Public Events/Fundraising FAQ

You want to do a fundraiser or festival event or team building for your company.

This is great news.

At Murder By Six, we are willing to help.  There are some things that you should become aware of before you run gung-ho into event planning.  We are incredibly flexible in what we can do for you and your event.

A dialog is always a good thing, so here is a message from the owner, to work as an FAQ.  A bit to read.  Each part, however, is important.

I want happy clients.  That is key for me.  Here’s the first thing I am going to tell you: I won’t sell you a package that I think will backfire.  The key, here, is fun.  And you won’t come back if you or your players don’t have fun.  Our sales are based around this concept, not getting every dollar we can out of you.

YOU are important.  Your event is important.  I pay attention to each and every client’s needs, down to very specific details, which could include allergens to wheelchair requirements.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been approached by frustrated people who want something unique, only to be told that a murder show company won’t work at a hotel or the team building wanted is not to have any competition inside of it or a church group that wants to have some fun but there can’t be any adultery present in the themes, or that the grandparents are celebrating their 45 anniversary and it’s important to get canaries in to as much as possible.

I have been doing event planning for over 25 years.  Live action mystery events are unlike any other event planning I have ever been involved with, including musicals, choirs, fancy dinners, bridal showers, concerts, or even a board game night.  Even other event planners that I have worked with in the past don’t fully understand what happens in a live action event- until they are in the middle of it.  And by then, it’s too late!  It can be as simple as being aware of the allergens of the players, but I also have to be concerned with props, safety exits, fire codes, as well as the reading levels and personality types of each and every person who is part of an event.  This is where the difference lies, because some of those things aren’t even a consideration at a concert.

Here are a few things I would like to explain before you even get started:

The first is that you are important.  I won’t be sitting in on lengthy meetings or schedules or become a part of your event board or committee.  The cost of doing this is very high and I would have to tack an addition $5 to $15 dollars per head to the cost of your quoted price.  It does not mean that I won’t help coordinate, answer questions, or give suggestions, because part of what you are paying for is that 25 years of experience.

Each show or event gets my individual attention.  Each show can have 24-120 hours of prep time and that doesn’t include if I have to rewrite, or actually write an entire show, at your request.  That prep time means I am focused on your event, even if I’m not speaking to you directly.

Your event planning is central to the success of your event.  However, your meetings are, for lack of a better term, internal.  You should not have to pay my company for, basically, sitting in on internal politics or disagreements.

While you may feel it is imperative that someone from Murder By Six be present to answer all the questions a panel of 5 has, I can guarantee you, it is not.  Because that means your group isn’t sure what they want or they don’t agree on what they want, and that means what gets planned will not result in a happy event.  You won’t want to pay my company for that or to act as a referee.  As unpleasant and negative as that sounds, you will be even more unhappy to write that check.  And it goes against every principle,  founding thought, corporate message/ mission statement, or component of why I started Murder By Six.  The point is to have fun.  Not meetings and arguments.

To that end, here is what I will tell you:

  • Pick one person from your team to communicate with Murder By Six. There are a lot of moving parts to these that, while not difficult, can be very overwhelming.  I will have a series of questions to ask, such as how many bathrooms will be available, how many people do you think will be active participants, are you hiring a caterer.  You will have a series of questions to ask as well.  I will answer your questions to the very best of my ability or redirect you to another source, such as: that is a question you should make sure to ask your office manager or the staff at the hotel.
  • The simpler, the better. When you sit down to start planning, have one or two brainstorming sessions, then stop.  While you may have a really cool idea come up, after a certain point, introducing those ideas will start the process all over again.  Which will, in turn, raise the quoted cost.  To give you a good frame of reference, it’s like asking a florist to come up with 20 table centerpieces in yellow and white, then a week beforehand, ask to change the color scheme to purple and blue, with out-of-season flowers.  Keep those cool ideas in mind for the next event you have.
  • The time frame of an event is firm. If a show is 4-5 hours long, it is 4-5 hours long.  It isn’t that I don’t care that you have a keynote speaker or to plan a buffet.  I won’t short or cut that time because players need that time to adjust into character or they may have a reading concern that you are unaware of.  You wouldn’t want to be rushed and or humiliated in front of other people.  None of your players should go through that.  There is time deliberately planned into these events to allow people to retain their privacy and dignity.  If you have time constraints, please reach out and I will suggest a different style of murder or mystery game that would better suit your needs, rather than forcing a fit to something to which you may not be aware.  That is the consulting you should be paying for.  Not to rewrite a game to fit a preconceived notion, and then everyone winds up unhappy.
  • One of the first things I am going to ask you is: are there any children involved? This means anyone under the age of 18.  If yes, chances are, I will say: no, I won’t run a game for you.  The amount of drama and politics regarding this group of players will not be worth your time or mine.  Every parent has the right to state what they think their child or children should be involved with and we do not get in the middle of that.  We will not run a scavenger hunt for children, even if it is just with bunny rabbit stuffed animals.  Or plan a children’s party.  If the event is open to the public, we do our best to prevent any of those issues, but we will not accept anyone who looks to be under the age of 18 to be an active participant.  The name of our company has MURDER right in it.  While we don’t normally have very graphic imagery, the definition of that concept is subject to the viewer’s eye.  We do not provide babysitting services.  Nor will we allow a parent to walk into an active murder game or scene with child in tow, while the parent is a player and the child is not.  There are some exceptions to this, such as some of the zombie games, but not many.  Teenagers and some of the superhero games are another exception.
  • The second question I am going to ask is: what’s the point of your event? Is it to draw attention to your business?  Team building?  Fund raising?  You and your colleagues want to blow off some steam?  Your committee should be clear on this before contacting Murder By Six.  I say this out of kindness.  Marketing for these events is hard.  And this is why a lot of murder games flop.  Like a comedian who has hit the burn audience of a lifetime.  If you want a game for the mass-public, that is vastly different than for a specialized group.  IE: you want a fundraiser without knowing the number of people who will be involved.  I will tell you that a player-dependent, interactive game will not suit what you are looking for, but a team based game might.  If you want a Sherlock Holmes mystery for a book club, per se, and your group actually prefers westerns as a themed backdrop, that will not suit, but a zombie game might.  If more than half of your players are quiet and do not have a background in public speaking, an unscripted murder show will not make anyone happy, but a scripted game would.  Each type of game appeals to a different type of personality, reading level, comprehension level, and space requirement.  THAT is what I am here to help you figure out.  Figuring out what would be fun, and going for it.  I have developed CSI- science/forsenic based games, where there are labs, and other games that are more reading and thought provoking.  Basic games that appeal to new players and very hard games that an Agatha Christie reader would approve of, or trivia based games such as the history of chocolate.  There is so much flexibility that can be built into a game, if the “point” of the game is settled in the first place.
  • If you change the point, such as mass-public to a specific group or a scripted game to an unscripted game, all the work done up to that point should be thrown out the window and the process restarted. Especially if catering is involved.  Unscripted games work best with buffets.  Scripted, sit down meals.  Zombie game, hors d’oeuvres or simply drinks.  Half to all the props for these games will change, too, which means possibly changing the event arena due to fire codes.  There won’t be a stable point to say, keep this, don’t keep that.  I say these things from kindness.
  • Make sure that you know what you want. If you don’t, that’s okay.  I am willing to help guide you through the initial stages.  This is why I say I won’t become part of your committee and I won’t firm any details until this is decided.  Not even a date, even if you have one already picked out.  I will give you what information I can upfront, so you can go back to your team and decide: what is it we actually want to have happen?  Frat party?  Fund raising with expensive tickets?  Fundraising to appeal to the mass public to draw attention?  Worrying about food and color schemes or themes isn’t as important as this first initial decision, but most committees start with these and wind up floundering.  The mystery game may be an event inside of another event.  “We want to have an anniversary party for our charity group. We’ve been active for 10 years and want to have a celebration dinner.”  This is great and I applaud your history.  A murder game is a fun way to celebrate.  But when you get into the middle of things and decide you want to have an award ceremony and speakers and all that other stuff, a live-action, unscripted murder game will be disruptive to your event.  I would suggest, instead, an assassins game, or a walk-thru, or a scripted game in rounds where people can take a break between round one and two to eat or listen to what is going on, upstage.
  • KEEP IT SIMPLE. You may have team building in mind.  Team building events require players to depend on each other.  The story line of the game can get lost if you decide to have an ice-cream social in the middle of dinner, where you have to get to know the player outside of the storyline in order to get your partner a favorite desert, instead of focusing on the fact that the other faction of vampires wants to bump off your werewolf buddy.  The ice cream social is an awesome idea for team building.  Both, together in the same setting, is disruptive to the other.  Two competing ways of getting team building going.  You will confuse the players by doing this.  Let the show be itself.  Let the ice cream event be itself, at another time.  This is why I say: stop brainstorming or letting new ideas affect the planning already done.  It will wind up undoing and taking over.
  • KEEP IT SIMPLE is also because most players need to concentrate on the game. Theme is cool and I use a lot of different aspects of life as props.  Such as a 1920’s show will have black, white, silver, gold, and crystal dishware and green plants, to give a posh atmosphere.  If there is a lot of outside distraction, such as raffles, or bands, or fireworks going on, players won’t be able to remember that the key for the storage shed was in the dead guy’s left pocket, not the right, and will walk away feeling cheated.
  • Again, this is not your normal event planning.  You have to give players time and space to figure out what is going on, at their level and needs, not what you think might be cool, even if the game forces them to juggle lots of props to allow for their stuff to be stolen.  More advanced players will get bored and require different stimulation.  Live action games are completely dependent on the player’s ability to, well, play.  You won’t know what that is.  You may think it’s cool to stand up and be able to adlib practical jokes on a good friend, but most people are uncomfortable with doing it themselves.  Especially in public.  More than 60% of players are introverts or get shy.  Your idea of a live-action murder show may possibly be based on having 100% of the players being extroverts who love to get up and show off.  Those two aspects are opposed to each other.  So, keep things simple and expect that the players will not fully fall in line with what you want.

Your event is hard enough to plan, as it is.  You may not even know what you would be stepping into.  My 25 years will help keep you from making that mistake with a show that doesn’t fit.  More importantly, my questions will focus on what kind of players will be present for your game, bringing out the type of game that carries fun with it.  Murder events are different.  And Murder By Six events are even more different because the players are active!  Even the quiet ones.  It’s not sitting and watching a show, even ones where players are given a line to read or a single task to perform.   Each player has an active part and that is as individual as every single snowflake.  I am not trying to talk you out of a mystery event.  Just the opposite.  I want you to be happy, ecstatically happy, with your event.  My job is to prevent the flop.  My job is to get people to laugh, smile, do something crazy or different for the afternoon or evening.

Please think about what it is you actually want to have happen.  Not the mess, not the theme.  Picking out the right format comes before everything else, in order to achieve success.  I want to see smiles and I want to hear that people talk about the event for years to come.