Frequently asked questions about murder mystery parties
I get many questions about murder mystery parties. These, however, are some of the most common questions.
If you have a question and I haven't answered it here, please contact me via this page.
What are murder mystery parties?
Murder mysteries are interactive party games for anywhere between 7 and 200 guests.
Murder mysteries come in all sorts of shapes and sizes - dinner theatre, interviewing suspects and turn-based games. Because I like them so much, I concentrate on "interactive" murder mystery games.
Interactive murder mystery games differ from the ones you can find in the stores (such as the popular How to Host a Murder... series) in several ways:
- They usually cater for more guests (St. Cakes caters for up to 200!).
- As well as needing to solve the murder, each guest has other goals and problems to solve. In a typical interactive game you might have to solve the murder and pay off your gambling debts. Another character might want a certain object, while yet another is having an affair.
- You are given all your character’s information at once, at the start of the game. If you’re the murderer then you will know how and why you committed murder – and you will have to deflect suspicion away from yourself.
- Unlike the dinner party games, interactive games are not usually played around a table (although there is often food served, it is usually a buffet or finger food). Instead, everyone mingles and talks to one another. It’s up to them to decide who to trust and who to blackmail in order to solve the mystery and achieve their goals.
- Interactive murder mysteries are completely interactive. While there is a set solution to the murder, how your guests achieve their other goals is entirely up to them.
- These games sometimes require a little more preparation, and sometimes need a dedicated “host” who doesn’t actually solve the murder but organises everything instead.
(In case it wasn’t obvious, I think that the interactive games are much more fun! Click here to learn why!)
If you don't fancy an interactive murder mystery party, then click here for more information on the other types of game.
Do you know of any online murder mystery games?
Yes, there are a few. Click here to read about online murder mystery games.
Are these games suitable for me and my guests?
Some murder mystery parties involve adult themes including drugs and romance (and murder!) and as a result they are not always suitable for young children. They are ideally suited for open-minded, intelligent people willing to have a good time.
Some games are suitable for kids - click here for details of mystery party games for kids.
If you're worried about offending your guests, some of the games do contain fewer references to, er, dubious activities and are more suitable for the easily offended. Click here for "good clean fun" parties.
Do you recommend any game that would tie in with a birthday theme?
There are very few birthday-theme murder mysteries because you need to have another theme as well. Happy Birthday RJ is set at RJ's birthday - but it's real theme is 80's oil soaps (such as Dallas and Dynasty).
I therefore generally recommend that you don't worry too much about about the birthday aspect and choosing a theme to suit your guests.
Do any of the games have a festive theme?
Are the games suitable for a church group?
This question is really difficult – because I have no idea what might (or might not) offend your guests.
In general, there’s nothing in the games that you wouldn’t expect to find in a typical episode of Inspector Morse. In particular, there’s often adultery, theft, fraud, blackmail, drugs and (of course) murder. But hopefully you’d expect that from a murder mystery.
However, if you're really worried about offending your guests, some of the games do contain fewer references to, er, dubious activities and may be more suitable. Click here for "good clean fun" parties.
How many players do I need?
Most murder mystery parties are for a variable number of guests. For example, All at Sea can be played with anywhere between 16 and 33 guests (plus one host). 16 is the absolute minimum you would need for All at Sea. If you have more than 16 but fewer than 33 guests, the game details which characters you should and shouldn't use.
Can you play the games with more guests than advertised? For example, could you run All at Sea with 60 people? What would the additional guests do?
While you can add a few additional characters into the games, it would be hard to add more than three or four this way (click here to read how you can do that). Instead, you are better off choosing a game specifically designed for that number of guests – St Cakes works with up to 200!
If I have 14 players, is it better to play a game with 10-14 players or 14-40?
I prefer to run a murder mystery game with as many places filled as possible – so in that situation I’d host the game for 10-14 players.
What does the host do?
Generally the host prints out the game and prepares everything. (They're often the ones who downloaded the game in the first place, although this isn't always so.) They also organise the venue, arrange for the invitations to be sent out and generally act as host on the day.
If you're a super-host, you might also prepare snacks and food. Or if you're me, you delegate!
Which murder mysteries can be played by the host?
Some of the interactive murder mysteries require that the host know who the murderer is. The ones that the host can actually play are as follows:
- The Last Gasp – the guest playing the murderer doesn't know that they did it and the only place the murderer is listed is in the solution. Therefore it's easy to run that one and still try to solve the murder. (Just don't read the solution – seal it in an envelope as soon as you print it.)
- The Auction, Cudham Riding Club, The Final Curtain and Murder at the Four Deuces – the murder is revealed in two places: their character sheet and in the solution. So if you don't read the solution, and you don't look at the character sheets too closely, you should be able to play.
- All at Sea – while you won't be able to solve the murder (because you will need to know who did it), if you haven't filled the game it's quite easy to play one of the characters (Patrick Malloy – the priest) and just enjoy "hamming it up".
(I often find that as I’m so busy being the host, I don’t have time to solve the murderer – so knowing who the murderer is isn’t usually a problem.)
Why are some of the games in pounds (£) and some in dollars ($)?
There are several publishers of murder mystery games - and they are scattered around the globe. They are in the USA, the UK and elsewhere, and obviously prefer to use their local currency.
How much are the games in US dollars?
Unfortunately I can’t tell you exactly how much you will pay for a game if you’re not paying in the appropriate currency. That’s because you credit card will set the exchange rate and may charge commission – and I have no control over that.
However, if you want to know approximately how much you will be charged, you can use one of several currency converters on the Internet – such as this one.
How much is shipping and how long do the games take to arrive?
The short answer is that shipping is free and you get the games almost instantaneously. The longer answer is here.
Can I sell the game on ebay once I've played it?
In almost all cases, selling the game on ebay (or anywhere else) is a violation of the licence that you agreed to when you bought the game.
The reason that the publishers restrict this is to protect their interests. After all, if you can sell the game on ebay once, you can do it again. And again. And again. (That's why selling software is so restricted on ebay, as opposed to selling "hard" goods such as a pair of shoes.)
If you do that, then it means you are denying those publishers genuine customers. If customers stop buying from the publishers (because they can get the games cheaper elsewhere), then the publishers go out of business... (Murder mystery publishers tend to be quite small and a loss of business can hurt.)
So it's a lose-lose situation. By putting the game on ebay, you contribute to putting the publishers out of business, which means fewer murder mystery party games for everyone to play. So that's why the publishers forbid this in their game licence.
This is also why the publishers will defend their rights quite vigorously and if necessary report you to ebay (or the equivalent). If necessary, they may even take legal action!
So don't sell on your murder mystery game. It helps nobody in the long term.
Why do some pages come out blank why I try to print?
This appears to be a problem with older versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader. The best thing you can do is upgrade to the latest version. Sometimes the files aren't very backwards-compatible and often simply upgrading to the latest version solves the problem.
If I have a problem, who do I contact?
If you’ve got a query about murder mystery games in general, please feel free to contact me.
However, if it’s a query about passwords, payment, downloading the games, or the actual files themselves – you should contact the publishers.
Help - I need to ask you a question!
If you need to ask me a question, please use the form on this page - you can also see questions that other people have asked me, so do look around first!