This guide (written by Unreality, modified for the wiki), is a helpful way to learn the basic rules and terms to play Mafia using DenMafia rules.


What is Mafia???

Mafia is an epic game of skill, persuasion, deception, strategy, participation, cruelty and cunning. It is a contest of wits; a championship of cleverness. It is intense, unforgiving, relentless, dominating and amazing. Some people have had Mafia dreams. Some people drive across the city to get better wireless to play Mafia. People ignore their workload to play Mafia. Mafia is addicting. Mafia is fun. Mafia is wickedly cool, awesome and pulse-poundingly exciting. If a game is designed well and hosted well and played well, it can be a work of art.

Mafia is like a riddle, but it is so much more than a riddle: so much more work, dedication, skill and toughness goes into a game of Mafia than any one puzzle. How well can you deduce people's roles while retaining your own identity? How can you maximize your potential to help your team and meet your win condition?

Mafia takes skill, but luckily is easy to learn and easy to become skillful. A gradual curve and focus on strategy allows basically anyone to play and enjoy Mafia, and even vanquish foes that are much more experienced than yourselves! That's why Mafia is a great game.

Mafia involves teamwork. Except for individual roles, you are part of a team. In generalized Mafia, the goal of your team is to kill the other team. Yes, kill Mafia (in its most basic game-theory formula) is a game of elimination. People die. Everyone has died in a game of Mafia - many times a brutal or gruesome death. It's all part of the game, don't worry if you die. Especially if you die first, our sympathies are with you. Don't be sad, don't be mad - just root on your team and make sure not to BTSC or affect the game further in any way.

Story behind the Game

In essence, Mafia involves an Italian village, where a local mafia gang has set up shop. They are killing off the villagers, one villager per night. The Mafia members can talk to each other secretly behind-the-scenes! This is called behind-the-scenes-contact, or BTSC. The villagers, angry and afraid, gather each day in the town square to lynch (execute) one person among them via popular vote. The lynched person is killed and their role revealed: were they a baddie - a Mafioso? If so, yippee! One dead Mafioso closer to a safe village. If the lynched person was a fellow villager... then uh oh. Remember that the Mafiosos are masquerading as normal Innocents, and are influencing the vote in subtle (or not-so-subtle) ways, trying to manipulate the masses and get an Innocent (a villager) voted out as opposed to a member of the Mafia. So when playing, you have to be careful and watch out for the Mafiosos among you trying to influence the vote...

Usually there are various types of people working for the villagers: for example, a Doctor can choose one person each night. If the person is attacked by the Mafia, the Doctor saves them. etc. This is called a role, and is a key part of Mafia games. In a "vanilla" game, most people may be bland villagers ("vanilla" innocents) and important roles are scarce, but the trend in recent mafia games has been extensively themed (far from that original Italian village) and each player has a significant, possibly game-changing role. Nobody is left out. All roles should be awesome.

So, at night, the Mafia kills (along with other various night actions from roles such as Doctors). By day, a vote-based lynching occurs ... this is accompanied with huge amounts of discussion, accusations, deception, lying, deceit, fraud, and dishonesty Trust no-one and always be on your watch. The common goal is to catch the baddies, but there are baddies lurking among you... baddies who are trying to manipulate you into thinking someone else is a baddie!

This is the core of Mafia. As you can see, it's an intense and excellent game. All the hype is real. This guide will tell you everything you need to know...

Factions & Win Conditions


A faction is a group of players that are on the same side / in the same team. Using the Italian village example: the villagers (Innocents) are a faction, and the Mafia is another faction.

Mafia is defined in game theory by:

  • an "informed minority" - 'the bad guys' (called Baddies in Den Mafia)
  • an "uninformed majority" - 'the good guys' (called Goodies in Den Mafia)

A faction can have various overall properties:

  • BTSC: BTSC stands for Behind-the-Scenes-Contact, and refers to the ability to chat with members of the same faction, using PMs (Private Messages) or some other form of contact set up by the host or players i.e. a system where members of a BTSC group get a separate secret forum to discuss on. Typically the Mafia, or other similar baddie groups, have BTSC while the Innocent faction does NOT. The innocent faction NEVER has faction-wide BTSC, except for occasionally a few people within the faction that have BTSC.
  • Nightkill (NK): The other common faction ability is the ability to kill one player per night. The kill is usually preventable by saving roles (such as a Doctor) and is the basis for eliminating Innocents, as the faction that usually has this ability is the baddie faction(s). The Innocents will never have this ability, as usually it requires the group to also have BTSC. Very rarely, the Nightkill can be part of a faction without BTSC, if each faction member "votes" for their target.

These are the only two faction-wide abilities: any others are rare and special cases. Usually a nightkill is decided by the group's members chatting (via BTSC) and coming to a consensus i.e. a decision on who to kill.

Win Conditions

Q: If each faction is like a team, how do they win?

A: Each team is pitted against each other. Each faction is technically enemies with the others (although some factions may have alliances and whatnot) and has a separate win condition. A win condition is a situation/goal/condition that has to be met to win the game i.e. kill all others, or kill specific player, or do something specific. In some cases, a particular faction or role may have a WinCon that is secret.

Typical Factions

  • A large majority faction - These are the "good guys", the Goodies, the Innocents, the Villagers, the Townsfolk, the Jumpers, the Adventurers - it depends on the game. This faction makes up the majority of the players and usually has the goal of killing all "baddies" (the common name for members of factions not aligned with the majority faction)
  • One or more baddie factions - They are usually small (3 to 5 people, depending on the game and the number of factions & players) and have BTSC and nightkill abilities. Their goals range from killing everyone else to killing a specific range of people or something of that sort. (see WinCon)
  • Specialized baddies - May appear in some games. Examples: Quark Agents from early Mafia games hosted by unreality. These specialized baddie factions are usually very small - 2 players, sometimes 3 at the most - that have a very specific and sometimes complicated goal as baddies. (see WinCon)
  • Independent factions - Independent roles are people that stand alone - they are flying solo and (usually) each independent role has its own independent faction & win condition. Independent roles tend to be unique, flambuoyant, rememberable and harder to play, yet more rewarding. (see WinCon)

Basic Rules

Night & Day Cycles and Host Posts

The game moves in cycles of NIGHT and DAY. While there may be exceptions, night usually happens first, then it alternates, worded like this:

Night One, Day One, Night Two, Day Two, Night Three, Day Three, etc...
N1, D1, N2, D2, N3, D3, etc ...

During night, conversation on the thread is usually limited, although BTSC conversation (usually between baddies) is flaring like a live wire as people decide the night actions they're going to do. Most Mafia games have many night-active roles and quite a lot of things can and do happen in a single night. Not all of it goes into the night post, and much is kept hidden and behind the scenes (for example, hosts may not show in posts who spy-roles spy on).

Usually hosts set time limits on night (18-24 hours is a typical range), though if they get all the night PMs in before that, marked as final (usually sent in red e.g. N2 action: Spy X), they will post the night post earlier, or as soon as they can, sometimes even a bit after the deadline. This is a good standard, but each host chooses and publicly sets time limits in the thread.

Days for a normal-length mafia game are always 24 hours, ALWAYS. Regardless of whether the host is there or not, the day ends. Not earlier (except for No contests), and not later. When the host comes around, the results at the end of the deadline are taken into account, anything past the deadline is discarded.

At the end of each night & day, the host makes a "night post" or "day post", which chronicles (usually in story form) the events that happened that are now publicly known during the night/day. Hosts then update the roster with new deaths & developments and announce the following day/night phase and when it ends.


Voting is at the heart of Mafia.

How does it work? Well, each player can cast a vote on some other player, votes are tallied, and at the end of the day a lynched person is decided. Usually it's the person with the most votes (plurality); the host will specify in the beginning of the game. They also need to specify what happens in the event of a tie (tie lynch rules). Remember, you are voting to CONDEMN someone (eliminate from the game).

Traditional Forum Mafia use either:

  • in-thread live polls: (with moderator help) You would cast your vote each day on who needs to be lynched in the thread's live poll. At each new day, a new topic would be made with a new poll and the mods would merge it into the thread for the new session of voting & discussing. However, this isn't the easiest to read and understand quickly, and once you voted... you couldn't take it back or change your vote.
  • host-tallied voting: Each player posts with "vote X;" (usually with another color or using a highlight), and the host is responsible for tallying the votes and post results from time to time (so that everyone knows the votes tallied so far). This systems allows removing a vote ("Unvote;") or changing your vote ("Unvote; Vote Y"), but keeping the tally is very difficult without the host. And it strains a host as it gives more things to do (such as frequently updating the tally after people discuss and more pages spawn from that discussion)

Den Mafia has a different system, invented by Unreality, called roster-based voting system. The initial roster is composed of the players that signed up.

 Host: name
 1) PlayerName
 2) AnotherPlayerName
 3) YetAnotherPlayerName
 4) etc

To vote, one quotes (using the Reply/Quote button) the latest (current) roster from the post of the previous player that voted, removes the quotes and adds his own vote, using a special color for the target of his/her vote. Example:

 Host: name
 1) PlayerName
 2) AnotherPlayerName - voting for PlayerName
 3) YetAnotherPlayerName
 4) etc

If you are the first to vote for them in the day, make up a new color (different enough from all colors currently displayed on the roster i.e. don't use red if the host uses red for baddies). If someone else has already voted for the person in question, use the exact same color!! For example, after two more votes

 Host: name
 1) PlayerName - voting for YetAnotherPlayerName
 2) AnotherPlayerName - voting for PlayerName
 3) YetAnotherPlayerName - voting for PlayerName
 4) etc

This makes it very easy to assess the situation! Host is only needed to correct the roster from time to time (this only happens if two people post the exact same time), but usually players "guard" the roster and can correct it themselves. And players that come checking the thread can see in a glance how the status is now AND can go back and see how the balance of voting shifted all the way to the current voting roster.

The only way that the day can officially end earlier is if someone pleads no contest. This is basically saying "okay, you got me, I'm guilty, I'm a bad guy, lynch me already". To do this, the votes have to be overwhelmingly in favor of lynching said person suspected of being a baddie. If someone pleads no contest, the host will probably make the day post as soon as they can.


BTSC = Behind The Scenes Contact - the ability to chat with members of the same faction in a host-controlled environment.

Forms of BTSC:

  • PMing (PM = Private Messages in a Forum environment)
  • Host-setup method of communication (such as secret BTSC forums)
  • Player-setup method of communication (AIM, MSN, email, etc)
  • Talking irl (in real life) about the game - if you know another player irl

Illegal BTSC

Note that BTSC is almost always not allowed! Do not ever BTSC with any other player unless explicitly told by the host that you are allowed to! Nobody cheats in Mafia. People find out, and you are basically exiled. If you PM somebody about the game, usually they will lightly warn you that BTSC is not allowed, or possibly tell the host immediately. Either way, trying to establish illegal-BTSC serves no actual purpose because nobody trusts anybody and it's likely to make you more suspicious and possibly get you lynched or killed within the next phase. Bottom line: don't BTSC unless it was explicitly allowed for you. That would be illegal BTSC.

First, what exactly counts as BTSC? Of course you can PM and chat to your friends, even if they are playing in the same Mafia game. But you can't discuss strategy, roles, events, desires about the game, ANYTHING. Anything that conveys information, probes for information, etc. No letting slip your opinion on the lynch vote during an AIM conversation. This is the most common form of "accidental BTSC"

Legal BTSC

Roles with BTSC (legal BTSC - approved by host!):

  • Baddie factions generally have BTSC as a group-wide ability. This means that all members in the faction can chat with each other
  • Sometimes, two members of the majority faction ("the Innocents") get BTSC as a special part of their roles. Or sometimes they don't start out with the BTSC but have the possibility of obtaining it. All of this will be described by the host, so only use BTSC if you're sure.

PM Repping

PM repping = "Private Message replicating".

This is basically a Mafia offense where someone reproduces (on the public/game thread) a PM that was Mafia-related. Usually it refers to the offender reproducing the host's PM giving the person their role, though sometimes it can be a quote from someone you have BTSC with, etc.

Do not reproduce any Mafia-related private message in the thread. The host will take action! Bottom line: Feel free to reproduce information in your posts, but without quoting the source verbatim or embedding the whole PM/message in the public thread!


Death rules are strict:

  1. You are dead. A ghost. An unfortunate fact. This means you are no longer part of the game. In the rare chance that there is some sort of "resurrection role", you are dead forever. The best you can do is not get in the way of the game and cheer on your team! Remember, you still win if your team wins
  2. Ghost posting = Mafia offence where a person posts something meaningful in the game thread or any BTSC after being killed/lynched. Dead players are not allowed to continue BTSC or to post anything meaningful on the thread. If they DO post (they should only post once, if at all), it should be in gray and have absolutely no on-topic material that supplies any sort of information or discusses strategy. This rule is very important! Even if some baddies are claiming your role, you cannot speak out!
  3. You can enquire if your host has prepared an afterlife = Ghost BTSC where you can freely comment on the game with your fellow ghosts. Bottom line: If you do want to speak, post in gray, ONLY ONCE, and make sure you have absolutely no on-topic material that supplies any sort of information or discusses strategy!


What are Roles?

Each player in a Mafia game has a role. A role is a character that is part of a faction and has abilities & attributes that contribute to the success of the faction (or sometimes not, see 'nuisance role').

For example, "vanilla Innocent" would be a role, albeit a bland one (nothing to do but vote during days). 'The Doctor' is a role. 'Mafioso' is a role too, although usually the individual Mafia members have specific baddie-roles too.

Roles have some basic types of abilities:

  • Night abilities - things they can do at night
  • Day abilities - things they can do during the day
  • Overall abilities - things that apply to them at all times, or an action they can perform at any time
  • Conditional abilities - IF x happens to them, THEN y... or something of that sort

Many times abilities are used as a noun when referring to a particular role/character in a Mafia. E.g. "the BLOCKER blocked me last night" or "the REDIRECTOR redirected me last night". This type of referencing a role by the underlying ability is particularly useful when discussing order of actions or precedence.

Types of Roles

Roles can be split into broader categories, into which most roles fall. Some examples of goodie roles. For more roles, please check out the Role list. Roles can be split into broader categories, into which most roles fall. The following is by no means an exhaustive list of role types, and many roles can be innovative combinations. But these categories usually encompass most of the roles seen in Den Mafia games.

Basic Roles

These roles usually work independently:

Information Gaining roles

  • A Spy is a general term for any role that learns one or multiple of the following: the faction, role, target, or action of another player. The spy is a critical role and has been used since the origin of Mafia.
  • Role Spy - is told the role of the player targeted
  • Follow Spy (Stalker) - is told who the targeted player visited
  • Action Spy (Stalker) - is told what the targeted player did
  • Faction Spy - is told the faction of the targeted player
  • Reverse Spy - PMs the host a particular role and receive the player name.
  • RID Guesser - Periodically makes X number of RID guesses, host confirms the validity of those guesses.
  • Observer - is told who acted on a player AND who that player targeted (similar to Action Spy)
  • Receiver – Periodically receives a message from the host that discloses the identity of certain predetermined (or random) roles.
  • Death IDer – Informed about all or some of the roles that die each night.
  • Oracle - Can ask the host a certain number of Yes/No questions each day/night cycle or can learn the truth value of some statements in the game thread made by other players.

Protection / life giving roles

  • The Doctor is a standard role in Mafia typically aligned with the Goodies. His focus is to determine who the Baddies are going to attempt to Nightkill in order to keep that player from harm. (see Doctor).
  • Role Doctor – May protect a role from attack during the night. May only be try to save each role once.
  • Avenger – Selects a player each night. If that player is killed, the Avenger kills the killer.
  • Bodyguard – May save someone, however there is a drawback. Usually either the Bodyguard is able to kill the attacker, or the bodyguard must die for the person he saves.
  • Reviver / Resurrect – May bring someone back from the dead (resurrect). Usually ODTG. Beware, this role can be a problem for game stability.
  • Invulnerable (Un-lynchable / Un-killable) – Unable to be killed by a lynch, or during the night, or both. Often there is a condition that causes their invincibility such as: ‘As long as another particular role is alive’ (having a passive Bodyguard) or ‘Must be attacked by more than one source / more than once’ (more lives) or have a weakness (such as requirement to sacrifice/be the Bodyguard for someone each night). This role is often unable to be saved. (Often coupled with another ability and/or BTSC).

Elimination roles

  • Killer – May choose someone to kill during the night, but may be foiled by the Doctor role. They usually kill once per night, sometimes with restrictions, can choose not to act.
  • RID Killer – (Introduced as baddie faction ability, but nowadays used in all factions) May choose someone to kill (once per night or day) but must have the Role AND ID of the target for the kill to be successful. Usually (but not always) overrules the Doctor i.e. target cannot be saved. This is sometimes used as an outing-control by hosts.
  • Double-Crosser – (Always a Baddie) Kills the doctor if he tries to protect/save the Double-Crosser.

Faction changing roles

Faction changing/recruiting roles:

  • Traitor – (Always a Baddie) Knows the identities of all the baddies, and wins with them. But may not have BTSC until the baddies choose to recruit him. Appears to be a random innocent if spied, so long as he has not been recruited.
  • Converter - (Baddie faction role) Has the ability to convert enemies from one faction to another. More powerful than killing because not only is the enemy faction losing a player, own faction is also gaining a player. Usually the player doesn't retain their previous ability.
  • RID Recruiter – May gain BTSC with any player that he can RID OR add that person to his faction (see recruitable Indy roles).

Message roles

  • Mediator / Messenger – Chooses two roles that may send a message back and forth (or just one way) to each other through the host (courier / one-way courier). A variation: can send a message back and forth between another player (or role) and himself. Often there are a variety of restrictions and customizations, from who sends the message, how the anonymity works, how messages can get sent, can the respondent reply back, how much does the messenger get to see or know from the transaction, can the messenger edit the message, etc
  • Broadcast Messenger – May write a message that will go up with a Night/Day post. Typically, the host will limit the number of words/characters to be added. In most cases, the addition is listed explicitly as an addition to avoid misleading information in the post, while still allowing the role to anonymously communicate with the public at large

Future affecting roles

  • Future blocker
    • Passive - any player acting on him will be blocked for the next night cycle.
    • Active - the player chosen will be blocked for the next night cycle.
  • Ransomer – Takes a night action (ex. Kill), which is entered into the night post. However, the action does not occur until the following night, at which point the Ransomer may withdraw said action.

Speaking influences

  • Dentist - Selects a player during the night that will be unable to post during the day (silence).
  • Speech handicap - A role may have a handicap where they have to talk a certain way, for example, the Town Drunkard has to always pretend to be drunk.
  • Jammer - Selects a player and disrupts/jams BTSC communications for that player (for a certain period of time)

Game progress

  • Predictor - this type of role has the ability to observe and make predictions about the metagame progress of the game itself. The individual properties of the role vary greatly.

Dependent Roles

These roles require interaction with another role to function.

Influencing actions

  • Roleblocker (Blocker / Nullifier) - May prevent a player (rare cases, a role) from taking action. Usually, the player that was negated will get their powers back in the morning - in very rare cases it can permanently wipe an ability.
  • Trapper - Usually a blocker that is also able to save/protect his target for the night, sometimes silencing the target for the next day or gaining some information from the target (chance to spy)
  • Jailer - A rare and sometimes unbalanced role that has the ability to trap players indefinitely or until another player frees them or the Jailer dies.
  • Mirror – Chooses a player and ‘Reflects’ that player’s role ability on them (redirect on self).
  • Redirector (Target Manipulator) – May choose the target of another player's (or in rare cases role's) action, effectively overriding that player's choice and redirecting them to someone else.
  • Nullifier Prediction – Makes a number of predictions each night about specific role actions (e.g. which player a particular role will target) if any of the predictions are correct, then those actions will not occur.

Ability change/duplicate/switch

  • Grave Robber – Only once, may assume the role of any deceased innocent role for the rest of the game.
  • Inheritor (Blank Slate) – No ability (vanilla) in the beginning, but automatically assumes the abilities of a particular player once they are dead or some other requirement is fulfilled.
  • Booster – may negate certain limitations in other roles. E.g allow another role that is limited to ‘any night but not two in a row’ to act during consecutive nights
  • Cloner (Role Copy/Steal) – May copy the role of another player. Variation: can steal the ability for the night, blocking the original player.
  • Chameleon – Chooses to use one player's ability on another. Restrictions include that both players must be alive and that each ability may only be used once.
  • Role switcher - A very rare role with the ability to ODTG switch two player's roles.

Defensive roles

  • Bomb – When killed, takes down his attacker with him (If an Indy, the baddies are usually given his identity)
  • Booby-trapped - If chosen/acted upon by another role, he learns the RID of that player. Variations: the booby-trapped role will kill (or block in the future) whoever chooses him, no matter what role/ability was targeted at him.

Appearance changing roles

  • Framer / Lynch Framer – Can make another player appear to be a different role if spied upon, or make a lynched player's confirmed role appear to be a different role.
  • Thief – May temporarily (usually for a night) swap roles with someone. Or just the appearance of the role if Spied upon.

Lynch Altering Roles

These roles are able to sway the voting conditions in a lynch.

  • Multivoter/Extra Ballots – Also known as Self-vote manipulator. Weight of their vote could be double (x2), triple (x3), some other number (though above 3 is extremely rare and probably highly unbalanced) or even 0-weight. The multivoter may have the ability to choose their voting power from a set range, or it is fixed by host.
  • Lynch Save - This role has the ability to "pardon" lynches (usually with a once or twice only clause or some other restriction) to prevent the lynch target from dying. Sometimes they use it during the day, or during the night to apply the following day:
    • v1 – May prevent a lynch from occurring ODTG (or twice during the game)
    • v2 – Chooses a player at night, that player may not be lynched the following day.
    • v3 - RID Guesses a player each day. If guess is correct, the player may not be lynched that day (may or may not be removed from a tie)
  • Vote Manipulator – The vote manipulator has the ability to affect the vote of another player (or in rare cases, of multiple players)
  • Lynch Framer - rare role that can change the role of a player that is lynched (frame). Extremely powerful as a baddie role.

Duo Roles

Pair of roles where one role hinges on the other in some way.

  • Guardian Angel – So long as this role is alive, another particular role is indestructible. (this role sometimes has BTSC or just knows the identity of the indestructible player)
  • Love/Hate Duo – A Healer and a Killer that have BTSC and work jointly. One teammate may not use their ability on the same night as the other. (various other roles could fill in for the Healer/Killer)
  • Masked Lovers – Two players that are linked in death. If one dies, the other also dies. (Some tweaks include: the players knowing or not knowing who the other is, and the players being from different factions).

Independent Roles

Independent roles [often called indi/indie/indy roles or Neutral Factions or individual roles or something similar] are different because they have to operate on their own (including own win condition). Independent roles are often a complex and custom-specified mix of many role types to assist them in their usually more-complicated win conditions.

  • Collector – Kills a player and adds the victim's ability to his own collection. He may simultaneously use his kill and one other 'collected' ability at the same time. His objective is to be the last player standing.
  • Gambler – Each night, attempts to predict who will be lynched the following day. Wins if he gets it correct X number of times.
  • Hitman
    • v1 – Has specific roles that he must kill in order to win. (Suggestions: assigned various roles, or assigned to kill a particular other Independent role)
    • v2 – Uses an RID kill, must successfully kill X number of players to win.
  • Recruitable - they may have a side condition, but their main point is to join and assist a larger faction with their desirable abilities. Can cause sever balance issues.
  • Secret Duo – Combination of the Love/Hate Duo and Masked Lovers. This is a team with BTSC composed of one Baddie (a mole with BTSC) and one Goodie (one killer, one healer). Their objective is be to the last surviving players.
  • Suicidal – Wins if he can get lynched. Not allowed to call a no contest or vote for self.
  • Viral – Periodically chooses a player (or RIDs a player) that loses their ability, but gains BTSC with the Viral. The Viral WinCon is usually to infect/recruit a majority of the living players. There are usually a lot of conditionals involved, as it's a powerful ability.
  • Voodoo – RIDs a player every so often. If the Voodoo is killed, the previously RID'd player dies in his place.

Game Strategy

The following is a list of basic strategy and tips.

Overall Day Strategy

Things you should keep in mind during the voting process:

  • Always contribute as much as possible
  • Don't lurk in the thread without posting and displaying your opinion about a current debate. It will make other people suspicious of you
  • Never reciprocal-vote (vote for someone right after they vote for you), it gets you nailed down as either a noob or a baddie, neither is good for you.
  • Vote early and be prepared to come back on a lot and possibly change your vote
  • Don't change your vote too much or too quickly (this is called flip-flopping)
  • Be aware of any extra voting capabilities your role has (such as double-voting power or something similar)
  • Don't mindlessly "bandwagon", (basically jumping on a popular vote)
  • Don't say things like "Vote for me and the Goodies will be sorry" or a similar threat, regardless of whether it's true or not. If you do, people are more likely to gang up on you
  • Don't assert that you're Goodie/Innocent without backing it up
  • Don't make provocations and accusations based on 'previous playstyles'. Just because someone is acting different/similarly to a previous game means nothing. The way a person plays the game varies greatly each time depending on the overall game rules & setup & current situation as well as the faction and even the specific role within the faction. (this might also be frowned upon as metagaming when it is avoidable).

Innocent/Goodie Role Strategy

  • Goodies: Don't give away your role or even give clues about your role unless there's a very strong incentive: the result has to be positive for the Goodies, as your own life (and thus further use of your ability for the good guys) is in grave jeopardy now
  • A good defense isn't just claiming you are a Goodie and expecting it to work. It's true that you're assumed innocent until accused as guilty, but once that happens, people look at you with a skeptical manner, and you have to prove your innocence rather than just stating it... but not necessarily outing your role, just defend your interests in the game. It helps when the accuser is more specific about why they are accusing you, so you can counter them. Watch out for 'vague' accusers
  • Saving roles: be careful when someone in the thread asks to be saved or says someone else should be saved. It could very well be that that person needs saving, but it could also be a trap; a baddie ploy, trying to draw away the saving role's ability... to either a baddie or even a random Goodie(so as to not implicate) that the baddies know they aren't going after. You also have to take into account that the baddies read the thread too - if they think someone is likely to be saved, they probably won't go after them, which means you might be able to cover multiple bases by saving someone else who is more subtly involved but still a possible target
  • Goodie killing roles should be very careful, and exercise their right not to kill (which they usually have). It's dumb to kill on the first night, when you have no info. If a killing roles goes on an goodie-killing-spree (accidental of course), it can really hurt the goodies, so be careful about who you kill and look for subtle clues for suspicion
  • Overall, your goal is to help the Goodies win: this goal is more important than your life. Even if you die, you still win with the goodies(if the Goodies win of course), so sometimes sacrifice is necessary. Nobody wants to die of course, and usually dying hurts your team, but it will happen, many times undoubtedly
  • If you're being voted for en masse and are planning to out yourself (ie, reveal your role) as a last resort, don't do so at the last minute - do so in the middlish, giving plenty of time for people to get on, read, discuss and change their votes. Revealing info at the end of the day helps nobody (except the baddies)

Mafia/Baddie Role Strategy

  • Baddies: Work well as a group! Get to know each other, know what time zones you are in and what times (relative to each other) you are likely to be on, so you can get discussing and targeting (especially for night) done with lots of time to spare for good conversation, strategy, etc. Always talk to the others before coming out with a crucial post in the game thread
  • Try to convince people that so-and-so is a baddie, but not with obviousness, unless you are claiming a spylike role (either openly or behind the scenes). Take advantage of the mental directions people are thinking in and use them to build suspicion for someone
  • Again, work together as team - timing can be everything sometimes, and being all on and voting as a block can get you nailed like fish out of water. Don't ignore each other, though. You need to pretend like you are treating the others as anyone else, with no special treatment. Don't convey any sense of mutual secretive understanding between you and a fellow baddie
  • One of the coolest thing about being a baddie is being able to learn from your peers, some of whom are probably more experienced than you and can help and direct you strategy-wise
  • The more a baddie faction discusses (about all kinds of different aspects of the game), the better they do as a group. In Classic Mafia, the Mafia's BTSC forum had about 25 topics (most of them courtesy of dawh/sparrowhawk)- and guess what? They won!

Independent Role Strategy

  • Independent roles are among the hardest to play, and yet the most rewarding. If you can pull off an independent victory, you have some skill. Usually, you have no BTSC and aren't part of a team - a solo flier. Because of this, you need to watch everything carefully and try to distinguish between teams and roles.
  • Oftentimes, Independent roles benefit from knowing as many roles as possible, as their win conditions are usually connected with certain specific roles. Initiate discussion in the thread to learn more, and always be waiting and watching for a good opportunity.
  • If you are a role that must choose sides at some point, keep a good and accurate-as-possible tally of which side is doing better at each moment and how things affect the situation.

Advanced Strategy

The tips above cover the most basic strategy, and at times, more complex strategy may contradict some of them depending on play styles and tactics. Strategy is so varied and complicated in Mafia that it can't be conveyed in a guide. Each needs to learn and develop it on his own. Some tips on gaining experience and improving one's strategy skillset:

  • Keep some sort of spreadsheet or other document to keep track of roles. It will help you immensely!
  • Go back and read! This can't be stressed enough! Often you will find the most important clues & contradictions in what people have said earlier.
  • After the game is over, go back and read it all over again, if you have the patience - except this time, you know who has what role, and can make more sense of the strategies, plots, and motives behind everything that happened. This will give some deep insight on strategy.
  • Talk on the thread after the game is over, discussing strategy points and good moves that others and yourself made. This will broaden your repertoire of good strategy ideas.
  • If you were part of a BTSC-endowed baddie faction, you can gain excellent strategy skills by playing and following and being directed by your fellow baddies, who may be more experienced than yourself. Or regardless of faction, if you are working with someone else via BTSC, that can boost your strategy skillset
  • Read, Read, Read the more you put into Mafia, the more you get out. Touch up on strategy, ideas, tips (and nostalgia) by reading or re-rereading older mafias & discussions.
  • Listen to your "Elders", but don't take their word for it: more experienced mafia players can be great sources. But you have to remember two things: (1) Game Count does not necessarily equal Experience. (2) If the advice is given inside a Mafia game, look out for factors that could cause them to lie to you ... trust no one (except maybe BTSC mates, though in some games they are untrustworthy too!)

The above are just some basic tips to help you on your way - you will learn more as you go.


If you're thinking about hosting a Mafia, you should be aware of several things first. Treat the following list of suggestions as a checklist to follow BEFORE attempting to host a Mafia. Hosting a Mafia is fun, BUT ...:

  • GET MAFIA PLAYING EXPERIENCE FIRST: Don't host until you have played at least 4 or more games and know what is necessary and expected of a host. There are many things going on BTSC that only hosts know of. So don't assume reading some game threads is enough to understand what a host is supposed to do during all cycles.
  • 'UNDERSTAND GAME THEORY: Make sure you understand complex Mafia strategy and game theory basis of Mafia inside-out before designing rules/roles and hosting.
  • DON'T PRESSURE YOURSELF INTO HOSTING: Hosting is fun, but also requires different sets of skill. Many great players are just players and are very content with playing. Everyone's got their niche, and we need us all to make good Mafia games.
  • DON'T RUSH OR FEEL THEME-RUSHED: Don't just say something like "Oh, I think hosting is cool so I'm interested in doing it" or "I don't see a game based off of <insert franchise here>, so I'm going to make one! Or someone else needs to make one!". Rather, think carefully about the game. The more creative, original and innovative you are, the better the game will be. Also, if you really want to use a theme for your game, see the section on "claiming Mafia Themes" to check your ideas first.
  • DON'T TRY EVERYTHING AT ONCE: Try a smaller game first with straight-forward roles (6-10 players). Hosting (or co-hosting) a small game is not a shame. It will be easier to run and still give you a hosting experience. Large rosters and experimental roles should only be handled by hosts with enough experience to make tough decisions when unforeseen conflicts occur. Also, if a game is twice as large, it's probably four times harder to host.
  • GET A CO-HOST/MENTOR HOST: If you aren't a good writer or don't have a complete vision for a game or the size of the game is too big, definitely try to get a co-host, it can take some of the burden off. Co-hosting means sharing the hosting burden with a fellow co-host and the two of you together manage the game together.

If you are past that step, tread carefully in the design phase:

  • LOOK AROUND AND READ: Look around at previous Mafia games for role ideas and ways that things could pan out. Also check out Mafia Discussion or other forums from various sites all of which are packed full of mafia discussion topics. Read the Category:Guides to find out how roles and actions might interact and interfere with one another and what you should expect and plan for.
  • GET ORIGINAL: Make sure your idea is original and does not overlap with a recent idea someone had (See "Claiming a theme"). It's fun to write in your favorite universe, but Mafia games are much more than that!
  • GET PUBLIC FEEDBACK: Start a topic (e.g. in the Game Ideas forum) with your game ideas and get valuable feedback from players. If that does not get enough attention, PM (but don't spam) experienced Mafia players/hosts and discuss with them your idea and role concepts. Try to get as much help as possible in designing your game (game balance and role descriptions).
  • ORGANIZE YOUR UNIVERSE: Consider early in the design phase and tell players the order of actions or precedence so that your choices as a host during the game will be consistent and the players can use logic to explain night posts. E.g. if you decide block stops kill then note that as "block>kill", and create a chain of actions that covers all possible actions e.g. redirect>block>save>kill>spy. See Advanced game design issues for more information. It will save you a lot of time preventing 1000+ questions during the game about action or role clashes.
  • GET A FRESH PAIR OF EYES: Once you have the OP/Intro/Rules/Roles/etc stuff well defined and written out, have an experienced host check it over for balance. Game balance is the most important thing in designing a game Make sure you have a deep understanding of what game balance is and how to detect unbalance before even thinking about hosting. You can gain this insight from playing games and talking to experienced players & hosts beforehand while thinking about designing a game. Also, read all the Category:Guides
  • DON'T RUSH: Do NOT assume that if no one answers to your Game Idea it is ready! Shout or PM people if no one answers after a week to attract attention. Don't be too pushy, either. People that are forced to give a review, may only review it to "get it over with". Only once your idea seems balanced enough and several experienced players and hosts have given their thoughts and you've patched it up, then you can add it to the queue and start signups for it once the queue reaches it!
  • USE SIMULATIONS: Play out a demonstration/simulation of your game with the numbers of players in each faction to make sure it's not absurdly in favor of one faction. Better yet, play more simulations.

Once the design phase is over, the queue and signup phase follow:

  • PLAN AHEAD: Know when you're active and when other Mafia games are going to start. PM (or shout) to a Mod to add your idea to the Game Queues if you cannot do that yourself. Make sure to queue your game in a good time slot that works for you and other players and doesn't interfere too much with other games and real life! Hosting takes a lot of your time, beware!!! It will really suck you in. IF you are a good host that is - you SHOULD dedicate a lot of time and effort into it. If you're not, something's definitely wrong.
  • 'QUEUE:
    • If you plan to host it on BD (BrainDen): - Add it to the Games Signup Spreadsheet. Post a reply on Games to Come thread announcing your game is Ready!
    • If you plan to host it on MM (MafiaManiac): Create a new fresh topic in the Games Ready section, where you paste a cleaned up, final version of the game from the Game Idea section. Ask a Mod to help you if your editing time expires (although you should prepare the final version in a local editor beforehand).
  • BE ORGANIZED: Read and use the OP Checklist. Organizing your Original Post (OP) before starting the Mafia will save you a lot of questions and prevent many disputes (during and after the game). Use a nicely organized OP when posting your sign-ups
  • HAVE PATIENCE: Have patience and wait for the games in front of you in the queue to finish. When the game right in front of you is nearing its end, check with the Mods or previous host and then post a signup thread.
  • ATTRACT PLAYERS: Ask a Mod to update the announcements that a new Signup is in progress, shout about it, add it to your signature ... anything short of mass-spamming people. If your sign-ups are not full after a couple of days, consider inviting players that are semi-inactive, i.e. don't check the site daily. They might be interested if someone tells them via PM (which usually is forwarded to their favorite mail client). Again, DO NOT SPAM, make your invitations personal.
  • DON'T RUSH: Keep the sign-up thread open for backups and publicly ask for backups until you have at least 2-3. Even if you rush and start without backups, keep the signup thread open calling for backups.

Finally, during the game:

  • DON'T BREAK YOUR OWN RULES: Keep in mind all of the role interactions that are going on - if someone's action may ( A ) affect another action, or ( B ) be affected by another action, check to make sure. Be mindful of action loops and know where to break them based on your previously decided-upon order of actions or precedence, follow any rules you've established in the OP and your previous answers. Make sure you know who has what 'voting power', so you know what's going in the day and what the votes cast are actually tallied.
  • DOUBLE CHECK: Always double-check your posts before posting them. Read for it from the players' perspective and see if you're not accidentally leaking too much information. Proofread your post before submitting it and check it against your host spreadsheet (or whatever method you use for keeping track of actions). Use the "Preview Post" option to ensure proper formatting.
  • THINK ABOUT LEAKS: Always double-check before you answer a question in the game thread or in BTSCs or PMs. Think twice before answering questions which might confirm inactive players or in other way leak meta-information about the players. DON'T LET ANY INFORMATION SLIP TO PLAYERS THAT THEY SHOULDN'T RECEIVE! After any out-of-the-norm action, sent-PM, player replacement, etc, analyze what kind of information it gives out to players. Also, beware of casual conversations (IRL, on-site via PMs or the Shoutbox or off-site via AIM/MSN/FB etc) and don't let anything slip that could affect the game.
  • DETECT AND REACT: If someone does receive an unfair advantage via information, level the playing field and tell the secret. Think about the ramifications first, though, it may be detrimental to publicly reveal the info and there may be a better solution to the problem. If you've ran into a tricky situation, there's no shame in PMing other experienced hosts (that aren't playing the game of course) and use them as mentor hosts.
  • DON'T BREAK ON MISTAKES: You might make mistakes - from missing an action to accidentally outing someone. Don't be discouraged by that. But help prevent it by using at least a mentor co-host, someone who is told all the roles and has access to all the BTSC. The mentor can act as someone to bounce ideas off and double-check your posts and ruling about action interactions. Especially if you intend to use secret roles or secret WinCons!
  • WORK IN ADVANCE Type the post in advance and alter it based on action changes. Most times, no actions will change in the last 30-45 minutes of a night and this allows for a post right at the end of the night. Be sure to check for any last minute action changes, just in case. In the event of a last minute action change, most of the post is already written. In rare cases, the changed action will change a large portion of the post.
  • BE THERE: Remember your post times. If you can't make the post on time, give warning. It's much better for everyone to know that the post is delayed than having a mob waiting for a MIA host.

Have fun and good luck! Hosting can be tough, but don't forget to:

  • KEEP TRACK OF EVERYTHING: Keep a log of all night/day actions & events that occur.
  • BE ACTIVE: Make sure you're on top of your game, and very active. Answer players' questions, set clear deadlines.
  • ANTICIPATE:Try to anticipate possible role disputes and special cases before the game even begins, so that you don't have to untangle sticky situations once the game has begun
  • BE INSPIRED: Have a vision and a passion behind the storylines behind night and day posts
  • DELIVER: Whatever you do, DELIVER ON TIME! You can't ask players to respect the time limits if you can't even get a night post or day post in on time


Q: Are there any restrictions as to what I can say in the thread?

A: There are no restrictions. Unless you have a speech handicap ability or are frozen or trapped for the current cycle, there is no limit to what you can say on the thread - other than the basic Forum rules and the basic Mafia Rules. Always ask the host of the current game if you are allowed to say something in particular, out yourself or reveal a secret ability or secret WinCon.

That does not mean you that you SHOULD say everything that comes to mind. Be careful about what you say and even how you word it (see Basic Strategy Tips). Also remember that many games have a rolekiller (RID kill), so be careful about revealing information about yourself or another teammate (strong hinting or outing).

Q: What is the "Mafia jargon"/ Mafia terms I need to know?

A: Here's a short list:

  • BTSC - Behind the Scenes Contact
  • win condition - abbreviated wincon - the goal required for a faction to win
  • baddie - part of the "informed minority" faction - they usually have BTSC and have to eliminate the goodies.
  • goodie - part of the "uninformed majority" faction - they do not have contact outside the game, but are greater in numbers.
  • indy - independent role.
  • nightkill (NK) usually a group ability of a faction with BTSC - the ability to eliminate a player during the night cycle.
  • bandwagoning - the action of going with an unstable (not founded on much evidence) yet seemingly popular movement toward one victim, who may or may not be an actual baddie
  • bandwagon - used to describe the block of votes that someone is "jumping" onto when they "jump onto the bandwagon"
  • flip-flop - when someone switches around voting in a short time period, displaying indecision and uncertainty
  • reciprocal voting - the behavior where someone immediately votes for the person that voted for them
  • RID - Role Identification - Being able to identify a player's role
  • WiFoM - "Wine in Front of Me" - occurs when two opposing parties are caught in a whirlwind of inconclusive circular logic.
  • PM - (usually) Private Message - a form of contact between players and host, usually provided inside the forum.
  • IRL - in real life (yes a real, non-mafia world does exist ;D)
  • QA, GR, etc - Usually longer role names and names with two words are abbreviated into quick two-letter acronyms. E.g. QA = Quark Agent. Be familiar with the roles and the acronyms that unofficially emerge to represent roles (or in some cases persons)
  • lynch - essentially "execute", it's used to describe the crowd-based killing of one unlucky player every day
  • mob - NOT referring to the "Mafia" mob but rather a group of people, psychologically (such as 'mob mentality')

Q: How do I start playing Mafia? Where do I jump in?

A: It may seem intimidating, but in reality it's not. It's easy to play - a Mafia game either has a Sign-up topic (read the whole the topic first then post, signing yourself up and usually re-posting the updated roster) or the sign-up is in the same place as the starting topic. Some hosts have either sent out invite PMs or have announcements in their signatures and other places around the forum, such as various topics to PM them if you are interested in joining their game. If you have any questions about current & upcoming games, consult the current queue on that forum and feel free to PM current players/hosts or someone else that can help you out.

Q: What defines inactivity, and what is expected of an 'active' player?

A: When you join a game, you are expected to actively participate in the game, from voting to discussing to using your role actions strategically (i.e. if you don't use a role ability, it should be because you chose not to, not because you were inactive - in this case at least tell the host that you are choosing to not act). Many players think it's okay to just come on, vote, and log back off. It is not - an active player gives reasons for their vote, listens to others, and is more in tune with what's going on in the game; this gives you more leverage and power as a player as well. You don't have to be on the game thread at every waking moment, but checking the topic a few times a day is recommended at minimum. Also, if you are a player that has BTSC with others, you should be taking advantage of that excellent ability. Again, you don't have to sell your soul to the game, but it should be a prominent focus and you should be as active as you can be, enhancing both the game and your own skills and potential of victory. Only sign up for the game if you know that you'll be able to play the game fully in spite of other complications IRL (work, school, vacations, other mafia games, etc). See the rules regarding inactivity first. Note that in some Mafia forums, a special person - Manfred - will be invoked to remove and punish an inactive player.

Q: Why Mafia?

A: Hehehe... there are a lot of answers to that question. From "Because" to "Why not?" - but the real answer is, Mafia is amazing. And fun. You just have to experience it for yourself... and basing off the fact that you've just read a good portion of this guide (or at least the very end), I know you're about to. So join a game and see what it's all about!

Q: This is not fair ... they killed me again!?!?!

A: Don't take it personally: Mafia is a game of betrayal, deceit, danger, lies, death and destruction. In the history of Mafia, there have been very few incidents where an action was taken because someone had a vague dislike for someone else. Out of hundreds and hundreds of actions. So really, don't take it personally. If anything, take it as a compliment if you are targeted by a lot of different factions, including the baddies. It means they recognize you as either an ample threat or a helpful ally.

See Also