A prison survival game using real-life criminals.

OVERVIEW

Felony Sweepstakes™ is a turn-based game of chance satirising the realities of the US ‘Justice’ system.

Players must manage simplified avatars of real-life criminals until only one survives.

PLAYERS   2 – 5

AGES   14+

AVERAGE PLAYTIME   60 minutes

Soundtrack

SETTING UP A GAME

  • Laptop, Tablet or Mobile with internet connection
  • 4x blank Inmate Cards (per player)
  • 1x pen (per player)
  • Cell Activity Cards (shuffled, face down, in the middle)
  • Breaking Point Cards (separated per Trait Type, shuffled, face down, in the middle)
  • Breaking Point Alarms
  • 1x DEAD Stamp & red ink blotter
  • 1x Dice

Before a game can start, each player must source real-life arrestees from one of the recommended Arrest Records and recreate them as Inmates via their Inmate cards.

Each player’s deck of Inmates will accurately reflect the names, details and traits of their real-world criminal counterparts – real people sat in holding cells across the USA as you read this.

Using your chosen Arrest Records, take turns to find out which criminals you are going to have in your deck. Criminals with few or less severe charges against their record are best to start with as they’re less likely to cause disruption or enter Breaking Point (see related section). You cannot skip or trade arrestees during the selection process. Who you get is who you get. Good luck.

Transpose the following information from your issued Arrest Record(s) to your Inmate Card(s):

  • Full Name
  • Sex (“M” for male or “F” for female)
  • Age
  • Race (“W” for white, “B” for black, “H” for Hispanic – as dictated by County Sheriff classifications)
  • Criminal charges into Violence, Drugs, Larceny and Street Trait Meters

It is highly recommended that each player also draw a quick caricature of their issued criminals in the blank avatars provided on Inmate cards. Include as much or as little detail as you would like.

Your Inmates have four Trait Meters; Violence, Drugs, Larceny and Street. These Trait Meters represent that particular Inmates capacity for Violence, addiction to Drugs, ability to commit Larceny and Street gang skills.

On each Arrest Record, an arrestee can have two types of charges against them – Misdemeanours or Felonies. A “misdemeanour” is typically regarded as a ‘minor wrongdoing’ and lesser criminal act. A “felony” is typically a crime regarded in the US and many other judicial systems as more serious than a misdemeanour. Different states may have different terms for these classifications of crimes.

When building your deck of Inmates before a game, the charges against your issued arrestee must be simplified and transposed into the Trait Meters using the following basic principle:

1 Misdemeanour  = 1 point to related Trait Meter      1 Felony = 2 points to related Trait Meter

  • Violent crimes (such as assault, battery or mugging) go into the Violence Trait Meter.
  • Drugs crimes (such as possession, selling or manufacturing) go into the Drugs Trait Meter.
  • Larceny crimes (such as burglary, tax-fraud or laundering) go into the Larceny Trait Meter.
  • Street crimes (such as prostitution, trespassing, parole violations, driving without a license) go into the Street trait meter.

Charges from Arrest Records can only ever be transposed into one of the available Trait Meters, no matter how tempting (or rational…) it might be to have a particular crime populate two or more.

When the classification of a crime isn’t immediately obvious, agree among yourselves which of the four Trait Meters it belongs to.

Example #1   An issued arrestee has 2 violence-related misdemeanours and 1 drug felony. They receive 2 Violence points (for the 2 misdemeanours, worth 1 point each) and 2 Drugs points (for the 1 felony, worth 2 points).

Example #2   An issued arrestee has been charged with violently stealing drugs. Points are not to be added to each of the Violence, Drugs and Larceny Trait Meters. The first instance of this crime is violence, so points will only be attributed to the Violence trait meter.

Recommended Arrest Records sources: Pasco County (Florida)Lubbock County (Texas)Vanderburgh County (Indiana).

30+ additional County Sherriff Office Arrest Records are available from the Arrest Records Map.

Please note   You might need to use a VPN Service to bypass Country / IP Address limitations.

Once every player has a deck of fully-populated Inmates, they are eligible to collect Immunity Cards before the game starts.

If a particular Trait Meter has 0 points across a player’s entire deck of Inmates, each Inmate gets +1 Immunity Card for the Trait Meter type in question.

A deck of Inmates can collect Immunity Cards in this way for every Trait Meter type with 0 points.

Example   A deck of Inmates collectively has 0 Drugs points before the game starts. Each Inmate in that deck gets +1 Drugs Immunity Card.

GAMEPLAY RULES

Win by surviving the horrors of prison and having the last Inmate(s) alive.

Throughout the game, Cell Activity and Breaking Point cards will impact the 4 Trait Meters of your Inmates; Violence, Drugs, Larceny and Street. These Trait Types only ever increase as your Inmates succumb to brutal acts of violence, spiralling addiction to drugs, rampant theft and dangerous prison gang culture. Use a pen to fill in Trait Meter points on your Inmate cards.

Protect Inmates with the intelligent use of Immunity Cards. Target other players’ Inmates when opportunities arise – but don’t be surprised when they return the favour.

When an Inmate reaches 5 out of 5 points for a Trait Type they run the risk of losing themselves to wreckless arrogance or, worse still, insanity. This dangerous state of mind is called  ‘Breaking Point’ and acts committed in Breaking Point can be highly beneficial but, other times, truly catastrophic for players. Inmates can also enter Breaking Point instantly as a result of targeted attacks or the heinous events that can occur behind bars.

Once each player has a fully populated deck of Inmates and has attributed any Immunity Cards collected via Clean Slates, roll the dice to determine which player goes first. Highest number wins.

Order of play for a player’s turn:

  1.  Play available Prison Skills (optional)
  2.  Roll for every Breaking Point (Trait Meter at 5 out of 5). Roll odds to become ‘Broken’ (add a Broken alarm to Trait Meter), evens to ‘keep it together’ (move on). Alternatively, use matching Immunity Cards to not have to roll for Breaking Point (return Immunity Cards to stack).
  3.  Play every Broken Alarm across your deck. If an Inmate in your deck reaches Breaking Point or becomes broken during your turn, roll the dice or play Broken cards as required. If an Inmate in your deck reaches Breaking Point or becomes Broken during another player’s turn, roll the dice or play Broken cards on your next turn.
  4. End your turn by picking up and playing a Cell Activity card from the stack.

Use Immunity Cards throughout the game to protect your Inmates!

When an Inmate’s Trait Meter is at 3 out 5, they unlock a Prison Skill for that Trait type.

Prison Skills are optional actions that enable players to incite violence, hook others on drugs, steal valuable items and swap Inmates between decks.

Once an Inmate has unlocked a Prison Skill, players can roll the dice to attempt to execute it during their turn. Roll evens to successfully executive the Prison Skill, odds to fail the attempt (no effect). Prison Skills can only be attempted once per Inmate per turn.

  • Violence Prison Skill: Goad   Your Inmate provokes others into fighting. Choose any 2 Inmates to ‘fight’ each other and roll dice for both. Lowest number loses and Inmate get +2 Violence. If one of the Inmates fighting is the one who actioned the Prison Skill, they are also rewarded +1 Violence Immunity Card for winning.
  • Drugs Prison Skill: Dose   Your Inmate coerces a susceptible individual into taking hard drugs. Choose any Broken Inmate to lose Broken status, but get +2 Drugs points. If an Inmate uses this Prison Skill on themselves, they also receive +1 Drugs Immunity Card (but still get the +2 Drugs points).
  • Larceny Prison Skill: Steal   Your Inmate effortlessly nabs something important from another. Steal an Immunity Card from any Inmate and apply it to any Inmate. If an Immunity Card is stolen from an Inmate within the same deck, collect a bonus Larceny Immunity Card of your choice and apply it to any Inmate.
  • Street Prison Skill: Pawn   Your Inmate exacts their managerial prowess to change up who is with who. Swap any two Inmates in the game between decks. Inmates lose Broken status’ during the transfer. If you transfer an Inmate at any Breaking Point into your own deck, the Inmate transferred gets 1 of each type of Immunity Card.

When an Inmate has a Trait Meter at Breaking Point (5 out of 5 points) but isn’t already Broken, roll the dice to determine whether they become Broken for the Trait Meter in question. Roll Odds to ‘lose it’ and become Broken (add a Broken Alarm to the indicator) and play a Broken card, or Evens to ‘keep it together’ and not become Broken for that Trait Meter this turn.

Player’s must address every Breaking Point across their deck each turn.

You don’t need to roll for Breaking Point for any Trait Meters already Broken.

When an Inmate is Broken (indicated by a Broken Alarm added to the Trait Meter affected) for a Trait Meter, players must pick up and play a Broken card for that Trait Meter type.

A single Inmate could be at Breaking Point or Broken for every Trait Type! Tough luck. This is a truly volatile and dangerous person.

You only ever need to roll for Breaking Point or play Broken cards on your turn, but Inmates in your deck can reach Breaking Point or become Broken as a result of factors outside of your control during a game.

Cell Activity cards detail the unavoidable day-to-day occurrences that unfold in the prison containing all of the players Inmates. Cell Activity cards often mandate changes to specific Inmates, collective types of Inmates or even all Inmates. Cell Activity cards are not optional. You must play by the rules of this card each turn if it affects any Inmates in your deck. If the effects of a Cell Activity card are not applicable during a turn, the player(s) in question can count themselves lucky and move on.

Immunity Cards provide one-time protection from events impacting the Trait Meters of your Inmates. There are 4 types of Immunity Card; Violence, Drugs, Larceny and Street. Immunity Cards are worth 1 Trait Meter point each and can be used to negate the addition of points to the related Trait Meter. Immunity Cards are single-use and must be returned to the stack once used. Immunity Cards can also be stacked, granting Inmates numerous instances of protection against events affecting their Trait Meters.

Example   A Cell Activity Card dictates you must add 2 Violence points to an Inmate, but that Inmate already has 1 Violence Immunity Card.  1 Violence point can be nullified with the Immunity Card. The Inmate now only receives +1 Violence point.

Immunity Cards can also be used to avoid having to roll the dice when at Breaking Point for a Trait Meter. The Inmate must have an Immunity Card matching the Trait Meter at Breaking Point to do so, but also loses all of their Immunity Cards in the process. When an Inmate dies, they take their Immunity Cards with them. Return them to the stacks.

Death is finite. Your Inmates might be murdered, commit suicide, face capital punishment, overdose or beyond.

When an Inmate dies, use the DEAD Stamp and red ink blotter to mark them as dead.

They’re then out of the game. Just like how death works in real life.

Only one player can win by having the last Inmate(s) alive.

Manage your Inmates well. Trust nobody.

EXTRAS

Want to feature as an Inmate in a future game?

  • Line up 1 shot of liquor per Inmate. When an Inmate dies, the owning player downs the liquor shot.
  • Trait Meter point additions equate to the number of swigs a player must have of another drink of their choice.
  • When a player has lost all of their Inmates, they add to a Dirty Pint.
  • The winning player downs the Dirty Pint.

Please drink responsibly. If you don’t, you just might end up in the deck of a future game of Felony Sweepstakes™!

Set the tone of the game with this optional orientation video, provided by Minnehaha County Jail:

Special Thanks To:

  • Teresa Bridge (Playtesting, Feedback)
  • Clare Jepson (Playtesting, Feedback)
  • Ruby Guyler (Proofreading, Feedback)
  • Adam Bibilo (Feedback)
  • Alice Lindley (Feedback)
  • James Humphreys (Feedback)
  • Matt Jackson (Ideation)
  • Samantha Martin (Playtesting, Feedback)
  • Michael Martin (Playtesting, Feedback)
  • Alex Screen (Feedback)
  • Sadie Garcia (Playtesting, Feedback)
  • Amelia Bell (Playtesting, Feedback)
  • Criminals (Subject Matter)

YOUR MIX OF DISGUST, PLAYTESTING, DOUBT AND SUPPORT HELPED GET THIS GAME OFF THE GROUND ❤︎

WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Most (but not all) U.S criminal court records are accessible to the public, enabling Felony Sweepstakes™ to exist. This is never going to change.

You can however make a difference on injustices highlighted by your Felony Sweepstakes™ experience via the options below: