"Following the bankruptcy of West End Games, the original designers of Paranoia banded together and purchased the rights to the game from West End in order to regain control of the line. The designers in turn granted a license to Mongoose Publishing to produce a new version of the game, with the result that "Paranoia XP" (ISBN 1904854265), written by Allen Varney, Aaron Allston, Paul Baldowski, Beth Fischi, Dan Curtis Johnson and Greg Costikyan, was published in 2004. In 2005, Microsoft requested that the XP be removed. As such, the name was shortened to just Paranoia. This edition of the game has received a much warmer critical reception, as well as selling well.
This edition also introduced three different styles of play, with some game mechanics differing between the various modes to support the specific tone being sought-after:
* Zap is anarchic slapstick with no claims to making sense and little effort at satire. Zap represents Paranoia as popularly understood: troubleshooters who open fire on each other with little to no provocation. It is often associated with the "Fifth Edition". The symbol of this game style is two smoking boots, much like the front cover.
* Classic is the atmosphere associated with the 2nd edition. While conflict inside of troubleshooter teams is common, it is less common and less frequently lethal. The symbol of this game style is a computer (representing The Computer).
* Straight represents a relatively new style for Paranoia, although it is not entirely without precedent in the darker portions of the original 1st edition rules. Straight Paranoia is more serious and focuses more on dark, complex satire. In Straight Paranoia, players are punished for executing other characters without first filing evidence of the other character's treason; this encourages slower, more careful gameplay and discourages random firefights and horseplay. The symbol of this game style is an enormous eye, much like the eye on the front cover.
Primary designer Allen Varney, in the designer's notes, explained that his aim with the new edition was to return to the game's roots whilst updating both the game system and the satirical setting to take account of twenty years of game design progress. In both the core rulebook and the Flashbacks supplement - a reprint of classic adventures originally published of West End Games - Varney was highly critical of West End Games' handling of the product line in its latter days, and declared many West End products, including the "Fifth Edition" and everything published for the 2nd Edition after The People's Glorious Revolutionary Adventure, to be "unproducts" - no longer part of the game's continuity, and not recommended for use with the new edition. An upshot of this is that the much of the ill-fated metaplot established late in the West End Games line, from the Secret Society Wars to the Reboot and beyond, was disposed of.
Long-time Paranoia artist Jim Holloway, called "the master of the fun-filled illustration" drew the cover art and much of the internal art for the game until 1986. His art for the series generally portray comedic scenarios that capture the essential "deathtrap" fealing of Alpha Complex. Paranoia XP marked his return to the line as well; he's designed every cover of the XP edition, and many books contain both his classic and new Paranoia art.
While Paranoia XP kept Communists as the big bad scapegoat in spite of the Cold War being long over, the updated edition integrates several 21st century themes into its satire. Troubleshooters carry PDCs (Personal Digital Companion) that are reminiscent of PDAs and smartphones and can try to acquire gear by bidding on CBay (obvious pun on Ebay). File sharing, phishing scams, identity theft and WMDs are some of the new threats to Alpha Complex you might encounter. Consumerism in Alpha Complex has been tooled into its economy and has taken on an element of patriotism, echoing sentiments expressed after 9/11 along similar trends. A mission pack released in 2009 titled War On (Insert Noun) lampoons government initiatives like the War on Drugs and the War on Terror.
In writing the new edition, Varney, Goldberg and Costikyn reached out to and actively collaborated with Paranoia's online fan community through an official blog (http://www.costik.com/paranoia) and through Paranoia-Live.net. In addition, Varney ran an online game, the Toothpaste Disaster, where players took the role of High Programmers documenting the titular disaster in a Lexicon format. Many ideas established in the Lexicon game were written into the rulebook. Later, some of the best players and writers from the game and a few other places were formally integrated as the Traitor Recycling Studio to write official Paranoia material; their first credited work was the mission supplement Crash Priority.
In 2006, Varney's fellow Paranoia writer, Mongoose Publishing employee Gareth Hanrahan, took over as primary writer for the Paranoia line.
For the 25th Anniversary of Paranoia in 2009, Mongoose Publishing has announced a special edition of the rulebook as well as two new rulebooks, one casting the players as higher-clearance Internal Security investigators and one where the players get to be Ultraviolet High Programmers. In June 2009, Mongoose announced that they would be retiring the books in the XP line at the end of the month to clear the way for the 25th anniversary edition line. They stated that the XP material would "maintain a 90% compatibility rating with the new Paranoia books"."
Source: Wikipedia, "Paranoia_(role-playing_game)", available under the CC-BY-SA License.