This post was originally posted on The Listserve (now shut down). It's basically an email lottery. You sign up. You get emails. Every day, one email. Every day, one of the people on the mailing list sends an email to the rest of the list. It could be you.

Yesterday, that was me.

I’m a game developer by trade and a general creative-type, I figured what finer way than to develop a game.

I gave it a bit of thought, and a friend of mine tried to get me to design an ARG for it. I didn't think that I could pull that off in 48 hours, but the idea of a game as a gift really appealed to me. I've replicated it here for those not on The Listserve, presented below with a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.



  • stack of index cards (or multiple sheets of paper)

  • pens/pencils (at least one for each player)

  • players (4-8, probably)


  1. each player should take a card, think up a name for a fictional person, and write it down. Share it with the group. Ensure there's lots of room for more writing, and pass it to their left.

  2. each player takes the card they receive and writes down a sentence or two of what will be public knowledge about the character on the card, share it with the group, and pass it to their left.

  3. each player takes the card they receive, and writes down (on the back) a sentence or two of a deep dark secret involving the name on the card, and after folding it to hide the secret, passes to their left.

  4. the card you receive is now your identity for the remainder of the evening. Your goal is to uncover all the other players secrets, while hiding your own.


  • the secret works best if it’s something that would ruin the character completely if it were to be revealed, or if there's a Secret task built into the knowledge

  • intertwined secrets can be especially fun if it’s something that involves another character, and recall you’ve seen two names before you write the secret for the third

  • remember that at least one player knows your secret from the moment you start the game. However, that player's CHARACTER probably doesn't know it.

  • get into character as much as you can. You’ll feel silly at first, but it’s WAY more fun.

  • it can be interesting to establish prior knowledge and setting before you start creating the cards, such as: all characters are trapped in a bomb shelter together; or they’re kids spending the night in a haunted mansion on a dare; or The Inspector won’t let anyone leave until he figures out who murdered The Victim


(note: only three players are used in the following example, for clarity. This is probably too few to play Secrets adequately)

Alice, Bob and Charlie decide to play a game during Prohibition Era Chicago.

Round 1 (Everyone starts with empty cards)

  • Jimmy the Squid (written by Alice)

  • Mike Donovan (written by Bob)

  • Francine de Witt (written by Charlie)

Round 2 (Alice has the Francine card, Bob has the Jimmy card, Charlie has Mike)

  • Jimmy Public Information (written by Bob)

    • Jimmy is an enforcer for the Chicago Mafia

    • Jimmy's squeeze is Francine

  • Mike Public Information (written by Charlie)

    • Mike is Jimmy's best friend

  • Francine Public Information (written by Alice)

    • Francine is a very successful moonshine smuggler that works with the Mafia

Round 3 (Alice has the Mike card, Bob has the Francine card, Charlie has Jimmy)

The following is Secret information. Only the author and the final player of that character will know each one.

  • Jimmy the Squid has never hurt anyone in his life. His enforcer prowess is all lies and rumour (written by Charlie)

  • Mike Donovan is an undercover detective with the Chicago PD. He's trying to figure out where Miss de Witt's operation is located. (written by Alice)

  • Francine de Witt actually smuggles people, not moonshine (written by Bob)


  • Alice plays as Jimmy the Squid

  • Bob plays as Mike Donovan

  • Charlie plays as Francine de Witt

Have fun!

Let me know if you play it. Or can think of a better name. :)