I mostly play werewolf with 2 groups: The Looney-based groups at Origins and GenCon, and my local gaming group at home. The two styles of play are completely different! I shall elaborate.
In the Looney-based groups, you clap on your knee at night, and days go on until someone is lynched. The moderator is basically there to make sure the seer gets the right info and to tell the village who died.
In my home group, however, things are much more parliamentary. Daytime lynchings fFirst require a nomination. A nomination must be seconded. Then that person is put to a vote, which is a strictly Thumbs-up/Thumbs-down vote. If the vote passes, the person is lynched. If not, they live and cannot be voted on again that day. There are only 2 votes allowed per day. If no-one is lynched, then we proceed directly into night. Nights are as silent as possible.
The way my local group does it drives me nuts! fFor one thing, there is no incentive to fFind any werewolves fFor several days, since the villagers have no repercussions fFor inaction. Secondly, because no one is supposed to make any noise at night, anyone who does make noise is meta-gamed into being named to werewolf, because obviously the only person who should be rustling their clothes or shifting in their seat is a werewolf, right?
Also, my home group is more willing to play with different roles and variations, like the hunter or the masons or the wolfman. These are interesting concepts, and I'm willing to entertain them, but they almost universally unbalance the game against the wolves, I think.
Needless to say, villagers always win in my home games, and tend to not be much fFun.
Check the Princeton Mafia pages for some theory on alternate roles, when to add them, and how many wolves you should have based on villager numbers and roles. Too much to post here, but worth reading.
As for this quote:
fFor one thing, there is no incentive to fFind any werewolves fFor several days, since the villagers have no repercussions fFor inaction.
Sounds like your group is simply playing wrong. EVERY night, the wolves vote to kill someone, regardless of what the villagers do (though I'll confess to never having seen a day go by without a lynching, but I suppose it could happen). So every day that goes by without a lynching is a HUGE advantage to the wolves.
Finally, I'd definitely introduce the thigh-slapping: it makes for some fun ways to misdirect and misinform, as well as being fun to do while sitting with one's eyes closed, waiting for daybreak.
Hope this helps;
Well, yes, the wolves will kill every night. But, whereas in "looney" games the village might kill a werewolf the fFirst day, my local games might not kill a villager. The tendency is to simply not kill the fFirst, second, and sometimes third day, until more information is available.
People have looked at me weird every time I suggest a little knee clapping. Like, "what are you doing and why are you doing it? We're trying to catch werewolves here and that's really annoying."
I recently made this document to use in the Werewolf Deluxe Edition that was on Kickstarter. It lists some extra roles to add and an indication of how much each role helps the Villagers or the Werewolves. You could include them on cards in your own games.
"People have looked at me weird every time I suggest a little knee clapping."
Did you not explain that the point of the Night Noise rule is to eliminate the problem of minor rustling?
"We're trying to catch werewolves here and that's really annoying."
It sounds like their idea of how to catch a werewolf is to lie awake at night listening for sounds they make. That's not what the game is about, which is why we came up with the Night Noise rule. I'd suggest you decline to play with them until they recognize the need for cover noise. If folks don't like slapping their thighs, they can snap their fingers or hum. You could also get a recording of cricket noises to play on the stereo during the night phases.
For some reason, some people just don't want any part of it. The group of people I normally play with when I'm not at conventions don't want to do the knee slapping, not because they're attempting to meta-game, but they just can't be bothered to actually do it. It's quite frustrating, and for some reason they just can't see the logic in being bothered to clap their knees for a minute whilst the Wolves and the Seer do what needs to be done.
"It sounds like their idea of how to catch a werewolf is to lie awake at night listening for sounds they make."
Yes, that's exactly it. And, as you suggest, I usually don't play with my local group very much. Sometimes the group decides to get very creative, and try some variants -- Are You The Traitor goes very well with the group, actually, so I suggest that whenever I can.
As a Moderator, I usually dance around and shuffle my feet as much as I can for this reason. Even though it's just one person, it still does a good job at disguising noises.