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Minireview: Alpha Complex Nights

Alpha Complex Nights is a fairly new book for Paranoia XP. It’s a collection of three new adventures, all written by Gareth Hanrahan. I’d say it’s a very good – with some minor disclaimers.

All three adventures share two elements: they all contain a non-standard twist, and they are all quite complicated. Complicated in that they all actually have a back story, and there’s a lot to keep in mind when running them. That complexity also makes them quite interesting, so it’s a some-good-some-bad feature. The twists add to the interest factor.

The first of the bunch is Spin Control, which features the need for the Troubleshooters to control the “truth”. While always being an important survival skill in good ol’ Alpha Complex, here it becomes a mandate. There are also zombies. Yes, zombies. Lots of them. Of the brain-eating kind. Yes, that’s the twist. Sporks also feature heavily. The whole thing is insanely complex, quite funny, and very good.

Second up is My First Treason, where the Troubleshooters… aren’t. Aren’t Troubleshooters, that is. Instead, players play “junior citizens”, fresh from the creche and straight into school (or what passes for it in Alpha Complex). There’s a lot of Harry Potter spoofing going on and lots of opportunities to stab people in the back, blame others, and try to survive. Situation normal, in other words. While good fun and a nice twist, this is possibly the weakest of the three – though that is mostly due to the high quality of the other two.

Last up, there’s Sweep Of Unhistory, where (due to a fairly unlikely plot gimmick) the Troubleshooters get re-cloned time and time again… each time further in the future. While staying quite “normal” in the beginning, the whole thing degenerates into an insane version of The Time Machine, with lots of jokes and references thrown about in all appropriate directions. Alpha Complex where the Commies won (sorta)? Flying Alpha Complex sky fortress? No computer, just lots of slaves and coconuts? Giant mutant cockroaches? All here. It’s a lovely time travel spoof and great Paranoia adventure, rolled into one. Keeping up player interest through the zillion possible futures may be a challenge, of course.

All that is based on how the things read, of course – they sound like lots of fun, but the proof is in the play, as always.

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