Secret Societies (game rules)

” ‘The good mother makes bean soup for the errant boy,’ ” said the voice behind the door.
There was a pause, broken only by the sound of the rain. Then the visitor said, “What?”
” ‘The good mother makes bean soup for the errant boy.’ “
There was another, longer pause. Then the damp figure said, “Are you sure the ill-built tower doesn’t tremble mightily at a butterfly’s passage?”
“Nope. Bean soup it is. I’m sorry.”
The rain hissed down relentlessly in the embarrassed silence.
“What about the caged whale?” said the soaking visitor, trying to squeeze into what little shelter the dread portal offered.
“What about it?”
“It should know nothing of the mighty deeps, if you must know.”
“Oh, the caged whale. You want the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night. Three doors down.”
“Who’re you, then?”
“We’re the Illuminated and Ancient Brethren of Ee.”
“I thought you met over in Treacle Street,” said the damp man, after a while.
“Yeah, well. You know how it is. The fretwork club have the room Tuesdays. There was a bit of a mix-up.”
“Oh? Well, thanks anyway.”
“My pleasure.”

-From Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett

Secret Societies is a game about survival. Unlike other gametypes, you do not accumulate points by killing others; you win if your secret society has the most living members at the end of the game. Of course, that gives an advantage to a society that kills the members of rival society. There’s a complication, though – you can never be sure who’s actually in your society. They’re secret, after all. And the Zombie Police are out in force, because they do get points for the kills they make.

Umpire’s Discretion

The Umpire has discretion to vary any numeric value given in this Rulebook, and is encouraged to do so if the number of players is unusually large or small.


The game consists of four secret societies. For each society, three players selected by the Umpire begin as members of that society. All other players begin the game unaligned. A player who is asked to confirm their alignment is not required to answer truthfully.

At the end of the game, every player who is a member of the society with the largest number of alive players wins the game.

An unaligned player may join a society by e-mailing the Umpire stating the name of the society they wish to join. Joining a society is irrevocable. It is not possible to switch societies.

Any such e-mail sent to the Umpire is secret. It is key to effective gameplay in this gametype, that a player’s alignment be unverifiable. As such, any player offering to show this e-mail to another player, or asking another player to show their e-mail, will be considered gravely in breach of the rules.

A society may not take on new members if the number of its members is greater than or equal to 30% of the number of live players remaining in the whole game (fractions are rounded up when calculating the percentage). The Umpire shall make known which societies are at this threshold, but shall not otherwise disclose the number of players in each society.

Winning the Game

The game runs for two weeks, from 8:00AM on the first Monday to 5:00PM on the last Friday. The game ends before this time if only one society has live members.

Every player who is a member of the society with the largest number of alive players at the end of the game has won the game. As such, it is beneficial for a society to threaten and cajole unaligned players into joining the society, while bearing in mind that they could very well be lying to you when they say they’ve joined. At the end of the game, any player who remains unaligned is seized by terminal indecisiveness and loses by default.

Two members of the Zombie Police are also deemed to have won the game, as detailed below.

Briefing Files

Players submit their briefing files as usual. Each player, at the start of the game, receives the briefing files of three other players, chosen semi-randomly by the Umpire. A dead player joining the Zombie Police may share those briefing files with other members of the Zombie Police.

Every player of the game is a legal target at all times, and as such the Wanted List and the ‘bearing’ rule do not apply. For civilian kills and other minor rules breaches, the Umpire may place a point bounty on the player’s head, making them a more attractive target to the Zombie Police. The Umpire may also disclose a player’s briefing file to certain other players, or to the Zombie Police, as a disciplinary measure.


Frequently, the Umpire will run a small drop by stating their location for a set period of time. Players who arrive at that location within the time will acquire crucial information to help them navigate the game, such as the number of players in a certain society, additional briefing files, or even the briefing file of a player revealed to have joined an opposing society. Of course, seeking this information might leave the player as an easy target for opposing societies or the Zombie Police.

Sheffield Zombie Police Department

As in other games, dead players may join the Zombie Police by informing the Zombie Police Captain. In this game, any live player is a target for the Zombie Police. In addition, Zombies retain their pseudonym, prefaced with the word ‘Zombie’, and will accumulate points for their kills. Points will be awarded as in Circle of Death, with the exception that no points are given for a kill being particularly speedy. Kills attract points simply for their difficulty and creativity/theme, with a minimum of 1 point per kill.

In this game, Zombies may use indirect kill methods. Zombies attempting direct kills must still make the “Zombies need brains” call. A Zombie who is killed may not attempt any further kills for the remainder of the day.

The Zombie Police Captain exists to coordinate Zombie activities, though they may have to contend with an element of rivalry within the ranks, and to lobby the Umpire for briefing files of particularly efficient players, or those players who have fallen foul of the rules.

At the end of the game, two Zombies are deemed to have won the game in addition to players of the largest remaining society:

  • The Zombie with the greatest number of points wins the game and receives the game’s award of Master Assassin (Zombie) – MA(Zom).

  • The Zombie with the greatest number of kills, when divided by the number of days for which that player was a Zombie, wins the game and receives the game’s award of Paranoid Hardened Death-Dealer (Undead) – PhD(Und).