Blood on the Clocktower has become one of the most popular social deduction games in recent years, succeeding the likes of classic Werewolf as a great party game for big groups and a fun way to suspect your friends as you hunt for the hidden Demons among you. With quite a few more roles and rules than Werewolf, and with knowing your role so important to the game, it’s important to make sure that everyone playing knows how to play Blood on the Clocktower before the accusations start flying.
How to play Blood on the Clocktower
- Blood on the Clocktower edition differences: What's the best Blood on the Clocktower edition to play?
- Blood on the Clocktower setup
- Blood on the Clocktower rules
- How do you win Blood on the Clocktower?
- Blood on the Clocktower signals explained
- Can you play Blood on the Clocktower with more than 15 people?
With dozens of possible characters spread across its different editions, Blood on the Clocktower is one of the more complex hidden role games out there. While the basic rules will be familiar to fans of games like Werewolf, the sheer number of different character combinations and how they interact can mean that every game is significantly different depending on who you’re playing with.
While learning every Blood on the Clocktower character isn’t necessary to enjoy the game, everyone should at least know the standard Blood on the Clocktower rules so they’re not left wondering what’s going on, why someone might have certain information or - at worst - why their character didn’t survive the night.
To help you and your group get started with Blood on the Clocktower, we’ve put together the following guide on how to play Blood on the Clocktower, running through the differences between its various editions, how to set everything up, what to do as the Storyteller running the game and how to make sure that all of the questions are the ones you want the players to be asking - not “How do you play again?”
Read on, share this with your group and get ready to enjoy one of the best social deduction games out there.
Blood on the Clocktower edition differences: What's the best Blood on the Clocktower edition to play?
Before you start to set up Blood on the Clocktower, you will need to choose an edition to play.
Blood on the Clocktower’s standard box includes four different variants known as editions. Each edition introduces different characters, changing the options available to players and resulting in a variety of possible ways to play. The best Blood on the Clocktower edition to play depends on how familiar your group is with the basic game, as well as what kind of experience you're looking for - from chaotic to strategic.
Trouble Brewing is the best Blood on the Clocktower edition for beginners to play first. The edition sees the good players trying to work out who is good and evil in order to catch the Imp. Some good players may want to fool the Imp into attacking them, while others will want to avoid being attacked. Meanwhile, the evil players must hide among the good players to mislead them and help the Imp to victory. Characters in Trouble Brewing include the Imp, Virgin, Slayer and Undertaker.
Bad Moon Rising
Bad Moon Rising is best for those players who’ve already played Blood on the Clocktower at least once before. It is a more lethal edition of Blood on the Clocktower, with Demons gaining the power to kill multiple characters each night, helped by their dangerous Minions. As such, Bad Moon Rising requires even closer teamwork from players, with the good players needing to gain information - sometimes even by sacrificing some of their allies - and keep in mind who is killed each night to work out which Demon is present.
Sects & Violets
Sects & Violets is for players who don’t mind a good bit of chaos in their Blood on the Clocktower game. Players will need to prepare for effects that see players switch sides from good to evil and change characters. To help them keep track, the good team will receive more information than in other editions of the game, but are still likely to be left confused if they don’t pay close attention. That includes not even knowing which Demon is in play at first, with the evil team being even more varied than usual.
Travellers & Fabled
In contrast to the other Blood on the Clocktower editions, which serve as standalone variants for the party game, Travellers & Fabled can’t be played by itself. It is an expansion for the other Blood on the Clocktower editions, introducing two new character types for groups of experienced players. Travellers allow players to jump into the game partway through (or not necessarily play to the end) by taking on roles that are known by everyone, but with an alignment that is hidden from the group. Travellers can also be used to play Blood on the Clocktower with more than 15 people, by adding extra players as Travellers. Fabled characters are played by the Storyteller rather than players, introducing characters who serve as ways to balance the game and make it a more approachable experience for players.
Blood on the Clocktower setup
First, choose a player to be the Storyteller. This is the person that acts as the moderator for the game, keeping track of the game’s phases and player roles and abilities. If you’re reading these rules, it’s probably you! The rest of this setup guide is written from the perspective of the Storyteller.
Arrange a circle of chairs. The chairs should be facing each other, with one chair per player. It’s important that the chairs are in a circle (or a square), as being able to determine a clockwise or counterclockwise direction in the group is important when playing. The chairs should be arranged with a gap that the Storyteller can easily move between to move in and out of the circle. Nothing should be in the middle of the circle.
Take Blood on the Clocktower’s box - referred to as the Grimoire - and attach the two halves together using the clips in the box. It should look like an open book. The constructed Grimoire can be propped up using its stand - this is to stop players being able to see inside the box while playing.
Put all of the info, night and shroud tokens into the Grimoire. It doesn’t matter where you put them. (The game’s official rules suggest the bottom-left corner of the right-hand box.)
Add your chosen edition box to the bottom-left corner of the Grimoire. (If you’re playing for the first time, it's advised to use Trouble Brewing.) The edition box includes the character and reminder tokens for each variant of Blood on the Clocktower. The night sheet for your chosen edition should be placed on the right-hand side of the Grimoire.
Put the Town Square board on the floor in the middle of the circle of chairs. Put a life token for each player on the board, matching where they’re sat in the circle. Add a stack of vote tokens to the middle of the board. Slide the Traveller sheet under the Town Square board, leaving it so you can see the number of Townsfolk, Outsiders and Minions.
Read out the rules sheet to any new players (or players who just need a recap). You can find the rules sheet on the reverse side of the Traveller sheet in the box or online via Blood on the Clocktower’s official wiki. It will explain the basics of playing, as well as adding a bit of atmosphere by introducing the town of Ravenswood Bluff and its villagers.
Select a number of character tokens based on the number of players. The number can be found on the setup sheet. If you're playing with more than 15 people, you'll need to use the Traveller characters from the Travellers & Fabled edition.
Take the chosen Townsfolk tokens out of the edition box and put them on the left side of the Grimoire. (If you’re playing for the first time, the game’s rules recommend using the Chef, Empath, Fortune Teller, Undertaker, Virgin, Drunk (Investigator), Scarlet Woman and Imp from Trouble Brewing for an eight-player game.)
If any of the characters in play has an orange flower on its token, you must add or remove additional character tokens as instructed by the token. After adding and removing tokens, you should always have the same number of character tokens as the number of players.
If any tokens have green leaves on them, add reminder tokens for the matching characters to the Grimoire equal to the number of leaves. For example, three green leaves indicate that three reminder tokens are required. The character and reminder tokens will share the same symbol.
Repeat the above steps, taking tokens out of the edition box based on the number of players, for Outsiders, Minions and the Demon token. All of the selected tokens should be hidden and kept secret from the players.
Shuffle the selected character tokens and place them in the bag.
Each player should take it in turns to draw a token from the bag. Tokens must be kept secret from other players. Every player should end up with one token, with no tokens left in the bag.
Collect the character tokens from players and arrange them in the Grimoire matching the seating arrangement of the players so you know what every player’s role is. (Make sure nobody else sees the tokens as you collect them.) You can use the gap in the circle to help match the seating positions of the players.
You’re ready to play Blood on the Clocktower!
Blood on the Clocktower rules
Blood on the Clocktower plays out in two phases: Night and Day. Each phase has a different set of rules that see the group making different decisions. The game starts with a unique Night phase known as the First Night, before normal Day and Night phases occur. The phases will repeat until one team wins - the good team by defeating the Demon(s), or the evil team by leaving just two players alive.
During every Night phase, all players except the Storyteller should close their eyes and keep them shut unless instructed otherwise by the Storyteller. The Storyteller should ask players to close their eyes at the beginning of each Night phase before checking that everyone’s eyes are closed.
First Night only
The First Night only happens at the beginning of each game; follow the First Night side of the night sheet, before turning it to the Other Nights side for the rest of the game.
If there are seven or more players, the Storyteller should silently wake all of the Minions during the First Night - by tapping twice on their knee or shoulder - and indicate to them which player is the Demon by using the “This is the Demon” token. For example, show each player the token before pointing at the Demon. Afterwards, tell the Minions to go back to sleep and close their eyes (shown by placing a hand over your eyes).
Once all the Minions are asleep, the Storyteller should wake the Demon and use the “These Are Your Minions” token to indicate which players are Minions by pointing at them. Finally, show the Demon the “These Characters Are Not In Play” token and three good character tokens that aren’t being used this game. This can help the Demon to pretend to be another character and avoid detection.
On the First Night - after following the steps above - and all subsequent nights, the Storyteller should wake each player who can use their character’s ability during the night.
Once the player has used their ability, the Storyteller should silently tell them to close their eyes and go to sleep by covering their own eyes.
The order in which you wake each character is shown on the night sheet. The order may change between the First Night and Other Nights.
As characters use their unique abilities, the Storyteller should use reminder tokens to help remind them of effects and targets by placing the relevant purple token next to the targeted player.
If any players are killed during the night before their turn, they do not wake up or perform an action - simply skip that player’s turn.
Once every player has performed their actions in order and the final player is put back to sleep, the Storyteller should wait five to ten seconds before announcing out loud to the group that dawn has broken and they can open their eyes.
If any players were killed during the night, the Storyteller should announce the killed players now - without saying who they were killed by. If nobody was killed, the Storyteller should confirm that nobody died but without giving any more information.
Once the Night phase has ended and dawn has broken, play moves onto the Day phase. This phase is largely driven by discussion between players as they try to work out who killed who, who might be on what team and so on. Once discussions are over, players may vote to execute a player.
The first part of the Day phase is discussion. This is simply an opportunity for players to react to the previous Night and talk before they potentially vote on who to execute.
Unlike some other social deduction games there are no specific rules - players can talk to the entire group or just whisper secretly to specific people. Players may leave their chairs but should be advised not to leave the circle.
If players have questions, the Storyteller may answer them publicly or privately as best makes sense - for example, answering questions about specific character abilities.
There is no set length to how long players may talk, but the game’s official rules recommend that around five to ten minutes is suitable.
Once the Storyteller decides that the group has had long enough to talk, they will call for nominations. Players should return to their chairs.
Once the Storyteller has opened nominations, players may nominate each other by declaring who they nominate. The Storyteller is advised to repeat the nomination to ensure that everyone in the group heard.
By nominating a player, players are effectively opening votes for that player to be executed at the end of the Day phase - for example, because they believe them to be on the opposite team.
Only one player can be nominated at a time, but another player may be nominated once votes for the current nominee are resolved. Each player can only be nominated once per Day phase, and each player may only nominate someone else once per Day. Players must be alive to nominate a player, but dead players may cast one vote towards a nomination for the entire game - once you’ve cast your vote, that’s it!
Once a nomination is announced, the nominated player gets a chance to defend themselves before the rest of the group votes. (There is no fixed length to how long they can speak for.)
Once they have made their case, players vote by raising their hands. Starting by facing the player nominated from the middle of the circle, the Storyteller should spin slowly in a clockwise circle counting each vote aloud as they pass any raised hands. The nominee votes last. Living players can vote just once per nomination, but can vote for different nominations as many times as they like during each Day phase.
Count the votes for the nomination. If the number of votes is both greater than any other nominations cast during this Day phase and is equal to or greater than half the number of living players (for example, at least three votes when there are six players left), the Storyteller should announce that the nominated player is about to be executed.
If the number of votes is less than another nomination or fewer than half the number of players left alive, the nomination fails. If the number of votes is equal to or greater than the number of living players and equal to the number of votes cast for another nomination this Day, neither nominated player will be executed.
Once a player is successfully nominated to be executed, players have a chance to choose whether to nominate another player, repeating the above steps to see if they replace the current player chosen for execution.
If no more nominations are announced, the Storyteller should declare a last call for nominations before counting down from three to give players one final chance to nominate.
If a player was successfully nominated for execution, they are now killed. Only one player can be executed per day, and there doesn’t have to be an execution if nobody was nominated or any nominations failed.
When a player is executed, their token on the Town Square board is flipped over to its underside and a vote token is placed on it. The Storyteller should place a shroud token on the respective character token in the Grimoire. The executed player’s alignment and character are not revealed.
Dead players can no longer use their character ability and can only vote once for a nomination during the rest of the game (remove the vote token from the token as a reminder). They must still close their eyes during the Night phase and can talk as much as they want to the rest of the group. Bear in mind that not all executed characters are killed - make sure to double-check the rules for specific roles.
After the execution has taken place, if there are still more than two living players and at least one Demon in play, the game continues with the next Night phase.
How do you win Blood on the Clocktower?
The good team wins if the Demon - or Demons - are killed.
When playing with more than one Demon, all of the Demons in play must be defeated for the good team to win. If there is a Demon on the good team, the good team will not win until the Demon is dead - even if they are also good. Some character effects may mean that the game doesn’t always end when the Demon is defeated.
The evil team wins if only two players are alive - for example, because the Demon has killed a third player or they were executed by mistake.
If both good and evil would win at the same time - which might happen if the Demon is killed, leaving only two players - the good team wins instead.
Players who are dead share the victory or loss with their team; being dead doesn’t change which team they are on, encouraging them to continue helping their allies.
Blood on the Clocktower signals explained
During Blood on the Clocktower, communicating silently during the Night phase is vital to preserving players’ secret identities and making sure that the rest of the group isn’t accidentally made aware of who is good or evil. After all, the whole point of the game is trying to work that out for yourself!
During the Night, the Storyteller should use the following signals to communicate with players. Before you play, make sure that all players are made aware of the signals so that they follow the rules and don’t accidentally cheat.
- “Open your eyes”: To wake up a sleeping player and get them to open their eyes, tap twice on their shoulder or knee.
- “Close your eyes”: To ask a player to close their eyes and go back to sleep, cover your own eyes with your hand.
- “Yes”: Nod your head to signal a “yes”.
- “No”: Shake your head to indicate a “no”.
- “This player”: To indicate a specific player, point at that player.
- “This is a Good player”: To show someone that a player is good, point at the player in question and then show a thumbs-up to the person you are telling.
- “This is an Evil player”: To indicate that a player is evil, point at the player in question and then show a thumbs-down to the person you are telling.
- “0”, “1”, “2”, “3”, “4”, “5”, etc…: To indicate a specific number (for example, telling the Chef how many pairs of evil players there are), show that number of fingers. For zero, make a zero shape with your hand by touching your thumb to the tips of your fingers.
- A specific character: To indicate a specific character to a player (for example, when telling the Ravenkeeper about a chosen player’s role), either show that character’s token or point at the relevant icon on the character sheet.
Can you play Blood on the Clocktower with more than 15 people?
Yes, you can play Blood on the Clocktower with more than 15 people. Up to 20 players can play Blood on the Clocktower using the game’s standard box. If there are more than 15 players, any additional players will take on the role of Travellers using the Travellers & Fabled edition. If you’re playing with Trouble Brewing the recommended Travellers to use are the Beggar, Bureaucrat, Gunslinger, Scapegoat and Thief.
Travellers can play from the beginning of the game like usual, or join partway through. Traveller characters can also choose to leave the game before it ends without impacting the rest of the group - they do not count towards the count of living players when determining the end of the game, either. If Travellers join midway through a game, simply add their tokens to the Grimoire to reflect where they are sat in the circle. It’s not recommended to allow Travellers to join if there are more than six players left in the game.
Travellers largely work like other characters in Blood on the Clocktower, except they do not count towards the number of surviving players, they cannot be executed - only exiled, via a separate process to nomination during the Day phase - and they cannot swap roles to become a non-Traveller character (and vice-versa: non-Traveller characters cannot become Traveller roles).