2833: Lying

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I was, at least at the start of this disastrous game night, your friend.
Title text: I was, at least at the start of this disastrous game night, your friend.


Mafia (and other games such as Werewolf) is a party game centered around two opposing teams who must eliminate each other: the mafiosi (or werewolves, accordingly) whose aim is to secretly gain a majority and the ordinary players (who may be termed 'townies' or 'villagers') who have to resist this. While the mafiosi know who are mafiosi and who are villagers, the villagers do not know any other person's role. The mafiosi also need to keep their affiliation secret from the villagers so long as they are outnumbered. The game alternates between day and night phases. During the day, all players vote on which suspected anti-villager should be 'killed' (removed from the game). During the night, all surviving members of the mafia decide which villager should be 'killed' to further their own purposes.

Play can be undertaken in person or across a suitable online forum/group-chat, whilst similar mechanics have been adopted for networked games such as Town of Salem or Among Us.

Here we have Cueball (possibly Randall), Megan, Ponytail, and White Hat sitting at a table, apparently playing this type of game, in which some sort of secret must be maintained by lying. Cueball seems to have been unable to maintain the lie and came clean, perhaps hoping that they would remain friends, somehow fearing that playing the game as required would lose him the friendship that brought them together to play the game in the first place. The other members are annoyed by his undermining of the basic concept of the game, and White Hat offers to switch to playing another game called Taboo. This may not improve things; given Cueball's apparent inability to maintain secrets, he may feel compelled to tell them the word concealed on his card, and thereby immediately lose.

The title text could both be referring to what Cueball says about how the others are his friends, and also that the others could have gotten so annoyed that they stop being his friends. It is clearly very similar to Spock's dying words in Star Trek II: "I have been, and always shall be, your friend".

In reality, Cueball could actually be cleverly playing one of a number of other roles that a mafia/werewolf game can have. There are additional player-types that win by being voted off (often this must be a day-vote, a night-vote by the 'bad guys' is a loss), and others that make the player invulnerable to votes in certain conditions, make the 'kill' act upon another player and/or result in assisting those in a further 'team' of conspirators. Though usually such complications aren't included in gaming groups with as few as four players, and they usually rely on bluff (or multiple layers of bluff) against players who are aware of what they entail.


[Cueball, Megan, Ponytail, and White Hat sit around a table.]
Cueball: It's me. I can't look you in the eyes and tell you it's not. I'm sorry, I know this ruins everything.
Cueball: I just need you to know that you're my friends and you can trust me.
Megan: ...This is ridiculous.
White Hat: Let's just play Taboo instead.
[Caption below the panel:]
I'm really bad at those Mafia-style games where you have to lie.


This comic was published as an upscaling of the original drawing, at an outstanding 4422x6653. This could have been an accident. A side effect of this is that details on Randall's graphic process and subtle penmanship habits were made obvious in the image.

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Why the heck is the image so biiiiig? (talk) 03:54, 26 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

well, looks like he accidentally published the source file for the comic... 04:06, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Good. People should be using HD monitors by now. (EDIT: I didn't realize it was 8k, but still, don't most browsers let you resize images anyway?) 08:41, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Why do I have to lug around an HD monitor as well as my smart-tablet?
Why doesn't your smart-tablet have an HD screen? My phone is 2960 x 1440 and it still fits in my pocket. 00:29, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
Nobody said HD screen. It is the suggested additional monitor that is impractical. Including a suitable power supply and of course the appropriate dongles/etc. 01:53, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
Why do you need an additional monitor? Why can't your tablet display in HD by default? 19:22, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
(Actually, it's not width that's the problem, for me, but height. As using in portrait orientation makes text too small for browsing, and I hate sites that 'mobile optimise' assuming I'll turn my device that way.)
Most mobile browsers have a button for "show desktop version". I just hate when people assume vertical videos are okay. Even when I'm using my phone, landscape is better. 00:30, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
Do you know how well the "show desktop version" doesn't work. It frequently doesn't switch away from the mobile-URL (e.g. "en.m.wikipedia.org" to "en.wikipedia.org", or "/FOO-mobile.htm" to "/FOO.htm") and you still have to make that sort of change manually to the address-bar to fuly jailbreak out of the hard-coded "useful" mobile functionality (which may come back once it forgets your preference and gets redirected to use them all again), and I'm pretty sure that the places that do this detection invisibly (fingerprinting the browser used) to make the changes behind the scenes don't all fully honour the browser setting, perhaps just get over-riden by some more insistent indicator that the site-author has encoded later in the decesion-stack (e.g., at least for me, I cannot get the non-mobile layout of https://cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/find-events to display on this device, for whatever reason). 01:11, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
Note that especially wide images play merry-hell with the rest of the page (when it breaks out of the pixel-limits assumed), and an image that's twice as large (in both dimensions) could be quadruple the data (depending upon image compression ratios), which has data/bandwidth/etc issues that not everyone can easily suck up and laugh off, even in this post dial-up era. It ought to be best not to assume that the best quality image is the 'best' or desired, although that ship has long sailed. 09:08, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Unless I'm misunderstanding, the image is now in the usual size range (590x887 in this case). -- Dtgriscom (talk) 20:32, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Something changed, yes. I haven't yet investigated if it was softcoded ("imagewidth=" in the template, or whatever it is, but perhaps still serving the full image to scale-down) or the uploaded image reuploaded in the 'friendlier' pixel-sizes. And for me it doesn't matter, but obviously the exact solution may be just as important for others, so I hope it isn't just the fudged one. (I may go and check, though I currently have no power to do anything about it.) 01:11, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
Addendum: Just checked, and it was softcoded too large, originally, with "imagesize = 4422x6653px" for some unknown reason. I don't know why the uploadbot set it like this (incorrect metadata/sidedata at source?) but that definitely 'broke' the original page.
So the imagesize was lying about the true image size? That reminds me of the title...
Until just now I had only seen the slightly later version or the page where the image now merely strained the page-size (from a revised imagesize=, obviously to deal with the page-rescaling issue), then the latest where it's given the more usual one (but is still the exact same source _2x image behind the scenes).
From all the talk about this, I had assumed that the image (like it sometimes has been) was the 'compositing' version not yet cleaned up by Randall to remove onion-skin 'planning' layers, etc. Instead, we were just given an upscaled correct version, but of course people were still able to dwell upon the details exposed by zooming in. 01:29, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
It was reuploaded to be normal sized later. http://web.archive.org/web/20230926034049/https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/lying.png 05:20, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
The initially uploaded explainxkcd version as seen dynamically mis-scaled here has not been changed, though. Which is different from my original assumption taken from the chatter about it.
If (perhaps, just looking at the URL above) it's that the _2x was normal _2x but the '1x' was mis-sized (we've seen that happen before) and/or the rough/not-yet-finalised working copy, then this might need better explaining. That'd explain why the _2x was given larger default dimensions. (I think the 'bot currently grabs the _2x but 'suggests' the non-2x size... I could then see how this would have happened.) 05:53, 27 September 2023 (UTC)
Yup. That is what happened. —theusaf (talk) 15:01, 27 September 2023 (UTC)

The rhythm of the title text calls to mind Spock's words to Kirk as he's dying at the end of Wrath of Khan: "I have been, and always shall be, your friend." This can't be a coincidence. (talk) 08:06, 26 September 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'm the same. Can't stand these games. I have a hard enough time with jokes that people refuse to explain; if I have to _intentionally_ mislead people, who know my tics to start, where's the line? What's real, what's fake, what's important, what's just another joke?

I need to lighten up? No, the world needs to be comprehensible. I can't just choose to know what's real and what isn't. Other people can very easily make it clear to me, if they so desire. 06:35, 26 September 2023 (UTC)

i, uh, good for you. youtu.be/miLcaqq2Zpk 07:04, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Simple answer: Don't play those games.
Non-simple answer: Learn how to play those games with your advanced hyper-analytical abilities being used to your advantage (or as a "non-optional social convention") in which the reality is the game you're in and thus you are fulfilling the role of your existence.
Meta-answer: I think you're a Joker (winning condition is to be lynched). Or maybe one of a number of other player-types which demands that you play differently from either mainstrean Mafia or vanilla Villager. Which, in a four-player game (very short of practical assignments!) makes it a bastard-setup of some sort. (Rather than single mafia/werewolf and all the rest vanilla village, or possibly one cop/special-role of some kind.) 09:08, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Solution? Just reshuffle if a "I can't lie - person" would get to be a mafioso/vampyre or werewolf... But yeah, I hope they have more players in the backgroundTier666 (talk) 17:32, 28 September 2023 (UTC)

How do you even play Mafia with four people? Under standard rules, you have one moderator (Alice), one mafioso (Bob) and two civilians (Charlotte and Dave). Bob kills Dave in the first night, then there are only one mafioso and one civilian left, and the mafia wins, game over. Does anybody know a mod that would make it work with so few players? Comsmomf (talk) 11:16, 26 September 2023 (UTC)

It's a Mafia-style game, apparently. It could be moderatorless (or with a playing-controller who manages the gameplay outwith whatever role they have) and streamlined.
How about four (playing?)cards, one designating the villain. Cards are dealt randomly an all close their eyes for the night phase, only the villain gets to open them and 'tap out' their choice of villager (some subtle way, like a feather on a stick ((not shown in comic!)) that everyone has, that can be used at will to silently reach anyone - reverse the stick to tap the centre of the table to signal completion?).
Because that leaves little logic for the Town to follow, just blindly moving towards "lynch or lose" by luck, you can afford (maybe) a Cop role (from a different card) who then operates after that, at 'night'. They use their stick to ask a given player to thumbs up/down their status, with the and/or you even could do a Blocker that way (tell a victim to ignore being night-killed), etc. Or even mix things up with a role-giving role, whatever you need to balance play in the right way. 'Dead' night-role players could just 'tap completion' without having done anything, if there's no lynch-reveal (beyond town/scum, if even that before the sole scum announces this game is over and they won/lost).
It'd have to be on the honour-system, and I could see mistakes and accidental reveals, but the post-mortem of a few such games might suggest refinements and precautions that haven't occured to me.
...though it'd be easier (even 'player led') with maybe a minimum of six participants (could afford to have two villains, subtly gesturing ideas to each other, and a more complete set of "power townies" than just the one. 12:51, 26 September 2023 (UTC)

I guess I just assumed every comic out there by anyone was printed with Comic Sans but when I was skimming through the source image I noticed the letters are unique and he hand-writes them. 12:09, 26 September 2023 (UTC)

Yes that's always been noticable from the kerning. His habit of tucking the left-hand vertical of an "H" under a preceding "T" - and shortening the left side of a "T" after an "I" (to pick just two examples)...is not something that any automated text rendering system that I'm aware of can produce. -- 12:25, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Also, his O's are quite noticably different from one another. Perfect repetition of loop sizes is a dead giveaway of a "handwritten" font. 14:22, 26 September 2023 (UTC)
Also 'I', the pronoun, is serifed, whereas the letter i elsewhere, whether upper or lowercase, is not. 09:00, 28 September 2023 (UTC)

The published image appears the correct size on xkcd.com now. It seems it would be nice to preserve the larger one (edit: it also didn't look upscaled to me, it looked source dimensioned). I'm not sure how to upload an image. 14:28, 27 September 2023 (UTC)

You (and I) cannot upload it, but if an established named editor cares to grab the archive.org and do so... (Or just rely upon the archive link, and the image link behind it, being available directly for long enough.) 16:13, 27 September 2023 (UTC)

Is there any actual difference between Mafia and Werewolf, beyond what the killers are called? GreatWyrmGold (talk) 22:47, 27 September 2023 (UTC)

Aside from thematic differences, I think any 'baseline' differences are probably swamped by the variations seen within each gametype (number of players, spread of roles, additional further tweaks to rebalance/unbalance according to taste). And things can often progress more differently between SpeedMafia ('live' chatroom play) and a Mafia run through a persistent forum/BBS than could be seen between SpeedMafia and a Werewolf game 'in the round' (in person, chairs in a circle).
But I couldn't immediately recite the numbers of 'standard' roles (e.g. "for X players, there should be Y mafia/werewolves, 1 doctor, <etc>"), it could be that the ratios are actually different and the 'special role mix' (by whatever name, cop/seer, etc) a bit different, but it's all subject to the whim of the game moderators anyway, and there's usually a personalisations or two by them, just to mix things up (sometimes tending towards Bastard setup, whether the players know to start with or not; and not all 'work', but an experienced mod will at least leave it entertaining). 07:44, 28 September 2023 (UTC)

This one completely mystified me... Usually I have SOME idea. Never heard of these games, though it sounds like the online game Among Us (which I haven't played either, LOL!)... I had understood the old game Mafia Wars on Facebook. I THINK I've heard the name Mafia, even seen the logo, but had no idea how it worked. I'm also puzzled by the Trivia, where is this big version? If I open up the comic image it's the same size as on the page, if I open up the image URL provided (the PNG link) it's also small like the page. Where's the huge one? I think he might have noticed and switched it out... NiceGuy1 (talk) 04:37, 1 October 2023 (UTC)

To answer the last, first, the link http://web.archive.org/web/20230926034049/https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/lying.png gives (you may have to click to view at 100% size, if your browser fits it into the window at first) the ultra-huge image that (until I saw that link) I hadn't seen. (But which had prompted theusafBOT to mis-apply the image-zoom to apply to the 'regular' 2x version of image.
As for Mafia (perhaps Facebook's Mafia Wars is based on this) it's a loose conglomeration of moderated game where players are assigned sides (good-guys and bad-guys, and possibly 'other-guy(s)') and gameplay abilities (or be 'vanilla') for use to aid their own side's (or self's) eventual achievement of a win through chat, logical deduction and assistance/interference of others (intentionally or in error). Such games can be thematic, so that instead of a small cast of city-dwellers having to deal with (or act as) a hidden mafia cell it could be (e.g.) a medieval village being harrassed by werewolves. Setting, and composition, are up to the person running the game. As is the manner of it being played (in person, via forum, via live-chat, etc). As I understand it, Among Us is basically one particular implementation of this, given its own quirks, and embedded in a dedicated game-engine to manage this (perhaps doing everything a human moderator would do, ensuring gameplay runs smoothly and all interactions happen as interactions need to (allowing private 'scumchat' messaging between any of the bad-guys who need to coordinate their underhanded activities/agree their combined scum-activities, giving those who must discover information the necessary 'facts', allowing actions to act (or not act!) as much as they are permitted to (or not!). - But I've never played it, so all I know is that it is said to be inspired by Mafia-like games...
Otherwise, the basic form (or something far more complicated!) can be found being played in all sorts of forms, all over the place. I could even see a version being played within this very wiki, if someone was willing to mod a game and work out the logistics (though it'd be a bad use of the wiki editing framework, and would need some external 'private backchannel' method to send necessary hidden info to/between players/mod). But perhaps check any forum you're already a member of, see if they have a 'games' sub-board (even a 'mafia' sub-sub-board) that you can read and get an idea of what you might (possibly) be interested in joining in with in future. A completed game may even have the private 'scumchat'(/'deadchat'/etc) opened up to read what was not being publicly said. - Of course, this sort of thing isn't for everyone, and I hardly ever play this sort of game myself (these days), but this is how you might further understand the phenomenon and thus what the comic potentially is about. 18:29, 1 October 2023 (UTC)

I'm not getting the discussion near the top of this comment section. Resolution (HD) does not relate to screen size, necessarily. If you have a 15-foot by 10 foot screen and you display a 800x400 pixel image on it, it would be large, but not HD. Consequently, a 8000x4000 pixel image displayed on a 6 inch x 3 inch phone would still be HD, although hard to appreciate. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 00:05, 2 October 2023 (UTC)

Well, one person introduced the idea of HD monitors, which another then contrasted with HD screens, so it seems it was all HD (howsoever used) and the 'confusion' was from whether a separate display device was needed/required/desired/possible. As I read it.
At least some of the actual issue was not resolution-based, at the point of rendering, but of relative (re)scaling of image and text data due to disparity, whatever the pixel densities or ranges the whole thing was shoved out through. (Though if the downscale-forced text ended up at a point-size too low to resolve, shoving it through a too-low screen 'resolution', whatever the physical size of the individual effective-pixels, would render it unreadable.) 09:19, 2 October 2023 (UTC)

those who have never played roblox flicker will think cueball is bad at the game. those who HAVE played roblox flicker will think he is the clown. (in flicker, the clown tries to get voted out) (talk) 10:52, 2 October 2023 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Sounds very much like Jester (or variations according to system) also sometimes known as Joker, Martyr, etc. Or Pseudojesters that need to be lynched (unsuccessfully) to even gain a winnable role. Or various others that must attract/redirect/etc lynching (or cross-faction nightkills). Never seen roblox's version, but I presume there's a similar root to the gameplay, but could be using any of a number of terminologies for the roles, it all being so malleable to suit the scenario being 'played' and how complicated you (and your players) want it. 12:00, 2 October 2023 (UTC)