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What is Mafia? Basic Rules and Guidelines


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Welcome to CDC Mafia

By Master Radishes & Ceres





Mafia is a game of psychology, deception, and strategy.


It is a game between two factions battling to the death for victory. Everyone is either a Townsperson or a Mafia. The Mafia are a minority but know each other's identities. They work together in a group – once a night, they select a Townsperson to kill. The Townspeople represent the majority but do not know each other's identities. The objective of the Town is to eliminate the Mafia. Each round the Town must debate who might be the Mafia among them, and then vote for someone to lynch. They must root out the Mafia through any information they can gather. There are often special roles that can assist the Townspeople, such as a Sheriff, a Doctor, etc. The winning group is the group left standing when all other members of the opposition have been eliminated. The Town wins when all the Mafia have been eliminated. The Mafia win when they have parity or greater numbers than the Town.


The game was invented by Dmitry Davidoff of the USSR and has become one of the most popular forum games on the entire internet, with dozens of forums and communities regularly playing. Many different versions exist, but all follow the same basic principles of gameplay, as outlined above.



Getting Started


First of all, anyone can signup for our games!  We are happy to welcome any new players that want to learn how to play. If you are interested and have questions, you can PM myself, Master Radishes, or any other member of the community. Or you can ask in the General Thread.


We typically run our games one at a time. Before a game begins, the host will create a new game thread and players will begin signing up. Once a game is completed, players will begin signing up for the next game, or there will be a break period. Our games usually last from 1 to 3 weeks. Each "round" will typically be either 24 hours or 48 hours, depending on the host's choice. 


We ask that you make sure to read and understand all the rules prior playing. We don't have strict activity requirements, but players are generally expected to post a few times per day once the game has started. 


Join our community Discord here: https://discord.gg/y5MaAz


History on CDC


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Mafia was introduced to CDC in late 2008 by Krazz, who hosted the first dozen or so games and recruited the first wave of players. Over the next six years, interest waxed and waned, with long stretches of back-to-back games followed by equally long stretches of no games at all. New rules and roles were introduced and the quality of play developed gradually, although games remained small and generally unmemorable, with a few notable exceptions.


2013 saw a sudden ballooning of interest and quality of play, taking the game to new heights never before reached on CDC. But it was in 2014 that CDC Mafia truly exploded. Games became larger than ever before, both in terms of number of players and higher rates of posting; game themes and mechanics grew increasingly creative and complex; and in general the quality of play increased tenfold. 


Since 2014, we have been invited to participate in the internet’s ‘Mafia Championship’ tournament run every year on MafiaUniverse. Hundreds of forums send representatives, and as of 2020 three of our five representatives have reached the tournament’s finale, playing alongside the best Mafia players on the internet.


Currently, CDC Mafia continues to go through cycles of interest and disinterest, but when games do get rolling, they have never been better.


For a full list of games played, see this infrequently-updated list: https://cdcmafia.fandom.com/wiki/Games




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This is simply an outline of the most common aspects of a typical Mafia game. Many games carry special objectives, special roles, and so on. All procedures as stated here are therefore subjective to additional rules of the game's host. If in doubt, ask the host. 




There are two main alignments or factions: the Town and the Mafia. Each side's objective is to eliminate the other. In addition, there are often third parties, most commonly the Serial Killer or Cult, which are unaffiliated with either side and also seek to be the last players standing.


The Town make up roughly three-fourths of the players, but have no knowledge of anyone's true alignment. The Mafia, conversely, are a minority group among the players, but are in contact with one another.




The Town win when all Mafia and third parties have been eliminated from the game. The Mafia win when their numbers are equal to or more than the Town, and no third parties remain. Third parties have their own winning objectives, usually to simply be the last player(s) left alive in the game.


The Town eliminate Mafia by voting for one player a round to "lynch" - that is, eliminate from the game. The Mafia, hidden among the Town, also get to vote. The Mafia eliminate the Town by choosing one player each round to "kill," i.e. also eliminate from the game.




The game progresses in rounds. On CDC, each round typically lasts 24 or 48 hours; the next round begins once the previous one ends with a GM update. [Typically, in Mafia, rounds are divided into "Day" (lynch vote) and "Night" (special actions). However, on this forum, this varies game-to-game.]


During the round, the players will debate and discuss the identities of other players in the game thread, trying to uncover the Mafia in the group. They will then vote on one person, who they believe to be Mafia, to be lynched. At the end of the round, whoever has the most votes will be lynched.


At the same time, via private conversation over the forum's messaging system, the Mafia members will discuss and vote on who they wish to kill that night. Before the end of the round they will inform the host of their decision.


Also during the round, other roles - such as the Sheriff, the Doctor, the Serial Killer, etc - will send in their actions for the round to the GM, unless their role description states otherwise.

At a specified time, the round will end. The GM will then post the results of who was lynched, who was killed, and whether any other actions took place. The new round will then begin.




Votes must be made in the game thread and must be bolded,e.g. Vote Intoewsables. If you wish to change your vote, please first unvote, e.g. Unvote Intoewsables; Vote Master Radishes. The exact format does not matter so much as long as it is bolded and clear who you are voting for. Only bolded votes will count. Nicknames are acceptable, as long as it is obvious who you are referring to.


Tied votes will usually result in a player being lynched at random from among the tied players.


Order of events


All kills, investigations, saves, etc, must be sent via PM to the host prior to the end of the round.


The order of events will occur at the host's discretion. 


The kill order for the most common roles is: 1) Town's lynch 2) Serial Killer kill 3) Mafia kill 4) Vigilante kill


Any of the above roles who are killed prior to their own attack occurring will not have their kill go through.


Saving or roleblocking roles usually trump kills. Any other killing roles will be slotted in as determined by the host.


However, some hosts will have all Night actions occur simultaneously. 


God Kills (for inactivity or rule-breaking) take precedence over everything.





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Aside from the two competing factions, there are some special roles that usually appear in the game as well, helping one side or the other. Not all roles will appear in every game. Roles may go by different names to align with the game's theme. When in doubt, ask your host - although they may not tell you either.


These are only the most common role/role types. Sometimes roles will be created by the GM, usually to match the theme of the game, with slightly different abilities.



Vanilla Town

Vanilla Townies will typically comprise the majority of the player base in a given game. They have no powers other than voting. Their job is to find and lynch the Mafia members. 


Sheriff (AKA Cop or Seer)
The Sheriff can investigate one player per round. He or she will send a PM to the GM with one name; the GM will then inform the Sheriff if that player is Town or Mafia. Third party roles will usually show up as "Town" but this may vary under different GMs.


The Doctor can choose one player to "save" during each night. If the Mafia try to kill that player, their kill will not go through – he or she will be saved by the Doctor. The Doctor's save usually only applies to one kill attempt per target per round - if, for example, both the Mafia and Serial Killer target the Doctor-protected player, the first attempt will be "saved" but the second will successfully eliminate the targeted player. The Doctor may or may not be allowed to "self-save," and, if so, usually only once or twice per game. The Doctor will usually not be permitted to target the same player on consecutive rounds. 


The Vigilante can kill one person each night. By the end of every round, the Vigilante must send one name to the GM, and the player named will be killed during the night.





Vanilla Mafia or Mafia Goon

Mafia Goons are members of the Mafia that have access to the Factional Night Kill. 


Role Cop

The Role Cop is an investigative role (typically, but not exclusively, aligned with the Mafia). Each Night the Role Cop will "investigate" a player and learn that player's full role. e.g. "Sheriff", "Doctor", "Vigilante", "Vanilla".




Serial Killer
The Serial Killer gets one kill a night. He or she does not win with either Town or Mafia – only if he or she is the last one standing. Sometimes the Serial Killer faction will feature more than one player. Sometimes the Serial Killer will be able to substitute their kill for a role-blocking action.




Less common roles


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The Watcher chooses one player to "Watch" during the night. If any action is performed on the watched player (i.e. Mafia kill, Vig/SK kill, Doc save) the Watcher will be informed who targeted the player, although not what action was taken. If multiple actions were performed, the Watcher will usually only learn of the first one. The Watcher may or may not be able to "Watch" him- or herself.


The Tracker chooses one player to "Track" during the night. If that player performs any action, the Tracker will be informed who was targeted, although not what action was taken. If multiple actions were performed, the Tracker will usually only learn of the first one undertaken.


The Roleblocker can target one player per night and prevent that player from taking any action of their own. This role is typically given to the Mafia when the Town has multiple power roles.



Masons are a group of two or more villagers that can speak privately and know each other's roles. 



The Jailkeeper can target one player each night to protect them from any kills AND block them. The Jailkeeper cannot self-target.


Body Guard

The Body Guard can target a player to protect at night. If the protected player is targeted for a kill, the Body Guard will protect them but die in their place. 


Alternate Sheriffs - These roles believe themselves to be the Sheriff, but will receive erroneous results on their investigations. These roles are controversial due to their misleading nature. 

         Psycho Sheriff - receives opposite results, i.e. an investigated Mafia player reveals as "Town" and vice versa.
         Paranoid Sheriff - all results return as "Mafia" regardless of true alignment
         Naive Sheriff - all results return as "Town" regardless of true alignment


The Twinblade has a one-time ability to suicide-kill another player. Therefore, they will die as well in their attempt. This role is considered a gimmick by many and is reserved for role-madness games. 






The Ninja can perform night actions without being detected by the Tracker, Watcher, or a similar role. 



The Strongman is a role-modifier that allows the Mafia kill to be unstoppable. i.e. no protections or blocking actions can stop the kill. Due to the power of this role, it is usually given as an "X-shot" ability, meaning it has limited uses. e.g. "1-shot Strongman".


The Lackey is a Mafia-aligned role-blocker who usually does not know who the Mafia are. The Lackey shows up as Town on investigation and has no initial contact with the Mafia. The Lackey chooses one player each round to role-block - the chosen target will be blocked from performing his or her action. This often includes blocking the Mafia from making their kill. The Lackey cannot block an action taken against himself.


The Kingpin is the head of the Mafia. The exact aspects to this role can vary, but often the Kingpin will get an investigative power every two rounds – he or she will select one name, and the GM will reveal if that name is a Regular Townsperson or a Special Role (i.e. Sheriff, Doctor, Vigilante). The Kingpin will usually also show up as "Town" to the Sheriff (although it is controversial whether this rule should be implemented). However, the Kingpin cannot submit the kills for the Mafia.



The Jailkeeper can target one player each night to protect them from any kills AND block them. The Jailkeeper cannot self-target.




The Cult is a third party faction, in opposition to both the Town and Mafia. The Cult has the ability to "convert" other players to their alignment throughout the game (usually once every second round). The Cult wins when they are a majority faction. They usually have no further abilities. Please note that this role is very controversial and will inevitably win unless their powers are limited. 



Med Kit
The Med Kit is an alternative to the Doctor role; it is a moveable object passed between players that can protect one player a night from a kill. The holder of the Med Kit is automatically protected; however, he or she must "pass on" the Med Kit to another player for the following round. Generally this will mean submitting two names of other players, and the GM will randomize the selection. The same player can not hold the Med Kit more than once every three rounds. If either of the two nominated players are ineligible (a previous holder or an eliminated player) the second nominated player will receive the Med Kit automatically. If both are ineligible, the Med Kit will be assigned randomly or removed from the game. If no nominees are submitted, the Med Kit will be assigned randomly.







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1) Rounds end at a specified time, usually during late evening PST; the exact time will vary depending on the GM. The GM will update as quickly as possible; please be patient if there is a delay.


2) Once you've been killed off, please do not interfere with the game. Don't post during in-game discussions or loan your opinion to players, not even privately. The only comments you make should be completely off-topic and in no danger of influencing the game in any manner. Do not even up-vote posts relating to the game. Please also stay honest when conducting private correspondence.


3) Please stay active. If you sign up, that means you want to play. If you are not active enough you may be killed off or subbed out without notice. Ask the host to clarify any activity rules before the game. 


4) Screenshots of any communication (especially with the GM) are not allowed. It is also against the rules to copy/paste any message from the GM. Do not invite the GM into any private conversations, unless to prove rule-breaking. Faked screenshots/messages are subject to this rule as well, at the discretion of the GM.


5) If you are eliminated by vote, you are sometimes allowed "last words" (ask to host for clarification). You can say whatever you like at this time. However, anyone who is killed by any other means does not get last words.


6) Please avoid editing your posts, in order to prevent changing or removing information in old posts. Some GMs may grant leeway if the edit is made within the first 10 minutes after posting; after 10 minutes, there may be punishment. Other GMs allow zero editing.


7) Do not bring outside factors or external influence into the game. Making bets, offering real-life rewards, or claiming to ban yourself from future games to prove your innocence will not be tolerated. Out-of-game influence constitutes anything that is not within the game itself, but can influence the game. 


😎 Do not violate the spirit of the game. Exploiting loopholes or doing anything against the spirit of the game without actually breaking a rule is considered "angleshooting" and will not be tolerated. The exact interpretation of this rule will be at the discretion of the GM. Just because there may be a loophole in the rule's wording does not mean the rule can be averted. The GM of the game will have final say on what constitutes rule breakage.


9) Maintain game integrity. This is an extension of both rules (7) and (8), including anything that has potential to degrade the game's integrity. Below are the most common things that can compromise game integrity:

i. Discussing private communications with the host. This is effectively out-of-game influence and should never be brought up by players in the game-thread. 

ii. Asking the host game-related questions in the thread. This needs to be done in private.

iii. Discussing God-kills and substitutions. Both of these things should be considered external to the game that is being played and thus should not be talked about. This should be left up to the host and not the players. To be clear, this only refers to discussing the act of GKing or subbing-out a player. Examples: "I don't think if Virt was mafia he would let himself get GKd." "Host, Virt should be GKd for that." Or, "Aladeen wouldn't have been subbed out if he was vanilla town."

iv. Any rule-breakage or angleshooting that deliberately confers an advantage to one team is not acceptable and will be taken seriously. 


10) The word of the GM is final. If you disagree with a decision, feel free to say so (privately), but understand that the ongoing game will likely not be altered. And please remain civil if you do have a complaint – remember that the GMs are devoting their own time to running this game for you.


11) Remember, this is just a game! If things start getting heated or personal between players, take a breath and a step back. Just have fun, and don't take it too hard if you get duped during the game!



Basic Strategy


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Town or Villager

You are Town and your goal is to eliminate the Mafia. You can converse with the other players and read their posts to determine who is a Villager and who is Mafia. Each round you will cast a vote and attempt to lynch a member of the Mafia.



You are Mafia and your goal is to eliminate the Townies. Each Night you can kill someone from the Town. You must work together with the other Mafia to avoid getting lynched by the Town and to instead manipulate the Town into lynching villagers. 



You are usually the Town's most powerful role. Each Night you can investigate or peek one player to learn who is and isn't Mafia. Your job is to stay alive as long as possible and to avoid getting killed early by the Mafia. It is advised that you "breadcrumb" your investigation results so that the Town can retrospectively determine those results if you are killed by the Mafia. It's typically not recommended to "hard-claim" your role and investigation results until your hand is forced. 




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AI - Alignment-indicative. Describing a piece of information that indicates a player's alignment. 


ATE - Appeal to Emotion


Bastard - Used to refer to a game where players are given misleading information. 


Beetlejuice - When a player is absent and then shows up as soon as they are called out or their name is mentioned.


Breadcrumbing - To leave clues about your role


Bussing - When a mafia player throws a teammate "under the bus" by calling them out or helping them get lynched.


CC - Counter-claim. A counter-claim is when someone has claimed a role and a second player "counter-claims" that same role to convince the other players that the first claim is false. 


CW - Counter-wagon. This refers to the alternate wagon(s) to the primary wagon. The CW is typically the wagon(s) with the second most votes at a given time. 


CFD - A Chinese Fire Drill is when everyone switches votes last minute and lynches a player previously not in contention to be lynched.


Derp clear - This refers to clearing a player because they said or did something that shows a lack of knowledge about something the Mafia would know.


DPS - The Dead Players' Society (aka DPS) is a place where the Mafia's dead (from a certain game), regardless of faction or death date, populate with all knowledge of what's going on. It's Mafia Heaven, if you will, and no one is leased back into the game until the game is over.


EBWOP - Edited by way of post. Fixing a mistake in a previous post by quoting it and correcting the error.


Fake-claim - When a player, usually Mafia, falsely claims a role. This is usually done to avoid getting lynched, or to force the actual player with that role to claim. 


Fishing (Role Fishing) - When someone is trying to fish for another player's role. 


FoS - Finger of Suspicion. Used to describe your suspicions of someone.


FPS - Fancy Play Syndrome is used to describe when a player is using an elaborate strategy in attempt to make the game more challenging or interesting.


IME - In my experience.


LYLO - Lynch or Lose describes a situation where the town must lynch scum or they will lose.


Mislynch - When a Townie is lynched. 


NAI - Not alignment-indicative. 


OMGUS - Oh My God You Suck. Used to describe when player A votes player B in retaliation for player B voting player A.


PoE - Process of Elimination. Usually used to describe a group of players who haven't been cleared as Town.


Scum - Usually refers to any non-TP player


Scum-hunting - A process when a TP is trying to figure out who the scum are.


SHROOP - Scott Howard's Rule of Odd Posts. A controversial theory named after Scott Howard from Two Plus Two. It suggests that scum are more likely than townies to revise their posts prior to posting them, making them more likely than townies to make posts which contain glaring grammatical errors that arise from botched revision. This theory does not refer to all types of typographical errors.


Slanking - When a player is lurking and intentionally not posting.


Spewing - Used to denote when someone has inadvertently given away information about who is or is not a member of his/her scum team.Often, people will do so-called "spew rereads" of dead scum to find out who can and cannot be members of his/her team.


Thunderdome - A 1 vs 1 where everyone picks between two players on who to lynch.


TMI - Too much information is used to describe someone who seems to have more information than they are letting on.


TP - Townsperson/Townie/Villager


TP special - A TP will a power role. Ex - Sheriff.


Tunnel  - Tunneling describes when someone is focused primarily on one player with less consideration for other players in the game.


TWTBW - Too Wolfy to Be a Wolf. Used to describe when someone is being so blatantly suspicious that they cannot possibly be scum.


Wagon - A wagon is the collective votes on one player. 


WIFOM - Wine in Front of Me describes the circular reasoning that results from trying to determine the choices of an opponent who acted with full knowledge that their behavior would be subject to scrutiny.


**I ask that everyone keep this thread solely for informative posts regarding Mafia rules or guides. Discussion about what goes in this thread can take place in the general thread.**

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Just now, Aldeen said:

You should play over on CDC for the final game. Now it will be FCC mafia.

I plan to play on new CDC in the near future. I only have a simplistic/vague idea of the game as of right now, so I'll study the rules until then and try to really familiarize myself with the game.

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