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Monthly archive September, 2008

PARANOIA RPG.net review by Rory Hughes

RPG.net has published a quirky but positive review of PARANOIA (Style: 5; Substance: 5) written by Rory Hughes while, as he says, he was waiting for his visa to clear. Let Rory’s example inspire all loyal citizens who are waiting in line at the bank, supermarket, auto repair shop, or Central Processing Unit Form Validation Supervisory Inspection Queue. Use those idle moments to write a review of PARANOIA, the game that makes waiting in line fun! (For certain definitions of “fun.”)

RPG.net reviewers have been kind to PARANOIA. In eight reviews to date, they have awarded the game an average Style rating of 4.25 and average Substance rating of 5.00 (on a scale of 5). At this writing, the PARANOIA rulebook holds a high position in the increasingly comprehensive RPG.net Game Index, with a rank of #23 out of 10,766 products. Among core rulebooks, PARANOIA right now ranks #11 out of 1,176 games, the highest it has yet reached and by far the highest of all Mongoose Publishing products.

And — huh! — I only now notice from the Game Index that PARANOIA (correction: the Mongoose PARANOIA card game, which I had nothing to do with) won an Origins Award in 2007 and was inducted into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame. (The game’s first edition won an Origins Award in 1984.) I presume the committee’s notification will arrive shortly after clearance from CPU’s Form Validation Supervisory Inspection Queue.

Roleplay onLine

I can’t believe I only just discovered Roleplay onLine.

Here you will hopefully find all the games and requirements to play and run your favourite characters and games. With 4,388 games on record, 2,749 highly active (2,142 currently seeking players), we’re sure you’ll find a setting to suit you. Reliably providing 51,792 users with a place to get their gaming fix since 2000; over 11 games created each day.

Not much PARANOIA there right now, though GM Computer Heath is running “They Really Are All Out to Get You,” based on the “Mister Bubbles” introductory mission in the PARANOIA rulebook.

PARANOIA in the real world: Future Attribute Screening Technologies

Via Slashdot: Last year the ever-vigilant Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate’s Human Factors Division devised Project Hostile Intent “to identify deception and hostile intent in real time, on the spot, using non-invasive sensors.” Now DHS S&TD HFD has renamed this “pre-crime” program Future Attribute Screening Technologies (FAST). According to New Scientist, FAST now impressively identifies as suspicious 78% of test subjects who were told to “act shifty, be evasive, deceptive, and hostile.”

The trial technology was installed in a trailer because it is planned to be easily transportable, so that FAST trucks can appear at any sports or music event as required. They look set to become as regular a sight at such events as mobile toilets and catering trucks.

Remember, citizen: Smile!

Update: More details and mordant commentary from science fiction writer Chris Nakashima-Brown at the richly rewarding blog No Fear of the Future.

Boston Globe: Recent scenes from North Korea

Comrades! Never are ve to be tirink of new photos from glorious Communist vorkers’ paradise, North Korea! Now to be viewink capitalist pig-dog (ptui!) newspaper Boston Globe and beautiful photo series, “Recent scenes from North Korea.”

"Pa RPG"?

[UPDATE September 17: Amazon has fixed the grotesque error described in this post. All is well. Commendations to all loyal citizens who wrote to Amazon to correct their egregious error.]

Thanks to Paul Baldowski at Omega Complex for spotting the latest insult to PARANOIA by the feckless lamers at Amazon: Apparently someone went to the trouble of changing the rulebook entry’s existing correct title to the mystifying “Pa RPG.”

This kind of fiasco happens all the time in The Computer’s Central Processing Unit, although in CPU they can revise the historical record and disappear anyone who complains. Fortunately, Amazon doesn’t yet have that authority, so if you have an Amazon account, please scroll down to the “Product Details” section and click the “update product info” link at the bottom of that section. Then please politely ask Amazon to buy a family-size clue. [UPDATE: Stop writing about that page, it's been fixed.]

If you feel industrious, there’s much more to correct. Nearly every PARANOIA-related entry on Amazon is similarly rife with inexplicable bonehead nuttery. Go, and spread knowledge!

Duane O’Brien’s ingenious R&D gadgets

Loyal citizen Duane O’Brien, a PARANOIA Gamemaster with a fine future in Technical Services or R&D, describes (in mild engineer-speak) two ingenious electronic props he built — physically! with atoms! — for a recent convention game:

The Beeping Thing: I pulled the plans for this from an issue of MAKE Magazine. It’s a small circuit using a 555 timer, some resistors, and other bits to cause the circuit to beep every minute or so. The parts can be had for a couple dollars, and it was reasonably easy to build. In the end, I stuck it in an Altoids tin and issued it to the Troubleshooters as a piece of R&D equipment. Every time it beeped, I made someone roll, noted the number, and put a Post-It note on them if the roll was a 20. At five rolls of 20, it exploded dramatically. If they had rolled all numbers, 1-20, before five 20s, I would have given them, I dunno, candy.

The E:CHING: This is an Arduino-controlled LED display that gives a 10-digit number in binary (0110100101). Looking up the number in a manual I printed, the team received additional instructions. The top was not labeled, so there was no real way to tell 0110100101 from 1010010110. And most of the instructions were treasonous anyway. The instruction changed after 30, 15, 8, 4, 2, 1, .5 and .25 seconds after the device was activated, making following instructions challenging.

I want to draw up full postings for these, so other players can enjoy them. I have half a dozen Arduino-based props in mind that would be really exciting and fun for people to build. My Big Goal is to build the “Das Bot” control panel [from Flashbacks] for real, and let the players actually interface with it.

Truly there are times when mere commendation points seem pale and insufficient. Congratulations, Duane!

PARANOIA in the real world: Six-year-old news almost sinks United

2002′s News, Yesterday’s Sell-Off” by Frank Ahrens, Washington Post, September 9, 2008:

A six-year-old article mistakenly seen by Bloomberg financial news users yesterday reported the bankruptcy of United Airlines and triggered a massive sell-off that nearly obliterated the company’s stock in a matter of minutes. [...]

United parent company UAL opened trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market yesterday at $12.17 per share. The 2002 bankruptcy article appeared on Bloomberg monitors on Wall Street just before 11 a.m. In the minutes that followed, some 15 million shares of UAL traded and the stock plunged to $3 per share. Trading was halted at 11:30 a.m. for an hour. The stock closed down $1.38 at $10.92 yesterday.

United said it is unsure whether the incident will cause the already-shaky airline material damage.

At United’s Chicago headquarters yesterday morning, the airline’s financial services division watched in horror as the stock plummeted, while its shocked media relations department was besieged by reporters asking why the company had declared a surprise bankruptcy, only six years after its last one. UAL filed for bankruptcy protection in 2002 and emerged in 2006.

The bizarre chain of events began early yesterday, when a reporter at Income Securities Advisors — a Miami- based investment service that disseminates news about distressed companies — typed in a Google search: “bankruptcy 2008.” Up popped the six-year-old article from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Dec. 10, 2002, the day after United declared bankruptcy. [...] The cascade of failure may have stopped there had the article carried its correct publication date. Instead, it was undated. [...]

In the mind of the reporter, Wall Street would want to know about a major airline declaring bankruptcy. The reporter posted the story to the Bloomberg Professional service at 10:53 a.m. yesterday.

Six minutes later, Bloomberg posted a news article headlined: “UAL Shares drop 33% at 10:58 a.m.”

At 11:16 a.m., Bloomberg posted a correction in several languages, highlighted in red on the company’s proprietary monitors: “UAL SAYS IT HASN’T FILED FOR CHAPTER 11.”

“It shows the market apparently reacts to a headline as much as anything else,” said Richard Lehmann, president of Income Securities Advisors.

PARANOIA on Facebook

Courtesy of Costin-U-MOR (Paul Baldowski of the Traitor Recycling Studio), a Facebook group for roleplaying PARANOIA.

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