Key Things To Check When Running Your Own Murder Mystery
Murder mysteries run by you without professional help generally come in two forms: downloadable murder mysteries and boxed games.
Boxed games can be fun but are meant only for smaller groups (6-12 people). One problem with them is that their crime solutions are often very unsatisfying. They rely on everyone being too drunk by the end to care who did it! The character names are often groan-inducing and smutty (Hugh Janus, Cass Trait, etc.).
Downloadable murder mysteries vary a lot in quality. As long as you follow the guidelines below, you should end up with a very inexpensive, very enjoyable and very different kind of evening (or morning or afternoon!).
Key Things To Check With Murder Mysteries Run By You:
• What free material is there for you to look at before you buy? Study it carefully. If there isn’t enough material for you to be sure the plot is well written, don’t buy it.
• Will the subject matter upset any of your guests? The characters in murder mysteries usually behave very badly: they lie, cheat, blackmail, steal, kill, etc. Most people won’t be bothered by this. But some – especially those with strong religious views – may be offended. And many murder mysteries aren’t really suitable for children. Reputable companies include warnings about any content that may cause offence.
• Is the company you are buying from a ‘proper’ business? Does it have a postal address and email address (both are good signs)? Does it have a phone number (a very good sign)?
• Who can it be run for? Copyright restrictions may mean you won’t be allowed to run it as a commercial venture. The penalties for infringing that copyright can be high. But it may be still possible to run it as a fund-raising charity event. Check before you buy.
• What will you get for your money? Boxed games usually cost £15-£30. Most games downloaded from the Internet cost anywhere from £15 to £60. They often have a lot more detail and tend to be much better than the boxed games. Given how much fun they create, we think they are very good value!
• Are there any technical problems that may prevent you downloading a game? Reputable companies will have some free material you can download first, so you can be sure your software is compatible with theirs. Sometimes they won’t download properly, won’t print out properly, etc.
• How many people can take part? Most downloadable murder mysteries are for groups of 6-50 people, but if you look hard enough you can find ones which can be played by up to 200 people.
• What will you get? The games are usually run over a meal and should include both information for those taking part and for you on how to run the event. In some games, there will be a character for you to play as well as one for each of your guests. In others, the organiser has no character of their own and just sorts out everyone else.
Many of the downloadable plots do seem to be written by people who have a real love for and understanding of the product. But not all of them. There are some feeble efforts out there, too. The best way to avoid them is only to buy something that has enough free, advance material for you to be sure you’ll like what you are buying.
• What are the drawbacks? The main drawback with the downloadable plots is the amount of time you’ll need to spend printing them out and putting them together. And there are extra items you may have to provide – e.g. paper, envelopes, pencils, prizes, etc.