So I've written this game called Nerver av stål. It's a film noir mystery game and it's great. There's no English translation, but it's been mentioned a few times over here by some Swedes, and I think it's really neat (I consider it my most well-crafted game yet), so I thought I'd do one of these threads where I explain the game and people can ask questions and whatever. That way you don't need an actual translation of it! Well, kinda.
So when I pitch the game I say "Hey so this game is called Nerver av stål and it's a game that emulates film noir mystery movies the way they looked in the late 40's and early 50's, so it's classical black-and-white Bogart stuff, not Chinatown neo-noir. There's one main character, three or four players in total, there's smooth jazz music, voiceover narration and it's all pretty sweet. Do you wanna play?" And then they say "Hell yeah" and I go "Ok, let's sit down. Clear the table."
Then I set up my speaker and I play a smooth jazz song. I let it run for a few seconds and then I read this text, which is basically a Raymond Chandler pastiche narration of a private dick looking out over a rainy city and philosophizing about the world and its dark alleys. It starts "The clock was somewhere between way too much and way too little" and goes on like that. All first-person past tense filled with metaphors and clichés. This is to put everyone in the mood.
The jazz song keeps going in the background when I transition to talking about film noir, what the genre is and some historical context. It's just one song, though, and when it's done, the music falls silent while I keep talking. I talk about american soldiers having seen horrible things in Europe during WW2 and wanting to make movies about it, but having to dodge the Hayes Code censorship. About them coming back to America and finding women having come into the work force and not being all happy about just going back to being house wives. I like to mention the femme fatale here, how it's kindofa sleazy cliché now, but in the old movies in their historical context, it's women who are breaking free from the roles imposed on them by society.
So now I put three or four sheets on the table (depending on the number of players). For three players, they are Nerves of Steel, Silver Tongue, and Golden Dreams. For four players, theres also City of Shadows. basically, Nerves of Steel is the main character, generally male if you want to simulate the old movies (I like to keep it that way when people are playing for the first time, but breaking it up if people have played before). He's cynical but tries to do right by himself. He'll be in all the scenes and the game is narrated from his perspective. Silver Tongue is the femme fatale, again generally female in the old movies. She's got a history but is good at hiding it, and having other people help her. Golden Dreams is the main bad guy, who can be male or female. They're the power in the shadows, the gangster boss, and acts a lot through henchmen. Finally, City of Shadows is a GM-esque role, playing everyone except these characters. The game works well both with and without this player. If there's no City of Shadows, the other players play other characters. Now everyone chooses a role.
The players read their roles and then explain their special abilities to each other. Everyone gets one. I take this opportunity to explain some rules when the special ability calls for it. Also I place cards in front of the players. Here are the special abilities:
Nerves of Steel: You have three cards of spades in front of you. By flipping one of them over, you can make a conclusion that is absolutely and irrevocably true. If you say "I could see in his eyes he was an honest man", then that man can never be corrupted. If you say "That was an obvious lie", then regardless of what the person thought when they said it, it is now established to have been a lie. And so on.
Silver Tongue: NoS and GD both have a card of hearts in front of them. As long as they have that card face up, they have to be on your side. They don't have to believe what you tell them, but they have to try to help you. They can at any time flip their card and switch allegiance/give up on you/see through you. However, when they have a flipped hearts in front of them and you have a conflict, you can decide to win the conflict by giving them a thumbs down.
Here's where I explain the conflict rules. Basically, when there's a conflict, a player not involved in the conflict can give a player involved a thumbs up or thumbs down, declaring that things go well or badly for that person. The act of giving a thumbs up or down is what makes it a conflict, basically. You can't give thumbs if you're involved in the conflict yourself, unless you're the Silver Tongue and have a conflict with someone with a face-down hearts.
Golden Dreams: You have three cards of clubs in front of you. At any time you can flip one of them to introduce someone working for you. Others can also work for you, of course, but people whom you've bought with a clubs are always played by you, unless you choose to have someone else play them. You can use this to buy a character that has been in many scenes already, played for example by the City of Shadows. Buying them relveals they've been working for you this entire time, and from now on you'll be playing them. You can also play this on the Nerves of Steel or the Silver Tongue. In this case, you won't be playing them, of course, but you establish that they have been working for you in the past. Or perhaps they still are. Perhaps even without knowing it!
This is some of the rules. There are also rules about how you talk. I'll get to them soon. Feel free to ask questions if you're interested.