Tag Archives: Optional rules

Post-party feedback

After a murder mystery party we like to get feedback from our players. We primarily do this to improve our games, but I’ve started asking for stories.

As well as celebrating the party’s success, stories are the only way I get to discover what happened. (As host, I am often the last person to find out what’s going on.)

Post-party feedback

So after I recently hosted Reunion with Death, I asked two questions (as an online Google Form):

  • What do you imagine your character will be doing in five years’ time?
  • Who would you like to give a star to – and why? (You can give as many as you like.) (Give stars to other players, to a moment in the game, or to an element of the overall experience. For example, you can award a star for – amazing roleplay, great character moments, another player’s generosity, a mechanic of the game system that really sang etc. A star is a thing you loved about the game.)

These are examples of the wonderful responses to these questions (names redacted to remove spoilers):

Epilogues: in five years …

  • … is helping to run a group of community youth groups.
  • … is running a video empire and getting high in luxury places.
  • … is still married!
  • … through hard work and diligence, is now a detective in the Holborrow police force.

(And some epilogues were too detailed to share here! And I may have changed some details to preserve the mystery.)

Lots of stars

  • … for all-round slipperiness
  • … for being a serious police detective questioning all the suspects carefully
  • … for one of my favourite lines: ‘Let’s be clear, if I was going to kill anyone in that situation, it would be …’
  • … did the shifty anger thing very well
  • … was a very good pushy, inquisitive journalist
  • … was so warm and enthusiastic about piecing together the mystery, and I loved the overt pining after …
  • … was easy to snark at!

Try them out

Next time you host a murder mystery, try asking those two questions as a feedback form and enjoy all the stories!

Adding fighting and poison to a murder mystery party

One of our customers recently wrote to us asking which games have combat in them.

(I’m not sure if they were looking for games that had combat, or games without combat. Not that it matters.)

We realised we hadn’t made it easy for our customers to work out which games have combat and which ones don’t, so we have added icons (from game-icons.net) to our choosing a game page to make that clear.

Includes rules for combat.

Includes rules for the use of poison.

Uses superpowers instead of our usual combat and poison rules.

No combat, no poison. No combat, no poison.

One character will die during the game, and will be replaced with a new character for that guest.

The host can either play one of the characters or can just be the host, as they prefer.

Written by Peaky Games, and only recommended for people who have hosted one of our murder mystery games before.

Standard rules

We also have our standard rules (combat, poisoning, pickpocket, capturing and arrest) which anyone can use—either for their own games, or to add to a game that doesn’t normally use those rules.

A Speakeasy Murder – includes our combat rules

But how do you do that?

To explain, I’m going to show how I might add combat to Murder on the Istanbul Express (which is set aboard a luxury train where fighting would normally be forbidden).

Option #1—in the background

The easiest thing I could do is simply have the rules in my back pocket should they be needed. The game includes items that could be used as a weapon, and if one player decides that their character really must attack another, I would use our rules to adjudicate that (rather than forbid it).

First aid kit

I would also provide a first aid kit as an item on the train (perhaps in the kitchen).

But I wouldn’t advertise this in advance—I’d just use the combat rules if they were needed.

Option #2—announce it in advance

The next option is to announce that the fighting rules will be used during the game briefing, but don’t introduce new abilities or items (except the first aid kit mentioned above). Simply identify which of the existing items could be used as a weapon, and let the game commence.

Could this lucky horseshoe be a weapon?

Use common sense when working out which items could be used as a weapon—and be prepared for players to improvise.

Option #3—add abilities and items

Finally, I would embrace combat and announce that not only that the fighting rules will be used, but I’d give out suitable abilities and possibly even weapons.

But who to give them to?

  • Characters looking for revenge and their targets
  • Law keepers
  • Heroic types
  • Villains

I would give all of these a weapon of some sort, and an ability from the list in our Combat Rules.
And to balance everything, I would give other characters either an extra ability (from those used in the game) or a first aid kit (for doctors or anyone who might reasonably have access to one).

I would also share the combat rules with everyone as part of their character packs.

To add combat or not?

For me, though, I probably wouldn’t add combat to a game that doesn’t already have it.

I know our games without combat work fine without it, and adding combat can create unnecessary complexity that it doesn’t need.

Mass Murder

In an earlier post Kelly from Michigan told us about the prizes she awards when she hosts one of our murder mystery games.

The Reality is Murder - a murder mystery party from Freeform Games

The Reality is Murder

She then told us about another thing she does – mass murder!

“We usually have a mass murder after the game is over. I let anyone who wants to kill anyone else if they win at RPS, it doesn’t matter if they have a weapon or not. I don’t think anyone realizes that it doesn’t count, it is more about fun and settling scores. One person feels it is his duty to kill all the bad guys, even if he played a bad guy.

“It keeps people busy while we finish adding up the scores for the awards.”

Let us know if you give that a try!

Reporting the news

Here’s an idea that you may wish to include in your game. (Note that if you’ve not played our games before, we suggest that you stick with the basic rules – but if you’re an old hand, go crazy!)

Reporting the news in a Freeform Games murder mystery game
Reporting the news!

Reporting the news: We have written a free extra reporter character, “Ginger” Roberts, that can be used for many of our games.

You can have extra fun with Ginger (and other reporters that may be already in the game) by creating a system that lets them actually “post” news items. Here are some ideas:

Headlines: Put some sheets of paper on the wall, and let the reporter write news headlines. For example, “German Ambassador is really a woman!” or “I’ve had an affair, admits famous movie star!”. A flip chart board is ideal for this – let the reporter post the headlines, and when the sheet is full you can tear it off and stick it on the wall.

News stories: If your cub reporters are keen, they can actually write out the stories. You could even provide them with an old typewriter for them to do this (although it might be quicker if they just hand-write the pieces).

Bylines: The problem with actually writing the stories is that the person playing the reporter may end up spending all their time writing news reports instead of playing the game. So instead of typing up a story, get them to write their name next to their headline – and tell everyone at the start of the party that if they want to “read” that story they should talk to that particular reporter to find out the details.

You can use any of the above to create some rivalry between journalists. For example, you can create a competition to see who writes the most news stories, or even a give a prize for the wackiest headline.

Remember to give the reporters a notebook and pen so they can jot down the facts as they research their stories.

Rewarding great play

Here’s an idea that you may wish to include in your game. (Note that if you’ve not played our games before, we suggest that you stick with the basic rules – but if you’re an old hand, go crazy!)

Here's a poker chip from us for "best beard" if nothing else!
Here’s a poker chip from us for “best beard” if nothing else!

Rewarding great play: You can reward great play when you see it. Simply keep some poker chips with you when you are the Host. When you see someone doing something really cool (which might be over-acting, good roleplaying, a fine costume – or anything else that you think is worth rewarding), then give that person a poker chip.

That player can then use that poker chip as an ability use for any of their abilities.

Remember to brief this out to everyone at the start of the party – otherwise your players won’t know what the poker chips are for!

Be generous!