Assassin (game)

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A spoon, a common Assassin weapon
Players 2 or more
Setup time 1-14 days
Playing time 1–10 weeks
Random chance Little*
Skills required Research
* Targets are randomly assigned

Assassin (also Gotcha, Assassins, Juggernaut, Battle Royale, Paranoia, Killer, Tag, Elimination, or Circle of Death) is a live-action roleplaying game. Players try to eliminate each other from the game using mock weapons in an effort to become the last surviving player.[1]

Assassin is particularly popular on college campuses; several universities have a dedicated "Assassins' Guild" society which organizes games for their members. Assassin is lifestyle-invading. Game-play occurs at all hours and in all places.[2] Since an elimination attempt could occur at any time, successful players are obliged to develop a healthy degree of watchful paranoia.


[edit] Game-play

The Assassin game has several published variants, such as the Steve Jackson rules book Killer[3], first published in 1982,[4] and different guilds tend to create their own sets of rules and procedures. As such, the specific style of play is likely to vary between one group and the next.

[edit] Standard rules

Game hosts(also 'Umpires', 'Referees') begin by advertising that a game is being set up, and instruct potential players to send in their personal details. Once enough players have signed up, the game host assigns targets to the players. A player is usually told the personal details of their target as collected by the game host. The aim of the game is for players to track down and eliminate their targets until only one player remains. When a player eliminates his target, he gets his victim's target(s). If only one player remains, the game is over.

Eliminations (also known as kills) occur when a target is removed from the game because of his targeter's actions. Game rules always list the actions that cause elimination. For example, an elimination could involve wetting the target with a water pistol. Targets that are eliminated tend to remain eliminated.

A safe-zone is a place that protects a player from elimination. Safe-zones are declared by game hosts. They are picked to maximize fairness and minimize disruptiveness. Safe-zones that increase fairness are places players are required to go, and places players live. Safe-zones that decrease disruptiveness are places where formal activities happen (e.g. classrooms, religious buildings, and workplaces).

Eliminations made in the presence of a witness (or witnesses) might not count and might result in the publication of the assassin's identity.

Game hosts might assign certain items to be worn or actions to be performed that protect the wearer or performer from elimination. These items or actions are called Safeties. The safety can last for one specific day or last for the duration of the game. By wearing silly items or performing outlandish actions players have more fun and can spread knowledge of the game to people not currently playing.

Some games have "police forces", often composed of eliminated players, whose job is to track down rule-breakers. Some have time limits on eliminations and penalize players not eliminating. Some allow non-players and eliminated players to participate; acting as informants and bodyguards. Depending on the set rules an assassin may even be hunted by a group - this is a good way to keep the finalists busy and ensures that all those in the group remain interested as well.

[edit] Methods of elimination

Nerf Ammunition

Generally, elimination is carried out using items and methods that cause no actual damage and, in many cases, cannot be mistaken by bystanders for real weapons or acts of violence.

[edit] Direct

In a direct elimination, a player uses a fake weapon to touch his or her target. Two direct elimination types are ranged and mêlée.

The most common ranged weapons are water pistols and NERF type weapons. Sometimes, non-gun projectiles are used as weapons. Elimination methods often include throwing tennis balls or other soft balls, throwing balled-up socks [5], or shooting rubber bands by hand. Another variation is using water—you must get someone wet to eliminate them. This is extremely effective in a long-term game with many people.

Mêlée weapons are typically a fake stabbing weapon. Mêlée weapons are more easily concealed than ranged weapons, but require more stealth to employ effectively. Mêlée weapons must be touched to a player's body to eliminate him. Common examples of mêlée weapons are cardboard and plastic knives, and spoons. Socks are also used, though they can double as ranged weapons, as well. Sharpie markers can be used as mêlée weapons, by marking on player's exposed skin. Stickers can be used as well, by sticking it to a players body.

[edit] Indirect

In an indirect elimination, a player plants an object where his or her target will be eliminated by it, or changes his or her target's environment in a specific way, as defined by the variant's rules, that results in an elimination. Some variants allow "poison", which can be implemented by adding strong flavors such as Tabasco sauce to the victim's food. Rules might also cover "poison gas" or contact poisons. Food can also be poisoned by the insertion of an upright toothpick, with a "poison" label attached, or a piece of paper being placed underneath the victim's food with the word "poison" written on it. The most popular method of using contact poison is to apply the poison to the target's door handle; consequently some players choose to wear gloves.

Some variants allow "bombs", which may be implemented in various ways. Some require the bomb to "go off" in some way, and hence might use alarm clocks or other timers. One technique may be to "e-bomb" a target by either using an e-mail or instant messenger to send a file to another target in order to kill them. This "attachment" may be a word document, audio file, or an image that shows that the target is dead, and the assassin that killed him. Another technique is the "car bomb" where the assassin puts a tape or CD in the victim's car audio system. When the victim starts the car and audio, he will hear the assassin saying that he was just "car bombed." Another "car bomb" variant allows one to shoot and kill the person while they are in the car, but in order for this kill to be achieved the assassin must be using the Nerf Rocket Launcher or equivalent. An assassin may also bomb a victim by sending him/her a package in the mail with a dart and/or letter saying, "You're Bombed." The victim is eliminated as soon as he or she opens the package and reads the note.

[edit] Capture

When clipped to a target's clothing, a clothespin serves as a flag football like objective

In a capture elimination, a player eliminates his or her target by coming into possession of a specific item. Capture eliminations are exactly like tackles in Flag Football. Some common objects used as capture objectives are flags, articles of clothing, and clothespins.

[edit] Difficulties

[edit] Collusion

Tribalistic instincts can cause informal team play to emerge, where members of or within a college or several colleges band together in "no-kill" agreements or higher levels of co-operation. The advantages of pooling information on targets include the possibility of joint operations, added tactical information on geography or simply greater ease of identifying targets, e.g. where one member of the "Mafia" personally knows the target of their colleague. Co-operative play enables greater offensive and defensive co-ordination, the latter especially where mafiosi live near to each other or are able to communicate by instant messaging.

These groupings can improve game play by formalizing a learning system where experienced players mentor new ones, and can add a humorous flavor to the game. However, eventually a large group which includes several talented players can exert a stranglehold on the course of the game. Whilst this can be highly amusing and challenging for experienced players, it can strain friendships and is often off-putting for newer players. In extreme cases, the later stages of play can descend into farce where only members of one group are left alive, eliminating the excitement for all others.[citation needed]

Excessive collusion is difficult to control, and is best dealt with by an experienced umpire, who can take emergency measures such as licensing the execution of some of a group's key members. Over time, the process is self-regulating as most communities consist of students, who experience a rapid turnover of membership and will go through lean periods. Some universities prefer to formalize the teamplay system as alluded to earlier.[citation needed]

[edit] Security fears

Due to increasing security worries since the World Trade Center attacks, the participants can find themselves restricted in their behavior and choice of weaponry. In the United Kingdom, gun laws were changed by the Anti-social Behavior Act of 2003 (US) to make the carrying of an imitation firearm in a public place illegal. After a couple of low-key incidents involving arrests under the amended Firearms Act of 1968, and possibly other public order legislation, guilds had to re-consider which kind of toy gun could safely be used. This is in addition to tight regulation of the use of imitation "bombs" and suspicious behavior in general.[citation needed]

Also, some police forces have urged people to stop playing assassins.[6] In 2008, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln placed a one year ban on the Assassin Game. The administrators of the school placed the ban after the police had been called by a person who observed one student bringing a NERF gun to class.[7]

On March 31st in Fife, Washington a Costco was evacuated as well as several car dealerships and small businesses when a "bomb" was left by someone playing Assassin. Several local Police and Fire departments responded as well as the Explosives Desposal team from the Port of Seattle, the FBI and the ATF. The bomb was a box "found in a flower bed, contained a magnet and a beeping motion sensor" with the words "bomb, you're dead" written on it. The "bomb" was destroyed via a water cannon on a bomb disposal robot. The man who left the package later turned himself in to authorities. [8]

[edit] In popular culture

[edit] Film

The 1982 film Tag: The Assassination Game starring Linda Hamilton and the 1985 movie Gotcha! starring Anthony Edwards feature a game similar to Assassins, but employing rubber-tipped darts and paintball guns, respectively. In the 2002 film Big Trouble starring Tim Allen, the main character's son is playing the assassin game with water guns and it leads to several ironic incidents in the plot. And the 2006 film The Murder Game is based around a game of Killer which becomes real.[9]

[edit] Television

Assassins has been part of the plot of some episodic television shows. In the CSI: New York episode "Fare Game", the game of Assassins was a motive for the actual murder of one of the players.[10]

During the first season of Felicity, the game is played using Nerf darts.[11]

A version of the game is also played in the NCIS episode "Red Cell", Season 2, Episode 20.

Also, the game was played in an episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Bryce Larkin and Charles Bartowski were seen playing Assassin in the Stanford Library using old-style orange rubber dart guns in the Chuck episode, "Chuck versus the Alma Mater".

A far earlier example appears in an episode of the TV series The Saint from 1967, called "The Death Game". This episode directly uses a game like Assassins as the central plot. This may be the earliest example of the game in the media.

[edit] Literature

  • A game of assassin takes place in the novel Prep (Curtis Sittenfeld).[citation needed]

[edit] Gaming

  • The Assassin Quake mod incorporates the rules of assassin for Quake II.[12]
  • iTag Live (iPhone Game). It uses GPS to track opponents and camera for tagging.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

[edit] Guilds

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