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Suspect Pool

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FrankM
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Joined: 01/27/2017

Hi everyone, I had a question about something I tossed into the Scattered Audience Challenge back in February. I'll reproduce the original 500-word description here, and welcome any feedback on the gameplay itself, but my real question is this:

How on Earth would one actually sell this game? I can see an "Investigator's Notebook" being included, but at present there's nothing that can't be done with a blank sheet of paper. And those are basically free if you know someone who works in an office :-)

Original game description:
Can you figure out the profile used to round up suspects? If you are one of the suspects, can you create reasonable doubt?

This game for 6+ players will test your memory and your skills of perception. You need sheets of paper, a way to track scores, a timer, and two distinct spaces that would keep groups of players from seeing or hearing one another.

First, determine the ground rules about what can and cannot be in a profile. By default, any visible trait is fair game. People who know each other well may wish to include names, hometowns, relationship status, etc. For anything ambiguous, players can write things on nametags (favorite movie, college major, etc.) so that they become “visible” traits. Depending on your friends, ground rules can get NSFW.

Next, randomly select an Investigator for the first round.

The Investigator has two minutes to determine a suspect profile, which is a list of traits that identify one-third to two-thirds of the remaining players. These traits are written down secretly for checking later. The Investigator tells the other players to “Freeze” and at that moment all traits are set. Anyone holding something will be expected to keep holding it, because that just might be part of the profile. Skillful Investigators will time the “Freeze” to when someone is pouring a drink, or lifting a couch to look for dropped keys. The Investigator identifies the Suspects, who are then rounded up and moved to the alternate space. Anything they are wearing, holding, etc. goes with them. The Investigator must reveal how many traits are in the profile, but not what they are.

  • Optional rule: The Investigator may include one player who does not fit the profile as an Accomplice. The Accomplice is identified just like any other Suspect; the purpose is to make unraveling the profile harder.

For those still in the main space, their task is to identify the traits in the profile, based on their memory of the Suspects who are no longer there (and traits discussed in previous rounds). For the Suspects, their task is to cast suspicion on someone in the other group. This is accomplished by constructing a valid profile -- with the same number of traits -- that includes all of them plus one person from the other group. The Suspects can see each other, but must use memory to include the “real culprit.” If Accomplices are allowed, one Suspect can be excluded from this reasonable doubt profile (but does not have to be the actual Accomplice).

If one of the groups delivers a correct profile within five minutes then each member gets one point, and no one else gets points. If neither group scores, the Investigator gets three points. The Investigator picks the next round’s Investigator, and play proceeds until each player has been the Investigator once.

Example profile: Wearing a belt AND wearing something blue AND holding a red cup that definitely doesn’t have beer in it since we’re under 21.

kos
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Joined: 01/17/2011
Sale-ability

FrankM wrote:
Hi everyone, I had a question about something I tossed into the Scattered Audience Challenge back in February. I'll reproduce the original 500-word description here, and welcome any feedback on the gameplay itself, but my real question is this:

How on Earth would one actually sell this game? I can see an "Investigator's Notebook" being included, but at present there's nothing that can't be done with a blank sheet of paper. And those are basically free if you know someone who works in an office :-)

It's a conundrum all right, but other un-sale-able games have managed to get sold: Charades, Werewolf, Celebrity Head, etc. The key is to provide components that let the players get straight into the game with less time spent on setup. You are selling the buyer convenience.

For your game, perhaps replace the "Ground Rules" with a deck (or multiple decks) of cards. The contents of the decks would be known by all players (e.g. have a reference showing all the cards in each deck), so there's no guessing about "Wearing Purple" vs "Wearing Mauve".

During playtesting you could experiment with different rules variants to find which one was the most fun. E.g.
- Draw 1 card randomly from each deck (no choice).
- Draw 3 cards from each deck, choose one.
- Select 1 card from each deck.
- Select any 4 cards from any combination of decks.
- Shuffle all the cards together, deal 6, choose any number.

Regards,
kos

FrankM
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Joined: 01/27/2017
Excellent idea!

Thanks kos! Replacing the ground rules with some kind of deck is an excellent idea. Not sure how many cards would be appropriate, but something like "Evidence" cards that say what can be used in a profile. For example:

Shoes (picture of a footprint) Shirt/Top (picture of some fibers under a magnifying glass) Pants/Bottom (picture of a bit of cloth snagged on a branch) Accessories (picture of an earring that rolled under a couch) Hair (picture of a single hair held in tweezers) Position (picture of a crimescene map) Posessions (picture of blurry surveillance video)

Need some clarifying text since logically things like belts and hats go along with "accessories" to make them less gender-specific, and posessions means items the player is holding or carrying. The Investigator draws three cards as his/her turn starts, revealing them to everyone, and then play proceeds as described before.

A few blank cards can let the players get all goofy if they want.

I don't think we need to split hairs over purple and mauve, since this won't be scored by a computer. If a bunch of interior decorators are playing, they can get as specific as they want about shades of tan... and frat boys can struggle to name the eighth crayon in a Crayola-8 box.

Edit: Just about out of ideas for cards!

Title Image Text Example 1 Example 2 Example 3
Shoes bootprint Foot and ankle coverings Shoes with laces Not wearing socks Brown shoes
Shirt/Top some fibers under a magnifying glass Clothing above the waist or on the arms Sweater Short sleeves Logo tee shirt
Pants/Bottom a bit of cloth snagged on a branch Clothing below the waist or on the legs Jeans Pantyhose Shorts
Accessories an earring that rolled under a couch Worn items other than "Top" or "Bottom" Baseball cap Black belt Wristwatch
Hair a single hair held in tweezers Size, shape and color of visible hair Curly hair Blonde hair Bald
Position crimescene map Suspect's location in the space Seated Leftmost Nearest the window
Posessions blurry surveillance video Items held or controlled, but not worn Holding coffee mug Napkin on lap Smartphone in hand
Body fingerprint Overall relative size Tallest Widest shoulders Thinnest
Contour shadow Items stuffed in pockets, tucked in belts, etc. Wallet in right-rear pocket Lipstick in pocket Handkerchief in sleeve
Color prism with spectrum Any article worn or held, but identified by color only Wearing something green Holding something red Mustard stain
Blank
Blank

Of course, an Investigator could just not use a card. He/She is required to say how many traits are in the profile, but not which card went unused. For example, "The available evidence is in the form of Hair, Position and Contour. The profile has two traits."

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