That Lady Who Hosted That One Game People Liked Despite The Fact It Kinda Sucked Presents:
And of partial explanatory nature for various design decisions likely being taken in the upcoming “Danganronpa 6: Subtitle Pending”, a game which you may or may not be excited for
Part 1: How Not To Get Away With Murder, Or, A Case Study Of The Various Flaws In Previous Murder Plans
In which our hero discovers Among Us - The flaws in “The Perfect Crime” - The Death of the Ultimate Nanotechnologist - A discussion of the fall of King Arthur - The discounting of Mitigating Factors - The folly of Depth Perception - A summation of the Method by which Murder is typically Uncovered
Note: Several examples are cited here. I do not mean to insult the intelligence of the murderers in these cases, only to point out the flaws as an illustration of how to do better. Many of these plans contain elements I quite like, that would do well when combined with more deceptive elements.
Welcome, reader, to one of the most pretentious documents you are likely to read. In this essay, I intend to explain my personal thoughts on what makes a murder in the “Danganronpa” series of forum games likely to succeed; that is, likely to have its’ culprit survive trial. Before I can fully explain this, however, I must discuss Among U- wait, where are you going? Come back, I swear this is relevant!
Among Us, the popular and irony-poisoned video game, is relevant to DR precisely because it arguably acts as a highly simplified version of it- while the various complexiites of methods and motives are removed, Among Us is of use precisely because the movements of the various people in the game are analagous to DR- substitute “tasks” with puzzles and roleplaying and you can see how the Spotless behave as Crewmates would, and in the same manner Imposters behave as Blackened often do.
In Among Us, a common murder is to find somebody who is alone, kill them, and immediately jump into a vent, escaping without a trace. This could arguably be considered a “Perfect Crime”, as absolutely no evidence points to the murderer; scrutiny upon the reporter, namely if it was a “self-report”, would not be an issue, and after committing such a murder you may wonder why exactly anybody would consider you to be “sus” for any reason other than social deduction.
However, this Perfect Murder is in fact highly imperfect, and while no evidence points directly to the identity of the murderer, there are various factors that make the social deduction unnaturally easy, all spiralling forth from a single factor:
- Because of the simple fact that this is the defualt assumption as to how the murder happened, all discussion will immediately be about the exact correct premise from which various suspects can be eliminated.
- Allibis can be easily established becausse the time of death can be deduced to a fairly tight degree simply by “who last saw the victim alive”.
- Depending on the number of witnesses, suspicion can be narrowed down to people who recently left rooms whose vent is connected to the vent in the room where the body is.
- Because it’s fairly easy to presume the killer murdered then vented away, scrutiny will likely fall upon the exact series of tasks each person claims to have done, becauses that’s a good way to force imposters to make statements that can be contradicted by testimony.
- In all cases, extra burden of deception is put upon the Imposter, and if you are loath to tell lies for fear of being contradivcted, you are likely to be caught.
All of this combines to make the act of social deduction incredibly easy, even if you are not outright uncovered by process of elimination. Of course, this is not a guide to Among Us, it’s a guide to Danganronpa, a game with far more complex and ambiguous evidencethe . But the same principle absolutely applies- if the default assumptions gathered upon the discovery of the body are correct, or close to correct, that provides a huge advantage to the detectives. Let me give you a few examples.
The first two examples I’d like to cite are both from Danganronpa 5, and both illustrate simmillar points in unique ways:
- Game 5, Case 1 - Now, obviously, this case was solved by Apprentice tricking SirDerpsALot into thinking they were the Mastermind, making Derps confess. However, various factors lead to that- Derps left the crime scene to dispose of the one piece of indirect evidence pointing to them, namely the fact that he was the only one without spare clothes. While his murder left almost no direct evidence pointing to him at the crime scene or nearby, taking advantage of multiple magical rituals, it was extremely direct- simply by understanding the rituals used, the near-exact method was discerned, and hence the investigators closed in on the clothes issue fairly quickly - the possibility was pointed out in the main investigation area before Derps was tricked into confessing. Committing a murder where essentially the only question was who did it ultimately hastened the investigation’s progress towards the killer’s critical mistake.
- Game 5, Case 2 - I made a few mistakes in the running of this one that allowed the true solution (a suicide) to be angleshot, but given that the existence of suicides in DR is an understood possibility, I’m still willing to use it as an example. Feel free to reject it if you disagree. In any case, Dat’s murder contained far more misdirection than Derps’;, he quite convincingly faked a struggle, and left it quite ambiguous who could’ve done it, precisely. However, the crime scene did not immediatley reject the possibility of a suicide, and becausse the investigation went forward with the (correct) assumption that suicide was a possibillity, the fact of an Ultimate being used in the corridor Dat fell from that ultimately wass what sealed his fate was deducible. Obviously this was only so easy because of my own mistakes, but I imagine the truth would still have been possible to determine.
In both cases, the false assumptions, the differences between the events implied and the actual events, were either insufficient or nonexistent- even with the mitigating factors, solving the murder was easy. There is one example I would cite, but annoyingly actually won. Nonetheless, it is illustrative of the problems with winning using a simple “it is ambiguous who the culprit is” murder.
- Game 3, Case 4 - This case is simple- Gorta stabs a man, drops the knife, washes his clothes, and runs away. As I pointed out, honestly quite rudely, in the case summary, it was in fact entirely 100% possible to deduce Gorta was the only possible culprit from the evidence. So why did Gorta win? Simple- he ended up in a mechanical thunderdome due to fingerprinting, and Amelia, the Mastermind, posited that the stab wound was so neat that nobody with only one eye, as gorta’s character had at that time, could’ve done it. Seeing the factors by which this won reveals the fundamental weaknesses of simply creating an ambiguous culprit with almost no deception- a premise by the Mastermind had to be added in order for it to work, which cannot be relied upon, and the fact of a simplistic thunderdome encouraged the exact mindset by which this would be effective. Had Gorta not gotten, quite frankly, quite lucky on multiple fronts, his plan would’ve stood no chance.
Remember, other players will look at what seemed to have happened and analyse that first, before looking at possible ways in which they were deceived. You cannot remove all evidence pointing to you in some way; the trick is to make it so that the evidence and logic pointing to you is never uncovered.
In short, more is required than to simply make the culprit ambiguous- this opens the way for social and mechanical deduction that ultimately is prone to undoing the culprit. We must create false assumptions. And down this road lies not only more interesting murders, but more effective murders.
Part 2: Inner and Outer Realities, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Blatantly Lie
In which our hero Forgets about Among Us - Frame Job - Something is Wrong Here - Locked Room - A discussion of Kunaigeddon - A conclusion.
This game is not Among Us; there is evidence, but there is also a whole world of possible ways of committing murders, contraptions and tricks and lies and such that can lead to possibilities. A genuinely, assuredly successful murder will create some false assumption(s) in the mind of the invetigators, which are required to be refuted in order for the deduction to arrive at the correct answer. You must not merely try to obscure the correct answer, but actively attempt to force the incorrect answer.
As we learned from the previous section, the way we do that is by making false assumptions that are far from the truth in the minds of the investigators- we use indirect means to make something appear to directly have happened in a certain way. The secret method cannot be too close to what appears to have happened, since then we’re asking “how is that possible?” rather than “what happened?”, which is a subtle difference- as we learned from 5-2, a basic exploitation of the false assumption that signs of a struggle reflect a genuine struggle is not enough as in reality, the same movements as would’ve happened in a real struggle did happen there, merely with the absence of a second person.
You have to deceive them, confidently, and convincingly.
There are three main ways I can describe of doing this:
- 1: Just Frame Someone - The simplest method, but not ineffective, cleverly planting evidence, arranging things such that another person appears guilty, and simply blatantly lying in a manner that makes another appear guilty without outright thunderdoming them are incredibly effective, exploiting the simple and almost automatic assumption that the crime scene has been tampered with minimally. Shockingly few murders have featured this, and they could absolutely stand to. This is, compared to the other two methods, simple, but is also the most expected of the three.
- 2: Make Them Think It Happened One Way, But It Didn’t - Quite simply, use some sort of magic trick in order to make something about the initial assumptions upon discovering the body wrong- make it appear the murder happend in one place where it happened in another, throw off the time of death, throw off the cause of death. The methods of acheiving this are multitudinous and require creativity, but a good DR map has several built into it. Don’t be afraid to lie in order to support your false assumptions!
- 3: Locked Room Mystery - Finally, make the murder appear to be impossible. The room was locked so there’s no way the murderer could’ve gotten out. The victim was seen alive until the very last moment, where they walked into an empty room. Different from a murder in which anyone could’ve done it, which as elaborated upon is a flawed model, making it appear as if nobody did it is far more powerful, as a signifcant mental effort has to be expended to merely figure out the basic method of the murder, let alone who did it. This one is far more difficult to acheive than the other two, requiring large amounts of creativity and puzzle-solving to construct effectively but arguably far more effective since it acheives the dream expressed by the “just kill someone and hide some of the evidence” model- a murder that has nothing directly traceable back to you.
Method 3 contains elements of Method 2 which contains elements of Method 1. Now, there aren’t really any Locked Room Mysteries in DR I can cite, and frame jobs are so basic that I shan’t need any examples to explain their effectiveness, but Method 2 is a bit harder to explain. I am going to explain it, though, using… sigh Kunaigeddon.
- Game 2, Case 1, aka: Kunaigeddon - In Kunaigeddon, the principal false assumption(s) were that the killer could not have escaped and that the victims knew who the killer was. Now, I would argue that Katze’s Undetectable Secret Room was, dare I say it, bad design, but exploiting it like that was clever- it did not only amount to Kat killing PKR and CRich then venting away, but rather created a murder uniquely suited to framing people nearby the crime scene. As it happens, the second false assumption was accidental, being the result of an ability the culprit(s) had no knowledge of, but it additionally contributed. Kunaigeddon succeeded because it did not merely make it appear that anyone could’ve done it but we don’t know who, but rather it took advantage of various factors to make it difficult to piece together the exact way in which only Kat could’ve done it, and framed ATNoName for the crime excellently. As much as I hate to admit it, more murders akin to Kunaigeddon would not be amiss.
- Note how while these false assumptions ultimately won Kat the game, I would not describe Kunaigeddon as ideal, merely the best expression of what murders should be more like in DR- there was a lot to work on, mainly owing to the fact that I, as arrogant as this sounds, nearly figured it out. An exploitation of more advanced false assumptions than the ones Kat used to successfully create a really fucking dumb meme about kunai guns is far more likely to succeed.
In conclusion, I am not going to pretend that the ideal murder in DR is easy to plan- it will require creativity, awareness of the hidden properties of the map, and a bit of luck. However, I hope I have illustrated a method by which this sort of plan can be constructed- an emphasis on false appearances over ambiguity, impossibility over large fields of possibility, and, when all else fails, lying convincingly to give yourself an alibi or destroy someone else’s. For further reading:
- I would reccomend reading classic murder mystery novels, such as the ones by Agatha Christie, and noticing how the murders there often incorporate false assumptions in order to create a mystery only solvable by a great detective.
- The classic series Colubo is also a good watch; the murders are shown off the bat in Columbo, and the tension of the programme is how exactly Lt. Columbo is to catch the murderer. Not only is it very entertaining, but it’s a great way to understand how seemingly perfect crimes can in fact be astonishingly imperfect.
- Try rereading the case summaries for the actual canon Danganronpa series, as while the murders there are far from perfect, they also often appear inscrutable at first by the murderer employing some clever trick which is unravelled throughout the case.
Thank you for your time, and remember: commit a murder you will be proud of even if you lose. It is, after all, just a game, and I hope you will understand how the task of planning and executing a murder by the principles I have suggested would be more fun than simply running into a room, killing someone, and venting.
when the imposter is sus
Also, poison murders, the only effective kind of highly simplistic murdrer, are being removed from DR6, so don’t try to use them as a contradiction. I would kindly accept criticism on this guide, as this is merely my own thoughts. The thoughts on “inner and outer realities” particularly present in the middle of this essay are lifted from “Designing Miracles” by Darwin Ortiz, an invaluable book on the internal design of magic tricks for the purpose of creating the illusion of impossibility.