It’s been a remarkable couple of months of silence from me; considering how my default mode is wild speculation and baseless assumption, this is pretty atypical. Such is the way of a day job. Especially so, the day job that features “crunch-mode” prominently. Fortunately, Kit has been writing frequently. I’m continually reminded how awesome it is to collaborate with friends.

After an extended period of quiet my mind has been rebelling, driving spikes of ideas through every waking moment. Which is why I find JB Mannon’s Games Galore challenge compelling. It feels a lot like NaNoWriMo or Thing-A-Day; both of those are creative endeavors I participate in. After floating the idea with Kit and Austin and talking about what we wanted to do, we hauled off and created a game for January.

It’s called Alibi. Players are criminals just back from a heist that went terribly wrong and who are trying to place the blame on anyone else. We’ve only played it a few times, but I laughed more in one evening than the rest of the last two months combined. Play rotates around the group, with the active player asking questions like “Why weren’t the guards taken care of” or “Who called the cops?” while everyone else tries to explain why it wasn’t their fault. As everyone’s credibility runs thin, people’s true motivations are revealed.

Full rules are available here. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

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  • John Bowler

    This sounds interesting but for me there’s a problem with the fact that there is no established truth, so that you’re equally making stuff up as you go when you’re lying and when you’re justifying. When the other players are deciding whether or not to buy your story do they have anything to base it on other than whether or not they liked the story?

    Maybe you prefer it like this but have you considered adding some additional mechanics? I’d suggest generating a list of things that went wrong at the start and giving each player one of them along with their secret. They’re now considered responsible for that mistake and so genuinely have something to hide or justify.

    • For the times we’ve played, we’ve used the core rule of improv: say yes. That is, unless someone challenges your story, then your story is what actually happened.
      For whether they buy your story, it’s really meant to be more of an Apples-to-Apples kind of feel to it, which means it’s up to the players what criteria they use.

      We’ve talked a number of times about how to “prime the pump” as it were. Originally, we didn’t really want to do much with that because we wanted to see where the game took us. Now, I feel like there’s some necessary shaping that should happen at the beginning regarding tone and topic. And I’m certain there’s something to add regarding secrets, to give it more teeth. Not sure what yet!

      • John Bowler

        My first reading of it was definitely that secrets seemed like they were going to be the mechanical core of the game but didn’t actually get there. A lack of teeth is a good way of putting it.

        It seems very similar to Baron von Munchausen, which while a lot of fun at times doesn’t have enough of a game-y feel to it for me to play it regularly. I understand the idea of Saying Yes and I’ve seen it work well but I also find the idea of “lying” arbitrary and impact-less when there is no truth. Accusing also has this problem but to a lesser extent.

        I will try and get a game in because I like the basic premise but without a stronger mechanical framework I feel like there isn’t any advantage to playing with those rules of just plainly telling stories.

        Would it be okay for me to use some of your work in putting together my own implementation of this idea?