So, some of you may or may not remember a previous question that I had asked on this site. Now I may be asking for the exact opposite. My group wasn't very impressed with the whole "we're playing against each other" concept of Paranoia, but they liked the universe / setting itself. So now I'm thinking the only thing I could do to really get them to play would be to make Paranoia a cooperative game. So, tl;dr:

How could I make Paranoia into a cooperative game? What house rules or rule adjustments (if any) would be necessary?

This might be asking a lot, but we'll see what happens. One thing I was thinking was making the group have attributes that are there, but hidden. (Collective perversity point pool with unknown amount, etc.) The story idea I have is something along the lines of "Ultra-Violet High Programmer is tired of your crap, Alpha Complex, and wants to end the reign of Friend Computer."

My goal is to stay true to the spirit / intent of the game. I want the players to feel the paranoia grip them and drive their decision making (which is to say: every decision is the worst decision, every action has terrible consequences, etc.) but I want them to be paranoid as a team as oppose to individuals.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused, citizen. Unco-operative behaviour is treasonable and is never condoned. Perhaps you require some attitude adjustment therapy… \$\endgroup\$ May 11, 2014 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I trust in your judgement. Friend computer is never wrong, ergo I may require some attitude adjustment therapy if it will help me serve friend computer better. \$\endgroup\$ May 14, 2014 at 15:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ But Paranoia is a highly cooperative game. From my experience as a GM, 6 out of 7 times, when faced with a difficult situation, most of my players work together to pin the blame on another player. \$\endgroup\$
    – xDaizu
    Jun 6, 2017 at 7:00

1 Answer 1


It doesn't need to be. Paranoia already has that play mode baked in.

Choose to play Paranoia (xp) "Straight / Dark" and make sure that they start with a higher security clearance, such that they're not the designated punching bags of the complex.

By taking inspiration from The Prisoner and playing the computer as competent and not at all slapstick, the game already provides this mode of cooperation. Specifically, by increasing the competence of the computer and the difficulty of flinging around charges of Treason, no "house-rules" need apply. Just, as the Computer, reward actions that you find appropriate.

It's a question of rewarding behavour. Paranoia is about betraying without being caught. Cooperation in "dark" is Easier. And it's always the players choice to not be caught. The game provides settings for manipulating rewards patterns, and they can be used to punish defection.

Paranoia is defined both by its setting (Alpha Complex), and the DM. As knowledge of the rules is, quite literally, Treason, all expectations for tone are from the DM. The crucial part here is to master behavioural training p50. Reward behaviours that you want to see. Therefore, cooperation between enemies is a behaviour you want to see. Therefore, set up the scenario as a normal dark scenario (tone down silly lethality, make people far more competent) and directly reward players when they lay long-term plans and cooperate. Establish expectations of a campaign, directly reward the behaviours you want to see, and when they betray each other casually, immediately punish betrayal. Look at page 54 for notes, but by making an external enemy a deadlier threat, despite internal enemies, then enemies must overcome their mutual distrust to survive.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Or, if the players are hesitant towards the paranoia part of the game, you need to make them want to serve their Friend Computer more. Even in the Straight style, a brilliant plan with a scapegoat can make it all better. \$\endgroup\$
    – mbomb007
    Jan 12, 2015 at 17:17

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