The game created as “Mafia” has been largely popularized as “Werewolf,” and that seems a better metaphor. Town of Salem’s colonial New England is an especially odd place for the Sicilian mafia. That metaphor also breaks down when you have a town of a dozen people and the Mafia plans to kill almost all of them. That is not what mafias do. The metaphor works better if you think of a town of a thousand people, with a leadership group of about a dozen and a criminal conspiracy trying to seize the reins there. Although few city councils hold daily lynchings.
Town of Salem was clearly thinking of a witch hunt metaphor at some point in its development. That is entirely appropriate for the daytime lynching, but fails for the nighttime unless we say the witchhunters were right and the witches really do murder people at night.
I have been wondering about other metaphors that would work well for Mafia. You can put all sorts of fluff on top of the same basic rules. Perhaps something with a less violent means of player elimination? We all seem so keen on killing people in our games. Despite the name, everyone survived Survivor as far as I know, which had a non-fatal elimination system. I suspect fewer people would play with a less violent metaphor; the sort of person excited about being a werewolf or serial killer is less likely to sign up for a game about the teddy bear picnic, where a group of cheaters is trying to sabotage others’ teddy bear collections. Maybe if they got to watch teddy bears go up in flames while the eliminated character cried…