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How to Mod Mafia on Scumchat

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Original Publication: November 17, 2010 by Xdaamno

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I wouldn't call myself a pro at designing setups, but I've modded many games in scumchat and so I have a good idea of the components that go into a fun experience. This is intended as a guide for new scumchat mods (which there are unfortunately few of) or a reference for experienced modders.

Signups

Games in scumchat are typically started impromptu. Rather than a mod opening signups for a game, people generally post '/in' to signify that they want to play, and the modder is decided by whoever wants to do it. Next, the group as a whole, or if not, the mod, will decide what type of game to run. The most common type is Upick. The second most common type would be an open setup, like Lyncher Mafia or Vengeful Mafia. These two are played fairly often. You could also run something like Kingmaker or Assassin in the Palace, or a closed setup - but in my opinion, only do so if you are confident you can make a very fun game as closed setups are sometimes too dry for chat.

Upick & Other Setup Considerations

If you are running Upick, ask players to send you rolenames when they signup. Then you can begin designing the setup. To please your players, you will want to do this quickly. Modding in scumchat is all about speed! These are a few points that can help you to design quickly and efficiently:

  • Collect all the player names and role names into a text editing document. Arrange them so that you have space to write the roles.
  • Get a general picture of your setup. Given your number of players, one way to go about designing a setup is to start your design based on 'how much scum power' and 'how much town power' you want. This may not necessarily be the best way to design setups, but it is a good appromixation that works quickly for what you need. Considering slightly overpowering the town to account for scumchat's often loose play as town. I'll arbitrarily count town player in units of 'cops' for this section. For example, 7 players could want 2 scum and 1.5 cop's worth of power. The idea behind this system is that each town role adds some fraction of a cop's power to the game, and each scum role adds some fraction of a mafioso. The value of each role is largely due to its interaction with other roles in the setup, though, so there are no set rules like "a tracker is worth 0.5 cops" - every judgement is a value judgement. This method of balancing setups is a fairly effective method to keep the power of each team in check. Some guidelines are listed below:
Number of Players Typical Power of Each Faction
5-6 1 scum and 1 cop
7 2 scum and 1.5 cop
8 2 scum and 1.75 cop
9 2.25 scum and 1.75 cop
10 2.5 scum and 2 cop
11-12 3 scum and 2.5 cop
  • Design your actual roles. With Upick, I usually first think of any roles that fit with the flavour of any interesting rolenames I have, then add more roles to repeatedly balance the setup. You might be interested in Xdaamno/roles, a page I use as a general reference for roles. You can also use night starts as a balancing tool. Consider creating stronger roles first and weaker roles later, as the stronger roles will unbalance the setup and the roles you add later can be used to correct this and deal with the extra swing created. The best modder will be able to reduce swing as much as possible while still keeping the setup fair, as the game is only a one-off. A game with many loose players will want to be of extra-low volatility in order to stop the game spiralling out of control. A game with more focused players can sacrifice this in favour of interesting roles. Roles with synergy are fun. Be careful not to have more than one or two themes in the way the roles interact. For example, 'The cop being confused by the miller', 'the roleblocker hitting scum power roles over town power roles', etc. The players will enjoy chewing through a single idea rather than many at once. Consider using dead-weight roles in order to negatively balance the game - for example, post restricted roles, false roles, one-shot roles. Factor in 'town confusion' as an element that depowers the town (It is more helpful to think of this in terms of 'reducing the cops' rather than 'increasing the scum'.) Finally, take into account the fact that your roles may confirm players. As a general rule, the less confirmed players, the better, unless this is in order to balance your setup. This will become easier with experience. Some roles are likely to be seen as town, such as Post restricted roles, bulletproof roles and motivators.

Modding Duties

This is a vital part of a fun game. It's very tough to keep up with a game with a lot of players. You will want to converse privately with the players via IM to send out roles and collect actions. These are the things you will need to do:

  • Send out roles simultaneously, then start the game.
  • Announce Night and Day, and provide a brief description at dawn and dusk of the current situation, including players lynched and deaths. This is a good time to add flavour, but be careful not to accidentally reveal game-relevant information.
  • Provide votecounts. This is the hardest bit, because it's easy to get behind. I use this template, then keep it on my clipboard to be edited in the chat box: Votes: Player A() Player B() Player C() NL() The votes for each player are in that player's braceket. Writing Player C in Player A's bracket means C is voting for A. NL means no lynch. Typically it takes the majority to lynch, and the majority-1 to no lynch.
  • End the game, and reveal the setup. This is easy if your roles are saved in a document.