How to Host a Murder-Mystery Zoom Party – There are 3 rounds to the game, 3 days, and on
the last night a zoom party
Set Up/General Rules:
Make a Facebook event page and invite people (recommended cap: 13) – Please see the bottom of this document for an example of what I posted on my event page for my players to reference.
Pick a theme (we did Roaring 20s)
Have each person design a character relevant to the theme (stating their occupation, financial status, likes/dislikes – this will come into play later)
The host then takes each character and creates storylines to interlace them. Meaning, if someone chose to be a millionaire and another person chose to be a nurse- maybe those two characters could be married etc.
The host adds history to the characters and secrets that each one would rather not have shared (this will come into play later).
The host chooses an event/venue relevant to the theme (for ours we did a secret art gala serving drinks during the prohibition). Post on the Facebook page what imaginary rooms players may access during the game (ex: dining room, bar, backyard, kitchen, etc.)
For Round 1: host assigns each character 2 goals (based off of their likes) such as “convince -character name #1- to put a radio in his bar because you love technology” and one disinterest such as “do not let character #1 sell any of his radios- because your company is his rival”. Tell each guest privately their characters two goals and one disinterest (PS: you can do one goal and two disinterests for certain characters etc. as long as, by the end of the 3 rounds all characters end up with the same amount of goals and disinterests). Explain that guests can use their character’s money, blackmail, lie, anything to obtain these goals and avoid disinterests.
Assign each character a certain amount of money to start with based off of their status. They can use this money how they choose. At the end of the game, whoever has earned the most (not just who generally has the most) gets points for that. In our game we added an element of gambling where 1-2 times a day the host gave players the option to pick a # 1-20 and bet money. Whoever’s # was chosen from a random # generator doubled the money they put in while everyone else lost their money. This was just another fun optional layer that added energy to the game.
Finally: Make a group chat where characters can establish in what part of the venue they are in. For instance, if I move to the dining room I would message the chat “-my character name- rushes to the dining room to eat”. If two characters are in the same room they can DM each other, and if more are in the room, they may start their own room group chat. If a player cannot respond to any DMs at the moment they message the group chat that they are “stepping out”. And if they are ending a conversation they message that conversation directly “leaves conversation” so no players are confused, waiting on someone to reply.
Establish the group chat for your players by setting the tone with a warm, in character welcome. The host acts as an omnipotus voice on the main group chat and the investigator during the Zoom chat.
Players will DM each other or make group chats based on rooms. The first round will be all about getting to know each other and completing their character goals to earn points.
Have optional random gambling sessions whenever the group chat energy is low to spark up participation!
At the end of the first night announce that a murder has occured. Announce who is dead and any relevant but vague facts (where they were found, in what condition the body was found, if there were any items found around them). These should be relevant towards who the murderer is/their motive/the weapon but not so much as to give it away.
For example, our first victim was found to have bruises, hair pulled, and foaming at the mouth while the second was with no physical damage, but mascara running down her cheeks, and also foaming at the mouth. This hints that the first was not planned while the second was- and both used the same weapon: poison.
Immediately after this announcement, send your players their new goals and disinterests for the second day (the old ones also carry over if they were not yet completed). These goals/disinterests should include some that stir up drama in the house, such as spreading rumors, and some that give hints such as “find out who has been to Germany- you have an interest in traveling there” (for us, the poison was german so it came into play to know the 4 characters that had been there/were close friends with someone from there).
On night 2 you could announce a second murder or more evidence from the murder scene. As well repeat step 4 for round 3 goals/disinterests. I recommend checking in with players by sending out a Google Form to see where they are at/where they could use more guidance. A round 3 goal I had for every character was to share a truth about them or something they know for a fact to another character- this helped them put more puzzle pieces together.
Before the murder party the host creates a list of 10-ish hints and sends out 2 hints to everyone (some being repeated to mult. people to ensure they are known). These hints are all true, but only some relevant. It Is up to the players to bring them up during the zoom chat, and to determine which are relevant as only a handful lead to a for-sure murderer.
Host the zoom chat as a pre-established time. I recommend everyone being in costume. It is also fun to add backgrounds relevant to your party theme. Have everyone set their zoom name to their character names to make it easy to talk to one and other in character.
The host leads a discussion where the group interrogates each guest one-by-one, asking them questions and allowing them to share whatever information they want. This is where players walk the thin line of working as a team to solve the mystery but also keeping some facts to themselves so they, alone, can get the points for solving the mystery (as there is only 1 winner!). In our game there were 2 murderers, and neither knew who the other was, so they had the opportunity to guess the other along with the chance of earning points by not getting caught.
Have everyone fill out a Google Form with their character name/real name. Ask how many goals they accomplished, how many disinterests occurred to them, how much money they started with VS. ended with, and who they think the murderer is/weapon/motive.
On the zoom chat- reveal the murderer(s)!
Tally the points based off of the scoring chart (which should be posted on the event page) and announce who won the murder mystery!
Example clip of our zoom party
The Bio of my Facebook event:
“A murder mystery online game! Schedule of events:
– Vote on a theme (by 3/26)
– Create your character to the theme (3/28)
– I will send out clues and storylines (3/31)
– You will have 3 days to DM different characters and try to piece together the murder! (3/31 – 4/2)
– We will have a zoom chat where I will make final announcements and we will have a town hall meeting that uncovers who-dOnE-IT! (4/3)”
The Rules I posted to my Facebook Page:
“RULES IN MORE DETAIL:
1. Make sure you message actively (don’t take forever to respond!) and stay true to your character.
2. Always start a chat by saying, in parentheses where the chat is taking place, for instance: (by the fireplace)
3. You can start a chat with multiple characters as long as you are all in the same location.
4. If you are taking an action during a chat, signal this by putting an asterisk around the action, for instance: *slaps him*
5. If you do not want to talk to a player, you cannot just ignore their messages- you must address them and find a way to get your character out of the situation.
6. Everytime you move location, you must signify this by sending the group chat a message that says (-insert location-). In order to talk to a player you must both be in the same location.
****List of locations open to party guests: the billiards room, the open bar, the fireplace, the gallery, the pool, the office, the library, the kitchen, the dining room.
7. If you are talking to someone and they *leave the conversation to go to the bar* you cannot talk to them again unless you restart a new conversation (at the bar) and indicate the location that you have both moved to in the group chat.
8. If you want to gamble you must message the group chat that a gamble is happening and I will conduct it.”
The Quick Reference Guide I posted in my Facebook page:
“GENERAL RULES: Privately DM characters to accomplish your character goals- you can use your money to persuade them, you can lie, do whatever- You must be in the same room as them to DM them. To move to a room, indicate you have moved on the group chat. You can talk to multiple people at once (in a group chat) as long as you are in the same room. I will keep track of points every night by checking in with you. On the last night we will have a zoom meeting to discuss who the murderer is. DM me for questions.
LOCATIONS: the billiards room, the open bar, the fireplace, the gallery, the pool, the office, the library, the kitchen, the dining room
-Richard Pound (Diego) – Top railroad engineer.
-Olive Larcher (Grace) – Party-goer. No one knows her or what she is doing.
-Grace Morris (Ellia) – past VAD nurse in WW1, Rich
-Josephine Brooks (Kate) – Broadway star and inventor
-James Tanner (Kyle) – Affluent from his inheritance. Hip new author
-Sienna Reich (Ava) – Rich medical student from Germany who loves to travel
-Daniel "Danny" Worthing (Nic) – Young nephew of Josephine Brooks
-Hank Hubert (Braxton) – Life of the party. Always at the events, and has connections with everyone. No one is certain what he does.
-Adelaide Maroney (Alyssa) – A woman who inherited the wealth and head position of her railroad tycoon husband after his sudden death in which he fell quickly ill
-Violet Hayes (Emma) – Nanny for Adelaide’s upper class family
-Rasmodius Harmon (Kai) – Eccentric tycoon who sells radios, with lots of rumors surrounding his name
-Raymond Griffen (Ryan) – Nightshift servant for Rasmodius
-Missy Shultz (Paris) – The daughter of an affluent family that sells machinery.
-Florence Montahugh (Court) – An art connoisseur.
-Jane Margret (Lauren) – An art connoisseur attending the gala.
-Lila Jones (Shayla) – The town gossip. Her favorite hobby is spreading the drama in order to make friends.
-If you accomplish a (goal) +2
-If something you didn’t want to happen, happens (disinterest) -1
-Who has the most money earned +5
-Guessing the murderer: +15
-Guessing the motive: +10
-Guessing the weapon: +7”