How do you go about hosting and/or attending a Shot In The Dark Mysteries murder mystery or family-friendly party game? Well, first of all, it’s easy! No doubt you have questions though, especially since our formats are so different from our competitors. Chances are we’ll answer all of your questions on the individual mystery details pages or below, but if you have a question you don’t see here, feel free to dial us up on the Live Chat feature we offer (look to your right – if it says “Online” you can chat with us immediately if we’re not on with another client. If it says “offline”, it will forward your inquiry to us via email and we will respond within 24 hours).
**Please Note** Phone calls will take longer to return. Please email us or contact us through live chat for the best and fastest response.
Here are some of our most frequently asked questions – hopefully these responses will answer yours. But also remember that most of the games on our site have Sample Materials on the details page, and you can view these Sample Materials to see the exact instructions you’ll receive in your facilitator guide. This will provide you a wealth of information pre-purchase, so if you don’t see your question answered below, check the specific Sample Materials for the mystery you’ve got your eye on.
To see how and why we’re different and what you can expect, click the button below.
Most of our mysteries are Interactive, or as we like to call it, Mingle. While other formats of mystery parties (turn-based and dinner, for example) have guests reading clues in turns in a certain order or acting out scripts (as in a script-based mystery), Interactive Mingle mysteries are quite different. Your Suspects will be up and mingling around, and it’s up to the other suspects and any non-suspect Investigators to question each other to piece together the mystery.
Mini Mysteries are smaller versions of our full-sized mysteries, and are designed to be played in an hour. While full-size mysteries have a minimum of 8 suspects, Mini Mysteries only have six. They are cheaper ($19.97 vs. a full mystery starting at $38.99) and typically don’t come with as many bells and whistles – like audio files, for example. They are perfect for ice breakers and as a smaller activity that will be fit into a party with multiple activities, but have also been used for fundraisers and other large-group events of up to 200 people! Mini Mysteries are perfect if you’re working in a set amount of time (1 – 1.5 hours) or you have a smaller group of less than 8 people.
The contents of your game materials will be outlined on the details page for the version (ie: number of suspects) you need. Just pick a version on the gateway page for each mystery to view the trailer, see the suspects, get a sample of the facilitator guide and see what each kit contains.
Not all of your guests need to be suspects. We always recommend finding out which guests want to be suspects first and then purchasing the kit that coincides with THAT number instead of purchasing a kit to match your total number of guests. Everyone who is not playing a suspect is Investigating, which means that they are mingling around, working alone or in teams to find the killer. So, while you may be having 18 people attend, you may not need the 18 suspect version.
We have designed this type of mystery with a cap of 18 suspects for a purpose: we facilitate a lot of mysteries ourselves for our clients, and have found in our experience that anything over 18 with 2 optional suspects tends to fall apart for two reasons. First, it becomes so confusing for those participating to keep track of all of the suspects, their motives, alibis and secrets that they quickly get frustrated and give up. Second, anything larger takes FAR too long to play. We recently facilitated a 26 suspect version of Murder at the Superhero Peace Convention at the host’s insistence and the mystery took five and a half hours to play! The guests were exhausted, and in that time many had hit the cocktail bar a few too many times and were a bit pickled and lost interest. Even our insistent host admitted toward the end that we should have gone with the 18 suspect cap. Rest assured though, the guests who are investigators are just as involved as the suspects and have just as much fun!
The short answer is yes – IF you have assigned them as a Suspect. If you have notice though, there are two things you can do. First, if they aren’t sure if they can make it, but you really want them to be involved if they can, purchase the Optional Suspect Pack for your mystery. This will give you 2 characters who have a name and Share information, but no hide information or hidden motives, so if they can’t make it, your mystery party is not ruined. The other option is that you can get in touch with us if you have a few days leading up to your party and we can swap it out for a smaller version. In this case, you’ll have to send your guests playing Suspects their Suspect Guides again, so most hosts will opt for the Optional Suspect Pack at the time of purchase.
What a great question! A great question deserves a great answer, which is exactly what you’ll find here
Please see the question and answer below.
The Interactive format can truly be played by an unlimited number of participants. In fact, we’ve thrown fundraisers and corporate mystery events for 200+ people using nothing more than a Mini Mystery. The trick is to purchase the version that accommodates how many SUSPECTS you want, and then have everyone else work alone or in teams to question the suspects and piece together the mystery. Because everyone is up, mingling and questioning the suspects instead of sitting down reading off scripts, any number of players can participate.
Your mystery materials come with individual suspect guides for each suspect. This gives them in-depth instructions on how to play, the rules and their Share and Hide clues. We also provide a way to get in contact with us if they have questions on their materials and don’t want to discuss them with the host for fear of spoilers. Most hosts have a quick chat with their Suspects before the mystery begins, but the instructions the Suspects receive keep the host from having to teach the Suspects how to participate. The Introduction will also give any additional Investigators instructions on how to play, so all the host needs to do is read the Introduction or press Play on the audio files and relax!
If you don’t have an even number, but you still want everyone to participate, there are a number of things you can do. First, you can always get the Optional Suspect Pack, which gives you an extra male and female character who aren’t essential to the mystery. Another option is to gender bend. For some parties and groups of people, gender bending is a riot, and for others – well, not so much. If your group is the type who would embrace this, the results can be hilarious. Lastly, if there’s enough time before your party (2-3 weeks, please!)contact us. We can usually swing changing one Suspect gender around for no extra charge, and we’re very reasonable about rates for making more gender changes to give you a mystery that suits YOUR unique party!
That’s entirely up to you! Of course, we recommend at least a few days, but some hosts prefer weeks to prepare, while others will order their mystery game kit an hour before their party. It’s entirely up to you and how you want to host your party. Since our materials are instantly downloaded and the Suspect Guides can be emailed to your guests instead of having to print off each guide, you can use as much, or as little, prep-time as makes you, as the host, feel comfortable.
We offer two methods to make your payment: PayPal and Stripe. Both are secure credit card processors, and we never see your credit card information (for our mutual protection). You can choose which payment processor you like best – you don’t have to have a PayPal account to use PayPal as the processor, but for those who choose not to use PayPal, we now offer a second option. At the time of checkout, simply select PayPal or Secure Credit Card to choose your method of payment.
Your mystery comes in a .zip file, which is a compressed file format. Upon completion of payment, you’ll see an instant download pop-up window. Sometimes these can be blocked by pop-up blockers, so you also receive a link to access the window again if needed on your receipt. When you see the window, you’ll have two options – Open and Save. Click Save and then save it somewhere on your computer where you’ll easily find it later – we recommend your desktop. Once the file has downloaded, you’ll see a normal-looking file with a little zipper on it. You can view the files individually without unzipping the file, but if you want to work with them (for example, email your suspect guides) you’ll have to Extract All Files from the folder. These instructions are repeated on our Thank-You page, which you’ll see after a successful purchase takes place.
You’ll find two or three folders in your game materials (depending on whether you have purchased a Mini Mystery or a full version mystery). Look for the one called Facilitator Materials. Inside that folder you’ll find a file called Facilitator Guide. That’s your complete guide to hosting your mystery, and will explain all of the other files you received in your download kit.
In short, no. If you would like a longer response, click below!
No. None of our game materials contain profanity – we don’t believe in forcing your guests to use language they may be uncomfortable with, and since we serve church groups, teens and kids, we have chosen to keep our game materials profanity-free. Some of your Suspects may choose to share their information in a more colourful way, but that’s a choice we don’t make for you, or your guests.
In short – Angel Ratings. Most of our mystery Gateway pages now provide a rating called an Angel rating, along with specific information about any content that may be offensive. We’re proud to offer both Clean (no sex or drug references) as well as slightly more risque game materials, and by referring to that rating, you can quickly determine whether the mystery you’re considering is appropriate for your guests. We’re always here to offer up specifics about any of our mysteries to help you make your decision. For more on Angel Ratings, see below.
We serve MANY church groups, and try to offer a wide variety of mysteries that will be good for more conservative groups. Any mystery with an Angel Rating of 4 or 5 should be more than appropriate for a church group function. For more on Angel Ratings, see below.
Angel Ratings are a unique rating system Shot In The Dark Mysteries uses to give our clients an at-a-glance idea of whether a mystery game will be appropriate for your party. The Gateway page for each mystery gives the Angel Rating as well as a brief description of the reasons why a mystery may have lost points. For example, a Murder mystery would lose a point just because it’s Murder (as opposed to a non-murder, family-friendly mystery party game). If there are mentions of affairs or other potentially offensive content, it will lose further points. As always, we’re here to help if you’re not sure about a certain mystery, so don’t hesitate to contact us with questions about a particular murder mystery or Angel Rating.
The PLAY! Site is now available for most of our mystery party games. In short, the PLAY! Site is a place where your guests can go to view the mystery trailer, see the other Suspects and other resources (like costume ideas and links, in some cases). Our PLAY! Sites will be expanding as we add more features to our mysteries, and each Suspect receives the URL in their Suspect Guide. If, after reading the instructions in your Facilitator Guide you still have questions, we are always here to help you – simply send us an email (please allow us 48 hours to reply). To get an idea of what to expect, you can view a sample of our game materials on any page. Don’t worry, the clue shown is not real, so you will not be ruining a mystery by looking at the sample game materials.
We at Shot In The Dark Mysteries don’t actually see your payment information. When you click buy now, you are directed to Paypal’s website, which is the most secure and trustworthy way to pay for anything online. Although we plot murder scenarios for a living, we at Shot In The Dark Mysteries are not jerks. We will never share any information you give us with anyone – ever. We keep everything pretty simple here at Shot In The Dark Mysteries; after all, you’re buying a party game, not adopting a baby panda.