How to run a dinner party style murder mystery script

We don’t have any videos yet for these style of games.  However we should have by the end of the year.

These games run in a very similar way to the dinner party games, but instead of the questions being asked across the table from one guest to another, the cast do not ask each other any questions, and the questions are instead given to the rest of the guests and the whole questioning process is facilitated by an inspector who acts as master of ceremonies.

In more detail:

These games require 7-13 cast and have the option of a series of paper clues.

These games work best as a sit down event with 6-12 tables of guests who work as a team

As a rough guide these mysteries take approximately 2-3 hours to complete.

More about the format of these games.

 During these games your guests will listen to five short sets of dialogue from the cast and pose pre-scripted questions (which the cast answer with pre-scripted answers). There are five “acts” which can be evenly spread throughout the night or, if preferred, the question and answer rounds can be bunched together into one large round.

At the end of the final round the guests are given time to decide who is the murderer, and once the guests have decided who did it, how and why (i.e. the murderer, means and motive) they will complete the answer sheet and hand it in.

How these games usually run.

These mysteries split into 5 “acts”:

  • Introductory Round: Introductions by the cast and the facilitator “inspector character”,
  • Rounds 1, 2 and 3: optional scripted dialogue and questions and answers,
  • Concluding Statements and solution: conclusions by the cast and solution.

The timing for these “acts” does not need to be precise, you may even want to bunch rounds 1, 2 and 3 together; however it is critical that the guests are given a reasonable amount of time to question all the cast in rounds 1, 2, and 3 before they are asked to make a decision as to who the murderer is and the mystery is concluded.

There is one “inspector character” who acts as facilitator during the event and is essential to the cast.

Reducing the cast size will reduce the length of time required to solve the mystery.

 If you are conducting the mystery as part of a three course meal the rounds can be arranged as follows:

Introductory Round: Should occur once all guests have assembled in their teams.

Round 1: Before, during or after the starter

Round 2: Before, during or after the main course

Round 3: Before, during or after the pudding

Concluding Statements and Solution: During or after tea/coffee and mints.

 A typical evening  for the guests runs like this:

7.00pm  Guests arrive at the venue. Have a drink at the bar and admire each other’s costumes. Depending on the mystery plot they might also be greeted by the “soon to be deceased”. The suspect character booklets will be provided as those guests arrive to give them time to “get in character”.  The suspects will also be briefed so they know what is expected of them during the night.
7.40pm  The inspector arrives and announces the mystery. Suspects will be asked to introduce themselves.
7.55pm  Guests are escorted through to the dining table for the first course.
8.10pm The inspector will lead the guests into the first round of evidence gathering, questions and answers.
8.35pm The inspector will provide more information and guests will be served with their main course.
8.50pm The inspector will lead the guests into the second round of evidence gathering, questions and answers.
9.15pm The inspector will provide more information and guests will be served with their dessert course.
9.30pm The inspector will lead the guests into the third round of evidence gathering, questions and answers.
9.45pm Guests will be served with coffee. The inspector will provide a summary and ask the suspects to provide any concluding statements before guessing “who did it”.
10.00pm The solution is provided.

Your job as host

As host it is your job to make sure everyone is comfortable with what they are being asked to do, and that the event passes off without a hitch.

Make sure you have adequate time to prepare for the event, that all cast are happy with their scripts and that anything else you plan to run at the same time as the mystery e.g. refreshments, has been adequately thought through.

Although the guests will have been given their instructions, sometimes these are simply not enough, especially if they are nervous of their role in the mystery. As host it will be your job to make sure they understand what is expected of them. During the event you might want to ensure that, either the person playing the “inspector character” is available to move around the tables to ensure each team understands their instructions, or that you have a few extra people who can perform this role. The cast themselves should also be prepared to point people in the right direction.

Running a large group murder mystery is really not as difficult to do as you might think, and if you get stuck why not email us. We’re here to help after all!

If you have any questions – do get in touch and we will try to help.

We can provide event management services for these style of events, if you’d like us to quote you for running your party for you – just get in touch.


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Flexible and fun!

We contacted Red-Herring-Games for a party for a special occasion. Why going to restaurants to eat is the preferred activity to mark milestones is beyond me and my friends.   The choice of mystery was obvious, looking at the options from New Zealand on the web Red Herring stuck out from the international options.  A quick look at the site and games showed subtlety as well a range of choices.  The numbers you could have for each evening was important,  Red Herring had scaling options a good range of scenarios but most importantly were Jo and team being flexible, responsive and helpful.

Rachel McWilliam, Arts Development Officer, Lincs Inspire

Thank you Red Herring Games for the marvellous 'Murder!  Cargo Connections?' event that you organised for us as part of Museums at Night at the Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby. The whole evening went so well and was brilliant fun.  I know from all the feedback that our visitors had a fantastic time. It was really good working with you and I have no doubt that we will do again in the not too distant future.  

A. Nonymous (council employee)

I would like to thank you and your colleague for helping contribute towards our successful conference last month.  Everyone really seemed to enjoy the evening and it was rewarding that so many delegates were able to participate in addition to the main "Actors".  Our conference evaluation froms included the following comments:
  • "Enjoyed the evening entertainment!"
  • The evening entertainment was great and the confusion made it great fun!"
With thanks and best wishes.

Sarah Spencer (Cleethorpes Chronicle)

I had no idea what to expect before purchasing a ticket for Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, which was being staged at a nearby hotel, and feared it might involve taking part in some way. However thankfully for me no acting was necessary, just some amateur sleuthing. "Wedding guests" of which I was one, were called upon to move from room to room in the hotel in groups, questioning a number of possible murderers with the aim of solving the mystery of the dead bridegroom. The interviewees were really fun characters and gave us all some good laughs. Of course they all had motives and it was a case of identifying the shiftiest. The wedding theme was particularly good, as it fitted well with the venue, the buffet that was part of the evening (with a wedding cake in the middle) and the fact that everyone had been able to dress up to fit in without going to the trouble of fancy dress. I didn't think I had enough "evidence" to actually accuse anyone but later regretted not even writing down my first guess as it wouldn't have been too far off the mark. The evening was great fun and everyone seemed to enjoy it and take part. I would definitely recommend Old, New, Borrowed, Blue as good for getting even reluctant or first-time mystery party-goers involved.  

Alan Young (Personal Touch Mortgages)

What a cracking nights entertainment! We don't get out much nowadays with 2 kids and this was exactly what we were looking for in a good night out. Lots of fun with tongue firmly in cheek and everyone kept guessing whodunnit right to the very end. Would definitely attend another!!!!!  


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