(or How to introduce your party so that it starts with a bang not a fizzle)
By Steve Hatherley
Sometimes, in the rush and excitement of guests turning up and preparing the food, it's easy just to rush into a murder mystery party without a proper introduction. However, failing to introduce your characters can create problems for you and your party.
For example, if you are hosting an interactive murder mystery game, you might easily have over 20 guests. If you don't introduce everyone at the start of the party, nobody will know who is playing who. This can drastically slow the game down as your guests can easily spend the first twenty minutes finding that one person that they need to talk to (because they are mentioned on their character sheet).
The other problem is that there may be relationships that need to be clearly stated to everyone present - if you aren't aware of the relationships you might not be able to solve the murder. Typically these include family relationships and business partnerships and they are usually written on the summary cast list. However, not everyone will have a chance to read and inwardly digest the cast list, and certainly I've found it easy to forget something if that's the only place it's mentioned.
So what do you do?
The simplest way to overcome this problem is to introduce each character at the start of the party. Once everyone has arrived and has read their character packs, and just before you start play, you introduce the characters.
I do this one of two ways:
The first is to stand everyone in a circle and I then start with someone and ask them to briefly introduce themselves - who they are and maybe a little bit about themselves. This allows extroverts to have their moment, but does have the disadvantage that secrets may slip out. Also, I've found that some people don't know what "briefly" means, and your short five-minute introduction drags on for fifteen minutes or more.
The other way (and I tend to do this more often these days) is for me (as the host) to read through the cast list. One at a time, I ask each person to identify themselves and after they've said who they are, I read out the description on the cast list. This is more work for me, but does ensure that we keep everything relatively short and also means that the wrong information doesn't slip out.
In both cases, don't forget to introduce yourself!
Where murder mystery games have a family tree, or a map, or a newspaper or other information that is available to all, you should refer to where you have posted those during the introduction. (Ideally, print two or three copies out and tack them to the wall.)
(I haven't mentioned anything here about domestic arrangements - refreshments, toilets, fire exits and the like. You should, of course, draw everyone's attention to those during your introduction. I suggest that you do this first so that once you've finished the introductions play can start immediately.)
So make sure you properly introduce your characters to help make your party a success.
"Party Introductions" was requested by Gentry Cutsforth - click here to send me your own tip or request me to write another (see the form at the bottom of the page).
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Article by Steve Hatherley. Find out more about hosting interactive murder mystery games for your friends and family at http://www.great-murder-mystery-games.com.