107: Murder Parties

Murder Parties

"Obviously, the mysteries vary in quality. Some dangle too many red herrings or contrive inane solutions. But as with tabletop roleplaying campaigns, the event's success or failure seldom depends on the game proper. Novelty is a big factor, and even more important is chemistry among the guests. Murder games succeed less through writing than through event planning."

Allen Varney explores the mean streets of murder mystery party games.


This article is incorrect on so many levels. First I am Mary Lee from Dinner and a Murder Mystery Games. I was a HUGE RPG gamer for many years, until I discovered Interactive Murder Mystery Parties. My pals and I had weekly sessions of D&D & White Wolf Vampire both. You mistakenly grouped all murder mystery games into one category. That is the table scripted murder mystery games that are usually played out in rounds. Our company and Steve at Freeform Games both produce Interactive Murder Mystery Games. This is because we come from an RPG background and don't want scripts telling us what to do. Ours are absolutely nothing like the table scripted games you described. If you care to give one of ours a go and write an article that tells the real story about Interactive Murder Mystery Games, then please contact me from my website http://www.dinnerandamurder.com and I will provide you one of our games.

"Murder games succeed less through writing than through event planning."

Wrong again Allen. Interactive Murder Mystery Games have Everything to do with writing. Many companies try, but not many really succeed. With a badly written game, the party will not be successful, no matter how good the guests are at role playing. Somewhat like an RPG game. If the Gamemaster (writer) is really good, your game is awesome. If the gamemaster is no good, then your session will be Boring, with a capital B! Good roleplaying is just not enough to overcome that handicap. If a murder mystery game doesn't make sense, is confusing, boring, or predictable, then you have a bad game and it is the writers fault. Just like if your gamemaster was unimaginative, did things that didn't make sense or took a predictable route. That is his/her fault & not the fault of the genre!

There are some companies out there that release awful trash as games. I don't know how they stay in business, but I wish they would go away. They hurt the rest of us that actually craft games, not spit out rubbish. It seems to me like you got hold of some rubbish:-)

Have to say, what murdergal says fits much better with my experience of these games than the article did.

I think there's a big difference between writing games for people who are not gaming geeks and not being a gaming geek oneself. Mo Holkar of Freeform Games is one of the most accomplished gamers I know. But the market for murder mysteries is such that they need to be mainstream accessible. So they're designed accordingly.

I agree with you Dom. I think the guy who wrote this article played one of thost scripted table type murder mystery games. Mo, Steve and I all come from RPG backgrounds and that is why we so love and write interactive murder mystery games. We do have to make them accessible to the mainstream. I mean if the Jones' knew the big social party of the year they were throwing was just an elaborate RPG game, they would not touch it:-) BTW, Mo and Steve are 2 great guys who put out great interactive games and they add in elements that any RPG player will recognize! Mine are more mainstream, but I do try to sneak a few things in:-)

I have played a few of these games (sorry not one of yours murdergal, but I'm sure they're good) and the best we found (so far :) were the ones's by Ace Murder Mystery.
we did the Halloween one a few years back and we're doing it again this year (with different set of mates) as Halloween falls on a Friday - so should be great fun.


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