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Lots of questions about how games work

Learn all about murder mystery parties and how to host your own.

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Lots of questions about how games work

Postby 2coolbaby » January 24th, 2006, 2:01 pm

I received this long list of questions from a person who was getting ready to host their first murder mystery party & realized that people here would probably appreciate the answers I gave him. Here is his post:

First off I want to say that after recently researching 'Murder Mystery Partys' (MMPs) kits, I've been most intrigued by your product.

I'd consider my wife and I mystery fans: books, television, movies.

We've considered hosting a MMP as much as 5 years ago but decided against it because of 2 main problems:

1. At the time, MMPs were limited to 6-12 participants. We've been fortunate enough to have a core group of 20+ friends and family members that we'd like to include and not leave anyone out.

2. The scripted format: seemed to lack spontaneity, may leave some self conscious, and the logistics: 'what did he/she say?', 'are you sure that's right?', 'did you read the script right?exactly as it was?', 'should we have he/she read it again?'

With recent research into MMPs, it's apparent that some MMP companies have resolved those 2 main problems...in particular your product with the MMPs for larger groups plus additional character options and with the unscripted format.

With that said I have a couple of questions:


1. Is there an actual SINGLE killer? One established from the beginning and is indeed the killer at the end?

I ask b/c my wife and I attended a 'whodunnit' theater play that we found very entertaining. Until the end when we were dissapointed to find that the play was set up so that any one of 6 individuals could be the killer and it came down to a majority vote of the audience that decided the actual killer. I understand the value of having several suspects, but would be disappointed to find that the killer was decided by majority vote as opposed to strong deductive reasoning and process of elimination.


Yes there is one planned murder, by 1 killer (who knows they are the killer from the start) & they will be revealed as the killer in the Solution, which is read at the end of the party. Nothing at all like your scenario, which truth be told makes no sense to me. How are you supposed to solve a murder when it could have been any of 6???

That is not to say there may not be one or more other killers later in the party!

2. Does the killer KNOW he/she is the killer? I may have missed it, but I read thru your site and the forum alludes to it but still not sure. And if so, do they know when they get their 'background' info before the game? or after the murder and they open their 'confidential' info envelope?


Yes they do. They know from their background sheets. I try to make my kits play as realistically as possible. Unless a killer had amnesia, there is no doubt they would know. I have played many parties where they do not know until the end & every time I saw a frustrated guest who stated they would have played very differently if they had known that. It just doesn't make sense to me why they would not know.


And again, if so...is the killer's aim to avoid being found? to actively steer suspicion away from him/her?


If I were a killer I do believe I would not want to be discovered and I would want to steer suspicion away:-)

3. What to do with 'fringe' participants?

I'd say about 6 of our 20 friends/family members are more 'blue collar' types. Meaning they've probably watched and enjoyed most Adam Sandler movies...but have never watched a foreign subtitled film. Never been to a live play nor do they read books for enjoyment. We still consider them good friends of course but honestly not sure if they would necessarily
get or enjoy the 'nuances' of a MMP.

Is it best for such people to be one of the 'extra characters' where they can just play a generic 'practical joker' or 'sauve playboy' instead of one of the main suspects?


You would assign your most outgoing guests to the main characters. Say a kit is for 12-20. 12 of those are necessary/primary characters. 8 are secondary, but still with lots to do and their own schemes. Your outgoing people will go to the first 12 & the shyer a person is then the more secondary of a character I would give them. I list the characters in their order of importance on the Guest List. On the guest list of a 12-20 kit you would assign outgoing people to the ones at the top of the list and your more shy people to the characters closer to the bottom.

Now your particular questions referred to blue collar types & how to assign them. In my personal experience it is usually the blue collar types that are most outgoing and get into things the best! Above you just described 3 of my friends who are my best murder mystery party guests. They scheme the best and they are not a bit shy. All class barriers are removed in a murder mystery party. Everyone is playing a character that is not them. They are leaving their everyday life behind to play a new exciting person, living a dangerous life!

Everyone is free to participate as much or as little as they want to. So if someone sits back and does nothing, as long as they are in a secondary role it isn't going to hurt anything. Just less fun for them:-)

B. in your experience, am I over analyzing the situation and underestimating these particular friends?


I don't know about over analyzing. This is an all new experience and it is good to have questions and understand the process.

As far as your friends I firmly believe you are underestimating them. I only say that because I have done many of these with people that just did not want to be there, people who claimed that they would be no good at that, shy people (or so we thought). What we discovered is that people start getting into things whether they think they will or not.

All our lives our morals and empathy keep us doing the right thing. This is a very good thing in life, but at our parties we get to experience and enjoy the scheming, cheating, backstabbing etc... Because in the end we are not going against our morals and we are not hurting anyone. We get to be bad without any guilt. You will be amazed at your guests once they realize this on a subconscious level.
Mary Lee
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Dinner and a Murder Mystery Games
For murder, intrigue, extortion & back stabbing with no scripts to read!
http://www.dinnerandamurder.com
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