AGI Federation - an alternative PARANOIA setting and a hack of "Lasers and Treason"


I’m a fan of PARANOIA and the darkly humorous nature of that game; however, I wanted to try a different setting other than good old “Alpha Complex”. And I also gotten bored with the dystopian genre…so instead, I have players participate in defending a utopia, a la Alpha Matrix (disclaimer: I maintained the Alternate Alpha Complexes website and wrote up that “Alpha Matrix” page), while using the “Lasers and Treason” rules to help tie everything together.

Arguably, the AGI Federation itself could be described as “The Matrix (or a utopian version of it) from the perspective of the Agents tasked with defending it”. It’s a decent place to live, where everyone’s happy and enjoying their lives. You’re not the ones enjoying it though - you’re the Transhuman police officers trying to protect it from various external and internal threats…and the AGIs themselves are arguably also threats as well. Well, officially anyway…you might be covertly working for external and internal threats. And, worse, the AGIs know they’re also in a simulation and know that Players are out there ruining their plots with their mysterious “mutant powers”…so you need to be extra-careful.

So here’s the Google Doc with info about the setting and some introductory rules. I look forward to feedback about it before I begin playtesting it:


Could you tell us a bit more about the mechanics? Things you think it does well? Places you aren’t so sure about? What particular things are you looking for feedback about?


Mechanics: It’s the same as Lasers and Feelings, but you also build experimental equipment and receive “Secret Sheets”.

Like Lasers and Feelings, you have a Number representing your stats (Lasers/Treason). You roll a pool of d6s whenever you wish to do an action, each d6 that beats your target number (roll above your Number for “Lasers”, roll below your Number for “Treason”) counts as a success. If you roll exactly that number, it counts as a Success but “Something Goes Wrong”, which adds additional complications.

Players also create Experimental Equipment, which has a target number representing how Safe (“will follow orders, won’t rebel”) or Useful (“actually does what it’s supposed to do”). When you want to use your experimental equipment, you roll 1d6 to determine whether it is Safe (roll under your number), Useful (roll above your number), or both Safe and Useful (roll exactly your number).

Players receive a “Secrets sheet” which tells them what secret Mutant Power and Treasonous Affiliations they have. Mutant Powers and Treason Affiliations are illegal, so they must conceal having them, but they are useful, and using them can get you more dice (which increases your chance of success). You also receive a secret mission from your Treason Affiliations that you are expected to complete as well…that secret mission may conflict with your Public Mission that the whole party receives.

What It Does Well: I had two goals: (a) create an interesting “utopian” setting, and (b) breaking the Fourth Wall. I think I did both well. The setting can be said to be utopian because everyone gets their own personalized simulation where they will be happy, but at the same time, it is interesting because it is beset with numerous threats that players must deal with. Breaking the Fourth Wall by having Players be considered the ‘enemies’ of the AGI Federation also helps bring attention to the multiple layers of reality that is central to the setting.

Not Sure About/Feedback About: Whether the proposed plot hooks, the depiction of the Irrationals (people who want to escape from the simulation) and the Drifters (rogue AGIs that want to destroy the AGI Federation for their own mysterious reasons), the “utopian” nature of the simulations, etc. makes sense…or if there’s some logical flaw that people may find out during play (that I may need to wind up repairing). How to prevent the “Great Game” (the competition between the various AGIs) from inadvertently collapsing the AGI Federation into a civil war and destroying this very-carefully-made utopia.