I'm reading through the rulebook, and it talks about how players may have a mission to assassinate another player character. Also in the Secret Society section it says that if you leave a secret society you may be targetted for assassination.

I'm confused as to how this would work with clones. If a PC murders another PC, perhaps by framing them so Friend Computer wastes them, and pwoom another clone appears, how does that work with their mission? Is their mission just to kill a single clone? Likewise if you leave a secret society, your clone is also in that society, so if you left, and another secret society member (NPC) assassinated you, how would that work regarding their attitude to your clone?


2 Answers 2


You didn't specify edition, but experience I have was the same in all editions I played. I'm writing from memory, without access to the books, so forgive me lack of clear distinction between "rules says" and "this is how we always did it".

First, you seem to expect things being sane, consistent and make sense. They do, but on a deeper level. On a superficial level you should throw that expectations far, far away! Things are supposed to be paranoid, crazy and inconsistent!

I like lists, so I'll point out stuff point by point here.

  1. Computer is your friend.

    Or a jailer programmed to really believe it is your friend, but thats close enough, isn't it?

  2. Computer does not make mistakes.

    It's error correcting subroutines failed long time ago so it can't perceive itself ever being wrong.

  3. Clones are made flawless. Each new clone is clean, all flaws corrected for, all rebellious thoughts and memories safely removed.

    If you try to tell or even imply to your friendly Computer they no longer are, see point 2. - Computer will not believe you, and you must be a traitor!

  4. Death is a punishment. You don't punish for a crime more than once.

    Unless your punishment counter for that individual has a stuck bit or something, but that neeeeveeeer happens, right? Right?!

  5. Troubleshooters are Computer's friends!

    So they must at least pretend they believe above points

  6. Members of secret societies are the only enlightened ones.

    In their own eyes, that is. They all grew up fed on obedience drugs as infrareds, they were schooled by a faulty Computer's teaching soubroutines and robots, and base their beliefs on spoken history that changes with each retelling

  7. Members of secret societies needs to pretend that they are not, and that they are Computer's friends

    See point 5.

What it all means to your questions? It means there is no clear cut good answer, but that you and your players have a vast possibilities to explore! Do you believe clone was really corrected? Does certain society member believe? Who would act and how? Exploring that paranoia is the game, and you'll have to play it yourselves.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm, I suppose I was thinking more from a game mechanic point of view, I suppose it's best to consider a player mission to kill another troubleshooter as successful if the kill the player, because the replacement clone is obviously free from defects and not a member of a secret society, even if there's concrete evidence that they are, for example if they are friends with another player who is in the same secret society and they are aware of each other. The book I am reading says Second Edition 1987 \$\endgroup\$
    – NibblyPig
    Nov 24, 2021 at 15:12
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @NibblyPig Don't kill players please! Only their characters! XD I don't recall any edition I played to have clear definition for success. If computer believes you succeeded, you did. Also, if new clone will tell anyone he remembers being in a secret society is up to the player, and if given secret society knows that cloning leaves rebellious knowledge is up to the Game Master (unless explicitly stated in description). \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Nov 24, 2021 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Success in Paranoia is, when you have FUN<sup>TM</sup> \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Nov 24, 2021 at 22:05
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @NibblyPig Paranoia isn't a game where the players are expected to succeed at their missions. They might, and they might not; the fun comes from the attempt, not the outcome. (Or more specifically, the fun comes from the shennanigans that inevitably ensue when players try to balance multiple conflicting goals in the face of imperfect information and opposition in unexpected forms.) \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Nov 25, 2021 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer would be improved by pointing out that if "killing an entire clone family for the transgressions of one clone" is a thing, the fact that such a punishment might be applied to a PC undermines the "six lives" mechanic that allows players to laugh off their characters' deaths and take desperate risks without worrying too much about the consequences. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Nov 25, 2021 at 8:29

Except in very serious cases, "the crime dies with the clone".

(I'll be working from the Paranoia XP edition here, but most of this advice should hold for all Paranoias.)

Most of those very serious cases are having a mutation dangerous enough that your cell line can't be allowed to continue, like Machine Empathy. For everything else? Well, suppose Bob-R-GON-1 backs Alice-R-DED-1 into a rhetorical corner, after which Alice decides she might as well go loud and breaks out her Electroshock mutant power, shouting "PURGE DESTROYS ALL!" After which her fellow Troubleshooters execute her for treasonous acts, as is right and proper.

Does everyone now know that Alice-R-DED-2 is a PURGE sympathizer with Electroshock? Well, the players probably do, because all Alice did was tick up a number on her character sheet and wait, but:

Likewise, if you terminate Martin-R-TSD-1 for having the mutant power of Slippery Skin, don't start firing immediately when Martin-R-TSD-2 arrives. You, the player, may know his skin is still slippery, but your character doesn't. Making every clone identical is a game convenience; it saves a lot of time creating new characters, and is the basis for some cheap jokes. However, the idea that all backup clones have the Prime's mutant power is unknown in Alpha Complex or to The Computer.

-- Paranoia XP, p.39, "Etiquette"

The "likewise" refers to the memories Alice-R-DED-2 has of her previous clone's final moments and the grudge she bears against Bob-R-GON-1 for putting her in that no-way-out position. Just jumping out of the clone pod guns blazing might be fun for a few seconds, but a slower-burn I-know-that-you-know-that-I-know bit of jockeying can last several satisfying sessions before Bob-R-GON-1 yelps from a sudden electric shock and then screams as he falls into an active food vat. And then Alice has no grudge against Bob-R-GON-2, but there's probably one coming the other direction. And so it goes.

Assassination directives work in the same way. If someone else in Alpha Complex thinks Bob-R-GON-1 deserves to die, they will have reasons why that relate to specific things that Bob-R-GON-1 has done, not anything the -2 through -6 are doing. Depending on your version of Paranoia, 2 through 6 may just be motionless clone blanks waiting for 1 to bite it.

...unless it would be ironic, or funny, or ironically funny.

Of course, there are all the non-murder reasons you might want to accost someone, and for a lot of those their clone number doesn't particularly matter. Tongueprints and credit accounts will usually just drift from clone to clone. But maybe someone's done something so heinous that, in a secret society's eyes, it's the equivalent of getting Machine Empathy, and they want a scalp and don't care about the number.

Or maybe an innocent clone blank just isn't working out at the table. In which case, well:

A mutant just got bumped off and poured into his waiting clone backup. Does he have the same power? If he previously registered his mutation, is he still registered? If not, can he, or does he have to, register again?

Groan. These annoying questions arise from thinking too hard about PARANOIA's clone backup system -- a system, we repeat, that exists solely as a story device so players can keep playing without having to generate a new character every two minutes. But your players will ask these questions, so it falls to us as Famous Game Designers to answer them.

The answer is, 'We don’t know.'

-- Paranoia XP, p.151, "Mutant Powers"

This isn't to completely destroy the idea of the blank-slate clone. That's still the assumption players are encouraged to make. The GM explicitly gets final authority on the matter, but that's a call that varies from table to table with the GM's sense of what will work for their playgroup, and not really something I can answer to a blank Infrared room on the Internet.


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