[ParanoiaLexicon] [TitleIndex] [WordIndex


Here players post thoughts about and suggestions for a new version of the PARANOIA Lexicon game, which would presumably run after this one is finished. Nothing about a new version of the game has been decided.

Now that we are almost halfway through the game, I think we should start debating what's going right and what could be fixed for the next Paranoia Lexicon. (There WILL be one. Right, Allen?)

First off is the "information overload". I don't know what the average # of players for a Lexicon game is, but I think we can all agree that 20 is a few too many. Too many High Programmers are falling into obscurity. A compromise would be to have 2 Lexicon games running simultaneously, each with 10 players.

Second off are the treason accusations. Unlike most Lexicon games, the "scholars" in Paranoia played an active role in the proceedings, which makes scholarly attacks a bit more... ornery (especially since they're all "the truth"). I spent hours on Saturday retaliating against 3 different attacks on Drake-U-LAH (all by irrational assailants determined to put an end to his hunt for the truth). Maybe it was just a bad turn for me? Who knows...

I'm also seeing the exact opposite of who we expected to be accused. Rather than pinning everything on the absent or low-profile High Programmers, it is the most active & distinctive ones that get embroiled in the proceedings. Who do you think of accusing first: the vague Kill-U-DED or the IntSec-brain-in-a-jar Jan-U-ARY? I don't think it was coincidence that the deluge of accusations hit me after I made an effort to reply to most of the entries and flesh Drake-U-LAH out.

Third are the dual entries. I'm sure you've noticed that some of the articles have High Programmers asking for data from other High Programmers, or bombshells being released in the comments that are as long as the original article themselves. Perhaps we could make an official way of dealing with it; I love the idea of a High Programmer asking another High Programmer for a key piece of the article ("Kill-U-DED, could you get the Mission Specifications of Vulture Squad 287H for me?") and then interpreting it for the last section.

Fourth: mini-entries. Little tidbits that are interesting short reads, but that you really can't make plenty of links from. Such as the form entries, which were interesting but abruptly dropped off. Such useless tidbits are a key part of Paranoia; we should figure out how to include those as well.

Fifth: We should probably review the rules a bit more carefully next time as well. I think of this as a Beta Lexicon for Paranoia. Now that we've got templates and macros and got the problems ironed out, the next one will be much smoother.

Isn't that right, Allen?

-- MikeLemmer 2004-04-18 21:28:30

Well, so far this whole Lexicon game has gone about five times as well as I'd ever hoped, so I'm not deeply troubled by any of these criticisms, however well taken. I almost apologize for inviting so many players, and I sympathize with the information overload problem. But from my viewpoint all the players are tremendously entertaining and the overload is remarkably true to the PARANOIA atmosphere. So I dunno. Next time (if it's not premature to talk about "next time") I need to implement a grouping structure, like subcommittees, where players can just play in their own group or can post in the larger game as they prefer.

I might suggest overwhelmed players try taking a lower profile, but the emergence of Drake-U as a distinctive character has unquestionably improved the game. No wonder everyone wants to pile on him. I want to myself, and I'm not even playing. Still, if this situation bugs you, Mike, I think it's basically self-correcting; you can just fade back into the background for a while, and all the other boys and girls will stop baiting you.

It's starting to look like some sort of WikiTangledWeb page is essential. Players need a clearing house where they can say, "By the way, can I say Drake-U just tried to blow me up?" (Viz. ItemsInQuestion.) That, or the Lexicon game needs a combat system....

-- AllenVarney 2004-04-19 02:06:22

I would hate to implement a combat system. Doesn't fit at all. In fact, looking at Jan's latest entry on the ItemsInQuestion, I would say that it's naturally correcting itself. Just having one scapegoat isn't very exciting. If a system for taking care of such things is necessary, however, I think an active role from The Computer would do it. After all, those accused of too much treason are obviously the target of evil conspiracies, while those accused of no treason are obviously getting favors from someone.

That said, I am amazed by the breadth and creativity of my treason. I must be better than I thought! I have to start countering with my own accusations of treason to draw attention from my subconscious Commie. Rest assured that such things are being planned as we speak.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-04-19 02:50:12

P.S. Any future accusations of treason should be posted on my High Programmer page to ensure that I can respond to your petty whining.

For me, half of the fun here is the accusations of treason :] For example, while I will disagree with all of the other High Programmers, there seems to be something between Omega-U and Jan-U, even though (or perhaps because?) we're both in PLC. I'm personally fascinated by the conflict between our PCs here, and it gives me that much more motivation :]

That said, if there were any "combat system" in here, I think it would be done by FC, and it might well result in said programmers needing new clones ;]

-- MattVenzke

I also realized what High Programmers need: they need Connections. Projects they worked on, conflicts they had in the past, forms they developed, accidents they survived, assassination attempts, and other public knowledge. In the next Lexicon game, you could have High Programmers provide two Connections in their biography and then let new ones be revealed over time. You could also balance it by counting the # of connections. A simple rule set to follow would be:

-- MikeLemmer 2004-04-20 17:33:09

Given that this ULTRAVIOLET game has been a roaring success, I could see running another one some time. But if I run another PARANOIA Lexicon game this summer, as promotion for the upcoming Mongoose edition appearing in August, I'd like to publicize the game's new Straight play style.

I envision a Lexicon game that isn't a single document, but something more like bulletins in an ongoing investigation. Each bulletin comprises a set of posts by a sub-group or committee of players of varying clearances. Each low-clearance player need only keep up with the posts from his own group. Players earn higher clearances by posting actively in other committees -- but only other players at the same clearance level or higher would be expected to respond. You couldn't bait or accuse players of lower clearance in these other groups, and therefore couldn't increase their workload. Thus you can set your activity level at whatever level you prefer.

I believe this approach would scale well, if I can work out a few kinks in the basic idea. It would restrict the info-glut problem solely to the players who enjoy handling it (and doing their part to increase it).

The big problem with this idea so far is that I haven't publicized the Straight play style well enough that I could expect to find a group of players willing and able to give it a shot. I guess I could ask players to watch BRAZIL and EQUILIBRIUM and some of THE PRISONER before joining, and maybe read Kafka or Stanislaw Lem's MEMOIRS FOUND IN A BATHTUB.

-- AllenVarney 2004-04-20 21:27:08

And THX-1138! Yeah, I'll keep harping on that one.
I'm still not sure that I like this version as much as the version where a new entry isn't actually a link until the associated page is made, but that's minor.

Were you thinking of having a predefined format for entries in the next one?

-- KarlLow 2004-04-20 22:20:02

The problem with Straight is that the newbies remember Zap, while the veterans are satisfied with Classic. There's also the very anti-Secret Society atmosphere of the things you referenced. If Alpha Complex is really that effective, how can you justify the existence of even one or two Secret Societies, let alone 20?

What you really need to do is give an example of a Straight mission. How do the SNAFUs differ? What are the differences in PC/NPC interactions? What can you do in a Straight game that you can't in a Classic game? Once we see how a Straight game is supposed to be played (compared to Classic), we might get it. Until then, it still seems like Classic with more rules tossed in.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-04-20 23:18:17

I'm a big booster of what Allen calls Straight Paranoia. And if I understand it right, it has nothing to do with having more rules. It's about tone. Straight Paranoia to me means an Alpha Complex that could actually exist. It's never going to be plausible, mind you, but it's not impossible. It doesn't have names and secret societies that are jokey references to things that don't exist in the Paranoia universe.

It's how I tried to play back in the day, though I couldn't really articulate it then, and it's how I hope to play again. But Straight is harder to do, and I think pretty much impossible in a Lexicon game as opposed to a real tabletop roleplay session. Silliness just has a memetic advantage over straightness; you can always go from straight to silly - just throw in a punny name or a pop culture reference of some kind. You can't easily go back once you've made that step.

Which is not to say that Straight can't be funny (I'm not sure I think the label is exactly right). BRAZIL is hilarious, of course, and so is MEMOIR FOUND IN A BATHTUB, in a terrible way. But it's more work. Playing Straight forces players to confront how awful living in Alpha Complex would really be, and how awful they have to be to thrive in it. And that's where the humor comes in.

-- RobMacDougall 2004-04-22 05:44:30

One sleepless night later, a few more possibilities for the next Lexicon game spring to mind:

1. Change the Letter Groupings: We all saw how quickly the ST entry filled up, so I did some dictionary page counting. S has a WHOPPING 181 pages devoted to it, more than twice the average. The next closest? C with 154 pages. (It surprised me too.) Other than those two, no letters had 100 pages or more devoted to them. I think this letter break-up is more balanced:


2. Have High Programmers track Contacts: I mentioned this before. I believe that High Programmer Biographies need to be treated like articles themselves. They're just built up gradually by the whole motley crew.

3. Keep some Slots Open: Limit the number of phantom links per turn to 80% of the # of contributors. This will keep the # of phantom links from exceeding the # of players as people drop out and let players make up their own entries, even in the full turns.

4. Have an extra Miscellaneous turn.: Want to make an A phantom link? The Miscellaneous turn at the end of the Lexicon would let you. Perfect for taking care of odds & ends. To prevent abuse, each player will be limited to one phantom link in the Miscellaneous turn.

5. Seed the Phantoms Prior to Play: Before the game begins, ask each contributor to make a phantom link of something that (supposedly) played a major part. That way a skeleton is set up before the first turn begins, priming ideas and twisted connections and getting everyone on the same chapter, if not the same page. (Yes, they can even make AB phantoms.)

6. Change the Linking Regulations: Instead of making 1 link to a previous article and 2 links to new phantoms, I would have players make 1 link to a previous article, 1 link to a current phantom, and 1 link to a new phantom. This will keep the connections tighter and more convoluted, and also works well with #3 and #5. (NOTE: When I say phantom, I mean "phantom not in the current turn".)

-- MikeLemmer 2004-04-22 17:41:20

I've been thinking about rules and structure mods, too, mostly because once the Toothpaste Disaster is over, I plan to run some smaller-group games of Lexicon with my Apple cow-orkers. My thoughts have run very much along the same lines as your #1, #5, and #6 items. Last week, I hacked together a perl tool to run through the standard dictionary included with MacOS X and count how many words there were for each letter; S and P are the top two, accounting for 21.1% of all words between them! Your breakout of letters looks pretty good to me. Pre-seeded phantoms are also a good idea, though in my case I was thinking I'd plant (as GM) one phantom in each of the letter groups before the game started, and either pre-define it, or participate as one of the players along the way, defining other phantoms. 'Cause, well, I like to write, as you can probably tell...

-- DanCurtisJohnson 2004-04-22 18:39:09

You got S & P instead? This disjoint is disturbing. Did you just check first letters or all letters?

However, I'm against the pre-seeding of phantoms by the GM. That seems to be herding them along a bit too much. (That might work for other Lexicon games. Just not for Paranoia.) I think that the GM can do enough just by providing the scenario. I like idea primers more than predefined terms. The proper primer can do wonders for twisted thinking. Anyone remember the "Noodle Incident" from Calvin & Hobbes?

I think the best way to test out these ideas is to do a small, quick Lexicon during the break after the Toothpaste Disaster, 6-7 turns tops. It'd give us a chance to test them out without devoting 3+ months.

It's nice to see a fellow Mac user on the boards. One that works at Apple, no less! Now how's development coming on that new 2-button mouse?

-- MikeLemmer 2004-04-22 19:45:49

I definitely checked just first letters-- and checking all letters produces the much more typical dominance of E-- but it's possible that the dictionary in question is skewed in weird ways, since it has something like 234,000 words in it. Twice as many S words as T words. Surprisingly many U words (over 16,000; probably most of them start with "un").

As for a two-button mouse, you'd probably have to talk to someone in Hardware. :-P

-- DanCurtisJohnson 2004-04-22 21:15:15

I like the idea of variable letter groupings. The every-turn mailings to players would become more vital than they currently are, because you'd have to remind players about exactly which letter(s) is/are up this turn.

In a small Lexicon game (<6-8 players) there might be value in two passes through the alphabet. The first pass defines the broad outlines of the topic, and the second lets everyone ornament, filigree, and reinterpret it in Rashomon style.

-- AllenVarney 2004-04-23 05:18:47

BTW Allen, any plans on packaging the Paranoia Lexicon Template for fan games? I would like to have one of my own, just for testing purposes.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-04-23 19:32:37

That idea occurred to me. The coders here have put in so much good work on the macros and templates, and all the players have developed such a useful infrastructure, it seems the sensible thing to do is package it as an add-on for the Wiki program. This is only, what, the third or fourth Lexicon game ever? I'd hate to think of later games having to reinvent all this stuff.

Then again, I have no idea whether it's even possible to package all that stuff independently. If so, maybe someone here can make it a Sourceforge project.

Neel Krishnaswami or another interested party ought to see about setting up "lexicongame.org" or something of that sort, a clearinghouse, tutorial, and forum for designers and current and interested would-be players. The site would, of course, be run as a Wiki....

-- AllenVarney 2004-04-24 04:06:09

I've been working on the ground rules for a Paranoia mini-lexicon, one that'll test out my new ideas and give us a nice breather before the next big one. Check it out and tell me what changes need to be made/added.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-05-11 19:42:49

Paranoia Mini-Lexicon

Scenario: The 21st Annual Alpha Complex Experimental Exhibition Fair has come to an end. Ten Violet citizens have been chosen to select "Best of Show" from 10 nominated experimental devices (N.E.D.). Confined to a Violet villa, isolated from all external influences save for the records & transcripts from Friend Computer, they will debate among themselves to select the best experimental device (and sort through all the treason during the fair).


Players: 10 players will be chosen to play the 10 Violet judges.

Total Entries: 70-80, +10 Judge Bios, +10 Final Reports, +Conclusion

Turns: Setup, AB, CD, EFG, HIJKL, MNOPQ, RS, TUVWXYZ, Spares, Final Report


Each player makes up his Violet judge's bio page and seeds the Lexicon.

Bio Page: Your citizen's bio page should contain the following:

Your bio should include a few specifics in it to give the other players something to work with when accusing you. It's only polite.

Lexicon Seed: Each player will put a single phantom link to one of the nominated experimental devices into the Lexicon.

Alphabetical Turns

Each player fills out one article per alphabetical turn. All phantom links on that turn must be filled. New articles can be made if there's slots open.

Each article must have at least the following links:

There are exceptions:

None of your links can be to an article you wrote or an existing phantom you made. You can link to an article written for a phantom you made.

None of your new/existing phantom links should be to phantoms on the current turn. It screws up the players working on their own entries.

Maximum Number of Phantoms per Turn: 8

The max number is set below the number of players for two reasons:

Spares Turn

The Spares turn allows you to make phantoms that you normally couldn't make, either because the corresponding turn has already been done or it's already got the maximum number of phantoms.

Ex: On Turn EFG, you want to make a phantom to "Bolemic Entropy". Normally you couldn't, since Turn AB has already been filled out. However, you can make a phantom link to Bolemic Entropy by placing it in the Spares Turn.

The Spares turn is similar to the Alphabetical turns, but there are differences:

Final Report

Each player makes one final report declaring which two experimental devices get his vote for "Best of Show" and why. He can also comment about the events of the fair, accusations of treason, reasons why he's innocent, etc. You can't comment on other players' final reports.

After everyone turns in a Final Report, Friend Computer will tabulate the results, clarify any loose ends, and dole out promotions and punishments as It sees fit.

Looks neat! When do we sign up? :)

-- EricMinton 2004-05-11 19:52:23

As soon as I recover from this Lexicon.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-05-11 20:18:41

Fine work, Jeff! I wish you luck with the game and will follow it as closely as time permits. How long does each turn take? And who writes the Conclusion?

I think you're likely to see TUVWXYZ fill up awfully fast.

-- AllenVarney 2004-05-11 21:22:22

Maybe. If so, it's easier to split it up into two groupings than combine both into one. Anyway, more stuff coming up. I'm working on ways to reduce the Info Overload and keep track of the players. Adding soon.


1.Keeping track of time and place
After the success of the speculative timeline, the Mini-Lexicon will use date & sector links, like so:

Players can append notes and discuss various going-ons in the time & place pages.

2.Keeping track of a player's articles/comments and accusations
Players will sign their articles and address each other in a certain way. Take citizen Mike-V-LEM-4, for example:

Why the funky format?

Each PC's bio will also be a public page, letting players append new info about the PC. No one should have to search through 10+ pages to learn what a PC's done (or been accused of).

3.Another Discussion page
The LexiconDiscussionPage took care of OOC stuff, but was never used for IC stuff. We'll be trying an IC Discussion Page named ReportDiscussionPage. Comments will be divided based on what turn it is/was. There will also be a section of it for comments on each major thread of the report.

4.A Moderator?
Since these are Violet citizens, having FC peek in on the report could be useful for eliminating slackers, brewing conflict, and clearing up conundrums. To be determined.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-05-14 20:42:50

Oh yeah:

5.No turn page macros
Sure, they were useful, but you couldn't append any notes to the entry names. Useful things, like "dibs on this" or "this is incomplete". Looking on a separate list for those details is crazy. If we're too lazy to add the link manually...

Which reminds me, MattVenzke made the macros and templates, right? Get in touch with me; we got work to do.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-05-14 21:12:04

Here's a thought. If we ever run a competition like this one again, why not give every ULTRAVIOLET a lower-clearance understudy/flunky/bot who steps in for them at appropriate times (e.g. defends them from allegations of treason, files any reports they're too busy to do, etc. etc.)

-- MattVenzke

I'm interesting in playing your game, Jeff, but I think we'll need some decompression time from this one first. (I know my wife1 would appreciate me not moving directly into another play-online game that obsessively eats my at-home time just yet...) I'm also thinking about running a few games myself, once I pick (and figure out) an appropriate wiki and machine to run it on...

I definitely think including "T" in the last alphabetical turn is asking for trouble; making it "RST" instead is, well, still potentially trouble but less so, I think.

-- DanCurtisJohnson 2004-05-18 08:05:35

With my other 2 games and summer classes, I'm sure natural procrastination will provide plenty of decompression time.

-- MikeLemmer 2004-05-18 12:12:00

I'd just like to add that I had a lot of fun playing this game, and would love to play a similar one again (and have ideas on non-Paranoia lexicon games floating around). But the twice a week, while understandable because of the actual text's deadline, was brutal. I regret that I didn't file a couple reports and did some lame ass ones in other places. But it was fun.

-- Rob Rodger

I think the twice-weekly schedule wouldn't have been been so tough if we hadn't had such a competitive element openly built into it. Some ambitiously large entries and a lot of back-and-forth commentary meant that this Lexicon took more of our attention than a Lexicon game normally would need to. Of course, the back-and-forth is absolutely part of what made this such a fun game, but I think other Lexicons (especially Lexicons in other "genres") need not have it, at least not to the same degree, and thus probably won't be quite so taxing.

-- Dan J

While explaining the notion of a Lexicon game to some of my friends, I had a notion that would probably make for a different (not more-fun, not less-fun, just different) game: Treat all actual <i>entries</i> as canon, but all <i>comments</i> as interpretation or open to dispute.

-- EricReuss 2004-05-21 18:37:54

Hi, everybody! I'm not sure how many people are still reading these pages, but if you do stop by, I invite you to read my recent post at the 20' By 20' Room, where I discuss this Lexicon and how it went, from my point of view. My compliments to all - it was an amazing ride - and my apologies for not being able to keep up with all of you mad geniuses. Be seeing you!

-- Rob MacDougall 2013-06-13 18:58:26

2013-06-13 13:58