Welcome to Mafia, a forum game between two or more groups. The goal of the game is basically to be the last one standing with your group. The most basic design element in all games is Uninformed Majority versus Informed Minority.
The best way to learn the game is to play it, so after reading this post, just sign up!
A game is divided into continuously alternating parts: Day, and Night. The players in a most elementary game are divided into two groups, a large Town and a small Mafia.
Town The majority of the players, usually a rough 75%. These do not know each other, and may only communicate inside the thread.
Mafia A minority of the players, usually a rough 25%. These do know each other and are allowed to communicate outside the game.
Night During the Night, the Mafia makes one kill. There is no talk in the thread. After having made their decision, the Mafia PM's the Moderator with the name of the person they want dead.
Day After the Night action is complete, the Moderator re-opens the thread and announces the results of the night: One Townie has died. The entire group now goes on to decide on whom to lynch.
Lynch During the Day, every player may vote someone they want to lynch. Once a majority has been reached, this player is lynched and killed. Since the Town is in the majority, the Mafia will of course be pretending to be Town, just as anyone else.
Winning The winning group is the one that stays alive the longest. The Town's way of killing is through the Lynch during the Day. They must be careful not to be influenced by the Mafia in their voting process. The Mafia's way of killing is through the Nightkill, and through misleading the Town into lynching one of their own.
At this point you might be wondering how the Town will ever achieve a win. After all, unlike the Mafia, they do not know each other and have nothing at all to go on.
In this most basic set-up, the best strategy the Town can follow is to try and find links between persons in the voting discussion. Examples:
- When Player 1 is lynched and it is revealed that he was Mafia, the Town can grow very suspicious of Player 2 who kept on defending Player 1 in the discussion.
- When there are no leads whatsoever, yet a few people are quick to vote for someone and end up lynching a Townie, the Town can become very suspicious of people quick-to-vote.
Apart from this, the Town has little other hope than a Mafia making a mistake. For example someone posting "As I told you through PM...", but such mistakes are very rare.
At the moment, the game does not look very colorful. There are basically two ways to enhance the game, and both are very common. One way is to give players roles with special powers, another way is to have a theme.
Mafia is mainly about two things: (1) Information, and (2) Eliminating Players. Almost all possible roles have to do with one or both of these, by giving a player special abilities. I will post a long list of common roles below, but a few basic examples will be needed here to illustrate the point:
Cop A Cop is almost always a Pro-Town role. A player who is a Cop has the ability to investigate one person at night. He will usually receive either "Guilty" or "Innocent" as result from the Moderator. Guilty usually means a person is Mafia, Innocent usually means the investigated player is Town.
This role of course greatly adds to the game. As you know, the Town must discuss who to lynch during the day. Imagine they picked Player 1 and are voting for that person. Player 2 however has been given the role "Cop", and happens to have investigated Player 1 on a Night. He received the result "Innocent". Because of this, he does not want the Town to lynch Player 1, so he defends that person. However, defending someone too openly may cause the rest of the players to wonder if Player 1 and Player 2 might be in a Mafia together.
After receiving a Guilty result, a Cop will try to help a Town focus the discussion more towards that person, and even try to get that person lynched. Appearing "lynch-eager", may cause the Town to go after the Cop himself though.
Now perhaps you are wondering why the Cop doesn't simply say that he is a Cop, and that he has investigated someone. There are multiple reasons for this. Here are a few:
- If he says he is a Cop, the Mafia will want to kill him as soon as possible. If there are no Docs, who can protect people at night, the Cop is likely to be dead the next day.
- Even if someone claims to be a Cop, the Town should not immediately believe him. After all, it is possible that someone from the Mafia claims Cop, and even sacrifices one of his mates.
Doc Our second example, the Doc, can protect one person at night. The Mafia will not be able to kill the person he protects.
Here is one example of how this role adds to the game. What if there is a Cop, and he has already said that he is a Cop. The Doc of course wants to protect the Cop, because it is a powerful role on his side. The Mafia knows that the Doc wants to keep the Cop alive. The Mafia will therefore probably decide not to hit the cop, because that will waste them a night. However, the Doc knows that the Mafia is not very likely to attack the Cop, because they expect the Doc to protect him. Therefore, the Doc may want to protect someone else. This goes on infinitely.
To find many more roles, see below.
Apart from having roles with special abilities, adding a Theme to the game greatly enhances the fun. This is not only for flavor or roleplay. The discussion will change severely due to a theme. Rather than lynching, the Town may vote on a person in order to pressure him to reveal his role. If he is a Townie, he can give them his own role. If he is a Mafia, he must think up a fake one.
For example, imagine there are 10 players in a game themed Lord of the Rings. There are 6 votes on one player needed in order to lynch that person. Of course the Town does not want to lynch someone who is on their side, so they put 5 votes on that person and ask him for his role. The pressured person has little choice: Either he tells them his role, or they will vote that last vote and kill him.
Now imagine the pressured person is Frodo Baggins. He will probably post "Don't lynch me guys, I am Frodo", or something like that. The Town is likely to reason that Frodo is such a major character that he is bound to be in the game, and that this player really is Frodo. Provided no-one else claims the same role.
What if the pressured person is a Mafia though? In fact, what if he is Sauron himself! One possible approach he could take is to make up a Fake RC. In other words, he claims to be someone he isn't. This game has 10 persons, out of which he knows there are 3 Mafia. He reasons that the 7 Townie roles are probably filled by Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli or Boromir. Because these highly likely roles are already over 7, he assumes that other roles such as Elrond, Faramir, Arwen and Galadriel are not in the game. A good bet for him would be to claim to be one of these persons.
If he has bad luck, the Town doesn't believe his role is in the game and lynches him anyway. If he has even worse luck, he chose someone who is in the game.
A SIMPLE EXAMPLE
Imagine there are 8 people playing a Mafia with as theme Harry Potter. The moderator divides the roles randomly as follows:
1. Player 1 Town Harry Potter
2. Player 2 Town Ron Weasley
3. Player 3 Town Hermione Granger
4. Player 4 Town Albus Dumbledore | COP
5. Player 5 Mafia Peter Pettigrew
6. Player 6 Town Madam Pomfrey | DOC
7. Player 7 Town Severus Snape
8. Player 8 Mafia Lord Voldemort
Now this particular game starts with a Night. Player 5 and Player 8 (Mafia) determine they want to kill Player 3. They PM this to the Moderator.
Player 6 (Doc) has no idea, and randomly protects Player 8.
Player 4 (Cop) has no idea, and randomly investigates Player 1.
The Moderator announces that Day has begun, and that Player 3 has died. He also tells everyone that Player 3 was Hermione Granger, and had no special powers.
The Town starts discussing then on who to lynch, and there are some people who want to lynch Player 1. He has 4 votes on him already, with 5 votes needed for a lynch. Player 4, the Cop, decides to go out in the open. He posts that he is a Cop and knows Player 1 to be innocent.
The Town decides to go after Player 2 then. Player 2 immediately sees where this is going, and decides to tell everyone he is Ron.
The Town then decides not to lynch someone today.
Player 5 and Player 8 (Mafia), want to kill the Cop (Player 4). However, they assume that the Doc will protect Player 4. The Mafia knows that the Town will not lynch Player 1 (confirmed to be innocent), or Player 2 (claimed to be Ron). Because the Mafia hopes the Town will lynch one of their own, they decide to kill Player 2.
Player 6 (Doc), protects Player 4 (Cop).
Player 4 (Cop), investigates Player 5 (Mafia).
The Moderator posts that Player 2 has died, and was a Townie without powers.
Player 4 posts that he has investigated Player 5, and has received a Guilty result. Player 5 tries to get out of it, but has no chance. The Town lynches Player 5 and has gotten rid of one Mafia!
Player 8 (Mafia) is now alone, and decides to take his chances on Player 4 (Cop).
Player 6 (Doc) figures that the Mafia will assume he protects the Cop, so decides to protect Player 1 instead.
Player 4 (Cop) investigates Player 3.
The Moderator announces that Player 4 has died, and was a Cop.
The Town does not know who to go after. They randomly settle on Player 7. Player 7 posts that he is Severus Snape. The Town believes Snape is bound to be Mafia, and thus lynches him. They find out they lynched a Townie.
Player 8 (Mafia) decides to kill Player 6 (Doc).
Player 6 (Doc) protects Player 1.
The Moderator posts that Player 6 has died and was a Doc.
Only Player 1 and Player 8 are left. Player 1 knows he is good, so he votes Player 8. He will never reach a majority though, so the Mafia has won. (Technically the Day can end in a No Lynch, and in the next Night the Mafia will kill Player 01).
A Mafia can become much more complex than the above example. Usually, games have more than 8 or 10 players. It is common to have around 20 people at the start of a game.
One way to increase the complexity of the game is to have more than two sides. In our explanation and examples so far, we have seen a large Town against a small Mafia. You could just as well have a large Town against two small Mafia's though. Think for example of Lord of the Rings. One Mafia can consist of Sauron and his troops, another Mafia can consist of Saruman and his servants.
Another way to increase the complexity of the game is to add many more roles with special powers, or access to information. Apart from the Townie / Mafia / Cop and Doc which we have seen so far, there are many other possibilities. I will list these below, though the list will not be complete.
Play in a Game When a Mafia has not yet started, it is probably still accepting sign-ups. Post in the thread that you want to play. The Moderator probably has stated in his opening posts how many players he is looking for.
Create a Game First make sure that you understand Mafia and are up to making a game. Activity from a Moderator is very important! After that, you can sign up in the appropriate thread to join the waiting list.
Ask for Help while Playing Whatever you do, do not message someone you are not allowed to communicate with outside the thread. If you are in a Mafia, message your Godfather. If you are a Mason, message your Mason. In case of doubt, always message the Moderator. Any questions about the game, or your role, can be answered by the Mod.