Back Alley Witness

Daniel Shumway and Phillip Palmer

Joe Palkinski sat in his cell and picked at his piece of bread.  The previous night's murder had gone poorly.  An informant had contacted the police anonymously, let 'em in on the whole story.  And like a bunch of dogs, they'd jumped on it; picked Joe up on his way to the dry cleaners just that morning, and now they wanted ratty to come forward, in secret of course, and testify to the judge.  All very disconcerting to say the least.

But Joe had been in worse scrapes before, and you didn't get to be where he was by giving up and cutting deals every little time you got arrested.  There was more to this game than the coppers knew.

Joe sat a crumb of bread on the bench beside him.  The judge.  If he had the right witness, Joe would be sunk, just like Sherry was last night at the harbor bridge.  But he didn't have the witness... yet.

Joe smiled and set down another crumb.  The corrupted judge.  Everybody worth their salt had at least one connection after all.  If he could swing a trial in this direction, an acquittal would be all but in the bag.  And more importantly, within twenty-four hours, witness-boy would be in one too.  Joe prided himself in knowing people who could get stuff done.

Two more crumbs.  The cops.  Of course, you couldn't deal with all of 'em, but the police force wasn't as white as it liked to think it was.  At least one of the coppers was working to supply information to the right people.  As for which one was which.... well, wasn't it always a mite bit tricky to keep track of 'em?

And Joe placed one more crumb.  The informant.  All Joe needed was for this bozo to come forward to the right person, or for the judge to figure out who he was, and Joe would live to kill another day.

Joe sat back and looked at the five crumbs.  And he waited for one of them to make a move.

The Game

Back Alley Witness is a 5 person team-based party game designed to be played in multiple short rounds.  It utilizes elements of both Mafia and Are You The Traitor? to create a quick and easy to learn game that can be replayed multiple times in a row.

In Back Alley Witness, players race to discover the identities and allegiances of the people around them by lying, arguing, and communicating with their contacts by whatever means necessary.

Setup and Play

You'll need one deck of cards, or a similar method for assigning random roles to each player.  They should be able to distinguish between the five roles :

Shuffle the five indicative cards and have each player chose one.  No player should reveal their card to any other player.  One player will be designated as the narrator and begin the game.  This is purely for the setup process, and can be done by group consensus.

Under the narrator's direction, the game begins, and the following steps are taken in this order.

Players may use any means available to communicate with each other, including speech, eye contact, and gestures.  No information is off limits, players can claim to be anyone.  They may not, however, reveal their cards in order to prove their claim.

The game ends when either of the following takes place -

If either person is correct, all players on their side (lawful or unlawful) win the game.  If either person is incorrect, their side (lawful or unlawful) loses the game.

Once the informant or judge has revealed their card, the other side can not come forward and interrupt.  The person who has revealed their card will have three seconds to finish their guess.


2012 : Daniel Shumway and Phillip Palmer - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0