The Murder Mystery a la carte series is popular in most English speaking countries. I'm sure the game exists elsewhere, and if it doesn't it should! This a la carte entertainment package takes a bit of planning. It's not just a matter of inviting friends over, dressing up and solving a murder mystery. There's a certain amount of pre-planning to do. The Murder a la carte series offers buyers several scenarios to choose and order from. The a la carte game typically contains invitations, instructions and an audio cassette to help keep things moving. The a la carte get-together takes the form of a dinner part for 6 - 8 people. The host has the responsibility of informing the guests of what characters they will play, and what clothes they must wear. And that's where the fun begins. Because where are you going to find a size 10 Vicar's robe? The game is a foot!
Everyone arrives at the Murder a la carte at the assigned time. Dressed accordingly. Perhaps even trying a foreign accent on for size. While enjoying appetizers, the guest introduce themselves. Each guest is given a booklet with their character names on it. From now on, they are the characters... keeping in character all evening makes the game a lot more fun. Guests are instructed to read the first page of the booklet, upon which will be a short dialogue to read out in way of introduction to themselves, as well as a more detailed description of their character to help them play the game. Once all the guests have introduced themselves, round one begins with the help of an audio cassette that is enclosed in the game. Your narrator explains the goings on. At that point the guests start questioning themselves, gathering facts and so on. Someone in the room has committed a murder and before the evening is over, that individual must be fereted out!
The a la carte set-up is organized by "rounds". Each round allows the guests to ask more questions, all the while proving their own innocence and giving themselves an alibi. Some of the guests have a dialogue to say, some have questions to ask the specific guests, some have useful information they have to give out and some have the information they need try keep in secret. Guests keep their booklet open to help them, checking that all their relevant detail and information is given before the round closes.
And so it goes. As the evening continues the plot thickens. At several times in the evening clues are given out, like love letters written, blackmail notes, receipts, a death certificate. Guests are told in their booklets when to start and finish each round, and when extra clues should be given. Guests start to accuse, squirm in their seats when accusations are made at them, and extra evidence is found. Ultimately leading to the killer!
The murder a la carte series is so popular that the concept has made create fodder for dinner theaters. A much bigger challenge presents itself when the cast of characters numbers in the dozens rather than the requisit 6 or 8. But it's good fun and the median age for most a la cart games ranges from 12 to 80. Certainly there are other a la carte games that cater to more than just a murder. More adult oriented fare exists to be found. The important element tying all these games together is involvement. And that's not an all together bad thing in these impassioned times.