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Arsonist

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Arsonist
Alias: none
Alignment:
Role type:
  • Killing
Choice:
  • Night

An Arsonist is a role that kills with fire, generally in a delayed way; each Night, an Arsonist can either "prime" a target (setting them up for a later kill), or else "ignite", killing all primed players simultaneously.

Standard version

An Arsonist's night action allows them to perform one of two actions:

  • Priming a specific player. The moderator will privately track the fact that the player is primed. Neither the Arsonist nor the target is informed of whether the priming succeeds. Protective roles like Doctor cannot prevent a player from being primed (unless they're specifically designed to prevent a player being primed), but manipulative roles like Roleblocker and Rolestopper can block a priming in the same manner as they would block any other targeted action.
  • Igniting. This is a nontargeted night action, and kills all primed players (without targeting them). These kills pierce Doctor, Bodyguard, and Bulletproof protection, and because they are nontargeted, cannot be prevented by a Rolestopper on a primed player. However, they can be stopped via blocking the Arsonist directly, if the target commutes, or via the Firefighter role which specifically blocks Arsonist kills.

Because Arsonists kill with fire, they do not show up as guilty to Gunsmiths, and players killed by an Arsonist ignite have strong hints about this in the kill flavour (e.g. "burned to death").

"Arsonist" is a role, rather than an alignment, but an "Arsonist" without a faction stated generally refers a third-party player who has the Serial Killer win condition (i.e. winning when they are the last player alive), but who has an Arsonist night action rather than a factional kill. However, Arsonists can also exist as other alignments, especially Town.

Variations

The original form of Arsonist effectively had a combined prime+ignite action, immediately killing players it targeted (but maintaining the ability to pierce Doctor/Bulletproof/Bodyguard protection, and requiring a Firefighter to stop). This is rarely seen nowadays, with the version that primes and ignites separately being much more common.

Just as Serial Killers are often considered to win "ties" in which everyone dies simultaneously, it is likewise reasonable to change a third-party Arsonist's win condition so that they win the scorched earth ending.

Arsonists have occasionally been seen as a groupscum setup, such as in the Open setup Forest Fire. Just as with the third-party variant, the Arsonist action replaces the factional kill, and is considered a factional action in this case (i.e. the entire faction can perform only one prime or ignite total per Night).

Arsonists are sometimes seen with restrictions on how they can time their primes or ignites, but this is likewise rare.

Use & Balance

Arsonists are mostly used to provide an unusual third-party faction, or where they would be a good flavour fit for a game. Because they kill more slowly than a typical killing third-party, the main power of an Arsonist is their surprise factor; unlike a Serial Killer, whose presence is typically obvious immediately, Arsonists can sit back and keep priming people, finally winning the game by igniting them all at once.

If the presence of an Arsonist is known (this is often clued via using a Firefighter, who would typically otherwise have no reason to exist in a game), Arsonists give town the advantage of being able to talk to the players who have been primed (a nightkilled player can typically no longer post), but the huge disadvantage of being unable to see their flips (and indeed, of knowing that they've been primed in the first place). As such, they are not significantly weaker than Serial Killers even in this case, and may even be stronger, despite the reduced rate of kills.

As Town, an Arsonist is a less powerful but less swingy version of a Vigilante; it finds it harder to confirm itself (especially as it may be assumed to be a third-party role), and cannot kill quite as often, but has the ability to change its mind after priming (choosing not to kill a primed player who it now thinks is town) by failing to ignite for the rest of the game.

There are some unfortunate swing issues with third-party Arsonists due to the potential for interference with their actions; if a prime fails, or a player is insulated from the ignition, an Arsonist's big "game-winning" move in endgame may well fall a player short. This isn't necessarily as bad as it seems, though, because it doesn't outright lose the Arsonist the game; they still have the chance to prime and ignite again (although it will take two more Nights), and may even be able to talk the town into voting members of a rival faction out.

Play Advice

Regardless of your alignment, it is normally best to spend most of your night actions priming, and ignite only as a big game-shifting move in the late game; this increases your "kills per Night" rate to the maximum rate available, and also makes it harder for anyone else to figure out what you're doing (which is nearly always a good thing when third-party, and usually correct even as Town). Town players should be more willing to ignite "early", though, especially if they suspect they are going to die soon. Town Arsonists are of course aiming to prime the Mafia and similar anti-town factions. Third-party Arsonists should normally aim to prime players who are likely to survive to late-game, regardless of alignment (although the last surviving unprimed player should be a townie so that you can endgame them one Night earlier); it mostly doesn't matter which order you kill players in when you're planning to kill everyone all at once.

Sample Role PMs

The standardized Role PM for "Arsonist" describes the action as follows:

  • As an active action: you may choose to "prime" one player of your choice. Alternatively, instead of priming, you may choose to "ignite", killing all primed players; this kill pierces Doctor, Bodyguard and Bulletproof protection. (edit)

Example (simplest form)

Welcome to game! You are a Third-party Arsonist.

You have the following active ability:

  • Each Night, you may choose to "prime" one player of your choice. Alternatively, instead of priming, you may choose to "ignite", killing all primed players; this kill pierces Doctor, Bodyguard and Bulletproof protection.

You win if you are the last player alive.

Confirm by replying to this PM with a summary of your role.

Example (with modifiers)

Welcome to game! You are a Third-party 1-shot Arsonist.

You have the following active ability:

  • Once in the game at Night, you may choose to "prime" one player of your choice. Alternatively, instead of priming, you may choose to "ignite", killing all primed players; this kill pierces Doctor, Bodyguard and Bulletproof protection.

You win if you are the last player alive.

Confirm by replying to this PM with a summary of your role.