Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Thorne looks at Alice Is Missing and explains why he believes that it will make a better movie than some other game adaptations.

One of the most unique RPGs to have come out in the past few years is Alice is Missing (see "'Alice is Missing' Roleplaying Game").  For those not familiar with the game, released by Hunters Entertainment and Renegade Game Studios, it is a GM-less RPG played silently by the participants who only communicate through text messages.  The Facilitator sets everything up and plays the role of Charlie Barnes, who returns to the town of Silent Falls inquiring about the whereabouts of their friend Alice Briarwood, from whom they haven't heard in three days.  Charlie reaches out to the other players, who take the roles of Alice’s other friends, who then work together to figure out what has happened to Alice.

As all the communication in the game takes play via group and individual texts, every player must have a phone.  The game itself only comes with a copy of the rules and the clue cards, which help determine what happened to Alice. Some materials, such as the timer, character sheets, soundtrack, and props are provided online, meaning that players must have a device equipped for online access during the game session.  The game takes about 90 minutes to play, with the counter indicating when clue cards get flipped over to provide more information about what happened to Alice.

Given the topic, a missing teenage girl, Alice Is Missing spends a lot of time on player safety, telling players to determine Lines (subjects which should not be discussed in the game) and Veils (subjects which can be mentioned but not described in detail).  There is also an X-card, which a player can play by typing X into the chat, to remove a topic from the game.  Players are then given their characters and time to look them over and the timer is then started.  Over the course of the next 90 minutes, every 5 or 10 minutes the timer prompts the reveal of a clue card.  At 30 minutes, the suspect cards are gathered, and one is revealed as the person responsible for Alice’s disappearance. At 20 minutes, a location card reveals where she is and at 10 minutes, another card reveals Alice’s condition.

During the game, players are never at the same location at the same time, giving a game reason for texting.  Likewise, players are encouraged to "Make Stuff Up" if it stays within the narrative of the game and moves it along consistently with the cards revealed.  The game requires players to adopt the motives and relationships of their characters, meaning the more role playing each incorporates into the game, the more enjoyable it becomes.

Alice is Missing has been optioned for development as a movie (see "'Alice Is Missing' Movie").  Unlike past movies based on games (Battleship and Dungeons and Dragons come to mind), I think Alice is Missing has a better chance for a successful movie than the preceding two. Battleship just took the name of the game and applied it to a space combat movie.  Some years ago, I got an opportunity to play Battleship: Galaxies, which WotC released at the same time as the movie.  What had been a simple game developed into an unwieldy monstrosity that took hours to play and was not that much fun, which is why it got discontinued soon after.

Similarly, the Dungeons & Dragons movies took its name and affixed to a typical fantasy movie.  The only thing I remember specifically D&D-related from the first movie was a beholder floating in the background in one scene. D&D modules have stories to tell, D&D is a rules system for telling those stories.  That is why I think Alice is Missing has a good chance of translating into a successful movie.  It has a strong story, and the best movies tell good stories.

Have you played Alice Is Missing or Battleship: Galaxies?  What did you think?  Email with your thoughts.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of