Frequently Asked Questions

Game Play Questions

Purchasing Questions

Miscellaneous Questions


Game Play Questions


What do I need in order to play?
All you really need is a group of people, a sense of adventure, one of our parties and some paper to print it on. However, the more time and resources you are willing to invest in the event, the more successful and memorable it is likely to be. Costumes, props, special lighting, themed decorations and a unique menu are not necessary, but many hosts and hostesses use them to add excitement, novelty and fun to their parties. The party guidebook includes an extensive section on different things that you might want to include for your party.

How long does one of your parties last?
The exact amount of time each mystery takes will vary depending on several factors, including how much in-character interaction your guests pursue, how difficult you make the clue gathering, how long dinner takes and so forth. Most parties should last between one and a half hours (on the fast side) and four hours (on the very slow side); you actually have a lot of room to control the pace of the game, and the party guidebook will provide instructions on how to advance the party if you need to.

How long does it take to prepare a game?
The more time you invest in preparing your party, the more smoothly it will run and the more successful it will be. A good murder-mystery party isn't something that can be thrown together at the last minute. At a minimum we recommend purchasing your party two weeks in advance of the event; this gives you time to read the script, prepare and send out invitations, receive RSVPs, plan your menu and acquire any props or decorations you might want. Many of our clients plan their parties a month or more in advance.

That sounds like a lot of work. I'm looking for something a little simpler.
You're in luck! If you'd like a shorter game that is easy to set up and play, you should try one of our 30-Minute Mysteries. These games are playable with almost no preparation, and are designed to only last for half an hour to an hour. They are perfect for book clubs, bridge clubs, tea room parties and similar small-group social events.

The mystery I'm interested in lists a range of characters, like 10-25.  How do I know which characters are required and which are optional?
The complete party kit will specify which characters are required for the party and which are optional.

Why don't you note optional/required characters on the website under the mystery details?
We don't make the information about which characters are required and which are optional available for public viewing on the site because that would serve as a spoiler for any prospective guest who is browsing the page - obviously, any character listed as "optional" is not the one who is guilty of the crime, so the site and packages are designed to only share that information with the host or hostess of the party.  However, if you are interested in purchasing a party and need to know in advance which characters are required, you can contact us and we will be happy to provide the information!

I expect to have more than the maximum number of guests. What should I do?
Most of our parties can be scaled up to accommodate additional guests with a bit of time and work on the part of the host or hostess. In the near future we plan to offer expansion packs for our parties that will easily accommodate many more guests; in the meantime, if you are interested in a particular party but have too many guests for the event, please feel free to contact us; we will be happy to let you know what modifications to the party script would need to be made in order to suit your particular circumstances.

I expect to have less than the minimum number of guests. What should I do?
Each party requires a certain minimum number of guests in order to work properly. If you do not play with the minimum number of characters important clues may not be available to your guests and important plot points will have no way of being advanced. For this reason we do not recommend attempting to run our parties with less than the minimum number of players.

Can the person who is hosting the party also play?
In many Murder-Mystery Parties the host or hostess takes on the role of one of the guests and is given the option to not learn the identity of the murderer before the game, thereby allowing him or her to participate in the party in the same way as the other players. However, because our parties tend to be more complex, it is necessary for the host or hostess to have a clear understanding of all key plot points in order to ensure that the event runs smoothly. This means that the person hosting the event will be aware of the killer and victim's identity in advance. The host or hostess will still be involved in the party (either as a guest or as a sort of omniscient narrator, depending on the party), but will not be actively trying to solve the mystery.

But I want to solve the mystery too! Do you have any products where the host/hostess doesn't know the identity of the murderer?
Each of our 30-Minute Mysteries are designed in such a way that the host or hostess is able to play the game and try to solve the murder just like the other guests. The 30-Minute Mysteries also have the advantage of being much less complex in terms of preparation, and much less time intensive to run.

Can I run a party more than once?
It is absolutely possible for you to run a party multiple times. Of course, any guests who played through the party previously will already know the solution to the mystery, so you are encouraged to restrict them from actively participating in solving the murder. However, if (like many people) you find that the most engaging element of murder-mystery events is in the role-playing, guest interaction, costuming and camaraderie, then the matter of some guests already knowing the full plot of the party becomes less of an issue.

For Mystery Party Kits, what is the difference between a "Standard" and "Expanded" game?
The difference between the Standard and Expanded games is that the Expanded games include additional instructions for the host about how to adapt the games to accommodate large groups.

You can choose whether you'd like the Standard or Expanded version of a game when you add it to your cart.

  • Standard Games - This is the traditional murder mystery party game. Every player is assigned a character. Typically they accommodate up to 30 people (varies by game). Most people host this kind of game.
  • Expanded Games - These games include instructions on how to run the party for a large group (typically for up to 100 people, which varies by game). There are two primary methods for accommodating large groups:
    1. Investigator Role - Once you've assigned all your primary characters, the remainder of your guests can play the Investigator role. In this role the players are not suspects and do not have character backgrounds but can question the suspects and try to solve the mystery along with the other players.

      Expanded Games include a PDF guide that explains how to use the Investigator role, as well as printable character sheets and name tags for anyone that is playing an Investigator.

    2. Multiple Groups - Once a group size gets big enough, you may consider breaking it up into smaller groups and running multiple instances of the game simultaneously. This is beneficial because once a game approaches 30 characters, it may become difficult to keep track of people's characters and the plot.

      Running the game for multiple groups at the same time is simpler than it sounds. The host can make announcements to all of the groups at once, so each group can move their games forward simultaneously. The key is to have an assistant in each group that knows the script as well as you do and can answer questions and facilitate their group's gameplay. The result will be a more intimate experience for all of your guests, who get better acquainted with a smaller group and participate in a more digestible story.

      Please contact us if you'd like more information about how to run your party using the Multiple Groups method.

For 30 Minute Mysteries, what is the difference between a "Standard" and "Expanded" game?
The difference between the Standard and Expanded games is that the Expanded games include additional instructions for the host about how to adapt the games to accommodate large groups.

  • Standard Games - This is the traditional, turn-based murder mystery party game. Every player (or couple) is assigned a character. Typically the game can accommodate up to 8-16 people. Most people host this kind of game.
  • Expanded Games - These games include instructions on how to run the party for a large group (typically from 17-100 people). There are three primary methods for accommodating large groups:
    1. Investigator Role - Once you've assigned all your primary characters, the remainder of your guests can play the Investigator role. In this role the players are not suspects and do not have character backgrounds but can question the suspects and try to solve the mystery along with the other players.
    2. Teams - Each primary character can be played by 2 or more people that work together as a team. This works well if you've invited several couples to your event, but also works if you break up your guests into eight larger teams of 3 or more guests.
    3. Multiple Groups - If you have 16 or more guests, you can break them up into groups of 8 players and run multiple instances of the game on their own. This method is best for large events (e.g. fundraisers) where each table of people can play through the game independently. This method goes well with the Investigator method, which allows you the flexibility to add more than 8 people to any group.

Purchasing Questions


What currency are your prices listed in?
All prices are listed in USD. Please note that our payment processor will automatically convert most non-USD currencies based on the current exchange rate.

I live in Ireland/England/Antarctica/etc. Can you ship to me?
After purchase, your murder-mystery party will be instantly available for download in PDF format. There is no need to worry about shipping costs, time in transit or lost or damaged orders. As long as you have an internet connection and Adobe Acrobat Reader, you will be able to immediately access your product.

Huh? Adobe what now?
Adobe Acrobat Reader. This is a free downloadable program that allows you to open and read PDF files. Chances are very good that it is already installed on your computer, but if it isn't, you may download it at no charge from www.adobe.com.

Why do you only offer downloadable versions of your party?
This format provides several advantages to our customers: there are no shipping costs, the games can played repeatedly since there is no way to "use up" the materials, and many elements of the party are customizable (you can enter in your guests' names and the party details on the invitations and the awards).

What will my purchase include?
With your purchase of any of our deluxe mysteries, you will receive the following:

1) The party guidebook, an approximately 100 page PDF booklet that describes in step-by-step detail how to prepare for and run the party. This book also contains all the necessary printable material such as props, character sheets, invitations, clues and awards.

2) A printing guide explaining what parts of the party guidebook you need to print.

3) A zipped file of mp3 sound effects for your party. These sound effects can be played on your computer, iPod or other mp3 player, or they may be burned on to CD.

4) Instructions for how and when to use the sound effects during your party.

With the purchase of any of our 30-Minute Mysteries, you will receive a 26 page PDF booklet that provides all of the information necessary to run the mystery.

Do you plan on offering physical products in the future?
We are currently considering the possibility of offering a printed, boxed version of our products at some point in the future, however we have not yet established a timeline for implementation. At the moment, physical products are (at least) a full year away from production.

When will I be able to download my product?
Immediately after purchase you will be redirected to a download page where you can access the product or products you purchased. You will also receive an e-mail that provides step-by-step instructions on how to go about downloading. In the unlikely event of a problem with your download, please contact customer support.

How long will my order be available for download?
Your download will remain active for one year from the date of purchase. If you need to download the product again after a year has passed, please contact us.

What is your policy on returns and refunds?
Because our parties are provided as downloads rather than as physical products, it is not possible for us to accept returns or offer refunds under any circumstances.

Miscellaneous Questions


I have this awesome idea for a murder-mystery party! Can I send you suggestions?
We welcome any suggestions for creating new events or for improving existing products. Please feel free to send us any such suggestions.

Can you custom-build a party for me?
We do custom work on a case-by-case basis. This includes modifying existing Playing With Murder products to meet your specific needs as well as crafting new parties to custom specifications. Our availability to do custom work for clients is not guaranteed and will vary based on a number of different factors. The cost of custom work will also vary depending on the complexity of the desired product. Due to the time investment involved in this process, customization is much more expensive than pre-made products; costs are likely to be in the hundreds of dollars for modification of existing products, to the thousands of dollars for the creation of custom parties from scratch. If you are interested in custom work, contact customer support.

Do you need play testers?
We are always on the lookout for new play testers. If you are interested in play testing our products, follow us on Facebook or on Twitter. We will make announcements there when we are ready for play testers.

Are your parties suitable for children?
Only parties that are labeled as "child friendly" are suitable for children. Most of our party scripts contain elements of violence, as well as other adult themes that are not suitable for most children, and may not be suitable for teenagers. If you have questions about the specific thematic elements of one of our parties, please contact us and we will be happy to help you choose a product that meets your specific criteria.