At Masters of Mystery, we try to make hosting your own murder mystery parties easy for all. Whether you are a first-time host or have hosted many murder mystery parties with old friends, there are always questions. The most common questions hosts we get are around preparation, dinner party set up, gameplay, and virtual murder mystery parties.
This article outlines some of the most common questions we get from hosts about the murder mystery dinner party.
Must read: How to Host a Real-life Murder Mystery Dinner
Host your own murder mystery dinner party questions
How long does it take to prepare for a murder mystery night?
Unlike some other online companies, Masters of Mystery's games are instantly downloadable after purchase so that you could play the game that night. This is perfect for impromptu virtual game nights because you can quickly assign characters and start the game immediately.
However, if you are planning on a mystery party, we recommend allocating a minimum of two weeks. Most of the planning will consist of general party organizing and arrangements and allow time for your guests to RSVP to your invite and enable them to find costumes if you are dressing up.
Must Read: How To Host A Virtual Murder Mystery Party
How do you choose a suitable murder mystery party theme?
There are numerous themes to select from – monsters, wizards, Wild West, Mardi Gras, 1920s, just to name a few. We understand that it can be a little overwhelming when choosing ideas for a theme. At Masters of Mystery, we have created many different themes to choose from and continue to add to our list. You can categorize our themes into:
- decade themes
- present-day themes
- seasonal themes
- film and novel themes
- fantasy themes
When selecting your theme, think about all your guests and what would be of interest to them and not just yourself. If your guests enjoy themselves, you will also enjoy yourself! Trust us.
Seasonal themes are also great for festive events and gatherings. Our Halloween-themed Mystery At Monster Mansion, Christmas-themed Christmas Mashup Murder, and our 4th July-themed Independence Slay are great excuses for people to gather for some fun on the holidays.
Are there murder mystery games suited more to teens/kids?
Our games are designed for friends, family members, and colleagues to be played at home or a party venue. Our storylines have no foul language or drug references in our games. Our 1920s-themed game references alcohol because of the times (i.e., bootlegging, speakeasies, etc.) Some of our characters are part of couples, and love triangles are a strong motive for suspects.
We provide age recommendations on all our games which consider the game's content and difficulty. Most of our games are listed as 13+. When deciding on a theme for a teenage group, we recommend reading our game descriptions, roles, and the type of crime to help you make a decision.
Most teen groups respond well to themes that follow other popular youth-adult (YA) literature and film. Our Harry Potter-themed Mystery at Toadwart School, The Greatest Showman/circus-themed Murder at the Big Top, and Haunted mansion-themed Mystery At Monster Mansion are a few games that are perfect for teens. In the Halloween and wizard-themed murder mystery games, the crime is theft rather than murder, which may be the preferred choice for teen groups.
How many people should you invite to a murder mystery?
Your group size will vary based on the game you choose. Most games require a minimum of 4 players. For first-time hosts, we recommend you invite smaller groups and as you build up your hosting experiences.
Larger groups are suitable for corporate functions or large celebrations. Our 1920's game kit, The Great Glitersby Murder, allows a maximum of 30 players for virtual or in-person games. Most of our kits allow up to 20 players.
Must-Read: How many people do you need for a murder mystery party?
When should I send the invitations to guests?
We recommend sending invitations at least two-three weeks in advance. It is also good practice to set an RSVP date with the invite, as you need to know the exact numbers so that you can assign roles before the guests arrive.
When your guests RSVP, you will send them their character booklets with descriptions, costume suggestions, and reminders of the party details.
Why do players need the character booklets? And when should I send them?
You send the booklets to your guests at least 24 hours in advance. However, remember that the character descriptions also give your guests guides and clues to costumes. If you know your friends love to dress up, they would probably appreciate getting this information in advance.
Typically, players will glance at the character booklets beforehand – we all have busy schedules. So also remind them to print and bring them, or have them accessible on their phones/tablets, to refer back to on the night.
The character booklets provide background information on their roles. It also details how they should act and any dirty laundry their characters may want to keep hidden. Part of the fun with free-play games is that each of the characters has their own secrets, so while players are also suspects of murder, they also have their own juicy secrets that the game often reveals.
How long do murder mystery games take to play?
A virtual murder mystery game is played on average for about 2 hours and is shorter than the traditional, in-person (face-to-face) mystery parties. An in-person murder mystery dinner party is usually run in three rounds, typically taking about 1.5 - 3.0 hours. These can run longer if the host wishes to include other games or activities.
Must-Read: How Long are Murder Mystery Games?
Should the host play a role in the murder mystery party?
Of course, a host should play their own character in the game! We want our hosts to have an equal amount of fun and intrigue, just as every other guest at the party! Our parties are easy to host, so you have plenty of time to play.
What is included in a murder mystery game kit?
A quality murder mystery game kit should come with all the details and game instructions to make it easy for a host. Our game kits come as purchase instant downloads (not boxed sets) and include:
- Host Guide
- Inspector Video & Audio Files
- Evidence Packs (clues and evidence)
- Character Booklets with character descriptions
- Game Ballot
- Costume Suggestions
What if I have shy guests who don't want to participate? What character roles should I give them?
Selecting your guest list is essential, and knowing each guest’s personality will help you assign them the roles. The beauty of a free-play game is your guests can choose how much they wish to participate, meaning there is no pressure on your guests involved.
In some cases, you may have people you know who are introverted – shy family members or friends or reserved professionals or colleagues. You should assign more subtle characters to them. Your more outgoing guests would therefore be better suited to the outgoing roles.
Can I change the gender of a specific player?
Not really. Our games kits are not editable files, and some of the characters are connected as couples. However, all our games came with characters marked as 'gender-neutral, which means you can assign character roles with no assigned gender to increase the game's flexibility.
On the other hand, if you want to create a specific character, theme, or plot, then maybe you should consider making your own DIY murder mystery game.
Read our article, DIY Murder Mystery Pros, and Cons
Can I make changes to the storyline or add in additional clues?
Not really. Typically, game kits are not editable as changes in the story or providing secret clues may confuse your guests and take away from the game. If you wanted to add your spin to the night, consider adding extra games like scavenger hunts, riddles, or puzzles. These additions allow you to add a creative flair to the night without impacting the game's results.
For extra game ideas, read our article on Awards and Prizes for your next game night.
Are sit-down dinners best for murder mystery dinner parties?
Your menu choices will depend on the type of murder mystery game. Sit-down dinners are better suited to scripted murder mystery games. In contrast, interactive or free-play murder mystery games are better suited to finger food, buffet-style, or grazing platters so the guests can freely talk and mingle with each other.
Murder mystery dinner theatre often includes a sit-down dinner in a restaurant-type venue but is entirely run by a company or troupe cast. If you want to host a dinner party in a more formal sit-down style, then you should opt for a scripted-murder mystery party.
At Masters of Mystery, our games follow an interactive or free-play style of the game. We recommend selecting menu choices that allow your guests to move freely around and enjoy food. We also recommend giving your guests snack and menu breaks between rounds to have regular rest breaks throughout the game.
Read our article on the different types of murder mystery games for more information.
Should you serve alcohol at a murder mystery party?
This is a personal choice. Most adult murder mystery party kits will come with recommendations for drinks and menus. Providing your guests with themed party drinks can add to your party’s atmosphere.
On the other hand, the more your guests drink, typically, the harder it gets for them to solve the mysteries and find the killer. It is all a matter of personal preference for yourself and your guests.
Should you give prizes and awards at the end of a mystery dinner?
The choice is yours as the host. We believe that ending the night with some awards or prizes creates a memorable ending. It is also an excellent opportunity to reward those competitive players and actors on the night. Prizes and awards can be simple, small, and part of the joke. Some examples of prizes you may award at the end of a murder mystery game include:
- Best Detective
- Best Liar/Villain figure
- Most Untrustworthy Person
- Most Valuable Player(s)
- Best Costume
- Best Performer
Must Read: Murder Mystery Awards and Prizes
Can you replay murder mystery games?
Some murder mystery games are replayable, while others are single play only. Our replayable games provide alternative outcomes for each game - different murderer, crime, characters - but the story will remain the same.
You can play once with the family, then friends, then even a corporate event. Our expansion packs also allow you to add other players to your next gam,e or you could opt for a murder mystery dinner or virtual game to mix it up.
Do I have to use all optional players from an expansion pack?
No. If you buy an expansion pack, you can add additional players up to the limit you purchased. For example, if you originally purchased a 4-8 player kit for our Masquerade Murder Game and then purchased a 4 - 14 additional guests expansion pack, you can expand your group up to 14 people. Expansion groups are also part of the replayable versions of the game.