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Mafia 101 - articles about the game the worst idea I ever had.

#1 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 04:57 PM

Mafia 101 – a guide to game on Malazan forums.


This project started a while ago, as we have a huge influx of new players recently, and the old hands are trying to sell the game to as many as possible (see D'reks interview in the Hall of Fame for an example).
Now, I'm not the best player around, but hey, I have time, so decided to start the topic off.

Comments and additions always welcome (PM me), but to prevent the thread from becoming another series of joke/vendetta/remembrance posts, I'll keep it locked.

The plan is to include the following in the 101:
  • Beginners Guide
  • Glossary of terms
  • Glossary of Roles
  • Faction games versus Ordinary Games
  • JA's article on how to play RI
  • Strategy Tips
  • A Quick and Dirty Modding Guide
  • Game Design: does and don'ts



Let's begin at the beginning:

The beginner’s guide: the fundamental basics.

Who the fuck are you to write a guide?

Hi, I’m Tapper. I’m far from the best player you’ll encounter on these boards, but I am a bit of a veteran now (although not in the eyes of those who played the game before I signed up for my first game).
I also design and run quite a few games on this board, some rather straightforward, some fiendishly complicated, and apparently, people think the majority of them all are balanced and fun to play. Or they are just too polite to tell me to fuck off and get a new hobby that doesn’t mess with their time.

What is Mafia?

Every mafia player will answer this question differently. Ask them anyway. They will tell you about town and scum, about voting, about killers and guards and finders and lying and trying to stay alive.

For me, those are all parts of the game, but if I had to capture what is for me the essence of the game in one sentence it would be this:

Mafia is a game of information.

The goal of the game is to eliminate the other side(s) (remember that, please), but few, if any, know who else is on their side, or who is opposing them.

As such, gathering information is key. With forum mafia being a text based game that forbids by its rules any contact between gamers regarding the game that has not been pre-ordained by the arbiter of the game, the only way to gather information is by analysing what others say, and by trying to get them to reveal information while keeping your own cards close to your chest, for your own safety. Getting above average attention is usually bad.

As a rule of thumb to what gets attention:

Those who seem to know more than others usually get unwanted attention.
Those who seem to want to know too much usually get unwanted attention.
Those who seem to want to avoid attention, also get unwanted attention.
Finally, those who do not do anything to get unwanted attention, get unwanted attention for being too perfect.

Usually, ‘unwanted attention’ culminates in being removed from the game.
The trick is to find a middle road between them all, but: that is only if you want to survive.

One of the most awesome things about Mafia is the sacrificial part. Sometimes, acquiring, gathering or sharing a tiny bit of (mis)information is worth being removed from the game for.
You win or lose as a team, and only in the rarest of circumstances is it so that you are the entire team.

How do I play Mafia?

Essentially, you need a bunch of people who can all communicate with each other, ideally with some cross-over time, and someone willing to manage it all. In our case, we play it on a forum, which means that being available at the same time is not necessary, and even those with fairly little time can play the game.

What are the requirements?
Time. Patience. Some brains would be nice.
You must also be able to shrug it off when people compare your intelligence unfavourably to what they just deposited into a toilet bowl, but it helps knowing that this is never personal.

What are the time requirements?
Having an hour each game phase is far more productive than having one entire day and then no time at all for four days. Having some time to read up and post each 24 or 36 hours is a base requirement in Malazan Mafia.

Can I just jump in?

Yes and no. You’ll never learn the game without playing it.
However, the learning curve is steep and once you’re in a game, no-one can help you, not even the arbiter (from here on: mod), because it means giving information. And information, as you saw above, is a scarce resource. The mod is forbidden from doing so, other players will be surprisingly taciturn, fearing you are an old hand playing the wide-eyed newcomer.

What are the most common pitfalls for a new player?
The more unusual the game, the more level the playing field, but also the more confusion there will be for a new player: veterans will find their feet a lot faster.

In basic games, new players tend to place too much emphasis on certainty of innocence or guilt and consider minimizing the amount of casualties a town priority. This is generally characterized by an unwillingness to vote someone or considering a no-lynch a better option than the lynch of a town player. This is nowhere more pronounced than on day 1, when people are often voted out for the most ridiculous reasons by veterans and rookies are hesitant to vote or even prefer a no-lynch.

The truth of the matter is that right until the end-game, both teams benefit from reducing the amount of players left in the game for a multitude of reasons.

Therefore, if you want to stay around and avoid the pitfalls, do NOT hesitate to vote for someone even if you are unsure if that person is scum. Under no circumstances should you vote for night in the opening phase of a standard game. A vote for night can be a good stalling tactic later on in the game, and can certainly be of tactical value to the town faction. If you feel voting for night might benefit the game, suggest it without actually doing it.
If it is the correct play, people will agree with you. Voting for night is often the result of a consensus reached on thread before the first vote is made.

So how should I prepare?

A good middle way is reading a few games, trying to understand why players say certain things. Even then, it will seem incomprehensible at times and you will not grasp why people get excited, why reasonable suggestions are ignored and outrageous claims taken at face value.
Only once you play the game, you’ll learn to appreciate just how much your own judgment is biased and how people maneuver to get what they want in seemingly illogical ways. You may appreciate it, but you will still step into every single pitfall out there and get tricked by everyone a great many times.

The most common blind spot is players concentrating on staying in the game (‘alive’) , while it usually is stated explicitly that players can be removed from the game (‘killed’) and still win, if their faction achieves its goal.
When you get down to it, this is really, really simple. People believe they have some insight to add to the game that others can’t bring to the table. Hence, it is always more important for them to survive, then for others.

There is also a weird pecking order in mafia. One of the main mechanics of a game is that a player will be removed from the game if within a given amount of time (the day phase, usually between 24 and 48 hours long, most often 32 or 36) a consensus is reached between the majority of the players on who this player should be. We call this the lynch.
The intention behind lynching someone is, of course, to hopefully remove a player from the other faction from the game, thereby furthering your own chances at victory while diminishing theirs.
However, since this is usually a complete guess, many other factors play a role in determining the lynch:
• the player’s behaviour so far in the game;
• the player’s activity;
• the player’s way of handling other players;
• the player’s suggestions up until now;
• the player’s attitude on previous lynches;
• the player’s attempts to steer other players.

Some are more persuasive at suggesting who should be removed than others are. Being persuasive does not equate being right, of course. On the other hand, being right does add weight to ones suggestions, so one spark of genius followed by a series of misses can still do more harm than good in the long run.

Also, no-one really likes being told what to do and why, and everyone fears they are being misled, especially if that leader of the pack gets it wrong a few times – people will think he is doing it deliberately because he is on the other side, and after a miss or two they will string the leader up and crown a new leader of the pack.
Such players are also a great target for that other main game mechanic: the night kill.

Once a lynch has happened, or once the given amount of time for the day phase has run out, the day phase is ended. Like in the real world, day is followed by night.

The night phase is when most of the underhanded, stealthy stuff happens. Usually, the night phase is dominated by the faction that starts out with the smallest number (usually called scum). One of their regular powers is to remove one player of their choice from the game.

The choice of who to remove is based on many factors:
• How close did the player come to uncovering a scum player?
• How persuasive is the player in leading the pack during the day phase?
• How much attention does the player get, can he be lynched or not?
• How big is the chance he is secretly on our side?
• How much chaos will this player’s removal from the game cause?
• Who would benefit most from this player’s removal?

As you can see, there are a great many factors, and therefore second guessing the reason why a player was removed from the game by a night kill is difficult and usually quickly nipped in the bud. This does not mean it is not worthy of consideration, just that building a theory of who killed this person is difficult to construct and even harder to prove, and why it is usually called WIFOM to speculate on.

This post has been edited by Tapper: 31 May 2011 - 04:37 PM

Everyone is entitled to his own wrong opinion. - Lizrad
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#2 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 05:03 PM

Glossary 1: Game Terms

Action (aka ability)
A special player ability or power that they can activate to increase the chance to hinder the other faction(s) and/or advance your own. Usually, you can take only one action each phase and only actions that are named in your role. You use an action by submitting its use to the mod, who will process it when the appropriate time arrives.

Alignment
The faction you are a part of. Usually, this is town or scum, but there are far more esoteric names for them.

Alt
A forum account created to provide anonymity to mafia players. On malazan empire, the game alts are named after Eleint and Warrens.

Alt-less
A game that does not use game-alts, but players' regular forum accounts. Since players are known, meta-game effects can be felt more heavily.

Alt-guessing
Trying to guess which player is hiding in which game alt.
Since games change in set-up and roles but player’s perceptions, tactics and playstyles are often set in stone or change only gradually, alt-guessing can be rewarding to deduce extra information from. This is the meta-game.

Case
An explanation on why a player may be scum, usually containing one or more quotes that give an illustration of what the player said that is not in the interest of the town faction.

Coasting (aka playing smooth)
1. playing in a way that causes no offense and attracts no interest.
2. used to describe low-posters, but technically incorrect in that regard, as a coaster provides little content whereas a low-poster purely provides few posts.

Coroner-Finder (aka CF)
In most games, when a player is killed (removed from the game) through legal means, the mod posts one or more of the following things about the player/alt:
1. the players faction;
2. the players regular forum alt;
3. the players role name (if any, this is a rather irregular happenstance).

Day
The Day Phase. The Day Phase is the only Phase during which a lynch is possible, and during which players can vote. Usually, the Day phase is longer than the night phase to allow proper exchanges of information. Also, there are far less actions that players can take during the day than they can during the night.

Day 2 Disease
A common occurance in mafia, usually started by a player who's convinced he's got the game figured out and pushes a case to a lynch that will dominate the game for several game days.

D-Day
The game day on which the town faction must lynch a scum player in order to not lose the game. Usually, the conditions for this are as follows: (likely number of town players) - (likely number of scum players) = 1.

Distancing
1. Partnered players voting one another or building (mediocre) cases against one another to not seem paired in order to minimize the chance of the other side identifying them as partners, or of one player who has one sided knowledge that another player is on his team. The initiative is usually pre-emptive.
2. Voting or making a case against someone you are associated with on thread, whether this association is correct or not. Usually done if the association gets uncomfortable and/or the one you're associated with is likely to be voted off and you're unsure (or very sure) that the alignment of that person will support your position. Distancing in this way is reactive.

Dragon-sex
A way to pass the down time (usually on night 1), involving badly written highly creative graphic game alt on game alt giant reptile porn. One of the quirks of this forum. Often used as a reference between old timers to designate there is little to talk about.

Faction
The side you belong to. Most games involve two factions, town and scum. Some have one extra, or even or a great many more – these are faction games. Faction games pack different victory conditions than regular games.

Fake Reveal
Telling people (part of) the rough contents of your role, except lying about it to achieve some goal. The most common fake reveal is fake revealing finder to get another player lynched.

Fake Symping
Siding with someone or supporting someone in such a way (and usually without prior clues) that your defense/ support is actually undercutting his/her position.

Gut
A feeling why someone may be scum, without having an explanation for it.

Jumping
1. Over-reacting when accused.
2. a description of the process by which the role Faceless Man takes over another players alt.

Lynching
Removing the player from the game who a majority of the votes has been cast for.

Mafia Manager
The program developed and maintained by alt146 to keep track of voting, time and roles (optional).

Meat & Potatoes (aka M&P or MP)
A game ran with the (near) minimum amount of roles and the most basic ones at that. M&P requires a lot of playing skill on behalf of the players, but understanding of the setting is optimal.
M&P is very well suited for Mini's.

Meta-game
Since many play mafia for a great amount of games, you learn to recognize one another, even when playing with alts. Often, players also have philosophies on how they ought to play a role. Thus, by identifying who they are, what playstyle they use, and what their usual style is in a given role, one can try and guess what role that player currently has by using information that is not present in the game itself. This is called the meta-game.

Mini
A game with 13 players or less, intended to be over in 4-6 game days.
Here on Malazan Empire, we usually identify minis by adding .5 or .75 to the game number of the last big game that was ran before them, so 27.5 was the mini that was ran after game nr. 27.

Mod
The person running the game. Mods are impartial arbiters who watch the game, announce lynches, resolve actions and take care of those who break the rules.
They are supposed to stay away from influencing the game.
The Mods operate from alts with moderator powers for the Mafia forum. These alts are Hugin & Munin (H&M) and the more commonly used Path-Shaper (P-S).

Mod-kill
The ultimate punishment: removal from the game by a mod. It is usually reserved for those who fail to post for a given duration (often the length of the day), but can also be used on players breaking the rule.

Night
The Night Phase. The night phase is where night actions take place. It is usually resolved when every player has submitted their action, or when its maximum duration has passed, whichever happens sooner.

OMGUS (aka Oh My God You Suck)
voting someone because you think the player is stupid, not because you think he is scum. Seldom good for the game.

Provisional
A temporary placeholder for your (night) action as granted by your role, for example: for now, do a find on player X, unless X is lynched, then Y. Mods love provisionals as they allow speedy resolutions.

Predator
Referring to Vengeance's Aliens game where it was an actual role, the term is used for every role that is nearly immune to players attempts to remove the player from the game (lynch proof and one or more bullet proofs).

Reveal
Telling people (part of) the rough contents of your role.

Role
The things you can do in a particular game, as detailed by the mod. Often, in games using a defined theme, roles have character names (‘Whiskeyjack’, ‘Karsa’, ‘Guinevere’, Gandalf’).
Roles are also archtypes: a player who can guard has a Guard Role, an alignment finder is a Finder.

Scum
In a regular game, the faction with the lowest numbers and the ability to remove players at night. Often, all scum knows at the least one other scum player. The uniform victory condition is to achieve parity in numbers.
In non-standard games, scum is often used as the term to define the faction that dominates the Night Phase through kill actions.

Self-voting
A player voting for his own lynch. Often seen as throwing a tantrum, lack of a viable defense, giving up, or trying to attract pity, although in some cases, there can be good reasons for doing so. Many games do not allow self-voting.

Strawmanning
Deliberately misconstructing another person’s statement to suit your own argument.

Symping
1. Symping someone: defending someone and/or supporting someones arguments in a suspicious way.
2. Symping (general): a playstyle often associated with the symp role (scum): causing chaos on thread through rapid vote changing, multiple accusations and trying to make a lot of people lynchable to make sure town unity is non-existent.

Town
In a regular game, the faction with the highest numbers. The goal of the Town is to remove all scum players from the game.
In non-standard games, town is often used as the term to define the largest faction with the weakest (or defensive) night actions.
Town can also be used as an easy term to identify everyone in the game, as everyone will pretend to be a member of the town faction

TMDI
Twisted Mindfuck of Doom Index, a scale of 1 to 10+ which the game designers/mods use to designate how much the game is different in roles, set-up and rules from the most basic version of the game (2 killers who can communicate, all town are RI, CF is in effect). TMDI says nothing about the difficulty of the game.

Train
A chain of several players voting for another player. The lynch-train is the chain of players who voted to lynch someone. Trains are often used to see who voted whom and to construct cases with, as they are a piece of hard evidence.

Victory Condition
The rule that defines when your faction wins.

Voting a player
Nominating a player to be lynched. Each player has by default only one vote. Votes can only be cast during the Day phase. You can usually remove your vote and then vote again.
Once there is a absolute majority (defined as 50% of the votes, plus one) the player who they all voted for is removed from the game (aka lynched) and the Day phase is ended.

Voting for night
Officially suggesting that the day phase should be ended and the night phase should be started. While voting for night, you cannot vote for a player. Voting for night is usually seen as a bad play and as a play beneficial to the scum faction (as they have the most/ most lethal night actions). It is therefore seldom used.

Weasel/ Weaseling
Reference to Jump Around (JA) and commonly used to describe someone turning cases and arguments against him/her upside down, emerging as the accuser/likely innocent rather than the person under scrutiny.

WIFOM:
Wine in front of me. A reference to the movie The Princess Bride, where a Sicilian offers two cups of wine, one poisoned, one not: one in front of himself, one in front of the masked stranger, and dares the stranger to drink the one he thinks is not poisoned. The dialogue spins out into a ‘But if you knew I knew you knew, I knew, you’d reverse it, but knowing that…’ endless chain.
WIFOM is used to designate arguments, attacks or defenses or analysis that are based on speculation and can be easily reversed. Once a player starts trying to reason out a night kill, people will often call it WIFOM.

Worst Case Scenario
Usually used to determine on what day town will lose given a certain number of scum and no scum lynches, assuming the highest amount of scum that seems probable. WCS always assumes none of the symps are lynched unless this is simply not possible given the amount of players left in the game (example: no scum CFs yet, paired killers and only 5 alive while game continues).

This post has been edited by Tapper: 21 March 2011 - 02:12 PM

Everyone is entitled to his own wrong opinion. - Lizrad
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#3 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 15 February 2011 - 07:02 PM

Glossary 2: Basic Mafia Roles.

The most common roles in a Town versus Scum game with a TMDI of 4 or lower:

Town Roles

The Roleless Innocent (R.I.)
The Roleless Innocent knows only his own faction alignment and victory condition. He can do nothing special during the day or night phase and has no other knowledge than that which is provided on thread.

As a rule of thumb: the lower the TMDI of a game, the more Roleless Innocents there are.

The Finder
The quintessential information role, the finder can (usually as a night action) determine the alignment of a player of his choice.
This information is only send to the Finder, not published on thread.
Finders are nearly always aligned with Town.

The Healer
A protective role that involves second guessing the intentions of the opposition.
The Healer can specify a player (usually as a night action), who is immune to night kills for the duration of that phase. The healed player is usually not informed of being healed.
Healers are nearly always aligned with Town.

The Guard
A protective/action denying role that involves second guessing the identity of the opposition.
The Guard can specify a player (usually as a night action), who then cannot perform actions for the duration of that night. The guarded player is usually not informed of being guarded.
When a guard targets another guard to be guarded, the guarded guard cannot guard.
Guards are nearly always aligned with Town, however, of the four basic roles, this is the one most often assigned to scum extras beyond the usual killer/killer/symp trio.

The Vigilante (abbr. Vig)
A role that can remove players from the game, often with just one use.
The Vigilante can specify a player (usually as a night action), who is then removed from the game in the same way a player would be removed by a scum kill.
Vigs are nearly always aligned with town.

Scum Roles

The Killer
The main scum role.
The Killer can remove one player from the game each night. In case of paired killers, they have to consent on who to remove.
Killers are (almost with no exception) aligned with scum.

The Symp
The most common scum support role.
The symp is an RI to all outward appearances, even on Coroner Finder. However, the Symp knows at the least one of the main scum players, and often more than one. This allows them to deflect attention from that player, as well as allowing them to masquerade as a Finder (since they know the alignment of most if not all other players in the game).

This post has been edited by Tapper: 15 February 2011 - 07:20 PM

Everyone is entitled to his own wrong opinion. - Lizrad
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#4 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:09 PM

Glossary 2b: Less Basic Roles (work in progress)

There is no easy way to sort roles. As such, I'll be doing it entirely how I like it. I'll be sorting things by category, but these are not hard set. Expect the thread to change multiple times in layout.

Boiler Plate/Fine Print:
The roles come from a variety of places: several online mafia wikis, past games on these forums and from my own store of used and unused roles and role parts.

As such, I ran into trouble regarding naming conventions, as some places use a mafia versus town set-up, others a werewolf versus villagers set-up, and we ourselves tend to name stuff whatever we like. Since we run a lot of themed games, our own role names are hardly consistent with each other either.

I've taken the liberty of coming up with new names that might suit Malazan Empire Mafia better than the original name if I felt there might be confusion. I have tried to keep these names as neutral as possible.

Sometimes, I've added an aka with the role name as used elsewhere, but I haven't bothered with this in every role.


I'll use the following categories:

Information Roles
Protective Roles
Denial Roles
Killing Roles
Communication Roles
Misinformation Roles
Miscellanuous Roles
Recruiting Roles

Information Roles

The basic variant of the information role is the Finder. However, there are a lot of things you can tie to an investigative role, and the more different the game from the standard, the weirder things can to get.

Action Finder (aka Thief)
The action finder learns not the alignment of his target, but whether or not he or she used an action during that phase.
This can be a simple yes/no find, or give the type or sometimes even the text of the ability used.
Fairly exotic role.

Coroner Finder
In some games, there is no standard Coroner Finder effect. Instead, it is assigned to a player. There are two variants of the role:
1. While the Coroner Finder is alive, the mod posts a CF message on the game thread;
2. While the Coroner Finder is alive, the mod tells him the alignment of any player removed from the game, but the thread does not get this information.
Quite common derivation.

Target Finder (aka Tracker)
Like the action finder, the Target Finder deals with the action of the investigated player (if any). Only, instead of learning the ability, he learns the target.
Fairly exotic role.

The Watcher
The Watcher is like a reversed Target Finder. Instead of learning who his own target has targeted, he learns who targets his target.
Fairly exotic role.

Kill-Finder (aka Gunsmith)
The Kill-Finder searches for only one thing: can my target kill? He will get a positive result for killers, vigs and other removal roles, but he will get negative results for anyone else.
Fairly exotic role.

Oracle (aka Cicero)
Who-ever is investigated by the Oracle, gets exposed - in the two cases the role was used on this forum (the first getting its nick of Cicero after the role), this meant the entire Role PM including faction alignment was posted on the game thread.
Very powerful, very exotic role.

Protective Roles

Bulletproof (aka BP)
The Bulletproof is a one-time protection against a kill, used for the roled player only. He does not have to activate it, and the Bulletproof usually also counts while the player is guarded. There are 2 common variants:
1. the BP works for all kill actions used against the player during the night the player is targeted with a kill;
2. The BP works against a single kill only.
Fairly common role.

Lynchproof (aka LP)
The Lynchproof allows the player to survive the first time he is lynched and is then removed.
Rarely used role.

Recruit Proof
The Recruit Proof protects against recruitment by a cult: the player keeps his alignment when recruited for the first time.
Rarely used role, limited only to games in which there is a huge amount of recruitment.

Recruit Immunity
This player can never be recruited.
Used for faction leaders/starting cultists only.

Healer-Guard (aka Prostitute aka Jailkeeper)
You heal someone with your action, preventing them from being killed this phase, and you also guard them at the same time, preventing them from taking any actions this phase.
relatively straightforward adaptation of two standard roles.

Bodyguard
The Bodyguard protects someone with his own life. If the person he picks to protect (usually as a night action) is targeted by a killer, the Bodyguard dies instead.
somewhat exotic role.

Herbalist (aka Faith Healer)
Like a regular healer, except the success of the heal is dependant on a coin flip (or dice role, or whatnot) by the mod. Sometimes the Faith Healer is informed of the fact he or she has an action dependent on luck, sometimes they're not.
Weak exotic version of a standard role.

Hostage Taker (aka Hider)
The Hostage Taker can choose another player to act as his/her meatshield. If a kill targets the Hostage Taker, the meatshield dies instead.
An exotic and powerful role, albeit with some drawbacks

Governor (aka Vox Populi)
The Governor has an ability that can end a day without a lynch, regardless of the number of votes.
Some versions of the role allow this after a lynch has occurred, the Vox Populi version used on this forum has it as an ability that must be used during the day and before a lynch has been made.
Exotic role, iirc only used in both Rome games on this forum

Necromancer (aka Reviver)
Can bring one or more people back from the dead (obviously before they have entered spoiler heaven).
Insanely powerful role, especially in combination with CF and therefore best avoided.

Demon Summoner
The scum version of the Necromancer. Can bring a player back from the dead (obviously before they have entered spoiler heaven) and converts their alignment and win conditions to the scum faction, learning the name of the Demon Summoner in the process.
Very powerful role.

Battlefield Surgeon (aka CPR Doctor)
Heals like a regular Healer, except that his target dies unless he/she has actually been targeted with an action that would remove him/her from play.

Killing Roles
Killing roles are roles that remove players from the game. Such actions are usually identified as the province of the scum faction, but if used sparingly, can also spice up a faction game or strengthen a town faction. A word of caution: adding any extra number of killing roles to a game is a danger to the set-up and playing balance.


Day Vig
The Day Vig is a derivative of the regular Vigilante role. Rather than killing during the night phase, the Day Vig uses his action during the day, usually having it resolved as soon as the mod receives the order. One might consider this a more powerful version of the role, as it has the chance to play havoc with lynch trains.
Fairly common deviation from a standard role.

Faceless Man (aka FM)
1. a role that allows alt jumping. In essence, the Faceless Man targets another alt. At the end of a designated period of time (sometimes the end of the phase, sometimes after a full day and night cycle), the players switch game alts. After that, the player who now plays from the FM's former alt is removed from the game. Sometimes, the password of the game alt is changed to avoid fuck-ups.
2. term used on the GRRM forums for the killer role.
The Faceless Man is a role that is almost exclusively used as a solo faction, and tends to dominate games.

Ninja (aka Berserker)
The Ninja is a one time kill role with a twist: it also suicides. There are two versions of the role:
1. The day-ninja (the version that is used the most often on this forum): the ninja is given a codephrase. Once the code phrase and a player name are both posted in the same message, both the ninja and the target player are removed from the game. The submitting of the code phrase acts both as a reveal and as a measure to identify when the kill took place.
2. In the night action version of the role, the ninja submits a target to be removed from the game, and both the ninja and another player are removed from the game during action resolution.
Fairly common exotic role.

Eager Vig
The Eager Vig is a standard vigilante, except he must use his kill action within a given amount of phases (usually, the Eager Vig is forced to use it on the first night).
Exotic adaptation from a standard town role, weaker than a regular vig.

Hesitant Vig
A reversed Eager Vig, the Hesitant Vig may only use his ability to remove a player from the game after a certain number of phases have passed.
Exotic adaptation from a standard town role, weaker than a regular vig.

Reactionary Vig
The Reactionary Vig has no control over his own night action. Instead, the ability is activated when the player is targeted by another player during the night phase (sometimes also with a certain type of ability). The Reactionary Vig may or may not have a limited number of uses.
Exotic and rare role, for high tmdi and very lethal games only.

Boobytrapped Inno
A boobytrapped player is like the Reactionary Vig, with the caveat that it only works on kill actions.
Exotic and very rarely used role, to my knowledge never on these forums.

Bomber
A Bomber operates like a day vig, with the difference that he does not control who he targets. Through a code phrase used on thread, the Bomber specifies the use of this ability. Depending on the wording, the player(s) to post either immediately after him or within X posts ("time-bomb") are removed from the game. Usually a one-shot ability.
Exotic role, usually reserved for scum.

Remote Control Bomber
Like a Bomber, only the ability is activated by PM, and by supplying a post number. That post number acts as the trigger for the bomb, anyone who has that number as his post, is killed, including the Bomber himself.
Exotic role, usually reserved for scum.

Suicide Bomber
A combination of the Bomber and the Ninja, the Bomber activates his ability through a code phrase on thread. The person(s) posting immediately before him (rare version) or after him (more common version) or both (very rare version) and the Suicide Bomber himself are removed from the game.
Some versions of the role may by-pass Bullet Proofs and/or heals.
Exotic role, usually reserved for scum.

Serial Killer
The Serial Killer usually has a last man standing victory objective and is the enemy of both the town faction and the regular scum faction. He can kill every night phase, and sometimes every phase.
Fairly standard third party role in regular games.

Vengeful Townie
A vig who can kill immediately after he has been lynched (and only after he has been lynched), and before he gains access to Spoiler Heaven.
Exotic role (iirc never used on Malazan Empire), town only.

Suicidal Townie
A player who kills himself night one.

Mod note: as far as I can see, the role only exists to disguise the number of killers and put pressure on town straight from the start. It is by no means a role your players will like as essentially, they signed up to be arbitrarily excluded before the game even really kicks off.

Exotic role (iirc never used on Malazan Empire), town only.

Wounded Townie (aka (less political correct) Terminal Townie)
A watered-down version of the Suicidal Townie. The Wounded player is automatically removed from the game after a certain number of day/night phases has passed. You can add conditions that will affect this duration.
Exotic role, never used to my knowledge.

Wounded Scum
The Scum version of the Wounded Townie. The Wounded Scum is automatically removed from the game after a certain number of day/night phases has passed. This allows a more influential and powerful scum faction early game (for example, making the Wounded Scum also a Guard) without affecting the game balance in the end-game.
Exotic role, never used to my knowledge.

Assassin
The Assassin is a regular (scum aligned) killer, except that his kills are unaffected by one or both of the following:
1. heals or bullet proofs on the target,
2. guards on the Assassin.
The role can be watered down by giving a limited number of uses of this ability to the Assassin.
Very exotic, very powerful role.

Dictator (aka Hammer)
As a day-action, the Dictator can pick another player to be removed from play. The player is considered to be lynched, and after resolution of this action the day phase ends and the night phase starts.
This role was so far used once on this forum.

Miscalleneous Roles

Ambidexter
The Ambidexter can take 2 actions per phase, instead of 1. This effect is usually incorporated into a role, not a role all by itself.

and that's it for now...... more comes later!

This post has been edited by Tapper: 30 March 2011 - 10:38 PM

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:10 PM

Glossary 3: Commonly Used Abbreviations

Have been asked to put this one up. Some of these are in the Glossary 1 as well, but they have been put up here under the abbr instead of under the fully written name. Feel free to ask me to add stuff!

BCS
Best Case Scenario. Usually used to determine how long town can survive without lynching scum given a certain set-up - BCS usually counts the symp(s) as lynched.

BP
Bullet Proof. A self-protecting role or role-aspect.

CI
Confirmed Innocent. Usually only given to people who have been investigated by a revealed and confirmed finder.
The scale runs as follows, from most innocent to least innocent: CI >> VPI >> PI

CF
Coroner-Finder.

FM
Faceless Man. A certain type of role that switches into other player alts. See Glossary 1 or Glossary 2B for a longer description and mechanics.

H&M
The Mod-alt Hugin & Munin.

HP
The Hood's Path game alt.

IGMEOY
I've Got My Eye On You. Warning to another player that you're watching them. In the same breath, it is usually mentioned that so far, that person did nothing overtly scummy yet.

LP
Lynch Proof. A self protecting role or role aspect.

L-#
The number of votes required to lynch a player who has already gathered one or more votes. L-4 is another 4 votes required to lynch the player, for example.

M&P
Meat & Potatoes game. See Glossary 1.

PM
Personal Message. In Mafia, this often means either the Role PM or a seperate PM from Path-Shaper

P-S, PS
The Mod-alt Path-Shaper

RI
Roleless Innocent.

OMGUS
Oh My God U Suck. Added as a reason to vote someone who gets stuff horribly wrong, usually early in the game.

PI
Probably Innocent. Rating system commonly used to denote someone's probability to be town, commonly used to rate people against one another. The scale runs as follows, from most innocent to least innocent: CI >> VPI >> PI

Prov
Abbr. for Provisional. See Glossary 1, please.

STFU
Shut the fuck up. Speaks for itself.

TMDI
Twisted Mindfuck of Doom Index. Difficulty rating of the game.

VPI
Very Probably Innocent. More innocent than a PI, less so than a CI.
The scale runs as follows, from most innocent to least innocent: CI >> VPI >> PI

WIFOM
Wine in front of me. See Glossary 1, please.

WCS
Worst Case Scenario. Usually used to determine on what day town will lose given a certain number of scum and no scum lynches. WCS assumes none of the symps are lynched unless this is simply not possible given the amount of players left in the game (example: no scum CFs yet, paired killers and only 5 alive while game continues).

This post has been edited by Tapper: 07 March 2011 - 10:52 PM

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:10 PM

 Jump Around, on 22 May 2009 - 04:07 PM, said:

I'll give a shot at making a few “serious” pointers for new players who are interested to start playing. This thread until now is more inside jokes than actual advice.

Those pointers are based on my vision of the game, so may vary from person to person. I'll try to explain what I mean with each point so you are free to agree or not, and can use this as a starting point to build your own style of play. I'll try to provide pointers for all the roles of a “normal” game.

ROLELESS INNO

Roleless innos are the majority of players, and represent the core of the mafia game. Their role is to detect the killer team and to come together to lynch them.

1) Read the thread carefully
2) Occasional funny posts and initial RP are fine, but avoid spamming.
3) Post regularly and try to help your team. Comment on what other players post, comment on the comments other players post.
4) Do NOT feel insulted at accusations. Remember that other players are doing like you and are looking at your own posts for signs that you might be a killer. Words like “scum” and “scummy” are shorthand to refer to members of the other team, and not your character.
5) Do not be intimidated.
6) Be careful in defending someone if you think the attacks are unwarranted. It is often best to let that person defend themselves first. Otherwise, only express your opinion when challenged to follow or asked to comment.
7) There are as many ways of playing killer than there are players, so avoid fixating on the same patterns. Try to make different types of accusations, most of the time the reaction of the player to the accusations provide more information than the accusations themselves.
8) PROTECT the roled players from your team. Dying is part of the game, and better you than a roled inno.
9) Avoid speculating whether a player is roled
10) When in danger of getting lynched, try to defend yourself, but do not lie or disrupt the game out of spite. Even though they lynch you, mafia is a team game, and you can still win, so try to make it that your team gains from your death rather than loses.
11) Put pressure on different players, but stay civil.
12) If there is a CF, it is better to compromise and help a lynch you don't fully agree with than let the day end without a lynch.
13) Realize it takes time to find a killer. They are a minority, which means that innos are allowed many “mistakes” before being successful.
14) If a killer dies, do a full re-read with the additional information in mind.
15) In the endgame, when the killer team has the potential to be one away from majority, do NOT vote early in the day. Discuss, attack, reflect, but one wrong vote can cause the killer team to pounce and win the game.

ROLED INNOS
The main job of a roled inno is to stay alive as long as possible, as most increase their impact towards the endgame. How to achieve this is delicate; one's main concern is to not betray himself to the killers, and to not offer them an easy kill target. Try to be more offensive than passive.

Paired inno (lovers)
1) Find a way early to prove that you can communicate off-thread. Coding each other's names in posts is one common way to do so. Be careful that the code is not easily detectable.
2) Make this code strong, in case one of the lovers gets NKed and is no longer around to prove this off-thread communication by other means.
3) Use this off-thread communication to discuss strategies with the other player. The more the better
4) Unless you are otherwise roleless, do not reveal if one of the lovers is in danger of getting lynched. The “role” survives the loss of one partner, and the pairing can be used to save the second lover later in the endgame. Do not give the killers more information than needed.

Finder
1) Use you instinct to investigate who you feel like. Like for making cases, there is no solid rule as to how a killer plays.
2) Do not reveal to save someone you found innocent, even if that person ends up getting lynched (this might not apply in the endgame)
3) For this reason, try to identify the players who are probable lynches for the next day, and avoid investigating them. If they are guilty, this additional info is not needed, and if they are innocent, the only thing you can do with this information is expose yourself to save them. Your role is not to cover someone else's butt.
4) Be subtle on how you react on thread to your find results. A sudden attack or defence of a player can tip the killers.
5) If you have a guilty find, try to get that player lynched without revealing. If it does not work, think if the timing is right for revealing.

Gaurd
1) If you have reasons to believe that the killers are paired and that there is more than one, refrain from using your night action. At best, your block will be ineffective, at worst it will block a roled inno. Start using your night action when you think there's only 1 killer left
2) Do not reveal immediately if you guard someone and there is no NK. Just guard that same person the next night. If you are right, you risk nothing anyway. If you are wrong, you frame an inno and expose yourself.

Vig
1) Avoid using your vig early in the game. It does not matter if you die with your vig unused.
2) Use your vig in the endgame to cover many bases at once, i.e. during a reveal and a counter-reveal. Lynch one and vig the other.
3) Do not vig on a hunch or out of spite.

Healer
1) Try to second-guess who the killer would want to kill.
2) If you hesitate between two, chose the one you personally want to keep around the most.
3) In the early game, a no-NK is most probably a successful heal, and your target is most probably not a killer. Do not reveal to save that person from a lynch, but use that information in the endgame if both of you are still alive.
4) If a player has revealed without counter-reveal, heal that person. Even if you think the killers will know you heal them and will probably target someone else, heal that person.
5) NEVER REVEAL, EVEN WHEN ABOUT TO GET LYNCHED.


Discussions and comments welcome. I didn't do the scum roles yet, but if someone better than me at being killer wants to take a shot, go for it.

This post has been edited by Tapper: 25 February 2011 - 06:14 PM

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:10 PM

Faction Games versus Ordinary Games

Identifying the differences between regular mafia and faction games

There are many different ways to play mafia. There are many different ways to run ‘regular’ mafia. And there are faction games and there are faction games. So, rule number 1:
before you can say anything about playstyle and expectations, you have to know what game you’re playing in and what the difference between games is on an elemental level.

Let's start by what we know.

Regular Games (Town vs Scum)

Regular games come in a variety of flavours:
1. There is the town versus scum, pitting the majority against a minority.
2. The addition of a solo player third faction: either a Serial Killer, a Jester or a Faceless Man, each with a defined objective.
3. Town versus cult.
4. Town versus scum versus cult.
5. Multiple town factions versus scum.

This has, in general, a few interesting consequences.
1. Scum and third parties will try to get rid of roled innocents (Jesters excepted).
2. Everyone pretends to be town.
3. Reveals will be town-only.
4. Fake reveals are scum/ third party only.
5. Information hunting on thread is hunting for behavior that is contraproductive for town only.

So, to recap in words instead of bullets:
The binding factor in a town versus scum is the presence of a majority faction, a minority faction and the regular victory condition for both town and scum. Now, what information are the factions looking for?

In all cases, it will be the town that is hunting for information and players will try to hide their role by pretending to be Roleless Innocents (RIs). In all cases, a voting majority for town is assumed and in all cases, establishing a voting parity is what scum (or the cult) desires.
The third party is furthermore the enemy of both others, and serial killers and cultists tend to act like scum, and cult recruits are usually found through symping clues that are at odds with their convictions and cases earlier in the game.

Equally, the factions that have kills will try and use them constructively, removing roled players, who are identified by their behavior on thread, who are clearly on the town side, or those who get close or whose removal causes the most chaos and speculation.

Faction Games (aka A vs B vs C)

And then, you have faction games. While the premises of regular mafia (the need for information, day phase for voting, night for actions, lynch by majority of votes, you name it) are still in place, in a faction game, regardless of type, a lot of the basics and foundations for tactics and maneuvering are thrown overboard. Once more, before determining your playstyle, you have to examine the characteristics of a faction game.

I’d say there are (more or less decided arbitrarily the second I wrote this) the following types of faction games:
1. Mirrored, fixed size factions with around-the-clock elimination victory conditions.
2. Fixed size factions with around-the-clock elimination victory conditions.
3. Mirrored, fixed size factions with last faction standing victory conditions.
4. Fixed size factions with last faction standing/ last coalition standing victory conditions.
5. Fluctuating, mirrored factions with a town as recruiting ground.
6. Fluctuating, mirrored factions without a town.
7. Fluctuating factions without a town.

OK, so what do these terms mean, according to me? Time for a little glossary.

Mirrored means that all teams at the start of the team consist of the same number of players, with the same knowledge base and the same roles. In other words, team composition is a perfect symmetry all across the board. Mirrored is an optional condition, but helps immensely by balancing the game - each team will at the least have the same strengths and weaknesses.

Fixed size means there is no recruitment and players will never shift team through player action (aka: no recruitment). Some games shift lower echelon team members to other teams once their team leader has died, but this is a rules/mod effect and not a player/role effect. Furthermore, this is usually only effective in Last Team Standing games.

Fluctuating: opposite of fixed size. a team's size can shift and new players can be added to a team through player actions. The most common way to do this is through recruitment actions.

Around the clock elimination objective means team A has to eliminate team B, B has to eliminate team C, team C has to eliminate team A.

Last faction standing victory objective means that a faction can't win until all other factions (or faction leaders or whatever indicator chosen to determine when a faction loses) are removed from the game.

Last coalition standing means that several factions can win at the same time if they eliminate all other factions. Whether the coalition is created by the mod before the game or can be made in play through roles is up to the mod.

Fluctuating game with town: instead of dividing the playing field completely between factions at the start of the game, factions start with only one or two members, and recruit their team from there onward. In other words, the majority of players is left without a team (sometimes even without victory conditions themselves) and these will usually try and get recruited.

So, where does this lead regarding player/ alignment claims?

In a faction game of type 1 & 2 (around the clock elimination) and type 3 and 4 (last man standing):
1. No-one wants to lynch their own guys and doesn't give a rat's ass for anyone else, trains are therefore fast and capricious and the main argument for lynching is: "He sucks. And he is probably not on my side.";
2. Therefore, most players do not want to pigeonhole themselves into one faction, nor does one want to expressedly deny membership of a faction as that becomes confirmation by elimination later in the game;
3. Therefore, players search for each others alignment and are as vague as possible about their own;
4. Therefore, finding out the alignment of others before they do this to you is important;
5. But no-one wants all the info out on thread, because then everyone knows everything.

In faction games with fluctuating team composition, the above is still all true, but less so.
This is caused by the fact that thanks to recruitment, today's truth does not have to be tomorrow's (or yesterday's, for that matter).
Basically, misleading others can be done through two extremes:
1 - consistent play where nothing can be read from the player;
2 - massive shifts in playing style, voting and symping choices.

As with everything, moderation between the two is key.
Too much of 1 may hint at a power role, too much of 2 and all factions may want to put you down because they think you're a liability/ obfuscating the threat too much.

Faction composition.

In games with fixed factions, there is often (but not always) a chain of command. By carefully scrutinizing vote trains and past interactions, players can try to flush out the team members of a lynchee. This is essential for the lynch as well as for removing players from the game through actions. Therefore, speculating on player alignment is a worthwhile on thread occupation.

A fairly common division for fixed size faction games is the following:

Faction Leader (knowledge dominant) <-> Second (active actions) <-> 1-3 pawns (with or without abilities).

Often, the Second becomes Leader if the Leader is dead. Sometimes, if leader and second are removed from the game, the pawns are distributed amongst other factions.


For games with recruitment, things are slightly different. Inviting recruitment or attention can be a worthwhile strategy to slow down or confuse the other team(s). Because of the potential shifts in alignment, today's claim is disconnected from tomorrow's, or yesterday's.

..... TO BE EXPANDED LATER........

This post has been edited by Tapper: 18 April 2011 - 01:11 PM

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 06:10 PM

Reserved
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Posted 25 May 2011 - 08:55 AM

The Modding Guide - Quick and Dirty


Coming soon.

This post has been edited by Tapper: 25 May 2011 - 09:04 AM

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 10:11 AM

Game Design - Do's and Don'ts
A Highly Subjective Guide.


A lot of people who have played a few games, want to ascend to the next level: designing their own games. This is awesome, for every new designer brings a new flavor. However, designing a game is not without pitfalls. As a game designer, I've made one or two brilliant games, a few good games, some passable ones and at the least one abject failure. Upon analysis of my past and current efforts, I have determined several pitfalls I'm likely to step into when designing.

As such, I hope you'll profit from the following. It is my take on game creation. Feel free to ignore anything in here, but I'd advise reading it.

In this guide, I'll adress the following:

1. Hard caps and constraints
2. Taking care of your flock
3. The Creator as an Unmoved Mover
4. Intelligent Design
5. Santa's Little Helper
6. Bringing Balance to the Force
7. The Elegance of Simplicity
8. Gordian Knots and NASA: how to deal with the experimental
9. The Creator's Constraints: why the Mad Hatter and Dr. Evil make bad Mafia designers
10. The Eye of the Beholder: TMDI
11. Misc stuff


1. Hard caps and constraints

When designing a game, you have to work within several constraints. You can design the best game ever, but if it can't be run, it will not be played. Your first concern should be to make a game that can be ran.
For this, there are 4 things to take into consideration.

1. The regular average number of players available on the forum.
2. The intended length of the game.
3. The limitations of the boards you play the game on.
4. The timezones of your players.

1. The regular average number of players available on the forum.
This constraint seems fairly straightforward and yet it is the ultimate limiting factor.
You see, player numbers determine everything: the amount of factions (and roles) you can put in, the maximum and minimum length of the game, how easy it will be to gather enough players (and thus, how fast you can run the game after opening sign ups).
Also, the more players, the clunkier it gets. I once tried to design a customized high tmdi game for 36 players, just as an excersize in whether I could. It was impossible.

So, two rules of thumb (the first is common sense, the second my subjective opinion):
  • It is a good idea to monitor the average amount of players available and take it from there, designing the game for less players than are available on average is a very prudent move.
  • The ideal number for a complex but manageable game that can be ran virtually any time is 17 players.


2. The intended length of the game.
The length of the game in game days is of course depending on the number of players and the amount of player removal you put into the game. But, this often holds true only if your game has a linear development: a guaranteed combination of lynch plus kill per game cycle, for example.
If you add protective or role blocking roles, your game will slow down. If you add extra removal roles, it will speed up. If you add both, the game tempo will change in unpredictable ways.

To provide a fun experience for your players, you need to provide time for the game to develop. Just like a chess game has an opening phase, a middle phase and the end game, so too should you try and allow your mafia players these three phases.

The beginning of the game is day 1, and depending on what happens day 1 and night 1, perhaps day 2 too. From night 2, at its latest day 3, the middle game should start. The flock ought to be culled a bit now, the stage is set, some information is available and the scheming and manipulating and information gathering begins here.

This will continue until say, 1/3rd of your starting players are left (typically 5 or 6): then we enter the end-game, where all teams ought to still have a shot at victory and players have had a chance to profile themselves and mislead one another. To be able to do that, not all information ought to be available yet to, for example, a finder.

Of course, you can try to play with these constraints by stretching phases or introducing new ones, but generally speaking, shortening, lengthening or dividing the middle game is about the only sensible tool here.

Shortening the opening of the game would seem the most awesome tool, as the opening is the least exciting phase. Therefore, shortening it creates more immersion and more quality play time. Indeed, if you manage to achieve this, congrats.

But from my experience, your players need time to acclamatize (aka goofing around), to discuss rules and starting information, and be given time to decide their strategy. Adding a surprise element like a day 1 vig will rob them of this time and while it may really install that sense of urgency that you want your game to have, it also will be a real issue for town to become a town instead of chaos. There are elements that will influence how much time they'll need to settle in: TMDI and set-up related factual information (victory conditions, number of factions, sometimes number and type of roles, amount of information given by Coroner Finder), speculation provided by the intro of the game and the sign-up thread (basically, hints and deductions but no real degree of certainty) and player specific information, like the contents of a role PM and/or feedback from the mod to players).

3. The limitations of the boards you play the game on.
Game alts have only certain board rights. There are quote limits. There are issues with copy/pasting between PMs and thread. Board sections are password protected and evolving games that rely on shutting people out thus require constant attention. Multi thread games will need a lot of player attention, too.

You need to make certain your game falls not only within the limitations, but also within what is comfortable for players to deal with, as the more effort a player must make to post in the relevant section will directly impact his or her participation.

4. The timezones of your players.
Ideally, you will want your players to interact as much as possible without it stalling the game. As a forum game, we have participants from all over the world, some with limited posting windows. Therefore, 12 hour game days are nearly impossible unless you do not mind your players being silent for half the amount of the time, or you don't mind their contributions being limited to 'reading up'.

24 hours is an absolute minimum.
32 hours is sometimes chosen. It has the same problems as a 36 timezone but packs a bit more speed, allowing a 4 hour night phase to reach 3 cycles of 12 hours each - most of your players can get access once per 12 hours but can only contribute in any significant way once per 24, seeing how leisure and work time are divided unequally over a day, unless, like me, you're a semi-civil servant of course.
36 hours is a good period but can make modding clunky (resolving at 4 AM is not ideal) and can allow one timezone double the infuence of another as the game passes through their main posting times twice.
48 hours sounds ideal as it will allow plenty of dialogue and reaction between timezones and can suit the mod. It is however very slow, especially considering the fact we often have weekend breaks.

Secondly, you have the night phase to consider.

This is a tricky influence on your game time, and you are the main influence on it, because you are the one who manages this phase.
The night phase is one of the moments where player influence on the game is felt very heavily, but mod interpretation and resolution of the player input must be absolutely 100% correct. If you rush, you will make mistakes. If you hesitate with resolution, players will change orders outside of what is acceptable. Therefore, make VERY clear where the limits are and take your time to resolve.

so, what length should night have?
The tricky part is this: the best action is the action that is submitted after all the others have been submitted, and with as much knowledge available as possible. Essentially, this means 1 second before the end of the night phase. The player then has the certainty that he has been able to process all the info available from the day, including the lynch target (because if you target the person who was lynched, you don't take an action), and all the talk surrounding the lynch AND he has the knowledge that most if not all of the others with night actions, have already specified their own.

This has three important consequences.

One, to make it entirely fair to everyone with a night action, you have to either offer them an opportunity to submit their action after the day is over (resulting in a 10-12 hour night phase if you assume 7 hours of sleep, 1 of breakfast/ dinner and 1 of commuting), or you offer none of them this luxury, forcing them to use provisional actions only (provisional actions meaning submitting actions, sometimes with conditions attached in advance, for example:

heal X, or:
if X is still alive at the start of night, heal X, otherwise heal Y).

Two, regardless of the length of the night phase, players will change orders and provisionals during play, making resolution potentially rough on the mod as especially in difficult games, player actions interlock and affect one another.
If changing actions is not allowed (this is called the Iron Man game-mode), expect players to submit night actions as late as they can.

Three, because no-one wants to become a target during night phase as a result of their reaction to the resolution of day, the night phase is often very subdued in the number and quality of contributions. Players prefer to wait with case-making and accusations until day starts again and what info they could get from the night phase, has become available. Therefore, night is seldom interactive on thread.
Drawing out night, while perhaps being very fair and almost certainly increasing the quality and influence of player actions during the night phase, leads to periods of lower activity on thread, almost making a night phase a mini weekend-break. I personally consider that too much of a sacrifice, but your mileage may vary.

So, with the above in mind, it is my sincere opinion that for almost every single game a 0 hour night phase (meaning night will last about as long as it takes you to resolve it) is useable and perhaps even adviseable.
The reason for this is the afore mentioned provisional actions. It basically puts everyone on a level playing ground, namely, they have to submit their actions before the lynch happens, and makes all of them use provisionals. The disadvantage is threefold:

one, the quality of information available to the player at the moment when they're submitting the action is less than ideal;
two, you as the mod must have insanely good coverage of the game to avoid holding up play, and because you are holding up play anyway and therefore you may feel some extra tension, which inevitably is leading to you making mistakes;
three, in case you are not online to resolve, your co-mod must really understand every nuance of the game and must be prepared to take the responsibility to make decisions, which is something you perhaps should not expect of them, especially not in experimental games.

If you do want to work with a zero hour night (and my advice is to roll with it if you can), you are one lucky mod, for these days, the malazan forum is well settled into submitting provisional actions as long as you remind your players on thread to do so, and as long as you are often around to receive them.

If you do want to go with a night phase of a short length to give your players a fraction of time and yourself a set period to resolve in, you can go for 4 to 8 hours.
I'd personally only go with longer nights if one or more of the following conditions are met:
1) you are the only mod of the game,
2) the game forces player interaction during the night phase,
3) it is really important for decision making that the day is fully processsed.

so, your formula ends up like this:

(Real time per game day + set hours per night (or perhaps 2 if you run with a zero hour night)) * number of game days = game length.

To maintain player interest and allow the three phases, a game should be no shorter than 4-5 game days and absolutely no longer than 2.5 to 3 weeks real time (with weekend breaks included, somewhere between 15 and 18 days realtime).

2. Taking care of your flock
With this I mean role assignment, personal feedback, coaching, dealing with fishing, penalizing and moderating: how to do it fair, but also to make allowance.


Let's start with the beginning. Designing your game is half the work. Running it is a third. In between, there is the absolutely crucial stage of setting it up. Design will be covered later on, we're focusing first on the tasks at hand as mod and how they impact the game, so that you know what you'll have to deal with during design, and make the correct choices to create a smoothly running game.

1. Posting your sign up thread

More later.

2. Setting up Spoiler Heaven, making the OP (Original Post) in the Game Thread, sending the Role PMs to alts.

set-up is important. Why?

First, because you are going to do the administration: this is the last time you as designer read your own work and especially if you are typing your PMs to the players, you will notice things you thought had changed, but had changed only in your own notes or head. this is your last review opportunity.

Second, because now you know who is playing, how many are playing, and perhaps you have some information on the level of contribution you expect.

Finally, this is the last moment where design mistakes/ false assumptions can be corrected without having impact on your game. The second your first player reads his role PM, the game is on and any fix you make becomes unfair.

More later.

3. Role Assignment to Players

methods (going from most random to least random):
1) completely random;
2) random with cheating;
3) fixed team assignment, random roles per team;
4) non-random role assignment;
5) roles designed for and awarded to specific players.

Explanations later.

4. Dealing with Player Questions regarding public information


5. dealing with Player Questions regarding their own information


6. dealing with Player Questions regarding information they should not have (aka fishing)
subtitle: one of the reasons why Dibs such an awesome player


7. What are you going to do on thread?


8. How to deal with those who mess up your game.

The answer is not kill 'em all. Even though you'll want to. More later.



3. The Creator as an Unmoved Mover
My personal opinion on the impact the creator/ mod should have on the game after creating it. As you can judge from the title: this should be kept to an absolute minimum. More on this later.

4. Intelligent Design

How do you incorporate all of the above into designing a smart, fun game?

5. Santa's Little Helper

The role of the co-mod in the design process.

6. Bringing Balance to the Force

A few words on that elusive quarry: game balance.

7. The Elegance of Simplicity
Why designing simple games can be so rewarding for players and you.

8. Gordian Knots and NASA: how to deal with the experimental
How to go about designing tmdi 10+ games. Special attention towards wording role PMs and timing issues.

9. The Creator's Constraints: why the Mad Hatter and Dr. Evil make bad Mafia designers

My personal opinion on two design concepts, namely:
- mixing a gazillion weird roles together and going for maximum chaos (Mad Hatter)
- deliberately misleading your players or making the game fiendishly difficult to win for each faction(Dr. Evil)

lead to less than optimal games and less fun for your players.

10. The Eye of the Beholder: TMDI
How to label your game, decisions on pre-game information and why a cult game does not have to be tmdi 8 or higher.

This post has been edited by Tapper: 06 June 2011 - 07:40 PM

Everyone is entitled to his own wrong opinion. - Lizrad
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#11 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 10:14 AM

Since I actually welcome input and contributions from players and received very few of these by PM, I decided to open this thread.

Please feel free to suggest/ ask anything, whether this constitutes additions to a currently existing section, modifications of an entry, entirely new sections, or articles or whatnot.

A couple of rules for this thread:

Before you contribute: check the FAQ

Rules for posting here::
* no inside jokes (that's the reason the 101 is a locked topic in the first place);
* try to keep it objective and informative;
* please quote relevant sections of the existing FAQ if you want things re-phrased or expanded;
* write your contribution in a grammatical correct structure, I'm not an editor and I don't plan to be, but I like for the 101 to be readable;
* keep your posts civil, don't rant;
* keep in mind that I am more than willing to change stuff that has already been put up if it is an improvement, but if you want to debate two conflicting points of view (say, on healer reveals), that this is best done in a seperate article rather than in a correction to a post, I have to keep the guide readable.

Currently, I'm definately hoping for contributions/ guides/ articles on the following:

- a how to play basic scum roles guidelines to put up next to JA's how to play inno guidelines;
- strategy tips;
- something on pressing people into slips, how to ask questions, how to pressure-vote aka info finding;
- some article on case building, hopefully with quotes from past games?
- debates of the pro's and contra's existing in contrasting view-points, for example on the perpetual lynch vs no lynch debate;
- a 5-to-10 point pitfall list for new players - it would be especially awesome if a few of our new players added to this as us grumpy old men have gone blind to the past -_-
Everyone is entitled to his own wrong opinion. - Lizrad
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#12 User is offline   Silencer 

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 11:25 AM

Can I be the first to say, you are a star for all your work so far, Tapper - it's great, really.

I'm sure I can provide a few pointers on playing scum - at least, from a certain perspective. Though by now, I think I've played scum in several different ways. :) Not that I want to compare myself to JA, mind. :) And I can probably add to some general tips and tricks/pitfalls type stuff too.

I'd add to your list: some basic methodology for getting out of sticky situations, too. Pressuring people into mistakes is all well and good, but if you can't slip the noose yourself, you're leaving a large gap in player skill unbridged. -_-

Though I guess it would be best to put a disclaimer that, by its very nature, mafia can be played in many ways. You're liable to start a few heated discussions by suggesting any certain ways to play beyond very basic do's and don't's. Still, all in good fun. Of course, the trouble with all this is we're getting down to a "Guide To Playing Mafia" - so I'm hoping people will shake things up more than adhering to the tips provided. They're a starting point, not a Bible. (I know you know this, but for some people it could become too much of a playbook, imo...)
***

Shinrei said:

<Vote Silencer> For not garnering any heat or any love for that matter. And I'm being serious here, it's like a mental block that is there, and you just keep forgetting it.



"For the record, I'm pretty sure my mind was shouting 'CLICHESTORM' over and over again during the opening of Skyrim...just putting that out there.." - Me.


~Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.~
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#13 User is online   D'rek 

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 06:12 PM

In the Game Design post, Hard Caps and Constraints section:

When talking about phase length, I think you need to talk more about the Night phase. It tends to sound only like Day is considered. Especially I would add some content on how the variable length of night can speed up the game if players are active in getting provisionals in, but can be used in conjunction with a short Day phase to let players get actions in if they were only previously online at the start of the day (such as in a 24-8 hour day-night scenario).


In the part on the lengths of the "beginning", "middle" and "end" of the game, you could add a bit about how mass-revealed information (most commonly in the CF and setup posts) will advance the game to the "middle" quicker, and will generally make the players' strategies more focused and easier for them to agree on the game and strategy in general, while a game with less information given will be less focused and will stay in the "beginning" longer as players try to figure out the game itself before they can start scum-hunting. This is of course an important consideration for balancing.



Something else that I think is largely missing is a section on common game rule variations, such as Iron Man, Multi-Lynch, games with Day actions, that sort of thing. I really think the Faction Games vs Ordinary Games is a bit confusing/overwhelming right now and would benefit from being revamped into a general Game Variations post where the increasingly complex common variations of games are presented, starting at M&P and progressing to experimental non-standard-lynch, RPG-role games (like Survivor). Adding examples for each (with a brief description of what the example game was) would go a long way to making it easier to understand, as well.

View Postworrywort, on 14 September 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

I kinda love it when D'rek unleashes her nerd wrath, as I knew she would here. Sorry innocent bystanders, but someone's gotta be the kindling.
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#14 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 06:17 PM

 D, on 06 June 2011 - 06:12 PM, said:

In the Game Design post, Hard Caps and Constraints section:

When talking about phase length, I think you need to talk more about the Night phase. It tends to sound only like Day is considered. Especially I would add some content on how the variable length of night can speed up the game if players are active in getting provisionals in, but can be used in conjunction with a short Day phase to let players get actions in if they were only previously online at the start of the day (such as in a 24-8 hour day-night scenario).


In the part on the lengths of the "beginning", "middle" and "end" of the game, you could add a bit about how mass-revealed information (most commonly in the CF and setup posts) will advance the game to the "middle" quicker, and will generally make the players' strategies more focused and easier for them to agree on the game and strategy in general, while a game with less information given will be less focused and will stay in the "beginning" longer as players try to figure out the game itself before they can start scum-hunting. This is of course an important consideration for balancing.



Something else that I think is largely missing is a section on common game rule variations, such as Iron Man, Multi-Lynch, games with Day actions, that sort of thing. I really think the Faction Games vs Ordinary Games is a bit confusing/overwhelming right now and would benefit from being revamped into a general Game Variations post where the increasingly complex common variations of games are presented, starting at M&P and progressing to experimental non-standard-lynch, RPG-role games (like Survivor). Adding examples for each (with a brief description of what the example game was) would go a long way to making it easier to understand, as well.


thanks -_-

The design post is not finished by a long shot and it deffo needs some more thinking, I'll incorporate the first two alineas :)

EDIT: these have been incorporated, one more than the other :)

I was planning to do a variatons section under the TMDI bit in design, but I'll make a seperate entry for that one!

This post has been edited by Tapper: 06 June 2011 - 07:17 PM

Everyone is entitled to his own wrong opinion. - Lizrad
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#15 User is online   D'rek 

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 05:01 AM

Been thinking about this for a bit, and I think it is worth bringing up. In its current form/format/layout, I think the overall Mafia 101 is too unwieldly for someone new to the game to understand well. A major part of this may be that it takes until post 7. The first post works well as a standalone introduction to an M&P game, but I think it is still hard for someone to grasp the general idea of a complete game from it, and yet I think they will get lost trying to read the whole thing.

A big factor in all this is, I think, that the sections are all distinct, with no section on tying together types of games, roles, game mechanics and strategy. I sincerely think that this whole project would benefit greatly from a restructuring into a sort of Chapter-based format where each Chapter covers increasing complexity of game types, but within each chapter all the roles, mechaincs and strategy are presented as they become relevant. So following an introduction, Chapter 1 would be M&P, and would cover the fundamental game mechanics and the variations of it used in M&P (like 0-hour nights), town and scum distinctions and basic strategy for playing Killer and RI. Chapter 2 would be your low-TMDI games and introduce basic game variations like no-CF, the healer, guard, finder, lover, vig, BP and symp roles, and basic strategies for each of them. Chapter 3 could be advanced town vs scum games, introducing more complex game variations (ironman, Kings, multi-lynch, cult game) and roles (jester, FM, serial killer, cultists) and more advanced variations of lower-level roles (insane finder, healer-guard, LP, etc); at this point strategy is not so important to discuss. Chapter 4 might be intermediate faction games, such as those with a town, scum and cult. Chapter 5 can be advanced faction games where there is no discernible town. And then Chapter 6 (or a few chapters) can take on the experimental/vastly-altering games. Maybe another chapter in there somewhere for hidden-mechanic games or some such.

The term and role glossaries are good, but I think the guide would become much more readable if they were moved to the back and then each term or role was explained in full when it first came up. That way people aren't flooded with a hundred roles and terms all at once, but if they run into a term they don't remember the meaning of partway through, they can look it up easily in the glossaries rather than search the whole guide to find it. Modding and design guides work well on their own because they are topics separate from playing the game, so they could be their own chapters after all the gameplay chapters.


So anyways, that's my suggestion. Up to you if/how you want to use it, but I think it would go a long ways not only to improving the readibility of Mafia 101, but also for setting up a framework within which you can easily add more content, too (ie add a chapter on HHM and the cards).

View Postworrywort, on 14 September 2012 - 08:07 PM, said:

I kinda love it when D'rek unleashes her nerd wrath, as I knew she would here. Sorry innocent bystanders, but someone's gotta be the kindling.
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#16 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 02:24 PM

Cheers D'rek, I'll try and restructure stuff as it may be way more comprehensive. The danger is perhaps that it will become more of a guide on how to play mafia (according to Tapper's limited wisdom) then a guide on what is mafia?
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#17 User is offline   Darkwatch 

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:42 AM

Do you want to have the Mafia Flowchart?
The Pub is Always Open

Proud supporter of the Wolves of Winter. Glory be to her Majesty, The Lady Snow.
Cursed Summer returns. The Lady Now Sleeps.

The Sexy Thatch Burning Physicist

Τον Πρωτος Αληθη Δεσποτην της Οικιας Αυτος

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You're a rock.
A non-touching itself rock.
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#18 User is offline   Tapper 

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 11:36 AM

 Darkwatch, on 07 March 2012 - 04:42 AM, said:

Do you want to have the Mafia Flowchart?

might be fun :p
Everyone is entitled to his own wrong opinion. - Lizrad
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#19 User is offline   Darkwatch 

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 11:11 PM

Here you go:

Attached File(s)


The Pub is Always Open

Proud supporter of the Wolves of Winter. Glory be to her Majesty, The Lady Snow.
Cursed Summer returns. The Lady Now Sleeps.

The Sexy Thatch Burning Physicist

Τον Πρωτος Αληθη Δεσποτην της Οικιας Αυτος

RodeoRanch said:

You're a rock.
A non-touching itself rock.
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#20 User is offline   Blend 

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 03:44 AM

Can someone please send me the password for Spoiler Heaven? I accidentally deleted the PM sent me in alt.
There is no struggle too vast, no odds too overwhelming, for even should we fail - should we fall - we will know that we have lived. ~ Anomander Rake
My sig comes from a game in which I didn't heed Blend's advice. So maybe this time I should. ~ Khellendros
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