This article describes the ingame faction "Mafia". If you are looking for general information about the overall game, see Game of Mafia.
This faction is the informed minority from which the game is named. A game is not "Mafia" if it does not include an informed minority (against which an uninformed majority, namely the Town, is pitted). Similarly, Werewolf is the namesake of its own game, which is functionally identical to Mafia.
As part and parcel of being an informed minority, the members of the Mafia nearly always know who each other are. They may also speak to each other privately at Night, either via PM, instant messenger, or a specialized chat thread set up by the moderator.
In addition, the Mafia has a factional kill at their disposal. At Night, one of the Mafia members can attempt to kill another player. In this way, the game trades off killing responsibilities - the Town can lynch a player during the Day; the Mafia can kill a player during the Night.
The goal of the Mafia, like most anti-Town factions, is to kill off all players in the game who are not in the Mafia. This is typically done by taking control of the lynch by winnowing down the player list until the Mafia controls at least 50% of the votes in play. Once done, the Mafia can theoretically veto or decide lynches from then on and the rest of the game becomes trivial. However, if there is another element in the game that can kill - be it a Serial Killer, a Vigilante, or something else - holding 50% of the votes does not necessarily make it impossible for the Mafia to lose, so they must continue to play.
There may be multiple Mafias in a game. If so, they are invariably given different names to differentiate them. These Mafias are not allied with each other; one must eliminate the other in addition to controlling the lynch in order to win.
- A member of the Mafia is called a Mafioso (plural: Mafiosi).
- A member of the Mafia, a group of Mafia, or any set of anti-Town players can collectively be called scum.
- A Mafia Goon is a member of the Mafia who has no special abilities. They can make the factional kill, and they can speak to the other scum when allowed to do so, but that's it. They are the counterpart to the Vanilla Townie.
- A Mafia Godfather investigates to Cops incorrectly - Cops will receive "negative" results on them. This is the counterpart to Miller.
- Godfather can ambiguously also refer to a Mafioso who is Bulletproof. This role can also be called Mafia Tough Guy.
- A Mafia Traitor (or Spy) is a unique role that is a "half-member" of the Mafia. See the Traitor page for more details.
- A Mafia Prostitute (or Hooker) is the Mafia equivalent of a Roleblocker.
- All other Mafia roles are simply called "Mafia --name of role--". "Mafia Spy" and "Mafia Prostitute" are not commonly used terms anyway.
Some moderators allow the Mafiosi to talk to each other at any time, instead of just during the Night. In game formats where there is no Night phase (i.e. Instant Night) this is typically the case. See also Encryptor.
Very rarely, the Mafia will not have a factional kill. This may be caused due to the game format (i.e. Nightless).
In some games, the Godfather has the final say in which member of the Mafia kills whom. In other games, there is a hierarchy of Mafiosi such that the highest-ranking Mafioso must perform the kill. In still other games, the Godfather is the only Mafia role that can kill (though this is not popular at all).
Sometimes, the Mafia will win outright once they control 50% of the votes (and/or they make up half of the living players), regardless of whether this would necessarily make it impossible to prevent Mafia from killing all the other players off. This usually occurs when the game format makes it particularly difficult for the scum to kill all of the other players; it's a sort of "good enough" criterion. Alternatively, the Mafia may have some other Win Condition based on the game format.
Use and Power
Balancing Mafia games is an art unto itself. However, in general a Mafia should make up about one-fifth to one-fourth of your initial population of players. The number of total scum in the game can go up to one-third of the total players if the Town is particularly strong, but usually not from one faction.
Generally, a faction is stronger when it has more members. This is why six-person Mafia teams are not at all common, even in extremely large games.