An Adventure Per Year: Alice Through the Mirrorshades (1989)

In my A Game Per Year project, my goal has been to read one roleplaying game corebook for every year they’ve been published. However, I soon started to feel that it was hard to decipher how the games were really meant to be played. For this reason, I decided to start a parallel project, An Adventure Per Year, to read one roleplaying adventure for each year they’ve been published.

The cover of the Paranoia adventure Alice Through the Mirrorshades

Alice Through the Mirrorshades is an adventure published for the satirical roleplaying game Paranoia. The English original came out in 1989 but I read it in the Finnish translation Liisa peililasimaassa which was published in 1993.

In Paranoia, the characters are Troubleshooters who live in a utopian/dystopian paradise ruled over by the Computer. The game had a massive effect on the inside humor of the Finnish roleplaying scene, especially in the Nineties. Endless jokes about how the Computer is watching you. It often felt that the cultural impact of Paranoia was much wider than the number of people who actually played it.

In Alice Through the Mirrorshades, the characters are sent into the past to figure out a mystery related to the Computer. This is an excuse for a crossover adventure in which the Paranoia characters are sent into the world of the Cyberpunk roleplaying game, complete with instructions for rules conversions.

As the characters explore the world of Cyberpunk and hunt a programmer nicknamed Alice they also learn of the backstory of Paranoia’s world and the catastrophe that created it. They’ll meet an early model of the Computer.

As an adventure design, Alice Through the Mirrorshades is a simple task-based Macguffin-hunt. It’s interesting because of the crossover which ties together two roleplaying games and because of the satirical, edgy language it’s written in. This becomes even more pronounced because of the choices made by the Finnish translator. There are editorial references to things like the Savo dialect and Juha Mieto.

The development of the internet has made many old Cyberpunk supplements quaintly charming. That applies to here too. Once the characters have fallen into the rabbit hole of the Net, there’s a scene where they literally queue for access to a long-distance phone line.

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