Introduction ‌

In the years developing and promoting Blood on the Clocktower, we encountered people with a variety of disabilities who were interested in playing. One of our goals with BOTC was to create a game that would be as accessible as possible, so we’ve always worked to find ways to overcome any disability or communication issue to include anyone who wants to play in as complete a way as possible. On this page, we’ll share some of the things we’ve discovered or that have been shared with us over the years, with the hope that it will help you include in your games anyone who wants to play. At the moment, the major areas we cover are advice for including players who are blind, some mobility tips & attention deficit tips, and ways to best use the Revolutionary Fabled character to include players. Our aim is that this section of the site will grow over time and eventually house a wide compendium of accessibility resources, tips, and advice. If you have any experience in this area and want to share your insights, or if you’ve found any ways to make BOTC more accessible that aren’t already listed here, we encourage you to share them with us at storyteller@bloodontheclocktower.com.

Revolutionary ‌

Usually, the best way to include any player that would normally have some difficulty playing is via the Revolutionary character, which is included in all versions of the game. Whether you have a player who has an intellectual disability, is unable to understand the rules of the game, is blind or deaf, doesn’t know the language the group is using, or is unable to communicate by normal means for whatever reason, the Revolutionary character can allow you to include them fully.

Even if you have a player that is too young to understand the rules and strategy, but wants to play with a trusted adult, the Revolutionary can allow them to participate. The Revolutionary is also useful for couples or good friends who wish to play but who are uncomfortable with lying to or distrusting each other, even in a game setting.

The Revolutionary is specifically designed to allow all players to fully participate, and works by pairing up one player with a friend – someone who they can communicate freely and easily with the whole game. Both these players are guaranteed to be on the same team for the whole game, so they can trust each other completely, communicate openly or secretly, and share information between themselves. During the night phase of the game, where usually only one player will ‘wake’ to use their ability, both players can wake, so that one player can help the other understand the Storyteller’s signals, should they so wish. Important game decisions can be made as a pair, or individually, as each player prefers.

Each of the pair gets an individual character as normal, such as the Ravenkeeper, Poisoner, Mayor etc. They can vote, use their abilities, and live and die, individually, as normal. But either both players are good or both players are evil! If they are both good, they can both figure out the puzzle. If they are both evil, they can both bluff. And they best bluff well, if one of the pair is the Demon…

If one player needs help at any time, either in understanding or communicating, they can rely on their trusted partner to communicate to them what they need to know, or communicate on their behalf if they are unable to.

Token for Revolutionary character

Examples:

Matt is deaf. He teams up with Julian via the Revolutionary. Matt draws the Poisoner, and Julian is given the Imp. They can scheme in private using sign language, so that Matt can participate.

Hannah is twelve years old. She is keen to play but does not understand the intricacies of how the characters work. She gets the Monk and teams up with her father, who is the Empath.

Storyteller’s “How To Run” section of the rulebook:

When setting up the game, before giving the bag to the players, declare that the Revolutionary is in play and which two neighboring players are Revolutionaries. Add the Revolutionary token to the Grimoire. Mark the Revolutionaries with the “Register Falsely?” reminder between their character tokens.

Give the bag to one Revolutionary. They draw a token. Look at their token, choose a token of the same alignment from the bag, and give it to the other Revolutionary. Then, give the bag to the non-Revolutionary players to draw from.

Once per game, you can make one player marked “Register Falsely?” register as a different character and alignment, then remove the “Register Falsely?” reminder.

Accommodating Mobility Issues ‌

Some players are not able to easily move about the space during a game of Clocktower. Whilst we recommend that all players stay within the ‘circle’ or within the room, some Storytellers prefer to encourage their players to move about the play space more dramatically, in order to have private conversations. For players that have some kind of mobility impairment we have found that the following tips are helpful:

  • Before the game begins, tell the group that a certain player would prefer that other players visit them, rather than the other way around, when anyone wants to have a private conversation. This player may request that others come sit next to them, to share a private conversation, but may not be moving about the space to sit next to others.
  • Players that can freely and easily move about the space find it much easier to manoeuvre themselves into positions where they can ensure their conversation is private, while less mobile players are not able to. Before the game begins, the player with the mobility issue can create a “privacy signal”. It can be a special word, phrase, or hand signal. If this player is having a conversation with someone, and someone else is nearby and overhearing, the player can use this “privacy signal” to request that their conversation remains private.

Whilst a Storyteller’s mobility is more necessary than the players’, since the Storyteller needs to be able to move around the space frequently, someone in a wheelchair can still take on the Storyteller role.

  • The lower height of the Storyteller means that players would normally be able to see inside the Grimoire during the night phase. To overcome this, a piece of cloth can be clipped to the top edge of the grimoire, and lifted up by the Storyteller when needed. This means that the Storyteller can see inside the Grimoire when needed, but the contents will be hidden from view from the players. A third clip is included in the game and can be used for this purpose.
  • A Storyteller in a wheelchair may need to move around unnecessarily at night, to avoid the sound giving clues to players as to which players have been woken by the Storyteller, and which have not. This is also good advice for Storytellers generally, but particularly useful for Storytellers using a wheelchair to move around.

Anxiety & Attention ‌

Some players are a little nervous about playing a team-bluffing game like Blood On The Clocktower. Some are stone-cold terrified! Whilst we personally have had great feedback from players that we have ‘thrown in the deep end’ and just gotten them into a game as a regular character, a few have insisted on wanting to play without needing to bluff. Traveller characters are recommended for such players. All players know which character a Traveller player is, and they are not the Demon, but they may be good or evil. They have “all of the power and none of the responsibility”, which can be a welcome invitation to a particularly nervous player who still wants to participate.

Also, since Travellers can leave the game at any time, they can be particularly appealing roles to play for those with a short attention span. Such players may enjoy playing for a full hour or only half an hour, and don’t know yet which it will be.

    Blind Player Accessibility ‌

    This section contains advice on including blind & visually impaired players who wish to play by themselves and not as part of a Revolutionary pair. These processes were established with blind players at Gen Con in 2018 and HandyCon in 2020. Some of these processes are more involved than others.

    Above all, we recommend talking to your players (in advance wherever possible) about what processes would or wouldn’t work best for them. The processes here may work well for some players and not for others. For example, we recently encountered a blind player in a regular BOTC group who, after hundreds of games played, received their night info and starting info using text-to-speech from their tablet, and incorporated no other special changes or processes.

    Braille Character Sheets

    Please check in advance with your player(s) whether or not they can read Braille. If they can, you may wish to provide them with a Braille character sheet. Very soon, we aim to have files for Braille character sheets available on this site for the base editions of Blood on the Clocktower - Trouble Brewing, Bad Moon Rising, and Sects & Violets.

    In the meantime, it is possible to recreate text files for these scripts using the Script Tool, which may then be translated/printed into Braille independently. Previously we were able to have a small number of Braille character sheets printed by the American Council of the Blind of Ohio. If you do not have access to any Braille printing resources of your own, we recommend contacting support services for the visually impaired in your local area to see if they can offer this service. (And it wouldn’t hurt to throw in a donation to them too while you’re at it, if they accept any.)

    Text-to-Speech

    Normally, all night time communication between the Storyteller and players is visual. Text-to-speech tools using the player’s phone are an effective way to communicate secret information to a blind player.

    One-way text-to-speech from the Storyteller to the player is sufficient for Trouble Brewing. However, in Bad Moon Rising, Sects & Violets, and in some custom scripts, it will be necessary for the player to communicate a character name back to the Storyteller if, for example, they’re playing as the Gambler, Courtier, Pit-Hag, Cerenovus, or Philosopher.

    If any characters that choose a character are on the script, you may need to arrange in advance for the blind player to be able to text the Storyteller, or the Storyteller may need to accept this information from the player at night by whispering.

    If you’re concerned about maintaining secrecy at night so that any whispers are not overheard, you may wish to lead the player away from the group or ask all players to block their ears in the night phase. Although please note that if you choose either of these methods then it may be necessary to lead the player away or ask other players to block their ears every night, so as not to give anything away.

    ​​Rules Explanation & Player Position Numbers

    If any blind player(s) in your game have not played before and are not familiar with the characters in the game, and if they do not read Braille or no Braille character sheets are available, you should spend some time before the game going through each character in the game with them. Throughout the game, you may wish to check in with them from time to time to refresh them on the various characters and their abilities.

    Give the standard rules explanation to all players, with the following additions.

    • All players will have a ‘position number’ starting with the blind player at 'position zero' and going up sequentially from that player's left. (If you’re using name tags, it’s useful to note position numbers on those.)
    • Ask players to be mindful of their position number – to volunteer it from time to time, and to mention it along with their name when they say it, and with their character if they decide to claim a character. Player position is often important in Blood on the Clocktower, and using numbers is a fast way to communicate where all players are seated relative to each other.
    • Ask players to be mindful not to speak over each other too much. Don't be afraid to remind them from time-to-time in-game, or check in privately with the blind player if they would like more active Storyteller enforcement of this. Don’t be afraid to bring the Hell’s Librarian into play if you need help reminding your group to be courteous.
    • Players may also be asked to cover their ears at night as well as their eyes. (Please check in advance whether your group is comfortable with this, as some players would prefer not to block their ears while their eyes are also shut.)

    You may also find it helpful to remind players to do the following when interacting with any visually impaired players.

    • Every time they approach a blind player, remind them of their name, their place in the circle (such as ‘position number’, a clock-hour reference, or whatever other means you’ve alighted on as a group), and a quick reminder of what they’ve already announced publicly.
    • When claiming a character to a blind player, give a reminder of the wording of that character.
    • Please be mindful of the privacy/secrecy needs of any blind players, given that it may be more difficult for them to move away from the group for private conversations and that they may not be as aware of who could be listening in nearby.
    • For each nomination, have nominators and nominees clearly state their names, their position, any character or information they’ve publicly claimed, and any further context that is relevant to the nomination at hand.

    Character Selection

    All players select tokens from the bag at random, except for any blind players. The Storyteller looks at each blind player’s token and places it in the grimoire. Blind players are informed of their character by the Storyteller at the beginning of the first night, either by waking them and whispering to them or by text-to-speech.

    Night Phase - Text-to-Speech

    The Storyteller should type any information to be sent in advance (especially if the blind player is the Spy).

    The blind player will be tapped twice on the shoulder or knee to 'wake up'. If they receive information, this lets them know that their information is incoming.

    Any texts are sent to the blind player. Consider multiple texts for the Spy, and the Imp on first night. The blind player should give a thumbs up if they have received the message and are happy with it. They should give a thumb sideways if they would like to receive the information again. They should give a thumbs down if they would instead prefer to receive the information whispered as direct speech.

    If they select a player (e.g. Ravenkeeper, Monk, Butler, Poisoner, Imp) or players (e.g. Fortune Teller, Chambermaid), these two taps let them know that it is time to make their selections. They will hold up fingers corresponding to the position number they want to select, or touch their thumb to their index finger for 'zero'. (For numbers of 11-15, the player will make a fist with one hand and give a number from 1-5 with the other.) After the storyteller receives each number, they will tap the player once on the shoulder once to acknowledge they have received the information.

    If the player requires information based on their selections (e.g. Fortune Teller, Ravenkeeper), this information should be texted to them now. The blind player should give a thumbs up to show that they have received the message. They should give a thumb sideways if they would like to receive the information again. They should give a thumbs down if they would instead prefer to receive the information whispered as direct speech.

    They will be tapped twice again to be put back to sleep. This lets them know that the Storyteller will now be waking other players, and that if they make any gestures then they may be witnessed.

    Night Phase - Direct Speech

    The blind player will be tapped twice to 'wake up'. If they receive information, this lets them know that their information is incoming. The Storyteller may choose to lead the player away from the circle, or leave them seated.

    The Storyteller will whisper the information to the blind player. The blind player should give a thumbs up if they have received the message and are happy with it. They should give a thumb sideways if they would like to receive the information again. If necessary, the Storyteller will lead them back to their chair.

    If they select a player (e.g. Ravenkeeper, Monk, Butler, Poisoner, Imp) or players (e.g. Fortune Teller, Chambermaid), these two taps let them know that it is time to make their selections. They will hold up fingers corresponding to the position number they want to select, or touch their thumb to their index finger for 'zero'. (For numbers of 11-15, the player will make a fist with one hand and give a number from 1-5 with the other.) After the storyteller receives each number, they will tap the player once on the shoulder once to acknowledge they have received the information.

    If the player requires information based on their selections (e.g. Fortune Teller, Ravenkeeper), this information should be whispered to them now. The blind player will give a thumbs up to show that they have received the message. They will give a thumb sideways if they would like to receive the information again. If necessary, the Storyteller will lead them back to their chair.

    They will be tapped twice again to be put back to sleep. This lets them know that the Storyteller will now be waking other players, and that if they make any gestures then they may be witnessed.

    At the start of each day, summarise out loud which players/positions are alive and which positions are dead. Also outline which dead players do and don't have ghost votes.

    Night Phase - Non-Verbal Communication

    For certain aspects of the night phase, you may wish to establish some non-verbal means of communication in order to do some things more simply. The following tips won’t work for every character, but they may allow a night phase to play out more quickly with a blind player if they happen to draw a particular character that can receive information in these ways.

    • Communicating a number to a player by tapping on their hand the appropriate number of times.
    • Establish one of the players hands as ‘yes’ and the other as ‘no’. The Storyteller squeezes the appropriate hand to silently give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
    • If the Storyteller needs to communicate ‘good’ (thumbs up) or ‘evil’ (thumbs down), the Storyteller places their hand on the player’s palm and lets them feel whether it is thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

    Voting & Executions

    All players who plan on voting should be asked to raise their hands prior to the vote commencing, and the Storyteller should relay which players/positions have their hands raised. This does not mean that players cannot later change their minds, but it’s a courtesy that gives the blind player the opportunity to gauge the mood of the group before the vote, giving them the same information about other players’ displayed intentions that a sighted player would receive passively.

    The Storyteller announces they are commencing the vote, and then moves slowly. As each player/position is passed, the Storyteller announces their name and/or position number and how they vote (“yes” or “no”). At the end of the vote, the Storyteller counts the raised hands and announces the final tally. Optionally, they may summarise again at this point which positions voted.

    All players should be asked to keep their hands raised if they vote so that the Storyteller can make a tally at the end, and the Storyteller should announce if any player has used their ghost vote.

      Links ‌

      Check these organisations out for more information and resources about accessibility:

      American Council of the Blind of Ohio - Great for supplying Braille character sheets, in Columbus OH.

      Meeple Like Us - Board game accessibility specialists.

      Minds at Play - Fostering communication and social interaction through imagination and play. Check out their annual Amp Camp, in NSW Australia.

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