"We loved A Dead Man's Chest! It was my first murder mystery and I hosted! Many of our guests had done murder mysteries before and they all said this was one of their favorites. The game was fun and ran smoothly. I really love how these games are written so that each individual can make the character their own. We've decided to make it an annual Halloween party to do a murder mystery. The hardest part is deciding which game to do next!
Click here to see more photos"
Jazlynn Steed, United States
"Covid canceled the fourth quarter and exams for the end of the 2020 school year and affected how we did things in the following school year. My administration agreed to allow me to host the mystery dinner exam April 2021, as long as masks were worn and no food was served. To continue to allow the poison crucial to A Dead Man's Chest ('El Cofre de un Muerto'), I substituted stickers. The player needed to tell me they were going to poison someone, then get close enough to put the sticker on the victim without getting caught. Not as cool, but good enough. Despite the obligatory changes, the students were thrilled to be allowed to have this party as their exam.
Being pirates, there was a good deal of fighting. For each fight they posed for a cool picture, then settled the duel with the roll of the dice. I'll include a couple of those also. Poor Salamanca ended up being sacrificed to the volcano! She had annoyed enough people that no one came to her rescue and the natives threw her in! I am happy to report that they did a great job overall and got good grades on their exam!
Click here to see more photos."
Melissa Midcap, USA
"Hey there!! It was a crazy day running A Dead Man's Chest as a Spanish exam for both lunch and dinner (48 players total), but it was also a lot of fun. The students had a great time and rose to the challenge of playing the game for three hours with no English. I'm happy to say that everyone received either an A or a B on the final exam! (There was also an essay part to the exam, during which students had to write about the evening from the perspective of their character.) During both sessions I had some native speakers and a couple of other Spanish teachers as some of the characters, to add to the challenge for my students.
For our "duels," we let the players pose with swords (my husband collects swords) for some cool pictures, but then the duel is settled by the roll of the dice. Instead of rock/paper/scissors, we try to find something that fits in the theme of the game. Since they play the dice game in the Pirate movies, we use dice for this game.
Thanks again for some great entertainment opportunities!
Click here to see more photos."
Melissa Midcap, USA
"Wow - what a great party! We just finished A Dead Man's Chest with a mixed-age group of moms and kids for my daughter's 12th birthday party. A lot of surprises, even for me as the host! This kit is really well written, there are so many different directions things can go.
One area where we could have used more direction was the capturing of pirates. Captain Overy simply attacked them (helped by amazing luck at rock-paper-scissors!!!), but the governor had neither a weapon nor a special ability, and couldn't figure out how to accomplish her goal. We were also unsure what should happen after the arrests… What were the authorities supposed to do with the captured pirates for the rest of the party? I just winged it, and we ended up with not one but two daring rescues where rival ships banded together to save their captured comrades!
In the end, Captain O subdued some and persuaded others and managed to capture the Fury, but the majority of the pirates escaped with the treasure on the Scurvy Knave.
Overall a fantastic party! Two pieces of advice for future hosts: 1) Casting is key! Reliable and confident people in the main roles make everything more fun. 2) The discussion boards! So very many good ideas there to make the party even better.
Thanks again for a fantastic product and a great time :-)"
Nancy B, United States
"A Dead Man's Chest was great fun and enjoyed by all, especially the 3- and 4-year-olds who dressed up as pirates and were given pirate-themed colouring activities and little jobs to do."
A Customer, United Kingdom
"Wow what a night! We had 16 people who all kept in character and the twists and turns in A Dead Man's Chest were fantastic. Everyone seemed to have even roles and the more we played to more fun we had!
We love the fun of putting the costumes together from local op shops. The decorations for the party were old pallets and sheets and palm leaves cut from trees. You don't need to spend a lot to make it look fabulous. Just a bit of imagination!"
Justine Smallwood, Australia
"A Dead Man's Chest was an excellent game, and everyone really got into being ruthless pirates or their noble adversaries. The flexible system is great as you can change the set-up according to your numbers, and there is something for everyone, from advanced scenery-chewers to first-timers and younger players! "
Julie Winnard, United Kingdom
"We have been attending and hosting murder mystery dinners for many years.
A Dead Man's Chest was by far the most complicated as a host to run because of all the additional features but that is also what made it unique and fun.
Guests, including my husband, thought they had it figured out before the game only to find that there was a lot more happening with the individual goals.
Our theme for the night was of course never trust a pirate, or islanders or anyone else present on the island. For the actual treasure hunt I put together riddles that led to various areas of the yard and the next clue, only those given the start by the 2 original characters could hunt. This added to the drama of finding the treasure.
We chose to go with island decorations and food; which included the roasting of a whole pig, grilled seafood, fruits and Caribbean sides.
My guests are already asking what Freeform Games will have for us next year!"
Bonnie Berry, United States
"It's the morning after one of the most fun evenings we have had as a family! We are all together for only one week, and as soon as A Dead Man's Chest ended last night, there were calls to play another one before the week is over!!
Thank you so much for all your help, we really had a fabulous time. Everyone threw themselves into their parts and all mysteries were solved by the end of the night.
We will definitely do this again!"
"Just wanted to send a warm thank you! I had purchased A Dead Man's
Chest for a New Year's Eve party at my church, and everyone loved
getting into character. We had an absolute blast!
You were kind enough to answer several of my questions ahead of
time, which helped a lot, and I appreciated having the ability to
read the game through in advance to make sure it was suitable for my group.
I've hosted other murder mystery events in the past, but having
played a "freeform" game, I won't go back. It was so much fun for
each person to roleplay a character and have goals/conflicts of
their own in addition to solving the murder. It made for a lot more
interaction! We loved it!"
Emily Hendrickson, United States
"When my 17 year old told me he wanted a surprise party for his birthday (with 3 days notice) I didn't know what I was going to do. I got online & found A Dead Man's Chest & knew it was what I needed.
I threw a "surprise" get together with family, to throw him off, & called/emailed/facebooked all his friends with the real party info. Once I got RSVPs, I realized I had more people than characters,
& panicked until I found the additional characters & downloaded all of them. I couldn't get my credit card to go through & it locked me out of the system the night before the party, so I enlisted my oldest son as an accomplice.
He helped me download & print, etc. I don't recommend throwing it together at the last minute, but it was necessary to keep it a secret from a nosey 17 year old, and it worked out fine.
I didn't assign characters (although I recommended a few). I just let the guests choose an envelope at random from the male or female stack. After handing out all the parts,
I had a couple of parents chicken out & ask for a part from the extras, in case they wanted to leave & pick up their son later (which of course they didn't) so I got stuck playing 2 parts (Quintus & Salamanca), as well as hosting.
It worked out OK, though I was busy. I only had one person ask for any information from either of my characters. I didn't get any treasure or pearls, but I did get a pardon for Quintus, which was good because he was not
the cook chosen by the combined pirates. (One too many insults of Blaise's cooking.) Early in the game Alice Tremain accomplished her goal of uniting the characters. Information flowed freely.
If one of them knew something, they all did. The rest of the group felt left out before the night was over. So I had to be creative & stir up the others in mutiny against her.
She even had Capt. Overy on her side (he of course supporting his new wife). Captain Overy & Elizabeth got married in the 1st half of the game.
There was an announcement inviting everyone to the wedding (by one of the captains, I think), to which Rev. Plumpton replied that if a wedding was going to happen she was going to perform it.
Sir Percival said "No you're not young lady!", & dragged her off. Later they snuck off & had a private ceremony performed by Cassinga. Cassinga was determined to sacrifice all the foreigners to the volcano,
even after it was placated, & eventually was thrown in herself, although I allowed everyone the 10 minutes to be rescued, & all were. I don't think anyone died, although there may have been one or two.
Our healers (Sawbones, Madame Zuzu, Cassinga) were on top of things.
When I made the final call for votes & 10 min. to wrap things up, Alice Tremain said, "Why do we need to vote? We've already got that decided?" Of course, you should never trust the word of a pirate. All the captains voted for themselves. Saucy Nancy & Don Inigo got the ships with the help of the natives, so very few people left the Island. Don Inigo had been saying he wanted to stay on the Island. Surprise! When I called for the last 10 min. to wrap things up, no-one knew who killed Captain Flint, or who El Cuervo was. By the time the votes were counted, almost everyone knew. We had a great time!
A friend offered her house for the game & we had it in her backyard which was beautifully landscaped, with street lights, privacy fence & a firepit. It would have been better, from a lighting standpoint, to have handed out parts in advance. The characters may have been more fully developed too. However, considering that some people got sick & cancelled at the last minute, & some of the parents that RSVP'd refused to participate, it worked out well this way. Also it would have been better to have had safety pins or plastic name badge holders. The tape didn't hold well, & with the low lighting everyone was hollering out names to accomplish their goals. Several comments were made about wondering what the neighbors were thinking about shouting out "Captain Overy". Unfortunately, I forgot about pictures until a few people had already left, but I got one good group shot, with those that were still there. We may have more opportunities soon, though, because several people said they'd like to host a murder mystery party soon. I gave them all your website. "
"We really enjoyed A Dead Man's Chest, and I have recommended it to a few people – they thought it sounded very fun. Thank you!"
A Customer, United Kingdom
"We are already planning on hosting another muder mystery party this summer. I could go on and on about what a hit A Dead Man's Chest was with our guests. We had people ages 15 to 50s, some from our church group, and the game was appropriate for everyone. There were three things we will do differently next time. 1) I assumed everyone actually READ the information I sent ahead of time. Next time I would send just enough info for them to acquire the appropriate costume, and then REQUIRE everyone to sit and listen as we read the newsletter and instructions. Half way through the game I found myself explaining plot points to guests that were in the newsletter they did not read. We had too many engineers in attendance who do not believe in reading instructions - not a good idea with this game! 2) Next, we plan to give bits of information to characters as the game progresses, instead of giving them everything up front. Some people seemed overwhelmed with trying to absorb and use all the information at once. (Such as, hand out the secret at the beginning, then 15 minutes later, give an information card, etc.) 3) Finally, we had guests who arrived in full theatrical costume, totally in character. Others were more tentative. I plan to break up the cast into major and minor characters, and assign them carefully. Saucy Nancy was fabulous, and Cassinga was so realistic, she scared Hayapitl, who ran away from her the rest of the game. But Black Jack was lost, and when he discovered he could kill people, he did so randomly, and without any sense of plot.
Other comments - we planned to use our upstairs and downstairs, but two couples had to bring their little kids. We made them roving cannibals, and they entertained themselves pretty well, but the adults were scared to go downstairs for fear of being eaten. We plan to host the next party in summer, when we can use our backyard and deck. Also, people wanted a realistic set, such as an area representing each ship, etc. This party took a lot of planning, and I could have done even more, but it was definitely worth it. People were asking when the next party will be, before they left! Most of our guests only knew some of the other guests. This game is great for a group of people who do not know each other. I definitely recommend your games to anyone who asks. This was the first murder mystery party I have hosted. It was possibly one of the least expensive parties I have hosted, too! The cost of the game, a few decorations, and a potluck meal - it was cheaper than hosting a BBQ, and much more fun! "
Cathy Dilts, United States
"We played A Dead Man's Chest on Friday, and it went really well. In our game, the Indians and the Colonials joined together. They even got some of the pirates on their side. They closed off an entire room as their 'office' and there was a huge line of people waiting to get in and talk to either the Indian Chief or the Governor. They were an unstoppable force, or would have been had the pirates not gotten to the treasure first. Nancy and Alice found the treasure, but they must have told someone about it, because the next thing they know they've been robbed by everyone and they have nothing, not even weapons. However, Nancy was still the most popular pirate captain. All the pirates wanted to be on her side, except Sawbones, who was with Black Jack. Nancy ended up getting wounded in the last 3 minutes of the game. No one would heal her, and none of her pirates had any pickpocketing abilities left. Nancy died, and Black Jack ended up with the second ship. Hal Overy had the other one. Even though Hal Overy got the ship, he didn't capture many pirates. Sir Percival had given out pardons like candy. The only one without a pardon was Billy Pistol, who also happened to have the Black Spot as well. So, poor unlucky Billy Pistol was captured. The Spanish didn't play much of a role in our game. No one liked them. (They all thought they were evil!) Everyone (both Captains, the Indians and even the English were trying to keep Elizabeth away from the 'evil' Don Inigo who wanted to marry her. They all practically forced her to marry Hal Overy, so she couldn't marry Don Inigo. Elizabeth wanted to be a pirate, and tried to convince Hal Overy that they could both be pirates, but it didn't work. That's okay, she decided she was pretty happy where she was when 15 of the 21 people ended up voting for Hal Overy. Everyone has been calling and e-mailing me asking where I got the game. My sister and brother-in-law are already planning to do one with all of us during Christmas break. I don't think I'll ever go back and play the boxed scripted versions. They're not nearly as fun!"
Lisa Perez, United States
"I literally did hours of research on the internet searching for the perfect murder mystery game and I settled on A Dead Man's Chest because of the interactive nature of your games. What a great choice it turned out to be! Hosting the party was a ton of fun and all our guests had a absolute blast. Here's the blog and photos from the party. Thanks for providing a great game at a great price!"
Richard Russell, United States
"We've played a couple of your games and enjoyed them a lot. They are certainly much, much better than any boxed murder mystery I've used!
We played A Dead Man's Chest at my 10 year old son's birthday party and it was a great success! The kids really liked studying, preparing, dressing up and plotting for their characters ahead of time. Some surprising things happened in the game that I don't think adults would have done. Hayapitl got married to Hal Overy. I conducted the ceremony.
We had two adults assisting and we would each take the kids off to a private room and suggest things their characters could do, so that they were never stuck.
I was worried before the party that 5 hours with 16 ten year-old (mostly) boys would descend into anarchy and chaos but was amazed and surprised that the kids were so busy completing their tasks that they didn't have time to make mischief. Although the pictures were taken outside, the game was played entirely inside. The time just flew by! None of the kids had ever been to a party like it and loved it. It was much cheaper than the usual pool, skating, etc parties that kids ususally do."
Juju Vail, London, United Kingdom
"We played A Dead Man's Chest in honor of my 21st birthday and had SUCH a great time! I'm a veteran of the dinner murder mystery games, but was always annoyed by the limit of 8 to the invitation list, as well as the lack of spontaneity (and some poor editing jobs occasionally!). Your game fixed both of those issues -- not only was I able to invite eleven theatre friends (Our Captain Nancy got the flu at the last moment -- unlike the dinner games, I was able to simply declare that Alice Tremain mutinied and took over the ship, then gave her both character sheets -- worked out great!) and it put all our improvization skills to the test!
Surprisingly enough, I had a really, really fun time hosting! I thought that, as I didn't have a "character" to play or secrets to keep concealed, I would be bored -- not at all! I wandered around, dispensing advice, keeping people to their goals, overseeing fights, etc. It sounds lame, but I had a huge amount of fun!
If I could give one recommendation, we did our murder mystery in the front living room of my parents' house, as well as the hallway and master bedroom/bathroom. This worked fanatasically, as all the major activity (fights, Hayapitl's "chair", the buffet table, discussions, etc.) could happen in this large room, but private plottings and reveals could happen in secret. (There was occasionally a line for the bathroom, that had nothing to do with the room's real purpose!)
The next day, the game was the ONLY thing being talked about in the theatre department -- everyone was telling everyone how much fun it was, all the funny jokes, everything -- it was quite a hit! Expect to sell a few more games in the near future to SPU Theatre -- we had a great time!
I'm including a picture of our full group -- top row from L to R is Bill Pistol, Don Inigo, Elizabeth, Captain Hal, Alice, Jack, and Percival -- bottom row is Tokeleth, the Bonney Host, Tom, Sawbones, and at the very bottom Hayapitl."
Bonnie Prather, United States
"We played A Dead Man's Chest with the full 16 characters. My little sister played Crazy "Billie Pistol" really well! (she flew into Austin from Salt Lake just for the party) She was crawling all over the lawn muttering to herself, inturrupting conversations with babble about cheese and generally weirding out people -- it was HI-LARIOUS!
"We also had one of our friends build two godzilla air cannons (basically potato guns on steroids) that shot out styrofoam balls. They were very loud and we were sure we were gonna have the cops called on us the last time we shot them, as someone forgot they'd already been charged and double charged them. KA-BOOOM!!!
"The first pic is of my sis and a friend playing Dr. Sawbones -- note the stethoscope made out of cut bamboo links and rope (he'd go up to the woman and get them to ask how it worked so they'd put it to their chest -- one time, on me actually, Hal said "that's not working" and Dr. Sawbones looked up with a grin and in his best pirate voice said, "Arrrghh, it be workin' FINE!") and the cannon in the background. Besides the cannon, we had a store-bought game that you'd hold onto and was like musical chairs, if you let go too soon it would shock you and you lost or if you were the last one after the music stopped it shocked you and you lost.
"The second is James and me and I want you to take special note of James' codpiece -- we made it out of an ornamental eggplant you get at Gardenridge and painting it gold and adorning it. It was a hit at the party.
"We were both going to be moderators but at the last moment someone bowed out so I became the ship's first mate on the Woman crew. People would come up and ask, "Do you know..." and I couldn't remember if "I" knew or I knew....
"I've included the invitation and the map. We actually made all the Items and Treasures which added to the party as well. The Black Spot was a black rose (I gave it to Sawbones at the beginning of the party and he never was attacked so poor bugger ended up with it)
"Sorry I'm going on and on about the party, but I guess you can figure out it was an incredible success.
"One last thing, in case you're interested. How it ended for us: Saucy got off and got most of the votes (actually almost everyone) Up till about three minutes before the game ended, it was going to be Black Jack and Saucy Nancy (Nancy having most everyone with her and them not caring WHO took the other ship and so I was facilitating Black Jack and me running off with the other one -- somehow we ended up as on again off again lovers in our plot) but Hal Overy made alliances with BOTH Sawbones AND (go figure she'd be so important) Cassinga, the shaman, so he couldn't die! Silly, pompus Black Jack didn't want to just not loose, he had to win and challenged Overy to a battle and won but lost when Overy didn't die AND counter-attacked and killed him at the last minute. Everyone who was in alliance with me then played our loyalty card to Saucy and got off on her ship. Black Jack was the only one to die.
"Once again thank you for a wonderfully thought-out, ginourmously entertaining evening!"
Amy Bené, United States
"Wow! This was my very first Murder Mystery party and A Dead Man's Chest was probably the best murder mystery I could have ever done! I did the mystery for my 14th birthday, and even though I had to cut out some parts, everything went pretty smoothly. "Crazy Bill Pistol" cancelled 2 hours before the party, but I got a friend's sibling to cover for them. I got some of the party on video, and people kept chasing me away when I had the video camera, especially when they were having a private conversation. Whenever there was a storm in the game I would go to my piano (which makes some awesome sound effects) and turned it way loud so that the storm could be heard throughout the house.Everyone came dressed up. My Black Jack and Alice Tremain went all out to design their costumes, and we took pictures at the end of the party.Overall, this game was so much fun and the party was the best party I had ever done. I will definitely be getting more murder mysteries from Freeform Games very soon!"
Jessica, United States
"My church "youth" group (ages 15-30) recently played A Dead Man's Chest, and the game was a big hit! My husband and I decked out our apartment to look like a tropical island, and we ate lunch together and launched into the game. I was surprised at how much everyone got into their characters; forming teams and then double-crossing each other, speaking in funny accents, holding emergency meetings in the bathrooms, and so on. The British rocked the game in our particular version -- they allied early with the Indians and several of the pirates to make sure they met their goals. Bill Pistol crawled under the dining room table in fear whenever a nobleman approached him, Cassinga managed to scare several people into actually volunteering to be sacrificed to the volcano, and the "Governor" had a great time making everyone bow to him and compliment England before approaching to speak with him (which of course ruffled Don Inigo's feathers). About half of the players knew who the murderer was by the end of the game, but no one dared lift a finger against them; this person had gotten themselves so well-allied that they were quite untouchable!
We appreciated that the game was family-friendly, and that it had a good mix of complicated and less-complicated characters to accommodate the players' varied acting abilities. This game was more than worth the cost, especially since I now know where to find an engaging party game whenever I need one! I have a lot to learn about being a good Host, and it seems that I'll have another opportunity soon -- my friends are already asking when the next game will be!"
Tara Laben, United States
A Dead Man's Chest – seated front row: Sawbones McGraw, Tokeleth, Blaise, Bill Pistol – assorted cannibals
Standing – Hal, Tom, Alice, Black Jack, Sir Percival, Hayapitl, Salamanca, Don Inigo, Cassinga, Quintus, Nancy, Elizabeth – Cathy Dilts
If you would like to tell us how your party went, please click here to send us your story. We'll then give you an email address to send pictures to, if you'd like yours to appear here.