Nothing could go wrong, until everything did.
At least you got away with the money...
Awhile ago at the Forge, a thread was started to discuss the design of a hypothetical "Reservoir Dogs"-esque, "mexican standoff" RPG. A number of people, myself included, presented their ideas for how it might work. From this discussion, I took some of the ideas and wrote my own version of the game. As you can probably guess, Mexican Standoff is that game.
The game below is more or less playable. I say "more or less" because I have yet to playtest the current version. Twice I attempted to play an earlier draft, but both times the playtest ended in failure. But I believe the current version will work... I think. I have attempted to fix the problems in my earlier draft.
Anyway, just be warned. I will update the page as I get feedback from people who have played the game. Have Fun!
The group plays a group of gangsters, hitmen, or other criminal-types standing over a pile of money, locked in a “Mexican standoff” after a heist gone bad. The details of this heist, as well as the players' role in it, are created and improvised in play.
Goal:To take the (real!) pile of money, usually by being the last man standing.
To begin with, the players must sit in a circle, be it around a table, in chairs, or whatever.
Tokens: Each player, with the exception of the “starting player”, receives two tokens. The “starting player”---which is simply the player who takes the first turn---only receives one token. Though it is assumed that someone will volunteer to be the starting player, the players may use whatever method they like to decide who goes first.
Though it is assumed that the players will use poker chips for these tokens, any sort of item may be used, be it coins, stones, or whatever.
Money: Each player must contribute an equal sum of money to a common pool, which presumably sits in the middle of the group. Each group may decide for themselves how much money should be at stake; though it should be enough to make the game “interesting”.
“Guns”: Each player is to point their finger as if they were holding a “gun”. Please note that each player is only allowed one “gun”, meaning they cannot hold a “gun” in each hand.
Playing the Game
Starting the Game: To begin the game, each player points their gun up in the air. Then, when everyone is ready, the starting player yells “Go!” or whatever. Everyone then brings their “gun” down, pointing it at whoever they want.
Taking Aim: Throughout the game, players may point their “gun” at whomever they desire, and at anytime may change whom they are aiming at. Please note that for the duration of the game, players are expected to maintain their “gun”-hand.
Speaking: Throughout the game, players are expected to only speak “in-character”. That is, they are to only speak as if they were the gangster they are playing.
Beginning with the “starting player”, players take turns speaking. On a player's turn, they may say more or less whatever they want. This includes, but is not limited to, declaring facts about themselves, the heist, what went wrong, and even facts about other characters. [That last bit is especially significant. --timfire]
The one major constraint is that players may not declare any fact that contradicts what another player previously said, unless that player uses a token to “interrupt” (see below).
Passing the Turn: Players may speak for as long as they desire, unless the player is “interrupted” (see below). When a player is finished, they then pass the turn to whomever they want. This is done by posing a question or some other indication to a player of their choosing. The chosen player is then granted a turn to speak, again for as long as they desire. When they are finished, they then choose another player (even the player that went before them) and pass the turn on to them.
Side Comments: At any time, any player may make a side comment on the ongoing situation, given that these comments are not “disruptive” to the present player's turn.
At any time, a player may yell “Bang!” When a “Bang!” is called, all players automatically shoot their “guns”, killing whomever the “gun” is pointed at. If a player is killed, they are removed from play, and may not collect the money pool---unless a “Some Die/ Some Live” condition is later met (see below). A “Bang!” may be stopped by using a token to “interrupt” (see below).
When a player dies, any tokens that player may have been holding disappear, and are no longer in play. If after a “Bang!” multiple players are left alive, play continues as normal, albeit without the dead players.
“Stand Down!”: Instead of yelling “Bang!”, players have the option of calling “Stand Down!”. If a “Stand Down!” is called, players are required to place their “gun” on the table and then cover it with their free hand. Players then have a choice---they may continue to point to their “gun”, or they may make a fist. After everyone has chosen and is ready, the player that called the “Stand Down!” yells “Show It!” or something to that effect. The players then move their free hand, revealing their choice.
If someone chooses to continue pointing, whomever they are pointing at is immediately killed, the same as with a “Bang!”. If someone choose to make a fist, they do not shoot. If everyone chooses to make a fist, the game ends and everyone who participated in the “Stand Down!” lives. If some choose to shoot and some chose not to, the game continues as normal, the same as after a “Bang!”.
During the “Stand Down!”, players may continue talking until “Show It!” is called. A “Stand Down!” may be interrupted the same as a “Bang!”.
[Note that when only two players are left alive, a “Stand Down!” is practically required. --timfire]
Players may use tokens to “interrupt” play---both a player's normal turn and a “Bang!”. Players may only “interrupt” if they have a token in their possession.
Interrupting a Player's Turn: When a player wishes to interrupt another player's turn, they may simply cut in and pass the player in question a token, whom then keeps it. The interrupting player may then continues and take a turn speaking, effectively “stealing” the turn from the previous player. Interrupting a player's turn is usually done to contradict or alter what another player has said, though technically a player may interrupt simply to take a turn speaking.
If a player does not want to be interrupted, they must pass the interrupting player a token, rather than taking a token themselves. If under such conditions, the interrupting player still wishes to interrupt, they may attempt to pass the original player two tokens instead of one. Likewise, the original player may dispute the interruption by passing the interrupting player back two tokens. This may continue for as long the players have tokens to increase the bid.
Note, a player that accepts an interrupt may not simply counter-interrupt to regain their turn and avoid having to pass a token. If an interrupt is accepted, the interrupted player is expected to be sportsmanly and allow the interrupter a proper turn.
Interrupting a “Bang!”: When a “Bang!” is called, a player may interrupt the “Bang!” by IMMEDIATELY yelling “Wait! Wait!” or something to that effect. However, if a player interrupts a “Bang!”, instead of passing the token, they must discard the token and remove it from play. No one may counter-bid an interrupted “Bang!”. Also note, it is un-sportsmanly to simply yell “Bang! Bang! Bang!” until the player(s) runs out of tokens to interrupt the “Bang!”.
Everyone Dies: If on the FIRST instance of a “Bang!” all the players die, then the game ends and the everyone reclaims the money they put in the pool.
Last Man Standing: If after a “Bang!” or “Stand Down!” only one player is left alive, they take the entire pool.
Stand Down: If all the players involved in a “Stand Down!” choose not to shoot, then the pool is divided among all the participating players.
“Some Live/ Some Die”: If in the first instance of a “Bang!”, some players die and some live, the rules change slightly. If the remaining players manage to kill themselves in a later “Bang!” or “Stand Down!”, the pool is NOT reclaimed. The “surviving” players lose out and the pool is divided among the player(s) that were killed in the earlier “Bang!”. If multiple “Bangs!” or “Stand Down!” go by, the pool is divided among the all players that died previous to the final round.
Optional: The Timer
As an optional rule, groups may employ the use of a timer to simulate the threat of police. At the start of the game, one of the players sets a timer for something in the range 5-15 minutes---however long the group wants to play. After the timer is set, the player then hides the timer, just so that no one can see how much time is left. Play then starts.
If the timer goes off before the end of the game, it is declared that the police bust in and arrest the living players, effectively “killing”them in game terms. The pool is then divided up according to standard win conditions.
If someone is around who is not playing the game, the players should have them set the timer and not tell the group how much time is on the clock.
"Mexican Standoff" & all text (c) 2005 by Timothy Kleinert, all rights reserved.
Text may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author.