his investigations require a trial to be successful -- and a guilty vote, and that isn't always possible in the Central Committee.

The catch? Players allot influence secretly at the start of the game and don't reveal it until it is used, meaning no one knows who controls the KGB or any other ministry, not until Influence is revealed -- and even then, who knows who still has undeclared influence on that person? It is possible players can swap control back and forth over the KGB chief even as he is trying to determine who to assassinate!

Once the carnage is done, players have to survive the ravages of aging -- and every time a politician takes action, he ages faster than normal. Your 50-year old star of the party? Well, suddenly he's acting like he's 83, Comrade. Life near the top will do that to you. In the Health phase, politicians may die or grow sick -- sick politicians can choose to go to the hospital, but while there, they exert no influence and their responsibilities pass on to other politicians. Sometimes this means your man must make the heroic sacrifice to the Rodina and remain on the job even while at death's door.

Once we know who is still alive, the Party Chief is allowed to move politicians between posts. After all, he's in control of the bureaucracy. He can move people up and down, and when he's done, upper ministers do so as well -- but can only affect politicians below them on the food chain. Heck, politicians can even sponsor comrades in exile in Siberia to come back to the People. Of course, each person you bring back ages you five years....want to bring back five? Age 25 years in the blink of an eye, Tovarich.
US$25 for Kremlin game ($40 for international shipments), plus many Kickstarter-exclusive stretch goal revards. Go forth, comrade! Pledge to Kremlin Kickstarter! Be supportink glorious rewolution!


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

PARANOIA in the real world: Cloning breakthrough 

Dr Shoukhrat Mitalipov said: "A thorough examination of the stem cells derived through this technique demonstrated their ability to convert just like normal embryonic stem cells, into several different cell types, including nerve cells, liver cells and heart cells.
"While there is much work to be done in developing safe and effective stem cell treatments, we believe this is a significant step forward in developing the cells that could be used in regenerative medicine." [...]
The technique takes the same sample of skin cells but converts them using proteins to "induced pluripotent" stem cells. However, there are still questions about the quality of stem cells produced using this method compared with embryonic stem cells.
-- "Embryonic stem cells: Advance in human cloning" (BBC, 15 May 2013)


Thursday, March 14, 2013

PARANOIA in the real world: Soylent 

You know what's an irreversible waste of time, money and effort? Eating food you take pleasure in eating. I mean, wouldn't you rather just ingest a tasteless form of sustenance for the rest of your life and never have to go through that tedious rigmarole of opening and eating a pre-made sandwich or enjoying a huge hungover fry-up ever again? Rob Rhinehart -- a 24-year-old software engineer from Atlanta and, presumably, an impossibly busy man -- thinks so.

Rob found himself resenting the inordinate amount time it takes to fry an egg in the morning and decided something had to be done. Simplifying food as "nutrients required by the body to function" (which sounds totally bulimic, I know, but I promise it's not), Rob has come up with an odourless, beige cocktail he calls Soylent.

I wasn't sure if he was trolling at first, because "soylent" is the name of a wafer made out of human flesh and fed to the overpopulated masses in the seminal 1973 sf film Soylent Green, but then I read the extensive post on Rob's blog about how he came to make the stuff and started to believe him. Soylent contains all the nutritive components of a balanced diet, but with just a third of the calories and none of the toxins or cancer-causing stuff you'd usually find waiting to kill you in your lunch. Despite the fact it looks a bit like vomit, Soylent supposedly has the potential to change the entire world's relationship with food, so I spoke to Rob to find out how.

"This Man Thinks He Never Has to Eat Again" (Monica Heisey, Vice magazine)

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Big Deep Thoughts 

While I'm busy feeding my two new clones (which, due to a mix-up in Tech Services, were delivered fresh out of the Embryonic Development Tank without their regulation jumpsuits and equipment), feast your eyes on this article about AI and existential risks to humanity. While it's all interesting, there are some especially Paranoid moments.
It is tempting to think that programming empathy into an AI would be easy, but designing a friendly machine is more difficult than it looks. You could give it a benevolent goal — something cuddly and utilitarian, like maximising human happiness. But an AI might think that human happiness is a biochemical phenomenon. It might think that flooding your bloodstream with non-lethal doses of heroin is the best way to maximise your happiness. It might also predict that shortsighted humans will fail to see the wisdom of its interventions. It might plan out a sequence of cunning chess moves to insulate itself from resistance. Maybe it would surround itself with impenetrable defences, or maybe it would confine humans — in prisons of undreamt-of efficiency.
Ok, the "undreamt-of efficiency" bit may not be quite accurate...

PARANOIA novel in the Bundle of Holding 

The Ultraviolet Books PARANOIA novel Stay Alert by Allen Varney (i.e. me, designer of the 2004 Mongoose Publishing edition of PARANOIA) has been added to the Bundle of Holding, a collection of DRM-free ebook novels by leading RPG designers, sold for a price you set yourself. Modeled on the popular Humble Bundle and similar offers, the Bundle of Holding supports indie authors as well as two fine charities.

Stay Alert is an official PARANOIA novel authorized by the RPG's owners. Newly promoted to RED Clearance, Tech Services maintenance tech Fletcher-R leads a team of Troubleshooters on a mission to return a stolen helpbot to its rightful (?) owner. He winds up in the middle of a gang war, with the greatest threats coming from (of course) his fellow Troubleshooters.

The other nine authors now in the Bundle of Holding:

All books are DRM-free and offered in Kindle, ePub, and .PDF versions. For one price you set yourself, you get the whole collection in all formats, and you help support our charities: Reading is Fundamental and Child's Play. You can learn more about the charities and the books at the Bundle of Holding site -- but hurry. The Bundle of Holding has less than a week left to run, and then it's gone.


Monday, January 07, 2013

PARANOIA on io9 

Loyal and presumably worthy citizen Rob Bricken has written a piece for Gawker's popular science fiction fan site io9 with the excellent and inarguably worthy title "Why the PARANOIA RPG's Alpha Complex is the greatest dystopia of all time."

Certain points in this praiseworthy piece show a lack of familiarity with the current Mongoose Publishing edition of PARANOIA, and regrettably there is no mention of the official line of novels from Ultraviolet Books. But it's the work of moments for loyal citizens to drop by, create a Gawker account, and post a gentle correction in the comments.


Tuesday, January 01, 2013

PARANOIA: 2012 in review 

The Computer's loyal servants in Technical Services have discovered Communist sabotage of various timekeeping devices across Alpha Complex. Doubtless the traitors, who will doubtless soon be apprehended, intended to sow doubt in The Computer's doubtlessly accurate chronological fidelity. Because all these devices display different degrees of error, Central Processing has ordered a complex-wide reset, requiring Year 214 to be repeated from the beginning.

Nothing of import happened with PARANOIA in 2012. But stay tuned, because a large project is afoot, or soon to climb to its feet. Should it happen, PARANOIA will have a strong 2013. As always, The Computer commends all loyal citizens for their cooperation.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

PARANOIA now in GLARP 

From RPGGeek.com, December 30, 2012:

Paranoia is the 2012 inductee to the GLARP (Geek Lifetime Achievement in Role-Playing) -- the Geek's own RPG Hall of Fame. Paranoia joins Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Traveller, and Classic World of Darkness in the GLARP.

Paranoia battled Star Wars (WEG Original Edition) throughout the voting and only surged to victory in the last few hours. Star Wars actually received the most first place votes, and Third Place finisher HERO also topped Paranoia in first place votes. Paranoia was the most consistent nominee, however, appearing on 34 of the 126 ballots cast.

GURPS and Amber Diceless Role-Playing rounded out the top five.

Paranoia was first published in 1984 by West End Games, and Paranoia 25th Anniversary is available currently from Mongoose Publishing.



Copyright © 2004-2013 by Greg Costikyan and Eric Goldberg. All your rights are belong to us. No bloody Creative Commons here! Bwahahaha!
No, seriously. If you make non-commercial use of stuff here, that's fine, but we reserve all commercial rights, and all rights to prepare derivative material on things posted here. In addition, posters of comments must be aware that we reserve the right to use whatever material they post here, and/or derivative works therefrom, in PARANOIA, supplementary products, licensed products, or derivative work, without any compensation whatever, for all time to come and throughout this universe and any alternate universes that may be discovered. At our discretion, and without obligation, we may, if it strikes our fancy, make a good faith effort to credit you for stuff we use, but we can't promise it won't slip our minds, in the hurly-burly of meeting deadlines. (Actually, we intend to do that, but it's possible we'll screw up.) By posting comments, you grant us a non-revocable, perpetual, non-exclusive license to use whatever you post, in whatsoever fashion we deem useful, here or in any other forum, in PARANOIA or in any and all future products, including but not limited to derivative works, and specifically but not exclusively including the microbrewery beer, ale and porter; salty and sugary snack; and tattoo design rights deriving therefrom. Woohoo! Is that enough legalese for you? The Computer is Your Friend.

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