Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is why I try not to play morbid games.

Mafia - or "Paranoia" as I originally learned it - is one of those games that sort of degenerates into a screaming, yelling mob no matter what you do. With any luck, the screaming and yelling comes from people accusing each other of being mafiosos or werewolves or the featured antagonist of your favorite version. The trick is apparently all in the narrator. The story makes or breaks the game, although any touches like dim lighting and almost dead silence can also help.

The choices for game night were either poker (which I literally learned to play at the table) or Mafia, and while neither really appealed to me, Mafia was at least semi-familiar. I got killed off pretty quickly in the first round as a townsperson, and then the narrator decided he'd join in and hand off to me.

Whatever else you could say about my performance, I'd say "memorable" would be among the adjectives.

It seems that the instructions "be creative and interesting" do not also include "let your have you lost your gods-be-damned-mind side out to play." Or, at least, "don't make people wonder what's going on in your head."

Hoo, boy. The backstory wasn't all that memorable - the mafiosos want to take over a suburban community and they've resorted to force with the last stubborn holdouts who won't sell their property - but I went nuts about the ways people died off. "The worst case of suicide I've ever seen", "if he wasn't already dead he'd have died of embarrassment," suspiciously loose ceramic roofing tiles, and at least one sentient computer eating its owner.

The town hall accusations were also grim, although I didn't need to do a whole lot of work. Those were chilling without any help from me.

And I literally just met some of those people about two hours before I went a little bonkers as the Mafia narrator. I got at least three yells of "oh my God", one of "you need to talk to someone" and various squeals of disgust or delight. And laughter. Lots of laughter. I'm not sure if I should have been more disturbed by what I came up with or with everyone laughing at the result.

On the other hand, a great time was had by all, and nobody seemed to walk away with the impression that they had a lunatic living down the hall to worry about. A few even wanted to know if I'd be available for future sessions of Mafia.

I'll call that a win.

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