The Cop is a role that has the ability to investigate players at Night to discern their alignment. Players who are investigated are not told as much.
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 anti-Town factions.
Since the ability to determine guilt or innocence makes Cop a strong role, some moderators dampen its power through the use of sanities - alterations to the accuracy of its investigation results. While many moderators are opposed to the use of these sanities, Cop is the only role where it is established through tradition and meta that 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. Sanity may or may not be revealed upon death, according to the mod's discretion.
- Sane Cop: Results are accurate.
- Insane Cop: Results are the opposite of what they should be.
- Once the player realizes they are Insane, they can produce effective results by reporting the opposite of what they discover.
- Paranoid Cop: Results are always indicative of non-Town (Mafia, guilty, etc.)
- Once the Cop discovers their sanity, they may stop investigating, as all results are equally useless.
- Naive Cop: Results are always indicative of Town (non-Mafia, innocent, etc.)
- This variant is more common than Paranoid Cop, as its results are less disruptive.
- Random Cop: Results are randomized.
- This is a bastard role and almost never used.
Non-Sane Cops are rare in smaller games. If a Cop does not have several results available to help deduce its sanity, its results can become meaningless as a whole.
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.
- A Faction Cop investigates if someone is a member of a specific faction (e.g. 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). In games with multiple flavors of scum (e.g. Mafia and Werewolves) it is implied that Cop is a Faction Cop for Mafia only.
- A Role Cop investigates roles to determine their role title as it would appear in their flip (e.g. Cop, Doctor, Role Cop, Vanilla). It does not discern alignment; both Vanilla Townies and Mafia Goons investigate as "Vanilla". While Role Cops can be Town, they are more known for being the Mafia's adaptation of the Cop role.
- A Macho Cop is one that cannot be protected from Night-kills. 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. This has been commonly subverted by making the unknown recipient a Mafioso or a Serial Killer.
- A Vanilla Cop is a cop that gets results in the form of 'Vanilla' and 'Not Vanilla'. In a way similar to Role Cops, it gets Vanilla result on both Vanilla Townies and Mafia Goons, though it gets 'Not Vanilla' instead of an actual role.
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. Werewolves, Serial Killers or other third-party members thus have implicit investigation immunity.
- Town/Not Town - All non-Town players will return an incriminating result, even if they are benign in practice (e.g. Survivor or other third parties with nonstandard Win Conditions).
- Guilty/Not Guilty - Non-Town roles return incriminating or non-incriminating results depending on the moderator's decision.
Sane Cop is considered Normal on mafiascum.net, while all other sanities are banned from Normal games. A Cop (or Seer) in a Normal game must return the same results for all non-town roles (excluding Godfather or Investigation-Immune Serial Killer) and for a Miller. Trying to investigate an Ascetic role should return "No Result", the same as if the Cop had been blocked.
Use and Power
Cops are 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 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 notoriously difficult to fakeclaim one's way out of a Guilty result from a Cop. Thus, scum who are investigated by a Cop have little recourse, though they can try to avoid getting lynched for one Day by arguing that the Cop is fakeclaiming.
On the other hand, Not Guilty results can be even more powerful when amassed. A late-game reveal of a group of players who are confirmed Town can spell disaster for an entire scum team in the form of process of elimination.
Thus, Cops are very powerful as long as they are alive. Because they receive unambiguous results (sanities aside) that simplify decision-making, they can be used to prop up otherwise weak Towns. The 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.
- 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 role allows them to block the Cop's investigations, neutering the Follow the Cop strategy.
- Framer or Tailor - A role that can target a player each Night; if the Cop investigates the Framer's target, they will get an incriminating result. If the Cop investigates a Tailor's target, they will get an incorrect result.
Another means of including a Cop but limiting its power is the X-Shot modifier.
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 players that are very scummy or very Townish.
Sample Role PM
- Welcome, [Player Name], you are a Town Cop.
- Each night phase, you may investigate one player in the game by PM'ing the mod. You will get results back in the form of Town, Antitown or No Result.
- You win when all threats to the town have been eliminated and there is at least one town player alive.