For my appropriation project, I was inspired by Town of Salem’s Jester Role; for those of you that haven’t played Town of Salem before, the Jester’s goal is to trick the town into voting to hang them. Jester is the only role in the game that actually wants to be hanged, and this counter-intuitive gameplay is a fun and interesting challenge. That got me thinking; would it be possible to implement a similar mechanic into other games? And so, I came up with this ruleset:
- Choose a game to play. This game must be a multiplayer game for three or more players, where players are not eliminated as the game goes on, players directly compete with each other and/or have some way to affect each other’s performance in the game, and at the end of the game, players must be ranked based on their performance. For my playtest, I chose Mario Party.
- Either create your own cards, or use traditional playing cards. There must be one card for each player, and one must be very notably different from the others (such as a Joker). Shuffle the cards, and give one to each player. The player that receives the unique card is playing for last place. Everybody holds on to these cards, and nobody is allowed to show each other their cards until the end of the game.
- If the player playing for last is in last place at the end of the game, they steal victory from first place. If they come in first place, then second place wins instead.
When playing under these rules, any multiplayer party game can in theory be turned into a social deduction game, which is a dynamic that I personally think is incredibly interesting. Now, every misplay builds suspicion; when someone makes a non-ideal play, it sets off red flags in everyone else’s mind. And once players are sure they know who’s playing for last, it could turn the entire game on its head.
Sadly, my playtest was not able to capture the full potential of this premise; due to scheduling constraints, I was unable to assemble a group that was entirely familiar with the game we were playing. Dros and Kate were playing for the first time, and so were unable to more accurately choose the level they were playing at. It became way too easy for them to dismiss any suspicion I attempted to throw at them as pure incompetence. Furthermore, I feel like this could have played out better over a longer game, with more opportunities to lose Stars, give them to other players in Duels, lose coins to the slot machine, and wait for better Star Prices. Although the playtest was not a complete success, I would still argue that the potential is there; it simply needs a second opportunity to find it.