Murder Mystery Games from Freeform Games
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People enjoying murder mystery party games

Common questions

These are common questions that we get about our murder mystery games. We've split them into several main categories:

Questions about downloading and printing the game files

  1. How soon will I get my game?

  2. I haven't received the password.

  3. I purchased a game some time ago but have lost the password, or my password has expired.

  4. My game didn't download properly!

  5. My PDF won't print out, or some pages won't, or it looks funny…

  6. Is it possible to download the game in Excel or MS Word format?

  7. Do I need Winzip to download the files?

Questions about our murder mystery games

  1. Do you have any free games?

  2. What is a murder mystery game?

  3. How do freeform murder mystery games work?

  4. Have you got any games for beginners?

  5. How do you 'win' the game?

  6. Does the murderer know they are the murderer?

  7. What happens to those playing the murder victims?

  8. What happens at the start of a murder mystery party?

  9. Have you got any tips for running a murder mystery game?

  10. Have you got any tips for running a murder mystery game?

  11. Are your murder mysteries based around the revelation of successive clues, with people reading from scripts?

  12. What size of murder mystery game do I need?

Questions about casting

  1. How many players do I need?

  2. If I don't have the maximum number of people, how do I know which characters to drop?

  3. Can you play the games with more guests than advertised?

  4. Can my guests access their character information online?

  5. Do you have any all-male or all-female games?

Questions about murder mystery games for kids

  1. Do you have games for children as well as for adults? What's the difference?

  2. Are the younger games too childish for adults?

  3. Do you have games suitable for a girls-only or boys-only party?

Questions about the host

  1. What does the host do?

  2. Does the host/organizer get to play a role in the game, and should they wear a costume?

  3. Can you play a character and host at the same time?

  4. Is it at all possible to host the games without knowing who the murderer is?

Questions about specific game rules

  1. How do you play scissors paper stone?

  2. Can I see the rules before buying?

  3. Do characters have character abilities that they can use?

  4. What happens to those players who characters die during play?

  5. What size of murder mystery game do I need?

Other questions

If you've got a question that we haven't answered here, please get in touch via our contact form, or ask us a question on our Facebook or Google+ pages.

Or you can contact us via Facebook with this form (your query comment won't appear on Facebook itself, unless you choose for it to):

Questions about the game files

How soon will I get my game?

You can download your game right away, immediately after making your purchase – there is no delay. And if it's not convenient for you to do that (eg. if you want to download it to a different computer), that's fine too – we automatically send you an email message containing a download link and password so you can download your game later. (If you don't see that email message, check your spam folder – sometimes they get caught in there.)

I haven't received the password.

Please check your email (including your junk folder). If you're sure you haven't received it, then please get in touch. It will help us if you tell us when you purchased the game, and what email address you used.

I purchased a game some time ago but have lost the password, or my password has expired.

No problem – just contact us with the email that you used to buy the game and and (roughly) when you bought it, and we can email your password right back to you.

My game didn't download properly!

If you've still got the download page open, try refreshing it, as that'll generate a fresh set of download files for you. Or if not, go to the password email that we sent you (check your junk folder if you haven't received it), and follow the instructions there to generate a new download. Or if that doesn't work either, use our contact form to tell us about the problem, and we'll set it right for you.

My PDF won't print out, or some pages won't, or it looks funny…

This usually means that you're using an old version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Our files will only print properly from version 4 or later. (Which came out years ago, and it's free.) You can download an up-to-date version from Adobe. If you're still having trouble printing out, send us a message and we'll see what we can do.

Is it possible to download the game in Excel or MS Word format?

We produce our games in pdf format to ensure that they can be viewed consistently by our customers no matter what computer they are using. However, sometimes we know that our customers like to customise the games – such as changing character names. If you want to do this then get in touch with us and we can let you have the game files in MS Word or .odt format.

Do I need Winzip to download the files?

No - we compress the game files into a .zip file to make them easy to download (there are quite a few separate files to download). To download, just right-click on the filename and choose "Save as…". The files can then be opened by Windows/Mac without needing any other special software. If you are having trouble, though, please get in touch and we will email you the game files.

Questions about our murder mystery games

Do you have any free games?

Yes! You can get our free version of Way out West (which is exactly the same as the paid-for version but is for only 10 players – the full game will cater for up to 24) simply by signing up to our email newsletter (see the box on the right at the top of this page).

What is a murder mystery game?

A murder mystery game is an interactive party game for anywhere between 6 and 40 guests. There are several styles of murder mystery games.

Perhaps the most popular those where the mystery takes place in rounds of reading out clues. They are often played over a meal (the rounds taking place between courses). This is the form that the boxed sets available in the shops take – and is also how many of the games available on the Internet are played. These are sometimes known as murder mystery dinner parties.

Our murder mystery games are quite different. Our games cater for more guests (over 40 with Murder at Sea, if you include all the free extra characters) and as well as needing to solve the murder, each guest has other goals and problems to solve. In a typical game you might have to solve the murder and pay off your gambling debts. Another character might want a certain object, while yet another is having an affair. Unlike the dinner party games, our games are not usually played around a table (although there is often food served, it is usually a buffet or finger food). Instead, the guests talk to one another and decide who to trust and who to blackmail in order to solve the mystery and achieve their goals. Our games are completely interactive: while there is a set solution to the murder, how your guests achieve their other goals is entirely up to them.

We call our games "freeform murder mystery games", and they're the only type we make – we don't think the first type are as fun or interesting.

How do freeform murder mystery games work?

As a host, you take the role of an impartial referee in a freeform murder mystery game. You won't get to solve the murder with everyone else – but as you will already have read the game you will be able to watch your guests try and puzzle things out.

As a guest you must rely on your wits and must negotiate, scheme and plot with the other guests to get what you want. Nobody needs to learn complicated background or memorise lines – your character background is little more than a side or two of paper – and you can keep that to hand during the game to refer to whenever you like.

Have you got any games for beginners?

Yes! Some of our games are more complex, and others less so – if you're not confident about hosting something like this, choosing one of the more straightforward games will give you less to have to think about on the day. Take a look at our 'games for beginners' page here.

How do you 'win' the game?

You don't really – it's not that sort of game. Some players will be more or less successful than others, in that they'll achieve more of their goals, will solve the identity of the murderer, will avoid being killed, etc. So you can award prizes for those accomplishments if you like, and for best costume, best performance and so on. But in general, if everyone has fun, then everyone wins!

Does the murderer know they are the murderer?

Yes, they do: they're told that right at the beginning, in their briefing. And they're told all the details of why they did it, and exactly how it happened.

What happens to those playing the murder victims?

Currently we have three games in which the murder takes place at the party: Murder at Sea, Happy Birthday R.J., and Snow Business. In Murder at Sea, the murder takes place at the beginning of the game and the part of the victim is taken by a host, or by one of the other players who then adopts their “main” character. In the other two, the murder is a part of the game, the victim is one of the players, and they are replaced by another character who joins the party after the murder.

In our other games, although the murder's taken place before the game starts. In a few of them you could play it out as a 'theatre-style' opening scene, such as the car crash that kills Tom Speed in Hollywood Lies. But in most cases, staging the murder would make it obvious who the killer is!

What happens at the start of a murder mystery party?

At the start of our games, once everybody has read their character information and you've introduced the game, then it's time to start playing the game.

Usually, most players leap into action and start playing. They'll identify who they need to talk to from their character sheet (perhaps using the “Tips for Beginners”), and go and talk to that person.

Sometimes, however, you may have one or two players who will be a bit unsure and won't know what to do. Those are the ones that you need to keep an eye out for.

If I see anyone looking a bit lost, then I will ask them if there's a problem and try and help them. Often it needs little more than asking them what their goals are and then asking them who they think they need to talk to, and then giving them a bit of encouragement. (Or you can work it from the other angle and ask one of the other players to go and to them.)

Have you got any tips for running a murder mystery game?

Yes!

Our players have come up with a great collection of suggestions and ideas for running murder mystery games that we've gathered here on our Hints and tips page. Also, here's a great source for all sorts of information related to hosting our games: Loads of tips for hosting a murder mystery party game.

Are your murder mysteries based around the revelation of successive clues, with people reading from scripts?

No! These are quite different. In our games, everyone has all their information up front, and it's up to them how and when (and if) they want to reveal it, who they want to share it with, what they want to say about it, and so on. That's what we mean by 'freeform' – we put all those decisions in the guests' hands, rather than the game leading them by the nose.

What size of murder mystery game do I need?

We've been frustrated by other murder mystery games that have a fixed number of players, so we designed our murder mystery games so that they can be played by different numbers of players.

Bludgeoned on Broadway, for example, has been written for 8 to 13 guests. That means the game will cater for a minimum of 8 guests, and a maximum of 13. (Plus someone to be the host.)

In general, we recommend that you fill a game as much as you can. That's because our games are usually better with more players. So that if you have 16 players coming to your party, pick a game with that number as a maximum (say A Dead Man's Chest) rather than one with 16 as a minimum (such as Hollywood Lies).

All of our games have at least one free extra character that you can use if you end up with more players than originally expected. Some of the games have more than one - you can check here to see which extra characters are available.

Questions about casting

How many players do I need?

Most murder mystery parties are for a variable number of guests. For example, Murder at Sea can be played with anywhere between 17 and 33 guests (plus one host). 17 is the absolute minimum you would need for Murder at Sea. If you have more than 17 but fewer than 33 guests, the game tells you which characters you should and shouldn't use.

In general, we recommend that you fill a game as much as you can. That's because our games are usually better with more players. So that if you have 16 players coming to your party, pick a game with that number as a maximum (say A Dead Man's Chest) rather than one with 16 as a minimum (such as Hollywood Lies).

If I don't have the maximum number of people, how do I know which characters to drop?

When you buy the game, the instructions will tell you which ones to leave out, depending on how many guests you have. We can't include that information on this website or in the free intro file, because it would give away that those droppable characters couldn't be the murderer!

Can you play the games with more guests than advertised?

While you can add a few additional characters into the games, it would be hard to add more than three or four this way. Instead, you are better off choosing a game specifically designed for that number of guests (so instead of trying to add people to Death on the Gambia, you would be better off running Murder at Sea).

We have some free additional characters for our games, written both by ourselves and our customers, so if you do have more guests than expected you have some options for giving them characters to play. You can get the extra characters when you download the files, and you can see which games have extra characters here.

Can my guests access their character information online?

No, unfortunately not. But in (almost) all our games each player's information is in a separate file, so you can email it to them and they can read it that way.

Do you have any all-male or all-female games?

Yes! Hollywood Lies and Halloween Lies (which is the horror-movie version of Hollywood Lies) are both suitable for an all-male or all-female group, as all the characters have been written so that they are gender-neutral.

If, however you want to run one of our other games with an all-male or all-female group, then you have two options.

The first is to just let some of the players play a character of a different gender to their own. However, some of our games also include some sort of 'sexual tension' romance element between characters, which you may want to avoid – or at the least be very careful about who you cast in that.

Your second option is to rewrite some of the characters and plots to remove the male or female characters. This will probably be quite a lot of work – but if that's something you really want to do, then we suggest that you get in touch with us first, so that we can steer you to an appropriate game.

Questions about murder mystery games for kids

Do you have games for children as well as for adults? What's the difference?

We do have several games suitable for younger players down to the age of 8 or so – see our page about kids' murder mystery games for more details.

In general our kids' games are just as complex and interesting as our adult games , they just don't include 'adult' plotlines and material. So they are also suitable for families of mixed age, and for more conservative groups such as church organizations.

Are the younger games too childish for adults?

We've designed all of our games to be enjoyable for adults, and the age limit simply represents whether there are mature themes present in the game. So, for example, we suggest that Davy Jones' Locker is appropriate for ages 15+ and that's due to a plot about elopement and references to voodoo and gypsy magic.

Even the games we list as suitable for very young children (such as Pirate Island) are suitable for adults – and we've playtested them with both adults and kids.

Our kids' murder mystery game page contains details of each game's adult content and provides a suggested age limit.

Do you have games suitable for a girls-only or boys-only party?

Our party games (Pirate Island, Trick or Treat and Monster Mash) are completely suitable for single-sex parties. These games are written so that the players will take on the roles of monsters or pirates, but we don't give them specific characters so it doesn't matter whether they are boys or girls.

However, our murder mystery games are written for mixed groups of male and female. So for a single-sex game some players will have to play the opposite sex. We find that while girls generally don't mind doing this, it's a different story trying to get boys to play female characters! On our games for kids page, we talk through each game and how suitable it is for youngsters to play.

Questions about the host

What does the host do?

Here's what the host actually does in one of our murder mystery games.

Before the party the host:

The host might also be responsible for sorting out the venue and refreshments – or that may be done by others.

During the party the host:

The host might also be involved in serving food and drinks – but it's often better if others are responsible for that.

Does the host/organizer get to play a role in the game, and should they wear a costume?

In each of our games, the host/organizer has a named role, and a suggested costume. For example, in Way out West they're the Bartender, and in Spellbound they're the Librarian.

Can you play a character and host at the same time?

In general we don't tend to recommend both playing and hosting at the same time, for several reasons:

However, if you still want to be the host and play a character, you just need to be a bit careful about it. We've included some advice on hosting and playing at the same time here, on our blog.

Is it at all possible to host the games without knowing who the murderer is?

Unfortunately, it's not really possible to host our games without knowing who the murderer is and other guilty secrets. Our games are designed so that there is lots of interactivity between the guests, and unfortunately that means they need a host. The host role is lots of fun – it's great watching your friends scheme and plot and try to get the best of each other.

Questions about specific game rules

How do you play scissors paper stone?

Scissors paper stone is now more usually known as rock paper scissors. (It was always known as scissors paper stone when we grew up.) We've decided to move with the times and change to rock paper scissors in our games - but it's a work in progress and we'll make the change as we update our games.

We've written about rock paper scissors on our blog.

Can I see the rules before buying?

Yes – the best way to do that is to download our free version of Way out West, which you can get by signing up to our newsletter.

Do characters have character abilities that they can use?

Yes, we give our characters abilities that let their players do things that their character can, but that they might not be able to. Usually these let them discover clues and red herrings. Most abilities are used by players on each other – for example a player might use an ability to find out another player's “Clue”.

Our games include a wide-range of abilities, from evaluating the cost of something to being a crack shot to even pick pocketing.

We've written about abilities on our blog, here.

What happens to those players who characters die during play?

Quite a few of our games include simple rules for attacking other characters – and as a result some characters can die. We've written our games so that this can only occur during the later stages of the game - before then it's impossible to die. By that point they've been involved in most of the game, and it's usually okay for them to step out of the game (or lie there as a gory corpse) and maybe help the host out with refreshment duties! We don't provide replacement characters for them, because this would really be too unpredictable. (The exception is those games that include a planned character death – in these situations they are given a replacement character.)

Can I pickpocket a character's Secret or Clue?

No. When using the pickpocket ability, you can only take an item or money. (A character's Secret or Clue is part of them, and not something that can be taken away.)

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