So I’m into Welcome to Night Vale right now, like most of the Internet, and, like most of the Internet, I’m going as Cecil Baldwin for Halloween. Shut up, it’s a thing. And what better way to supplement a costume no one will understand than with a fan script for leading a party game in the persona of the costume no one will understand? I KNOW. But the Internet understands me, so now, Internet, I share it with you. Just in time for Halloween.
It’s still un-playtested, so I have no idea how this will work, but it should function a lot like Mafia or Werewolf: i.e. more fun with more people. If you play this, I want to hear about it! And if you modify the script or have suggestions about the rules, drop a comment so that everyone can see. We want to see. We all want to see.
The producers of Night Vale are cool with noncommercial fan projects. They invest a lot of time and money in producing a free podcast, so if you enjoyed this, maybe shoot them a couple bucks as thanks for giving us such a great sandbox.
Do not read this if you’re going to the same Halloween party I am. I mean it. (Maybe try to catch an episode, though?)
Fan Episode: “The Imposter”
hosted by someone claiming to be Cecil Baldwin
A modified game of Mafia/Werewolf
THIS IS YOUR LAST SPOILER WARNING.
The script begins: now.
SEGMENT ONE: INTRODUCTION
We have nothing to fear but fear, it, and self. Welcome to the Halloween party.
The sheriff’s secret police report that they have identified an imposter at your Halloween party. The imposter, who arrived in a car just like everyone else and who is probably pretending to be surprised at the contents of this broadcast, has undoubtedly chosen someone “easy to impersonate,” with handful of distinctive mannerisms and a physical form within the range of variation for Homo sapiens. The imposter is someone you know well, maybe even love, and if you look into their eyes, you will see their personality and individuality just as you always have. But they are not who they seem.
The report cautions that unless stopped, this imposter, who scientists believe is made of a colony of distinct entities capable of collaborating to replicate any shape and persona, will spread throughout the party until everyone is consumed. And that will really put a damper on the evening, you know? Everyone just wanted to dress up in something fun and maybe eat some thematically-appropriate snack food. Leaving the party as an abominable perversion of the person you came as would really be a disappointing way to end the evening.
The sheriff’s secret police remind you that, as always, vigilante justice is highly encouraged, and anyone who sneaks off right now and murders a suspected imposter will be awarded with a one-week reprieve from traffic laws. The sheriff tells me that an imposter can be overpowered by two or more people, but a human being can probably be killed by just one person, because human beings “die easy” and “will probably not see it coming”–unless they are also trying to kill you, in which case, he says, “it would be a wash”.
You know what to do, listeners. Test your neighbors for knowledge only they could have. Suspect everyone, and band together to murder all suspects. This may be your only chance.
We go now to a word from our sponsor.
[Five minutes of whale song]
SEGMENT TWO: AFTER THE FIRST VOTE
In light of the imposter at your Halloween party, the Night Vale School District PTA has announced a new fundraiser. They are selling badges that say “DEFINITELY HUMAN.” The purchase of a badge will help buy art supplies, fund field trips, and give pause to the screaming mob trying to set you on fire. To purchase one of these charming accessories to support our schools and assert your humanity, dream about it, and you will find one under your pillow in the morning.
[If the angel host is still alive] Old woman Josie, out by the car lot, reports that the angels are on the move. She says they told her they were headed out to whisper truths into the ears of certain residents, and also check out that new hardware store on Third Street, as they heard it was pretty nice. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s secret police have issued a statement reminding residents that information obtained from angels is not to be trusted, because angels do not exist.
More on the imposter at your Halloween party:
[If no one was killed] To everyone’s surprise, over the break there were no cases of vigilante justice. On one hand, congratulations! We have all overcome our baser instincts and survived until now. On the other hand: the imposter is still among us, and has almost definitely converted another innocent person into an imposter like themselves.
[If anyone was killed] I asked Carlos what he knew about the status of the imposter at your Halloween party. Carlos, you will recall, is the scientist who came to our town a little over one year ago, and is perfect in every way. Carlos said it was too soon to know for sure whether the imposter at your Halloween party is still alive. I asked whether there was an imposter at his Halloween party, and he said he had stayed home for the evening, because he had some important work to do in his lab. I said that I wasn’t at a party either, because I had to work at the radio station, and then he said he knew, because he had heard me on the radio. And then I felt dumb. But the thought of Carlos, safe in his lab from Halloween party imposters, listening to my voice on the radio, will carry me through tonight no matter how much assassination takes place outside.
I’ve just been handed a note by Intern Jeffrey. [Partygoer] has been found dead under the snack table, the clear victim of vigilante justice. I sure hope [Partygoer] was, in fact, the imposter at your Halloween party. Then you would be able to spend the next three to five minutes eating chips and dip and not murdering anybody! On the other hand…we cannot be sure, can we?
Look into the eyes of the person beside you. Are those the same eyes you looked into just ten minutes ago? Do you recognize their personality and individuality? Can you be sure? Be very sure. Gather your allies. Make your choice. [Consider the word of the angels.] In the meantime, we have a public service announcement from Big Rico’s Pizza.
[Five minutes of the sound of breaking glass]
SEGMENT THREE: AFTER THE SECOND VOTE
You are walking along the center yellow line of a long desert road. The day is bright, but you see no sun. You hear screaming. Is it coming from ahead of you? From behind? You continue to walk forward although you cannot tell whether you are approaching the screaming, or abandoning it. The day is bright, but you feel cold. Your feet propel you on their own: one in front of the other, left in front of right. The screaming changes pitch. Do you recognize that voice? Is it your own? The day is bright, and the road stretches farther than you can see, and you do not know where you are coming from, and you cannot imagine where you are going. You know only walking, and screaming, and a bright day on a long desert road. This has been traffic.
Oh, listeners, I am hearing reports of the imposter at your Halloween party, and they are dire.
[If no deaths on purpose] No one was murdered over the break. Not one person was murdered in an act of vigilantism inspired by paranoia. Listeners, I am beginning to wonder if we have forgotten who we really are and what we stand for. Who are we to meet a rumor about unknowable beings with an unthinkable agenda with pacifism and reason? I am proud of the town I call home, but today, I am ashamed. Only one thing can redeem our town’s good name and save us all from the imposter at your Halloween party:
[If no deaths because they all failed] Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, there have been no [further] deaths. Has the imposter at your Halloween party–or by now, imposters?–become too powerful to defeat? Or have we merely been making stabs in the dark at one another, meeting our equals in desperate struggle, and retreating, wounded, but alive? Has this all been an errand of madness from the start? Ladies and gentlemen, I do not like to advocate for violence, but:
[If deaths] (Player/s) has been murdered by an unidentified mob of (number). I sent Intern Jeffrey to investigate, and he described the scene as “unthinkable” and “I quit.” Oh. Excuse me. That last part appears to be a personal note. Station Management won’t like to hear that. In fact, I can already hear them thrashing around in their office. They sound wet and somehow larger than usual, and the air is filling with a hum, like wasps trapped in a metal can. So I’m sure we’ll be seeing Intern Jeffrey back at work in no time!
Meanwhile, the Faceless Old Woman who lives in your home has placed a call to us here at the station. I’m not sure how, since she doesn’t have a mouth, but she says she is pretty sure that at least one of the surviving guests are no longer your friends and family, but have been replaced by colonies of imposters exactly like the people you think they are. She says she herself is not an imposter, and that you can tell because imposters have faces. Listeners, I do not like to advocate for violence, but:
Kill your friends. Kill your loved ones. Kill so that you may draw another breath and wake to another sunrise. Kill for those who depend on you, kill for your parents and your children, trust no one, and while you make this last futile attempt to save yourselves, I take you now to: the weather.
SEGMENT FOUR: FINAL RESULTS
[If there are no imposters] Listeners, I had a call from Carlos over the break. [Carlos, you will recall, is the scientist who came to our town a little over one year ago, and is perfect in every way.] Speaking in a voice that would charm birds from the sky, he told me that he has run several tests, and assures me that there is no longer an imposter at your Halloween party. I was speaking metaphorically, of course: no one’s voice can charm birds from the sky, since the city council installed towers projecting a constant sub-audial radio frequency at gliding height. Charming birds from the sky must never happen again.
[If some imposters, some survivors] Carlos and his team of scientists sent me a report over the break. [Carlos, you will recall, is the scientist who came to our town a little over one year ago, and is perfect in every way.] The report says that the imposters have stopped propagating, and that everyone who is human right now will almost definitely still be human in the morning. Even better, the scientists have developed a method of telling imposters from human beings: it seems the stones gathered in Radon Canyon emit a different frequency of light in the presence of either form. Unfortunately, because the scientists never took measurements before the epidemic started, they have no idea which is which. Readings indicate that your Halloween party contains either (x) imposters and (y) human beings, or the other way around. [Or, if same number: (x) imposters and (x) human beings, and nobody knows who.] Congratulations on your survival to everyone.
[If everyone is an imposter] I’ve just received a press release from the city council. They report that all is well. Your Halloween party is definitely not a gathering of imposters drinking punch and eating spider-shaped cookies while the corpses of your loved ones cool in puddles of blood at your feet. We are all living, breathing human beings and that’s great. The city council has issued a statement saying that they are very proud of you and they look forward to leading this Halloween party, and all other Halloween parties, in an exciting new direction as soon as the metamorphosis is complete.
[If anyone was killed] In a completely unrelated news item handed to me by someone claiming to be Intern Jeffrey, the following party-goers have been murdered: [names]. I’m sure they were imposters and that everything worked out fine.
To live is to grow, and to grow is to evolve. We greet old friends we have not seen in months or years, though much about them has changed. We embrace our loved ones who have changed their hair, or organs, or added cybernetic enhancements they purchased from cloaked figures under street lamps, which once attached leave them feeling so powerful, yet so different. We do this because we recognize something permanent. Perhaps the personality and individuality in their eyes. Perhaps this is only a courtesy we extend, because we fear that some day those loved ones may look at us and see someone too strange to know.
We have all made decisions tonight, and tomorrow we will look on one another and say, “I know you.” And we will act as if we all spoke the truth. And our small community will thrive. But until tomorrow, as we think on what we have done and what we may yet do:
Goodnight, Halloween party. Good night.
A few rules and notes:
This is similar to Mafia, except everyone is able to act as a Vigilante, the mafia replicates instead of killing, and the ballots are secret.
Suggested starting condition:
1 imposter (Mafia role) – 2 if in a group of 7+
1 person watched by an angel (Sheriff role)
Everyone else townsfolk (Vigilante role)
One person can overpower another human.
Two people can overpower an imposter.
An angel can overpower a human but not an imposter, but will only do so if the person doesn’t try to kill anyone.
Note that gameplay continues whether the imposter is killed or not. Because paranoia!
Do not show your role to anyone. Our most valuable ability as an almost entirely non-telepathic species is the ability to lie.
If the angel host happens to die or be transformed: the angels release a statement that consists of a wordless hymn and a pulsing wave of light that sounded like springtime and felt like love.
Remember that the rule of radio is when you think you’re speaking too slowly, you’re almost slow enough.
These are for handing out at the beginning, to clarify people’s roles, and to serve as a secret ballot.
You are the imposter.
At each vote, write the name of the person you wish to convert to an imposter like yourself. The conversion takes place before any attempted murders, but if this person is attacked by two or more players, they will still die.
You are being watched by an angel.
At each vote, write the name of the person you plan to attempt to overpower and murder. If you do NOT attempt to murder anyone, and if you are not turned into an imposter yourself, write the name of someone you suspect of being an imposter, and the angels will whisper the answer into your ear. (Be sure to note whether you’re killing or accusing them.) The angel will protect you from an attack by a human acting alone, but cannot protect you from the imposter or people working together.
You are a living, breathing human being.
By the end of the game, you will probably not be.
At each vote, write the name of the person you plan to attempt to overpower and murder.