The Rookery

Madeline's thoughts on social deduction games, forum/community meta, and any other philosophical musings
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How To Meta A Roleset

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No mountains, no valleys
Never argue with idiots; they'll drag you down to their level and then beat you on experience.
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The other day I was playing real-time video mafia with some work friends. The first few games we'd been playing with open setups. But then the host said "let's do a hidden roleset, with a Santa/Christmas theme! I'll set it up and not play. If you have any questions about your role, message me, especially if you're a new player."

A lot of the roles on this site are "villager with unaware traits." So you might have a lot of good special types, but then several people who see themselves as "villagers," but one might actually be a "tinker." There are also a couple other low-power roles that see themselves as "role A" even though their actual role is "B," and in some games, those are the villager-equivalent (the claim you make if you're not claiming anything else).

Also, on this site, most games have targeted N0 actions (the cop, if there is one, gets to choose their view so they might get a hit, the mafia usually get to kill someone, etc.)

So, Santa Claus, okay. "What's the villager-role equivalent?" I ask. "Is there one?"

"Just villager."

Okay. Santa Claus and some villagers. Let's see. Roles are going out. Ooh, I'm a mafia! Better check into mafia chat. Uh-oh, looks like I'm a "freeloader"--"while alive, the mafia cannot perform night kills." So I'll have to get bussed early by my teammates, okay. Let's see what roles they have. Wait a minute...there's three other freeloaders and a gunwielding mafioso. So we don't get to kill anybody probably ever? What gives?

As we're blinking at each other and not picking an N0 kill, because there aren't any choices, one of the guys says "oh, it's probably Merlin."


"Santa Claus knows who's naughty and who's nice. I have one gunshot, so we have to use it to take out Merlin because we're not going to get a nightkill. That's why the mod asked people to message him about their roles, so he could explain that mechanic."

"...maybe! I guess we'll find out."

So the day starts, and people are like "there's no kill, yay!" "Maybe it was a mafia role that can choose to forgo the kill in order to give themselves a gun." One of the goods, with no knowledge, suggests, "maybe it's a freeloader." "???" "Getting gifts from Santa is a classic freeloader move!" "Well, great point!"

There's somewhat of a meta of "lots of people post cop views at the start of the day, even if they're not the cop, because if they flip cop later we want to know." Even though most of the games so far have only been alignment reveal, we've been doing some of this just as a way to get things moving. So people post some fake views, including potential "hits" if they got them N0. We try to vote, but there's no consensus and day ends with no kill (which is somewhat common on this site, I think).

We go to night phase. I have no reads on anything. "Yeah, I think Merlin is either A or B," says the gunwielder.

"I agree," says one of the other freeloaders, "A and B sound informed."

"I have no reads so I'll just let you guys figure it out."

"We have to keep encouraging people to post their fake cop checks, if someone sounds too informed, that's how we get them."

"Okay, yeah."

So Day 2, no kill, more fake-ish cop checks. There are two players who happen to have the same name, so maybe one of them calls a "hit," I don't know exactly what happened, but there might be a "dichotomy" maybe between X1 and X2. (This is all happening pretty fast, so it still kind of feels like silly banter.)

Player C is like "I don't know, this day is boring, nothing's happening." I reply: "I know how to make stuff happen: [vote player C]! "

Then someone is like "we should just all vote between X1 and X2, there might be a dichotomy there." "Really?" All of a sudden, the tally says, "the Pollster (good special role) has triggered their ability; today the only people who can get votes are X1 and X2!" So we don't know who the Pollster is, only that they're a non-villager in this game. "Madeline, was that you? You said you wanted to make something happen." "Haha, no, that was just me teasing Player C." "No, no, it was me," says player B, "I'm the pollster, I did it!" I barely know what's going on at this point, we're all talking over each other--

then, bang! weird sound effects. "Congratulations to the mafia, and to the uninformed traitor, Player C!"

"Wait what? What just happened."

"Player B claimed Pollster," says the gunwielder. "So I figured he wasn't Santa. So I shot Player A, who was Santa, and that triggered an auto-win."


"I just figured it was a Merlin game. Player A called two 'hits' with his fake cop views, so that made him the front-runner once I knew it wasn't player B."

The mod says "well, sorry if that was anticlimactic. You guys know you could have just tried voting people out to get vote control, right?"

"Yeah, but we didn't know there was a traitor."

"I was trying to vote," I point out, "people just didn't want to do it."

Anyway. Real-time games are probably better for experiments that can just explode chaotically on D2, so you don't get too invested/frustrated. But mad props to my gunwielding buddy for immediately guessing the trick, and then assassinating Santa!
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