Tales from the Gazebo – KantCon: Consult your Happiness Officer

KantCon: Consult your Happiness Officer
By Cape Rust

Sticking to my now recently established Con pattern, I started sniffing around to find an open seat in the 1400 to 1800 gaming slot. I saw that there was a Paranoia game with a few open seats during that time. Paranoia, I haven’t played Paranoia in years (actually it is closer to decades, but who’s counting). Paranoia is one of those games that breaks every RPG rule and keeps you laughing while you do it. If you have never heard of Paranoia, don’t worry, it is one of those games that people have heard of but not played.

Paranoia’s premise is simple: you are troubleshooters in a city called Alpha Complex which is controlled by The Computer in a dystopian future. You and your fellow troubleshooters are sent on missions by the computer. Who cares if the missions are deadly, useless, senseless and just plain strange. Your job is not to question the computer, it is to obey! The mechanics of the game are designed to create conflict in the party. You start the game with a total of six clones so character death is really not an issue. Most characters are part of opposing secret organizations and all characters have ulterior motives that will most likely cause them and their fellow characters bodily harm. I’m not normally a fan of inter party conflict, but Paranoia does it in such a fun way that you can’t help but get into the screw your buddy spirit.

This Paranoia game was run by Noah Gibbs and he went all out! As we sat down at the table we were greeted with a computer screen that had the all seeing eye of the computer. There was some table small talk and with no fan fare Noah threw down surveys and simply said begin. So there I was trying to fill out a survey as quickly as I could, after about a minute he said you have one more minute. WTF this was like a 10 page survey. I made it through about three pages before Noah collected all of our surveys. As he read through them he assumed the authoritative role as the Computer. There were, as one might guess, questions about our survey answers and our inability to complete those surveys. We were then assigned our jobs in the team. I was the media relations officer but I really enjoyed our cleanliness (hygiene) officer and of course our happiness officers. All of the roles are fun, but those folks really “got into their work”.

Now aside from the computer display, Noah preceded to hand us our character sheet badges that depicted or roles and some props. No we were not LARPing, but the props really made this a game to remember! Because the game was being filmed for Gamer’s Haven, I was actually handed the video camera and got to play with it a bit. The happiness officers were given happiness pills, our gadget guys were given toy guns (sorry, experimental weapons) and our Hygiene officer was given hand sanitizer and air freshener. Several other props were doled out and the fun began. We were told to watch the computer screen for our mission briefing. Noah had used Paranoia iconography to make the mission briefing, it was epic!

We had a large group and it took us almost two hours and several causalities just to get to our mission briefing. Paranoia was the perfect game to run on a late slot on a Sunday. The tone and the feel of the game allowed all of us to cut loose and have a ton of fun. It was a real honor to share yet another table with a bunch of great people. I was surprised that one of my fellow gamers was none other than Sterling Hershey. Sterling is a freelance writer/cartographer/great guy. He worked on the Star Wars RPG for both West End Games and Wizards of the Coast, he is also credited for his work on the Monster Manual V and the Monster Vault. I have used his products and listened to him often on the Order 66 Podcast so getting to game with him was a real treat.

I could actually fill three or four articles full of the shenanigans that occurred at the table but I think you get the idea. After the game was over I got a few minutes to pick Sterling’s brain and to let Noah know just how wonderful his game was. Stay tuned for an interview with KantCon’s creator Ethan Parker.

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One Comment

  1. ChefGibbs says:

    Cape, I am glad you had such a good time at the paranoia game. I however must correct ond point. I did not create the mission briefing video, i found it on youtube and it can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yk_oT5bX5A&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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