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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Naturally, you can improvise your own reset button if
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.