Mafia is a social interaction game which uses secret identities to push a desired goal.

The Basics

There are two classes of people in the game, townsfolk and mafia. Nobody knows the role of anybody else, except for mafia -- they know each other. The most basic version of the game is played with at least seven people, there is one non-playing person -- the Moderator. There are five townspeople and two mafia. The townies consist of three standard players plus one cop and one doctor. The object of the game for mafia is the kill every townsperson and the object of the townspeople is to kill all the mafia. The town kills mafia by discussing the pros and cons of everyone's thoughts and "lynching" a person. If the person is mafia, then so be it. If the person is town (or worse, cop or doctor) then that is bad. Mafia wants to pollute the minds of unsuspecting individuals to lynch a townie. Immediately after the lynch night falls. The game is split into two phases, day and night. During the day everyone can talk freely and they decide who to lynch. During the night, only mafia, the cop, and the doctor, can communicate with the moderator.


You can die in two ways, either mafia kills you at night or you are lynched during the day by a simple majority.


Mafia - The mafia is trying to kill all townspeople, including the cop and doctor. They pretend to be part of the general population during the day, but they are tring to get a townsperson killed. During the night, everyone goes to sleep (puts their heads down/covers their eyes). The moderator tells mafia to wake up and choose a victim. They must do this silently by pointing and they both must agree. After they have made their decision, the moderator tells them to go to sleep. When everyone wakes up, the person they chose dies (see Doctor below). They can use cunning and deceit to win. They can turn on each other during the day, but cannot kill themselves at night.

Cop - A cop is part of the town, his job is to determine who mafia is. In order to assist in his job, he is allowed one investigation each night. After everyone goes to sleep, mafia wakes up and makes their decision, then the cop wakes up and indicates to the moderator who he would like to investigate. If the perp is guilty the moderator acknowledges with an affirmative, if not the moderate communicates a "no". The cop then goes to sleep.

Doctor - A doctor is part of the town, his job is to save the mafia's night-victim. During the night, after mafia and the cop have made their choices, the doctor is allowed to save one person. He is attempting to pick the person that mafia *just* chose to kill. The moderator will indicate the success or failure of the doctor and he will then go to sleep. Some variations of the game prevent the doctor from saving himself.

Townsperson (Townie) - Just a regular Joe. This person's most powerful tools is his/her vote. They listen to each other (or to mafia, hehe) and decide who to lynch. During the night they hope that mafia doesn't kill them.

Moderator - This person conducts the game and makes sure it runs smoothly. This person calls for a vote when people start deciding who to lynch. After the lynch the moderator conducts the nighttime activity.


It starts off with Day, and it takes a simple majority to lynch (meaning, if there are seven players, it takes four to lynch)
The town discusses who to lynch. Day one is usually consists of random votes and name calling in an attempt to get someone to slip. Eventually people start making up their minds about a particular individual. At this time the moderator calls for a vote. If there is a simple majority, the defendant is allowed a few seconds (up to a minute) to defend himself (say everyone is dump, claim that he is an "important individual" (such as cop, doctor), etc). The moderator then calls for a final vote. If there is a simple majority, the defendant is found guilty and is lynched. If there is not a simple majority the day ends without a death (very bad for town from a statistics standpoint).

The Moderator tells everyone to go to sleep. He then tells mafia to wake up. Mafia will point to a person and the moderator will nod and tell them to go to sleep. He will then tell the cop to wake up, the cop points to someone, and the Moderator gives him the results of his investigation. He then tells the cop to go back to sleep and the doctor to wake up. If the doctor picks someone who was picked by mafia the moderator nods his head (if not, he shakes his head in disdain) and tells the doctor to go to sleep. After that he tells everyone to wake up to start the new day.

If someone died, the Moderator informs everyone. The person then reveals his role and remains silent the remainder of the game (and does not have to go to sleep).
This process continues until town cannot get a simple majority without mafia. IE:
  • Seven People start playing
  • Town lynches incorrectly, leaving six players at nightfall
  • Mafia kills one person, day starts with five players (three town, two mafia)
  • If town kills another townie night falls with two town and two mafia, the game has already ended (mafia will kill another townsperson, leaving one town and two mafia -- impossible to lynch)
  • If town kills a mafia, then you go into night with three town and one mafia.
  • Mafia kills one person, day starts with three players (two town and one mafia - mafia must convince one townsperson to lynch the other).


First day cop claims are nearly fatal for mafia. It just gives the town too much of an advantage. In an attempt to stop this, I have recently seen a interesting variation. You have four combinations: Two Mafia, One Cop, One Doctor, and Three Townies; Two Mafia, One Cop, Four Townies; Two Mafia, One Doctor, Four Townies; Two Mafia, Five Townies. This keeps players from being sure even is a cop or doctor.

Large Games - Games with more than 7 players give room for more variation. I have seens games with as many as 25 people (online). Here are some variations:
  • Serial killer/FBI Agent - There is a person who is a townie, but at nightfall will kill someone. An FBI agent is like a cop, but he will only get an affirmative from the Moderator if the suspect is a Serial Killer. During the day these people are normal townies.
  • Free Masons - Normally townies cannot communicate outside the standard forum, Free Masons can however. This only works online (for obvious reasons).
  • Additional Mafia - I do not know the ratio, but as the game size increases so should the number of mafia. A 2/7 game is a 29% ratio, so a 21 player game would require 6 mafia. That seems a little high, perhaps 5 would be better.


This game obviously has many different strategies. From listening to a person "waking up" when mafia is called, to seeing people squirm when they are pointed at. If it overall a very fun game and is great for crowds.
© 2020 Chet Zema π