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Minireview: Stuff 2: The Gray Subnets (Paranoia)

When I wrote about the original “Stuff” book for Paranoia, I noted that it’s an excellent book with one major flaw: the GM notes for all the equiment entries are combined with the “for the players” descriptions, making it useless for direct in-play use without heavy cut+paste. Well, apparently I wasn’t the only one complaining, since the authors of Stuff 2: The Gray Subnets explicitly note that as a flaw in the original book (and one they don’t repeat here). Yay!

So, in a way this is more of the same: a big book of “stuff” (mostly equipment, but also some services etc) for a Paranoia game. Where the first book was a listing of items from the official Alpha Complex eBay clone (C-Bay), this one focuses on the black market (the “Gray Subnet”). All of the items and services listed here at at least slightly treasonous, with some meriting a direct trip to the execution booth if caught. Of course, since this is the black market we’re talking about here, it’s even more likely that you’ll get ripped off in some way – hey, who are you going to complain to? On the other hand, many of the items here are actually very useful and might save some random Troubleshooter’s day. If they don’t kill him first, and if Internal Security doesn’t catch him.

The first half of the book contains the actual item/service listing, divided by the dubious source they can usually be purhased from. The listings are formatted to look like web pages, some intentionally crappy and some intentionally mimicking the look&feel of certain real-life web stores. Oh, and the sidelines contain ads and other fun stuff. It’s a nice bit of flavor, and the listing can be directly shown to the players without fear of leaking what the things actually do.

…since that’s what the second half of the book contains. Some of the items actually are pretty much what they claim to be, but all have some sort of hidden “feature”. Many are quite amusing. Many are also potentially quite lethal to the PCs… but not all. It would be an useless book if everything was a deathtrap, so most things here aren’t. They just have hidden qualities or ramifications which may or may not become clear to the players.

It’s a great companion to the original “Stuff” book, and the smarter formatting on this one makes this much easier to use in-game. Good job.

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