Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Are You a Werewolf?

I've recently been introduced to the joys of Are You A Werewolf: A Game of Deception, Paranoia, and Mob Rule, an incarnation of the popular card game known as Mafia tailored to the tastes of horror readers and students of lycanthropy. The game is wild fun, designed for 15 people (though it can be played with fewer), and it works like this:

There is a village. Some of the people in this village are ordinary villagers, one is a seer, and two are werewolves. No one knows who the werewolves are. There is also a moderator who facilitates the game. Now the villagers close their eyes and mime going to sleep; the werewolves wake and take a look around - silently! - and decide on their victim. Then they close their eyes, and the seer awakes and asks the moderator - silently! - about one of the villagers, whether that person is one to howl at the full moon. The moderator replies yes or no (still silently). Then everyone wakes up, and the moderator removes one player from the game and lets everyone know that this person's entrails have been found smeared across the streets of the town, and one foot has been recovered from outside the church. (As you can tell, when it was my turn to be moderator, I was especially gory in describing the crimes of the night.) The conclusion is inescapable: the villagers have among their number one or more werewolves.

What ensues is either a careful game of detective work or a wild lynching, with villagers denouncing each other in a manner that would have horrified the citizens of Salem. The seer can of course speak up and identify one of the wolves (if he or she guessed right the night before), but if they lynch one werewolf and the other remains, the seer will probably be the next night's dinner.

The villagers win, of course, if they find and eliminate the predators, while the lycanthropes win if they devour the village first. I imagine they won't starve - there must be other villages around when they are finished with this one.

All the fun is in the denunciations and the mob frenzy of the game. It is remarkable what the fear of being eaten - or the fear of being lynched by one's neighbors - will do to quite apparently ordinary people. I told a friend of mine from South Africa about the game and she was horrified, which makes me wonder whether there is anything distinctly American about the game's appeal. It bears thinking about.

You can find out more about the game and its rules here.

On another note, we are actively seeking fresh work (fiction, poetry, art, essays, etc.) on wolves or werewolves, for our fall issue of the Dante's Heart journal. Have an interview with a werewolf you've always wanted to write? Maybe a short story about a funeral for a werewolf, where only one mourner was in on the secret? Or a poem with a new take on our dear little Miss Riding Hood? A painting critiquing the ecological devastation of the Arctic? A one-minute film clip showing the world in the night-colors of a wolf's eyes? You can find out more about what we're looking for here.


Tricia Grissom said...

We play this every Halloween at my house, and my kids love it. I'm not sure what that says about me as a parent. LOL

BTW - Playing with "the lovers" can really throw a great kink in things. Two of us who drew those cards killed the townspeople and the werewolves - we were the only survivors.

Dante's Heart said...

I've played with a "magician" in the game before. S/he has the option of saving one person during the night, but he has to guess who the werewolves' victim will be - and bad fortune for the village whose magician chooses to save himself every night!

How do things work when you add "the lovers"?

Tricia Grissom said...

The lovers only goal is for both of them to get out alive. My memory is a bit sketchy here, but one of us was a werewolf and one of us was a townsperson.

So the werewolf "strongly recommened" picking a townsperson to eat who wasn't their sweetie pie.

Same for the townsperson when they were eliminating suspected werewolves. Once we'd killed all the other townspeople and werewolves, we won.

I haven't played with the magician. I think throwing in all the variables would be a great challenge for this year.

Tricia Grissom said...

Um. That's "strongly recommended"