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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Adapting a Clue Based Mystery into A Large Group Game

Turning a clue based murder mystery game into a large group (scripted) murder mystery game is done commonly and is pretty straight forward. There are a few things to do. But before I get into this, it is probably important to understand the difference.

We have 2 kinds of murder mystery game formats: clue based and scripted.  Clue based games  are designed for small parties where everyone is a suspect.  In a clue based games each guests is given clues to reveal or conceal from the rest.  In the end, everyone guesses who-dun-it.  Unfortunately this format does not work well for large group games, because it becomes quite difficult to track all of the various clues among all of the different characters.


These murder mystery parties are generally designed for smaller, more intimate parties (12 or less). They are ideal for dinner parties, family gatherings, birthday parties, anniversaries and special occasions.

At the event, your guests will come in character, as will you. The party is broken up into round and during each round the host will casually deliver clues. Each guest will receive a clue(s) and they will read to themselves. Most guest will receive a clue to reveal and one to conceal. The guests should then share their revealing clues at their leisure with whomever they choose. At the same time, they try to conceal their secret clue. Conceal means they try to avoid the subject or spin the topic - they CAN NOT LIE. This process is repeated for each round. The timing is up to you, but usually allow an hour per round.


Our large group game format is designed to support large parties, generally between 15-150 guests.  These games have a base cast who is fully aware of the plot and outcome.  This cast will act out the mystery providing hints and clues to be discovered by the guests. All other guests are detectives working to crack the case.  Often the murder will occur during the party.

These games are lightly scripted designed to guide the cast but encourage improvisation.  The cast will interact with all guests making it fun for all. 

A large group game requires a little more coordination, to ensure that all guests are included and they all become aware of the key clues.  So when you convert a clue based game to a large group game you should assemble a cast and share with them the entire print kit, then you will need to stage out the night to ensure that the key clues are revealed to most of the guests. Once you got the details worked out, you might want to do a rehearsal to make sure the mystery unfolds correctly.  You can add or change character clues as you need to fit your party.

Great.  So now you have the mystery covered, now what about the other guests.  The simplest solution is just invite the rest of the guests to come as th character of their choosing based on the theme of the party.  Or you could create a character for them.  (Warning: with a lot of guests this could be a lot of work).

Adding custom characters to your game is pretty easy. In fact often you can do it without knowing the mystery.  Here are characters you add without knowing anything about the mystery:

An assistant character:
You could create an assistant,twin, spouse or colleague for one of the characters.  If you do this you are, in effect, turning one role into two. (You will need to make sure that the two people like working together). Just print two sets of clues for any character whom they are assisting and tell the two guests to work together.
Staff : Depending on the setting for the murder mystery, you might be able to add an extra character who is a servant, or a member of the staff or crew. You could give them some simple duties such as being in charge of serving the food and drinks. You should make sure that they have some clues, which will require a little creativity on your part.

Creating a Custom Murder Mystery Character: You can easily add characters to any Host-Party mystery party (On the 'Assign Guest/Cast Characters' pages click the 'Add a Custom Character' in the bottom row of the character list). By doing this through our site your guest and their character will automatically be included in all mystery party game materials and throughout the website. Your guests will not be able to tell which characters are the base characters and which are custom. Of course, you will likely want to add a few clues to keep this character "in the game". It is fairly simple to come up with some clues that relate the custom character to the murder scene. This can also be accommodated through our site (On the 'Assign Guest/Cast Characters' page click 'Clues' in the right column. Then click 'Add New' in the header of the Custom Clues box or use the 'Copy' button to copy an existing clue).

So now, you have the Mystery and Characters.  There is one last thing, The instructions.  Your print kit will have instructions for a clue based game. Not a large group party.  So you will need to disregard some of these.  Just don't sweat it.  The party will likely evolve in different ways but they almost always work out in the end.  Especially when you have a cast there to help you.