In Paranoia 2nd edition, player names are structured as firstname-clearance-sector. The first name can be anything, the clearance starts out as R for Red, and the sector can be any three capital letters. The rulebook strongly advises that this is used to make some kind of horrible pun, so my PCs dutifully created characters with names like Traito-R-USS, Cho-R-IZO, Roberts-R-DUM and Bash-R-SEE.

Frustratingly, some of these PCs survived their first mission and I suppose that I should probably promote them for this, meaning that they advance to Orange clearance. Unfortunately, Traito-O-USS doesn't work as a pun any more.

Is there an established approach to this? Should I allow my players to rename their characters? Should I encourage them to think harder about puns that work throughout the clearance levels?

  • 20
    \$\begingroup\$ "Frustratingly, some of these PCs survived their first mission and I suppose that I should probably promote them for this" ... yup, this is definitely a Paranoia GM ^_^ \$\endgroup\$
    – Kaithar
    Jun 7, 2017 at 18:15

4 Answers 4


Just change their name. It's Paranoia. If Friend Computer says your name is now Kil-O-WAT, what are you going to do about it?

"Kil" has always been your name.

  • 67
    \$\begingroup\$ I quite like this one for the inevitable scene in which I say "The computer has decided that Traito-R-USS requires a new name and sector with his promotion, to assuage any acusations of treachary. He shall henceforth be known as Trait-O-RUS" \$\endgroup\$
    – ymbirtt
    Jun 5, 2017 at 16:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ And, given how perfectly efficient the Computer is, the citizen will NEVER EVER have problems getting new IDs made, or gaining access to things because their old name has the wrong clearance but their new name is too new to be "in the system" or having to report their friends for re-education for using their now-classified old name... \$\endgroup\$
    – CaM
    Jun 5, 2017 at 20:10

If these "players" have reached the point where they have "earned" some sort of "advancement", it is clear that you have failed Friend Computer. Your job like that of all responsible citizens was to purge all commies, mutants, and traitors. As these "players" are all one of the three, you have failed. Report for summary disintegration, citizen.

In other words... Paranoia isn't really meant to get that far. The characters should be utterly incapable of doing anything to earn a promotion. They should have run out of clones before they get there.

If somehow you do have characters who got that far, they get assigned to a different sector as part of the promotion, and should come up with new puns that work for the new clearance.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Reassign them new sector and rank to something the can't remember. Then report to somewhere special, that they've got to authenticate... and then disintegrate them for getting it wrong, and let their new clone have a new name :) (Or be demoted). \$\endgroup\$
    – Sobrique
    Jun 5, 2017 at 14:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've seen advancement even in a rather kill-happy game. In fact, I (still red) got another trouble shooter (orange) accused of treason for my own traitorous act: she as comms officer didn't record our mission and didn't have a record of the GOOD JOB we did blowing up a commie hideout (actually an orphanage), so I handed her a tape and said, "Don't worry, I did it for you." Cue Victorian music being broadcast to all of Alpha Complex. She couldn't even retaliate by accusing me of having traitorous materials without fessing up to her own incompetence. Ah good times. #SecretMissionCompleted \$\endgroup\$ Jun 5, 2017 at 19:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you're playing in the "Straight" play style, death is much rarer and it's certainly conceivable that they will be promoted before running out of clones. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 5, 2017 at 20:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I'm just doing it wrong, but I want my players to possibly maybe get promoted. Being able to hand a shiny to the orange-clearance troubleshooters that they can then lord over all the red-clearance scrubs would, I think, make for some awesome moments \$\endgroup\$
    – ymbirtt
    Jun 5, 2017 at 21:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ymbirtt Absolutely. In my games, the GM would often promote the least able/most annoying player at the table, just to ensure maximum frustration for everyone else. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bob Tway
    Jun 6, 2017 at 8:42

It's hard to make a good pun, let alone one that works across more than one security clearance. The players have enough to worry about. I've never offered, and they've never asked.

If they did ask, I'd let them change their home sector on promotion.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Back in my day, we made a game of coming up with names that would work at as many security clearances as possible. I think the record was one that would've worked at every security clearance but green... Not that the character ever made it past orange, but we all admired the effort. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jun 7, 2017 at 9:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe, you can't make a comment like that and not tell us what the name was! \$\endgroup\$
    – ymbirtt
    Jun 7, 2017 at 12:38

Who is this Traito-O-USS? Friend computer does not have in it's records any operative with that name. This is clearly a commie secret agent pretending to be an operative. He must be killed. Order Traito-R-USS and the rest of his surviving operatives to find and dispatch these operatives immediately!!

Either Traito-O-USS will stop causing trouble with your naming covention or Traito-R-USS will dispatch him and happily live on with a nice effective name.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ it's not so good as a general solution, but it is definitely the kind of thing I'd expect from FC \$\endgroup\$
    – Kaithar
    Jun 7, 2017 at 18:29

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