The Murder Mystery Party Site

Organizing a Murder

INFORMATION - Running a murder mystery party

If it's your first time, running a murder mystery party might seem a big task to take on. Don't worry - it's easier than it sounds, and this simple guide will take you through what's involved. First you need to choose the type of party. There's the traditional role play party, which will usually have a fixed number of guests, including yourself (often 8), and will involve role play, with each guest taking on the part of a character (and ideally dressing up as that character). Alternatively, there's the Organizing a Murder style party, where all the guests are in competition to solve the mystery (as individuals or teams). There's no limit to the number of players, and much more flexibility of type of mystery (see below), but no role play.

Role Play Party (Party Kit)
These are available as downloads or in a box. Most kits require a fixed number of players (some have optional characters who aren't suspects, but these players may feel a little excluded). Check the number of players on the kit, and make sure you invite the right number of people! (Include yourself in the players, except where an organiser is required.) The kit will come with invitations, and suggestions for costume - get these to your guests well in advance. If anyone can't make it, you will need a substitute - it just won't work with too few players.

Put a little effort into making the party location appropriate for the scene of the mystery. See if you can do a little set dressing - make the room or rooms more in keeping with the mystery. Play appropriate period background music. If your party is based around a meal (it certainly doesn't have to be, though they often are), think about a menu that would fit with your scene.

Your kit will provide you with overall instructions and individual instructions for each guest. You mustn't read other people's instructions - it will spoil the event. Play will normally involve a number of rounds, often designed to fit around a three course meal. First there will be some form of introduction. You give out the characters' instructions, set the background of the mystery (there may be a CD or DVD to help with this), and the characters introduce themselves.

In the subsequent rounds the characters chat and share information. Some of this may be scripted - in other parts, the players are just given topics to cover, or questions to ask. As the party progresses they will also be given clues to reveal, often in the form of evidence such as letters or newspaper cuttings.

At the end of the event, each character will probably be asked to sum up their defence (why they didn't do it) - this may be scripted - and to accuse a murderer. Finally the truth is revealed.

Organizing a Murder party (Mystery events book)
In the Organizing a Murder book, you are provided with a background description, including the key characters in the mystery. The aim is for each player or team to come up with a solution, which may just be who committed the crime, or may require more complex information.

Clues, witness statements and evidence are provided, to help the players along their way. These are distributed around the playing location, adding a treasure hunt aspect to the game. Some of the mysteries require players to find items which are traded for information - this could be anything from clues to the code to unlock a vault. Others depend on the players building up a picture of what's happening which leads them to the next stage.

Preparation here largely involves distributing the information around your playing site. Each mystery also has suggestions for props which can be used, either just to give more atmosphere, or to substitute for a piece of evidence. In many of the games the host does not have to do anything specific, and can simply interact with the other players and help the along. In a few, the host has an active role, distributing information and contributing to the flow of the storyline. It can be convenient if the host is also doing the catering not to have too much to do, as it's hard to play a part and make sure a meal is working smoothly at the same time.

A game can be played through without a break, or fitted around a meal by having short playing times for collecting evidence, then breaks for the courses of the meal, during which the teams or individuals can work together to crack the clues and find their way to the truth. At the end of the event, the players accuse the murderer, or suggest their solution, then the host reveals the true events.

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