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The Bat Rules

Please note: this looks like a lot of rules for a short, simple game, and it would be, but… well, All-Batman games basically write themselves. To a fan of the show there’s very little in here that­-being based on the show­-is not obviously how the game ought to work. The rules presented here merely codify the show’s assumptions and presumptions in writing, to ensure that the players have a shared framework within which to play and enjoy the game.

The Other Other All Batman Game is based on the camp 1960’s television show Batman. In that show the actors portrayed the show’s characters and plots very seriously, even though the characters and plots were far-fetched and ridiculous. If you have never seen the show it is strongly advised that you watch a few episodes to understand the proper tone of the game.

The people who produced Batman also produced The Green Hornet. This show was similar to Batman, but was played a bit more seriously. (Its main claim to fame was in being the launch pad for martial artist Bruce Lee’s Hollywood career.) There was one cross-over episode where the main characters of The Green Hornet appeared in an episode of Batman. The events of this game are assumed to take place before that episode—that is, The Green Hornet has never been in Gotham City before.

The character of Batgirl was added in the second season of the show. This game is set shortly after Batgirl's first appearance--it is not yet known whether she is a hero or a villain.

The basic premise of Batman was based on a set of “secrets”, information that most of the characters were not privy to. This information was obvious to the audience, and in fact should have been obvious to any character in the show who gave it a moment’s serious thought. This game is presented in the spirit of the TV show, so thinking too clearly or reasonably is discouraged, while overacting, making outrageous plans, and the ability to not recognize obvious disguises or figure out who’s wearing that Batman costume is highly recommended. We like to refer to this as The Rule of Obliviousness.

The “critical secrets” of the show are presented below. Unless your character starts off knowing about them, please do not deliberately discover or figure them out. However, double entendres and setting up compromising situations where someone might find them out are entirely within the spirit of the show…as is devising unlikely reasons and gimmicks for keeping these secrets unrevealed.

This game does have additional secrets and plot twists that are not central to the show (anything not found below, under “critical secrets”). You may choose to disguise yourself as someone you normally aren’t, or might have a bit of history that most people don’t yet know about. These are secrets to be dramatically discovered or revealed! [Please note Sandy Antune’s larp Rule of Secrets here: never die or end a game with any unrevealed secrets.]

This is not a serious game. Making mistakes and spurious assumptions, deliberately ignoring obvious clues, allowing chaos and hilarity to run riot, guiding the story so that critical secrets are only almost revealed, and ensuring that Good triumphs over Evil in the end are goals shared by every player.

Critical Secrets | Disguises | Secret Lairs | Combat | Deathtraps Special Abilities

Critical Secrets

(Characters likely to be present in the game are in bold below.)

Millionaire Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed by a common thief when he was young. He has dedicated his life to fighting crime as Batman, the Caped Crusader. Dick Grayson’s parents were also killed by criminals. While investigating the crime, Batman was impressed by Dick’s innate skills, and so took him into his household. Dick now fights crime at Batman’s side as Robin the Boy Wonder. The only person to know their secret is their faithful servant, Alfred Pennyworth. Their base of operations is the Batcave,secretly located underneath Stately Wayne Manor, on the outskirts of Gotham City. Bruce Wayne’s elderly Aunt Harriet Cooper also lives at Stately Wayne Manor, but does not know of his secret identity.

Britt Reed is the wealthy owner and publisher of the Daily Sentinel in Central City (which is quite some distance from Gotham City). He is (no fooling!) the great-nephew of the Lone Ranger, and has chosen to follow in his relative’s footsteps in an unusual and daring fashion. He pretends to be a master criminal, tracks down and associates with “public enemies that even the G-Men can’t touch”, and arranges for them to be caught by the law while the Green Hornet “narrowly escapes again.” He is aided by his faithful Phillipino valet Kato (trained in mysterious oriental martial arts), as well as his secretary Lenore “Casey” Case and the District Attorney of Central City (who does not appear in this game).

Batman has numerous arch enemies. His greatest foes are The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, and The Catwoman. Each of these warped criminal masterminds has their own “theme”, which guides and colors their criminal careers. They usually hire gangs of low-life thugs to assist them in their larcenous endeavors.

The police of Gotham City is led by Commissioner Gordon and Police Chief O’Hara. Whenever a case comes up that is too difficult for the conventional forces of law and order, they contact Batman by way of the Bat-Phone. Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, Barbara Gordon, has recently started fighting crime as the mysterious Batgirl, about whom little is yet known.

Most episodes featured several guest stars. In this episode we meet Eleanor and Stanley Vandersmythe, staunch and capable members of Gotham’s upper class.


Disguises are 100% effective. When wearing a disguise, no one can tell who you really are. During the course of the game you will have access to one or more “clever disguise” cards (nametags). You may only disguise yourself as the persona listed on the cards you have ready access to. Some disguises (such as Batman) can be used by anyone, others can only be used by specific individuals.

Note that women can disguise themselves as men, but men cannot disguise themselves as women.

A disguise can be used (put on, taken off) until you are unmasked or chose to cast it aside. You may publicly unmask yourself at any time, or be forcibly unmasked if you lose a combat (see Combat, below). Once unmasked or cast aside, a disguise is useless and must be removed from the game.

You may only disguise yourself as a given individual once. For example, if you are disguised as Batman and found out, you may not disguise yourself as Batman again, even if you have access to another Batman disguise. The "real" costumed characters are an exception, as they can always disguise themselves as their alternate personna (assuming a costume is available). If exposed once they should easily be able to explain it away, but if unmasked a second time even the dullest-witted goon will start putting two and two together.

The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, and The Catwoman are well-known public villains. Their garish wardrobes are neither disguises nor costumes, but rather outfits designed to strike fear in the hearts of honest men and women everywhere. Not so the Green Hornet or his masked assistant; the forces of law and order would dearly like to know the faces lurking behind those sinister masks.

Secret Lairs

Secret lairs can range from hidden caves to discrete back rooms in public buildings. You start out only knowing those locations listed on your character sheet. You may reveal the location of a secret lair you know about to anyone at any time, allowing them to visit it at their discretion. If they are willing, you may transport people to or from a secret lair you know about without their learning where it is. If you defeat a foe in combat, you can take your captured opponent(s) to a secret lair for imprisonment, ransom, a bit of lunch, or whatever (see Combat, below). People who merely escape from secret lairs are not able to find them again on their own.


First off, there is no physical combat in this game. This is a non-contact sport! 

Secondly, if you can resolve a stand-off situation through discussion and role playing, do so! Alas, if a tense situation cannot be resolved diplomatically, fisticuffs may well be called for. If you are being attacked, you will be in the fight, and anyone present when a fight breaks out may also choose to be in the fight as well. Once a fight has started, latecomers may not join in.

All combat, fights, challenges, or similar adversarial situations will be resolved through the use of the MENKS combat system. The full MENKS rules will be found elsewhere, but here is a quick recap:

In this game, one group of characters can attack another group. We recommend that each side pick a team leader, everyone on that side gives them all their MENKS cards, and the two leads play out the fight. Any special combat abilities should be worked in as appropriate. All members of a team will win or lose with their group.

An alternative to playing out the full card game-­particularly when there are a lot of people involved­-both sides can compare the total number of cards they have. If one side has twice as many cards or more than the other, assume that they will win and proceed accordingly. Another alternative is the "dramatic resolution" system; if both sides agree that, for reasons of dramatic tensions or resolution, one or the other side should win (or lose), then assume they do so.

The winner(s) of a combat may choose one of the following options at the end of a fight: 

If you have taken one or more captives, you may choose a different fate for each from the following list: 

Lastly, to avoid having wave after wave of fights, we have some staging guidelines.:

Please use fairness and common sense when following these guidelines.


Every villain can whip together a deathrap or two during the game. Deathtraps can be located anywhere within Gotham City, but may only be located within a secret lair within the last 15 minutes of the game. Precisely how a deathtrap works is irrelevant, though a villain’s player should explain in colorful detail just how it works as they stuff you into it. When placed in a deathtrap, the victim has five minutes or so to either escape or be rescued. In addition, anyone outside of a deathtrap can easily rescue everyone caught within a deathtrap—only at the last minute, of course. If you can’t escape or aren’t rescued, well…

[Historical Note: The real purpose of a deathtrap is, ultimately, to identify Batman. If you put someone dressed as Batman in the deathtrap and they escape, it probably was Batman—otherwise it was just an imposter. If you (publicly) put a helpless innocent into a deathtrap, Batman should appear to save them. As any hero or right-minded citizen should attempt to rescue anyone they find caught in a deathtrap, we’re not likely to have casualties during the game. However, if anyone should happen to get killed in a deathtrap, we’ll probably just turn them into Two-Face or some other thematically suitable villain.]

Special Abilities

Several characters have special ability cards that allow them to change or break the rules. See a GM if there are any questions on how a special ability may be used.

Content ©2007-2011 Philip, Jennifer, and Valerie Kelley. The images and music used herein are for entertainment purposes only, and belong to their respective copyright holders. Batwebsite design by Jennifer Kelley. Tea by Tazo.