DIY Murder Mystery Games Pros & Cons

halloween-themed murder mystery party

So, you want to host your own murder mystery party? But, you can’t choose between downloadable murder mystery games or crafting the perfect DIY mystery game yourself. Either way, you can be sure you will have an entertaining and engaging night with friends or family!

Creating your own perfect murder mystery game or murder mystery dinner party from scratch can be rewarding - especially when your guests enjoy the fruits of your creativity. However, some challenges come from making a mystery game all by yourself – and for many, it can be pretty daunting.

To help you decide, let’s take you through the advantages and disadvantages of creating your own DIY mystery game and offer a few tips to create your own murder mystery game. Whether you choose to DIY or not, just know that a night of mystery is fun for everyone.

DIY Murder Mystery Game Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • You can choose any theme
  • Develop your characters to your guests
  • Have more control over the game’s story
  • Save money on purchasing the game kit
  • Doubling your preparation time
  • Create the rules of the game
  • Create all your props and guest Character booklets
  • More Expensive
  • Challenging for first-time hosts


DIY Mystery Game Pros

80s-themed murder mystery game

You can choose any theme

If you are making your own murder mystery dinner theme, the possibilities are endless. While most downloadable murder mystery party websites provide numerous theme options, building your own murder game is the right option for you if you want something particular.

For example, you could create murder mystery parties around a specific book, tv show, film, or decade. You could design your own world – somewhere out-in-space, a dystopian reality, or a moment in time. It is also an excellent opportunity to tailor themes, the character, and the plot specifically to your dinner party group’s interests and likes.

If your posse is mad fans of FRIENDS - why not set your murder mystery dinner at “Central Perk.”

Developing your characters to suit your guests

A major advantage to making murder mystery parties yourself is developing characters to fit specific family members or friends attending your game night.

You can most of the time view character lists before you choose to purchase a murder mystery game. Still, sometimes you download a murder mystery game only to realize afterward that none of the characters fit with your guests’ personalities. Creating your own mystery game eliminates that hassle.

To create your murder mystery characters, you will need:

  • A first name(Think about interesting people, the actress’, actors, or tv/film characters that relate to your theme and use their names or a close variant.)
  • A surname (Choose a funny surname that gives a clue about their role or personality – pun lovers go nuts!)
  • Their Job or purpose (Relate this to the murder mystery theme and setting)
  • Brief background(You character’s back story).

Having more control over the game’s story

murder mystery game victim story

A chance to be creative is undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages of making your own mystery game. As you create your own murder mystery game, you can make the story as detailed or as simple as you want. However, no matter how many elements you include, they must all be connected and point towards the solution – it’s a who-done-it game for parties.

Also, there are many free murder mystery game templates or free whodunit scripts available online that you can adapt to fit any particular theme.

When you write a storyline for a murder mystery game yourself, you must first decide between two murder mystery story types: scripted or free play.

With scripted murder mysteries, guests will read their lines from a prepared script. This is means the host has a lot more control over the game and storyline. This murder mystery story type is better suited for sit-down dinner parties, where guests are sat around a table. Additionally, it is an excellent chance for creative writers or scriptwriters to showcase their skills.

Free play allows for a looser game and allows for collaborative and creative involvement with solving the mystery of playing their character. In addition, using a free play storyline gives you more freedom when creating a script.

Save money on a murder mystery game kit

Some people want to avoid paying the costs of a game kit. Quality murder mystery game kits will cost you between $20 - $40 US dollars but depend on the number of players. Murder mystery game kits for larger groups will also cost you more or are additional costs as expansion packs. Making your own mystery game can save you some money.


DIY Mystery Games Cons

Pirate themed murder mystery party

Doubling your preparation time

This is an expected downside to creating your own murder mystery - you have to produce everything! We generally recommend that hosts spend at least two weeks preparing for a murder mystery party when using a kit. However, if you make a mystery game yourself, it can take double even triple the time.

Create the game rules

While a host must create the murder mystery story or script, the killer, victim, and characters, you also need to devise the mystery game rules for your party. A murder mystery game guide is always included in kits that outline the details of the gameplay - pace, the timing of clues and evidence, how you reveal the killer. If you are doing it yourself, it is best to create this alongside the story, so avoid making the game too long or too short.

Create all props, clues, and guest character booklets

Many people opting to do it themselves don’t think about the number of additional components required. Typically, murder mystery game kits – both digital and physical – come with all your different elements to help you host the party smoothly. You can easily download these from your computer.

However, if you are doing this yourself, all these components will need to be written by yourself or

Some things such as character booklets and invitations need to be provided to your guests before the dinner party. At the same time, you will need to create elements like your clues and evidence for the event itself.

Here is a list of additional features or elements you will need to create:

  • Character Booklets for each of your guests
  • Clues and evidence - physical or virtual
  • Invitations
  • Costume suggestions
  • Menu
  • Game Ballots


harry-potter themed murder mystery game kit

Some professional downloadable packs also come with inspector video and audio files, adding another layer to the theme and dinner party.

More Expensive

While hosts could save money by avoiding pre-made murder mystery game kits, DIY mystery games can be more expensive. Kits often provide you with everything you need and allow you to print off the required components. In comparison, DIY hosts may spend money on things they don’t need to make the murder mystery game.

Challenging for first-time hosts

Game kits usually provide a lot of instructions and guidance for murder mystery hosts and guests. Remember that while hosts often need guidance, so too do the players. Game kits take out the stress of planning the mystery-themed party, which is especially true for first-time mystery hosts.

Tips for Hosts on how to make a mystery game

wizard themed murder mystery party
  • First-time hosts may want to start with a smaller group (4-8 people), then slowly progress to larger numbers;
  • Use the internet and social media to find inspiration and ideas for themes;
  • Select a theme that you and your guests will enjoy - make sure you consider your guests' interest and not just your own;
  • Write a list of each of the tasks and components you will need to include;
  • Free play allows for a looser game; if you want more control, then a scripted story would be better suited;
  • Decide on your characters first before creating you decide on your victim and killer;
  • Develop the basics for each character first
  • Let your characters form your story
  • See what templates and examples stories download for free from online to help guide you;
  • Have fun with it and let your imagination run wild!


Masters of Mystery Murder Mystery Party Kits

At Masters of Mystery, we offer a selection of murder mystery-themed kits to help you host your own murder mystery dinner party! Browse and select from a number of our different themes:


Master of Mystery Game Kits

Masters of mystery murder mystery game kits

You can play our downloadable murder mystery games in real life or online on Zoom platforms.

Our kits come with:

  • A Host’s Murder Mystery Party Guide
  • Detective Audio Files or Video Files
  • Evidence Packs
  • Character Booklets
  • Game Ballot
  • Costume Suggestions
  • Invitations

Other kits may come with additional resources that are specific to the murder mystery theme.

Our games consist of 3 rounds – Mingling, the motive, the method – typically last between 30 - 45 minutes. End your night with the reveal of your killer! Of course, in between, we recommend breaks for drink and food.

Whether it is for a birthday party, office party, Halloween party, or an online murder mystery party catch-up, we are confident that you and your guests will the most enjoyable experience. Visit our products page to see all Masters of Mystery has to offer!