Monday, December 7, 2009

Murder by numbers

I've just been involved in playing one of these murder games (you know, where everyone plays a part and the amusement value is largely determined by how willing you and your friends are to assume another persona and enter into the spirit of things. For a novelist and a people watcher it was just as entertaining watching the real reactions to people finding out they were serial adulterers, cheats, thieves, and murderers. Plenty of motive ;-). The writing too was interesting - it's not an easy task to write accessibly and provide real motives and red herrings. To my mind this one failed in certain respects - firstly there were too many motives and no logical pattern of elimination, and the red herrings were strait dead ends with no relation to the story, but what it failed at most IMO was clearly establishing enough differentiated characters - they were rather featureless, which made getting into them difficult. It's a tricky thing to do, and it has to be done with very few cues.
So here are a few characters they used - Law firm partner - serial philanderer
environmental activist - bunny hugger
Police investigator - rather obtuse

Now how would suggest they cue people in. What props would you recommmend (I am curious)


Anonymous said...

My husband and I went to one once. Great fun.

IF you throw yourself into it.

I was the High Society Snob, with a reputation for being sharp, snippy and rude. OMG! That was SO fun! Not just permission to be rude, but a requirement.

I think what helped was that we were all "Cardboard Cutout Stock Characters." Everyone know how a rich b**** acts. The Dumb Housewife who is vague on everything but her children (she was the murderer). The Pushy Reporter. The Big Important Businessman. The Sultry Mistress.

Now, I realize, Dave, that you live to twist the Archetypes, but I think, especially for something like this, that using them makes it easy to roleplay. The amateur actors can ad lib their parts and stay in character better, if they have both conscious and subconscious concepts of the "person" they are.

And as Mysteries go, our stank. Oh. Well.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Never done anything like this, Dave.'

I guess it's not that different from going around to someone's place to play D&D.

Kate said...

I'm going to have bow out of this one, since I've never been involved in one. It sounds like a lot of fun, though.

Anonymous said...

Oh, man, you guys have missed out. Tom and I keep saying that as soon as we're not so busy we'll do more.

They're like a cross between a complete ad lib theater and writing a story round. Less blood-thirsty that a LARP. At least the one we went to was.