Pun Names Good... or an Abomination


Just curious as to what people prefer. To pun or not to pun. Personally I like pun names provided they have some basis in reality.

For example:

Tray-Y-TOR (Tray)
Peg-U-NOW (Peg)
Jen-I-KRG (Jen)
Tom-Y-GUN (Tom)
Laz-R-FDR (Laz)
Interesting you say "have some basis in reality," considering none of the punning character names you included in the PARANOIA card game work as real names.

The thing about puns is, they automatically dictate a certain style of play and a certain attitude toward the setting. To make a given pun work, the character has to be of a certain security clearance. This means citizens of all security clearances get shoehorned into oddball occupations and circumstances where, in the setting as written, they would never be. All for the sake of the pun.

So what you're really asking is, "Which is more important to you, the setting and atmosphere -- or the pun?"
Keep in mind you are making the unfounded assumption that I did the naming. Also, keep in mind that the guidelines for naming an NPC might be different than those for naming PC's. I agree that characters that are likely to change in security clearance (such as PCs) should take a more conservative approach to their names. On the other hand, NPC's can be given names, with discretion, that give the players insight into the nature of the character they are encountering. I do agree that names should never be created that negatively impact the roleplaying experience.
It's true there is a certain poetic shorthand in NPC pun names. As I wrote in the appendix to PARANOIA Flashbacks, "You meet a guy named Fyur-I-OUS and you already know something about his narrative role, before the GM has to say anything."

But then you get into weird situations like in "Me and My Shadow, Mark IV," where the designer of The Computer's most prized new warbot, the super-duper death machine that will replace the entire Armed Forces group, is YELLOW Clearance. Why? Because his name is a pun on Robby the Robot, and so, by god, he has to be YELLOW or the pun won't work. So here's this R&D supremo, with the same clearance as some assistant retail sales manager. It makes no sense. (Can't believe I didn't catch that in the Flashbacks reprint. Sorry, folks.)

Of course, Alpha Complex itself isn't intended to make sense. But it is supposed to foster anxiety and paranoia. The unbreakable security clearance system is a powerful tool to that end. Shoving it aside for the sake of a quick joke is a workable technique only if you aren't interested in anxiety or paranoia. Which prompts the question, what game are you playing?
Interesting point... but keep in mind in your example you are using 2004 rules to critique in a supplement that was written 19 years earlier. In 1985 there wasn't even the glimmer of a concept of playing the current 2004 "straight" paranoia. To put it in Paranoia terms:

Computer: Citizen, please report to Internal Security for entering a restricted zone.

Player: But Computer... this is a Red corridor and I'm Red...

Computer: Citizen, the corridor you are entering was Blue clearance just 19 year ago. Clearly if your intentions were loyal you would have anticipated this security clearance change and acted accordingly.

Player: But Friend Computer I'm only 18.

Computer: I'm sure all extenuating circumstances of your clearly treasonous behavior will be taken into account. Thank you for your cooperation.

That said, who's to say that an Indigo or Ultraviolet didn't put Robb-Y up to it simply because they realized that there was a 98% chance that whoever proposed replacing the Armed Forces would be accidentally repeatedly vaporized in the first week.

Last, I simply posted the "pun" question because someone had noted that this forum was especially quiet. I was hoping to generate some spirited but non-confrontational input from players.
Nice chat, did robots have security clearances? I didn't know they did. Can't remember and without my books I'm crippled.

But I just had to post, cause nobody was around for such a long, long time, and I was getting lonely in my little cubicle.

Sorry, got a little off subject. I love puns, even for characters. If picked, I try to find one that can work fairly well with any security clearance.
dunderm said:
Nice chat, did robots have security clearances? I didn't know they did. Can't remember and without my books I'm crippled.
No - robots don't have security clearances. Now... back to topic...
Oh, good, I had thought maybe robot design had been changed on me somewhere along the line. Couldn't understand the arguement about a Yellow clearance robot. Unless I misunderstood and they meant box. :)

It had always been an assumption of mine that the naming scheme used for Paranoia, was somehow meant to be used so puns and or phrases could be made up. You just had to be clever about it. I encouraged my players to make up meaningful names. They have a fun time doing that. The names didn't have to make a lot of sense, and I never pushed them into making puns.

I like names that are easy to read, but that's how I do it. Puns are a bonus, but can be hard to maintain at different clearance levels I'll admit.

Course my players don't get too far along in life to worry about it. :D
I don't like pun names. They force you to play a certain way or change the names. Not that changing the names is hard, but it can be annoying.
Pun names generally get shortened during play. My login that I came up with for a forum elsewhere was made at a sleepy 2am or so, but it stuck so now I recycle it for other places too. But people mostly address me as Bee. I read a game log where someone was unfortunate enough to get the name Butt-R-FLY. The pun worked all the way up to green clearance (Butt-O-FLY, Butt-Y-FLY) but being called Butt all the time... hmm. Some more thought should have been put that one...
lastbesthope said:
Clangador said:
I don't like pun names. They force you to play a certain way or change the names.

No they don't. they may encourage it but they don't force it.


Once you start using pun names, the players are the ones who force it.
Once you start using pun names, the players are the ones who force it.

And that's a good thing. Get them thinking they know what's coming up, and WHAM! Hit it where it hurts (mostly in the back!).

Keep your laser handy, and use it even if you don't have to. Hey! The energy clips are free!
Players can force nothing in a game of Paranoia, simpky have Friend Computer punish (get it, pun-ish) pun induced behaviour, unless it is part of a PC's tics.

YEs, in the end it'a all about fun, if you don't want players to have pun names, then have the computer assign them names.

I don't have any problem with puns as long as they aren't a distraction.
My puns tend to be a bit random, and they don't necssecarily indicate a character's purpose or disposition. A guy named Lloyd-Y-ALL might be the real thing... or he might be a PURGE member... or an Intsec plant...
Personally I don't like puns, due to a devotion to Straight, however, I confess I use them from time to time in Classic to Zap games. I could also use puns in Straight, if the NPCs are purposely punning, and not the GM.

For example, there is a hot new vidshow called "CSI: CSI Sector". A pun on CSI, yes? But, Troubleshooters will slowly finds out that the vidshow is actually funded and created by the Romantics society. The Romantics Society knows about CSI, and wants to bring it back to the world. It decides the best way to do it is to just copy the entire show, and even use the same name, basically making a pun that only they would "get".

Another example is prehaps the pun name of Robb-Y-BOT is purposely punny, but does not actually exist. Rather it is just a codename used by Corpore Metal agents, and the man who is hiding under the Robb-Y name may be anyone, from a common INFRARED to an ULTRAVIOLET, or even a warbot.

Hey, can't people living in Alpha Complex have humor too? Especially bad humor? I could see Mystics cracking up very, very bad pun-names during their freak-outs, just to try and elict a laugh from their fellow society members. Computer Phreaks can hack into the compnodes and come up with false idenities like BLUEs and INDIGOs, people that don't actually exist but just data so that the Phreaks can further their contorl over FC, and I suppose they can decide to play around with puns themselves, creating false accounts like Tray-I-TOR, so they can laugh silently at their pun.

Hopefully, Troubleshooters, if they encounter such a strange situation, will notice these events and stop these traitors I listed above.