How does High Programmers play?

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TrippyHippy
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How does High Programmers play?

Postby TrippyHippy » Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:53 am

Is it a 'troupe style' political game, where you control multiple characters in opposition to groups controlled by other players?

Or what?
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Allen Varney
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Postby Allen Varney » Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:47 am

It is for Gareth Hanrahan, designer of High Programmers, to answer with true ULTRAVIOLET-Clearance authority, but I can provide a temporary stopgap.

Each player plays a single UV-Clearance High Programmer. Character creation involves several auctions, in the manner of Amber Diceless Roleplaying, for influence in various service groups and secret societies. Each position of influence includes control of certain specified NPC minions, which can be individuals, factions, Troubleshooter teams, or more abstract entities. Players can buy control of additional minions in character creation and during play. Purchases are made using Access, which is glancingly represented in Troubleshooters and INTSEC but here becomes an all-powerful, all-desired currency.

Though the rules include a rudimentary task resolution system for actions the UV character takes in his own person -- how clumsy! -- the focus of the game is deploying and exploiting one's minions to address a panoply of crises assigned by The Computer. The Computer assigns each crisis a budget of Access points. The High Programmers bargain with one another to divide the Access budget among themselves in order to empower their various minions -- with, ideally, an easily overlooked Access surplus an individual HP can hoard for himself.

Then the players deploy their minions to address the crisis. Task resolution that works (in an abstract sense) much like tests of a lower-clearance individual's skills and specialties. Using some clever Tension rules, a player can gather evidence against rival UVs that may lead to termination (a minor inconvenience), Access fines (ouch!) or, horror of horrors, demotion. However, in contrast to the earlier PARANOIA rulebooks, in High Programmer framing a fellow PC and getting him killed is a very considerable undertaking, requiring investigation and strategy.

If you want more details, I defer to Gareth....
-- Allen Varney
PARANOIA (2004 edition) writer and designer
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TrippyHippy
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Postby TrippyHippy » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:03 am

Actually, I think that's sold it.

I like the reformatting of the Paranoia line, but was wondering if I could get anything definitively new out of the game after XP. This appears to be in the affirmative now, and I like alternative games to play - I might find a way to make it diceless though.
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Mongoose Gar
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Postby Mongoose Gar » Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:20 pm

Allen's covered all the major elements of High Programmer, I think. It would be easy enough to switch to a diceless system (it's already borrowing plenty from Amber and Nobilis) - just have the High Programmers spend Access instead of rolling dice when there's a contest. You'd need to tweak a few things (tasks might have a minimum Access spend to succeed, where 1=easy, 2=average, 4=hard, 8=really impossible, Minions who give bonuses to dice rolls now give bonus Access, Tension would...hmm... tension's triggered if you spend too much Access in a scene.)

Should be easy enough to run dicelessly, all right.

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