Who Shot the Sheriff


Who Shot the Sheriff is a Wild West murder mystery game for 12 to 15 guests and a host. Set in an 1869 ghost town, the Sheriff of Buzzard Creek has been found dead in the stables of the Gold Nugget Saloon. Written by Tara Laben. Recommended for ages 12+.


Who Shot the Sheriff is a murder mystery game for 12 to 15 guests and a host. It is set in a ghost town in the Old West, in 1869. Download the free introductory pdf file.

Who Shot the Sheriff is a bang-up evening of gold-hunting, investigating, six-shooting and double-dealing! Your guests will be in the middle of the action, and it will be up to them to wheel and deal to get what they want. Will they achieve their goals, keep their secrets hidden, and survive Who Shot the Sheriff?

“I must say, I found Who Shot the Sheriff to be a very enjoyable night. The way the plot was written was cleverly twisted, and led many players (including myself) to believe they had found the killer before realizing they had been following a dead end all along. I was particularly entertained by the classic Wild West feel: there was every type of character from cowboys to indians, and from bartenders to bankers. There was also a good mix of classic good guy characters, sneaky bad guys, and of course, the renegade characters who really don’t pick a side and just care about themselves! It was such a great night, and I would definitely participate in another game if I was invited. In fact, I might even just host one myself! ”
Jeff Lange, United States

See stories and pictures
from Who Shot the Sheriff
Read the
Buzzard Creek Buzz

In the summer of 1869, two stagecoaches set out from the small town of Dustville on a three-day trip across the American West to San Francisco. A new source of gold has been discovered 20 miles from San Francisco, attracting miners, prospectors and businesspeople.

After two days, the stagecoaches stop for a break at a ghost town called Buzzard Creek. It’s a chance to water the horses and let everyone stretch their legs. Buzzard Creek is deserted save for a few old-timers, Sheriff Cassidy, Deputy Baxter, Good-For-Nothin’ Ned, and the employees of the Gold Nugget Saloon.

Unfortunately, before the horses are ready, a dust storm approaches. Then, gunshots ring out. In the stables, the Bartender finds Sheriff Cassidy sprawled face-down with gunshot wounds in his back, his gun lying beside him. With the passengers and townsfolk gathered in the Gold Nugget Saloon, the full force of the ferocious dust storm arrives, confining everyone inside. Everyone, including Sheriff Cassidy’s killer…

Who Shot the Sheriff lasts for about four hours and is suited to an evening. It is often played over a meal – a finger buffet if possible, to allow guests to circulate and talk in private.

Who Shot the Sheriff is great for younger players, highly recommended.”
Chris Spetter, United States

Includes rules for the use of poison.
Includes rules for the use of poison.
Includes rules for combat.
Includes rules for combat.

The free introductory pdf file contains an introduction to the game, a cast list of all the characters, and a copy of the Buzzard Creek Buzz.

Cast of characters

Stagecoach Passengers

  • Willard Preston: a rough and tough-looking traveler hoping to start a new life in San Francisco with his girl, Ruby-Mae.
  • Ruby-Mae Marshall: a fun-loving traveler hoping to start a new life in San Francisco with her feller, Willard.
  • Runs Like a Deer: a quiet, determined Indian woman.
  • Piper Lee: a prospector following the Gold Rush.
  • Jessie Calhoun: a sharp-eyed female adventurer traveling alone.
  • Fitzhugh Smith: a wealthy, gentlemanly city slicker who owns a chain of banks and savings-and-loan companies.
  • Doctor Shiloh Merriwhether: an eccentric doctor notorious for working with the Indians.
  • Doctor Riley Bones: a doctor famous for traveling the world and discovering exotic remedies.
  • Elijah Entwhistle: a fiery traveling preacher.
  • Christy Martin: an enterprising business owner.

Buzzard Creek Locals

  • Sam Banks: owner of the Gold Nugget Saloon, and the editor of the local newspaper.
  • Blaise Sadler: the saloon’s only waitress, and the “most beautiful girl in town” winner for three years in a row.
  • Laughing Owl: a mysterious local Indian.
  • Good-For-Nothin’ Ned: a scruffy local ne’er-do-well.
  • Deputy Beau Baxter: the new Sheriff Deputy, who only arrived in Buzzard Creek last month.

Who Shot the Sheriff is for 12 to 15 players:

  • 12 players (5 male, 4 female, 3 any)
  • 13 players (6 male, 4 female, 3 any)
  • 14 players (6 male, 4 female, 4 any)
  • 15 players (6 male, 4 female, 5 any)

You also need a host – someone to organize the party and ensure everything runs smoothly.

How Freeform Games murder mystery games work

Who Shot the Sheriff is unlike other murder mystery games. Although the game starts with a murder, each character has several goals they must try to accomplish. While they may want to solve the murder, Who Shot the Sheriff contains plenty of other plots and secrets to keep everyone busy. Who Shot the Sheriff isn’t scripted; the players decide how they will achieve their goals and thwart their enemies.

All in all I’d say Who Shot the Sheriff was a GREAT game! It was the most well thought out game that I have hosted so far. PERFECT for hosts that have experience because of the intricate plots!”
Rob Newbold, Ohio, United States

On the evening of the game the guests are met by the organizer, the Bartender, and welcomed to the Gold Nugget Saloon.

They then receive their detailed backgrounds – including dark secrets, objectives and money. The fun then begins as they form alliances, blackmail each other, steal items and maybe even try to murder one another! Along the way they may uncover some of the mysteries of Who Shot the Sheriff. What happened to the money stolen from the Bank of Dustville? Is the “Gold Rush Ghost” an evil spirit, or a human being? Who is the mysterious masked Stranger, and who is the notorious gold-smuggler Handlebar Harry?

Finally, the game concludes and everyone finds out how they did, and what secrets everyone else was concealing.

Recommended for ages 12+

We recommend Who Shot the Sheriff for those aged 12+,  as it is family-friendly and contains no adult themes.

Extra characters

Sometimes you have too many guests and need more characters. So most games have free extra characters (written by us or previous hosts) included in the download when you purchase the game.

  • ‘Ginger’ Roberts – freelance reporter in search of the Big Story. (Any)
    (by Freeform Games)
  • Doc Faraday – local medical practitioner. (M)
    (by Freeform Games)

Please note that we haven’t always tested these – and they may not tie in exactly with our games.

“Thank you for a great site, fantastic games, good service and very quick reply. Keep up the good work.” Ole Martin Brodwall, Norway

Cast Iron Guarantee

We offer a Cast Iron Guarantee on all our murder mystery games. If you’re not completely satisfied with Who Shot the Sheriff then please let us know within 30 days and we will refund you. See our full terms and conditions, and our refund policy.

Trouble downloading? If you have trouble downloading the game files, please first check your spam folder. If you still can’t find the download email, drop us a line at info@freeformgames.com with the name of the game and the email address you used to purchase it, and we’ll resend it.

6 reviews for Who Shot the Sheriff

  1. Becky (store manager)

    I had the delightful opportunity to play Who Shot the Sheriff this past weekend. I had heard about Freeform Murder Mystery Games, but couldn’t imagine how it would work with so many people playing parts… and having to get into those parts quickly enough to make the plot work out correctly. As the night progressed I discovered that the game was so well thought out and each character’s information was so complete as to their background, their goals, what they knew about others, their abilities, secrets, and information unique to them, that it worked even while allowing players to have freedom in how they played their characters. What made it even more fun were the many subplots rippling through the room even as the main plot unfolded. I highly recommend this game as an entertaining way to:
    1. encourage conversation, even for the shy;
    2. foster critical thinking, and making it fun;
    3. take a costume party to a whole new level.
    Who Shot the Sheriff gets two thumbs up!

  2. Anthony Gillet (store manager)

    We ran your Who Shot the Sheriff game this weekend, and it was a blast!
    None of the 13 people that attended had done a murder mystery party before, including myself or my wife as the hosts, but the provided instructions were excellent and everything worked out great.
    The story was interesting and had plenty of twists and turns, and every single character had something interesting to do, even if they weren’t directly involved with the murder.
    We are already thinking about running another, and we can’t wait to try the sequel, Way Out West!

  3. Erin Knowles (store manager)

    Who Shot the Sheriff was great! You guys are so creative to have come up with all of the intricate plots. People were AMAZED how everything intertwined at the end. We’re going to get another one in about 6 months!

  4. Kyle Clopton (store manager)

    Playing Who Shot the Sheriff was easily one of my favorite of many murder mystery games I’ve taken part in.
    The game was so alive with dynamic characters that all came together under an awesome plot.
    Each character was so vividly portrayed and revealed as the story unfolded that I felt like I was really part of the story.
    The atmosphere of the evening, dressing the part, and getting into character were what made Who Shot the Sheriff
    one of the best games for fellowship with friends and family. We talked for days after about our experience, and even after
    months have passed, we still talk about how much fun it was!

  5. Tim Lange (store manager)

    Who Shot the Sheriff was my second time at one of these types of games, and boy was it fun. Who could you trust? No one!
    Who did you have to trust at some time during the game? Everyone! Why is this woman watching me all the time? Why is that man avoiding me?
    The costumes and decorations were great, especially since I love Western themes anyway. Once you learn to let go of who you are and become the person in the game, it really gets fun.
    The hardest thing for me to get over was absence of rules for what you could or couldn’t do in the game. Once over that, the fun really begins as you turn into your character. I can’t wait for the next one!

  6. Cassie Giordano (store manager)

    I’d been hearing about Freeform Games for a long time, so when I heard that my friends would be hosting Who Shot the Sheriff I knew I had to be there.
    Never mind that I currently live about 800 miles away, I needed a vacation anyhow. My epic trek across America landed me in the Old West, complete with horseshoes, wanted posters and
    plenty of ten-gallon hats (well, maybe only two-gallon). A murderer was on the loose, along with plenty of bank robbers, con men, indians, proper (and improper) ladies, lawmen and layabouts.
    Leather boots on my feet and a fetching bonnet on my head, I tried my hand at a little thievery, jail-breaking and even occasionally assisted the forces of law and order.
    In the end, a grand time was had by all, though that murderer did prove remarkably difficult to corner!

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Q & A

How soon will I get my game? asked on 4 October 2020

You can download your game immediately after making your purchase. We will also send you an email message containing a download link and password so you can download your game later.

answered on 3 October 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
Where's my password? asked on 2 October 2020

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

answered on 1 October 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
How do freeform murder mystery games work? asked on 30 September 2020

Most of our games have an impartial host who organizes the party. Hosts don't solve the murder with everyone else – they have already read the game and instead watch the game unfolding.

Guests use their wits and negotiate, scheme, and plot with other guests to get what they want. Nobody needs to learn complicated backgrounds or memorize lines – character backgrounds are little more than a side or two of paper – which can be kept to hand for reference during the game.

answered on 29 September 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
Have you got any games for beginners? asked on 28 September 2020

Yes! If this is your first time hosting a Freeform Games murder mystery, we suggest choosing one of our more straightforward games. Click here for our 'games for beginners' page.

answered on 27 September 2020 store manager
(0) (0)
Do you have any games suitable for all-male or all-female groups? asked on 26 September 2020

Yes! We have several games where all the characters are ungendered and can be played by anyone. Click here to see our ungendered games.

answered on 25 September 2020 store manager
(0) (0)

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