One who is suffering from paranoia belives that all of the suffering and insecurity can be blamed external persecution and hostility. Often they become obessed and begin to create complex conspiracy theories, to explain who is watching them, and why.

People with paranioa are often anti-social and very distrusting. Some people suffering from particulary advanced paranoia have been known to respond with violence towards anybody they percive to the "one of them".
Most of the definitions in the above writeups are correct, but only partially describe what paranoia really is. Aozilla's definition comes closest, but his reasoning is that it's based in an inability to filter the "stupid" (ie, commonly held to be incorrect) things out, rather than the process that is generating them in the first place. Paranoia happens when the mind creates possible explanations without being given enough information to form an explanation that is guaranteed to be true -- it seeks and finds patterns even when there are actually none there. What's lacking in the severe paranoiac isn't really the ability to filter out incorrect ideas, but the ability to not seek out and believe possible patterns in a given set of noise.

You can see the less intense shades of humanity's inbuilt paranoia in cultural phenomena like the lottery and superstitions. It's not that your five lucky numbers are really more likely to win the jackpot, it's that they've led to good things for you before so they might again -- a false pattern. Likewise the number thirteen and the broken mirror and the cracks in the sidewalk; culture happens upon and latches on to even the remotest possibilities of comprehending randomness. Paranoid pattern-seeking behavior is also what makes psychedelic drugs so interesting to some, the ability to see understandable patterns even in the noisiest or least related stimuli. That behavior is also what makes the psychedelics dangerous, as one can find (and entirely believe, because of the drug) patterns that suggest mortal danger to the viewer/finder.

The ability of the human mind to begin with a conclusion and then selectively map all evidence to fit it is limitless.

A chronic personality disorder in which the individual develops systematized, sometimes permanent, and mainly persecutory delusions in a setting of otherwise undisturbed thought. Paranoia must be distinguished from paranoid schizophrenia, in which the same delusions occur but accompanied by hallucinations and disturbances of thought processes and personality.

Paranoid reactions are displayed by most people at one time of another in response to severe disappointment or humiliation. The reaction is the mistaken belief that the sufferer is the center of attention and that he is being talked about, usually in a critical way that invades his privacy and embarrasses him.

Paranoia is a state in which the person experiences constant "paranoid reactions" and where these reactions cannot be dispelled by others. Suspicion and resentment of others arise, and the person takes innocent matters to be a direct attack on him. He usually feels that his true worth is not recognized, and he often has grandiose ideas about what his true worth is.

Temporary paranoid reactions are fairly common and usually harmless---providing they are not associated with other thought disorders or personality changes---although they may be irritating for the family and colleagues of the sufferer. In contrast, true paranoia is relatively rare and can cause considerable annoyance and harm to innocent people outside the sufferer's immediate circle. It is not easy to treat, but is sometimes helped by psychotherapy.

Paranoia is a human trait that destroys the lives of many, cripples the lives of more, and is misunderstood by everyone else. It is not what you feel when you get stoned. It is not what you feel when you are caught in a lie; these go away. If you are paranoid in the truer sense then this block of text and all other blocks of text are about you. Boy, that commercial for tooth whitening paste really has you pegged. Never mind Copernicus’ balderdash about you around the sun; everything revolves around you. You’re falling into their trap. Paranoia is the inability to define a thing; it is the ultimate in relativism. It’s enough to make laughter sound like gritty, grinding hate; they are laughing at you, can’t you see?

When you pulled into that parking spot awkwardly the man in the building across the street threw his hands in the air while facing away from you the entire time because he couldn’t believe that you would do such a thing. When the teacher told you that your paper was nice she lied so that you would give her a high rating. When your mom said that your hair looked nice she lied so that you would be kindly towards her and not abandon her when your father died, and you could bring her food so she could live. Living, to the paranoid, becomes a selfish and viral activity. The term “paranoia” was made by the government. Do not sign your name anywhere. Anything you say can and will be used against you by your close circle of friends. Paranoia is the obsession with latent motives. It is the denial of sincerity and the soul of the last three centuries of reason. Paranoia is a fifth grader checking his shirt every day while walking to school to make sure his mom didn’t wiretap his shirt.

I have been observing my own paranoid thought-patterns for months now and I think I should share what I think about it. I don't believe that paranoia is actually a delusion, but a kind of mechanism that makes it possible for a person to observe his and others' unconscious.

What are the actual delusions in paranoia? First, paranoid person experiences that he is the center of the reality and everything around him is happening because and for him. But if we think about this we can't say that it's really a delusion. After all, we ARE the center of our reality, for it is our mind only that constructs what we call "reality". And by our current knowledge of the universe we can't call any other point the "center" than our own subjective experience. Experiencing world as such cannot be called a delusion by any means. If we know anything about how our senses receive information it is also true that everything we perceive IS pointed at ourselves. That also cannot be called a delusion.

This is, of course, quite basic knowledge. What is the root of paranoia is the way how the person merges a continuum of meanings to his observation. He views the world as an act whose whole purpose is to make him understand some hidden truth, so he actually interprets the whole reality like it were a work of art. This, of course, cannot be called delusion too.

What we can say now is that the pattern he is observing is his own unconscious. He is actually becoming aware of how he projects his own mind into whatever he observes and how it all changes and manipulates him. His life has become a great story and he is the main charecter, but he are unaware of that by himself and that frightens him, for all fear has roots in the unknown. He tries to escape this truth, his own subconscious, because of his low self-esteem and projects his lack of trust in himself to his observations, being sure that THEY are hiding the fact from him, the key to live his own life as he wills, while actually he IS living as he really wants, as the ultimate center of attention and the savior who is seeing the truth. And who has the right to say that this is wrong and delusion?

The real problem is his low self-esteem. He still fears his own unconscious and actually doesn't want to take himself in control, so he tries to prove that he is still controlled by society and everything that has been manipulating him unconsciously, while actually the freedom is in front of him. He fails to see that human culture isn't constructed consciously and that we are all part of it and it is part of us. And while he looks for more proof he finds how complicated our culture is and how subtle ways we gather information and ways of thinking. And he thinks that it is all organized consciously to control him.

While the truth is that it's a collective construction and he is part of it, or even IT, becoming self-conscious by dissolving the unconscious.

Greetings citizen!

It is the future, and you are a proud citizen of Alpha Complex, a domed utopian society run by a benevolent Computer.

All is foreseen. All is right and just. All is good and pure. All because of The Computer.

The Computer is Your Friend!

You are a Troubleshooter in service to The Computer. The Computer rewarded you for turning in a friend who was guilty of treason. He was executed for this treason, and you were promoted from the anonymous ranks of the Infrared to Red security clearance and made The Computer’s trusted agent.

See what love and trust The Computer has for you! The Computer is Your Friend!

As a Troubleshooter, you and a team of fellow Troubleshooters scour the Complex, searching out treason in all its many forms, seeking out those who would destroy Alpha Complex and all that it stands for. The Computer and higher ranking citizens will all do their best to assist you in this, the most important of all goals.

Foremost among these traitors are the members of an ancient society, a gathering of unspeakable evil and incredible malice whose sole driving purpose is the destruction of all that is decent.

They are known only by the accursed name "Commies..."

Paranoia is a roleplaying game, formerly produced by West End Games, Inc., and now out of print. It is one of the great roleplaying games, and to this day there is really nothing else like it. Players assume the role of Troubleshooters, agents of The Computer devoted to the eradication of all traitorous activity. However, despite the official line, The Computer is actually a few transistors short of an integrated circuit, and sees traitors everywhere. Ancient archives dating back to the Civil Defense days tell of the horrible Communist threat, and when the end of civilization did happen to come about through unrelated means, The Computer, in the absence of real information, assumed the Red Menace was at the gates and sealed off the doors. That was hundreds of years ago.

Now, Troubleshooter PCs are sent off on hideously lethal missions searching for traitors. Means of treason are many, but the two primary causes are being a member of a secret society (groups which are not sponsored by The Computer and may be plotting against it) and possessing a mutant power (and thus being genetically imperfect, without place in utopia, and additionally dangerous to the safety of citizens and The Computer). The catch is that, in actuality, all the PCs are members of secret societies, and all the PCs have mutant powers. So right off the bat, everyone is a traitor. However, while the players themselves may know of the treason of their friends, their characters do not, but will probably be ever alert for any signs. And when they become known... Zap!

Missions are usually deathtraps, sometimes unsolvable, but The Computer is supposedly infallible. To suggest that it would assign a mission which is not completely safe and even fun would mean questioning The Computer, which is itself treasonous. In fact, failure to be happy is treasonous, the penalty for which often requiring the dispensation and forced ingestion of quite wonderful little pills. Because all missions are supposedly safe and easy, any failure must mean treason. Revealing the possession of knowledge outside your security clearance is treason. Possessing the skill "Communist Propaganda" is treason, even though you don’t always have a choice in acquiring it. Sometimes even breathing is treason. And the only sure-fire way of proving oneself not a traitor is finding other traitors and executing them. This is what the other players are for. And if no proof can be found, well, then maybe some can be forged.

Does this sound like an experience completely unlike almost any other roleplaying game you’ve ever seen? Most games are cooperative affairs, but Paranoia is a competition. Players get six lives, or "clones," so death does not mean you’re out of the game. Because the missions are sometimes impossible, and at the very least very, very difficult, it helps to have scapegoats on hand when it fails, and scapegoats who happen to be dead cannot defend themselves. But if a bystander happens to see you just blast the head off your comrade (oops, poor choice of words) then they may assume you are a traitor yourself. So, it is best to kill obvious traitors, and do away with the other team members by more devious means. Of course, I would be remiss if I neglected to remind you that the other players are doing the same thing.

If this sounds like the most wonderful game, well, it is. The writing is incredible and hilarious for both players and GM. The atmosphere in a well-run game should be that of cheerful doom, as no character lasts forever, and many fail to survive a single adventure (or the mission briefing!), even with six lives, but characters are easy to roll up and, besides motivations supplied by service group, secret society, and of course the Big ‘C’, tend to be merely shells for the player’s own personality. Not the game to play when you’re looking for a long-term campaign, but great for an occasional evenings’ worth of fun. And if you do decide to look for this game, keep on the lookout for "The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues," written by John M. Ford, possibly the best-written RPG adventure of all time, and certainly the deadliest.

Final note: The first edition of Paranoia was great, and lists five or six people are creators, including the creator of Toon, personal hero and Nethack booster Greg Costikyan. It had a lot of extra information on Alpha Complex that is included in no other books. Its supplement, Acute Paranoia, wasn’t as great, but still great, and had several nifty adventures. The second edition of Paranoia was almost as great as the first, because, despite the absence of some important background information, it featured a greatly simplified and streamlined game system, and a really boffo starter adventure, "Into The Outdoors With Gun And Camera." Most of the early Paranoia stuff is just pure gold, and some pieces are even collectors’ items. However, somewhere along the line the game lost its focus (I believe because the creators left or were forced out of the project for various reasons). As it stands, the later second edition stuff (many, but not all, of the things that mention anything about "The Secret Society Wars" on the cover) isn’t as good. Under no circumstances purchase anything from the discount box at your local gaming store marked "Post Mega-Whoops" or "Reboot Alpha." These are travesties of the original design. And the so-calledParanoia Fifth Edition (there is no third or fourth) is horrid. That bears repeating: horrid. It appears to be the work of only one man, a Mr. Ed Stark, who oddly enough went on to hold a prominent position in the credits to D&D 3rd Edition (which I actually like). If you buy anything marked "Paranoia 'Fifth' Edition" and then /msg me saying "This ain’t so great" I will have choice other than to laugh in your face and pelt you with Jell-O desserts. So there.

New News Flash!

December 9, 2019 - The Internet

Rejoice! Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is a full 3D tactical squad RPG available now on PC, coming to consoles in 2020! Oh happy day!

News Flash!

February 19, 2004 - New York, NY - For Immediate Release

The Computer says that failure to feature this announcement prominently is treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Thank you for your cooperation.

Mongoose Publishing of Swindon, Wilts., UK ( announced today agreement with the creators of the fondly remembered tabletop roleplaying game Paranoia, to develop and publish a new edition of the game, Paranoia XP. The new version will be written and produced by legendary game designers Allen Varney and Aaron Allston, with participation by Paranoia's original co-designer Greg Costikyan.

Ahhh...Paranoia. I'm so happy.

I'm sorry, but that is incorrect. 2 + 2 = 5.1412444413697. Please recalibrate all your equipment accordingly.

The Computer

To add to Milens excellent description of what may be the best Role-Playing Game ever produced...Paranoia! suffered from one key weakness which (in retrospect) I'm not sure could ever have been engineered out of the game without ruining it. Namely, more than any other RPG, Paranoia! required a GM who approached superhuman in his or her abilities. For a Paranoia! game to really come close to the sheer insanity, comedy and general mayhem that could be had, the GM needed to be a combination of Monty Python, Cecil B. DeMille, Alfred Hitchcock, Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover, wrapped up in one. For best results, you would need to add a dash of Monty Hall as well as generous spicings of the Marquis de Sade and the emcee of the Gong Show as well. Properly done, Paranoia! should evoke the strong feeling that one has fallen through a rift into a version of the City from Logan's Run, albeit one that has apparently been repopulated with the cast of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the crew of the Red Dwarf.

Congratulations, Citizen! You have been promoted to the status of Troubleshooter! The Computer is your friend. You will help your friend the Computer. You will be given a laser; as a Troubleshooter, you will be expected to find Trouble and shoot it.

One of the reason John M. Ford's Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues was (and remains) so popular is that Ford, a certifiable nut, went out of his way to seed the module with preformed bits of loony which could be presented almost verbatim by the GM and would add perfectly to the particular character of a Paranoia! game. Examples included a "pre-mission briefing" which required all party members to utilize a hand scanner for entry to the room. However, after the second member used it, the machine would malfunction, refusing to release the party member's hand. Luckily, there was a large red button labelled "IN CASE OF EMERGENCY" just above the hand-scanner; a good GM would ensure that eventually the most suspicious and devious players would push the thing out of desperation. Immediately, a repair crew would materialize, to the players' collective relief. However, after a few minutes of confusion, they would remove the module from the wall and hand it to the unfortunate who was still stuck in its' grasp, and issue him or her a receipt for it and warn him/her that it wasn't to be damaged, and then vanish.

That player was then forced to play that segment of the mission with the scanner locked to his or her hand, whch of course was his or her 'primary' hand, with all accuracy and strength penalties that would accrue.

The best part would be when the party returned to the briefing room later in the adventure. The scanner would be there, reinstalled into the wall, still requiring everyone to use it in order to enter; however, instead of the red button, a case would be visible which read "IN CASE OF EMERGENCY BREAK GLASS." It would contain a hatchet.

I was fortunate enough, when I was playing this game, to be playing with a friend who was just the proper type of certifiable loony. He spent a week preparing to GM us on YCBBB, and reaching this point in the adventure, we found out why - he had been wandering around the table as he described our unfortunate player's hand getting stuck, and as he told us about Repair removing the unit, he reached around from behind the player and handcuffed a large broken external Apple II hard drive to the player's wrist. He then professed complete ignorance as to the location of the key to said handcuffs until the unit was removed from the character's wrist later in the game. The player spent five hours - including lunch break - with this thing locked to his wrist. When it was unlocked, the GM made sure (a couple of hours later) to ask for it back - and to ask for the receipt.

When we all 'entered' the briefing room, the Computer hit our characters with a 'bright interrogation light' - prompting our GM to withdraw a hidden Police spotlight he'd plugged in and secreted under the table. He GM'ed the remainder of the briefing room scene while pointing a 150,000 Cd handheld spotlight at us from a range of perhaps five feet.

My character was designated the Tool Guy. I was given a toolbox, as well as a password to open the toolbox to prevent the Commies from stealing my tools. The GM passed me a slip of paper with the 'password', which consisted of a humorously garbled paragraph of Shakespeare. I laughed and handed it back. Later in the adventure, I found the need for my tools, and told him that "I open the toolbox."

"What's the password?"

"The phrase you gave me."

"What phrase?

"Oh, you bastard."

"Sorry, that's not it. The toolbox doesn't open."

And this was just the beginning.

Paranoia! was, when played properly, capable of producing more belly laughs than a Red Dwarf marathon and destroying more friendships (at least, temporarily) than an entire series of Temptation Island. It was one of the most enjoyable bits of the RPG genre I've ever experienced. If you are going to play this game, I strongly, STRONGLY encourage you to find the craziest, most twisted-humor member of your group, lock them in the basement for a week and feed them only asparagus and LSD and then have them GM the game.

One of the best methods of producing the proper atmosphere is the copious use of note-passing. In order to properly play Paranoia!, your character will at times be forced to do things that you will wish to keep secret from the other players at the table. It's quite difficult to do this without metagaming, or giving the other players information that their characters wouldn't have. Our solutions to this problem were manifold; we declared that the GM would remain 'in character' the entire weekend, so accosting him in the john and whispering instructions was legal, as was sneaking up to him while all others were sleeping. This worked wonders at generating the requisite suspicion of other players and general hilarity as we all maneuvered to backstab each other (the Commie Mutant traitors). However, the most effective means we used was to allow any communication with the GM, at any time, to be carried out by passing private notes between a player and the GM. We actively encouraged random use of this system, which (while it slowed down play sometimes) meant that players wouldn't be able to guess when another player was undertaking dastardly deeds - the note that had just been passed might say something as innocuous as "I put on my armor." The GM would always be sure to tell the other players in the party what had happened, if it was public knowledge, and to try to do so in a manner not obviously related to the note. In this example, he would sometimes wait a couple of minutes and then note that the player in question had successfully put on his or her armor, and leave it up to the players to figure out that the player in question had used a note to take this action. Naturally, only one in perhaps ten notes was an actual 'secret action' - but it meant you could perform one nonchalantly without giving away the fact that your character was about to do something underhanded or on the DL.

This tactic, of course, means that your poor GM will eventually start to drown under a sea of scribbled notes and the need to scribble things back. In cases such as this, the game designers recommended 'judicious use of gruesome player death, unencumbered by bothersome rules or, indeed, even probable cause' to regain some breathing space.

If you have strong friendships and a good grip on the notion of low comedy, then this game may be for you.

Because I'm the Computer, that's why.

The Computer

Some Random Notes on Game Mechanics
as requested by N-Wing

One of the first things you'll notice playing Paranoia! is the prevalence of references to the color spectrum. That's because this is an ingenious and handy hack by the writers which serves as a shorthand 'classification system' whenever one is needed. And believe me, it's needed often. Why? Because there are so many cases, even more than most RPGs, where objects or information must be compared against other objects or restrictions to see if they pass. Usually, you see, this is done solely by the GM, and the comparison is done with the help of stochastic props like dice (see saving throw). In Paranoia!, however, the players themselves are constantly in need of the ability to look at an object or player stat in-game and compare it (without putting it to a destructive test) with other values in their heads - usually as preparation from some dastardly maneuver or other.

So the spectrum is used. This applied to all manner of things. Some of the most fun? Security clearances, laser barrels, armor, secret information, access cards. A simple example: if you're trying to access a Blue-access area, the door will reject your Yellow Clearance ID card (Blue being higher in the spectrum - remember ROYGBIV? Same ladder, with Infrared at the bottom and Ultraviolet at the top). More fun example: You are walking down a corridor with three of your fellow Troubleshooters. All of you are wearing Yellow-grade laser armor. Due to clever ploys on your part, you have managed to fall behind the other three, right behind Troubleshooter Noyd, who has become a serious liability. Stealthily, you pull out the laser pistol you picked up when nobody was looking, and pass the GM a note - one of many. The note reads simply "I SHOOT NOYD IN THE BACK WITH THE GREEN LASER PISTOL."

The GM waits a few moments, and then informs the party that a horrible smell and sizzling erupts. When everyone (including you!) spins around to see what's going on, Troubleshooter Noyd is a crisp'n'quake on the floor. Everyone looks at everyone else in suspicion. You innocently show the others your Computer-issued laser pistol, which not only has a full charge, but has an Orange laser barrel. Obligingly, you shoot it at the wall, and an Orange beam scores a trench there. Since an Orange laser beam cannot effect Yellow armor, you're in the clear! Now to ditch that Green laser as soon as you can do so quietly...or maybe hold on to it in case another opportunity presents itself...*

Again, welcome to Paranoia!

* Yes, I've done this. Yes, it worked. :-)

Trust left in fragments
Everyone becomes suspect
Vengeful shadows lurk

Par`a*noi"a (par`a*noi"a), n. [NL., fr. Gr. para`noia.] (Med.)

Mental derangement; insanity.


© Webster 1913

Par`a*noi"a (?), n. (Med.)

A chronic form of insanity characterized by very gradual impairment of the intellect, systematized delusion, and usually by delusious of persecution or mandatory delusions producing homicidal tendency. In its mild form paranoia may consist in the well-marked crotchetiness exhibited in persons commonly called "cranks." Paranoiacs usually show evidences of bodily and nervous degeneration, and many have hallucinations, esp. of sight and hearing.


© Webster 1913

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