"Of all the games I've played this year, Someone Has Died is one of the highlights -- and easily the game that created the most laughter!" - Jay Little, designer of X-Wing Miniatures, Star Wars Roleplay, and game design professor
"[Someone Has Died] is your next new favourite social game." - Alex Fleetwood, CEO of Sensible Object, creator of Beasts of Balance
Someone Has Died is an improvisational storytelling game that takes one of the coldest and most arduous legal procedures a person can endure and turns it into a gut-busting, baby role-playing game that players of all skill levels can enjoy.
In Someone Has Died, players assume the roles of… well, weirdos, who are coming out of the woodwork in an attempt to earn a cut of the deceased’s fortune. Identity, relationship, and backstory cards help feed players' imagination as they argue against one another and try to convince the estate keeper that they’re the most worthy of the prize.
The estate keeper sets the stage by establishing who has died, how they passed away, and what they left behind. Using a starting hand of one identity card, one relationship card, and two backstory cards, all the other players build the base for their character, which they must maintain and develop over the course of four comically legal-themed rounds of play.
The four rounds are:
- Opening Statements - wherein players introduce their characters, using all four of their cards, and state their claim to the fortune for the consideration of the estate keeper.
- Interrogation Round - wherein the estate keeper asks each player an individual question (at least loosely) based on what’s been said thus far. Players all must incorporate a new backstory card into their response.
- Recess Round - wherein players break for lunch and get to informally ask one other player - estate keeper included! - an individual question. No new backstory cards are drawn.
- Final Statements - wherein players draw one last backstory card and make their last effort to convince the estate keeper that they should get the fortune.
At any point during the game, the estate keeper can reward another player an objection card, which can be played at any time to intervene or interrupt another players’ speaking turn by saying “Objection!” and reading the sentence written on the card. That statement immediately becomes true about the person it’s played on and they must incorporate it into their story.
For the full rules, visit our website or watch our How to Play video!
Want to see it in action? Check out this play-through video we shot with our friends:
"Someone Has Died is a beautifully clean tabletop game that uses whimsical art and hilariously weird elements to promote creative storytelling and fun character building." - IndieHangover
Over the course of developing and playtesting Someone Has Died, we’ve had the same experience over and over again: people who have never improvised before or who usually shy away from character roleplay are able to jump into the game in a way that surprises even them! Our strange, specific cards and the confined scenario of an arbitration seems to give modest players enough guidelines to weave together a story and unleash their imagination. As they say, “restriction breeds creativity!”
"Wildly fun! Get ready to unleash your imagination!" - BoardGamingFTW
We’ve combined the accessibility and quirk of a social, party game with the emphasis on story and character exploration that we love in games such as Fiasco, Fate, and Dungeons and Dragons. Without the long-term commitment, increasingly sided-dies, or rigid rulebook, Someone Has Died welcomes newcomers while also embracing the depth and intensity of expert roleplayers.
"Someone Has Died lured me into actually thinking I would be able to play a role I make up as I go along in a game." - Heather Arbiter, real person
In addition, we’ve melded the roles of game master and judge into the character of the estate keeper. The estate keeper, who remains consistent over four rounds of play, leads the others through the arbitration process. They also get to reward players for good storytelling by handing out objection cards that allow players to modify each other’s stories, giving the estate keeper a more engaged and active role as opposed to the rapid-fire experience of other comparable party games.
Someone Has Died was originally born as a college assignment to create a social game. While brainstorming, we got stuck on games like Werewolf and Mafia, where people are constantly dying. One of us suggested that we should start with the dead guy and the setting of a will arbitration shortly followed. The juxtaposition of this cold and arduous legal process being presented as a comedic party game really made us laugh, especially as we began to develop increasingly bizarre cards, such as “Robot with Feelings” and “Two Rabbits Who You Thought Were Both Boys But Definitely Weren’t.” Our classroom presentation was met with smiles and riotous laughter, so we jumped on the chance to bring our little “engine for fun” (as our professor called it) into the real world. The goal quickly became creating an experience that forgoes objective win conditions and instead rewards improvisation, creativity, and leaning into one’s character.
In May 2016, Adi graduated and began bringing the game to NYU Game Center and Playcrafting exhibitions for playtesting, taking rigorous notes and bringing them back to Ellie for tweaking over Skype sessions. Come December, Adi invited Liz to join the team to have more hands and brains helping out in the city. Almost a year after its inception, in March 2017, Someone Has Died was invited to make its convention debut at PAX East with Indie Megabooth alongside a host of incredible independent board and video games.
After several rounds of testing, iterating, and tweaking, we’ve ended up with a game that we're proud of and that we're dying (hah) to bring into the world. We’ve gotten really encouraging feedback and, as the creators, get such a kick out of seeing the limitless combinations of cards and the new perspectives players from all over the world bring to the game.
Gather Round Games is made up of Adi Slepack, Ellie Black, and Liz Roche, all of whom are alumni of Wesleyan University. Adi and Ellie met in Wesleyan’s first-ever video game course, “Video Games and/as The Moving Image" and then accidentally became legitimate game designers. Liz and Adi have been friends and occasionally roommates since their freshman year of college. They spend too much time together and are practically one being. All of us have contributed to the game design of Someone Has Died. Ellie is our concept artist, having done most of the sketches for the artwork featured in the game. Adi then takes her etchings and renders them digitally in Photoshop.
We’re looking for funding to manufacture a first printing of Someone Has Died, which will allow us not only to fulfill the demand of the Kickstarter, but also to have copies to take to conventions, sell through local retailers, and send to press for review.
Some Special Thanks...
This game and this campaign would not exist without the help of many friends and mentors. To Gil Hova, Pat Brennan, and Anya Combs, thank you for the countless emails, pep talks, and very much solicited advice.
To our professor, Jason Haas who lead us over the threshold to becoming game designers and encouraged us to continue working on our "engine for fun" even once the assignment had ended.
To our friends who have been playtesting since last summer, thank you for your feedback and your support as we've allowed Someone Has Died to consume our lives. Special shout out to Hayley Setear, Jack Spira, Sarah McCully, Pat Brennan, Ari David, Sandra Berdick, Hannah Rimm, Deanna Ibrahim, and Lilly Holman for playing with us so often that most of you appear in our promotional and how to play videos. Also to Pat Baer and Ryan Houlihan, both of whom we met at playtesting events and have become great friends and champions of Someone Has Died ever since.
Finally, to Keren Slepack, Justin Wooster, and Arleigh Wasserman for wearing really stupid costumes in our campaign video. And to Katey Spinner for editing our campaign video and for being an all around wonderfully supportive human.
Someone Has Died Online
Got Questions? email someonehasdiedgame(at)gmail(dot)com
Risks and challenges
Being relative newbies in the game-making scene, we are undergoing the process of manufacturing & distribution for the very first time. However, we've done lots of reading and preparation to give us an idea of what the roadblocks of this process might be and how to get around them. We will be sure to keep our backers notified should we run into any delays.
In addition, while we love our characters, our art for the game box and card backs is not 100% locked. While we still plan to do all of the graphic design in house, we'd like to take the time, added resources, and your feedback to make the product as professional possible without losing it's shitty-but-not-shitty charm.
Along our journey to bringing Someone Has Died to life (hah), we are lucky to have met many talented designers who have successfully funded their games. We've used and will continue to use their guidance and expertise through fulfillment. Between their experience and our gusto, we are confident that we will be able to successfully produce and deliver a wonderful product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter