As more and more people try their hand at modding, I know Cain and I have received questions on how to balance games and how certain rules go and stuff like that so this is something that I've been working on for a little while and I wanted to put together. This is a kind of FAQ/wiki type thing that can be referenced right here so people don’t have to go off looking elsewhere. It is important to note that things that are in this are by no means the be-all, end-all and these are just some guidelines. Most of the questions I've been asked are covered here. If anyone has anything they think would be a good addition, feel free to edit this post or add it yourself.
The general idea of mafia is that it pits the uninformed majority (town) against the informed minority (mafia). The mafia’s job is to eliminate enough of the town to control the vote, therefore being able to kill the rest of the players and winning. The town’s job is to eliminate all the scum players. The game typically goes until one faction remains.
Roles assignments should be randomized at the beginning of every game.
Players should be told via PM what their role is, that way only that person will know.
Most games start during the Day Phase. During the day phase, players can talk and discuss as much as they’d like, in the game thread, until a majority verdict is decided. Players may vote for other players or they can vote for a No Lynch, which will cause the game to go into the Night phase without a death.
During the night phase, players are able to use their roles and the mafia can talk to each other to devise strategy and determine who to kill.
The game alternates day and night until one of the factions achieves victory.
Breaking the rules of the mod is generally grounds for a mod-kill without warning.
Refrain from editing any of your posts for any reason.
Do not discuss the game outside of the thread with anyone else playing the game, for any reason, unless your role allows it. Along these lines, don’t talk to people via PM or rep comments. Don’t talk in white/hidden text or small text or hide things in your sigs or anything like that.
In themed games, it is up to the mod’s discretion whether or not character hinting/claiming is allowed. Often-times, it is not allowed, so checking the rules or checking with your mods is important before revealing. Role revealing is always allowed though, as it is a core part of the game.
Lynch and unlynch votes must be in bold.
Sig bets, forum bannings, saying things like “if I’m evil I’ll never play again,” and stuff like that is generally frowned upon and shouldn’t be said.
All games will have some sort of time limit/cap on days and nights, what happens if a time limit is reached is up to the mod’s discretion.
Random stuff can happen at any time. Some mods like a hands-on approach and will do things to move the game along, while others like to just sit back and let the game go.
All mods talk in a color that will make their posts stand out. Whatever the mod color is, don’t talk in that color.
List of Common Roles:
Townie - This is the most basic role in the game. A townie has no special abilities aside from their ability to reason and vote. This role is town-aligned only.
Cop/Investigator - A cop is typically the town’s main weapon. At night, a cop can investigate a player and determine whether they are town-aligned or scum-aligned. This role is town-aligned only.
Watcher - Watcher is an informative role that can target a player at night and learn who else targeted that player the same night, but not the actions they performed.
Tracker - Tracker is an informative role that can target a player and learn who that player targeted, but not the action they performed.
Voyeur - Voyeurs target a player and learn all other actions performed against that player, but not who performed the actions.
Doctor/Protector - A doctor protects a player from being killed at night.
Role Blocker - A role blocker can target another player at night, preventing them from being able to perform their action.
Vigilante - A vigilante is a town-aligned player that can kill at night.
Miller - A miller is a townie that comes up evil when investigated. This role is town-aligned only. A miller is oft-times given a townie PM and not aware that they are a miller.
Jack-of-all-trades (JOAT) - A JOAT typically has an arsenal of 1x abilities to use at night. The standard JOAT is a 1x Cop, Doctor, Vig, and Role block, but it can be any combination of 1x abilities.
Jailkeeper - A jailkeeper protects a player from all night actions, but also role blocks them in the process.
Commuter - A commuter leaves the game at night, making them immune to all night actions. Commuting typically trumps all other actions, including role blocks, jailkeeps, poison, and strongman.
Hunter - Upon a hunter’s death, the hunter can choose another player to kill.
Bomb - Upon being night-killed, the bomb will reflexively kill their killer.
Lie Detector - A lie detector can choose one post a day and PM the mod to determine whether or not the poster was telling the truth in that post.
Redirector - A redirector is a role that redirects target player's action to another target player.
Deflector - A deflector is a role that deflects all actions that would target one player to another.
Bodyguard - A bodyguard is a protective role that protects a player from death at night. However, if that player is targeted to be killed, the bodyguard dies in their place.
Rolestopper - A rolestopper targets a player and will stop all other night actions from affecting that player in any way.
Thief - A thief is an informative role that steals from another player at night. The item stolen typically reveals a clue to their character or role.
Inventor/Gifter - An inventor is a role that can give out gadgets to other players. These gadgets will then typically give the player who received them a 1x power role.
Psychiatrist - A psychiatrist targets another player at night with the intent of finding the serial killer. If the psychiatrist targets the SK, the SK is typically converted into a townie or a vigilante.
Mason - Masons are a group of people that are confirmed as town-aligned and can talk at night. This role is town-aligned only.
Neighbor - Neighbors are like masons in that they can talk at night, however they are not confirmed as town-aligned.
Motivator - A motivator can target another person at night and, if that person has a night action, they can use it twice.
Role Cop - A role cop can investigate someone at night and learn what their role is.
Editor - An editor can write up something every night that will be posted at daybreak for all the players to see. They can typically say whatever they want.
Lover/Sibling - Lovers/siblings are linked players that, if one dies, the other will kill themselves. This role is often passive and the players don’t always know they are lovers/siblings. In the scenario that they know, they often are given the ability to communicate, similar to Masons/Neighbors where Siblings are usually Masons and Lovers are usually Neighbors.
Friendly Neighbor - This player can choose another person to target at night and that person will receive a PM telling them that confirms this player as town.
Innocent Child - An innocent child is a player that either begins the game announced as town, or can PM the mod at any time and the mod will then confirm them as town in the thread.
Reviver - A reviver is typically a 1x use role that can bring a dead player back to life.
Beloved Princess - Upon the death of a beloved princess, the town will then skip the next day phase as they mourn for her.
Sensor - A sensor learns how many scum were on the lynch wagon the day before.
Gladiator - A gladiator can call someone out in the thread, forcing the vote to between the Gladiator and their target.
Paranoid Gun Owner - A paranoid gun owner reflexively kills anyone that targets them at night. It is important to note that the action performed on the gun owner will also happen.
Doublevoter - A doublevoter can cast two votes. How this is portrayed is up to the mod as the second vote could be cast in the thread for all to see or silently via mod PM.
Priest - A priest has a vote limitation in that they cannot cast the hammer vote. If they do, the vote count will either be updated to reflect a no-vote or they will be killed.
Hammerer - A hammerer automatically throws their vote onto the lynchwagon if the wagon reaches L-1. This can either be shown in the vote count or not. Scum hammerers typically do not have their vote shown and can sometimes even hammer when they are already on the wagon, making them very powerful doublevoters.
Coroner - A coroner can investigate a dead body to discern clues about the killer. The most common way to do this would be to provide a list of 3-6 players (depending on the size of the game) where 1 of the players is the actual killer and the others are random.
Backup - A backup will take over for a certain role when the main one dies. Backups can be role specific, alignment specific, or universal.
Godfather - The godfather is typically the leader of the mafia. The godfather comes back as good when investigated by a cop.
Goon - The goon is the mafia’s equivalent of a townie. They have no special abilities aside from the ability to perform the mafia’s factional kill.
Framer - A framer can target a player at night and cause them to come up bad if investigated.
Tailor - A tailor can target a player at night and cause them to come up good if investigated.
Shield - The shield is informed of all actions that will be performed against their fellow mafia members at night and can choose to block one or more of them. This role has to be X-shot.
Strongman - A strongman’s kill will go through even if the target is protected. Typically commuting is the only thing that trumps strongman. This role is typically X-Shot. While typically mafia-aligned, strongman can be applied as a modifier to any killing role.
Ninja - A ninja cannot be tracked or watched at night. While typically mafia-aligned, ninja can be applied as a modifier to any killing role.
Janitor - A janitor cleans up a body after death. The town will see that a player died but they will not learn their alignment or role. This is typically X-shot.
3rd Party Roles:
Serial Killer - A serial killer is a player whose win condition is to be the last player alive. They are self-aligned and have their own factional kill at night.
Lyncher - A lyncher is a player whose win condition is to be on the lynch train when a particular player is lynched.
Jester - A jester’s win condition is to get himself lynched.
Survivor - A survivor’s win condition is to simply survive until another faction wins.
Recruit - A recruit begins the game neutral but will join a faction if a certain condition is met.
X-Shot - A role that is X-shot means that it can only be used a certain amount of times (the value of X).
Day - A role that has the Day modifier is a role that is used during the day as opposed to at night.
Incompetent - Typically used in conjunction with the Cop role, an incompetent cop typically gives reversed results. An incompetent cop is not typically told they are incompetent.
Paranoid - Typically used in conjunction with the Cop role, a paranoid cop will always get an evil result returned. A paranoid cop is not typically told they are paranoid.
Random - Typically used in conjunction with the Cop role, a random cop will get a random result returned. A random cop is not typically told they are random.
Bulletproof - If a player is bulletproof, they are immune from being night-killed.
Lynchproof - If a player is lynchproof, they are immune from being lynched.
Deathproof - If a player is deathproof, they are immune from being killed in any fashion.
Even/Odd Night - If a player’s role has the even/odd night modifier, they can only perform their role on those nights.
Triggered - If a player has a triggered role, they cannot control their role and it only comes into effect if the trigger is met.
Compulsive - If a player’s role is compulsive, they HAVE to use it at night. The most common roles that get this modifier are Serial Killer and Vigilante.
Balancing games is a tough thing to do and requires practice. However, there are some important things that need to be thought of when setting up and balancing your games. One of the first, most basic, rules is that scum should never be more than 33% of the total players in the game. “Scum” includes all mafia and 3rd party players. In most games, the mafia is 20-25% of the total population, and third party roles will be the remaining percentage if the moderator wants more scum. If half the town has power roles, they probably have too many. If 1/4th of the town has power roles, the mafia needs to have some power roles to balance. One of the big things to keep in mind is this: can a mass-claim kill your game? This is a particular issue in themed or role madness games where there are obvious role-character matches. This is somewhat mitigated by the banning of character claiming in many games, but it still can become an issue. If there are enough characters that can be pulled from the theme to give scum safeclaims, you are typically better off giving safeclaims than trying to ban character claiming.
Aside from the basic percentages, it is important to make sure you aren’t making any faction too powerful. Role madness (everyone has some sort of role aside from townie/miller/goon) games are the toughest to balance so it is often recommended that your first foray into modding be a more standard game. Standard games are usually something along the lines of one cop, one doctor, and a bunch of townies for the town while the mafia has some combination of a godfather, framer, role blocker, and goon. Obviously, the bigger the game, the more roles you can have and the harder it is to balance. Another thing to keep in mind is “how many players can auto-confirm himself as town.” If you have a pair of Masons, you probably shouldn’t be using an Innocent Child and a Friendly Neighbor too. If only townies are night-killed and half the living players are cleared by day 4, you probably have too many roles and should go back and make adjustments. If you are trying your hand at modding, you've probably played in games before and you can always think back to those games that you felt were very well-balanced and use that as a template. Here are some tips and tricks that I use for balance:
Limit the amount of times roles can be used. The easiest ways to do this are making them X-Shot or giving them the Odd/Even modifier.
Give the mafia double-roles or a JOAT. If they have more options at their disposal, they stand a better chance to win.
Introduce more factions. The more factions there are, the more likely that scum will kill each other.
Add misleading roles or roles that screw with days or votes. Examples of misleading roles include incompetent/paranoid/random cops, millers, janitor, godfather, framer/tailer. Examples of roles that screw with days include Beloved Princess or 1x abilities that end the day like the Flash-bang grenade from the Zombie game or the Solar Flare from the DBZ game. Roles that screw with votes include Hammerer, Doublevoter, and Priest.
Give the mafia some traditionally town-aligned roles and vice-versa. This takes some of the guesswork out of it when the mafia tries to safeclaim, making it less likely they get caught.
Don’t be afraid to use more townies and/or goons. The fewer the amount of power roles on either side, the easier it is to balance.
Use roles that directly counter one another. Some examples of this include Cop-Godfather/Tailor/Framer/Miller, Watcher/Tracker-Ninja, Rolestopper-Role Blocker, and Serial Killer-Psychiatrist.
Give players the bulletproof/lynchproof/deathproof modifier. It is important to note that you should not have more than one *proof player in a game as to avoid a potential draw scenario where nobody can die.
Obviously, many of the games that get run have specific themes to them. Mods tend to have very different styles when it comes to the amount of flavor they want to include. Some mods will have flavor for EVERY night action. Some mods will only reveal that someone died and list their name/role. There is no correct way of doing things and the amount of flavor you want to include is entirely up to you. The one thing that should be emphasized is that you should try and keep it consistent. If you start out with elaborate write-ups, be prepared to commit to those elaborate write-ups for the duration of the game. Randomly switching to short, quick write-ups will not only cause confusion for the players in the game, it can also negatively impact the players or the balance of the game. A special note on kill flavor, if more than one person is killed by the same player, all of their murders should be portrayed with the same flavor.
As a mod, what do I do during the game??
During the game, it is the mod’s responsibility provide vote counts, prod inactive players, provide replacements if people need to back out, police people if they are flirting with breaking the rules, answer questions about roles and rules, and provide flips and flavor in a timely manner. Vote counts are nice to have but you don’t need to overkill it and provide a new one with every vote. Typically one new vote count per page is sufficient. How active you want to be is totally up to you. There are always ways to be more active as a mod, including causing mid-day events or doing contests that give out prizes. Some things that have been done in the past include Trivia, Treasure Hunts (hiding a picture embedded in a random post somewhere), or having an outside influence attack the town that requires the players to respond to. Prizes are typically 1x power role uses that can be used instead of your main role. You can really do whatever you want but remember, you balanced your game a certain way originally so keep that in mind when doing random things as they could sway the balance of power tremendously as that 1x ability or that extra death could prove fatal to a faction.
One of the top questions for a new mod is the order and handling of night actions. The general rule is that all non-killing actions happen first and they are simultaneous. Then killing actions. Actions that modify other actions always occur first. Due to conflicting actions, it can sometimes get pretty tricky on how things work. In addition, some people treat targeting differently. For example, a lie detector typically targets a post and not a player and therefore is not affected by something like a redirect. It is important to note that even if a player is killed, that player will typically still perform their action, and all actions performed on that player should also be successful. Triggered actions can be tricky when combined with role blockers. Typically, role blockers can only block a role if the user of the role chooses the target. This can get tricky if you use a role blocker in conjunction with roles like a triggered bodyguard or Paranoid Gun Owner. These decisions are up to the mod as it is not set-in-stone. Here is a rough priority list that is based on games we've played:
Miscellaneous (Watch, Track, Frame, Tailor, etc.)
As I said, this is a very rough list and should not be taken as the be-all, end-all. There a plenty of other roles that could fit in here like Motivators, Shields, and Triggered roles. I've also seen the order of Recruit/Investigate/Kill be in just about every combination possible. At the end of the day, resolution of night actions is one thing that all mod's struggle with and its typically a judgment call. Just be sure to be able to justify your decision, or own up to a mistake if one is made.
So some doucher broke the rules in your game and needs to be mod-killed? How you go about it is up to you but this is the typical way of doing things in the event of a mod-kill: If a player is mod-killed, they can flip in one of two ways. First, they can flip as their actual character/role. Second, you can strip them of their character/role and just make them appear to be a neutral survivor. The latter method puts everyone on an even playing field as nobody can really glean any information from the flip. In addition, it is traditional for the player’s faction to be punished when they are mod-killed. This means, if they were mafia, the thread should remain open so the town can potentially lynch another mafia member. If the player was town, the day should end, essentially causing a mislynch.
How does a game end?
The game ends when one faction attains their win condition, duh! Town wins when all non-town-aligned players are dead, with the exception of a Survivor. While mafia typically wins by simply holding the majority, they do not win if there is another scum faction still alive, or circumstances could occur during a night phase that would bring the odds back. Mafia typically cannot win if there is a SK, Lyncher, or other third party (other than Survivor) alive. For example, if the town is down to a doctor and a vigilante, and the mafia has 2 members left, they are not guaranteed a victory as the doctor could protect against the mafia kill and the vigilante could hit a mafia, making it 2-1 during the next day. As a general rule of thumb, when there is a 1v1v1 tie, the victory ladder goes: 3rd party > Mafia > Town. As such, if there are three players left and its one mafia, one town, and a serial killer still alive, the SK should be declared the winner. Depending on how many killing roles are in the game, the game could end in a draw. Not having more than one player be death/lynch/bulletproof is also important to avoid the potential draw scenarios.
End of Game Summary:
Typically, mods are expected to post their thoughts about how the game went when it ends. This includes recognizing what they thought each faction did well and what they didn’t do well. It also includes notes about the setup, where the turning point may have been, any mod errors that might have happened, and recognizing a player or two that they thought particularly stood out/played well.
sig by BoneKrusher
Last edited by Grizzlegom : 03-21-2014 at 01:37 PM.