I’ve had an idea floating round my head for a while, being a fan of Werewolf and other hidden role games, and having at that point recently played Hanabi by Antoine Bauza (@Toinito) I wanted to make a hidden role game but where the players are aware of everyone else’s role but not their own.
The only other game I’ve seen look at this is Pair of Ducks by Tuesday Knight Games (@TuesKnightGames), the creators behind the fantastic Two Rooms and Boom. In Pair of Ducks each role that the players can see changes how they play, whether they answer ‘yes or no’ questions silently, audibly, truthfully or with lies.
I wanted to avoid covering the same ground so I put the game on the back burner for a while. This was probably about a year or two a go.
Over the last couple of weeks, the idea bubbled up to the top of my mind again and I started mulling it over once more.
For a game like this it seemed to me that the players would need to deduce who they were. The major question in designing the game, is what mechanisms are in place for them to do this. I had a number of thoughts/concepts I was puzzling over.
- Have pairs of roles, and they need to work out who their partner is.
- You win if you are the only person who is alone, i.e. no one else has the same role card as you.
- Certain roles can perform certain actions, other players can stop you from attempting actions that you cannot perform.
- Having to ask players to perform actions that only they can do.
Taking some influence from Coup by Rikki Tahta I started to think about the passing of tokens, and certain roles being able to do certain things. Players would balance moving tokens around as they needed with giving other players information about their character. So, what could the players do with tokens:
- Take a token from someone.
- Give a token to someone.
- Take a token from a shared pool.
- Give a token to a shared pool.
- Swap two piles of tokens.
The thought being at this point, that not only would you need to work out what role you are/if you’re alone/in a pair, you would also need to meet certain conditions, like have the more than/less than/equal number of tokens than another player.
The problem with all of this was the amount of complication and all the information the players would have to deal with, they would need to know which characters could do which actions, without actually knowing the character they currently are. It just all seemed too much. I needed to simplify things.
I still liked the idea of having two of each role, and felt this needed more exploring. Then I was hit with a thought, what if one of each of the pairs had to tell the truth and the other had to lie. Things then started coming together.
Players would ask questions about their character of another player and they would respond truthfully or not depending on the card they had, information that could be shown by text on the back of the playing cards like this:
The issue with this rule alone is that, as soon as you have determined that a player is telling the truth all players would ask that player question rather than anyone else. There needed to be some sort of price for asking a question, something that would stop this happening.
The solution was to have those players give the player they ask some information about their card. In this situation, if everyone keeps asking the same person questions they will get more and more information about their card, giving them a big advantage, which you would want to avoid.
After a little more work and thought, here it is:
How to Look at Your Card
In this game of truth, lies and deduction you do not see the Monster on your own card, but you can see the Monster on everyone else’s.
- There is both a truth and a lies card for each of the eight Monsters. By orientating your Monster portrait correctly, the text on the back of your card will show you which of the two you have.
- If your card is a truth card then you must tell the truth during the Exchange phase, if it is a lies card you must lie during the Exchange phase.
- Shuffle all the Monster Cards together.
- Deal one card to each player and one card face down into a discard pile.
- Place the remaining cards face down where everyone can reach them, this is the stack.
- Hold your card so everyone but you can see the Monster you are.
- Help everyone orientate their Monster portrait correctly.
Starting with the player explaining the rules, then continuing clockwise, players take turns to either Exchange or Declare.
Exchange has two stages, statement and query, both which must be done with players telling truth or lies depending on their current card.
- Statement: Tell another player something about their Monster.
- Query: Then ask the same player a question related to your Monster that they will answer with either a “yes” or a “no”. You cannot directly ask if you are a specific Monster.
– or –
Declare, state the Monster you believe yourself to be, then place the card face up in front of yourself:
- If correct keep the card in a pile in front of you.
- If wrong place the card in the discard pile.
Then take another card from the stack.
End of the Game
Continue taking turns until a player attempts to take a card from the stack but cannot because the stack is empty.
Count how many cards you have correctly identified, the player with the most cards wins.
At the moment the cards have classic monsters on them (and very basic art), but that may change with playtesting, in theory they could be any thing which gives a lot of options for making custom decks for different player preferences. Here are snapshots of the font and backs of some of the cards.
If the game goes well, I’ll look into producing some better art work for it. If you manage to play it or have any thoughts or suggestions please let me know.
I think the game will work with between 3-10 players, but this needs further testing to see if this is true.