THE BUSINESS OF MURDER

         This is a freeware party game of mystery and intrigue, a blend between theatre games and Clue. It is intended for seven players -- plus a host who may or may not be one of the parts. It will probably take from 2 to 4 hours. The time can be controlled by opening clues sooner. The game is played out purely by social interaction. Each person attending will be playing the part of a character in a murder mystery. They will act in character, and will know only what their character knows. Together, they will discover that a murder has been committed, and collect the facts of the murder. Then, between them, they have enough information to discover the identity of the murderer. They will discuss, accuse, and in general have fun investigating.

         There are currently two versions of the game:

Original Format (zip file download)
This is the set of 21 plain text format files in a single zip file. This is the mystery as I originally wrote it many years ago.
Variant Format (zip file download)
This is a variant of the original game put together by John Cook and kindly sent back to me. It has some changes, new files, and an added advanced game. The download is a set of 38 Microsoft format files in a single zip file.

For both files, download the zip file, unpack it, and then read the file marked "READ ME". This should direct you to a file of instructions for the host. As a sample, the instructions are also included below.


INSTRUCTIONS TO THE HOST

         As Host, your job is manifold. You must:

  1. Print, label, and enclose the various character information files.

    These should probably be sealed in envelopes and labeled: the .invite.txt files should be marked ``Background Information:'' plus the full name of the character; the .start.txt files should be marked ``Additional Information:'' plus the full name of the character.

    If you wants to play a part in the game, then you must handle the information without looking at it - the files are separated to make this easy.

  2. Cast players to appropriate parts, and send out their invitations.

    In the following section is a description of the various character parts in the game. For a given player, you should try to choose a part which he would be comfortable with, and can convincingly portray.

    Once you have decided who will be playing each part, send each of them an invitation telling them the time and place of the party. The included file "Invite.txt" explains the nature of the game, and has a cast list, which you can use to inform them who the other players will be. A space is also listed for the murdered character's name - you may fill this in with a nonsense name in order keep them wondering who will be killed.

    With each invitation, you should include a printout of their character's Background Information. This information is in the file with the character's first name and the suffix ``.invite.txt''.

  3. As the time approaches, prepare for the party.

    As the time approaches, you should confirm each player's availability, and make sure that substitutes are found if some players cannot come. Remember that you are acting as a normal host as well - perhaps providing food, drinks, and such things as make life more comfortable.

  4. Read the Starting Instructions, and decide when to open Clues.

    Once the party begins, you will read the Starting Instructions, and hand out the starting information to each character. Finally, if the investigation seems to be stymied or too slow, you should decide whether and when to read one of the notes from the provided ``Hints'' in order to keep things moving.

  5. Declare the game over, and perhaps go over the solution.

    After all four clues have been opened, the players should be able to identify the murderer fairly directly. If for some reason the game gets insolubly bogged down even after all clues have been opened, you may call for the murderer to identify himself/herself. In any case, the murderer's background has all the details of the murder. It would perhaps be most appropriate to demand that the murderer confess with his/her story, and in that way answer any remaining questions that are on the players' minds.

THE CAST

         Rick Martin is the murder victim in this scenario, although no one will know it initially. No one will be playing this part - he is listed as part of the cast as a decoy, so no one (except you) knows who the murder victim will be. If you write the names of the players in the introduction, make up a fictitious name for his 'player'.

         Louis Cagliostro is an MBA student at the U of C. He is quite well-off and well-connected, and is widely rumored to be related to the local Mafia, being groomed for some important position. This part is best suited to someone who will ham up the Italian mafioso part, but it is not neccessary.

         Harold Chun is an assistant professor at the U of C in Finance. He is a friendly sort, known as a 'whiz kid' from his well-known thesis work, but he has not done very much since then. This part is fairly open - it does not require strong acting ability.

         Margaret Chun is the wife of Professor Chun, an emotional type who is known to have problems with her husband. This part, also, is fairly open, although there are subtleties which can be shown by a good player.

         Bobby Herrara was Fiona's boyfriend, but their relationship now is uncertain as she has become involved with her ex-boyfriend Rick. This part is open to hamming up the jealous lover or angry Don Juan.

         Tim Kane is an overly impulsive PhD student in Finance, working for Professor Chun. He shares an office with Rick Martin, a friend of his. This part is open to a nervous, timid portrayal.

         Fiona McAllister is Rick's old girlfriend, whom he seems to be getting back together with. This is open to a number of strong emotions at the death of her lover.

         Pauline Thompson is a stranger at the party, a mysterious woman who showed up to talk to Rick. This part is suited to a no-nonsense business attitude, but there is plenty of room for variations and subtleties.


John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Thu Jun 30 11:43:14 2005