The Cop is a role that has the ability to investigate other players in order to discern their alignment at Night. Players who are investigated are not told as much.
This version of the Cop, and only this version of the Cop, is considered Normal on mafiascum.net.
In games with Werewolves, Seer may simply be another name for Cop, or it may be a Faction Cop (see Derivations) who can only detect Werewolves but not Mafia.
True Cops are virtually useless for Mafiosi, as they already know who is in their faction (it is much more common for Mafia to have a Role Cop). However, it may still be of value to Mafia if there are multiple scum factions.
Since the ability to uncover guilt or innocence regardless of analysis of play is a very powerful ability, some moderators dampen the cop's ability through the use of sanities - alterations to the accuracy of the investigation results. While many moderators are opposed to the use of these sanities, nonetheless Cop is the only role where it is firmly established through tradition and meta that their results are not guaranteed to be accurate, and if a Cop is not told that it is Sane it is assumed that any of these sanities may apply. Note, however, that non-Sane Cops are rare in smaller games as there is relatively little time for the Cop to deduce its sanity, thus turning results into a useless crapshoot. Sanity may or may not be revealed upon death, according to the mod's discretion.
- Sane Cop: Always gets correct results (i.e. "guilty" for anti-Town roles and "innocent" for pro-Town roles)
- Insane Cop: Always gets incorrect results (i.e. "guilty" for pro-Town roles and "innocent" for anti-Town roles)
- Once the player realizes they are insane, they can generally produce effective results by reporting the opposite of what they discover.
- Paranoid Cop: Always gets "guilty" results
- Once the Cop discovers their sanity, they may stop investigating, as all results are equally useless.
- Naive Cop: Always gets "innocent" results
- This may be the most common variant sanity used, as it masks Scum even if the Cop dies early.
- Random Cop: Gets a randomized result without regard to who is investigated
- This is a bastard role and almost never used.
Moderators' judgment varies as to whether roles that falsify investigative results (Godfather, Framer, Miller, et al.) affect non-Sane Cops or in which order passive investigation alteration and Cop sanity resolve.
- A Daycop investigates players during the Day instead of the Night. Depending on the format of the game, they may receive their results immediately or at the end of the Day.
- A Gunsmith investigates roles to determine if they have a gun in flavor or not. Exactly which roles have guns in flavor is not standardized, but generally the list includes Vigilante, Cop, Gunsmith, Paranoid Gun Owner, and all members of the Mafia capable of performing the factional kill. Serial Killer notably does not return a positive result to a Gunsmith.
- A Faction Cop investigates if someone is or is not a specific faction (eg, a Seer investigates if someone is or is not a Werewolf, and an FBI Agent investigates if someone is or is not a Serial Killer, but both would treat Town and Mafia the same).
- A Role Cop (or Scout) investigates roles to determine their role title as it would appear in their flip (i.e. Cop, Doctor, Role Cop, Vanilla). It does not discern alignment; both Vanilla Townies and Mafia Goons investigate as "Vanilla". While these can be Town, these are more known for being the Mafia's adaptation of the Cop role.
- A Macho Cop is one such that all protective actions fail when made on it. This role is the source of the Macho modifier.
- An Amnesiac Cop functions as a normal Cop, but does not receive the results of its investigations. Those investigation results are sent to another (unknown) player. The subversion of this unknown player being a Mafioso or a Serial Killer has been done to death.
- A Publishing Cop functions as a normal Cop, but their results are also presented anonymously by the moderator to the game as a whole. Sometimes subverted by allowing the Mafia to present fake results as if they were real.
- A Methodical Cop is told that they are sane and provides the moderator with an ordered list of all the players when confirming their role. Each night, the cop will investigate the next living name on the list.
The exact wording of the Cop's result is not standardized, with the following options being most common.
- Mafia/Not Mafia - This only checks if the target is Mafia-aligned. Serial Killers or other third-party members thus have implicit investigation immunity.
- Town/Not Town - To contrast, all third-party players will return an alarming result, even if they are benign in practice (i.e. Survivor).
- Guilty/Not Guilty - This splits the line between the two. The moderator will decide in advance which third-party roles are considered "guilty".
Use and Power
Cops are, quite simply, an easy-to-use and powerful role for the Town. A Cop that lives to Day 3 of a 13-player game can have up to two living investigation results; on top of knowing that it is itself innocent, that makes for three very persuasively alignment-confirmed players in a situation where only nine players are alive.
Unlike positive results from other investigative roles like Tracker and Watcher, it is implausibly difficult to fakeclaim one's way out of a Guilty result from a Cop. Any targeting role can be made up as a fakeclaim to explain away suspicious Tracker/Watcher results, but conveniently timed Miller claims are not believable. Thus, scum who are caught by a Cop are inevitably doomed without any recourse, though they can buy a Day by arguing that the Cop is fakeclaiming in some cases.
On the other hand, receiving Not Guilty results as a Cop can be even more powerful. A group of players who are confirmed Town without scum's knowledge that are only revealed late in the game can spell disaster for an entire scum team as they get winnowed away via process of elimination. One benefit to this approach is that there is considerably less pressure for a Cop to claim early if they do not get a Guilty result.
Thus, Cops are very powerful as long as they are alive. Because they receive clear results that simplify decision-making, they can be used to prop up otherwise weak Towns. In fact, the infamous breaking strategy of Follow the Cop relies on using an outed Cop and a hidden Doctor (or equivalent protective role) to sort the game out with relative impunity.
As a result, a multitude of roles designed to weaken or replace the Cop (including the sanities and derivations listed above) have come forth. Games that include a Cop may have at least one of these; games that include a Cop and a Doctor almost certainly have at least one of these.
- Framer or Tailor - A role that can target a player each Night; if the Cop investigates the Framer's target, they will get an incorrect result.
- Godfather - A Mafia role that investigates as Not Guilty (or whatever would be least incriminating).
- Miller - A Town role that investigates as Guilty (or whatever would be most incriminating).
- Roleblocker - When given to the Mafia, this allows the scum to block the Cop's investigations, neutering the Follow the Cop strategy.
Another means of including a Cop but limiting its power is the X-Shot modifier.
In order from least forgivable to most forgivable:
- Do not get lynched Day 1 while trying to gambit.
- Do not prematurely claim, particularly Day 1.
- Do not investigate obviously Town players unless you are out of other options.
- Do not investigate players who are probably going to get lynched the next Day unless you plan on claiming during the next Day anyway.
- Do not look so scummy before you claim that people will not believe you when you DO claim.
It is generally best to investigate players you have null reads on, and let the Day game sort out the others.