As much as I’ve been enjoying the recent flood of great PC RPGs, it’s a little exhausting seeing traditional high fantasy or boilerplate space-adventure tropes used as their foundation. Good news, then, that Cyanide (they of board game adaptations such as Blood Bowl and gobliny stealth series Styx) are working with Dublin-based studio Black Shamrock (Of Orcs And Men) to adapt the darkly comedic world of Paranoia to PC.
Details on the adaptation are thin now, although considering how different Paranoia is compared to almost any other tabletop RPG, I’m left wondering how Cyanide and co are going to handle the quirks of the setting.
For those unfamiliar with Paranoia, you’re missing out on a great time, assuming you can round up a few friends at the table. Paranoia is a pen & paper RPG for people who’d rather have a short, stupid and funny adventures unconcerned with long-term survival. Players step into the role of expendable cloned ‘troubleshooters’, assigned improbably hard missions to complete by the The Computer, AI overlord of Alpha Complex, a dystopian sealed city ala Fallout’s vaults, but much larger.
Being expendable, each player has a stock of backup clones; extra lives, in effect. The result is that that self-sacrifice (or just immense stupidity) is rewarded, so long as you can roleplay your confused clone arriving at the scene only to wonder why your previous body is now scattered across three different sectors. You’re highly encouraged to undermine your own party, accuse them of disloyalty to the city and come up with ‘evidence’ to prove yourself the hero of the day while painting the rest of your party as traitors, all while trying to complete secret objectives.
This, of course, means that adapting the tabletop version to PC is going to be an incredibly difficult undertaking. This isn’t Dungeons & Dragons, where victory is frequently defined as surviving an obstacle course of encounters and counting your loot and experience points afterwards. Victory in Paranoia is frequently claimed through multiple deaths, backstabbing your friends and usually suffering some ironic comeuppance yourself.
If Cyanide and Black Shamrock can pull this one off, I’ll be overjoyed, especially considering their somewhat wonky output over the past few years. To do Paranoia justice, they’ll have to think outside the box, as more than almost any other RPG setting (Call of Cthulhu included), Paranoia is a game where player life is cheap, and catastrophic, hilarious failure is not just an acceptable but often encouraged outcome.
The digital adaptation of Paranoia is still so far off that there’s no target release date window, but you can check out the recent Kickstarter-funded re-release of the tabletop game over at Mongoose Publishing here.