You would think after all these years, that the Underplex would have been an intrinsic part of the Paranoia universe. Not so! High Programmers kept it’s secrets from the Alpha Complex masses all these long years. It was not until the intrepid efforts of Paul Baldowski of the Traitor Recycling Studio and his UNDER team, that the Underplex comes into the light (dim light at best) and hands of us Ultraviolet clearance citizens. Hurrah! for a job well done.
I have to confess that when I first picked up the book at the game store (and never put it down. I put it in the flimsy plastic bag myself at the game store. You never know, it was their only copy), I thought it felt a little thin. Even I, a man of heroic faith in everything Paranoia, didn’t want to get ripped off for 15 creds. When I opened the book (keeping a close eye out for low clearance citizens), it seemed the book had a tesseract placed within it’s pages. Page after page of original material just sort of popped out at me. When the store clerk begin to eye me as if I planned to photograph the entire contents and not buy the book (as if! the fool), I quickly shut the book before the blood rushing to my head made me too woozy to shell out the correct amount of cash and get the heck out of there to a more secure area in which to peruse the manuel at my leisure.
Now let me relate to you some of the gems I uncovered while perusing this manuel. For starters, a certain vertigo is felt the moment your greedy little eyes look down on the cover. With an eye for detail Jim Holloway brings us another fabulous cover we can all proudly display face up on the game table. Then you can view the inside cover and momentarily grind your teeth at all of the reminders that a tight budget prevented you from yet acquiring. As you read through the book with your heart beginning to race, you can’t help but notice the excellent page layout that is shared with other supplements produced by these Famous and Brilliant Game Designers. Inside the covers you will find out all about the Tranz, the Underplex, and the Deeps. And boy, is it ever deep in detail. I really do understand that this under priced, under promoted (in some traitorously run Free Enterprise game stores), and under the incredibly good design team headed by Paul Baldowski, is a clear and present danger to all Troubleshooter teams that once felt secure in their pristine chromatic halls of Alpha Complex. No longer can they depend upon the ever helpful IntSec breathing down their necks and watching their every move (heck, IntSec cops entirely out of this one). In It’s omnipotent wisdom and insightful use of acronyms, the Computer has put forth all effort at regaining control of the Underplex by recruiting a new breed of Troubleshooters under the auspices of UNDER (Underplex Navigation, Defense, Exploration and Recon). The new UNDER teams, have the unenviable task of taking on all missions to the Underplex. What they find there is uncovered by this location source book called The Underplex.
You are going to absolutely adore this book. When your Troubleshooters smash through a wall (which they are ever prone to do), they may find themselves in a place of incredible new heights and lows of adventuring. If they are lucky (and this time they will be, trust me), they will end up in the Tranz. The Transition is the no-mans land between the clean and well maintained part of Alpha Complex the Troubleshooters of old remember so well, and the even older realms of the Underplex. The regular citizen may never see much more of the Underplex than this transient area. In fact, they may not even know that they have passed through this potentially dangerous place, so well does it permeate the entire Alpha Complex. Everything you would hope to find, including service ducts (and Otto-WYN-1, the master of the ducts), the transtubes, the TUBE, is detailed for you. A new Technical Service firm, Secure Highways, Underpasses & Thoroughfare Subcontractors (SHUTS) is created to help maintain all these access ways the UNDER team uses to help them on their merry ways. Vagrants (the unemployed or unwanted) may hound the UNDER team members all the way back to debriefing, should they make it there. HPD&MC is also there to help them out (well not the HPD&MC). The UNDER team may even end up exploring in a Dungeon, battling troglodytes and finding treasure (uh huh, would I be kidding you?). If they don’t come afoul of the Orphic Irregulars while exploring, they may even end up in Area 31 (not 51, that doesn’t even compare to this place). As you can well imagine, some places are best left for others to explain. Once the UNDER team conquers the Underplex proper, they may find themselves in places so deep it lacks any better description than “the Deep.” Deep in the Deep you will find Mezcalinzan, the only known utopian state found in or under Alpha Complex. This place is as sporadic (an inside joke) as you will find. It is sad to think about all the good and honest citizens that may have been walled away behind all that new construction that some well intentioned High Programmer had ordered. But never fear UNDER team is here, and to help them get going, you have a mission, or should I say, the start of a mission called “the One,” that you can expand any way you want. Of course, at the end of the book is the appendices. Appendix 1 has nifty tables to roll up your own random Underplex. Furthermore, quick skills can be an eyeful (I just love puns!) as explained in Appendix 2.
I can’t even tell you about all the rest of the new service firms, adventure seed gems that are scattered throughout the pages, and bunches of fun tables like Random clone creating, Random bot encounter table, Unfragmenting the Illuminati’ Data table, Climate control, Defective light source, Signal interference, Random toy table, not to mention (but I did) a new Gear table of fun stuff to have. Also, you would not believe all the new skills, like Hunting, Mapping, Mining, Positional Sense, Rock Climbing, Spelunking, Tracking, and not to forget Cryptography. So if I mention the nice little ‘fortune cookies’ found on every page, would I be pushing it?