I went to Gen Con last week, and while I was there I had one or two conversations with Ted Alspach — the man behind Ultimate Werewolf. I’ve seen most of the various published versions of the Werewolf game, and his Ultimate set really sets the standard for versatility and usability.
We discussed a few things, and I got a few interesting bits of information from him that I thought worth sharing. The biggest to me was that I asked him about the Dracula character and how he uses it. I’ve never really used it, but I played in a game where it was used, and it was one of the most remarkable games I’ve ever played. Everyone was incredibly paranoid about Dracula’s brides — so much so that toward the end of the game the one remaining werewolf actually outed himself so that he could work openly with the Villagers to get Dracula!
Ted actually cleared up something I’d misunderstood about using Dracula, and that is that the brides know they are brides. Ted was surprised at my story of the cooperative werewolf, but he said that having the brides know who they are — but not how many others there are — means that they will sometimes declare themselves brides and nominate themselves for lynching in order to prevent a Dracula win. They really don’t want to die, but at the same time they don’t want the village to lose, so sometimes a player will sacrifice himself. It creates an unusual dynamic at any rate, and I definitely think I’ll start using this character more often.
Another topic was the Ghost. I’ve tried this character a few times, and quickly decided that it was far too powerful — so powerful that it was a game-breaker. Seems Ted and I came up with very different but effective solutions. What I did was create a new character called the Medium. So now the Ghost doesn’t communicate with the entire village, he simply communicates with the Medium. This makes the Medium more on par with the Seer — a Villager who knows things, but like the Seer usually can’t come right out and declare it.
Ted’s approach was different. At the end of the first night the ghost writes down a word for the moderator, and then the moderator reveals the word one letter at a time each morning. The difference is that originally the Ghost got to choose a letter each morning, and as Ted explained, that can lead to massive meta-gaming as the players give the Ghost detailed instructions as to what letter to say — basically creating an ad hoc code for the Ghost to use that will reveal far more than the character was intended for. By having the Ghost supply a word to be revealed over several nights, it limits the Villagers’ ability to use the Ghost this way.
I like my solution a bit more, actually, as it allows the Ghost character a bit more interaction and decision making over time; but Ted certainly solved the problem. But I definitely have to try his way of playing Dracula.
This was the second time I’ve met Ted, and I recommend talking to him if you’re at an event he’s attending. He’s especially happy to see you if you present a Kickstarter box for him to sign. 😉