Game Design Friday: Masquerade!

Scott Jon Siegel

New member
Jul 27, 2007
Game Design Friday: Masquerade!

The creator of Masquerade!, a "board game of debauchery and disease," wants your help refining the game's design. Are you up to the challenge?

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Crotalus viridis

New member
Nov 7, 2008
Here's an idea:

New Rules:
When an embrace occurs have the next three moves be called a "song", "dance"--or any other masqueradish word you wanna use--between the two players (players who don't get an embrace will continue searching for a partner). These three moves cuts down on the chance people will run into death, so its less likely the whole party dies. During the three moves of the embrace the two players must whisper first something false, then something true, and then something secret to each other. The person playing Death must always reveal he's death as his secret--as should the minions Death infects.

The max number of embraces allowed under this would be 6, so its possible to leave the dance without getting to know someone you were hoping to dance with. The "song" moves introduce a flirty mini-game that let you get to know some of your friends better. Also "songs" require investment of time, and you wouldn't know you were infected until it was too late-also since its the last thing revealed, a feeling of deception.

What do you think?


New member
Aug 8, 2008
The more I think about this, the more I both like and loath the design.

I think of of possessions of each player:
- Their Own Identity, and the identity of the person they need to meet.
- Their Position on the board.
- The identity and position of all opponents that they have met.
From this information they then control:
- Their position.

The decisions I can make:
- To approach or avoid another player. [ This may be complicated my the choices of others ]

I have to say that I think that some of this information is without value.
Consider the following situation: I the Prince, have met the Pauper, the Seamstress and the Duke.
Despite having survived a 1/8, 1/7 and 1/6 chance of meeting death, I have not been rewarded. I now have an inventory of information, but I can't seem to find a use for it.
My next meeting will be a 1/5 chance of meeting death, and I know to avoid meeting people again for fear of them having been infected, but I still only have a 1/5 chance of meeting my partner with the information I have.

As is the basic stats are:
Let the number of players be P.
Let N be the number of people whose identity I know
Let D be the number of dead [this includes death].

1/(P - N) chance of meeting my match.
1/(P - N - D) chance of meeting death or his minion.

Example: in a 9 player game I begin with a 1/8 [= 1/9-1] chance of meeting my match. I also have a 1/8 chance of meeting with death.
After meeting 3 people my match chance is 1/5 but my chance of meeting death is <= 1/5 as death may have met some people who I haven't. [Aside: never meet people twice, seconds are infected].
Consider the odds when I have met all but two people without having met death.

On the flip side, death is 100% sure to forward his agenda by meeting someone new. Knowing names does him nothing.

I suggest that the infection still be there, but death be removed.

To change the materials:
Each player has copies of their Role / Order Card in Yellow, and white "hint" cards.

When players meet they first choose a colour (white or yellow). If they choose the same colour the cards are traded, otherwise they fail to embrace.
When trading white cards, the cards are hints (e.g I am a Woman, or My name begins with P) and only partial information is exchanged. When trading yellow cards rolls are revealed and each person adds the orders of the other to their own.

The infection comes in the form of the orders, all of the form "Poison person X when you meet them".

Knowing that every player who exchanges yellow cards has an ever growing list of people to kill/infect adds the tension as near the end of the game, A person may wish to be close to their match, but may have already received orders to poison them because of earlier promiscuity.



New member
Jul 14, 2006
I see a problem with both the number of people required and the primary gameplay mechanic. Is it really expected that 9! people put all hands in over a little gameboard, close their eyes, and then just move their hands wildly? That sounds like an injury waiting to happen. I'd be hard-pressed to find eight people willing to even try this.

To this end, the movement must be deliberate and consecutive. Each player can only move along two squares, for example, and only three pawns will move at a time.

Something also needs done to cut down on the number of players necessary. Gaming groups don't typically include at least nine people. For a smaller group, possibly no one controls anyone at all, and rather places "bets" on who will make it out alive. On a card you write down each player, and then these are shuffled and on the back you write each color. Meanwhile, each player picks 1) a character they think will survive, 2) a color they want to survive, and 3) which color they hope Death is, and writes these down in secret. Then play continues with each player picking a pawn at the same time, and moving it the specified amount. Whenever two pawns met, they get a dance, and marks on their cards signifying that they have met. After the game is over, cards are revealed, and then it is determined who met death, and then conversely who those people met, they all die, and then players compare their secrets bids to see who was most right.

This one strains because there's no strategy involved besides trying to keep the color you chose from participating in any dances period. There's too much luck involved, luck you won't even be rewarded for until the end.

I think Crotalus's suggestion would work well in a "real life" setting, as a bit of an icebreaker game. For any large group, each person is given an identity and a preferred matching, you divide the room into nine pieces, and everyone starts in a specific quandrant. At the stroke of every minute, anyone not currently "dancing" moves one quandrant in any direction, and may pair off if they wish. If there's only two people in a given quandrant, they must pair off. Then the dance lasts three minutes, where they ask each other questions, and try to guess the other person's identity. At the end of the game, about twenty minutes or so, if they end up in the same quadrant as their partner, they get a prize. Of course, the Death aspect in this format would seem a little cruel, and there's always some spoilsports who won't play along, but it's an idea.


New member
Oct 24, 2007
I suppose you're probably aware of this, but an alternative way to do simultaneous movement in a board game context is to have moves written down privately by players and then all revealed and resolved at the same time. then again maybe you wanted everyone to feel what everyone else was doing. A little like twister, but with just the hands.

I think having the players reveal more information when they meet might help. Like maybe you can tell something about someone else you met. Or maybe less information would be better, so you might have to come back to someone before you can be sure who they are. Also, no one would dance with death twice. Thus having the pauper meet death would look the same to other players as the pauper meeting the poet and discovering that he's male. Meanwhile if the pauper met the Duchess or the Seamstress he would have to try again. Of course death could take advantage of this and chase someone for multiple turns to give the impression that the pauper is following him for more information.

Not sure what the clues should be exactly. It should be set up so no one piece of information can be used to identify someone. So gender is a good one to use. Maybe also social class?


New member
Oct 23, 2008
In my opinion the game has a very nice concept. After some thought this is what I came up with:

1.The moving mechanic needs improvement. Suggestions are above so I won`t go very much into it. However keeping this organized while still holding some sort of mystery is a must. My idea : Each player moves his pawn in the direction of another player. The punch line here is to let the players team up at their own will for starters. If more players are going for the same partner one must back off.
After initially teaming up at will the players are not allowed to share a embrace with the same person twice.

2. Somehow I feel there is no strategy to the game. My proposition: Introduce an Anti-death character to the game. For now lets call it an Angel. Name should be changed to a better, less corny one if ideas pop up.
Angel mechanics: If death spreads it`s disease in the crowd - by original design the angel character has the power to heal the disease. Angel`s identity is also unknown.

Game mechanics in my own vision with the new feature:

Death diseases players that can spread the disease to other players but Death`s identity is only known to those infected directly.
The Angel doesn`t reveal his identity to uninfected players. (instead fakes being someone else )
The Angel can heal a diseased player thus revealing his identity.
The healed can tell other players not turned by any side the identity of the Angel during the embraces that follow.
The healed can get infected again only by Death.
The healed cannot get infected again by the diseased. The healed should claim that they are infected while embraced by a diseased.
If Death meets the Angel the reveal their true identities to each other.

Winning condition :

Drop the pair winning condition. Go for something along the lines: Be on the side with the most adepts.

Game-play wise:

When sharing the identities during the embrace the infected or death player always talks first so that the other player can react.

Right. I`ll keep pounding on this and add stuff if I come up with ideas. Sorry for wandering off so much from the original design but the more I think about it the more I see that in it`s raw form it`s not really playable. Feel free to tell me I suck or that you approve of my ideas.