Hi, Nortac here. I thought I'd make this thread to help educate those people who are curious about playing this game of mafia, but are afraid to ask questions.
First off: What is mafia, and how is it played?
Mafia is a game in which the majority of the players, the town, takes on the minority, called the mafia. How is this fair, you may ask? Well, the players of the town generally only know what their own role is, and have no idea what roles any of the other players have. The players of the mafia, on the other hand, know not only their own role, but the roles of each of the other members of the mafia; the mafia can coordinate their efforts in eliminating the town players.
How do I win?
In general, the players of the town win by voting on a player to lynch every "day". They try to determine who appears to be the most mafia-like, and lynch them, removing them from the game. When the village removes all of the mafia players from the game, they win.
The mafia wins by killing off all of the players of the town. They can kill a player every night, and can also accomplish their goal by manipulating the vote to lynch town players.
For a summary of what I've said, and even more info, you can visit the following link: http://cataldo.freeshell.org/mafia/mafiascum04.swf This is a flash guide to the game, including an example game, tips, and so on. Keep in mind that some of the rules they mention are specific to the forum that flash was made for. Always read the rules of the game of mafia you're in.
You've mentioned roles. What kinds of roles are there?
There are quite a few different roles. Some roles protect other players, some can tell if another player is aligned with the village or mafia, and yet others can kill another player without being part of the mafia. Whenever a host makes a round, they will post descriptions of all the roles they intend to use and how they function. Any questions about the roles in use can generally be directed at the host. For a guide to the various types of roles and how they usually function, click here: http://mikeburnfire.sitesled.com/mscumB.swf
I just looked at some different rounds, and the hosts all appeared to be playing by different rules! Why don't they all use the same rules?
As we don't have a definitive set of rules under which all games must be played, hosts tend to make their rules to fit their own style (for example, how much is revealed in the "Kill Posts"); there are plenty of rules, however, that don't change from game to game, like general play guidelines.
I want to play a game of mafia. How do I join up?
We almost always have a game going, so if there doesn't appear to be any sort of signups, you can pm the host of the current game to get an idea of when the next one will start. Please don't post in the game thread, however!
I believe I've covered everything that might be an issue. Any further questions can be asked in this thread, and someone will answer as soon as possible. If you know of something that I should have covered, but didn't, feel free to let me know and I'll edit it in.