Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Just A Little Light Hearted Murder

 

This week I attended my first Murder Mystery party, and it was… unsettling.

People enjoy these and I’m not trying to pass judgment on those who enjoy the concept, but personally, the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

If you’re not familiar with this kind of party, here is how it goes: Everyone gets an invitation to a party, and with it, an identity (or part) they are expected to play. At the party, guests are given a series of secret directions that reveal their character and his or her motivations within the story. Eventually, someone is “murdered” and the remaining participants follow clues to determine which of them is the killer.

Sound fun? I suppose it could be.

I should mention here that I am not puritanical in my entertainment choices. My kids and I played the murder mystery board game CLUE the other day, and I enjoyed the movie. I read Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown mysteries, and I’ve always been fascinated by true-crime books and television shows, such as Helter Skelter, Journey into Darkness, and Forensic Files.

So I probably should have enjoyed the chance to play detective and put some of that macabre knowledge to good use. But that’s not what happened. Instead, I found myself walking around playing a character and saying things I would never say in real life, sometimes to people I was socializing with for the first time.

The planners refrained from staging a gruesome murder scene, but instead handed out an evidence sheet and expected everyone to draw a conclusion based largely on motive.

There was a lot of laughter, and some people got really into it. I played my part well and smiled and wasn’t totally miserable when my wife and I went home, but something happened as we were making our way to the door, and it’s bothered me ever since.

The “victim” was a pompous celebrity that everyone had motivations to hate. As such, the other characters spent most of the party ridiculing her and gossiping about her. As my wife and I were about to leave, I smiled at the woman (I hardly knew her) and said, “Sorry I was mean to you today.”

“Oh, that was nothing,” she said. “You should have heard some of the things the others were saying.”

Believe me, I was mean to her. And I didn’t like the identity I’d adopted in order to convey that. I can only imagine how much-contrived vitriol she absorbed from the rest of the party guests when she could have enjoyed a couple of hours of fellowship instead.

It was a game. Okay. But it wasn’t a very good one.

My wife and I once caught our kids playing an outdoor hide-and-seek style game called Ghosts in the Graveyard. When we inquired, they explained the roles. And we told them, “How about we change it a little? Let’s not make light of disturbing stuff.”

I wondered what my kids might say if they knew what we grown-ups were playing yesterday. Or, what I would have told them if I’d caught them playing murder mystery in the rec room some afternoon, and ridiculing one of their peers, and calling it fun.

My guess is they might have encouraged us to find a better game, one that doesn’t encourage us to embrace the things we would otherwise abhor. Because we can be more creative than that.

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There are 37 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Vince Guerra: My guess is they might have encouraged us to find a better game, one that doesn’t encourage us to embrace the things we would otherwise abhor. Because we can be more creative than that.

    Never been to one of these, but yes, there should be a better way to entertain oneself.

    • #1
    • December 9, 2019, at 2:52 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My wife and I watch a lot of true crime TV shows. We always discuss the mistakes that murderers make, trying to come up with better methods.

     Protip. Don’t shop for your shovel, gloves, bleach, trash bags, knife, duct tape, and ammunition at Walmart. Just sayin……

    • #2
    • December 9, 2019, at 5:12 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  3. OldDanRhody, 7152 Maple Dr. Member

    Vince Guerra: I didn’t like the identity I’d adopted

    This sounds like my experience the one time I played “Diplomacy.”

    • #3
    • December 9, 2019, at 6:21 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    I spent a week in England in the 90s doing a consulting job for NHS doctors who were learning to negotiate with other providers as part of the “Fund Holding” system introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s administration. It was an interesting reform that was quickly abandoned by the Blair bunch when they took over.

    Anyway, during my week, several of us stayed at a small hotel on the north coast of England at Robin Hood’s Bay. https://www.robin-hoods-bay.co.uk/

    The hotel has an interesting history as it was the estate given to one of King George’s “Mad Doctors” as payment for his services. I cannot find the hotel site now so it may not be still open as an inn. Since it dates to 1800, it is unlikely to have disappeared.

    On Saturday night, the hotel put on a murder mystery party with employees playing the parts. Guests were invited to ask questions of the actors and a bottle of champagne was the prize for detecting the villain. It was a lot of fun and the next morning it was interesting to see the actors from the mystery play preparing and serving breakfast. I spoke to several and they enjoyed the whole thing,. being paid extra for their parts.

     

    • #4
    • December 9, 2019, at 6:26 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. RyanFalcone Member

    My friends and I did this once but it was a very lighthearted Simpson’s-themed murder (Who would want to kill Willie?!?!). We didn’t go into anywhere near the detail you guys did. It was more about making costumes and doing imitations of characters. I can’t see this being fun with folks you don’t know well.

     

    PS: I was Moe.

    • #5
    • December 9, 2019, at 6:51 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  6. Arahant Member

    Kozak (View Comment):
    Protip. Don’t shop for your shovel, gloves, bleach, trash bags, knife, duct tape, and ammunition at Walmart. Just sayin……

    Or at least not all at the same WalMart in the same trip, although it can be fun to get the cashier’s attention.

    • #6
    • December 9, 2019, at 8:18 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Arahant Member

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    My friends and I did this once but it was a very lighthearted Simpson’s-themed murder (Who would want to kill Willie?!?!). We didn’t go into anywhere near the detail you guys did. It was more about making costumes and doing imitations of characters. I can’t see this being fun with folks you don’t know well.

     

    PS: I was Moe.

    And did you kill Willie?

    • #7
    • December 9, 2019, at 8:20 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Hoyacon Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    My wife and I watch a lot of true crime TV shows. We always discuss the mistakes that murderers make, trying to come up with better methods.

    Protip. Don’t shop for your shovel, gloves, bleach, trash bags, knife, duct tape, and ammunition at Walmart. Just sayin……

    We sit around and try to figure out whether the person being interviewed by Keith Morrison is wearing prison garb. (“Looks like scrubs to me”) (“Hmm, they’re only shooting from the neck up . . .”)

    • #8
    • December 9, 2019, at 8:34 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  9. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Kozak (View Comment):
    My wife and I watch a lot of true crime TV shows

    About the only TV I watch, aside from football, is what we call “The Murder Channel.” It is Discovery ID although there are a few others. I even found that my sister watches it and calls it the same thing. We usually watch it at bed time.

    • #9
    • December 9, 2019, at 8:58 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  10. Hoyacon Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    My wife and I watch a lot of true crime TV shows

    About the only TV I watch, aside from football, is what we call “The Murder Channel.” It is Discovery ID although there are a few others. I even found that my sister watches it and calls it the same thing. We usually watch it at bed time.

    Part of their business plan seems to be to continually come up with clever (?) titles for new shows that cover the same ground (murder) as the old shows. What’s up with that?

     

    • #10
    • December 9, 2019, at 9:12 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    On my endless To Do list is to flip the Whodunnit model from a murder mystery to a charity mystery. In other words, the story follows characters hoping to discover who secretly performed some extraordinarily generous act. 

    Conflicts and mysteries do not require wicked characters or grotesque behaviors. Put a dozen good and friendly people in a room together. There will be chaotic confusion, intriguing revelations, and stories to tell.

    • #11
    • December 9, 2019, at 9:17 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  12. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    I do LARP a fair bit, and that is a concern we call it ‘ Bleed’. Basically after the party you should do a rap up and explain each players motivations and goals for a ‘reveal’.

    Also have a bit of a party afterwords where you can unwind with people to remember your all human beings. We call this ‘afters’. It involves going to a restuarant.

    We have been having lots of issues with bleed these days as we dont have as many people going to afters as we used to what with kids and real life.

    • #12
    • December 9, 2019, at 9:31 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  13. Weeping Member

    Vince Guerra:

    This week I attended my first Murder Mystery party, and it was…unsettling.

    People enjoy these and I’m not trying to pass judgement on those who enjoy the concept, but personally the experience left a bad taste in my mouth.

    <SNIP>

    I should mention here that I am not puritanical in my entertainment choices. My kids and I played the murder mystery board game CLUE the other day, and I enjoyed the movie. I read Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown mysteries, and I’ve always been fascinated by true-crime books and television shows, such as Helter Skelter, Journey into Darkness, and Forensic Files.

    So I probably should have enjoyed the chance to play detective and put some of that macabre knowledge to good use. But that’s not what happened.

    Like you, I enjoy the murder mystery genre – at least it’s “cozy” version. Because of that, I’ve always assumed that it wouldn’t bother me to participate in a murder mystery party. (I never have.) So your reaction intrigues me. Do you think the difference for you was the fact that the game required you to be actively involved in the situation whereas with books and shows, your participation is completely passive? In other words, you found that you don’t like being a participant, but you don’t mind being an observer?

     

    • #13
    • December 9, 2019, at 11:07 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Boss Mongo Member

    Vince Guerra: The “victim” was a pompous celebrity that everyone had motivations to hate. As such, the other characters spent most of the party ridiculing her and gossiping about her. As my wife and I were about to leave, I smiled at the woman (I hardly knew her) and said, “Sorry I was mean to you today.”

    Wait, you went to a murder party and there wasn’t even a murder? That can’t be right…

    • #14
    • December 9, 2019, at 12:19 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Arahant Member

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    Wait, you went to a murder party and there wasn’t even a murder? That can’t be right…

    Oughta be at least two or three to add spice to the thing.

    • #15
    • December 9, 2019, at 12:50 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    My wife and I watch a lot of true crime TV shows

    About the only TV I watch, aside from football, is what we call “The Murder Channel.” It is Discovery ID although there are a few others. I even found that my sister watches it and calls it the same thing. We usually watch it at bed time.

    Part of their business plan seems to be to continually come up with clever (?) titles for new shows that cover the same ground (murder) as the old shows. What’s up with that?

    People always talk about the crime rate going down as a good thing, but never take into account the hidden costs. 

    • #16
    • December 9, 2019, at 1:58 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  17. Hoyacon Member

    TBA (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    My wife and I watch a lot of true crime TV shows

    About the only TV I watch, aside from football, is what we call “The Murder Channel.” It is Discovery ID although there are a few others. I even found that my sister watches it and calls it the same thing. We usually watch it at bed time.

    Part of their business plan seems to be to continually come up with clever (?) titles for new shows that cover the same ground (murder) as the old shows. What’s up with that?

    People always talk about the crime rate going down as a good thing, but never take into account the hidden costs.

    It drove Lieutenant Joe Kendra, Homicide Hunter, into retirement. Where’s the fairness in that?

    • #17
    • December 9, 2019, at 2:13 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    Protip. Don’t shop for your shovel, gloves, bleach, trash bags, knife, duct tape, and ammunition at Walmart. Just sayin……

    Or at least not all at the same WalMart in the same trip, although it can be fun to get the cashier’s attention.

    No No. Never go to Walmart. Cameras everywhere.

    Support your small local Hardware store, preferably in several nearby towns and pay cash.

    • #18
    • December 9, 2019, at 2:45 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  19. Hoyacon Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    Protip. Don’t shop for your shovel, gloves, bleach, trash bags, knife, duct tape, and ammunition at Walmart. Just sayin……

    Or at least not all at the same WalMart in the same trip, although it can be fun to get the cashier’s attention.

    No No. Never go to Walmart. Cameras everywhere.

    Support your small local Hardware store, preferably in several nearby towns and pay cash.

    I’m always impressed by the solid, practical advice available here. Even for those inclined to homicide. So Ace is the place?

    • #19
    • December 9, 2019, at 3:13 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  20. Boss Mongo Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    I’m always impressed by the solid, practical advice available here. Even for those inclined to homicide. So Ace is the place?

    No comment.

    • #20
    • December 9, 2019, at 3:49 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  21. Boss Mongo Member

    @vinceguerra, sorry about making a joke about murder when your post was kind of about not making a joke about murder (and a whole lot more). I’m sorry, but just a little sorry; I’m not, like, super sorry.

    Ernest Hemingway famously said (or wrote, whatever):

    There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.

    That falls a little short. Yes, I’ve hunted men. No I don’t hunt on my own time. But, if I want to hunt deer or boar-hogs or pheasant, I’ve got to get up really, really early. Then, guaran-damn-tee, the weather will be inclement. Then I’ve got to move klicks or miles to get to the appropriate stand or land. Then I freeze my patootie (which should be recognized as a national treasure) off. Then maybe, maybe, game comes my way.

    That all sounds too much like work.

    • #21
    • December 9, 2019, at 4:04 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Mark Camp Member

    Kozak (View Comment):
    Support your small local Hardware store

    Thanks, Kozak. I appreciate your putting in a good word.

    If I ask you if you want to sign up for a Rewards card, and all I would need to do is put your name, address, phone number, and email into the computer, just say, “Er, no…no thank you!”, nervously grab your purchases, and run out of the store, not waiting for your change.

    • #22
    • December 9, 2019, at 5:14 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    No No. Never go to Walmart. Cameras everywhere.

    Support your small local Hardware store, preferably in several nearby towns and pay cash.

    I get the feeling you know just a little too much about this.

    • #23
    • December 9, 2019, at 5:42 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):
    Protip. Don’t shop for your shovel, gloves, bleach, trash bags, knife, duct tape, and ammunition at Walmart. Just sayin……

    Or at least not all at the same WalMart in the same trip, although it can be fun to get the cashier’s attention.

    No No. Never go to Walmart. Cameras everywhere.

    Support your small local Hardware store, preferably in several nearby towns and pay cash.

    I’m always impressed by the solid, practical advice available here. Even for those inclined to homicide. So Ace is the place?

    Ace Hardware™ Proudly Abetting Since 1924. 

    • #24
    • December 9, 2019, at 9:47 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  25. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    @vinceguerra, sorry about making a joke about murder when your post was kind of about not making a joke about murder (and a whole lot more). I’m sorry, but just a little sorry; I’m not, like, super sorry. 

    @bossmongo I love you just the way you are. Don’t ever change, unless you’re, you know, a murderer or something.

    • #25
    • December 10, 2019, at 12:03 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  26. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Kozak (View Comment):

    No No. Never go to Walmart. Cameras everywhere.

    Support your small local Hardware store, preferably in several nearby towns and pay cash.

    I get the feeling you know just a little too much about this.

    It drives me crazy when I hear that the perpetrator disposed of evidence in the adjacent dumpster, lake, roadside. I want to scream at the TV screen, “You’re doing it wrong.” But then I think, “Man, I’m glad these guys are so bad at this.”

    • #26
    • December 10, 2019, at 12:08 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  27. RyanFalcone Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    My friends and I did this once but it was a very lighthearted Simpson’s-themed murder (Who would want to kill Willie?!?!). We didn’t go into anywhere near the detail you guys did. It was more about making costumes and doing imitations of characters. I can’t see this being fun with folks you don’t know well.

     

    PS: I was Moe.

    And did you kill Willie?

    I refuse to testify to the events of the evening in question, per the rights afforded me in the 5th Amendment.

    • #27
    • December 10, 2019, at 6:36 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  28. Amy Schley, Longcat Shrinker Moderator

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    But, if I want to hunt deer or boar-hogs or pheasant, I’ve got to get up really, really early. Then, guaran-damn-tee, the whether will be inclement. Then I’ve got to move klicks or miles to get to the appropriate stand or land. Then I freeze my patootie (which should be recognized as a national treasure) off. Then maybe, maybe, game comes my way.

    That all sounds too much like work.

    One of the YouTube critics I follow has a great line that he doesn’t hunt. He has a strong moral objection … to getting up before dawn. 

    • #28
    • December 10, 2019, at 11:23 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  29. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra

    Amy Schley (View Comment):

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    But, if I want to hunt deer or boar-hogs or pheasant, I’ve got to get up really, really early. Then, guaran-damn-tee, the whether will be inclement. Then I’ve got to move klicks or miles to get to the appropriate stand or land. Then I freeze my patootie (which should be recognized as a national treasure) off. Then maybe, maybe, game comes my way.

    That all sounds too much like work.

    One of the YouTube critics I follow has a great line that he doesn’t hunt. He has a strong moral objection … to getting up before dawn.

    I have a strong moral objection to waking up to bad coffee. That’s my excuse.

    • #29
    • December 10, 2019, at 3:37 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  30. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):

    My friends and I did this once but it was a very lighthearted Simpson’s-themed murder (Who would want to kill Willie?!?!). We didn’t go into anywhere near the detail you guys did. It was more about making costumes and doing imitations of characters. I can’t see this being fun with folks you don’t know well.

     

    PS: I was Moe.

    And did you kill Willie?

    I refuse to testify to the events of the evening in question, per the rights afforded me in the 5th Amendment.

    ^Willy whacker. 

    Or words to that effect. 

    • #30
    • December 10, 2019, at 11:01 PM PST
    • 3 likes