To begin this part of your murder mystery game, I usually begin by allocating each character a secret number. So if you have 10 characters in your game, each will be given a different number between 1 and 10. Open up each players Character Pack (see part 5 of this guide) and on page 3 of each pack, write that characters Secret number. Finally, on your “ideas” file, write each character’s name and their secret number next to their name.
The next step is to create the maps of the venue. These maps do not have to be anything elaborate, just a basic outline showing all the rooms of the venue on all the floors. I usually draw these in Microsoft Powerpoint and then save them as a JPG file. You can find an example in Microsoft Powerpoint by following this link: http://www.murdermysterypartygame.co.uk/information
There are two reasons why these maps are important. Firstly, as you decide who kills who at what time, you can ensure that the timings all work for the characters. E.g. you don’t want the killer committing the crime in one room and then later a witness report saying they saw the killer at the same time in another part of the venue. The second reason is for the guests. During their investigation of the murder, it can be extremely useful for them to work out where certain characters are at what time, who didn’t have any alibis at the time of the murder and any inconsistencies in their movements.
You then need to decide who murders who. My games are unique in that any character can be the murderer. This means that you need to go through each character and select a victim to go with each person. As you have been going through writing your character profiles and secrets, you probably have an idea of who is going to kill who and the reason why. I always recommend that you don’t make the killer obvious, but you don’t make it too hard either.
E.g. if character A is married to character B but A is having an affair with character C, it may be too obvious for B to murder C or A. So you may want B’s best friend or close relative to murder C or A instead.
On your “ideas” sheet, write down each characters’ name, followed by their victims’ name. Then write down a brief description of the time the murder took place, the room, the method of killing and a brief reason why. Transfer each killer and victim’s names to your map of the venue along with the time of the murder. This is for your benefit only to help you plan alibis, etc. and these details should be removed from the maps before playing the game.
If you are struggling for motives, as a general rule, the reasons people kill are:
Accidental (e.g. fights which get out of hand, etc.)
When thinking about the methods of how one person kills another, it is helpful to consider the difference between men, women, old, young, etc. in terms of strength and aggression. When thinking about the choice of murder weapons, again you don’t want to make it too obvious. So if one character wears a scarf which becomes the murder weapon, the character who owns the scarf shouldn’t be the killer as that would be too obvious.
The location of each murder at the venue is also important. E.g. if the venue was a house and the murder took place in the wine cellar, who would have reason to be down there, who would know that it exists, etc.
Once you are clear in your head which character kills which, where, how and why, go back to your ideas file where you wrote each characters secret number against their name. In a third column, write the character name they murder, e.g.
Character Secret Number Kills
Mr. A 1 Mrs. C
Finally, you need to create the scenario slips. I again prefer to use Microsoft Powerpoint and then save as a JPG file but you can use any drawing programme. The scenario slips are used as a random way of selecting who the murderer and victim are going to be at the start of the game. You need one scenario slip for each character. On the first slip, write 1 murders ?. 1 represents the character that has secret number 1 and the ? is replaced by secret number of the victim. So in the example above, if Mr. A has secret number 1 and he kills Mrs. C who is secret number 5, that scenario slip would read “1 murders 5”. This means that if this slip was selected at the beginning of the game, Mr. A would know he is the murderer and Mrs C would know she was the victim, but every other player would remain unaware.
So by now on your ideas file, you should have the brief details of which character murders which, the motive, the method, the place and the time. You should also have maps of the venue and scenario slips for each character. In the next part of our guide, we will be looking at writing the character confessions!