I ran a Paranoia LARP last weekend, at Dexcon in New Jersey. If you’re interested in running it yourself, I’ve made the plot and rules publicly available as a PDF – click here for Happy Birthday Friend Computer! Here is the plot: it is Friend Computer’s 214th Birthday, and the players are being drafted in to help celebrate! And, you know, kill each other, because this is Paranoia.
Also: if you took pictures or video during the game, I WANT TO SEE THEM. Please send them to me at email@example.com.
DISCLAIMERS AND ADVICE AND THINGS THAT HAPPENED
– This is the actual document I used and passed around the NPCs; it is rough, and it shows a lot of my design ethos. You will have to infer quite a lot. If you have any questions, I recommend sending me an email or, better yet, buying me a drink and asking me directly.
– You will need a LOT of craft materials and boxes and cardboard and props and junk. I solved this problem by having the dazzlingly talented crew at Dexcon handle all of it while I fiddled with the mission briefings. I can’t honestly offer any better advice than this.
– If someone dies more than six times, give them a new character. If someone dies eighteen times, as one guy did in our game, you have to start wondering how big of a dickhead they’re being for that to happen
– If you are after the rules, there is only really one rule, and it is this: when you want to kill another player, point at them and shout “ONE!” Then, if another two people agree that this person should die, and point at them and shout “TWO!” and “THREE!” then that person is dead. This democratic system of murder worked surprisingly well. NERF guns also kill people, as does silly string, but we weren’t allowed to use silly string because apparently it can never be removed from carpets ever ever, which is understandable. I believe silly string is the best way to represent mutant powers. (We didn’t have any mutant powers because, you guessed it, that sort of thing requires me to write rules and if there’s one thing I can’t stand, as a games designer, it’s doing my bloody job.)
– I wrote the game for seventy people; we got thirty-five, and honestly, we would have struggled to deal with more than fifty in the space we had due to the large amount of movement between rooms. I reckon you’d need at least fifteen or twenty to get a similar anarchic feel to proceedings.
– This is quite a GM-heavy game if you want to keep all the players entertained – we had one per five players, and I reckon one per ten should be the lowest you go to. You’ll need at least two GMs in the shop and one in the Clone Requisition HQ to keep things moving. One piece of advice, here: get good GMs. Get GMs that don’t mind operating on their own initiative and messing around with the players.
– Make up NPCs and throw them into the simulation without any warning. We kept giving out bags of Lucky Charm marshmallows as drugs from the shop, just to see what happened, and a stupid amount of the game started to revolve around them to the point where I started NPCing as a louche BLUE clone who was desperate for a hit. Some players filmed me orchestrating a drug deal. I’m very proud of them. They later found me, dead from an accidental discharge of my pistol, and pinned a note reading “TRAITOR” to my chest then took a picture and left me there to rot. So happy.