PARANOIA
Weapon Allocation at PLC

(Steve Criddle)

Background

    This puzzle works for five or six Troubleshooters of Orange Clearance.  I tried to adapt it for four, but it just won't work with less than five.

    If your team are Red Clearance, simply change the promotion and laser barrel colours according.

    During the briefing assign the following job titles - Team Leader, Deputy Team Leader, Happiness Officer, Equipment Guy and Weapons Officer.  If you have six players, add Documentation Officer to the list (his job is to make sure all documentation is filled in correctly).

    Promote the Team Leader and Deputy to Yellow Clearance.

The Puzzle

    Having been briefed, the Troubleshooters head off to PLC for their equipment. Much of the equipment has security labels on it, saying who is cleared to use it. This will give them a (solvable) puzzle when they try to get their guns.

    R&D have recently released a new improved laser pistol, called the Mark 2 laser pistol. It is hoped that within a couple of yearcycles the Mark 2 pistol will completely replace the older Mark 1 pistol. In a rare display of intelligence, R&D have made the Mark 2 pistol backwards-compatible with the older Mark 1 laser barrels. However, a Mark 2 barrel won't fit a Mark 1 pistol.

    Although R&D have made the Mark 2 backwards-compatible with the older ammunition, this is not an accidental move. R&D are in it for the credits. They know that by doing this Mark 1 ammunition will very quickly become rare. This means that they can charge a large amount for any Mark 1 barrels they sell, and that soon everybody will be forced to buy Mark 2 pistols because they can't get hold of any ammunition for the Mark 1. From a performance point of view, there is little difference between a Mark 1 and a Mark 2.

    The pistols and barrels are marked as follows...

    Five Troubleshooters:
     

      Barrels:
      • Orange Mk 1, labelled "<Happiness Officer's Name> or Equipment Guy"
      • Orange Mk 1, labelled "<Deputy Team Leader's Name> or <Equipment Guy's Name>"
      • Orange Mk 1, labelled "<Happiness Officer's Name> or Weapons Officer"
      • Orange Mk 2, labelled "<Team Leader's Name> or Weapons Officer"
      • Yellow Mk 2, labelled "Team Leader or Deputy Team Leader"
      Guns:
      • Mk 1 pistol, labelled "<Team Leader's Name> or Equipment Guy"
      • Mk 1 pistol, labelled "<Equipment Guy's Name> or Weapons Officer"
      • Mk 2 pistol, labelled "<Team Leader's Name> or Happiness Officer"
      • Mk 2 pistol, labelled "<Deputy Team Leader's Name> or Weapons Officer"
      • Mk 2 pistol, labelled "Deputy Team Leader or <Happiness Officer's Name>"


    Six Troubleshooters:
     

      Barrels:
      • Orange Mk 1, labelled "<Happiness Officer's Name> or Equipment Guy"
      • Orange Mk 1, labelled "<Deputy Team Leader's Name> or <Equipment Guy's Name>"
      • Orange Mk 1, labelled "Weapons Officer or <Documentation Officer's Name>"
      • Orange Mk 1, labelled "<Happiness Officer's Name> or Documentation Officer"
      • Orange Mk 2, labelled "<Team Leader's Name> or Weapons Officer"
      • Yellow Mk 2, labelled "Team Leader or Deputy Team Leader"
      Guns:
      • Mk 1 pistol, labelled "<Team Leader's Name> or Equipment Guy"
      • Mk 1 pistol, labelled "<Equipment Guy's Name> or Documentation Officer"
      • Mk 1 pistol, labelled "<Weapons Officer's Name> or Happiness Officer"
      • Mk 2 pistol, labelled "<Team Leader's Name> or Documentation Officer"
      • Mk 2 pistol, labelled "<Deputy Team Leader's Name> or Weapons Officer"
      • Mk 2 pistol, labelled "Deputy Team Leader or <Happiness Officer's Name>"


    Obviously you'll have to fill in these details once the job roles have been assigned in the briefing session.  One way of giving yourself some time for this is to get the players to fill in some paperwork after their briefing (for example, the Briefing Feedback Form).

    There are three puzzles here, all interrelated. Because every item has two names on it, there should hopefully be a fair amount of arguing over who gets what. Maybe there'll be a firefight (if the Troubleshooters can actually find a gun and barrel that work together). If they actually try to solve the problem, let them - there's more fun to come.

    Basically there are two ways of solving the gun allocation problem, and two ways of solving the barrel allocation problem. That gives you four possible outcomes. Only one of these will provide the entire team with working weapons.

    The first thing you'll notice is that there is one yellow barrel in the batch. Since both your Team Leader and Deputy have been promoted to Yellow clearance, they'll probably fight over who gets it. The Team Leader will probably win. If you've told him about Mark 1 and Mark 2 pistols, he'll quickly grab the Mark 2 pistol with his name on it (since he won't be able to use the Mark 2 barrel with a Mark 1 pistol). Once everybody has sorted out their guns and barrels, the Weapons Officer will find that he has a Mark 2 barrel with a Mark 1 gun. Since his job is to ensure that everybody has working weaponry, he'll probably complain.

    With luck the team will have another go at allocating weapons. Of the three remaining permutations, two of them leave the Team Leader with a gun/barrel mismatch. The correct permutation leaves the Deputy Team Leader with the yellow barrel.

Getting out of PLC

    At the exit to PLC is a security post. There are a couple of Blue Clearance guards here who ensure that everybody leaving is cleared for the equipment they are carrying. These guys aren't too bright, but they have been instructed that the only weaponry people are allowed to take is one laser pistol and one barrel. It is left to the GM to decide whether to make them take this order literally ("if you haven't got a gun, you're not allowed out") or not. Depending on how cruel a GM you are (well, depending on whether you want them to solve the weapon allocation puzzle or not) you can make the guards notice a gun/barrel mismatch. Alternatively you can let the characters get away with it at this stage, and spring them with an equipment check later.

    The characters pass through a security scanner on the way out, so they can't hide equipment on their person. The Troubleshooters will either leave some stuff behind (because they can't figure out the problem), or simply allocate the guns and barrels and hope they can sort out the matching of the two once they've got past the guards.


Paranoia and The Computer logo are registered trademarks of West End Games
Authors of submitted items are indicated where appropriate
All other text and graphics by Steve Criddle