I’m always surprised how my ideas can arise from the most mundane of situations. At the moment, I am moving house and in the process of moving a lot of boxes and stuff back and forth between the two places. This reminded me of these old logic-style games where you had to ferry people of various roles back and forth between two banks of a river, with various restrictions of who could travel with who. Maybe this could make for a nice hidden role microgame?

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Day 30: River Crossing

The players are all members of a small community who are trying to escape their town over a river before a rampaging army comes to kill them all. They only have one boat however, which can hold a maximum of three people. The object of the game therefore, is to get everyone across the river before a set number of rounds, depending on the number of players. However, some spies from the marauding army have infiltrated the village, and will seek to scupper the plans of the townsfolk by delaying them as much as possible, or worse still, killing some of them! At the same time, there are also some opportunistic townsfolk who see the chaos as a chance to purloin some valuables from the town for themselves, hopefully without being noticed.

Each player receives a role card face down at the start of the game, which broadly classifies them as townsfolk or infiltrator. The game is played in two rooms, which represent the two sides of the river. At the start of the game, everyone starts in one room. The object for the townsfolk is to get as many of them as possible over to the other side alive, with some of their possessions, before the time runs out.

At the start of the game, an object card is drawn from a deck – this is a card that must be carried to the other side safely. Then a team of up to 3 people must be chosen to go over to the other bank, carrying the item. Choosing of the team must be carried by a majority vote of the people in the room. Once the team is chosen, they move to the other room. On the way, players might be able to use special abilities, which they reveal only to people on the ‘boat’ with them. For example, the Seer is able to look at another player’s character card, the Assassin might be able to murder someone in the boat with them, and the Guard might be able to prevent an Assasination. Furthermore, some players might be Thieves, a townsfolk faction, who are trying to steal the most cards. This means they can choose to keep the item card that they were supposed to deliver to the other room for themselves, rather than putting it face up in the other room.

Once the boat has arrived, at least one person must go back to the other bank, and a new round starts then. Most importantly, players can only talk to those in their own room, so they have to choose whether they believe what the player who came back is telling them! The game ends after a certain number of rounds – if at least a certain number of items, and a certain number of townsfolk are on the other side of the river, they win. Otherwise the Infiltrators win. Optionally the Thieves can win by themselves if the Townsfolk would win, and they have a certain number of items stashed away.

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I still don’t quite have the hang of how this game would work, but I quite like the moving back and forth between two rooms (a bit like Two Rooms and a Boom) and the story it evokes. The special powers could be quite wide ranging, and it would be interesting to hear what someone says happened on the way, and then going over to the other room and actually seeing what did happen! Does anyone have a clearer implementation of this idea in mind?