Paranoia XP Announced

Cult Roleplaying Game to Be Revitalized for the Digital Millennium
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.

The developers will conduct their discussions about the game on a blog hosted at, and those interested in the game are invited to comment and participate in the process.

Paranoia, originally published in 1984, has sold more than 200,000 copies worldwide, and retains a fanatical following despite having been out of print for almost a decade. Designed by Dan Gelber, Greg Costikyan, and Eric Goldberg, it and its supplementary products have garnered numerous industry awards, including several Origins Awards and the Gamer’s Choice Award. It is known not only for its hilarious, dark vision of a future world controlled by an insane Computer, but also for its ability to attract world-renowned authors to contribute to its supplements and ancillary material–people such as multiple World Fantasy Award-winning author John M. Ford; Warren Spector, whom PC Gamer magazine names as one of the top 20 creators in digital gaming, and Ken Rolston, co-creator of the best-selling PC game Morrowind.

Paranoia debuted at a time when the Soviet Union was shooting down jet liners and invading Afghanistan, and when many workers feared they would lose their jobs as a result of the spread of desktop computers. With its vision of an Orwellian world, a totalitarian society controlled by an insane Computer that demands instant obedience at laser-point, it struck a worldwide nerve. According to Costikyan, that vision is relevant now more than ever. “Paranoia XP is not an attempt to bring back an old RPG for the nostalgic. Its basic themes – totalitarianism, fear of technology, mistrust, and loathing–are, if anything, more relevant than they were in 1984. Spammers. Identify thieves. Blackhat hackers. The RIAA. Weapons of mass destruction. Totally dysfunctional government. Just as it did lo these many years ago, so shall the new Paranoia encapsulate and make funny the terrors we live with every day… or remind us to be afraid of things that we currently think are merely funny.”

Alex Fennell, Mongoose’s director, set down his Red Bull and Coke long enough to say, “We’re bloody delighted to be publishing Paranoia XP. Yanks don’t come any funnier than these blokes.”

Allen Varney, who contributed to many early Paranoia supplements, looks forward to revisiting the game’s futuristic underground city, Alpha Complex. “For years society has been inventing new material for Paranoia. I’ll have a great time transcribing it. I hope players will like our newly redecorated setting, and I’ll do my best to make them feel at home. Alpha Complex is not a place but a state of mind. Oh, and ginger ale for me, please.”

Eric Goldberg who since 1984 has become one of the most respected figures in the online and mobile gaming industries, said, “For those who know the game, Paranoia has settled into the deep hindbrain. Catch phrases like ‘The Computer is Your Friend,’ ‘Commies are Everywhere,’ and ‘Happiness is Mandatory’ come to mind at the most socially awkward moments. Back in the 80s, a concern with the social implications of technology was the purview of a geeky few; today, it’s of fundamental importance to everyone. Games, too, are now a huge part of the vernacular. I believe Paranoia XP will be of considerable interest not merely to the audience of tabletop roleplaying gamers but also to anyone interested in and concerned with the social-technological issues of today-the attempt to control IP, to police the Internet, to suppress dissent. We’re living Paranoia. By the way–what a bunch of wimps. I’ll have the pale ale.”

The text-based online game rights to Paranoia have separately been licensed to Skotos ( Reports that Paranoia XP will also be published in several other languages, and that film, computer, and console versions are may be forthcoming are rumors. Rumors are treason. Treason is punishable by summary execution. Have a nice day!

Mongoose Publishing is one of the leaders in the RPG market, producing games such as Babylon 5, Conan, and Judge Dredd for roleplayers all over the world. Its publications are available in all good hobby and book stores.

Greg Costikyan ( and Eric Goldberg have collaborated on various games since they first met at Simulations Publications, Inc. in the 1970s, including on the first online game to attract more than a million players.

Greg has designed more than 30 commercially published board, roleplaying, computer, online, and mobile game, has won numerous industry awards, and has been inducted into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame for a lifetime of accomplishment in the field. He writes about games, game design, and game industry business issues for publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Interactive, Salon, Game Developer magazine, and his blog (, which is one of the most widely-read blogs dealing with games. He is also the author of four science fiction novels.

Allen Varney ( has published three boardgames, over two dozen roleplaying supplements (including several for Paranoia), seven books, and 250+ articles, stories, and reviews, including regular columns in four national gaming magazines. Varney recently designed and ran the UT Executive Challenge, a three-day business ethics simulation for 100 second-year MBA students at the University of Texas McCombs Business School. He is now developing a Web-based “business simulator” with the e-learning company Enspire Learning (

Aaron Allston ( is the author of a dozen science fiction and fantasy novels and the award-winning designer of more than forty tabletop role-playing games and game supplements. He has recently written a script for a feature-length horror movie intended to carry his trademark humor into the realm of ultra-low-budget filmmaking.

Unlike most other pencil-n-paper RPGers, my first gaming experiences wasn’t with D&D, but with a couple of sessions of Paranoia and Call of Cthulhu.

Needless to say, I never fit in with the “normal” pnp-rpg crowd after that.

What PC games has Costikyan actually worked on before? I’ve read him holding forth grandly about PC game design in forums but never encountered a project of his outside the classic PNP RPGs. Kinda struck me as an old school designer trying desperately to look current. Paranoia was a fine game, mind you, and one of the few I GMed but if they lean too hard into scripted humor I’d rather just read the book than play the ‘game’.

I get the impression that this is a new edition of the PnP game, not a computer game.

Oh, well, nevermind. Game’s name threw me as well as the choice of forums.

Yeah, pretty much everything on the blog points to it being tabletop.

“Networking. Spammers. Scammers. Blackhat hackers. Weapons of mass destruction. Totally dysfunctional government. Paranoia XP is not an excercise in nostalgia. Paranoia XP is today. Paranoia XP is what we’re living through–writ large, and excessively, and humorously.”

If I actually had a group to RPG with, this would be top of the play list when it comes out. Instead, I’ll purchase it anyway, just for the read.

‘Games’, you mean?

Anyway, hope they don’t screw this one up. Babylon 5 wasn’t all that good, but it wasn’t all the writers’ fault.

Greg’s name is somewhat familiar, I don’t know the guy, but for some reason I want to intently hate him. Not sure why. I want to say “helped drive someone or some company into the ground” but that’s totally unsubstantiated.

According to his “Ludography” he’s done some professional development (that is, polishing up game designs) on a couple of familiar boardgam titles: Air War, Drive on Stalingrad, Air Cav and Imperium Romanum II.

Aside from Paranoia, he also apparently designed or co-designed the Star Trek: Adventure Game (I think that’s the RPG), the original Star Wars RPG (which was not bad), MadMaze (“first online game to have one million players”), the computer game Evolution (which rings a bell), and what looks to me to be a number of these PBM or similar method (like phone button/SMS messaging)-style games.

He’s also involved with the Themis Group, and has written some sci-fi short stories and at least one novel I think.

— Alan


Lesquin, April 3rd, 2019: Bigben is happy to announce that Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory , an adaptation of the cult role-playing game of the ‘80s, is currently being developed by Black Shamrock’s teams, and will therefore join Bigben’s extensive catalogue of games.

Created in 1984 by Greg Costikyan, Dan Gelber, and Eric Goldberg, Paranoia was inspired by the works of Kafka, Orwell, and Huxley. It tackles the idea of a population controlled by technology, a subject which is central to our current day society.
Such was its success that several re-releases were produced, turning the game into a veritable touchstone for role-playing gamers of all ages. And its fame hasn’t diminished any in recent years: recent crowd-funding campaigns have made it possible to successfully release a French re-release of the game called Paranoïa: l’édition post-post-post Moderne .

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory plunges players into an oppressive universe where The Computer, an artificial intelligence, controls and watches over Alpha Complex, a human city where an inhabitant’s social standing is determined by colour-coded security clearances. In this mad universe, the player will learn through off-the-wall dialogues that happiness is mandatory, that anyone can turn out to be a traitor, and asking too many questions is treason against The Computer.

“With Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory, we wanted to bring together video games and role-playing games, two universes that are vastly different yet complement each other perfectly. Players will learn more about the universe while role-players will discover, controller in hand, the playful aspect of the adaptation. We’re thrilled to be able to adapt this unique and crazy universe as a video game!” declares Benoît Clerc, Bigben’s Head of Publishing.

“As fans of Paranoia’s very original, complex, and sardonic universe, we’re proud to be able to contribute to its adaptation alongside Bigben and thus offer a unique experience to lovers of video game and tabletop role-playing games,” proclaims Olivier Masclef, Black Shamrock’s Managing Director.

“Stay alert! Trust no one! Keep your laser handy!’ Those catchphrases announced a game that surprised and delighted tabletop role-players, by gleefully subverting the play style of D&D and other Very Serious Games – and introduced dark humor that married the tone of Monty Python with Quentin Tarantino films and humor aimed at adults to the genre. Now Paranoia is set to upend your RPG expectations in a computer game that’s more fun than you can stand." Says Eric Goldberg, co-designer of Paranoïa.

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is faithful to its pen and paper progenitor. The player, leading a squad of 4 Troubleshooters, is tasked with tracking down traitors. Serving The Computer can be very risky, but it lets the most tenacious Troubleshooters rise quickly through the hierarchy. And since death is waiting for the player just around each corner, they have access to 5 clones which allows them to develop their character in order to accomplish their goals and unmask their enemies.

Yeah, um… I don’t exactly see how they’re going to translate the Dramatic Tactical Combat System to a video game.