Secret Societies cards


Here is what I understand :

The GM does not know what are the players secret societies and what they try to achieve during the game.

How well do the cards play in your game ?
From the Player's Handbook: "During the Details phase your GM will have given you a card, and that card might have details of a mutant power or a secret society on it."

As an old-school Paranoia player, if you read correctly and the Secret Society is selected randomly, without the GM's intervention, that rule is flawed and you should cut it out of the book. Then, buy multiple copies so you can cut that rule out of all of them. Then, I dunno, world's worst kidnapping message?

The Secret Society and Mutant Power cards have information to help the player understand what they've gotten into, but ultimately both are tools for the GM. It's like the Troubleshooter #1! card... it can be useful when the GM wants it to be, or it can be meaningless if that works better for you.

Personally, I'll be offering secret society and mutant powers in a bundle along with a one-use "Favor" card to make sure that they think about the Secret Society when they're stuck.
From the GM's handbook: "During character creation each player draws a card and keeps it with them..."

So, I totally see why you'd think that means it's random. However, this IS part of a massive chapter on Secret Societies, providing details about the societies that only the GM knows, so I think it's pretty clear that's not supposed to mean you don't know about it. Or, if you prefer...


DENIAL - I know it says that, but it's obviously not what they meant. Besides, the player's handbook states it's coming from the GM.
BARGAINING - I mean, technically it just says they draw it, maybe you could go ahead and look at it because you're the GM? I mean, you should have a copy of their character sheet and everything, wouldn't you want to have their mutant power and secret society information?
DEPRESSION - I've been playing since the WEG days, and I had so many of the old Mongoose XP/25th books, and I've told everyone that they're the best game publishers in the world, and I'm just so upset by this one little rule that I don't know why I even bother playing any more...
ACCEPTANCE - Of course, on page 104, it also says "THE RULES ARE IN YOUR FAVOR" so, if you want to play that as written, go ahead and hope they take advantage.
Wow, that's a lot of stages :D

I like your idea of secret society one-time service.

So, tell me stories about when it came into play in your table ?

I am just trying to picture things out and accumulate ideas of ways to play to give specific* players the best possible experience.

* Specific as we choosed paranoia to roleplay a single game session with each other after 20 years, and I won't have many occasions to test this edition before we meet ^_^ ...
In my experience, Secret Societies are the best tool available to a Paranoia Gamemaster. For me, I didn't even have to promise a reward, just a note with a secret mission and they'll jump on the chance.

Here's some of my past player's favorite types:
  • The Subplot - Put a player in Psion. Give them the mission that someone is in Anti-Mutant, and they need to track them down and exterminate them with extreme predjudice.
  • The Reason to Live - Put a player in Computer Phreaks. Give them the mission that one of the robots they encounter is a courier for a high ranking Phreak, but nobody knows which one. Emphasize that they must therefore protect all Bots they come across.
  • The Computer Is Pleased But Uncomfortable - Put the player who understands the concepts best in FCCCP. Feed them XP points every time they suck up reverently.
  • Have I got a deal for you - In Paranoia XP, there was the concept of the "Infrared Market" which was a way to get your hands on certain items of a non-treasonous or treasonous nature. Everyone thinks that this was removed when credits were replaced with XP points. However, Free Enterprise is still a thing. Put someone in Free Ent, pull them aside, and point out that they can get anything they need in exchange for anything they currently have. Who knew Red clearance jumpsuits were so valuable?
  • The Permission Slip - Put someone in Death Leopard. Explain what that means.
  • The Obvious - Put someone in Mystics. Make them the happiness officer. Explain the concept of "enforced pharmaceutical assistance."
Aside from initially allowing players to randomly draw their secret society card, is there any mechanical advantage to using cards for this? As far as I can tell they never get used in combat, though I suppose players don't know this.

I have a rotating group of players, and for many of them it will be their first experience with a tabletop roleplaying game. I'm trying to present things plainly, so I'll pre-select their secret societies and give them an easy-to-understand paragraph explaining what they mean. Is there a mechanical reason to also give them a secret society card?
Can't think of a mechanical reason besides random dealing SecSocs, keeping it off of the character sheet (and hidden from prying players eyes) and maybe changing them when a character dies (their clone's memory was hacked and was changed to Phreaks or IntSec). It's like the mandatory Bonus Duty cards, with the exception that bonus duties are no secret and SecSocs are secret.
Thank-you. I have a history of creating new secret societies (and mandatory bonus duties, for that matter), so I just want to make sure I know the ramifications of my meddling. :)
For a new group or a convention session, I will pull the Secret Societies cards in advance and fill them in on side 2 of a character sheet. By randomizing who gets the character sheets, I know as GM that someone has the Death Leopard permission slip to "blow stuff up" but I don't know exactly who it is. Not only is it more fun to be surprised as GM, it's also a better surprise for the table.

A more experienced group can handle a whole stack of cards. It's all about finding the cognitive load your players can handle comfortably, then pushing it a little further.

Randomizing mutant powers is a must in my mind. The exposed pyrotechnic will get blamed every time there's a fire, justly or unjustly. Sometimes it's fun just to give a naughty mutant power back to the player after "shuffling."