It’s like a crossword puzzle that compulsively lies and keeps trying to kill you.
It’s a line that adorns the top of the Underground forum’s splash page thanks to Kiyoshi and it represents what the area is all about.
If you’ve got no clue what this “Underground” – more lovingly known by regulars as “the UG” – is even about, the basic premise of it is simple. The Underground forum hosts a variety of highly entertaining, dastardly sinister, and friendship-ruining mafia games, which pit two teams, the Townies and the Mafia, against each other to see who comes out on top and wins. The Townies’ goals include eliminating all of the Mafia, while the Mafia’s goals include outnumbering the Townies.
When a mafia game starts in the Underground, interested members join in during the signup phase, read the introductory story, check out the possible roles they can get, and size up their fellow players. Once signups are over, the Game Master (person hosting the Mafia game) randomly assigns roles to each player ranging from basic Townies to Doctors and Cops or evil Mafia members. These roles can include tricky powers and abilities, called Night Actions, which can be used throughout the game to benefit that player’s team (or in some cases lead to their demise).
Once roles are assigned, the Game Master can start their game in either a Day or Night phase. Day phases are where players can do the most sleuthing, either coordinating with others to “lynch” baddies or suspicious people, or starting a bandwagon, which usually results in a lot of saltiness – a word players use to describe what members are being if they’re angry at something that happened in the game. Once a Day phase (generally 48 hours long) is over, the game begins a Night phase, which lets players use their Night Actions to protect, discover, or “kill” other players. These phases make up the game and often lead to chaotic situations, such as nights where entire teams of players are slaughtered or even nights where absolutely nothing happens.
Now that you know the basics, we can introduce you to games where there are upwards of seven teams, and over thirty of these roles have Night Actions! Sounds fun, right? Maybe to masochists, but to most that might be overwhelming. The Underground’s members have constantly evolved the game into complete nightmare scenarios full of death and destruction, and yet new members seem to flock to the area almost every day wondering when the next available game starts. Some new members get caught in the crossfire, however, like poor moderator Achromatic, as an eyewitness account shows below:
Despite the tragic end to his first mafia game, many more members join up and quickly integrate themselves into the chaos, finding themselves among dastardly and villainous plotters and players.
While they wait, the Underground offers smaller and quicker easy games of ‘Epic Mafia’, an online version of the forum game that can be completed in around eight minutes and hosts almost a hundred roles. These can fill a member’s thirst for the game while the large, forty player games fill, trudge along, or finish up.
So why is it so successful? Is there some trick to getting addicted? Many members that frequent the area have played almost a dozen games and aren’t tired of it yet. The secret lies in the joy they find from the chaos and thrills, as well as the friendships.
“I love the UG simply because it’s fun. It’s lighter than an RP but it’s also intrigue and social and a game all in one,” says Melody, a frequenter of the area. Outside of the games, members can relax and discuss in light detail what’s happening through the Underground Hangout, a DCC-like thread in the area, or in the official Skype group of the area, where almost sixty members spend time getting to know each other and bond over shared interests.
Davepetasprite^2 (better known as Gunner), one of the area’s oldest members, echoes Melody’s sentiment, “It’s not much about the killing and the salt levels rising, but I like how we are sworn enemies in a game, but then outside, we are like the best family ever. The most fun I’ve had on the forum is because of the UG. The people there are very friendly, and we have our own memes in the chat, and the salt getting rubbed on each game… It is NOTHING like other forums or areas. ”
The closest thing to the Underground is the Roleplay Theatre, which shares many members with the Underground and has even spawned memes and storylines between the two forums. Blarzigord, a benevolent alien monster created by member Arsenic, began spawning a cult of followers in the Roleplay Theatre around last year’s April Fools. It later turned into a successful Mafia game hosted by gimmepie and Foxrally with a sequel having wrapped up in October 2015. Besides Blarzigord, other original storylines have developed into some of the most popular series in the Underground, including the Faeries series hosted by Nakuzami and the Supporters series hosted by Gunner, each which have boasted record signup numbers in the thirties and forties.
One of the most active games from the area and one often talked about is a fan-series about A Song of Ice and Fire, which pitted five teams against each other in a battle for the series’ Iron Throne, resulting in some calamitous storytelling and betrayals, with a sequel out in February 2016. Nakuzami, who played the role of Brienne in the game, recalls “when I became head of the Starks and got my faction pretty darn close to winning. I was sabotaged by Bard from the grave,” as her favorite moment in the game.
Ullion, another frequenter of the area, also enjoyed the A Song of Ice and Fire series, his first time playing a mafia game. “It was my first game, and had a unique spin to it, and it was so scary and intense, but I love it when games do that. My favorite moment would probably be when I turned a bandwagon around from a potential teammate being lynched to one of the bad guys getting lynched instead.”
Nakuzami, who is another of the eldest members of the area and host of the popular Faeries series, gave some insight into the experience of being part of the Underground: “It’s a place focused around one really cool game that promotes interaction between the players and serves as a creative outlet and a way to challenge the mind. The only other place that stimulates as much interactivity is the Roleplay Theater. It’s also neat having a regular group of users that you can see around the UG all the time and actually get to recognize and know.”
So what makes the Underground special? Its members. Its creativity. And its outlet to murder fellow members and call it “just a game”.
If you’ve not had time to check out the Underground, but you’re looking for creative, intellectually-challenging, and fun forum activities, as well as a strong community and group of friends, then come check us out. We don’t bite (much) and we’re always happy to see new faces.
[See] you there!
Cover image courtesy of The Pokémon Company.