My daughter and her friends love playing murder mystery games at parties. They embrace donning of a persona that is not their own; they are all cosplayers, so this isn’t a revelation. The problem with the typical murder mystery game is it is set for a certain number of players and if someone doesn’t show up, then there is a hole in the game, or someone has to play multiple roles. And due to the scripted nature of these games, they are only really fun the first time. For these reasons, this year I decided the teenagers should play a live-action game of Clue. Attractively with Clue, if someone had to cancel at the last minute I didn’t have to rewrite an entire script. An absentee suspect could still be included in the deck, or removed, with ease.
With my decision made, I turned to the internet for ideas. To be honest, there were several sites that gave anywhere from 50-75% of the rules and set up each of these groups used. None of them fully explained what they did, which is exactly what I hope to do with my posts. I want others to be able to easily play a game and not be left wondering what does something mean. I have broken my master game document into bite-sized PDFs. Hopefully this manner can show others how we played the game.
It seems like a lot of work, but the guests had a wonderful time and could have easily played the game again.
Setting Up The Game:
- Send out invitations to your guests. You should request a RSVP. Either assign each of your guests a character or allow the guests to select a character. We encouraged everyone to choose a character and dress up as that person, which they did. No one could play the same character for obvious reasons.
- Decide how many rooms and weapons your game will feature. We used an equal number of rooms and weapons as we had suspects. That worked well for our group – 11 girls – but it might not for everyone.
- Write a detailed motive for each of the characters. Decide how many parts you want to divide the motives into. We used three-part motives. It certainly isn’t required to use the rest of the game though. The motives need to be put on cards – I made cards in Word using SmartArt tools, but index cards would work just as well.
- Make at least one set of “Suspicion cards” for the weapons, rooms, and suspects. We used two sets to speed up play. One set we distributed amongst the guests just like one would do in tabletop Clue; the other set we shared amongst the two “game masters.” We made doubly sure that the solution was removed from both decks before dealing them.
- Make a poster board for each room. The name of the room should be clearly displayed. Then, write a non-malicious rumor about one of the character’s (not player’s) on the board. We did this to spark ideas in the guests. The rumor board ended up being one of the favorite things the girls did. One of them asked if she take home a board that had a rumor about her character that she enjoyed. After the game, everyone claimed a board to take home and took turns writing more rumors about the specific characters on the boards. I wish I had the foresight to photograph the final products.
- Create a chart to keep track of the score. We used foam board and created a grid with columns.
- Create “packets” for each player. In the packets include a full copy of their motive, a detective’s notebook, an accusation sheet, and anything else you want them to have.
- Decide on the amount of fun money that each player needs to begin with and distribute it. We gave everyone $55 to start.
- If you break up into groups and have multiple “game masters” make sure that each game master understands the rules and the order of turns. Also, agree in advance the order that each game master is going to take through the rooms.
I am linking to the materials I created, feel free to copy/paste and adapt what you need.
Live Action Clue Murder Mystery: The rules
Detective Notebook: A notebook similar to the one found in a tabletop edition of Clue.
Chaos Phase Examples: A PDF of examples of the Chaos Phase. These may not work for your group.
Player Cheat Sheets: Each player was given a copy of their motive and examples of how telling rumors would work.
Suspicion Cards: Due to time constraints on my part, all of the cards for the game were created using Microsoft Word. The SmartArt Tools had many options for designs to choose from and made creating the cards quick because everything could be done with a click. However, other programs could work or index cards.
Motive Cards: I made the motive cards using the same tool as the Suspicion cards. I made sure they were shaped very differently than the Suspicion cards though. Also, each Game Master had an entire set of Motive Cards to encourage the players to spend their money.