Murder mystery dinner parties at home – for dummies.

If this is your first time and you’ve never hosted a murder mystery dinner party before, it’s sometimes quite daunting.

We’ve all heard rumours about different parties that have run with various friends or friends of friends…

“We all found out in the first minute Jude was the murderer as she read it out of her book.”

“I had to play the victim and I was dead all night with nothing to do.”

“We had to send people to another house when they were killed, and folk ended up having a much better party over in the “dead house” than we did trying to solve the murder.”

“No one knew what was going on.  We were all lost and we gave up half way through.”

The reason there are so many reports like this is because every firm who writes murder mystery games for people to play at home does it differently.  With so many different formats available it means you can’t be 100% sure your party will work in the same way as another’s event and it means you, as host, are left trying to work out which kits do which things in order to find the right format for your group for it to work.

Some websites have multiple formats of small group games in their catalogue, as they allow different authors to create different styles of kits.  While this allows for greater variety, what it means in real terms is that even if you shop on the same website you can’t be sure your next game will run in the same way, and you may end up having to learn all over again how to host an evening.

We took the decision early on in our business to standardise our formatting.  Within our catalogue of games there are set formats of party, and all our dinner party games run in the same way, which means if you’ve played one of ours, you’ll know what you’re doing next time around.

We also proof all our author’s work, which means you can be sure the games all work and all follow the same format.

And we’re here to provide customer support, have a dedicated help-line and you can reach us on the phone or via email out of hours to get some real-person-help.

So how do we get around the problems I’ve listed above?

Well… in our dinner party games the only person with the answers (knows who dunnit) is the host, and even they can remain in the dark if they choose to as they don’t need to print out the solution.

We provide all our murder mystery dinner parties with MP3 files (or a CD if a printed kit is purchased) which means the solution is hidden in that voice recording and can be played at the right point in the evening to reveal all.

Jude can’t tell everyone she’s the murderer, as even she doesn’t know!  Problem 1 solved.

In our dinner party kits the dead person is always dead before the party starts.  This saves anyone playing the victim, which, to be frank, is a REALLY boring role!!  Problem 2 solved.

Two houses?  Seriously?  All our dinner party games are designed to run over dinner.  This means there are three rounds in each pack, designed to run in line with first course, main course and dessert.  (Though you can run them without a meal so long as you work through the game in round order.)  Because everyone stays together all night, you all party in the same place.  There’s no “them and us” mentality.  You’re all suspects, you’re all potential murderers, you all have to work out who dunnit together.  Problem 3 solved.

As for Problem 4…If no one knows what’s going on, there really IS a problem with the game.  It’s either too complicated for your needs, or the instructions just aren’t plain good enough.

We work on the premise that the simpler things are to run the more fun you’ll have.  Who wants to spend 2 hours understanding the rules?  It’s far far better to learn something quickly and then spend all night playing.

Our games are really simple to master.  There are instructions as you go along and we provide each guest with enough information they can ham things up if they want to.  Our games are structured (not scripted, though there are some scripted bits).  It’s this structure which means them easy to play, but not hard to solve.  No one should be confused and everyone should have fun.  Problem 4 solved.

If you’re looking around for the first time, and have never played a murder mystery before, you’ll always have questions.  We have an FAQ section with some of the more usual questions we get asked, but as I say, we’re here to help.  Just contact us if you’ve never played before and want some help.  It’s what we’re here for.

We work on the basis that we can’t advise unless we’ve played, so we’ve all played at least one murder mystery before, and many of us have played a lot more than one (they get quite addictive).

Jo, the MD, works in the office full time and as she’s written more than ½ the games in the catalogue herself, and designed the formats, she really does know how they work and how they can be pulled apart to work in different ways too.

So if you need help – just call.  Honest.  We’re here to help!

@RedHerringGames

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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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