Designer: Steve Dee

Artist: Greg Pogorzelski, Kristopher Neal McClanahan, and Matt Roberts

Publisher: Tin Star Games

Year Published: 2021

No. of Players: 2 (can be 1 or more than 2)

Ages: Not Listed (12+)

Playing Time: Variable

Main mechanic / Theme: TTRPG, Standard Playing Cards, Imagination / Partner Detective Stories


One’s a real straight shooter. The other’s a total wild card. Together, chasing down a mystery, they are ...


Find more info on and Kickstarter



Partners is a roleplaying game designed for two people without the need of a game master. The players are taking on the iconic roles of the mystery solving partners we have come to know from books, movies, and television. They don’t have to be police detectives. Just like in the other media, they can come from all sorts of backgrounds and be all types of people, or other things, like maybe a car, a dog, or any other idea you may want to play.

The mystery your detective duo is going to solve will be built as you work through a series of scenes. The structure for the game is developed from the format used in creating a screenplay for the mystery dramas people love. The story structure is designed to meet the expectations of the mystery genre with significant points set aside for solving the mystery and identifying the culprit.

The determination of the final scene can be surprising because there is no game master to prework the adventure and lead the characters to the conclusion. Partners is about creating the story.

I was given a copy of Partners by one of the artists while attending SaltCon for review purposes.

Character 1


The worksheets to develop your story are all included in the gamebook. The book is smaller than standard page size, so I would recommend copying the pages as needed to track the information as you add it to your story. This is helpful if you want to make your game into series and add events from earlier episodes into the new one you are playing/creating.

To maintain an element of surprise and twists to your story, a standard deck of playing cards is used to direct the action. You also will need a means of random word generation in either an online program or a dictionary, or we used a random book of the shelf.

You already know you are a mystery solving duo. One player is the “straight shooter,” and the other is the “wild card.” Now you need to determine a little bit about them and their backstory. You can do this by first determining the setting of your story, or after having some information on the characters create a fitting setting for them to be involved in. You will also decide what type of mystery/detective/crime drama you want to be involved in. This part helps in determining the structure your story needs to take. The gamebook gives great examples of the different types of dramas and how they fit into the same developmental pattern. As I read through the rules, I was able to see right where they were coming from with the referenced shows.

There are also members of the supporting cast to consider and how they relate to the main characters. This is done through a collaborative process of passing information back-and-forth to create unexpected links and quirks. It was surprising to see what came out of this.

Now with the turns of the cards and random words to accompany your imagination, you are on the path of creating your own crime solving detective duo.

Character 3

Artwork and Supportive Material

Throughout the book there are illustrations that help support the concept of creating a mystery solving episode in any genre you want to be involved in. The layout with pages to write information about the characters and plot are easy to use and follow.

There are examples of created stories throughout the work to provide a clear understanding of the process. These are references to television and movies along with new stories created with the structure given in Partners.


Partners was developed and marketed by Tin Star Games out of Australia. They did a good job of including character sketches of different types of people. The characters and settings you can create are only limited by your own choices.

As players, you only need a way of communicating the story to each other and determining how you want to track the story for future use.

Character 4

Final Thoughts

Partners is a wonderful game of creativity. As a writer, it is a great exercise for creating a story structure.

We enjoyed the fun challenge of incorporating the random word into the story and allowing our imaginations to take it to the next scene. The story didn’t go the way we had initially thought it would. The final story made sense because we were guided in the process of setting every scene where it needed to be.

The ability to create different styles of mysteries allow Partners to be played with very different storylines like the shows referenced (i.e., Law and Order, CSI, Dexter, Lucifer, and The Watch). You also can adapt the two-person game into a solo game or have more people involved.

There can be more than two leads like Beverly Hills Cop with two lead straight shooters or the leads of Scooby-Doo, or Law and Order where there are more than one set of leads as they develop different parts of the story. Here the off-scene leads can play the supporting cast. You can also allow players to rotate into the lead and supporting roles as the scenes are played out. There may be times when you have someone playing the reoccurring lovable character who shows up with just what is needed.

I recommend Partners to gamers who like mystery stories, want to create their own mysteries, and may have a limited size available for their gaming group. Even if you have a larger group, it is a good one to have on hand for when people can’t make it to game night.

About the Author

Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job wouldn't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at