Page 1 of 4

Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 22:04
by Keirador
So sjg has recruited me to finally GM a game after six years of playing here, and ideally I'd like to design a good one. Now let me just say right off the bat there's like a 90% chance I'm going to scrap any original thought and just word-for-word copy Crunkus' Night Vale design right down to the flavour (and Canadian spellings), but allow me to entertain the idea that I'll do something a little different.

My friends and family have been getting a lot of use out of the game Spyfall this holiday season, a party/lying game not dissimilar to mafia. All players are essentially "town" except one spy. At game start, all town players are given the same location from a pre-set list: the bank, an airplane, a passenger train, a military base, etc. The Spy knows they are the spy but does not know the location everyone is in. The town is trying to catch the Spy, the Spy is trying to figure out where the hell we are. Players take turns interrogating each other. "What do you smell?" "What did you bring here?" etc. The tension is in asking questions and giving answers that are sufficiently informative that you're able to convince fellow townies that you do know the location, but sufficiently vague that the Spy cannot guess where we are. Tricks and traps highly encouraged.

My thought is to create a mafia game in which each Day Phase is also a mini-game of Spyfall, with lower stakes than immediate loss/victory for guessing the location. Each town player will be PMed a key (depending on the theme, this may be something other than strictly a location, perhaps a specific book or genre or time period, the important thing is that it's a specific detail that the town knows and the mafia do not) from a short list of potential keys. They can use their privileged information to scumhunt, but in return the mafia are given a major advantage if they can successfully guess where we are. Right now I'm envisioning a couple different ways this could work. I would love some input.

Proposal 1
8 town / 4 mafia
Scum have day chat and get one guess at EOD at the location.
Game proceeds as slightly scum-heavy vanilla with no scum night-kill UNLESS the scum is able to correctly guess the key on the previous Game Day.
In this set-up you can get one confirmed townie per day, maybe more if you're clever, but that guarantees the scum have an unblockable night-kill. If town can come into a 2:1 final day with a confirmed townie, scum almost certainly lose.

Proposal 2
9 town / 3 mafia
Otherwise same as above, but the scum can guess the key at any point during the Day, and if they're right they can immediately select a player to eliminate, whose lynch vote is then not counted. This set-up would therefore be essentially nightless as-is.

Proposal 3
Same as Prop 2, but with added town roles (doc, cop, the usual suspects) and a normal night-kill for the scum to add a Night element back into the game. This could become complicated to run, but I imagine I could manage it if players think it would be fun.

Proposal 4
Same as Prop 3, but eeeeveeeen mooooore coooomplicated by distributing town-positive roles through a blue-voting system that creates additional incentives to become town-read through proving you know your key, and therefore additional opportunities to slip and give too much away to the wolves. Probably not coincidentally, this most complicated design is currently my favorite.

Proposal 5
9 town / 3 mafia or potentially even 10/2.
The scum have no day chat, and each scum individually guesses the location. The scum receive a kill for each correct guess.

Thoughts comments questions concerns?

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 22:21
by Keirador
Also interested in input on possible flavors for this game:

Archer mafia. Regular cast of ISIS/CIA characters, with the scum randomly selected from roles as having having been replaced by androids by Barry (or possibly Krieger clones, we'll see). The keys will be the locations of past missions (drawn from the show of course) that the office is reminiscing about, which of course the androids/clones do not remember because they were not there.

Doctor Who mafia. "Day of the Doctor"-style, we'll have several incarnations of the Doctor because Doctor Who just doesn't have that awful many fun recurring characters. The scum are randomly selected from the roles as having been replaced by Zygons. The keys are potential places the TARDIS has just materialized. Since the Zygons can't operate the TARDIS, they don't know.

More vanilla Spyfall mafia, more exactly copying the flavor/theme of the party game itself with no specific character roles. This might be best if we want the keys to be as accessible as possible and not depend on being familiar with flavor.

Other ideas welcome. I'm always hype to run a Song of Ice and Fire game but I'm not sure how to make that work without the keys requiring ASOIAF or Game of Thrones knowledge, whereas Doctor Who and Archer can still visit relatively universally-known locations.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 22:25
by Keirador
We could also do a Night Vale theme again, and have randomly-selected roles be replaced with Strangers or Strex Fleshbots as the scum.

I also had some vague idea about a library theme where the keys are specific books but I've forgotten the details now.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 22:37
by Keirador
Also note that in all of these setups the town COULD simply choose to ignore the Spyfall element of the game entirely and embrace a more vanilla approach. That's by design, but I'm open to input there as well.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 27 Dec 2016, 22:52
by condude1
I really like ideas 2 and 5. Then again, I'm a fan of simple designs. I think both those ideas would be very fun to play.

I'm going to send some more thoughts by PM.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 28 Dec 2016, 00:41
by sjg11
I like these ideas a lot. All of the Proposals seem ok to me currently, I'll try hashing out the number in more detail later. I feel like Proposal 1 works well due to the ability for a townie who is about to be mislynched to confirm themselves as town before that mislynch occurs which is then balanced out by a resulting Mafia night kill. Should give both sides a good fighting chance of winning the game.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 28 Dec 2016, 01:36
by Keirador
Just to clarify something, while only the town players are given the key/location, ALL players are given a brief list of possible keys/locations.

And the town players would all be sent a PM specifying, for example, that the mission we are reminiscing about took place on a Rigid Airship. And we may have accidentally bombed Ireland. Or Wales. Uh. . . FRUIT BASKET!

So the mafia already have a decent chance of guessing from the list alone, and any additional information spilled about the location, even/especially something like the first letter or the number of words or characters in the key, would usually allow them to guess correctly.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 28 Dec 2016, 01:47
by Keirador
How long the list of potential locations should be is also up in the air. A shorter list benefits the mafia, and a longer list benefits the town, so adjusting that is a simple, direct way to affect balance. As such it will probably be one of the last things set in stone.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 28 Dec 2016, 01:50
by sjg11
In all likelihood the list makes me want to go with Option 1 with a long-medium list. Should give the town a few wrong guesses to figure out who the Mafia actually are in this scenario.

Definitely a very interesting concept though.

Re: Spyfall-inspired mechanic; input welcome

PostPosted: 28 Dec 2016, 02:09
by Keirador
Something I'm worried about is strategic balance. I want the town to have the option to ignore the mechanic and play a more vanilla game, but I don't want that to be an obviously superior strategy. I want the town torn between exploiting the mechanic and not doing so. Is the pull of clearing yourself or using the hidden information to scumhunt enough of an incentive to risk empowering the scum with kills? Or is something like the bluevote system for added town powers necessary to encourage townies to compromise infosec in order to clear themselves?