Paranoia! Right. Where did we leave off? If you’ve not already read the first part of this write up, I suggest you do so now.
Our adventure continues as the troubleshooters board the tram. It’s one of the new hover-capable ones, but it’s currently set to run on the existing rails. They are greeted by a dour, heavily accented driver who, upon being asked to take them to Observation Tower 3 replies with a loud, clear “Da!”
Immediately, the group are suspicious. They start aggressively questioning the driver, causing him to get more and more defensive. Eventually, the loyalty officer slips a loyalty collar on him and his next accented, panicked statement causes the needles inside to slide into his neck, ending his life.
“You are dead!” comes the cheery, recorded soundbite from the collar.
The troubleshooters take some time to celebrate the defeat of this obvious commie traitor. The hygiene officer throws his confetti grenade onto the corpse of the commie, releasing a flurry of confetti and mariachi music. The mood is jovial.
It takes the group longer than it should to notice that the tram is accelerating rapidly and that there is no driver. At this point the loyalty officer, Meg, takes charge, taking over the console. She stares down at two buttons. One is red and the other is green. Meg is colour blind.
The tram accelerates further and takes off from the tracks as the hover setting kicks in. The equipment officer reacts quickly to this, firing the tangler gun in an attempt to slow the tram down, Spiderman-style. Needless to say, that was not a good idea, and when the rope did catch on something, it was merely pulled from his hands and lost. Great job, pal. As the tram continues to hurtle through the (thankfully wide) tunnel, the tram tilts forward, knocking most of the passengers down to the console. The emergency stop is pulled and the tram decelerates very rapidly, throwing two of the group – Ray and, I think, James – through the front window and onto the electrified track below. They died.
The tram limps to a complete stop conveniently close to Observation Tower 3 and the remaining troubleshooters disembark. As they walk into the base of the tower, clone tubes descend and deposit clones of Ray and James into the antechamber.
After messing around pointlessly with a furnace that would have no meaningful impact on the rest of the game, the team enter the ground floor of the tower. At this point, I dug out my map of the tower, which I share below:
Each floor of the tower, from the ground floor to the eighth, was equipped with a line of 10 pods which alternated in colour between black and white. in each pod was a single, red button.
I took the idea of using the Snakes and Ladders post from a Geek and Sundry video. My little twist on it was to make it fundamentally more deadly. Like, really deadly. On every square that was not the start of a snake or the start of a ladder (or squares 1 or 100 which were the entrance and exit, respectively) had some sort of trap. Some traps were avoidable or escapable, whilst others were not.
Some examples included a trap that dumped snakes onto the troubleshooter who pressed the button, a few which covered the troubleshooter in blood or sewage, a couple that simply saw the troubleshooter eviscerated by chainsaws and lot of other gruesome and gribbly ones. The blood ones did not seem so bad to the troubleshooters: they saw it as a minor inconvenience until a later trap unleashed ravenous dogs which targetted the bloodied troubleshooters first. Similarly, some traps attracted mutants, leading to a few combat encounters.
I will say that neither the mutants nor the dogs actually killed anyone, but several troubleshooters died either dragging mutants into traps with them in daring-if-ultimately-wasteful attempts at self-sacrifice or through friendly fire. Naturally, the friendly fire then resulted in reports of treachery to Friend Computer, which then led to further executions. Who needs mutants to kill you when you have these jerks as companions?
The group actually navigated most of the puzzle very well to begin with. Two players, Meg and Ray, kept a map, showing the locations of pods that allowed them to go up floors. Ray was really convinced that there was some mathematical reasoning behind the design of the tower and he felt that he had a system going. This was proven wrong when they got to the top floor and hit a snake, taking them down several floors, followed by a second snake, plunging them further down. I like to think this is where Ray abandoned his theory, but they did continue to fill in details on their map.
It was at this point that the previously cohesive team of troubleshooters really started to fall apart. Up until this point, I had been disappointed that players had not been reporting each other for treason or other infractions, but as frustration started to mount up, this changed utterly and players started filling in form after form, requesting permission to execute their companions. This reassured me that I was doing the right things and getting the behaviour that I had hoped for.
They were vicious.
In the course of the journey, several officers proved unworthy of their jobs. The hygeine officer allowed himself to be covered in sewage, proving his own ineptitude. The remit of hygiene officer – held by Meg – was given to James, in addition to his role as morale officer. Similarly, the loyalty officer was found to be hugging a mutant. She claimed that this was merely to restrain the mutant in order for a fellow troubleshooter to execute it – resulting in said troubleshooter missing and killing her instead – but Friend Computer was still dismayed by the whole series of events and stripped Meg of her responsibilities, bestowing them, once again, upon James.
When the team did reach the top of the tower, they found the observation room which looked out onto the blasted wilderness beyond Alpha Complex. They also found that the room was bedecked in communist flags and banners. In a demonstration of unwavering loyalty, James (loyalty, morale and hygiene officer by this point) fire his laser pistol which rebounded off the reflective walls of the room, hitting and killing a fellow troubleshooter. Citizen Ray, in frustration, took this opportunity to submit a further form, this time asking for the execution of Friend computer itself!
Needless to say, Ray died. Again.
Searching the room, the group found a safe with a hammer and sickle insignia and a fingerprint security lock. Seeing a fellow troubleshooter activating and playing with the laser pen, Andrew asked for the pen to be passed to him to he could try something. Now, I am not usually the GM who punishes players for little oversights or mistakes of language, but this is Paranoia, so I don’t feel I had much choice. I pointed out that the pen had not been turned off before being chucked, and although the throw and the catch were both successful, the laser scattered around the room, killing two troubleshooters. Undaunted, Andrew used the powerful laser pen to try to open the safe, but it merely rebounded, killing a further troubleshooter.
Following this failure, Ray stepped up to the safe and put his finger on the pad. This unlocked the safe, much to the consternation of the group who summoned Friend Computer to adjudicate. Friend Computer listened to all parties, but saw no evidence that this safe had been commie property. The group were outraged – all the more so when they realised that the laser had scorched off the commie insignia which had adorned the safe. Ray was not executed and was allowed to reach into the safe and remove the flamethrower within.
The group decided to burn the communist banners and, after incinerating one particularly well-placed banner, they found a secret door, behind which they could hear voices. Opening the door, the Troubleshooters incinerated everyone within, only stopping to check the bodies after they were charred almost beyond recognition. When they did check the bodies, two had matching wedding rings and all wore now-charred Alpha Complex R&D ID badges.
The group agreed not to include this development in their report.
With the tower cleansed, the group returned to their sector to report on (most of) the events of the mission and file the mission reports.
Thus our game ended. Sadly, nobody fully died, with the two most victimised players still one their final clone. One more death would have been curtains for them. Commie curtains. Commie curtains on fire in an abandoned R&D facility surrounded by the corpses of the prisoners that an inept group of troubleshooters were meant to have bloody RESCUED! Just sayin’…
At some point, I’ll put together my thoughts on the system in general. In the meantime, I’m off on holiday, y’all!