Newbies Guide to Mafia

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Newbies' Guide to Mafia
Version 1.6.1

1.3: Note, I've touched this guide up, fixing typos, adding new content, elaborating on previous content, adding new links, revising and updating outdated things, etc, so be sure to check it out ;D
1.4: I've added a bunch of new categories for role types (section IV, part b) as well as a couple links here and there (BB's role list, incog and games on incog, etc)
1.4.2: I touched up a lot of things for formatting, grammar & visual aspects. I also updated and expanded the 'Stuff for Hosts' section (VII) as well as IIIc/e
1.4.3: added a hosting tip and changed some role name examples to prevent confusion; also touched up and expanded the links section
1.4.4: fixed the FAQ section
1.5: fixed typos and smoothened wording in sections I, II, III and VIII; linked to profiles of me, sin and ysan for faq/help; added (to Links section) a list of some experienced players who are available for questions from less experienced players (to add your name to this list, PM me - that's how the people that are there now got on); added to the FAQ with a question addressing inactivity; added to Baddie Strategy and Gaining Strategy; added "why?" to FAQ as per suggestion by Frost
1.6: Added "Random Advice" subsection to part VIII
1.6.1: Upgraded BD to this version from its much earlier version

I. Introduction: What is Mafia?

II. Factions and Win Conditions

III. Basic Rules

( a ) Night and Day
( b ) Voting
( c ) BTSC
( d ) PM repping
( e ) Death

IV. Roles
( a ) What are roles?
( b ) Types of roles
( c ) Independent roles

V. Game Strategy
( a ) Overall Day Strategy
( b ) Innocent Role Strategy
( c ) Baddie Role Strategy
( d ) Independent Role Strategy
( e ) Gaining Strategy

VI. Links [past Mafia games, external links, etc]

VII. Stuff for Hosts

VIII. FAQ and Random Advice

I made this with spoilers so that anyone with any level of experience can quickly access the things they need. Enjoy! ;D

I. Introduction: What is Mafia?

Mafia is an epic game of skill, persuasion, deception, strategy, participation, cruelty and cunning. It is a contest of wits; a championship of cleverness. It is intense, unforgiving, relentless, dominating and amazing. Some people have had Mafia dreams. Some people drive across the city to get better wireless to play Mafia. People ignore their workload to play Mafia. Mafia is addicting. Mafia is fun. Mafia is wickedly cool, awesome and pulse-poundingly exciting. If a game is designed well and hosted well and played well, it can be a work of art.

Mafia is like a riddle, much like the ones on Brainden, but it is so much more than a riddle: so much more work, dedication, skill and toughness goes into a game of Mafia than any one puzzle. How well can you deduce people's roles while retaining your own identity? How can you maximize your potential to help your team and meet your win condition?

Mafia takes skill, but luckily is easy to learn and easy to become skillful. A gradual curve and focus on strategy allows basically anyone to play and enjoy Mafia, and even vanquish foes that are much more experienced than yourselves! That's why Mafia is a great game.

Mafia involves teamwork. Except for individual roles, you are part of a team. In generalized Mafia, the goal of your team is to kill the other team. Yes, kill :)   Mafia (in its most basic game-theory formula) is a game of elimination. People die. Everyone has died in a game of Mafia - many times a brutal or gruesome death ;P It's all part of the game, don't worry if you die. Especially if you die first, our sympathies are with you. Don't be sad, don't be mad - just root on your team and make sure not to BTSC or affect the game further in any way ;)

In essence, Mafia involves an Italian village, where a local mafia gang has set up shop. They are killing off the villagers, one villager per night. The Mafia members can talk to each other secretly behind-the-scenes! This is called behind-the-scenes-contact, or BTSC. The villagers, angry and afraid, gather each day in the town square to lynch (execute) one person among them [via popular vote]. The lynched person is killed and their role revealed: were they a baddie - a Mafioso? If so, yippee! One dead Mafioso closer to a safe village. If the lynched person was a fellow villager... then uh oh :o Remember that the Mafiosos are masquerading as normal Innocents, and are influencing the vote in subtle (or not-so-subtle) ways, trying to manipulate the masses and get an Innocent (a villager) voted out as opposed to a member of the Mafia. So when playing, you have to be careful and watch out for the Mafiosos among you trying to influence the vote...

Usually there are various types of people working for the villagers: for example, a Doctor can choose one person each night. If the person is attacked by the Mafia, the Doctor saves them. etc. This is called a role, and is a key part of Mafia games. In a "vanilla" game, most people may be bland villagers ("vanilla" innocents) and important roles are scarce, but the trend in recent mafia games has been extensively themed (far from that original Italian village) and each player has a significant, possibly game-changing role. Nobody is left out. All roles should be awesome ;P

So, at night, the Mafia kills (along with other various night actions from roles such as Doctors). By day, a vote-based lynching occurs... this is accompanied with huge amounts of discussion, accusations, deception, lying, deceit, fraud, and dishonesty :D Trust no-one and always be on your watch. The common goal is to catch the baddies, but there are baddies lurking among you... baddies who are trying to manipulate you into thinking someone else is a baddie!

This is the core of Mafia. As you can see, it's an intense and excellent game. All the hype is real. This guide will tell you everything you need to know...


II. Factions and Win Conditions

A faction is a group of players that are on the same side (using the Italian village example: the villagers, or Innocents, are a faction, and the Mafia is another faction). A faction can have various overall properties:

* BTSC: BTSC stands for Behind-the-Scenes-Contact, and refers to the ability to chat with members of the same faction, using PMs (Private Messages) or some other form of contact set up by the host or players - for example, a system where members of a BTSC group get a separate secret forum to discuss on
** Typically the Mafia, or other similar baddie groups, have BTSC while the Innocent faction does NOT (the innocent faction NEVER does, except for occasionally a few people within the faction that have BTSC, but that's not a faction-wide ability). Mafia is defined in game theory by an "informed minority" ('the bad guys') and an "uninformed majority" ('the good guys')

* Nightkill: the other common faction ability is the ability to kill one player per night. The kill is usually preventable by saving roles (such as a Doctor) and is the basis for eliminating Innocents [as the faction that usually has this ability is the baddie faction(s)]. The Innocents will never have this ability, as usually it requires the group to also have BTSC ~ rarely, the Nightkill can be part of a faction without BTSC, if each faction member "votes" for their target (similar to the wererats in Medieval Mafia), but that's more complicated

These are the only two factionwide abilities: any others are rare and special cases. Usually a nightkill is decided by the group's members chatting (via BTSC) and coming to a consensus (ie, a decision on who to kill)


If each faction is like a team, how do they win? Each team is pitted against each other. Each faction is technically enemies with the others (although some factions may have alliances and whatnot) and has a separate win condition. A win condition is a situation/goal/condition that has to be met to win the game... ie, kill all others, or kill specific player, or do something, or do this, or do that, etc


* A large majority faction. These are the "good guys", the Innocents, the Villagers, the Townsfolk, the Jumpers, the Adventurers, what have you - it depends on the game. This faction makes up the majority of the players (eeeasily) and usually has the goal of killing all "baddies" (the common name for members of factions not aligned with the majority faction)

* one or more baddie factions. They are usually small (3 to 5 people, depending on the game and the number of factions & players) and have BTSC and nightkill abilities. Their goals range from killing everyone else to killing a specific range of people or something of that sort

* specialized baddies. May or MAY NOT appear in games. Examples: QAs from early Mafia games I hosted, Phages in a recent game I suggested, or the Golden Scourge from Medieval Mafia. These specialized baddie factions are usually very small - 2 players, sometimes 3 at the most - that have a very specific and sometimes complicated goal as baddies

* independent factions. Independent roles are people that stand alone - they are flying solo, and each independent role has its own independent faction & win condition of course. Independent roles tend to be unique, flambuoyant, rememberable - and harder to play, yet more rewarding

III. Basic Rules
( a ) Night and Day
( b ) Voting
( c ) BTSC
( d ) PM repping
( e ) Death

( a ) Night and Day

The game moves in cycles of NIGHT and DAY. While there may be exceptions, night usually happens first, then it alternates, worded like this:

Night One, Day One, Night Two, Day Two, Night Three, Day Three, etc...

During night, conversation on the thread is limited, although BTSC conversation (usually between baddies) is flaring like a live wire as people decide the night actions they're going to do. Most mafia games have many night-active roles, and quite a lot of things happen in a single night. Not all of it goes into the night post, and much is kept hidden and behind the scenes (for example, who spy-roles spy on).

Usually hosts set time limits on night (18-24 hours is a typical range), though if they get all the night PMs in before that, they will post the night post earlier [or as soon as they can, sometimes even a bit after the deadline]. This is a good standard I set for the very first BD mafia games and it's worked ever since.

Days for a normal-length mafia game are always 24 hours, ALWAYS. Regardless of whether the host is there or not, the day ends. Not earlier (except for a special case, see below), and not later.

At the end of each night & day, the host makes a "night post" or "day post", which chronicles (usually in story form) the events that happened that are now publicly known during the night/day. They then update the roster with new deaths & developments and announce the following day/night phase and when it ends

( b ) Voting

Voting is at the heart of Mafia. How does it work? Well, when I first encountered Mafia, it was on a site called Lostpedia. The moderators were very involved in the game, so there was a live poll built into the thread where you would cast your vote. At each new day, a new topic would be made with a new poll and the mods would merge it into the thread for the new session of voting & discussing. However, this wasn't the easiest to read and understand quickly, and once you voted... you couldn't take it back or change your vote [yes, unthinkable in our play style].

When I brought Mafia to Brainden (with some of my own touches), one of the things I had to change was the voting system. So I came up with the roster-based system, and it works like this:

Host: name

1) Name

2) Name

3) Name

4) etc

When you are voting for someone, you repost the ABSOLUTE MOST CURRENT roster with the following added (say you are person #2)

Host: name

1) Name

2) Name - voting for [color="color"]Name_of_vote_target[/color]

3) Name

4) etc

Remember, you are voting to CONDEMN someone. If you are the first to vote for them in the day, make up a new color (preferably different enough from all colors currently displayed on the roster). If someone else has already voted for the person in question, use the exact same color!! This makes it very easy to assess the situation

As you know, days are a set time of 24 hours. At the end, the lynched person is decided. Usually it's the person with the most votes; the host will specify in the beginning of the game. They should also specify what happens in the event of a tie.

The only way that the day can officially end earlier is if someone pleads no-contest. It's basically saying "okay, you got me, I'm guilty, I'm a bad guy, lynch me already". To do this, the votes have to be overwhelmingly in favor of lynching said baddie. If someone pleads no-contest, the host will probably make the day post as soon as they can

( c ) BTSC

BTSC = Behind The Scenes Contact

Forms of BTSC:
* PMing
* host-setup method of communication (such as secret BTSC forums)
* player-setup method of communication (AIM, MSN, email, etc)
* talking irl (in real life) about the game, if you know another player irl

Note that BTSC is almost always NEVER ALLOWED! Do NOT EVER btsc with ANYONE unless EXPLICITLY told BY THE HOST that you are allowed to. Nobody cheats in Mafia. People find out, and you are basically exiled. If you PM somebody about the game, usually they will lightly warn you that BTSC is not allowed, or possibly tell the host immediately. Either way, BTSC serves no actual purpose because nobody trusts anybody and it's likely to make you more suspicious and possibly get you killed within the next phase. So even if BTSC was allowed in a game (it won't be), nobody would use it. Bottom line: don't BTSC unless it was explicitly allowed for you

First, what exactly counts as BTSC? Of course you can PM and chat to your friends, even if they are playing in the same Mafia game. But you can't discuss strategy, roles, events, desires about the game, ANYTHING. Anything that conveys information, probes for information, etc. No letting slip your opinion on the lynch vote during an AIM conversation. I find that that's the most common form of "accidental BTSC"

Roles with BTSC:
* baddie factions generally have BTSC as a group-wide ability. This means that all members in the faction can chat with each other
* sometimes, two members of the majority faction ("the Innocents") get BTSC as a special part of their roles. Or sometimes they don't start out with the BTSC but have the possibility of obtaining it. All of this will be described by the host, so only use BTSC if you're sure

Another form of BTSC is where the host may slip information, whether by accident or on purpose - this is covered more in section VII.

( d ) PM repping

PM repping = "private message replicating". Ie, this is basically a Mafia offense where someone reproduces (on the public thread) a PM that was Mafia-related. Usually it refers to the offender reproducing the host's PM giving the person their role, though sometimes it can be a quote from someone you have BTSC with, etc. DO NOT REPRODUCE ANY MAFIA-RELATED PRIVATE MESSAGE IN THE THREAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The host will take action

( e ) Death

Death rules are strict:
(1) You are dead sad.gif An unfortunate fact. This means you are no longer part of the game. In the rare chance that there is some sort of "resurrection role", you are dead forever. The best you can do is not get in the way of the game and cheer on your team! Remember, you still win if your team wins ;D
(2) Dead players are not allowed to continue BTSC or to post anything meaningful on the thread. If they DO post (they should only post rarely, or once, if at all), it should be in gray and have absolutely no on-topic material that supplies any sort of information or discusses strategy. This rule is very important!!! Even if some baddies are claiming your role, YOU CANNOT SPEAK OUT!!!!!!!
(3) It sucks to be the first to die in a game of Mafia... which is why sometimes a host may offer some sort of compensation, usually related to the host's next game, though Sinistral did a clever use of the first-dier in his Pirate Mafia: Frozen in Fire got to make choices about where the pirate ship traveled next (north, east, west, south, etc) which affected the gameplay

For #2, the rule that dead people can't retain BTSC is more lax, though the others are adamant. It doesn't affect the game that much if a dead baddie occasionally talks with the still-living baddies about the game, as long as it's not a lot.

~~~ So these are some of the basic ground rules of Mafia. Read on to find out about roles ;D

IV. Roles
( a ) What are roles?
( b ) Types of roles
( c ) Independent roles

( a ) What are roles?

Each player has a role. A role is a character that is part of a faction and has abilities & attributes that contribute to the success of the faction (or sometimes not, see 'nuisance role'). For example, "vanilla Innocent" would be a role, albeit a bland one. 'The Doctor' is a role. 'Mafioso' is a role too, although usually the individual Mafia members have specific baddie-roles too ;Ph34r: Roles have some basic types of abilities:
* Night abilities (things they can do at night)
* Day abilities (things they can do during the day)
* Overall abilities (things that apply to them at all times, or an action they can perform at any time)
* Conditional abilities (IF x happens to them, THEN y... or something of that sort)

( b ) Types of Roles

I have split the roles up into broad categories, into which most roles fall:

* name [alternate names for the broad type] {typical/example game-specific names} - quick description

* saving role [protecting role, defending role, guarding role] {Doctor, Healer, Medic, Paramedic, Herbalist, Apothecarist, Bodyguard, Defender} - this role typically can save one person per night from death, sometimes more. Sometimes they have conditionals about when they can save themselves, and some of them also permanently save another role

* discovery role [disco role, spy, spying role, info role] {Spy, Inspector, Detective, Investigator, Omni} - the disco role can usually pick one person per night and learn their role/faction/some other tidbit of information. That's the "Spy" category. The "Inspector" category usually goes to someone that learns one role of a specific faction at a time, without choosing an exact person. People that DO choose their target usually choose a person, although sometimes it can be choosing a role instead. Baddie groups AND Innocent groups often both have a disco role. Disco roles can be very powerful and there are measures in place (see rolekiller) to prevent wide outings

* watching role [scouting role, watcher] {Watcher, Lookout, Shadow, Stalker, Tracker, Stowaway} - the watcher can "watch" people at night, and learn who they visited that night, or sometimes the watcher learns who visited the person, or sometimes both. This is different from a disco role because information isn't be learned - actions are being learned

* killing role [nightkiller, assassin, vigilante role] {Vigilante, Ninja, Warrior, Dirty Cop, Druid} - this is a killing role that works for the Innocents. They usually kill once per night, sometimes with restrictions, usually not though. Often they can choose not to kill, where a baddie group such as the Mafia MUST kill (in some games, other games no)

* roleblocker [negator, undoer, role-negator] {Prøstitute/Hooker, Mountaineer, the Haitian} - the roleblocker has the ability to prevent roles from working that night (or sometimes day). They work by distracting (ehem) the victim, or taking them faraway, or blanking out their power altogether. Usually, the player that was negated will get their powers back in the morning (it would be a rare and powerful roleblocker that can permanently wipe an ability). Sometimes roleblockers also protect their victim from harm or even spying (as in the case of the Mountaineer)

* jailer {Jailer, Policeman/woman, Crazy Doctor, Warden, City Guard, Terrorist, Enforcer} - a jailer role is a rare and sometimes unbalanced role that has the ability to take people prisoner/hostage. So at essence they are a roleblocker, but also much more complicated with lots of other stuff involving the prisoner situation

* conversion role [switcher role, persuasion role, brainwasher role, viral role] {Mason/Freemason, Cultist, Don, Zombie, Vampire, Alpha Werewolf, Virus, Mind Flayer, Marak/wererats} - this role, almost always a baddie role (in fact, basically always) - is a rare, but IMO, cool role that has the ability to convert enemies from one faction to another. This is more powerful than killing because not only is the enemy faction losing a player, but you are gaining a player... and it is even more potent when nobody knows that a conversion even took place. Usually the player doesn't retain their previous ability. One exception is the Werewolf system in Mafia VII. Two good conversion roles are the Alpha Werewolf (VII) and Mind Flayer (VIII pre MM)

* invincible role [bulletproof role, invulnerable role, immortal role] {Bulletproof, Granny, Paranoid Gun Owner, Vigilante/Defender combo, Ninja, Reflex (Reflex is the ultimate example), Stormskin} - the name speaks for itself, although is also misleading. Usually invincible roles can be lynched, and often there is a condition that causes their invincibility (such as another player/role being alive) or a weakness that allows them to die (such as the Reflex's requirement to sacrifice themselves for someone each night). The Tank from Medieval Mafia is semi-invincible as they take hits for others, getting 3 to die

* rolekiller [idkiller, Role + Identity [RID] Killer] {Pirate Alchemist, Crusader} - this is sometimes a faction ability for baddies, but usually the ability of a specific baddie. The baddie is required to PM the combination of a role and the name of the player that has the role, and the player will be killed (usually disregarding saving roles and the like). So an identity is necessary, the rolekiller cannot just kill anyone. This is used as an outing-control by hosts sometimes, and in Itachi's ABR, the rolekilling ability was given to random people. If the rolekiller PMs in a wrong match, usually there are consequences, thus preventing them from wild guessing (even though there is usually a 1-per-day or 1-per-night limit)

* nuisance role [useless role, unwanted role] {Squeaker} - this kind of role is just detrimental to their own team, and should die (though sometimes the death is the detrimental part, as in the Squeaker of Mafia III). This is no fun to play, and I only introduced this kind of role once I think

* lynch savior [rescuer, pardoner] {Mayor, Viceroy, etc} - this kind of role has the ability to "pardon" lynches (usually with a once or twice only clause or some other restriction) to prevent the lynch target from dying. Sometimes they use it during the day, or during the night to apply the following day

* messenger role [courier, emissary role] {Messenger, Town Crier, Royal Emissary} - this powerful role has the ability to transmit messages between various people. Often there are a variety of restrictions and customizations, from who sends the message, how the anonymity works, how messages can get sent (do they opt to use the Messenger or vice versa?), can the respondent reply back, how much does the messenger get to see or know from the transaction, can the messenger edit the message, etc

* multivoter [doublevoter, triplevoter, vote heavy, importancy role] {VIP, Psion, etc (too many to count)} - this is a common role that has the ability of having a weighted vote other than x1. It could be double (x2), triple (x3), some other number (though above 3 is extremely rare and probably highly unbalanced) or even 0-weight (like the Unknown in Jumper Mafia). The multivoter may have the ability to choose their voting power from a set range, or it is a fixed. Often a multivoter may have vote manipulation abilities too (like the Psion)

* vote manipulator [votechanger, vote redirector, vote chooser] {Psion, Sleeper Cell, others} - the vote manipulator is a powerful role that has the ability to affect the voting of another player (or multiple players). Three broad categories:
** vote weighter - change the weight of someone's vote
** vote chooser - change the true target of someone's vote
** vote redirector - redirect votes from person A to person B or something similar

* public reporter role [town crier, public messenger, demander] {Town Crier, Dragon, Bankroller, Shatei & Oyabun (of the Yakuza), one of the Runemonger bought abilities} - this is similar to messenger role, except here, the role can post a message in either a night or day post, allowing them to anonymously communicate with the public at large

* action affecter [action-manipulator, target redirector, confuser role] {I can't think of any examples right now off the top of my head, but I know there are some} - this is an interesting role that can affect the actions of other players. A roleblocker is an example of one (but a profound enough example to get its own category), as is a vote manipulator, except a vote manipulator deals with day actions (vote), while this role is typically for night actions. It can change the target of someone's action, redirect someone's action, bolster or negate someone's action, shield against someone's action, etc. There are lots of interesting combinations

* reality morpher [switcher, role role] {Merlin on a game on LP, some other rare examples} - this is a very rare role with the ability to metagame-affect the game, by causing some sort of drastic change, like a switcher role (switches two peoples' roles), night post changer, role ability changer, etc, what have you. These are uncommon and have the possibility of unbalancing the game, so watch out if you're thinking of putting one in a game as a host, and think of all the possible consequences and coincidences

* observer role [gambler, predictor] {Gambler, Runemonger, Hydra} - this type of role has the ability to observe and make predictions about the metagame progress of the game itself. The individual properties of the role vary greatly

*** speech handicap - I've never done this in one of my games yet (possibly soon), but a role may have a handicap where they have to talk a certain way, for example, the Town Drunkard has to always pretend to be wasted, etc ;P

This is no means an exhaustive list of role types, and many roles can be innovative combinations of the above. For example, the Mind Flayer is a mix of a conversion role and a rolekiller. But these categories usually encompass most of the roles you see... some are just un-categorizable, so I've made a final roletype:

* unique [game-specific, themed, exotic] {Intersect/Unknown/Head Paladin, Knight, probably some others from other games} - these roles are very unique and specified for the game type/theme

( c ) Independent roles

Independent roles [often called indi/indie/indy roles or Neutral Factions or individual roles or something similar] are different from all above because they have to operate on their own. Independent roles are often a complex and custom-specified mix of many role types to assist them in their usually more-complicated win conditions than simply "killing a faction". Good examples of independent roles and their abilities & win conditions:
* Grim Reaper - kill each even night - kill the Ninja (Defender must die first)
* Alpha Werewolf - infect others to increase the werewolf population - reach a certain werewolf pack size
* Rogue (from Jumper Mafia) - kill each night - kill the heads of the opposing factions: the Unknown and the Head Paladin

Independent roles are very custom and different, but there are still some core categories...
* killer - the independent role has the powerful ability to kill, and usually has a wincon involving a very specific target (examples: Grim Reaper, Rogue)
* viral - the independent role has the ability to (usually +RID) to turn others onto their side. There are usually a lot of conditionals involved, as it's a powerful ability (examples: Zen Master, Marak, Vampire)
* recruitable - with this type of role, they may have a side condition, but their main point is to join and assist a larger faction with their desirable abilities. Recruitable roles have been on the rise recently because of their inclusion in 'hybrid' games, but many inexperienced hosts are putting far too many in without understanding the consequences or balance issues



V. Game Strategy
( a ) Overall Day Strategy
( b ) Innocent Role Strategy
( c ) Baddie Role Strategy
( d ) Independent Role Strategy
( e ) Gaining Strategy

( a ) Overall Day Strategy

Things you should keep in mind during the voting process:
* Always contribute as much as possible
* Don't lurk in the thread without posting and displaying your opinion about a current debate
* Never reciprocal-vote (ie, vote for someone right after they vote for you), it gets you nailed down as either a noob or a baddie, neither is good biggrin.gif
* Vote early and be prepared to come back on a lot and possibly change your vote
* Don't change your vote too much or too quickly (flip-flopping)
* Be aware of any extra voting capabilities your role has (such as double-voting power or something similar)
* Don't mindlessly "bandwagon", which is basically jumping on a popular vote
* Don't say things like "Vote for me and the Innocents will be sorry" or a similar threat, regardless of whether it's true or not. If you do, people are more likely to gang up on you
* Don't assert that you're Innocent without backing it up
* Don't make provocations and accusations based on 'previous playstyles'. Just because someone is acting different/similarly to a previous game means nothing. The way a person plays the game varies greatly each time depending on the overall game rules & setup & current situation as well as the faction and even the specific role within the faction

( b ) Innocent Role Strategy

* Don't give away your role or even give clues about your role unless there's a very very strong incentive: the result has to be positive for the Innocents, as your own life (and thus further use of your ability for the good guys) is in grave jeopardy now
* A good defense isn't just claiming you are innocent and expecting it to work. It's true that you're assumed innocent until accused as guilty, but once that happens, people look at you with a skeptical manner, and you have to prove your innocence rather than just stating it... but not necessarily outing your role, just defend your interests in the game. It helps when the accuser is more specific about why they are accusing you, so you can counter them. Watch out for 'vague' accusers ;D
* Saving roles: be careful when someone in the thread asks to be saved or says someone else should be saved. It could very well be that that person needs saving, but it could also be a trap; a baddie ploy, trying to draw away the saving role's ability... to either a baddie or even a random Innocent (so as to not implicate) that the baddies know they aren't going after. You also have to take into account that the baddies read the thread too - if they think someone is likely to be saved, they probably won't go after them, which means you might be able to cover multiple bases by saving someone else who is more subtly involved but still a possible target
* Killing roles should be very careful, and exercise their right not to kill (which they usually have). It's dumb to kill on the first night, when you have no info. If a killing roles goes on an innocent-killing-spree (accidental of course), it can really hurt the innocents, so be careful about who you kill and look for subtle clues for suspicion
* Overall, your goal is to help the Innocents win: this goal is more important than your life. Even if you die, you still win with the innocents (if the innocents win of course), so sometimes sacrifice is necessary. Nobody wants to die of course, and usually dying hurts your team, but it will happen, many times undoubtedly ;P
* If you're being voted for en masse and are planning to out yourself (ie, reveal your role) as a last resort, don't do so at the last minute - do so in the middlish, giving plenty of time for people to get on, read, discuss and change their votes. Revealing info at the end of the day helps nobody (except the baddies)

( c ) Baddie Role Strategy

* Work well as a group! Get to know each other, know what time zones you are in and what times (relative to each other) you are likely to be on, so you can get discussing and targeting (especially for night) done with lots of time to spare for good conversation, strategy, etc. Always talk to the others before coming out with a crucial post in the game thread
* Try to convince people that so-and-so is a baddie, but not with obviousness, unless you are claiming a spylike role (either openly or behind the scenes). Take advantage of the mental directions people are thinking in and use them to build suspicion for someone
* Again, work together as team - timing can be everything sometimes, and being all on and voting as a block can get you nailed like fish out of water. Don't ignore each other, though. You need to pretend like you are treating the others as anyone else, with no special treatment. Don't convey any sense of mutual secretive understanding between you and a fellow baddie
* One of the coolest thing about being a baddie is being able to learn from your peers, some of whom are probably more experienced than you and can help and direct you strategy-wise
* I've found that the more a baddie faction discusses (about all kinds of different aspects of the game), the better they do as a group. In Classic Mafia, the Mafia's BTSC forum had about 25 topics (most of them courtesy of dawh/sparrowhawk ;D) ~ and guess what? They won!

( d ) Independent Role Strategy

* Independent roles are among the hardest to play, and yet the most rewarding. If you can pull off an independent victory, you have some skill. You have no BTSC and aren't part of a team - a solo flier. Because of this, you need to watch everything carefully and try to distinguish between teams and roles. Oftentimes, Independent roles benefit from knowing as many roles as possible, as their win conditions are usually connected with certain specific roles. Initiate discussion in the thread to learn more, and always be waiting and watching for a good opportunity. If you are a role that must choose sides at some point, keep a good and accurate-as-possible tally of which side is doing better at each moment and how things affect the situation

( e ) Gaining Strategy

I really can't give any strategy... the tips I've written above are some of the most basic strategy, and even a more complex strategy may contradict some of them depending on playstyles and tactics. Strategy is so varied and complicated in Mafia that I can't possibly convey it to you, the reader... you have to learn it and develop it on your own. You will, too quickly, although here are a few tips to help you:
* keep some sort of spreadsheet or other document to keep track of roles. It will help you immensely
* go back and read! I can't stress this enough! Often you will find the most important clues & contradictions in what people have said earlier
* after the game is over, go back and read it all over again, if you have the patience - except this time, you know who has what role, and can make more sense of the strategies, plots, and motives behind everything that happened. This will give some deep insight on strategy
* talk on the thread after the game is over, discussing strategy points and good moves that others and yourself made. This will broaden your repertoire of good strategy ideas
* if you were part of a BTSC-endowed baddie faction, you can gain excellent strategy skills by playing and following and being directed by your fellow baddies, who may be more experienced than yourself. Or regardless of faction, if you are working with someone else via BTSC, that can boost your strategy skillset

Like I said, I can only give some basic tips to help you on your way - you will learn more as you go :]

VI. Links

[General links to help you out]

Links to Every Single Mafia Game on Brainden Up To a Certain Point:

Spoiler for Warning: Long List:

Mafia (the original Brainden Mafia game, failed a bit due to Slick joining late but no biggie ;D)
Post #44 - Rules
Post #53 - Intro
Post #59 - A Dark Alleyway
Post #111 - An Angry Mob
Post #142 - Green and Seventh
(Final Day didn't finish due to accidentally Mafia imbalance - we were all still learning ;D)

Mafia II
Post #29 - Rules
Post #17 - Strategy Tips
Post #51 - Intro
Post #65 - A Wild Evening
Post #77 - The Blue Octane
Post #159 - To The Sharks!!!
Post #174 - Open Warfare
Post #338 - The Web of Lies
Post #360 - Last Girl Standing
Post #429 - A Firelit Lynching (& Epilogue)
(Mafia II was awesome and epic and amazing ;D)

Mafia III
Post #51 - Rules, Roles & Strategy Tips
Post #61 - A Bizarre Bazaar
Post #111 - The Watchful Djinn
Post #245 - Dehydration and Organ Donation
Post #284 - Tabbard and Tockley
Post #539 - A Fatal Mistake
Post #612 - Ripple Effect
Post #730 - No Checks, No Balances
Post #735 - Quarky Risen
Post #897 - Quarky Fallen
Post #931 - An Explosive End
(Mafia III was a failure IMO - ended in an unfortunate argument too... read Mafia II instead please ;P)

Mafia IV
Rules, Roles, Strategy Help, Voting Help, Players, Introduction & An Intercepted Message
Night One - Awesomeness in Question
Day One - Trial by Fire
Night Two - The Ancient War Continues... or does it?
Day Two - Frog Spawn
Night Three - The Guardian
Day Three - Jihad in Awesomeville
Player Reviews
(Mafia IV was an incredible game IMO, with great performances by everyone)

- LOST Mafia goes in here but it wasn't finished, only one one night post and one day post I think, so no biggie

Mafia V - hosted by Frost
Mafia V Rules, Roles, Strategy Help, Voting Help, and then Signup ;D
Mafia V Intro
Night 1 - Rooftop Snow Rising
Night 1 - Rooftop Snow Rising addendum
Day 1 - The Really Ominous Frozen Lake
Night 2 - Oh $#!T!
Day 2 - Sacrificial Snowboarding
Night 3 - Writer's Block in Pengville
Day 3 - The Pit
Night 4 - One Hell of a Night
Day 4 - The End
(a well-rounded great game! I think there was another argument [characteristic of odd-# games maybe? (except the 1st)] I don't remember for sure... anyway, great game, and good job Frost)

Mafia VI (hosted by yours truly, Unreality)
Mafia VI Rules, Roles, Voting Help
Mafia VI Intro
Night One - Cliff Jumping
During Day One - Mekal's Suffrage
During Day One - No More Tacos
Day One - Azure Sky
Night Two - Fly By Night
Day Two - Triple Kill
Night Three - Reaction Time
During Day Three - Frozen Number Two
Day Three - Web of Lies (Again)
Unreality's Notes
(A truly epic and cool game... I loved hosting this one. Everything worked out perfectly it seemed)

M4F14 (futuristic Mafia, hosted by Ysan and cohosted with LIS)
Rules and Intro: The Storm Arrives
Night One: Phaze Phases Out
Day One: 2B or not 2B
Night Two: Overcooked Chicken
Day Two: The End of the Beginning
Night Three: Flowers for the Dead
Day Three: Dressed to Arrest
Night Four: Saved by the Jail
Day Four: Three...Two...One...Zero
Night Five: "..."
LIS's role-image link list

- Speed Mafia - (hosted by Brandonb, cohosted with Ysan)
Night Post #3... THE END ohmy.gif (Contains everything that happened in the game, as there were no stories I think)

Anime Battle Royale (hosted by Itachi-san)
[no organized link system, so I assembled them ~ No titles though, sorry]
Intro Post
Night 1
Day 1
Night 2
Day 2
Night 3
(Added some great twists to Mafia - good one Itachi!)

Anime Battle Royale: Reloaded (itachi-san)
[again, no link system, so I just copied the OP]

Cruise Ship Mafia (Mekal)
[no link system]

Pirate Mafia I (hosted by Captain Sinistral, yarrr ;D)
Night 1
Day 1 - Interlude
Day 1 - End - Three Pirates?
Night 2 - Storm
Day 2 - Interlude
Day 2 - End - Bilge Rats
Night 3 - Lucky Stars
Day 3 - End - Pins and Needles
Night 4 - Silent Night?
Day 4 - Epilogue
Pirate Rank & Awards - Pirate Mafia I
(looked like an awesome game, I remember I really wanted to play)

Anime Battle Royale: Bleached (itachi-san)
Intro to ABR III
Night 1
Day 1
Night 2
Day 2
Night 3
Day 3
Night 4
Day 4
Night 5

HEROES: Season 1 (hosted by Frost)
[no link system that I could find, although the final post is on page 53]

Cruise Ship Mafia 2 (Mekal)
[no link system]

ABR: Naruto (itachi)
Night 1
Night 1 Addendum
Day 1
Night 2
Day 2
Night 3
Night 3 Addendum
Day 3
Night 4
Day 4
Night 5
Day 5
Night 6
Day 6

Final Fantasy Battle (Prince_Marth85)
[no link system]

Death Note Mafia (Yoruichi-san)
[no link system]

Jumper Mafia (unreality)
Jumper Mafia
Night One - Welcome to the War
Day One - A Fall From Meteora
Night Two - Fall of Anonymity
Day Two - An Eye for an Eye
Night Three - Triple Sacrifice
Day Three - A Mafia First
Night Four - The Climax
(one of the more epic I've hosted ;D - in fact I think this may have been the best and funnest game for me to host, ever)

By now there have been a whole bunch more games, and if someone wants to round up some links and PM them to me, that would be awesome, but I think tihs list is sufficient. There's also a few games (Classic Mafia & Mafiaholics) located on incog (see external links) and there have been a few other sites radiating outward, that's of no concern here however. This is a big list regardless ;D

Experienced Players Willing to Answer Questions: me (unreality), dawh, Frost, Kat (Kathleen), star tiger, Yoruichi-san, Sinistral, itachi-san, Cherry Lane, grey cells... the list goes on. These are people that were on a different list from before so I'm kinda just throwing out names but there a lot more awesome & experienced players ;D

External Mafia-related sites:

* Wikipedia page for Mafia (the game)
~~~ Someone that has a Wikipedia account should edit it and add this guide to the links section ;P hehe

* MafiaWiki by the MafiaScum site
~~~ Not the most coherent site (and the actual games on MafiaScum are nothing compared to here and our affiliates) but it has some good stuff on it

* Original Mafia Ruleset!!!
~~~ The game has evolved a lot since, and definitely for the better : )

* The Graduate Mafia Brotherhood
~~~ Has a good list of roles. However beware, as they are referring to the real-life party game (using playing cards) rather than the online version

* Aaaaand almost last but not least: Mafia Discussion! ~ Right on Brainden!

* Incognito, before the move: Incognito
** Classic Mafia
** Mafiaholics

Enjoy ;D

VII. Stuff for Hosts


* Don't host until you have played at least 4 or more games and know what is necessary and expected of you. If you aren't a good writer or don't have a complete vision for a game, perhaps try cohosting, it can take some of the burden off. Cohosting means sharing the hosting burden with a fellow cohost and the two of you together manage the game. Don't just say something like "oh I think hosting is cool so I'm interested in doing it" or "I don't see a game based off of <insert franchise here>, so I'm going to make one!" Rather, think carefully about the game. The more creative, original and innovative you are, the better the game will be

* Make sure you understand complex Mafia strategy and game theory basis (of mafia, that is) inside-out before designing rules/roles and hosting

* PM experienced Mafia players/hosts and discuss with them your idea and role concepts. Try to get as much help as possible in designing your game for game balance ~ it also helps to start a topic in Games with your game setup and get valuable feedback from players

* Once you have the OP/Intro/Rules/Roles/etc stuff well defined and written out, have an experienced player check it over for balance. Game balance is the most important thing in designing a game!!! Make sure you have a deep understanding of what game balance is and how to detect unbalance before even thinking about hosting. You can gain this insight from playing games and talking to experienced players & hosts beforehand while thinking about designing a game

* Look around at previous Mafia games for role ideas and ways that things could pan out. Also check out Mafia Discussion (see the Links section or just check out the Games forum for it), whether the original topic on BD or later forums from various sites, all of which are packed full of great... well, mafia discussion ;D

* Plan ahead. Know when you're active and when other Mafia games are going to start. Make sure to place your game in a good time slot that works for you and other players and doesn't interfere too much with other games (and real life)

* Hosting takes a lot of your time, beware!!! It will really suck you in (IF you are a good host that is - you SHOULD dedicate a lot of time and effort into it. If you're not, something's wrong)

Other, Less Important Stuff:

* Questions about hosting? We can help you out! PM your enquiry to the group of approved hosts, or start a topic, etc. There is a limitless sea of knowledge for you to draw from

* This may be just a personal preference but I know that others share it too, and it's generally just a spit in the face of realism and good writing, and it brings out the suspension of disbelief, asking the players to accept this twisted reality: GENDERED ROLES! Please don't do it!!!! lol. It just makes me cringe when the ROLES, which are supposed to be ROLES, become CHARACTERS, with NAMES and GENDERS, which are often different from the USERNAMES and ACTUAL GENDERS of the people that play them. Mafia is a game of roles, not of reenacting characters from some form of popular media. Sometimes it is unavoidable, but if your theme is so focused and specific that the players are playing genderized characters, I cringe ;P The only time I've done this (out of necessity) was LOST Mafia... and in such cases, it is indeed necessary. There's just no other way to do it. But there doesn't need to be a Mafia game for every possible piece of popular movie/TV/book/etc ;D I did make Jumper Mafia, but it was only loosely based on Jumper with only the concept (teleportation), the roles aren't named after characters (90% of the ideas were my own invention and design) and only a couple of the roles were even based on actual characters from the movie. I know that in recent times, people want to host about their favorite book series or movie or TV show or whatever, so I guess I'll just have to get used to it, but I'll still secretly cringe ;D Please note that this is a fudder-dudder personal bias and don't let it hold you back if you have a creative idea in mind. I know most other people don't have this same pet peeve hehe

* Most of all, hosting is fun. If you don't think so, just go back to playing biggrin.gif Many great players are just players and are very content with playing. I myself like hosting better, but that's just me. Everyone's got their niche, and we need us all to make good Mafia games ;D

* Have fun and good luck! Hosting can be tough... keep a log of all night/day actions & events that occur. Make sure you're on top of your game, and very active. Have a vision and a passion behind the storylines (if you are writing storylines for night/day posts of course). Try to anticipate possible role disputes and special cases before the game even begins [sometimes the best help is a fresh pair of eyes looking it over] so you don't have to untangle sticky situations once the game has begun

Quicker Tips:

* play out a demonstration of your game with the numbers of players in each faction to make sure it's not absurdly in favor of one faction
* DON'T LET ANY INFORMATION SLIP TO PLAYERS THAT THEY SHOULDN'T RECEIVE! After any out-of-the-norm action, sent-PM, player replacement, etc, analyze what kind of information it gives out to players. Also, beware of casual AIM/MSN conversations and don't let anything slip that could affect the game
* if someone does receive an unfair advantage via information, level the playing field and tell the secret (think about the ramifications first, though, it may be detrimental to publically reveal the info and there may be a better solution to the problem)
* again, anticipate role clashes beforehand. It will save you a lot!
* make sure you know who has what 'voting power', so you know what's going in the day and what the voting roster really means
* keep in mind all of the role interactions that are going on - if someone's action may (a) affect another action, or (b) be affected by another action, check to make sure
* if you've ran into a tricky situation, there's no shame in PMing other experienced hosts (that aren't playing the game of course)
* whatever you do, DELIVER ON TIME! You can't ask players to respect the time limits if you can't even get a night or day post in on time

Have fun and good luck!!! ;P

VIII. FAQ and Random Advice

Q: Are there any restrictions as to what I can say in the thread?
A: There are no restrictions. Unless you have a speech handicap ability discussed earlier, there is no limit to what you can say on the thread - other than the basic Brainden and Mafia rules (be respectful, don't reproduce PMs, don't post if you're dead, etc). That's not to say that you SHOULD say anything that comes to mind. Be careful about what you say and even how you word it ;D Also remember that many games have a rolekiller, so be careful about revealing information about yourself

Q: What is some "Mafia jargon" I'll need to know?
A: Here's some important stuff:
* BTSC - Behind the Scenes Contact
* win condition - abbreviated wincon, this is the goal required for a faction to win
* baddie - part of the "informed minority" that is working against the good guys/Innocents/villagers/Townsfolk/Jumpers/etc who make up the uninformed majority. Usually 'baddie' refers to independent roles too (ie, it's basically a term for all enemies of the Innocents who have other win conditions)
* bandwagoning - the action of going with an unstable (not founded on much evidence) yet seemingly popular movement toward one victim, who may or may not be an actual baddie
* bandwagon - used to describe the block of votes that someone is "jumping" onto when they "jump onto the bandwagon"
* flip-flop - a name for when someone switches around voting in a short time period, displaying indecision and uncertainty
* reciprocal voting - a name I came up with just for this guide to descibe the behavior where someone immediately votes for the person that voted for them
* WiFoM - "Wine in Front of Me", sometimes used, the terminology coming from the movie Princess Bride. WiFoM occurs when two opposing parties are caught in a whirlwind of inconclusive circular logic. For example, say there are two people in the spotlight as enemies of the Mafia. The Doctor must choose who to save and the Mafia must choose who to kill. Obviously the Mafia wants to choose someone that the Doctor DOESN'T choose, and the Doctor wants to choose the same person that the Mafia DOES choose. Thus they must anticipate each other's actions and are sucked into an infinite ladder of "well they know I know that I'd pick him because..." which leads to no real conclusions. However the key part of WiFoM is that it requires one of the options to be considerably more desirable for one of the parties involved to pick. This doesn't make anything simpler though, in fact it makes it more complicated
* PM - either Private Message, the member Prince_Marth85, the game Pirate Mafia, or the game Penguin Mafia, depending on the context :-)
* IRL - in real life (yes a real, non-mafia world does exist ;D)
* QA, GR, etc - Quarky Agent, Grim Reaper, etc. Usually longer role names and names with two words are abbreviated into quick two-letter acronyms. Be familiar with the roles and the acronyms that unofficially emerge to represent these roles
* lynch - essentially "execute", it's used to describe the crowd-based killing of one unlucky lad or lass every day
* mob - NOT referring to the "Mafia" mob but rather a group of people, psychologically (such as 'mob mentality')

Q: How do I start playing Mafia? Where do I jump in?
A: It may seem intimidating, but in reality it's not biggrin.gif It's easy to play - a Mafia game either has a Sign-up topic (read the whole the topic first then post, signing yourself up and usually re-posting the updated roster) or the sign-up is in the same place as the starting topic. OR, in recent games, some hosts have either sent out PMs or have announcements in their signatures (and other places around the forum, such as various topics) to PM them if you are interested in joining their game. On the newer branchoff forums, every game requires a signup topic but can be accessed by PMs, shoutbox, etc as well. If you have any questions about current & upcoming games, feel free to PM current players/hosts or someone else that can help you out. It's pretty easy, just check out the 'Games' forum to get a good overview of what's going on

Q: What defines inactivity, and what is expected of an 'active' player?
A: When you join a game, you are expected to actively participate in the game, from voting to discussing to using your role actions strategically (ie, if you don't use a role ability, it should be because you chose not to, not because you were inactive - in this case at least tell the host that you are choosing to not act). Many players think it's okay to just come on, vote, and log back off. It's not - an active player gives reasons for their vote, listens to others, and is more in tune with what's going on in the game; this gives you more leverage and power as a player as well. You don't have to be on the game thread at every waking moment, but checking the topic a few times a day is recommended at minimum. Also, if you are a player that has BTSC with others, you should be taking advantage of that excellent ability. Again, you don't have to sell your soul to the game, but it should be a prominent focus and you should be as active as you can be, enhancing both the game and your own skills and potential of victory ;D Only sign up for the game if you know that you'll be able to play the game fully in spite of other complications (work, school, vacations, other mafia games, etc)

Q: Why Mafia?
A: Hehehe... there are a lot of answers to that question. From "Because" to "Why not?" - but the real answer is, Mafia is amazing. And fun. You just have to experience it for yourself... and basing off the fact that you've just read a good portion of this guide (or at least the very end), I know you're about to. So join a game and see what it's all about : D

Random Advice

* Don't take it personally: Mafia is a game of betrayal, deceit, danger, lies, death and destruction. In the history of Mafia, I have only seen one or two incidents where an action was taken because someone had a vague dislike for someone else. Out of hundreds and hundreds of actions. So really, don't take it personally. If anything, take it as a compliment if you are targeted by a lot of different factions, including the baddies. It means they recognize you as either an ample threat or a helpful ally.

* Read, Read, Read: the more you put into Mafia, the more you get out. Touch up on strategy, ideas, tips, and nostalgia by reading older mafias & discussions (see the links section).

* Listen to your "Elders", but don't take their word for it: more experienced mafia players can be great sources. But you have to remember two things: (1) Game Count does not necessarily equal Experience. (2) If the advice is given inside a Mafia game, look out for factors that could cause them to lie to you... trust no one (except maybe BTSC mates, though in some games they are untrustworthy too).

Enjoy playing Mafia, it's an awesome game!!!


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Woah, that looks like a lot of typing. Thanks btw. ;)

We used to play a lot of Mafia at the Y on rainy days when I was little. I loved it, glad to see it works so well online!


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absolutely brilliant UR. I think I''m gonna print this out for quick and easy access :)


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Newbies guide to Mafia

Games section, pinned to top

One of the most essential and comprehensive guides to mafia. A must for every new player.- nearly everyone who's ever read this and went on to become the greatest mafioso/mafiosa in history.


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Newbies guide to Mafia

Games section, pinned to top

One of the most essential and comprehensive guides to mafia. A must for every new player.- nearly everyone who's ever read this and went on to become the greatest mafioso/mafiosa in history.

It still humbles me to this day that bringing the simple game of mafia to Brainden has spawned such a dynamic, devoted community (and ring of associated websites) of intelligent players. Keep on innovating and having fun :) And don't forget to go outside! haha :P


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Posted (edited)

Hello, I'm a Newbie-or at least I was before this became my 20th post. Mafia sounds really cool. My only question is, exactly how do you actually begin to participate in a game? Is there like a sign-up sheet or something? Thanks for the rules-I bet they will help a lot if I ever figure out how to join a game.

Edited by Kikacat123

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Yeah, but right now ( and for a little bit before) there's only one mafia in signups now. you might want to check the Newbie Mafia thread-it's for people brushing up and newbies trying their hand. Good luck!


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Actually, there's two. The second one is Coup of Rhotus hosted by Molly Mae. Looks really interesting, but has been in signups for... *checks*... err, 1 and a half years...


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Seven years later, still pinned baby! Had a bit of a nostalgia moment for those mafia days  :blush:  :ph34r:


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