I wrote a political murder mystery dinner… for video calls in isolation [V2 now available!]
I’ve been in isolation for 27 days, and I just finished writing a murder mystery game to play with my friends on Zoom. In the week that the game has been live, I’ve had an incredible response to it, and with the feedback I’ve received I have updated the game to V2.
I’ve now also set up a Buy Me A Coffee account. If you played the game and enjoyed it, please consider donating a small amount for my work!
1. The victim has an additional ghost ability
2. Clues have been updated in line with real events that have happened since I made the game
3. Rules and explanations have been clarified
4. There’s a new “Rules and Tips” document for all players to read
5. Small Secrets and Secret Tasks have been updated so they’re more balanced across characters
The leaders of China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, the United States, and Italy meet for a private dinner to discuss and share information about the coronavirus. All of their countries have been hit hard (and I’m Australian so I just wanted to include us) by the virus, and tensions are high.
Each of the leaders are hiding something… and then one of them dies.
Round one: players are given conversation starters they must use to start building motives/tension.
Round two: The victim is revealed, the body is examined (all players get the same information about the body), and players get individual clues that only they know. They then must collaborate with other players to share information. The victim receives new ghost abilities and continues to play and solve the mystery.
Round three: similar to round two, players get more clues revealed to them and a second examination of the body. The murderer knows who they are and they must deflect suspicion away from themselves. At the end of this round, everyone submits an accusation, and the host then gets to read out the answer key!
Each character also has a “side quest”, a fun objective that has nothing to do with the murder but that they can score points with. The winner of the game is either the murderer if no one guesses who they are, or whoever has the most points, so even if you find the mystery maybe a bit too hard or not really your thing, there’s other things to do.
I decided to make “1 player = 1 household” so that it brings siblings, roommates, or couples together to play as a team rather than them all sitting in their own room so as not to be overheard.
Here’s the game — free
There is a 6 player and 7 player version available!
Click to access a PDF. The host of the game needs to download the host instructions + pick a character for themself. The game is only fun if everyone abides to an honour system of the host not reading other character sheets and players not reading ahead of instructions.
[6 player — V2]
The host and the Game Master do not have to be the same person.
How to win + Point scoring
There are two ways to win. The first is by being the murderer and getting away with it (i.e. no one correctly solves the mystery) and the second is by points. You can get points for revealing another player’s “small secret” or by completing your secret task either once or twice.
Here’s the point scoring:
- What if I don’t have 6 players?
I would recommend sending myself a message with which characters you plan on leaving out, and I’ll let you know if they’re critical to the story or not. Then, with one or two characters not being played, the host should read out the clues that those characters receive each round to ensure all the information is available to players. Without that, you won’t be able to solve the mystery.
- Is the victim one of the players? Do they continue to play after dying?
Yes, one of the players will die, but they get special ghost abilities that enable them to continue playing and partake in solving the mystery.
- Does it have to be via video?
No, if you want to just do voice calls or via written chat, that works too. Video is not vital to solving the mystery.
- Why aren’t there any points for revealing a “big secret”?
The big secrets are motives for murder, so if you discover one, then you should put it towards your accusation. The small secrets have no impact on the mystery and are more like a side game. An example of a small secret would be “you’re embarrassed by your hair” if your player is Trump, and to avoid this being discovered, you just need to steer conversation away from that topic. Small secrets are things that come up in regular conversation about that particular character, so it’s more just a skill of diverting conversation and preventing people from bringing up certain topics.
- Any tips for irst time players?
It works best, and is the most fun, if everyone gets in character for the night, so players should read the first page of their instructions ahead of the game to prepare.
As an individual, you will not receive enough clues to solve the mystery, so you must play collaboratively with other players.
Players can also google their opponents during the game — character relationships were written based on the real people they’re based on, including their international policies, histories, and personal information.
And here’s the answer to the mystery (you have to click a link to see them, no spoilers in this post!)
[6 player only] Answer key <<< spoilers in here
This document is not only the answer to who the murderer is, what weapon they used, and why they killed the victim, it also includes a timeline of events throughout the game and a list of each character’s secret task, so if you finish the game and have questions, it should be able to answer those too.
If you plan on playing the game… don’t open this until you’ve finished round three.
7 players don’t need an answer key as it’s included in the Game Master instructions!
If you play, I would love to hear how you found it so please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also donate any amount you feel the game was worth if you enjoyed playing!