Bureaucalypse

Bureaucalypse

by Loris Gianadda. License : cc-by-nc-sa

Current status: v1.1 Y214 of the Computer.

0.The Computer is your Friend.

This is a first draft to adapt Parano?a to the rules of Apocalypse World. The intent is to stick to AW to a maximum, discreetly filing the serial numbers to allow players to endorse the roles of Troubleshooters in a decaying Alpha Complex. The MC must be familiar with both Apocalypse World (AW) & Paranoia (P:T) RPGs, as the rules of the first and the context of the second won't be described here. If one of them is not familiar, my advice is for you to get the rulebook of Apocalypse World by V. Baker and/or Parano?a:Troubleshooters by Mongoose Publishing/Alan Varney/Gareth Hanrahan & C° - a summary exists under the name The Little RED Book, I recommend it.

Comments are most welcome.

I.Directions for this hack

Here are the assumptions I took when first trying to bend Parano?a into Apocalypse World rules

1.1 The Apocalypse is Bureaucratic

1.2 Loyalty is the new Hx. The characters have a confidence rating with each other called "Loyalty" (you can note that Lx). All PC also have a rating with their Friend the Computer, which allows for gratifications and reprimands (Clearances and Terminations)

1.3 The Mandatory Fun Bonus Duties define the new roles. So your characters will all be troubleshooters, the playbooks being "Leader", "Loyalty Officers", etc.

1.4 The MC is now the UV as in ULTRAVIOLET citizen.

1.5 Fun is mandatory. For those familiar with Paranoia XP/Paranoia:Troubleshooters, this hack aims to allow a Straight-style of play. The Alpha Complex is efficient. The Computer is mostly functional. The fun comes from the dark cynical humor, in a Brazil-Kafka style.

Note that I think that there is much much more to do in adapting an AW version of the Paranoia universe. This concentrates on troubleshooters.

II.The Principles

Nothing different from AW, except that the wording implies a significantly different atmosphere:

2.1 Instill Fear & Ignorance in the hearts of lower clearance citizens: CCTV everywhere, checkpoints, information denied or not available at this clearance level, forms, forms to retrieve forms, forms to validate forms to retrieve forms. IntSec, GREEN Goons, spies, traitors, mutants, communists and the Computer...

2.2 Talk to the citizens, not players: they got a name, a sector, a mission. Brief them. Debrief them. Make them confess. The Computer is their Friend and worries about them.

2.3 The Computer is the friend of the citizens: the Computer cares. The Computer is a demented program conceived to help his citizens, support the Alpha Complex and restlessly find & terminate traitors and communists.

2.4 Look for traitors: every human, every bot, is a potential traitor to the Alpha Complex. The menace needs to be rooted out.

2.5 Provide all citizens with a name and an alibi: even if Alpha Complex INFRARED corridors are full of the faceless plebs, all others have a name, a job, a sector of provenance, a specialty, a reason for the characters to doubt their loyalty or the loyalty of the characters and a good alibi. Even the lowly scrubbot has a brain and a name.

2.6 Interrogate them and build your case over their answers: ask them a lot of questions. Not to trap them, but ask them how they contact their secret society, what their mutation looks like when activated, if they liked Teela O’Malley 113th season last night episode, etc. Make them help you.

2.7 Keep the alpha complex under surveillance: the Alpha Complex is a giant living entity. Statistics show that there is a new treasonous act every 0.57s.

2.8 Delegate authority to loyal citizens: the UV citizens can’t take all decisions. The Computer is the same. So they delegate. But only to the most Loyal citizen. Do let characters take decisions, but do take their Loyalty into account.

2.9 IntSec regulations recommend not to communicate your moves to perps: the Computer only tells the character what they need to know. And from this, only what is available at their Security Clearance. Your Moves aren’t.

2.10 The Computer taketh away. Sometimes he giveth: you have to love the characters, and if the Alpha Complex is a place full of perversity, the Computer can be generous from time to time.

III.UV Moves

They are similar to the ones of AW.

Separate the team, Capture one of them, etc. are the same. Take away their stuff, for instance might become "have their r&d experimental stuff go boink" or "have their stuff requisitioned by higher clearance citizens"...

A few new ones:

3.1 Put them in The Small Black Room: the lights are out. Cameras are down. They're alone. No one can see what will happen next during this brief moment of intimacy. (Once per mission)

3.2 Debrief them: ask them, together or separately, to explain what they did, what they're about to do and why. At any time. For anything.

3.3 Brainscrub / Demote one: some higher clearance citizen comes and takes the troubleshooter for brainscrub. Brainscrub pills on beta test. Brainscrub/shoeshine bot. Etc.

3.4 Terminate one: or “Enter the Clone” move. The new clone arrives. There can be a lot of fun ways to do that. You might appreciate the partial recent memory variant.

3.5 Question their loyalty to the Computer: a higher clearance citizen, the Computer, a lower clearance citizen questions their loyalty in public. That might end in loyalty tests.

3.6 Question their loyalty to their Secret Society: more specific move, as only a citizen of the same secret society might do that.

IV.Basic Moves

All basic moves are the same. Except the one about the maelstrom (see Activate a mutation below) and the seduction one (see Bootlicking)

4.1 Characteristics: Hot becomes Mgt (for management). This is due to hormone suppressants everywhere in the food. Use is globally the same. You might want to go with "wetware" but this is less bureaucratic 😉

4.2 Lick the essential boots: when you want to have someone go your way, brownnose him until he complies. Roll+Mgt. On a 10+ you obtain what you were doing that for (good, favor, whatever). On 7-9, you obtain a flawed/experimental/highly traitorous version of it, or you get it with a high price tag. On a miss, this blatant show of traitorous active corruption cannot go unpunished. Lose a Lx level with Friend Computer and face the consequences.

4.3 Mutations: when you want to make your mutation work, roll+weird. On a 10+, your mutation functions a? expected. On a 7-9, your mutation works but choose one below. On a miss, it does not work and the UV citizen chooses one below.

- you have been seen (camera, teammate, GREEN goon,...). Expect a Lx to change...

- weird side effects (you get ill, the power affects too much or too little, etc.)

4.4 Denounce a traitor: Congratulations, citizen! Roll+sharp. On a 10+, the citizen has to confess in front of everybody and you get +1 Lx with the Computer. On a 7-9 he has to Confess and you lose 1 Lx with both the citizen and your Friend, the Computer...

4.5 Confess: (if you feel something you did will come back to haunt you) In the confession booth, roll+Lx with the Computer. On a 10+, you may redirect the blow on a teammate or avoid it entirely. On a 7-9, you merely avoid the blow but lose a Lx level with Friend Computer. On a miss, the UV citizen opens a threat level alert at High with your name on it.

4.6 Maintain a high level of Hygiene: when you want to pass for having a sufficient level of cleanliness in a hurry. Roll+sharp. On a 10+, you're clean enough, no problem. On 7-9, you have a loyal enough personal hygiene but you have to use or drop something useful. On another result, your dirtiness is a traitorous shame. Your loyalty can be questioned by the Computer (and the UV citizen opens a Threat level) or blackmailed by an aware teammate (this teammate gets +1 to his Lx with you).

4.7 Show yourself as the loyal citizen you are: when you’re required to take a loyalty test, Roll + Lx with Friend Computer. On a 10+ you’re unquestionably loyal and might even get promoted, proceed to sing a nice old loyalty song. On 7-9, your loyalty isn’t that clearly established. The UV citizen will want to open a Green Threat Alert Level about you. Lose 1Lx with Friend Computer. On another result, you're clearly disloyal if not utterly traitorous. The UV citizen is opening a Threat Alert Level at Yellow Alert Level. Also, lose 1Lx.

V. On Loyalty, secret societies, clearances, registering mutations & treason

5.1 Threat level alerts

Replace the “Counter” with the Advisory system. Same thing, different look. Low is 0:00 to 6:00. Guarded is 6:00 to 9:00. Elevated is 9:00 to 10:00, then High for 10:00 to 11:00 and Severe at 11:00 to 12:00. This allows you to speak of yellow/orange/red/black alert (black being after 12:00). It fits better. Be sure that characters are aware that a red alert is a worse thing than an orange one while a RED clearance is lower than an ORANGE clearance.

Speaking of clearances here is the list: IR-R-O-Y-G-B-I-V-UV

INFRARED (black), RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, INDIGO, VIOLET, ULTRAVIOLET (white).

5.2 Loyalty

In Apocalypse World, you have an Hx with other characters. In the Alpha Complex, you remain Loyal to each other. and your Friend, the Computer. And your Secret Society (but then you’re a traitor). Loyalty, here is not how you feel loyal to anyone. Of course not. It is an estimation of how much others think you’re Loyal to them. Or how much you think they are Loyal to you. Or how much blackmail material, finally, you have amassed on them.

The Computer keeps perfectly maintained records of the Loyalty citizens demonstrate to Him. It’s the basis on which He promotes or demotes citizens to higher or lower security clearances. So, to be perfectly objective in his way, He had the Internal Security develop a grid of criteria, perfectly designed, to rate the citizens Loyalty. In a similar way, all secret societies have records of how citizens are loyal to them.

When a citizen denounces another one, there will be a Loyalty check and the results can go from promotion to another clearance to termination. Or worse.

So, a troubleshooter begins with a Lx with all other characters. The UV citizen keeps the track (or delegates it) of the Lx the Computer and character’s secret societies have with the character.

The Lx between characters is exactly the same as in Apocalypse World (experience, etc). Also, you can use Lx to get helped. To tell it exactly, either you hope they’re Loyal enough to help you or you have enough blackmail stuff to have them help you. To-MAH-to, To-MAY-to. However, the Lx with The Computer works in a slightly different way. When the character hits Lx+4 with the Computer, he gets promoted to the nearest higher security clearance and returns to Lx+1 as the Computer will check more thoroughly a higher clearance citizen acts than he does with the plebs.

If the character loses Lx with the Computer, a new world of pain and medication drugs opens to him. Because the Computer is his friend and you wouldn’t let a friend break bad, would you? He cares. When a character loses a level of Lx, he gets a punishment.

The first time, the UV citizen only opens a Threat Level counter. Then he writes off pieces of the counter. Between Low and Guarded, you get fines, reprimands, that kind of thing. Then you get, in that order, Brainscrubbed (Elevated), Demoted one security clearance (High) and Terminated (Severe). After each of those 3, the character returns to Lx+1, showing that the Computer has faith in the way he handles unloyalty. Yup, that’s right: you can’t have negative Lx with the Computer. He is your Friend. And a Friend does not let a friend go unloyal without brainscrubbing him and teaching him a few new loyalty songs.

5.3 Secret Societies

Whatever society you're in, you can call in for a favor. Roll+Lx. On a 10+, you obtain what you want. On a 7-9, you get it but choose 2 below. On a miss, you don't get anything, lose 1 Lx with the Society and the UV citizen choses 1 below.

- lose 1 Lx with the society or the Computer

- you owe a favor

- the IntSec has heard you might be a member (filmed, recorded, whatever)

- you've been selected as a test subject for a R&D item (or something similar)

5.4 Mutations & registration

Use the Classic list of mutations. Or whatever. Be careful with the Machine Empathy mutation 😉

5.4.1 Registration : if you register, you can’t have Loyalty problems when you go wrong with your mutation. Being seen can still happen and you still might not want that, and the weird side effects are still a problem. In exchange, the UV citizen increases one threat level upper each time a threat alert level is opened about your character. No one trusts muties.

5.5 About committing Treason

You should Not.

Thank you for your cooperation.

VI. The Mission

6.1 The first game: The cool thing is that the 1st game sheet of AW already as “fear” & “ignorance” on it. You only need to change one. Drought becomes Bureaucracy. Yay!

6.2 Each “front” is now a Mission. Same as the AW front, you choose threats that will form the core of your Mission. Then you should begin with a briefing and the small black room as as soon as you’re finished with the Mission design.

6.3 Threats: they come in three flavors (list is not, I think, exhaustive)

6.3.1 ENEMIES OF THE COMPLEX

6.3.1.1 Traitors (impulse: to overthrow the Computer and gain power over all)

6.3.1.2 Mutant (impulse: to overthrow the Computer and become the new norm)

6.3.1.3 Communists (impulse: to overthrow the Computer and return power to the plebs)

6.3.1.4 Outsiders (impulse: to overthrow the Computer and steal everything in the Complex Alpha)

MC moves: Traitors use the Deviant moves. Communists and Outsiders use the Warlord moves. Mutants use the Grotesque moves.

6.3.2 BUREAUCRACY

6.3.2.1 Sheer incompetence (impulse: to do the less possible and even less than that)

6.3.2.2 Power struggle (impulse: to gain more power over the Alpha Complex)

6.3.2.3 Stifling administration (impulse: to document everything and ensure that even the form’s font respects Alpha Complex standards)

6.3.2.4 Corruption (impulse: to obtain as many credits as possible before having to do something)

MC moves: use the Afflictions moves.

6.3.3 COMPLEX ALPHA

6.3.3.1 Maze (impulse: to lose people in corridors)

6.3.3.2 Underplex (impulse: to decay and undermine the beautiful Alpha Complex)

6.3.3.3 Surveillance (impulse: to always keep an eye on what citizens do bad)

6.3.3.4 Poor maintenance of dangerous technology (impulse: to maim unaware citizens)

MC moves: use the Landscape moves.

VII.Playbooks (or "special moves)

Maybe the team always has a Leader. Maybe the team always has a Loyalty Officer. Maybe not. Have faith in the wise choice of your Friend, the Computer. All characters begin with a PDA,  1-armor reflec against lasers and a 6-shot cannon of same clearance.

Laser : -colourcoded (cannon)

Reflec armor: -colourcoded

The tag colourcoded means it only affects same clearance color or lower.

7.1  Team Leader

Bully the others into doing something: and you thought that you’d do this with Mgt ? Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Roll+Hard On 10+ he does exactly what you asked for. He might put himself in danger and in doing so might do something under fire. On a 7-9, you have to provide your part of the deal before he does anything. He gets Lx+1 if he does what you asked for. On a miss, well... No one likes a bully anyway, right?

7.2 Hygiene Officer

Request an emergency full-body hygiene clean-up: Roll+Cool. On a 10+, the citizen interrupts whatever he’s doing and begins a full body clean-up, and by full, we mean it. Scrub those toenails for the glory of the Computer, citizen! On a 7-9, the citizen has to clean whatever you designate (yes, it can be his weapon) before proceeding but you have to help. On a miss, you might have stained yourself. Somewhere. Yuck. Clean this up and I’ll pretend not to have seen anything, right?

7.3 Loyalty Officer

Audit the loyalty of a citizen: Roll+Lx with that teammate. On a 10+, you’ve got sufficient blackmail information to make him do something for you. On a 7-9, it is the same but you choose between “he also has something on you” or “you have to destroy/hand him the proof before he does it”. On a miss, it seems you have questioned the wrong loyalty, citizen. Wrong accusations are possible treasons. Deal with the Computer about that one.

7.4 Bots/Weapons/Vehicles/ Sundry Equipment Repair and Maintenance Officer (Equipment Guy)

Repair/Damage the Glorious Property of the Computer, Your Friend: Roll+Sharp. On a 10+, you’ve quiclky hacked something to do the job. On a 7-9, it works but there might be malfunctions. Or it can be seen you’ve damaged Computer property and it’s Bad. On a miss, the thing goes boink! It malfunctions and your loyalty might be questioned.

7.5 Communications & Recording Officer

I can bear witness and provide sufficient incontrovertible proof that...: You might have proof of something anyone has said. Roll+Sharp. On a 10+ you can provide incontrovertible proof of treason/loyalty. The target (whether you help the accuser or victim is your choice) has a Loyalty test with the computer. Now. On a 7-9, you have fuzzy indirect proof to submit but you somehow happen to also incriminate yourself. On a miss, you seem to have misplaced your recording/proof, that is either an admittance of your own incompetence, a deliberate treasonous action or the willingful destroying of Alpha Complex property.

7.6 Happiness Officer

Coerce someone into happiness by the use of several new experimental drugs and loyalty songs: Roll+Mgt. Someone did look unhappy? Or worse... SAD? *shiver* Can’t be! Not in the perfect Computer world. On a 10+, the poor sod has to show how much he’s happy and loves his friend Computer in a drug-induced joyful haze. He does not feel anything, not even wounds. Except death. But he sings and dances like no one. On a 7-9, he chooses two :

- he limits the drugs he ingerates and their effect (he feels wound of ELEVATED level or worse)

- he smiles instead of singing/dancing

- he’s out on a drug-induced happiness haze for the day

On a miss, some traitor has mislabeled your pills and the poor sod is doing something under fire while trying not to have his eyes pop free from his head.

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