Danganronpa TRPG 1.23

Hey folks. I’m VARG, the ‘Ultimate Game Master.’ I wanted to tell y'all about my alpha (beta?) design for a DR-based RPG akin to tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons. It’s still not completely play tested yet and a lot of systems and mechanics will probably be changed before a true version is done. Here’s a beta version. We’ve run it many times now with great results.

We also have a new Discord server for discussion of the rules and game arrangement:     https://discord.gg/xqrhXd3

Danganronpa: The Tabletop RPG v 1.23

Rule of Fun: 

These rules are in early beta. The most important thing about any game is that it’s fun. If at any point, you feel these rules are constraining your imagination, or you’ve come up with a situation that these rules don’t govern, feel free to make changes liberally as you see fit.

Players:

It would take 8 players (2 Ultimates each) and a GM to play, but you could also play it with 15, 16 or 7 players depending on how many characters each player wants to have, and if the GM is cool with playing a character in addition to running the game.

7 players + 1 GM = 2 Characters per player and 2 Characters for GM

8 players + 1 GM = 2 Characters per player and no Characters for GM

15 players +1 GM = 1 Character per player and 1 Character for GM

16 Players + 1 GM = 1 Character per player and none for the GM

Mechanics/Materials: (Probably the roughest part of the game rn)

The game is played using character sheets and 6-sided dice (d6 for people familiar with RPGs.) Each character has 4 stats: Investigation, Strength, Dexterity, and Charisma. Every character begins with 3 in each stat and puts more into the stats they want to focus on during Character Creation. When you perform tasks related to those stats, you use a number of d6's equal to that stat. When you roll a d6, you count up the number of dice you rolled a 4 or higher on as 'successes' and dice showing 3 or lower as 'failures.'

In simpler terms, you roll a number of 6-sided dice equal to the number you have in a corresponding stat, with modifiers from traits or GM’s discretion. The number of dice that show a 4, 5, or 6 are successes.

The game also uses index cards. Some index cards should be marked for Truth Bullets. These cards should be made up in advance to the GM’s liking and divided by the locations in which they exist in the setting. Do not show the players these cards; only hand them out when they ‘discover’ them. Be ready to make new evidence for each new location, and keep in mind what kind of evidence each murder will leave behind. Another way to approach Truth Bullets is to make them on a spreadsheet program and print them out and cut them with scissors so they are shaped like index cards.

When a player takes an action, the GM decides whether or not the dice should be rolled (see below.)

When to Roll the Dice:

The GM should have the players roll the dice whenever they try to do something that is troublesome or difficult to do. Assume the characters are competent enough to do basic tasks without much effort, and only call for rolls when they try to do something unusual.

Good Roll: Jim is trying to forge a note to lure Julia to the gym by posing as one of Julia's friends. The GM should have Jim roll Investigation to see if it's a convincing forgery.

Bad Roll: Jim is trying to walk down the stairs to the dining hall to have lunch. The GM should not have Jim roll Dexterity to see if he falls and breaks his leg.

Calculating Success/Failure:

There are 3 ways that 'success' can be judged regarding the outcome of a dice roll. The DM chooses when the action is announced what type of roll will be used.

Absolute Roll:

If a roll is Absolute, that means that it either succeeds or fails, with no in-between. When a player tells the GM they want to do an action that the GM thinks should be an Absolute roll, the GM tells the player in advance how many successes they will need to succeed. After the dice are cast, the GM announces what takes place based on the number of successes rolled. This roll can be used for an action against another player if the other player does not resist.

Example: Julia wants to break down a locked door. She has a Strength stat of 3 and the GM says she’ll need 2 successes to break the door down. She rolls a 2, a 5 and a 6. Yes! The door comes crashing down as Julia slams her shoulder into it.

Graduated Roll:

A graduated roll means there's some variance of success that can occur. In this case, the GM tells the player that the number of successes will correspond to how well the action will go. Then after the dice are cast, the GM explains how well the action went, and which parts of the player's plan succeeded or failed. This roll can be used for an action against another player if the other player does not resist.

Example: Jim wants to forge a note to lure Julia to the gym by pretending to be her friend. The GM says that this will be a graduated roll and that Jim will have to use his Investigation. He has an Investigation of 3, and rolls a 6, a 6, and a 1. The GM explains that the note will fool Julia, but that in the Class Trial, it will easily be proven a fake!

VS Roll:

This roll is only used when a character is trying to perform an action on another player, and the other player chooses to resist. In this test, one character is attempting to overcome the other in some way, be it physically or socially. In this test, both players explain what specific action they are attempting to do to the other, and the GM tells them which stat will be tested accordingly. The two players then roll their assigned stats and whoever rolls more successes gets their desired outcome. Ties always go to the ‘defending’ player.

Example: Julia is trying to kill Jim by holding him underwater. Jim resists, obviously wanting to survive. Julia says that she’s using her strength to hold him down, and Jim says he’s using his strength to push back up on her. The two players will both roll their Strength stats and whoever rolls more successful dice will overpower the other. 

Modifiers: Whenever a player makes a roll, they can + or – dice. Getting +1d means they get an extra die to roll, and -2d means they have 2 less, etc. Their traits may modify their rolls, or their circumstances may modify them. Circumstantial +/-’s are announced by the GM and should be given only in situations where a character has a clear advantage/disadvantage.

Example: Julia is attempting to strike Jim with a piece of plywood, and he’s trying to escape by running out into the hall. Julia is going to roll Strength vs Jim’s Dexterity to throw the weapon at Jim as he runs. However, Julia already struck Jim once in the ankle, and he is injured. As a result the GM should decide to give Jim -1 or -2 dice to his Dexterity roll based on how bad the injury is. 

Brief Synopsis of Stats:

Investigation:

Your Investigation determines how much evidence you can collect from crime scenes. Investigation is also the skill you can use to scout new areas of the school, or for intellectually-based tasks (decoding a message, assembling a complex trap, operating computers/machinery.) In other words, it’s a sort of combination of ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Wisdom’ if you’re familiar with games like D&D.

Strength:

Your Strength determines how much damage you can do with your body or with tools. You roll it to see how much damage you do if you attack someone, or if you can move something heavy. Also, your Strength is equal to the amount of total damage you can take before you die. It’s effectively a fusion of ‘Strength’ and ‘Constitution’ from games like D&D.

Dexterity:

Your Dexterity determines how fast you can run, how well you can dodge or perform acrobatic maneuvers, and doing stealthy things such as sneaking around or tasks that require manual dexterity, such as picking locks.

Charisma:

Your Charisma determines how good you are at making friends with others, and convincing them to trust you. It's also used to form rivalries with other students.

Character Creation:

At the beginning of the game, each player designs their Ultimate/Ultimates. If you're playing with 15-16 players, each player gets 1 character. If 7-8 players are present, everyone makes 2. In all the video games there's a 50% male to female ratio, but you can change this if you want. I'd recommend each player make one male and one female character if you're playing 7-8 players, but you can divy it up however it works for you. The following are the stages of Character Creation:

Talent:

Make up a talent for your SHSL/Ultimate Student. You can play with no repeats, or get creative. I'd also recommend no one have a talent that's specifically designed for murdering other people, but you can run it however you want. I think it's easiest to start with this part. This will affect your stats later on, so it's an important choice.

Personality:

The next step is the most important part;  it’s designing the characters’ personality. Lots of RPGs like to give tips for making interesting characters, but I think the most important part of a character in the context of DR is finding a unique personality that you feel comfortable role-playing. Most characters don't know their backstories or home lives before the killing game begins, so it's important not to spend too much time on that kind of thing up front. Your personality also affects your stats, so it's important to pick something that's both interesting and unique. Mainly, focus on a unique personality so people can always tell when you’re role-playing. A unique voice and good body language are the workhorses that make RPG characters come to life. Don’t forget that as you’re playing. Also make sure that your character is not too similar to anyone else’s at the table. Discuss it with the other players and the GM to ensure as many different and cool characters are present as possible.

 

Appearance/Name: 

Now that you have your character's basic design down, it's time for the fun part. You can name your character whatever you want and design them however you like. I think a great way to do that is to make a nametag (an index card folded in half so it tents up) with your character's name and a little picture of them. I think busts from the shoulders up are probably the best way to represent your character. You can use the back side for your other character too, if you have one. If you can't draw, you can use symbols or signs to represent your character.

Stats: 

This is the mechanically intensive part. For each of the 4 stats (Investigation, Strength, Dexterity, Charisma) each character starts with 3 points. You have 5 points to spend on any stat you like, each point increasing the stat by 1. No stat can go above 5 during this stage. Design your character's stats how you like. You can also spend these points on Edges (see below.) The next stage is where your talent/personality really come in.

Edges:

While building your character, you can expend 1 spendable stat point to get an Edge for your character. Edges are small talents/abilities your character has outside their Ultimate ability. For example, lockpicking or contortionism would be potentially useful Edges you could buy in character creation. If you buy an Edge, be sure to clear it with the DM, and do not reveal it to the other players until it becomes relevant in the story.

Traits: 

This is probably the most creative part. You now have the chance to design 2 unique traits for your characters: one based on their talent, and one based on their personality. These traits will give you bonus dice when performing specific actions or increases to certain stats. Some balanced traits could be: +1 to one stat and -1 to another, +1 when performing a general action (+1d when making friends) or +2d for very specific actions (+2d when examining the body.) The point of the traits are to highlight your character's unique identity and make them a valuable (or at least interesting) addition to the group. It's also a good idea to name them something clever, just so you don't forget them. The GM has the final word as to whether or not a trait is ‘balanced’ and can be used in their game.

Preparing Free Time Events: (FTE’s)

Disclaimer: This is completely optional, it’s a suggestion to make FTE’s mimic the structure of the games, and also to make sure your character gets a chance to explore their backstory.

The current way I’m running character interactions is to divide your characters’ back stories into different pieces to be used in the FTE’s during a social round. I am experimentally running the FTE’s as follows:

  1. Generic conversation to flesh out the basic idiosyncrasies of the character

  2. Interesting fact about your character that’s surprising

  3. Basic rundown of backstory/acquisition of talent

  4. Deep secret/personal confession

  5. Statement of love/commitment to friendship (max)

This method makes sure that each character’s backstory can be utilized and shared with the other players. It also makes sure that there’s never really ‘wasted’ FTE’s where nothing new is learned/characters don’t grow. I would recommend all players prepare these 3 details in advance so that when the time comes, they can relate their backstory without having to stop and think about it.

Goals:

This is best done at the end of your Session 0 or character planning time. Set up an overarching goal that you want your character to strive towards as the game goes on. Good goals are things that might take a large part of the whole game to achieve and also have concrete end conditions. (Stop a killer’s plan is a good goal, because the character can work towards it over the whole game, hiding weapons or scouting at night. Survive is a bad goal, because it’s already an obvious shared goal for every player, and it cannot be actively worked towards. Explore the kitchen is a bad goal because it can be achieved in a single action. Become Jim’s best friend is a good goal because it requires a consistent effort.) Players should be awarded a Despair at the end of each session for working towards their goal, and a Hope for achieving it. By completing a goal, they also have the ability to pick a new goal. Goals can switch over the course of the game at the player’s discretion, but by abandoning a goal, they cannot earn hope from achieving it later on in the game.

Drives:

In addition to a Goal, each character has a Drive that can earn them Despair or Hope.  A Drive constitutes a statement about how your character tends to act in certain situations. A Drive is written as a single conditional statement that begins with a word such as ‘If/When/Whenever/Always/Never.’ It should be designed to delineate an essential facet of your character’s personality or behavior by indicating how they tend to act in certain situations. At the end of each session, if your character acted in accordance with their Drive and gets into trouble as a result, they earn 1 Despair. If they acted in accordance with their Drive, but it did not cause problems for them, they do not earn a Despair.  If the character has changed as a result of their experiences to the point where their Drive no longer applies, the character earns 1 Hope, and they get a new Drive.

And that's your character! It's usually a good idea to prepare a voice/body language for your character before you start role-playing in the game. This way, they stand out and make an impression on the other players.

Hope Vs Despair:

Hope and Despair are abstractly represented by Hope and Despair counters. Note that these counters do not represent anything about the character’s personality or mental state, but act as a sort of currency your character earns by learning, growing, losing friends and changing the game state. They are accumulated throughout the game by working towards and achieving their Goals, and by getting into trouble by following their Drive or developing enough to change them. They can be spent to influence the results of a dice roll. 

If your game has each player playing 2 characters, and one of your character dies, transfer the remaining Hope and Despair from the deceased character to the surviving one.

How to Acquire:

At end of session GM should with the players count the following things for each character:

-If a character worked towards their goal: +1 Despair

-If a character’s Drive got them in trouble: +1 Despair (feel free to add extra if it happened more than once)

-If a character changed so much that their Drive needs to be rewritten: +1 Hope

-If a character achieved their goal: +1 Hope and have them write a new goal

Spending Hope and Despair:

1 Despair = reroll all 6’s + add new successes after a roll

2 Despair = +1D to your roll (before or after the dice are rolled)

1 Hope = reroll all failed dice (after a roll)

2 Hope = +1 to any stat permanently (at any time)

Mastermind/Traitors:

After all the characters are completed, the GM should assign one (or more) students to be the Mastermind/Traitors. The mastermind cannot be targeted as a murder target, and any plans against them should not be considered. Fit this into your overarching plot however you want.

OPTIONAL – Ultimate Labs:

If you want to give each character an Ultimate Talent Development Lab follow these instructions. After Character Creation, ask each player to privately submit a list of 3 things that they want to be in each of their character’s labs. As the GM, it’s your job to veto any potentially game-breaking items. Make Truth Bullet cards for each of the items and place them in a stack for their lab. After you approve their 3 items, come up with 2 more surprise items to put in the stack too. I personally like to count a locking door as a separate item, just so that that’s not assumed to be the case from the beginning. Then, as the game progresses and the setting opens up, reveal new labs as you like so your players have more unique items at their disposal.

Playing the Game:

The game is divided into the following sections: Daily Life, Nighttime, Deadly Life, and Class Trial. Just like in the game, Daily Life consists of exploring the school, talking to other students and ends with the revelation of a new motive. Nighttime is when murders occur, and when students can meet to have secret meetings. Deadly Life begins with the discovery of a murder scene, and continues until the investigation is complete. Finally, the Class Trial is where the players work together to discover who the killer is. Game sessions will begin with Deadly Life, then the Class Trial, and end with the Daily Life period. Nighttime is the only session that does not occur while seated around the gaming table with the other players. Rather, Nighttime occurs between sessions via private communications with the GM and other players.

Daily Life:

Daily Life is the time during the day when students can hang out, explore and make new friends. Free discussion is encouraged during this phase, but to actually ‘make friends’ the character must choose the ‘Socialize’ action as described below. In Daily Life, each character (not each player, each character) gets one chance to take one of the following actions.

Explore:

If a player chooses to explore, they first must select an area of the school to search. Then the player makes a Graduated Roll of their Investigation. The character then receive a number of Truth Bullet cards from the location they searched equal to the number of successes they rolled. They should keep these cards face down, unless they wish to share them with another character. If 2 characters search the same area during the same Daily Life, any evidence they discover must be shared with the other person, unless the searching player resists. Then, the other player must roll Investigation VS whatever stat the searching player is using to hide their discovery. The Truth Bullets you find are essential to both committing and solving murders, so Exploring the setting is extremely important.

If your setting has Ultimate Labs, each character is allowed to search their own lab for free (explore there without spending their action) during Daily Life and discover all the Truth Bullets inside.

Socialize:

For the Socialize action, the character who wants to Socialize picks a person or multiple people to try and make friends or make enemies with. The character they target can either agree to be their friend/enemy, or resist it. If they accept, both players briefly act out their characters advancing their friendship/rivalry. If the other player resists, the characters roll VS a Charisma test. The instigating player loses 1D for each person beyond the first they are trying to form a relationship with beyond the first. These conversations should be held in public. There are effectively no ‘private conversations’ during daytime. In other words, a few characters can hang out by themselves, but everyone at the table will hear what they’re saying. If a few characters are speaking in private, the contents of their conversation are disseminated to the rest of the characters via eavesdropping and hearsay in the fiction. This is a time primarily for making friends/enemies, not scheming to overcome the mastermind or making secret alliances. Private meetings may be arranged at Nighttime, and are detailed in that section.

Example: Julia invites Jim and Sandra to hang out so she can make friends with them. Everyone at the table will hear what they’re about to discuss. Sandra agrees to come, and consents to be friends with Julia, so they achieve Level 1 Friendship. Jim refuses to come, so he rolls Dexterity vs Julia’s Charisma. Julia gets a -1d penalty because she already attempted to make a new friend with Sandra (even though she succeeded.) Jim rolls a 5, a 4, and a 4, and Julia rolls a 3, a 4, and a 1. Looks like Jim’s made himself absent….

Before each Free Time Event, players should determine how many social events they’ve had with their socialization partner(s). Making reference to their prepared backstory FTE’s, they should attempt to incorporate their backstories into the FTE’s they are conducting. This way, everyone gets to hear and talk about their cool backstories they wrote.

Recover: 

If your character is injured and has taken damage, they can spend the day in bed to recover all their missing health and stats. See more about taking damage in ‘Mechanics of Murder’ below.

After each character has had a chance to perform their action, it’s time for the GM to announce the motive to everyone. The GM should instruct all the characters to meet in one location, before announcing the new motive so that everyone hears it. This is the last action before the gaming session ends, so make it dramatic. 

Relationships: (trying to find an appropriate place to put this section)

Characters in the game may become friends or enemies as the game goes on. The scale of friendship-rivalry goes as follows: -5(Nemesis) -> 0(Neutral) -> 5(Best Friends/Lovers.) Players start at 0 with all other characters. (This will probably be made into a graphic at some point.) If a character chooses to take the Socialize action during Daily Life, they can declare that they want to make another character(s) their friend or enemy. If the other player consents, both players role play their characters coming to their new relationship, then they each move their Relationship tracker one level in the corresponding direction to the interaction.

For every 2 levels of friendship you have with another character, you get +1d when performing an action that seems like it’s in their best interest. You also get -1d for each level when trying to perform an action that would seem to hurt that person.

Likewise, for every 2 levels of animosity between you and another character, you get -1d when performing actions that seem to benefit that character, and get +1d on actions that seem harmful.

Friend/Enemy Level

Dice Modifier

0

+0

1/-1

+0

2/-2

+1

3/-3

+1

4/-4

+2

5/-5

+2

If these definitions sound vague, they are. They’re supposed to create interesting situations where enemies can help each other out in unusual and circumspect ways, and best friends can kill each other in indirect, crazy ways. Use your discretion as players and DM to decide when these bonuses should be applied.

Additionally, when you reach 5 friendship with another character, you get two benefits. First, at night time, you can briefly meet and confer with your ally. Consider it a mini-free time that can be used to coordinate plans.

The other benefit is a character specific perk based on the person you are befriending. The GM will create and assign a new trait to your character based on your friend’s personality/talent.

Nighttime:

As previously stated, Nighttime does not take place at the table, but through private communications. The GM begins nighttime by announcing that anyone with a murder plan should contact them. The GM should ask that anyone providing a plan go into explicit detail about every step of their plot to aid in the next step. Specifically, they should ask the killer to present the list of Truth Bullet cards they have that they will use to commit the crime. This is why it’s important to gather Truth Bullets during the Daily Life segment.

Tips for Killers:

The 3 elements of solving a murder are to identify the motive, the opportunity, and the evidence. Effective this means, the why, the when/where and the how.  Additionally, the GM should be flexible about allowing prospective killers to have some limited number of external items (experimenting with 3) if they would be easily obtainable or in a common area. To create a great murder plan, try to find ways to obscure these 3 aspects.

-Hiding motive can be as simple as lying about your motive or how you connect to the provided motive. It might be easier to kill someone you’ve built up layers of animosity with, but it will also make you more suspicious. You can also abuse someone else’s animosity by killing their enemy and laying the evidence to point to them.

-Hiding the opportunity is all in the alibi. Frame the case so that you couldn’t possibly have been at the scene of the crime. Or, create a situation in which so many people were present at the crime scene that any of them could have done it. Hiding the true crime scene is also an option for daring killers. An even more daring option is to knock out a second character and leave them at the crime scene as easy suspect bait.

-Finally, hiding the means is probably the most complicated step. It’s important to get rid of any evidence that could implicate you in the crime. Make it unclear how the crime was committed, or make it general so that anyone could have done it.

After hearing all of the murder plots, the GM has the responsibility of choosing which character acts on their plot, and which murder will be set in motion. This is probably the most important call you’ll have to make as a GM, so consider the following before making a choice:

  1. Possible Eliminations: It’s kind of mean to have both of a player’s characters be killed off in the first and second chapters. Be kind to your players, and make sure that no one is playing too self-destructively.

  2. Feasibility: Is the plot well thought out? Do they have a backup plan? Do they have a fake alibi or other way of escaping suspicion? If it seems like your would-be culprit is likely to fail or get caught too easily, don’t pick that plan, or at the very least allow them time to revise it.

  3. Drama: Killing off the character who everyone loves/hates is sure to put some despair in everyone’s hearts! Picking murders that will cause drama in the Trial is a great idea to keep everyone on the edge of their seat.

Once the choice is made, build the rest of the Nighttime phase around their plot. Develop a schedule with your killer for where they’ll be at what time, and what phase of their plan they’ll be on. Then when other people make plans, you can inform the killer how other people are moving relative to them. Make sure the victim is also informed of what’s happening and they make any rolls to resist the plot. Make sure your killer makes all the rolls they would need to to carry out their plot before continuing any further. As the GM, it’s in your best interest to favor the killer during their plan. Remember: no murder means the game can’t proceed to its next phase.

However, if no one comes forward with a murder plan, the GM can advance to the main part of Nighttime, when everyone announces their plans. Make sure not to tell the players that there was no murder, and keep tension high. If the GM has a character, now might be the perfect opportunity to carry out one of their plots.

Mechanics of Murder:

Every character has a Health stat equal to their Strength. Health always equals Strength and vice versa, so as a player gets injured, they become worse at fighting off would-be attackers. Additionally, characters with low Strength are frail and will die from less damage. If you go below half Health, your Dexterity gets reduced by half until you recover. To kill someone, you must reduce their health to 0. Generally, this is done by attacking the other character with a weapon until they die.

Weapons:

As the GM, you must ask the player what tools they will use to commit the murder. When the killer tells you what mechanism they will use to kill their victim, you decide which stat they will use for the weapon. It will probably be Strength, but Dexterity is also applied to some weapons. After deciding the stat, determine how many +d they will get by wielding the weapon. +1d is a minor advantage, like using a breakable vase to attack someone. +2d is for most weapons, like baseball bats, ropes, small knives etc. +3d is for a weapon so dangerous it’s virtually guaranteed to kill in a single blow.

An important consequence of using a weapon is thinking about what kind of evidence it leaves behind when used. Most bladed weapons will create a large bloodstain around the victim and will almost definitely get all over the killer’s clothes. A blunt weapon might create a smaller bloodstain, but may take more time to kill, allowing the victim more chances to resist. A weapon like the vase described above might break on impact, leaving pottery shards all over the floor, on the victim’s clothes or hair, and even getting on the killer.

One-Hit-Kill Weapons:

Certain things in life are just fatal, no matter how you slice it. As the GM, you can opt to make certain weapons instant-kills if you want. The best way to set these OHKs up is to make the killer make a few rolls to set up the plan/trap correctly, with critical consequences if they fail their rolls. Good examples of OHKs are weapons like explosives, poisons, drowning or long falls. It’s important to strike a balance so that other weapons are also considered as viable alternatives. Confining OHK’s to specific locations is a way they could potentially be employed to balance them. Additionally, you might want to consider employing these methods as potential methods for rendering someone unconscious rather than dead.

Weapon Effects:

Certain weapons might have additional effects attached to them based on what type they are. For example, bladed weapons will cause their victims to bleed profusely, and bludgeoning weapons are more likely to break bones or joints. If you like, you can create ‘Status Conditions’ associated with certain weapons to make the game more interesting. ‘Bleeding’ can reduce the victims Health right before they try to make a roll. ‘Bludgeoning’ weapons can reduce Dexterity every time they strike. Feel free to use these how you see fit as a GM, and balance them to the kind of game you want to play.

Fighting Back:

Once the killer’s plan is set in stone, the GM should contact the would-be victim in private and explain what’s happening around/to them and ask for their actions/reactions. Allow the victim to resist where they feel appropriate, but remind them that their death is necessary to advance the game. If the would-be victim gets a note from a close friend inviting them to meet in the dining hall at night, why would they be suspicious of them? Don’t let your players get too crazy trying to prolong their character’s death. The GM is entitled to step in at any point and say ‘No more resisting, no more preparation.’ It is integral that killers succeed to keep the game going, and using meta-knowledge or genre tropes to try and stall things out can be detrimental for all the other players.

When calculating damage, if the attacker wins the VS roll, the victim takes damage equal to the number of successes the attacker rolled. If the defending player wins, they take damage equal to half of the number of successes the attacker rolled.

Example: Julia wants to kill Jim with a baseball bat over the head. She has 3 Strength and gest +2d from the bat. Jim resists by trying to dodge the bat. He has a 4 in Dexterity, and they roll VS. Julia gets a 5, a 5, a 1, a 4 and a 5. Jim gets a 4, a 4, a 4, and 2. Julia strikes Jim and does 4 damage, knocking Jim from 5 Health to 1, reducing his Strength to 1 and his Dexterity by half from 4 to 2. At this point, Julia needs to take another swing at him to reduce his Health to 0. If Jim wants to resist, he can, but it’s unlikely he can escape at this point.  

Evidence:

As a struggle goes on, keep track of potential evidence that will be created, and make new Truth Bullets corresponding to clues left as to how the murder was committed. Bloodstains, wounds, documents, maps and information can all make useful evidence. The most important thing when creating Evidence is to make sure that the crime is solvable. Anything that could be important should be considered for evidence. Also make sure your killer has a chance to do some damage control of their own before you make the cards. At this point, it’s time to ‘favor’ the other players. Make sure they have a generous portion of evidence and enough different types of clues to keep their discussion going so they can find the killer.

After the murder has been scheduled, you can fill in the other characters’ whereabouts. Inform the party that the killer’s schedule has been set, and ask each character to schedule their night. You can select randomly or determine some sort of order in secret. Do NOT reveal the order to the players. Any character that is not the killer or victim can take one action as listed below.

Explore:

This works just like the Explore action described in the Daily Life section. The exception is when a character chooses to visit a location that the killer is using for their murder. If a character chooses to visit a place they could potentially witness the murder from, they get a unique Truth Bullet related to the murder that they could have witnessed, in addition to whatever would normally be there. Do not reveal the killer’s identity directly to the witness. Good examples of Truth Bullets to give witnesses would be: missing items that were there earlier, or are obviously missing, overhearing an altercation between the killer and victim, and bloodstains or other distinct marks that the killer would cover up later in the chronology of the night.

Example: Sandra chooses to explore the third floor during Nighttime. Little does she know, Julia killed Jim with a knife in the classroom on that floor, but moved his body to Paula’s Ultimate lab. Julia’s plan involves her cleaning up the blood trail in the hallway between the two rooms, but when Sandra shows up, Julia has yet to hide the evidence completely. There are still marks of something being dragged on the floor, but they haven’t been cleaned away yet. Sandra has a 3 in Investigation, and rolls a 4, a 5 and a 1. She gets one normal Truth Bullet, and a unique one: the Trail between the Classroom and the Lab! However, when Jim’s body is discovered tomorrow, the markings are gone! Will the class believe Sandra? Or will she be more suspicious for not having an alibi at the time of the murder?

Scheme:

This action is similar to the Socialize action from Daily Life, but all conversation is private; only the involved characters and the GM can overhear what’s being said. A character choosing to Scheme may invite any number of characters to Scheme with. If they choose a character who has already chosen to Explore or Rest, the GM should inform the choosing player that they ‘already have plans’ and that they will need to choose someone else. When the choosing player has finalized their selection of other players to scheme with, they enter a private conversation, where no one else can hear them. This is the only time to have private conversations between characters. No levels of Relationship can be changed at this time.

Optional – Best Friends Conspiring:

To complement characters who have achieved 5(max) friendship, it has been suggested that pairs of characters with 5 friendship should be allowed a brief moment to conspire each evening. This should be restricted heavily to only a few lines of dialogue to establish plans and does not count as a night action. This rule is completely optional and can be employed at the GM’s discretion.

Rest: 

If a character chooses Rest, it means that they are going to bed early. They may choose one stat to increase by one for the duration of the following day. They may not participate in any other activities or be invited to Scheme if they choose this action.

Once everyone has chosen and performed their action, Nighttime ends, and the players will have to wait patiently to see who is left standing the following day at the next game session.

Deadly Life:

The Deadly Life phase only begins the morning after a murder has taken place. If no murder took place in the previous Night Time phase, jump ahead to Daily Life. Deadly Life includes the discovery of the body, and the investigation of the murder. It ends once all the relevant Truth Bullets have been discovered by the players.

Body Discovery:

Deadly Life begins with the players realizing that one of their characters is gone. By this point, the player whose character was a victim will already know. They should not speak in the voice of their dead character, or act like them. The players need to discover on their own that someone is missing, split up to search for them, and then finally find the body on their own. It might be good for the GM to organize daily meetings with everyone present or daily chores that are obvious if not completed. Either way, once the players realize who's missing, they can split up however they want to search for the body. When players finally find the body, inform them of the crime scene in brief detail, and sound the Body Discovery Alarm (tell all the players that the body has been discovered) once 3 or more people see the body at once. Make sure not to go into huge evidence-revealing detail about the crime scene. That part comes next.

Investigation:

Investigation begins by dividing the class in half. Half the students will search for evidence, while the other half talks about the murder and the circumstances surrounding it. Effectively, one half will end up with physical evidence, while the other will get testimonies. The players have to voluntarily divide their characters into these two groups. Then, each group has to investigate the murder.

When the GM is talking about the crime scene, they should be careful not to reveal too much as ‘public knowledge.’ The GM wants the Class Trial to be surprising and revelatory, so it’s important to keep the evidence hazy until an investigator searches for it. When a character discovers evidence, explain where in the room they looked, then hand them the Truth Bullet cards face-down. 

In terms of turn order, characters should take their turns so that they alternate between the two groups. This way the two halves of the investigation can occur concurrently, and the momentum of the investigation can be kept up.

Searching for Evidence:

The group searching for evidence must now decide which areas of the setting they are going to search. Only a maximum of 3 people can search one location. The first location that the characters should search is the crime scene, intuitively. Once all investigators are assigned to the crime scene, they perform their investigation. After they’re done, the rest of the investigators can disperse to other areas of the setting to search. Each character is only allowed to search for evidence once.

To investigate an area, a character describes what they want to investigate in the area, then roll Investigation. They get one Truth Bullet for each success they roll. The GM should prioritize giving out relevant Truth Bullets to the murder before giving out unrelated ones. Do not discuss the content of the Truth Bullets publicly. These are the tools the characters will use to make their dramatic arguments in the trial. Instead, hand them Truth Bullet cards face down corresponding to what they discovered. If the number of Truth Bullets that the character would find in an area based on their roll exceeds the total number in that area, explain that after searching the first location thoroughly, their character can search elsewhere in the room they’re in and then give them additional Truth Bullets from the new area they’re searching based on the remaining successes they rolled.

Example: Julia wants to search the victim’s body. She announces this, then rolls her Investigation, which she has a 4 in. He rolls a 6, a 6, a 4 and a 3. The GM explains that she starts by searching the body and finds two pieces of evidence. The GM hands her 2 Truth Bullets that she would find on the body face down. Then she can search another area for 1 more Truth Bullet. She says she wants to search the rest of the crime scene and finds 1 more Truth Bullet located at the crime scene.

Once the crime scene has been searched, the characters who performed the investigation at the crime scene may recommend locations to search to the rest of the investigators. If there are 2 crime scenes, perform the investigations at both crime scenes before moving on to the rest of the investigators.

The rest of the investigators may then disperse to other important locations and search for evidence by rolling Investigation as described above. Once all characters assigned to the investigation have finished, if the group searching for testimonies has finished, the Class Trial may begin.

Searching for Testimony:

The characters assigned to search for testimony have a similar process ahead of them. Each character in the group chooses one other character to ask their alibi. They choose whether or not they want to  make a VS Roll of their Charisma vs the other character's Charisma to ensure they get the truth. If the asking character wins, the questioned player must write down the truth. Otherwise, they are allowed to lie. The exception is the killer, who should have a fake alibi prepared in advance that will always be given if questioned. Once the outcome of the roll is determined, the character then writes their alibi down on a blank Truth Bullet card labeled ‘Character’s Name’s Alibi’ and hands it face-down to the questioning player. 

Once each character in this group has asked another character’s alibi, if the investigating group is done, the game proceeds into the Class Trial.

Missing Evidence:

As the GM, going into Deadly Life, you should have all the necessary clues present and sorted by location where they should appear. If the characters finish their investigation and do not find all the evidence, it can be allotted at the end of the Deadly Life phase, right before the Class Trial begins. Allocate it so that players who have the least amount of evidence get them, and try to make it fit to the story.

Example: Jim searched the body, but only found two of the three Truth Bullets associated with the body. At the end of the Deadly Life, tell Jim that he feels strongly that he missed something on the body, and that by checking again, he finds the last piece of evidence.

Class Trial:

This is it: the part you’ve all been waiting for and the most important part of the game. I would say it is important to repeat Monokuma’s monologue before the trial begins each time.

‘Let’s begin with a basic explanation of the Class Trial! Your votes will determine the results. If you can figure out ‘whodunnit,’ then only they will receive punishment. But if you pick the wrong one, then I’ll punish everyone besides the blackened and the one that deceived everyone else will graduate.’

Also, remind the players that the trial has the potential to end the game. It is essential that the players work their hardest to find the culprit, or else the game will end and all their characters will die. Also remember that once the Voting Time at the end begins, everyone will have to cast a vote for someone, or else they will be punished as well.

Nonstop Debate:

The Class Trial begins with everyone rolling their Investigation. The GM should record how many successes each character rolls, then order the characters from lowest to highest. This is the order in which the characters will initiate discussion. If one player has both of their characters back-to-back in the queue, move one of the characters one place higher to avoid that.

The trial begins with the first character in the order asking a question about the crime to the group. The questions should be detail-focused, not about broad concepts and also relate to the previous topic.

Good Questions: What is the murder weapon? Where did the culprit go after the crime?

Bad Questions: Who is the killer? Why did the victim have to die?

The group then can discuss (while roleplaying) the answers they’ve come up with to the question. Everyone should be given a chance to speak on the topic, but as the GM, it’s important to keep the discussion flowing. It’s also important to keep people from jumping on a seemingly ‘dumb’ question too early. It’s called a Nonstop Debate for a reason. Let the discussion flow naturally, and the conversation go normally. Once several answers to the question have been suggested in the discussion, any character besides the one who posited the question may intervene on the debate in a dramatic ‘No, that’s wrong’ or ‘I agree’ kind of way when they have a Truth Bullet to support or refute the answer. The refutation should take the form of a statement of agreement or disagreement combined with the presentation of a Truth Bullet that supports your new claim. At this point, the player puts the Truth Bullet in the center of the table, and everyone discusses the new Truth Bullet and point that was made. Once the original question has been answered to everyone’s liking, the next player in the rotation poses a question.

This process can repeat itself until the characters are certain they know who the killer is, in which case you can move into the Reconstruction/Voting Time.

Between questions, free discussion of the case is encouraged. Players can present theories, or role play, but presenting Truth Bullets should be reserved for the responses to the questions.

Hangman’s Gambit:

During the Nonstop Debate, if a player needs a hint or idea about the answer to a question, they can request a Hangman’s Gambit from the GM. In this case, a player can opt to pay 1 Despair, have the GM prepare an answer/hint to the question, write each letter down on a piece of paper and scramble them before giving the papers to the player to unscramble. Once unscrambled, they can use the clue to answer the question posited. A 1-2 minute timer is useful for this as well.

Rebuttal Showdown:

Once someone refutes/confirms a point in the Nonstop Debate, another character may decide that the character who made the point is wrong. The second character then begins a Rebuttal Showdown with the first character. The second character announces that they would like to dispute their claim in a Rebuttal Showdown. At this point, the second character makes their point as to why the first player’s point is wrong. The second player must then either make a counterpoint, or present an additional Truth Bullet to contradict the new point. The characters go back and forth until the original point has been proven correct by another Truth Bullet, or the first player concedes they cannot support their claim. Afterwards, the next player in the rotation begins the next round of the Nonstop Debate. A maximum of three Rebuttal Showdowns can occur per trial, to keep things moving. A single character can only initiate one Rebuttal Showdown per trial.

Scrum Debate:

A fan favorite mechanic from V3: this is my attempt to capture the spirit of the Scrum Debate, as well as adding a mechanism by which split groups can decide on a direction to move the argument forward.

A Scrum Debate can be initiated by the GM at any point in the trial when the students are divided on the answer to a question. The Scrum Debate should only be done once the students are roughly split evenly. At this point the GM should announce that the students are entering the Scrum Debate and tell the students what the question is that they are going to debate. Students then decide which of two answers they agree on more and split up accordingly. The GM should assemble a table that looks like this:

B is the culprit!

A is the culprit!

A

B

C

D

E

F

0 points (6 to win)

0 points (6 to win)

On this table, it can clearly be shown who is on what side, and what the sides are fighting for. The GM needs to assemble the rotation of points and counterpoints that the students will make by looking at the chart. First, determine which side with present points first. A coin toss or other similar means is acceptable. Then, each player on that team will present a point, and the corresponding player on the other team will refute with a counterpoint. For example, on the table above, if side ‘B is the culprit!’ goes first, A will present a point, then B will make a counterpoint. Then C will make a point, and D a counterpoint, and E will make the last point and F the last counterpoint in the round.

A->B

C->D

E->F

The point should be just that, an argument posed as a statement about why his/her side is correct. It can include mention of current evidence or knowledge, but this is not the time to present evidence or reveal dramatic new information. The counterpoint should be a direct statement to reciprocate the original point. It should be concise and directly related to the original point.

After each point and counterpoint, each player should give a quick thumbs up/thumbs down to indicate if they think the character made a good argument. The GM should note if the majority voted yes or no, and not worry about how many votes they got total. Just make a note below each team’s column if they scored a point after each point/counterpoint in the discussion. The Scrum debate should end when one side has earned a number of points equal to twice the number of players on their team.

After the last person in the rotation makes their counterpoint, the round is over and the GM should report the two scores to the players. At this point, if a character feels convinced to change teams, they may do so at that time. The chart should then be remade accounting for any changes in allegiance, and then both teams’ order should be scrambled. The total points to win should not be changed from the original numbers. For example, in the above example, if character E changed their mind, the new chart could look like this:

B is the culprit!

A is the culprit!

C

D

A

B

E

F

2 points (6 to win)

4 points (6 to win)

Also, the side that began making points last round will make the counterpoints this round, and vice versa. In this case, considering side  ‘B is the culprit!’ went first, the order is as follows:

D->C

B->A

E->C

F->A

This can be repeated until one team scores enough points to win. At this point, the team that won should restate their position, and the trial should continue assuming that their conclusion is true. Everyone should also receive some praise from the GM for being impressive role-players and logicians.

Reconstruction/Voting Time:

When the characters have decided who they think is the killer, one player must opt in to do the Reconstruction. The player must explain the killer’s plot in full, and incorporate all the Truth Bullets on the table into their explanation. The GM should assist them with prompts to help guide them to the correct answers. At the end, the Reconstructing player must choose the killer to indict them, and explain how only they could have committed the crime. After this explanation, the game moves into voting time.

In Voting Time, each character goes around the circle in the order of the Nonstop Debate, and states which character they are voting for. The GM keeps a tally, and reports at the end which character got the most votes. If the characters pick correctly, the GM should let them know that they did a great job catching the killer, and allow all the characters to talk for a while about the killer’s motive or methodology. At the end, describe the killer’s violent Danganronpa execution, which the GM should definitely prepare in advance. The players can then talk about what happened, go to sleep, and move on to Daily Life to end the session.

If the players guess wrong, the game is over. The GM should reveal the true killer, and announce that they have won. The game is then over… or not. A ‘Bad End’ can be played out where the killer escapes and leaves, before the game state is ‘reset’ to the time before every votes so the cast has another chance to catch the true killer.

Ending the Game:

The GM should set a condition that has to be met for the game to end. Finding and exposing the mastermind, completing a set number of trials or having a set number of characters left. Generally, the GM should arrange an overarching plot, and design a logical endpoint that can be reached.

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