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Designer Diary: Batman: Everybody Lies, or A Different Type of Detective

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies
Chapter 0: The Basics

Batman: Everybody Lies is a story-driven deduction game. The action takes place in Gotham, with you exploring various locations of this crime-driven city from the grim and poverty-stricken alleyways to the sycophantic and wealthy social elite penthouses.

Intended for 2-4 players, aged 14+, the game features three Episodes to investigate and a short Prologue to help players familiarize themselves with the rules and the style of play. Each Episode can be played separately, taking roughly 2-3 hours to play.

In Batman: Everybody Lies, players are challenged to solve a mystery with limited time and resources. They are presented with various clues and paths to begin their investigation, make their own decisions, and draw conclusions as they pursue different Leads. Players utilize a variety of game components to facilitate gameplay and push the narrative forward. Each Episode gives players access to up to 24 Lead cards that provide essential clues and plot points, along with a dedicated website and additional resources included in the game box for authentic investigative immersion, such as a Scene deck, Personal Goal deck, and the Gotham City Gazette archives.

Each Episode concludes with a Final Report that is processed through the website. The players must give correct answers to questions concerning the investigation, then they are presented with an Epilogue that reveals the resolution of the Case.

Chapter 1: Characters

Each player takes the role of an iconic character that lives in Gotham. We cannot have four players playing Batman, can we? We decided we will create a team of Batman's allies, the team who will support him in the investigations.

Two of these characters are Catwoman and Vicky Vale. The first one is a famous thief, a controversial ally of Batman and a complex character that walks the line between hero and villain. Her special ability in the game is access to the Batcave; she is the one character who can reach Batman or Alfred if players need to.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

Vicky Vale is a passionate journalist who works for the Gotham City Gazette. She is a strong woman who fights for the people of Gotham. She exposes politicians' schemes and fears no one, no Gotham councilmen, not the wealthy elite, not even the dangerous mobsters. She is respected by the common people of the city, and she might be one of the last hopes of Gotham. Being a reckless journalist, Vicky has the in-game ability to refresh all Locations and make them available for players to visit again.

Now, let's introduce you to the other two playable characters: Warren Spacey and Harvey Bullock. The first one is an investigative reporter working for the Gotham City Gazette. He is known as the first reporter to write an in-depth article about the Joker. Having lived in Gotham for decades, Spacey has survived countless attacks by supervillains and today, though a man with many enemies, he refuses to put down his pen no matter what criminal attempts to intimidate him. With his enormous experience and a network spreading over the entire city, Spacey's ability allows players to reach and investigate the criminal Underground of Gotham City.

The last available character is Harvey Bullock, a detective of the Gotham City Police Department. He is known for his hard-shell style of work. Criminals have little hope when Bullock is involved. Receiving as much praise as reprimands for his sometimes brutal methods of work, he is one of Jim Gordon's most trusted allies and friends. Though not the most righteous member of the Gotham City Police Department, he may be the most stubborn and reckless. His ability in the game allows him to access the criminals at Blackgate Penitentiary.

These four iconic characters work together to create a most unusual alliance and save Gotham City.

Chapter 2: Personal Agendas

Gotham is a city of mistrust inhabited by lies and corruption, the only place in the world that doesn't wake up innocent and bright in the morning. No rain can wash off all the sins rooted in these streets. Even its heroes are tainted.

While designing Batman: Everybody Lies, we knew we had to represent this dark, noir theme. That's how Personal Goals came into the rules. It's a co-operative game in which all characters work together to solve the mystery and use their skills, knowledge, contacts, and wits to achieve the common goal.

And yet, each of them has a personal agenda.
And yet, each of them wants to pursue their own interest.
And yet, each of them cares for themselves the most.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

Each Case in Batman: Everybody Lies starts with an Introduction that describes the Episode's goals and the current situation in the city. In addition to that common Introduction, there is also an additional Introduction for each character, with their own information, their own point of view on the Episode, and their own goals to achieve.

Later in the game, as the Episode progresses and players discover more and more Lead cards, they may stumble upon an unusual instruction, something like: "Spend a Catwoman token to Read card C."

If one of the players is playing Catwoman, they may spend their token and gain access to this mysterious card C. They may then read the card in silence, only for themselves — they've just learned something, discovered something, and pushed their personal goal forward.

There are 26 Personal Goal cards in the game, 26 moments when one of the players at the table does something in secrecy.

Gotham is a city of mistrust, inhabited by lies and corruption. Will you fight to unveil its sins?

Chapter 3: Comic book panels

Carmine Infantino, Neal Adams, Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Frank Miller — the list could go on and on. Batman is represented in as many great stories as he is in the stunning illustrations and visuals of Gotham. When you think of Batman comics, you see stunning art pieces and comic panels presenting the dark city and the Dark Knight.

When designing Batman: Everybody Lies, we wanted to pay respect to the comic book origins of the story. We knew players would expect some way of incorporating comic panels into the gameplay. That's how the Scene Deck came into the play.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

At various moments in the game, players will have a chance to draw a card from the Scene Deck, a big card (120 x 70 mm) with stunning artwork presented in the form of a comic book panel. Illustrated by two Polish artists, Hanna Kuik and Maciej Simiński, these cards immerse players into the scene, putting them right into the action and environment. Scene cards let players visualize the rich world of Gotham City.

But that's just part of the trick.

Some of these cards have hidden clues. Players will look carefully and search for the details, having their escape room-style fun. Why does this person point in this direction? What is this person hiding in their pocket? What lies here in the dust of the street? These will be questions to ask while playing the game and carefully examining the panels.

The Scene deck consists of thirty beautifully illustrated cards, and more than 30% of them have hidden clues. It's your task to find them.

Chapter 4: Gotham City Gazette archives

There are so many comic book runs and various Batman series over the past century. Numerous relaunches and variants of the storyline...and yet, the Gotham City Gazette is always part of the city. Its journalists, Vicki Vale being the most famous, were always part of the story. It had to become part of the game, too.

All Detective games have a small digital element. In the base game of Detective, players use a website to compare the suspect's DNA with evidence found at the crime scene. In Vienna Connection, they use it to break KGB codes. In Dune: House Secrets, they use it to watch animated introductions that present the world of Dune. For each title, our development team looks for new ideas and concepts to match the theme of the game.

In Batman: Everybody Lies, we decided the website will represent the Gotham City Gazette archives. As in all those Hollywood movies, players will get access to the archives and browse old issues archived on microfilm. As you expect, they may find some terrifying mysteries that happened in the past and shine a new light on the present events.

The feature prepared by our sister company, Portal Games Digital, makes a stunning impression. You can navigate the microfilm archives of the Gotham City Gazette and zoom in at any space to read the article or watch the presented photo in detail.

It works stunningly well.

The Gotham City Gazette archives are another element of the puzzle, another piece that adds to the final game experience. All these pieces together — the secret goals of each character, the comic panels with hidden clues, the animated Gotham City Gazette archives — make Batman: Everybody Lies another extremely immersive title in the family of Detective games.

Board Game: Batman: Everybody Lies

Chapter 5: Campaign

On March 27, 2019, the one thousandth issue of Detective Comics was released. We love Batman, both ongoing and limited. The Long Halloween, Hush, Three Jokers, White Knight — all of them present exceptional stories. If these were scenarios for a video or board game, instead of calling them limited series we'd call them a campaign. Batman: Everybody Lies is a three-story-long campaign.

The game comes with a short Prologue case that can be played in 45 minutes and that teaches the rules and presents all the characters, then the real game begins. Batman: Everybody Lies consists of three big Episodes: Guilt, Nostalgia, and Remorse. Each consists of 24 cards and takes about 2-3 hours to solve. Each can be played separately, but...

It's a limited series. You can grab one in the middle of the series and enjoy it, but why would you do that, huh? You want to be there from the first pages, from the setting of the initial plot, through the growth of the story arc till the end and the grande finale!

Each Case can be played separately, but you won't do that. You will enjoy them as a whole.

Each Case has a different goal, but they share non-player characters, villains, suspects, witnesses, and most importantly, they share a timeline; Nostalgia begins a few months after the events presented in the Guilt, and similarly, Remorse begins a few weeks after Nostalgia. The passage of time is the key here — the city evolves, some characters end up in jail, some get out, somebody switches jobs, and somebody gets killed. It's the same city, over a period of a few months.

It’s three epic game nights. Invite your friends for an amazing limited series called Batman: Everybody Lies.

Ignacy Trzewiczek
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Subscribe sub options Tue May 17, 2022 1:00 pm
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