WARNING: THIS MATERIAL IS CLASSIFIED ULTRAVIOLET CLEARANCE. IF YOU ARE NOT ULTRAVIOLET CLEARANCE, PLEASE REPORT FOR SUMMARY EXECUTION IMMEDIATELY. TRUST THE COMPUTER. THE COMPUTER IS YOUR FRIEND.

The Iceman Returneth: A "Really, Really Important Adventure" for the Paranoia roleplaying game.

Originally published in 1989 by West End Games, this is one of many adventures written for the Paranoia universe. While the Paranoia role playing game is unbelievably easy to invent new adventures for (the environment, the characters, the mission, and hell, even the game's rules are completely at the gamemaster's mercy), it was the ready-to-run adventures like this one that made Paranoia an amazingly entertaining game to run.

This adventure, like all the adventures published by West End Games for Paranoia, includes everything necessary to run a complete game of Paranoia, including pre-generated characters, a plot, secret society missions, lots of traitorous activity, and more. Naturally, given the game system's inherent flexibility, an intrepid GM could ignore any of it (and wing it instead) without hurting the game.

What sets this adventure apart from the others published for this game is the drastic change it created in the "official" Paranoia universe. This change was not generally well-received by the die-hards who loved this game during its lifetime. It is important to note that Paranoia doesn't encourage long adventuring campaigns. You're not supposed to care deeply for your characters and grow them over the course of many gaming sessions over many months, because the poor bastards get killed over and over throughout even a single session.

Still, the notion of a single "universe" that players guided different characters over its lifetime made Paranoia a game you could play again and again, with new characters making clever tongue-in-cheek references to goofy events that other characters (played by the same people) set into motion way back when.

This adventure drastically changed the game world at its conclusion; players who actually campaigned in this game by running different characters through the same universe (or, in games I've run, by just ignoring the "six clones and you're out" rule). What change does it make? The Computer, benevolent overlord of Alpha Complex, is itself rebooted, reset, brought down, nuked, borked, etc., throwing the whole of Alpha Complex into complete and utter chaos.

Naturally, the Troubleshooters on this mission have absolutely no idea that they're about to lend a hand in bringing their world's demise to fruition, and they cheerfully bumble through a very entertaining adventure.

The Adventure
It's the 100,000th Troubleshooter mission, and The Computer (along with a celebrity or two) feels this is cause for great celebration. When a reactor technician accidentally hits the self destruct button of one of the reactors he manages, he quickly forges a mission briefing, fabricates a briefing room, and calls in a favor from some of his buddies in Research and Development to produce some toys for testing so the Troubleshooters don't get suspicious.

This mission, of course, happens to be the 100,000th mission. The Computer verifies the validity of the mission by absolutely meaningless means, validates it, and assigns a real trip to R&D. Because of the significance of the mission number, The Computer drudges up some press for the mission briefing; then the press goes wild and tries to make stars out of the Troubleshooters. Meanwhile, the Communist contingent prepares to stage a revolution.

From here, the intrepid Troubleshooters are subjected to random lethal underpants inspections, a showdown with a gluebot with John Wayne aspirations, the thawing of one of the original programmers of The Computer's AI, uncomfortable questions from the press, non-lethal "weapons" from R&D, and more.

Of course, at the end of the adventure, The Computer itself is offline — terminals are dead, power is offline, and the Bouncy Bubbly Beverage requisitions go unanswered. And that's just the epilogue.

Sandwiched between the clever introduction and the rather startling (to fairly new Paranoia players, anyway) revelation that their actions have just shattered the universe they loved playing in, are lots of secret society elements, side missions, fun weapons to play with, angry bots, disgruntled law enforcement agents, and more.

A Review
On the whole, this adventure is fast-paced, action-packed, and very entertaining. The brilliant thing about Paranoia, and this adventure in particular, is how entire sections of an "adventure" can just be skipped entirely by the GM — if it's slowing things down, or the players just aren't getting into a section, just skip it. The communist sub-plot is a can't miss, but the outdoor bit can drag on a bit. The rest of the "episodes" in the adventure are all pretty good, though.

By far the most controversial aspect of this adventure is that it completely changes the game system (or, rather, sets the stage for new adventures to take off in an entirely new direction). Many players saw this as a somewhat tacky effort to breathe new life into an aging gaming system by "reinventing" the game world. Surely, this isn't the first game to endure such a change, and thankfully it was "reversed" in the much-loathed Paranoia: The Fifth Edition, but it does seem ill-conceived here. The Computer is what makes Paranoia, well, Paranoia. Killing it off and running players around in the "post-reboot" Paranoia universe got pretty boring pretty fast.

Thankfully, none of that crap affects the actual adventure itself published in this book. From beginning to end, the intrepid players are given countless opportunities to screw their fellow man and the GM is given just as many chances to screw the players. Running gags abound, and you will have your players rolling on the floor at least once if you run this adventure right.

Its plot is straightforward enough, with enough twists and subplots to keep it interesting, but not enough to get overly complicated or confusing.

What makes this adventure stand above many of the other published adventures is the insane amount of detail available. If you want to run a simple, one hour game where "The Computer tells you to run an errand, you thaw out a guy by accident, he resets the computer, screws things up, and you get shot at a lot," you can.

If you want to run an incredibly detailed adventure, where you hand your players a General Briefing explaining why their underwear must be inspected, a Mission Briefing noting that "Penalty for misuse is something you really won't like", and a sample copy of the indestructible communist propaganda flyers they'll be killed for having, you can do it with this one. The book's authors took the time to brew up lots of subplots involving the various secret societies of Alpha Complex, dossiers of all the NPCs in the adventure, maps of key areas where important events take place, backstory for many portions of the adventure (including a detailed writeup about the original programmer and his cloned friends currently running the show in The Computer's core), and even the sad, sordid tale of a Vulturebot brain transplanted into a wallpapering bot's body.

The book is fun reading even if you're not running an adventure immediately, and in fact this is one of the few adventure books you need to read all the way through before trying to run it. It's a fast-paced, wide-open adventure that encourages your players to run amok (moreso than the Paranoia world usually does), so you need to be ready for what they'll come up with.

Recommendations for Running
So, how should you run this adventure?

If you're a diehard, and your players are diehards, well, you should probably be playing Advanced Dungeons and Dragons instead. Still, if you're a group that likes to play by the rules, go ahead and let The Computer crash at the end. Stick to the clone limit and try not to kill your players too often. Run through the boring outdoor section.

If your players are offended with the notion of a Paranoia universe without The Computer, or just don't want to play in the "post-reboot" universe West End Games came up with thanks to this adventure's setup in the epilogue, just push the reset button at the end:

"THE LIGHTS FLICKER AND DIM FOR A MOMENT, BUT ONLY BRIEFLY — YOU GLIMPSE SOME WEIRD PHRASES ON THE COMPUTER'S CONSOLE, LIKE 'MEMORY TEST FAILED' AND OTHER ALARMING BLURBS. BEFORE YOU HAVE MUCH CHANCE TO THINK ABOUT THIS THE LIGHTS COME BACK ON, THE EYEBALL YOU'VE ALL COME TO KNOW AND LOVE RETURNS AND THE COMPUTER IMMEDIATELY STARTS COMPLAINING ABOUT THERE BEING LOWLY TROUBLESHOOTERS IN A GAMMA CLEARANCE AREA. BEFORE ANY OF YOU CAN REMIND THE COMPUTER THAT YOU JUST HELPED SAVE IT, IT SUMMONS AN INTSEC TEAM WHICH PROMPTLY VAPORIZES EACH OF YOU. LOOKS LIKE THINGS ARE BACK TO NORMAL, WHATEVER THAT IS."

Naturally, you can improvise your own reset button if you'd prefer.

Probably the best sources of humor in this adventure are in the form of recurring gags. The random underwear inspections are funnier than they sound, and the tragic warbot-cum-interior decorator is hilarious. The subplot involving fame and fortune for your players is a blast, too — a skilled GM will give every player at least a dozen opportunities to frame and/or kill each other just during their attempts to get on TV.

It's a blast; turn your players loose in this adventure and get ready for a wild ride.

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