1915. The darkest moment for American race relations since the Civil War. Jim Crow rules the American South. All of the progress towards racial equality made during Reconstruction has been undone by poll taxes, segregation, sharecropping and intimidation.
Sundown towns spread across the country. Their name comes from one unbreakable rule: only whites are allowed in town after the sun sets. The punishment for blacks who linger within the town limits at night is rarely stated, but universally understood.
In one of these sundown towns, a group of local leaders meets on Saturday nights to talk civics, play cards and wax nostalgic about slavery. They are the town aristocracy. They plan business deals and church picnics. They investigate newcomers and see that the law is enforced.
Normally, they would be talking about the price of tobacco and the lost honor of the Confederacy, but not recently, not since they found the first dead man. Now they are talking about bloodless corpses and the superstitious rumors spreading among the sharecroppers. Now they’re talking about vampires.
What these gentlemen do not know is that one of them is the vampire. What they also do not know is one of them was born black, and has been carefully keeping his secret to protect his position and his life. As suspicion grows, it becomes harder and harder for both of these men to preserve their reputations—and their lives.
Passing is a simple, rules light RPG about paranoia, racism and identity. It weaves together vampire folklore and the ugly realities of American history to let players build a story about closed communities and closed minds. The game requires little preparation, and uses competitive social mechanics to keep the players on edge, full of questions and suspicious of each other. It is designed for four or more players and takes between one and two hours to complete.