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 contact us and we will respond within 24 hours).

**Please Note** We are an international company, and serve clients from one side of the planet to the other. Because of time zones from our vast clientele, we provide customer service via chat, social media and our help desk. Our turn-around time for responding is very quick, and this allows us to get back to you faster than via the phone. Connect with us via our help desk at hello@shotinthedarkmysteries.com for the quickest response!

Read Host Instructions

Sample Host Guide

To see how our mystery format works, you can read the full host instructions so you can purchase with confidence!
Read Host Instructions
Audio Version

Sample Host Guide

To see how our mystery format works, you can hear the full host instructions so you can purchase with confidence!
Audio Version
Read Suspect Guide

Sample Suspect Guide

Read a sample of the suspect guide. These are sent to your guests as part of the package so they can see what they are going to be doing.
Read Suspect Guide

The SHOT! Format Explained

An overview of a typical SHOT mystery party flow

  • Play or read the Announcement of Murder via mp3 file or the transcript
  • Suspect Introductions (optional)
  • Suspects question one another (for large group, Investigators question Suspects)
  • Accusations are cast
  • Have all or some of the guests share their Accusation
  • Play or read “The Big Reveal” solution
  • Give away prizes and awards (if applicable)

Using SHOT! Mysteries in the New Virtual World

Mischief Makers Map


Step One

Step Two

Step Three

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.

Right, so we choose not to offer an app for a number of reasons. First, we are big advocates for bringing people together face-to-face to spend time with their friends and family, to meet new people and to have an in-person experience without technology – such a thing is so incredibly rare these days it’s becoming obsolete. In fact, for many of our repeat clients whose mysteries are regular events with their friends and family, cell phones have to go in a basket at the door, and will continue to support the idea of connecting with people live and in-person until the day the planet is taken over by Cyber-men.

Second, most of our mysteries occur in by-gone eras. Really, can you be a flapper in a speakeasy or a sultry singer in a smoky jazz bar in the 1950s while… staring at your phone?! And how quickly will your guests be pulled from the experience by a Facebook notification or a ding about the latest Donald Trump tweet?
Now, having said that, if you prefer to have a tech-friendly party, you don’t need some fancy app from us. The same suspect guide that you send out to your guests pre-party can be viewed on any smartphone or device. Easy!

2-3 hours, you set the time frame.
No. Our mysteries are delivered via downloaded .zip file, and the device on which you receive the materials, download and work with them must have the ability to unzip a compressed file. These do not come on smartphones/tablets, so you will need to download your package onto a device like a computer or laptop.
All of our mystery packages are designed with the host in mind, to protect you, as the host, from possible spoilers, with emailable suspect guides and separate, well-marked files for the Big Reveal. We believe that as hosts, we put so much into our parties that we should be able to participate, solve the mystery and have as much fun as our guests… IF we want to. So, if you as the host would like to take on a suspect roll and investigate to find the killer, our materials are designed for you.

Some hosts do prefer to simply play the host while their guests solve the mystery, and that’s okay as well – as the host, the choice is yours to be a suspect or not!

Our format is VERY different from our competitors. There are no rounds, no stunts, no limbo contents (unless you want to hold one yourself, of course!). The mystery is a straight-up, pure investigation that will have your guests mingling and questioning each other to find the killer, just as a detective would.
We recognize this format is not for everyone. Some groups are better suited to be led through a mystery step-by-step, and that’s okay. But, if you and your guests are looking for something a bit more thought-provoking and not at all campy or humiliating for your guests, you’re in the right place. Our investigations give you and your guests/participants the chance to prove just how clever you are, by gathering the evidence and solving the mystery.
Standard customizations (ie: no major re-writes) cost around $35 CAD in addition to the package cost. We only have the capacity to complete two customizations per week, so if you are considering a mystery party package and don’t see the variation you will need, please get in touch as far in advance of your party as possible to ensure you receive a customization spot.
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.
We don’t offer these types of Missions in all of our mysteries, but when it fits the investigation, plot and the suspect’s involvement in the plot, we will include a liaison or something along those lines for the suspect to complete. It will always be subtle though, and in line with the plot, and will not be intimidating for any of your guests.
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.
We charge in USD (American Dollars) however when you choose your payment type (PayPal or Credit Card) your bank/credit card provider will do the exchange on their end, so no matter where in the world you are, you can purchase one of our mystery packages.
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 witness 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 Witness 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 Witness 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 Witness 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 do customizations from around $35 CAD in addition to the package cost, 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 investigation will be appropriate for your party. Each mystery is assigned an Angel Rating as well as a brief description of the reasons why a mystery may have received the rating it did. 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 and/or drugs, 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! Sites is now available for all 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 Host 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 the full Host Guide on any of our mystery home pages to read over pre-purchase.

We at Shot In The Dark Mysteries don’t actually see your payment information. When you click “Buy Now”, you choose your method of payment. We choose to use two of the safest payment systems available – PayPal and Stripe, for everyone’s protection. 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.
No. We serve clients worldwide, and most Visa Debit cards don’t work for international payments. We do take most credit cards and also accept PayPal as payment methods.
Our payment processors do not acccept Discover cards internationally.
Our materials are not designed to be changed, and we do not advise our clients opting to change our materials for quality reasons. While some mystery companies provide files that can be changed, our mysteries are designed to make things easier for the host, and are offered as a complete package subject to copyright.
Absolutely! We love supporting your community. If you purchase a mystery for your fundraiser, let us know – we can help promote it on our social media channels and are happy to submit door prizes to help you raise extra funds.


Go to Top