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Subject: Hypothetical Game in a Book rss

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I already posted this in one of my guilds, but was advised to cross-post here as it is just as relevant in this forum. The light novel HakoMari has the following game being played out as a sort of battle royale in one of its volumes. I've been trying to figure out if it would actually make for a decent social deduction game, and was wondering what was others' opinions of the balance.

Rules (as best as I can interpret them)
There are exactly 1 moderator + 6 players, the latter which are each assigned a different role (with everyone besides the moderator only knowing their own role). The game ends either after 7 rounds (in which case everyone loses), or when all players still living fulfill their win condition.

The round structure is broken into the following phases:
1. Public discussion period #1
2. Private discussion period, and possible use and execution of the abilities [Substitution] and [Murder]
3. Public discussion period #2
4. The Revolutionary has the option to use the ability [Assassination]

Roles
King: [Murder]: During step 2 of each round can select a player (not a role) to be the target of murder. If the sorceror is still alive, they have the option to carry out the murder. If not, the knight has the option (the King is not informed who carries out his orders).
[Substitution]: Once per game can forfeit his [Murder] ability to The Double for the rest of the round, in exchange for any [Assassination] targeting the King for the round to be redirected to The Double (no one is informed that The Double dies instead of the King).
Win Condition: The Prince and Revolutionary are dead

Prince: [Throne Succession]: Gains the King's ability of [Murder] if both the King and The Double are dead (and thus is notified when both of them are dead).
[Anti-Magic]: Cannot be killed by the sorceror
Win Condition: The King, Double, and Revolutionary are dead.

The Double: [Inheritance]: Gains the King's ability of [Murder] if the King dies (and so is notified if the King dies), or if [Substitution] was activated for the round.
Win Condition: The Prince and Revolutionary are dead.

Sorcerer: If the King chooses to use [Murder] during phase 2 of a round the Sorcerer is informed of the player that is the intended target (but not who is the King giving him/her the order). The Sorcerer has the option to have that target killed or not by the end of the phase.
Win Condition: Be alive when all other alive players fulfill their win condition.

Knight
: If the King chooses to use [Murder] during phase 2 of a round AND the Sorcerer is dead (due to this condition, the Knight is informed if the Sorcerer is dead), the Knight is informed of the player that is the intended target (but not who is the King giving him/her the order). The Knight has the option to have that target killed or not by the end of the phase.
Win Condition: The King and Prince are dead (vengeful towards the royal family).

Revolutionary: [Assassination]: During step 4 of each round can select a player (not a role) to be killed.
Win Condition: The King, Prince, and The Double are dead.

The Revolutionary has arguably by far the strongest ability as he/she can kill without needing the approval of another role. I am not sure if this is sufficiently checked by the somewhat neutral roles (Prince and Sorcerer) possibly initially trying to mess the Revolutionary's plans in order to have a more balance of power.

One flaw this game seems to have is it is possible for some still living players to have no chance of winning midway, e.g. if both the Sorcerer and Knight are killed there is no way the Revolutionary can die, and so the King, Prince, and Double are guaranteed to lose (this is resolved in the novel via being able to kill people through conventional means rather than just the powers granted by the roles). However, since you only know which players are dead and not which roles, you won't necessarily know the game is unwinnable and may still experience a tense game.
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Jonathan Challis
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It sounds like the Revolutionary needs to lose if they accidentally kill some roles - Sorcerer and Knight seems logical.

Perhaps another approach is to change their win condition - that as well as the royals dead, they require at least the Knight or Sorcerer to still be alive (possibly both).

It deviates from your books, but my first thoughts are that some combination of the above would make the game much better.
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Jared Lock
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First thought: wow, your moderator will have to really be on the ball to keep track of everything that's happening.

Second thought: "Prince" might be better named "Usurper" or something similar, as it seems thematically strange that the King wants to murder his own successor. Of course I haven't read your book so this might make perfect sense.

Third: Sorcerer's win condition seems strange. Do players win immediately if they fulfil their win condition? Does that mean Sorcerer only wins on a round when all other (live) players win at the same time?
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Matt D
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I had a few thoughts from a logistical standpoint, and some suggested rules modifications to fix balance and one IMO large mechanical hole (if the Revolutionary targets the King on the turn the King delegates, and the Double dies, the Revolutionary will know exactly who the King is and can assassinate him again next turn with impunity). Let me know what you think.

From a logistics standpoint, how does the moderator operate to manage this without giving away information about what is going on?

So in a typical game of werewolf for example (using an easy moderator run social deduction game), the village goes to sleep, werewolves wake up and point to a villager to kill (silently), and then the village wakes up and that villager is announced to be dead by the moderator. Obviously other roles do other things, etc.

But I am concerned about the Double's delegated murder, and some of the sequential timing causing a drag.

I see it play out like this:

Players close eyes.
Mod calls King. King Points to player to "murder", nods to delegate, shakes head to do neither. Moderator nods. King closes eyes.
Mod calls Double. Mod shakes head if nothing, or nods if delegated. If delegated, Double Points to player to "murder". Moderator nods. Double closes eyes.
Mod calls Prince. Mod shakes head if nothing, or nods if both King and Double are dead. If both dead, Prince Points to player to "murder". Moderator nods. Prince closes eyes.
Mod calls Sorcerer. Mod points to player to "murder", Sorcerer nods or shakes head. Sorcerer opens eyes.
Mod calls Knight. opens eyes. Mod shakes head if Sorcerer is still alive, points to player to murder if sorcerer dead. Knight nods or shakes head.
Players open eyes.
Mod announces which player (if any) is dead.
Chatter chatter.
Players close eyes.
Mod calls Revolutionary. Revolutionary points to a player to assassinate. Mod nods.
Players open eyes.
Mod announces which player (if any) is dead.
Players go back to open discussion.

To me, that seems VERY labored when each and every character has to have their own decision tree, particularly when they may become privy to information at the moment that they are presented with the need to decide. And of course, any delay (for example, the Double taking time to decide how to use his/her delegated murder) could provide insight.

I also agree with the above poster -- the Revolutionary HAS to have a counterbalance to the "three are dead" win condition, since as written all the Revolutionary has to do is not get murdered. He/she can just plink off one of the five other people each of the first 5 rounds, and cruise to victory.

It may be tough to make it so that no one can aside from the three he/she needs can die, but I agree perhaps that if the Revolutionary kills the Sorcerer, Knight, or Double* themselves via Assassinate, they are "caught".

But not necessarily lose immediately. If the Revolutionary "assassinates" the Sorcerer and Knight, the mod continues to call on the Revolutionary, but simply fails to execute any assassination attempt. The Revolutionary will figure out after the very first one that he/she is out, depending upon the game the others may take a turn or two to figure it out. In any case, depending upon how hard you want to punish the Revolutionary, this option allows them to continue to remain in the game and work towards their ultimate goal. If you want to do that, though, then you need to make it such that there is still a "murder" capable character they don't have to kill -- personally I'd recommend the "double". It makes the King delegating the double on a turn he would be assassinated all the more potent for the King.

* The Revolutionary needs to lose his ability if he assassinates the double on the delegated turn. Why? Because he knows who he tried to assassinate, and someone else died. So unless you impose a different rule, then he will easily be able to assassinate the King on the very next turn. However, if he assassinates the double by accident, then nothing bad happens. It just means that he can't win if he gets caught.
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Kelanen wrote:
It sounds like the Revolutionary needs to lose if they accidentally kill some roles - Sorcerer and Knight seems logical.

Perhaps another approach is to change their win condition - that as well as the royals dead, they require at least the Knight or Sorcerer to still be alive (possibly both).


Yeah the killing indiscriminately seems like it could be a problem. I think I like the idea of the Revolutionary dying/other punishment if they kill some roles more, as if their win condition is instead that the Knight/Sorcerer has to be alive it is possible to flip the table in making the Revoluationary the one who can still alive but have no chance of winning.

thyren wrote:
First thought: wow, your moderator will have to really be on the ball to keep track of everything that's happening.

Yeah in the book they had a supernatural being to control things so that definitely made things easier.

thyren wrote:
Second thought: "Prince" might be better named "Usurper" or something similar, as it seems thematically strange that the King wants to murder his own successor. Of course I haven't read your book so this might make perfect sense.

Yeah in the books there is backstory on the roles that causes it to make sense, but that should definitely be changed if this was to played in real life.

thyren wrote:
Third: Sorcerer's win condition seems strange. Do players win immediately if they fulfil their win condition? Does that mean Sorcerer only wins on a round when all other (live) players win at the same time?

No players basically not only have to fulfill their own win conditions, but fulfill the win conditions of everyone else still living (alternatively kill the people who don't have their win condition fulfilled). This initially really confused me too when I was reading the book.

hestiansun wrote:
From a logistics standpoint, how does the moderator operate to manage this without giving away information about what is going on?

In the books the players are not in the same room during phases 2 and 4, except for one-on-one private meetings they are allowed to schedule with others. The abilities are carried out via a console that notifies the supernatural moderator in the book; in real life the players each being in separate rooms and the moderator visiting each player in the correct order I think would suffice but that does take away from the "social" aspect of the game...

hestiansun wrote:
* The Revolutionary needs to lose his ability if he assassinates the double on the delegated turn. Why? Because he knows who he tried to assassinate, and someone else died. So unless you impose a different rule, then he will easily be able to assassinate the King on the very next turn. However, if he assassinates the double by accident, then nothing bad happens. It just means that he can't win if he gets caught.

Players can die in between rounds and [Murder] happens earlier in the round than [Assassination] so the King would still have one shot to try to kill off the Revolutionary before the Revolutionary could use [Assassination] again, but that does seem to be not exactly fair odds of having only a shot in the dark that might not even be executed. Thanks for bringing this up I did not realize that scenario.

hestiansun wrote:
It may be tough to make it so that no one can aside from the three he/she needs can die, but I agree perhaps that if the Revolutionary kills the Sorcerer, Knight, or Double* themselves via Assassinate, they are "caught".

But not necessarily lose immediately. If the Revolutionary "assassinates" the Sorcerer and Knight, the mod continues to call on the Revolutionary, but simply fails to execute any assassination attempt. The Revolutionary will figure out after the very first one that he/she is out, depending upon the game the others may take a turn or two to figure it out. In any case, depending upon how hard you want to punish the Revolutionary, this option allows them to continue to remain in the game and work towards their ultimate goal. If you want to do that, though, then you need to make it such that there is still a "murder" capable character they don't have to kill -- personally I'd recommend the "double". It makes the King delegating the double on a turn he would be assassinated all the more potent for the King.

I like this idea, but it would also require tweaking of a win condition of a role that can potentially use [Murder] OR make it so anyone who is living and has their win condition fulfilled when time runs out win rather than lose. Otherwise having this condition to make Assassination ineffectual would be equivalent to making the Revolutionary lose: Since the Revolutionary can no longer kill, at least one of the King/Double/Prince is guaranteed to survive (they may possibly accidentally or intentionally kill one of the other 3 of the murder trio, but someone will always be in possession of that ability, and they won't use it to kill themselves). Since the game doesn't end until all living players have their win condition met, the game cannot end with a win if both King/Double/Prince and the Revolutionary are alive simultaneously, as King's/Double's/Prince's win condition would be unmet. The game would either run out of time with both King/Double/Prince and Revolutionary still alive (everyone loses), or the King/Double/Prince kills the Revolutionary (Revolutionary loses anyways).
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Leader Desslok
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I'm intrigued by the intrigue (sadly, no pun intended) and strategic deduction of this game. If you or anyone else wants to perform some PbF game testing, I would be interested, which is not to say I would expect to have any appitude for the actual game play, being the open discussion. I would expect to lose, but also to learn. If tested as PbF, the "supernatural" GM would not be rushed for communication and geekmail would be easily kept secret.
 
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