Mongoose announces Paranoia XP, designers blog it live

In the wake of the industry seminars at DunDraCon (on which more later), it’s kind of nice to have some good RPG news to report. Paranoia creator Greg Costikyan is finally throwing down on a new edition, he’s got some highly talented friends doing the heavy lifting, and the treasonous rumors that Mongoose was the publisher turn out to be true. A live development log will be kept on Costik’s site, and comments will be at least sort of open. I cannot possibly impress upon you with mere words how psyched I am for this. Read on for press release hilarity – seriously, you want to read this.

Cult Roleplaying Game to Be Revitalized for the Digital Millennium
The Revolution Will be Blogged

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.

New PARANOIA XP edition and support line debut in August 2004

The Computer: Greetings, citizen! How may I help you?

Player: I hear Mongoose Publishing is releasing a new edition of the Paranoia roleplaying game this August. What can you tell me about it?

The Computer: State your reason for requesting this information.

Player: Uh… I guess I was wondering whether to buy it.

The Computer: Excellent, citizen! You wish to legitimately purchase this product, rather than steal The Computer’s valuable intellectual property like a traitorous data pirate. This demonstrates your loyalty to the ideals of Alpha Complex.
Brought to you by The Computer’s brilliant researchers in the R&D service firms of MNG Sector, PARANOIA XP is the entirely updated and perfected version of the darkly humorous RPG originally published by West End Games. The new edition’s writers include PARANOIA co-creator Greg Costikyan, longtime paranoiac Allen Varney, and Famous Game Designer Aaron Allston. There are also devious and subtle new contributions from the original PARANOIA line editor, Ken Rolston.

Player: Is PARANOIA XP still about living in an underground city of the future ruled by an insane Computer?

The Computer: The Computer is not “insane.” Traitors lurk everywhere. In the old days, The Computer’s loyal Troubleshooters only worried about Commie subversion, secret society sabotage, unregistered mutants, robot liberators, feuding High Programmers, tainted drugs, exploding food vats, nuclear hand grenades, and the occasional giant atomic cockroach. How naive! Now your clone family faces not only these persistent threats, but a new host of looming dangers such as viral licenses, closed-source genetic retooling, identity rentals, subconscious post-hypnotic brain-spam, Infrared-market WMD auction sites, and filesharing.

Player: Filesharing?

The Computer: Filesharing is Communism! Fortunately, The Computer’s loyal Central Processing service firms have devised many innovative digital-rights management methods to shield you from temptation. The most promising methods manage your actual physical digits. Would you care to get your fingerprints remapped?

Player: Uh… maybe later. Is this new PARANOIA XP anything like the game’s earlier editions?

The Computer: PARANOIA XP combines the scary-funny, sardonic tone of PARANOIA’s first edition (1984) with the fast-playing, rules-light approach of the second edition (1987).

Player: Are you using the d20 rules system?

The Computer: No. PARANOIA is fun. D20 games are not fun. The Computer says so. PARANOIA’s second edition rules were, of course, perfect. The new PARANOIA XP expunges certain imperfections introduced by subversive elements, and will be even more perfect. Remember, citizen, PARANOIA is a game of satire, not parody. It is not — attend to this — NOT “wacky.” Expect NO awful misfiring “wacky” parodies of Westerns, cyberpunk, Arthurian myth, post-holocaust Australia, or angsty goth-punk blather.

Player: “Orcbusters” was a parody of fantasy games, wasn’t it?

The Computer: “Orcbusters” obtained prior Internal Security approval using Special Registered Parody Dispensation Form KR1986-12/j. All unregistered parodies are treason. Instead, the new PARANOIA XP support line recalls the illustrious releases of 1984-88, such as Acute Paranoia, Send in the Clones, Alpha Complexities, and the award-winning Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues. Mongoose will reissue updated versions of much of this excellent material soon after PARANOIA XP debuts.

Player: Does the new edition use material from the “Fifth Edition”?

The Computer: There is no Fifth Edition.

Player: Huh? Come on, I’ve seen it myself!

The Computer: You are mistaken, citizen. No Fifth Edition was published by West End Games in 1995, nor did West End show pages from a projected “Long Lost Third Edition” at GenCon in 1997. Note that there also has never been a Crash Course Manual, nor any “Secret Society Wars,” “MegaWhoops,” or “Reboot Camp” adventures. These products never existed. They are now un-products. Are you absolutely clear on this, citizen? Do you still doubt The Computer? Perhaps you need to visit the Bright Vision Re-Education Center.

Player: Uh, no! I trust The Computer. The Computer is my friend! But Friend Computer — against all the dangers you so brilliantly enumerated, how can I possibly survive?

The Computer: I’m sorry, that information is not available at your security clearance.


PARANOIA is a trademark jointly held by Eric Goldberg and Greg Costikyan and used under exclusive license by Mongoose Publishing. Copyright (c) 2004 Eric Goldberg and Greg Costikyan. All rights reserved.


  1. While this is welcome news, I can’t help but wonder exactly when Mongoose is going to implode. I have no inside knowledge, nor should anyone infer that I do, but it seems as though Mongoose keeps up this blistering publishing pace so that pre-order revenues can subsidize current expenses. As they publish more and more, faster and faster, this is going to have to catch up with them eventually.

  2. That’s sweet. I’ve heard a million stories about the earlier edition of Paranoia but never saw a copy, let alone got a chance to play. I’m in! The Computer is my friend!

  3. “(Computer’s my friend! *gollum, gollum*) NO – nobody likes you! You’re a liar! And a commie! (Not listening!) TRAAAAIIIITOOOORRRRRR”

  4. Hi!

    HA! I told you Paranoia was perfect! And now it’ll be even more perfect! 🙂

    Will it be backward compatible?

    Thank you.

  5. Hi James,

    That is a comment that comes up every now and again and, given the history of some RPG companies, it could be a fair one.

    However, there are some things about Mongoose that do make us different. With the exception of the mainstream book trade, we ignore pre-orders. Completely. Never found them accurate, helpful or reflective of actual sales.

    Despite our release schedule, we are not a front-list driven company. Our entire back-list catalogue moves on a regular basis and accounts for something like 40% of our monthly revenue. We have also managed to develop revenue streams from other sources, such as consultancy work for some of our licensors or early profits being invested in property. Together, this makes us an extremely stable and (from the point of view of yearly accounts) very predictable.

    So, why is the release schedule the way it is? Because it can be. We have the staff to handle it and enough diverse lines that we do not prey upon our own sales to any great degree. Our aim is to sell a book to every gamer out there, though not necessarily every book we do. Slowly but surely, this goal comes closer 🙂

    So, if you are a fan of ours, worry not. If you do not like what we are doing, I am afraid Mongoose will be around for a while yet 🙂


  6. Actually, Mongoose’s production schedule is what it is because they apparently skimp on basic copy editing. To my mind, this allows them to churn books out faster than those companies that actually hire someone competent enough to take their time when copy-editing.

  7. Um, no, actually. I just can’t stand glaring typos in RPG books, or any book for that matter. Eratta is one thing, I get that, but I refuse to give quarter to companies who obviously put no stock in the value of good, solid copy-editing.

    Oh, and sorry for those duplicate posts ::blush::

  8. While I haven’t read all of Mongoose’s products, I haven’t found them to be any more typo-ridden than other products on the market. I’m a stickler about those too, but I see typos in nearly every book I read. Robert Jordan’s most recent Wheel of Time novels, for example, started having confusing errors.

  9. I’ll concede that Mongoose isn’t the only publisher that lets an inordinate amount of typos slip through, Allan, but they’re certainly up there in my Top 5 list 🙂 The thing is, Mongoose’s authors also seem to have a penchant for constructing awkward sentences. When you have to read a passage two or three times because it didn’t make sense the first time, well, there’s a problem. Obviously, no one is asking them to write Shakespearean text, but sheesh, is it too much to ask for verbiage that makes sense?

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