It’s great that you want to make the most of the game. Possibly, solving the case is less important than HAVING FUN!
Let’s see if we can make a few suggestions to make your event run smoothly.
The decisions you make may depend on how many are playing, and if they’re together or playing remotely. These really are just suggestions; you may not want to consider fancy dress if you are playing alone (on the other hand, why not. It’s not for me to assume.)
Print in Advance
If there are a number of people, we recommend PRINTING the CLUE PACK, the various CLUES (Police List, Parish Magazine) and the ANSWER FORMS (along with a TIE-BREAK form) and the all important WINNER CERTIFICATE in advance (see Game Order 2 – Clue Pack).
You have 7 days membership from when you first log on. PLENTY of time to get the CLUE PACKS, print or distribute, and LOG BACK IN (keep a record of your password) to PLAY. Print one copy per team (and as many Winner Certificates as you want).
The Game Order
Information is key, and it’s good to know the recommended game order.
Of course, you are free to look back over the videos as often as you like, within your SEVEN DAY LIMIT. You don’t even have to watch them in order, although it would make little sense not to. So this is the recommended game order:
This introduces the story. Learn how Butler was coerced into the re-enactment and how Scotland Yard were first involved. It will take you as far as the meeting between the Scotland Yard detectives and the local police force at the scene of the crime.
At the end, Butler invites you to download the clue-pack (you may already have done so). Allow some time for teams to study the clue pack (see ‘Holding a dinner party’)
It is advisable to download the clue pack in advance. You have options as to how to view it (and the other clues):
- Print (one copy per team is advisable).
- You can download and distribute the clue pack (a series of PDF’s) to individual players to view on their phones or tablets.
- You may view the clue pack ONLINE (although you’ll need to be signed in, so this option may only be available to those who have bought the game).
Additionally, to view online, you’ll want a separate window as you’ll also be watching the remaining videos.
Once you have access to the clue pack, make sure you allow enough time to study it. You may simply want it to hand, ready after TAPE 1, or you may want to allow time (even a day or two in advance is OK) for the teams to familiarise themselves with it.
There is NO ADVANTAGE gained in handing out the clue packs in advance other than getting to understand the case.
Here, you’ll meet the witnesses along with an early suspect.
During one such interview, Scotland Yard discover a BLACKMAIL NOTE. This is already in the clue-pack, so no further action is required (although it does show you may want to refer back to the clue pack throughout).
However, Butler does mention two pieces of evidence you can read now (you may have already downloaded these and, if you have chosen to, printed them).
Even if you have printed these clues (and you can simply view them online), we advise NOT TO DISTRIBUTE until after TAPE 2. It doesn’t really affect the case, it is just nice to follow along at the same pace as the original investigation.
The two pieces of evidence offered here are:
1. The Parish Council Magazine. If you choose to download (and print), you have options here too (there are PDF versions for both):
- Print the pages as they appear (Cover, page one, page two, back page)
- Print on both sides of paper, fold in the middle (this looks exactly like the original).
2. A List of stolen items recovered by The Shallow Bottom police force. This is a straight forward, single page.
You may want to allow a FURTHER BREAK here for people to study these items.
Oh, and (this may be encroaching on the ‘I want to plan..a lot’ territory) but you could, if you want to make this even more realistic, print off a two sided version of the Parish Council Magazine and fold it to look like the real thing! There is an option for that too.
PLEASE NOTE: Whether you choose the ONLINE version of clues, the PDF version or the Printable, double sided version, the clues are the same throughout. There is NO ADVANTAGE of one over another. It simply comes down to presentation.
Tape 3 completes the investigation. You’ll meet more of the ‘characters’ of Shallow Bottom. You may even get to join in with a sing-a-long if you like (encourage your guests to join in).
But the police were stumped. This is where we need your help. It is up to you to solve the case. So retire for a while, have a think and re-group.
Printing these is a matter of choice and is advisable if you have a gathered party.
If you are playing in teams, you may choose to hand these out now. Each team must complete their answer as to whodunnit, how they dunnit and various other clues. The case was never solved, of course, but the re-enactment may have inspired Scotland Yard’s finest to think again.
Oh, it’s always a bit of a laugh to do a tie-break (and you can do this even before anyone knows the answer just because it’s good fun). There is a printable tie-break form.
You don’t have to use it of course but if you do, get your teams to come up with a witty song or poem to perform in the event of a tie. The best one wins.
All of this is pure party fun.
The serious business of crime detection is next.
MAKE SURE TO GATHER, AND KEEP SAFE, THE ANSWER FORMS BEFORE WATCHING THE LAST VIDEO.
IF YOU DON’T, PEOPLE WILL MAKE CHANGES.
Once you have your answer forms gathered, join D.I. Butler and his team around the fire as they consider the crime afresh.
You may choose to join in with a glass of port and a bowl of peanuts, or something. Sit back and watch as the intrepid detectives figure out the answers (finally).
If you agree with their conclusion, and you are playing in teams, you may want to print off your WINNER CERTIFICATE.
Again, you can print in advance. You’ll need to fill in a few details, like the name of the winner / winning team, etc.
Frame it, hang it on the wall and make sure that, whenever anyone asks you what this Christmas Murder Game is, you tell them to buy it and see for themselves.
But hey, this is Christmas (unless you’re playing throughout the year, and why not!) EVERYONE IS A WINNER. So why not print one out for everyone. Even if you haven’t played, who cares?
Get your WINNER CERTIFICATE HERE.
HOST A DINNER PARTY
Accidental Productions (the creators of this mystery) have over thirty years experience of running live murder mystery events.
One of the biggest secrets to the success of an event is: keep the teams apart and don’t rush things (OK, two secrets). And one of the best ways to do that is to hold a dinner party.
A film is different a live event , of course. You’ll need to work out where to put the screen(s) so everyone can see and hear. Scheduled breaks will allow teams to study the clues and discuss the case, making for more fun.
Timing depends on what sort of meal (if any) you’re providing. It doesn’t have to be a full three-course meal. It can be rather more informal. But as a GUIDE ONLY, let’s assume you want to begin the party at 7.30. Here is a TIMING SUGGESTION:
- 7.30. Allow guests to talk about the case. Perhaps explain something of the experience and, if you like, hand out the clue packs, organise teams, etc. You could also make a table plan and put people into teams (two or more people per team). You can have drinks and canapés if required. ALSO: Put your guests at ease with the assurance they don’t have to assume a role / improvise. They are detectives in this case.
- 8.00. Watch the first film. This is only 14 or 15 minutes long but it sets the scene. If playing in teams, you will want to discuss and, at this stage, consult the clue-pack to see what is coming. Think about how YOU would approach the case (don’t just follow Butler; he failed to solve it)
- 8.15. If dining, allow 15-20 minutes or so for your starter.
- 8.30. Watch the second film. This is 22 minutes long. Make sure teams pens and paper to take notes. You meet a few witnesses / suspects here.
- 8.55. This could be the break for the main course (note I’ve not mentioned the cooking / washing up. Practicalities, I’ll leave to you). At this point, the teams should be given the Parish Council Magazine and the Police Report on Stolen Property. They may need some time here to study / discuss / talk about other things, etc. The length of the break depends on the meal (or lack of). Allow 10 minutes but, should you be dishing up a gourmet feast, allow half an hour or so (this is just a guide).
- 9.30. Watch the third film – about 20 minutes.
- 9.50. You know the routine now; dessert served and, possibly, glasses topped up. Hand out the Answer Forms (these are better printed) and, perhaps, set a deadline for their return. People may like to take a break here but be sure to keep everyone focussed. Don’t give too long a break (there will always be teams who demand more time. It is ALWAYS have to set the deadline. It is fun to do the tie-break now. It isn’t necessary, but it fun to push for everyone to be creative (some won’t do it – that’s fine). Most love showing off a bit (and the poem / song will sometimes have nothing to do with the case. That’s fine).
- 10.15. Gather round to watch the dénouement video. This is 12 minutes long but, at the end, Scotland Yard should have tied up the loose ends and answered everyone’s questions. As the organiser, you must decide which team is closest. As a rule, the best outcome (with, say, 5 or 6 teams) is that two teams are correct. You will need to decide which team gave the most detail and, if it comes to it, refer back to the tie-break.
- 10.30. Hand out the WINNER CERTIFICATE (download now if you like. Display it even if you haven’t played. What does it matter?) Make a fuss of the winning team. Hand out a prize if you like (anything from a bag of peanuts, a bottle of Champagne, a sports car / house / holiday in the Caribbean – whatever your budget allows).
- 10.45. Soak up the praise for delivering such a fun evening with excellent food and company.
- 12.00 midnight. Get on with that washing up (and listen out for fireworks).
The dreaded FANCY DRESS!
It needn’t be too scary but it can add a huge element of fun to the proceedings.
The trick is to keep it simple.
DON’T FORGET: This mystery is set on Christmas Day in a northern village in England. It is cold and wet, yet cozy indoors.
People tend to dress up for Christmas Day, so you may want to stipulate evening wear. Nothing is funnier than someone in a smart DJ with a silly pair of spectacles and a floppy Santa hat (obviously, there are funnier things but everyone loves a Santa hat). It’s minimalist fun.
There isn’t much point in asking guests to come dressed as the village butcher or shopkeeper. It’s Christmas Day so nobody is working. But it’s YOUR PARTY, so it’s YOUR CHOICE.
You can suggest some come as police officers (again, a plastic hat will suffice). The village was crawling with police officers.
Then, of course, there was Father Christmas himself. But you may want to avoid that.
The murderer was dressed as Santa.
OK. Where do I go from here?
Decide when you want to play. It won’t take long to get organised so you can purchase now and start the game. But if you want to plan for a couple of days, that’s fine. YOU HAVE ONE WEEK to play the game after purchase.
You will need to log on to your account to view the videos so, if you’re playing with friends remotely, they will also need to purchase the game (so make sure you purchase at the same time). Play in one sitting or, as some did with the LOCKDOWN MURDER MYSTERY, play one video per day!
By the way, if you want to get an idea of how the game works, you can still check out the videos at LockdownMurderMystery for FREE (you can buy the clue pack for just £3.99)
However you play, I hope you enjoy The Nighty before Christmas. Have fun.
I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions. I’d like to do more of these so the slightest whiff of encouragement helps. And if you’re happy to send a review and/or pictures of how you played the game (especially if you permit me to include them on the site), I’d love to hear from you.