Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Betrayal at the shadows over whatever!

I can’t believe it took me this long to realize this: in Outside Men, instead of having players choose their membership in either the ALIVE or DEAD team, it should be determined for them by the mechanics! And not immediately, but over the course of a campaign. (This may require some prohibitions, a la Dirty Secrets, on what you can narrate conclusively about your character.)

I credit Jason Morningstar with inspiring me here again, with his recent posts about a design in progress (I might link that when is running less slowly) that is almost more Shadows Over Camelot and Betrayal at House on the Hill than it is an RPG. I think I like the Betrayal at House on the Hill method better for the Outside Men context – rather than a player knowing from the beginning that his or her character is a turncoat, the rules will reveal it at some point in the middle of the game. Whether I will go for Betrayal’s thing of making the change public, I don’t know.

Also I need to write some more of the story into the rules. Infiltration should be the name of the game, and all of the interpersonal effects that come with it – loss of your social network when you go into deep cover, increasing loss of your clarity of self and of identity. Spione does a bit of this, but it is not so explicitly about the PCs having multiple identities… just multiple lives of a certain kind.

Can anyone else think of game mechanics about double agentry and/or secret traitors? I’m not looking specifically for mechanics that would fit the tone and story of Outside Men just yet… just looking for ideas.


April 10, 2008 - Posted by | Games in Development, Outside Men, Uncategorized


  1. I worry about deprotagonization, but I suspect you just need to make this element clear to players up front: you do not choose; you will find out.

    Are you thinking completely random determination, or will player input/actions have an effect? If the latter, this should also be made clear up front.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 10, 2008 | Reply

  2. I reviewed Fred Hick’s Game Chef ’07 entry Schizonauts. It has a similar mechanic. PCs are either “cops” or “robbers” (I’m simplifying things greatly) and don’t know so until late in the game. I believe it is housed on the ten thousand monkeys site.

    Comment by orklord | April 10, 2008 | Reply

  3. Have you heard about Matt Snyder’s 44? I want to say that I’ve suggested this to you before, but I can’t recall.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | April 10, 2008 | Reply

  4. I don’t want it random. Some component of randomness might not be out of order, but a straight-up random choice isn’t really on the table. I’d like to see maybe opposed pools of points that accumulate due to character actions (or players giving them to you somehow?), and then some chaotic, if not truly random, element influencing that. Or something.

    I never did look fully into Schizonauts; I ought to fix that.

    I forgot 44! That’s like forgetting Poland!

    Thanks all. Any board games I should look at besides the aforementioned? (I’m looking at you, Tevis.)

    Comment by misuba | April 10, 2008 | Reply

  5. Mike,

    How do you see working the dead vs. alive into the mechanics, but not have it random?

    Comment by orklord | April 11, 2008 | Reply

  6. Mike, would it help for you to post some Big Three answers (regular or alt)? I know it would help me get a better sense of what you want out of the game.

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 11, 2008 | Reply

  7. I want to second Schizonauts. That game fucked with my head most pleasantly.

    Comment by robertbohl | April 11, 2008 | Reply

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