Thursday, January 6, 2022

2022 Character Creation Challenge 6) Paranoia XP

A surprisingly fun Day 6 of the #CharacterCreationChallenge

Sigh. I get it. I mean, I really do. The attempt to update Paranoia away from its Cold War origins to something millennial, taking shots a more capitalist dystopia rather than the mélange of mid-century SF that was the original version. But the inclusions end up with this feeling more like Robin Hood: Men in Tights vs. Blazing Saddles. One is taking a shot at a single movie, the other is taking aim at every Western ever made. The original Paranoia has a broader base that makes it feel less dated than this. 

That being said, the character creation process was pretty smooth (a series of d20 rolls on charts, with a few decisions on my end) and I decided to approach it with the weirdest aspect of the Paranoia XP rules: that the setting can and should be played straight, your PC trying to survive and prosper inside the insanity of Alpha complex, making it a sort of surreal horror. This sort of thing is VERY in keeping with 1990's game design with everything trying to get you into the broken psyche of your character. I'll admit that it's a weird fit with Paranoia, but I ended up liking the character. 

Blair-R-MUN 1 was an Infrared Drudge in the Production, Logistics and Commissary service group when he was tapped by Internal Security. One of his clones was activated to take his place while he was trained by Intsec, and then he was reinserted into PLC without anyone knowing. But someone suspected something, as he was moved from food production to field logistics advance, where he found some comfort in riding the trains, crisscrossing the complex and learning its timetables. If Intsec minded that he was no longer positioned to spy on the food production group they didn't say, they just collected his reports. Did anyone read them? His mutation, a mind capable of Deep Thought, finally had some time to process the horror of Alpha Complex.

Blair eventually discovered a group of like-minded individuals – the Humanist secret society – who discussed ways to return the Complex to the old ways. He learned about Old Reckoning Cultures, used his pharmacological skills to undo the Complex's constant hormone therapy to experience physical intimacy (though he wasn't much for it) and talked about bioweapons that might re-align the whole system. He's now deep in possession of two Blue-Coded skill sets. His death could come at any time. But he's already working for Intsec. Would they spy on their own? 

Apparently not enough, as he was just promoted to a Red Clearance troubleshooter. This is a huge opportunity for him to advance the Humanists plans. Or is Intsec, and the Computer, just giving him enough rope to hang himself? 

Blair's minimal Management, Stealth and Hardware skills (I rolled below the 4 minimum on all of them) make him a real everycitizen of the complex, but he has a surprising reservoir of Violence (7), impressive Software skills (8) and off the charts Wetware (10) that he learned (and hid) from PLC. From the Humanists he's learned Marital Arts [sic] (6), Hobby-Trainspotting (17), and Old Reckoning Cultures (15). 

All told I really like this PC. Sure the idea of a long term Paranoia campaign isn't my bag, but if someone sold it, I'd be glad to play Blair in one. 

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