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To recruit contributors to the Toothpaste Disaster report I posted this notice on March 29, 2004 to the active forums of Paranoia-Live.net:


You are Clearance ULTRAVIOLET, a High Programmer entrusted by The Computer with sole control of an entire sector.

Last year the Toothpaste Disaster hit your sector and almost a dozen others. Fascinated high-clearance citizens across Alpha Complex seek to know more about this notorious event. Now The Computer has created a fact-finding panel to investigate the origins, determine the causes, and implicate the traitors involved in this chaotic, mysterious, and wide-ranging disaster.

The Computer has appointed you and other High Programmers in affected sectors to this panel. Together you will prepare an alphabetical encyclopedia and glossary, Clearance ULTRAVIOLET, which the head of Internal Security will respectfully and blindly forward to The Computer.


"The Toothpaste Disaster" is a Classic PARANOIA Lexicon game set in Alpha Complex. Lexicon (http://www.20by20room.com/2003/11/lexicon_an_rpg.html) was designed by Neel Krishnaswami. In a Lexicon game players collaborate on an online encyclopedia or report, writing entries in alphabetical order and posting them to a Wiki, a collection of editable Web pages (http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?WikiGettingStartedFaq).

I am now seeking players who will contribute to this online report. Extracts from the report may appear in the forthcoming PARANOIA rulebook appearing this August from Mongoose Publishing. Participating players receive no money, no contributor copies, and in fact no compensation of any kind whatever, and must give Mongoose Publishing blanket permission to use the report in any fashion. On the upside, players will be breveted to Clearance ULTRAVIOLET for the duration of the game and will be credited in the rulebook as "Toothpaste Disaster High Programmers."


Panelists will prepare the report over 13 turns. In a turn, each contributor invents an entry starting with one of the letters available that turn, and writes 100-200 words of text for that entry. All Turn 1 entries must start with the letters A or B. Turn 2 covers C and D, and so on. Contributors post entries to the online Wiki I've set up for the game on my home page (http://paranoia.allenvarney.com). The whole world can see everyone's entries, but only approved players can post new entries.

We will run two turns a week. Deadlines are midnight Texas time each Monday and Thursday). Your first entry, which must begin with A or B, is due by midnight Friday, April 1, 2004. (NOTE: Despite the date, this is NOT an April Fool's joke!) Final entries (Turn 13, Y-Z) will be due and the game will conclude six weeks later at midnight Thursday, May 13.

At the end of the first entry you write, sign your in-game character name and make two Wiki-style citations to other entries that will (you hope!) appear later in the alphabetical report. These citations are "phantoms" -- their names exist, but their content will get filled in only on the appropriate turn. The phantom entries you cite must begin with a letter to be covered on a later turn. On each turn after the first, pick one of the phantom entries and write it, in the same way you wrote your first entry; if no phantom is available under the two letters covered that turn, create a new entry instead. Every entry you write must end with three citations: one entry already written by another player (NOT one of your own entries!) and two further unwritten "phantom" entries.

The maximum number of entries under each pair of letters equals the number of players. Therefore once you run out of empty slots, you can only cite existing phantom entries.

(On the next-to-last turn you'll cite only one phantom, and on the last turn no phantoms. Don't worry about it until you get there.)

By posting a notice on a phantom Wiki entry, you can call dibs (make a priority claim) on that phantom and write it on the appropriate future turn. You can't call dibs on a phantom you created. Don't get greedy. Etiquette dictates you shouldn't claim more than two phantoms at a time.


We have these purposes in running this Lexicon game:


It hasn't been defined yet. That's your job. Once you make up an entry, that becomes part of the overall picture of this intricately faceted calamity. Some legendary figures of Alpha Complex folklore may have been scandalously involved, and many secret societies and service firms definitely took part, either beforehand or in the disastrous yet lucrative aftermath.

Who sabotaged all those careful and highly classified security measures? What about that strange message sent by a mysterious Troubleshooter, apparently to an anonymous High Programmer? That Programmer couldn't have been one of you, could it? The idea seems preposterous.



If you'd like to play, understand these points:

Still interested? Write to me: APVarney (at) AOL.com. Put "Toothpaste Disaster" in the subject line. Expressly grant Mongoose Publishing the permission described above, and give me two brief third-person biographical notices, which I will post on the in-game Wiki pages for all to see: (1) your real name and a little bit about you, and (2) one to three sentences about your ULTRAVIOLET High Programmer. For instance:

"Hugh-U-VUU-12 earned The Computer's trust as a diligent Internal Security officer in MSF Sector. So successful was his 'Keep Your Workplace Traitor-Free' campaign that his office routinely exceeded termination quotas by 800%. The program ended only when the sector's population fell below sustainable levels and received Temporary Evacuation and Relocation to nearby sectors."

Good luck, and may you guide your erring fellow ULTRAVIOLETs to wisdom!


The Wiki URL:

Information about Wikis in general and directions on how to post there:

Lexicon rules:

A completed Lexicon game, written for a NOBILIS campaign:

2013-06-13 13:58