How to Host a Live Clue Game

By Cristel Wood
murder image by Jan Will from Fotolia.com

Invented by Anthony Ernest Pratt in 1944, the "Clue" board game can be played by adults and children alike. Playing live-action "Clue" is another twist on the game. However, hosting a live "Clue" game is more than simply opening a board and setting out pieces. A host of a live "Clue" game becomes the center of the game, responsible for planning and guiding the game and its players through all of the game's stages.

Preparing For The Game

Send out invitations at least a week before the live "Clue" party. You can use store-bought invitations, print invitations on your computer or even hand-draw them. The invitation should be themed to fit the party. Also state whether are mandatory. If costumes are mandatory, assign characters in the invitation so that party-goers know what sort of costume they need to create.

Gather some props. Have a prop to represent each of the weapons: a candlestick, lead pipe, rope, wrench, revolver and a knife. You can usually find harmless, plastic versions of these weapons at a toy store or even at a discount dollar store. If costumes are not mandatory, consider acquiring props for the characters to wear. For example, have a feather boa for Mrs. Peacock and a pair of spectacles for Professor Plum. Costume props should be simple, but should identify the character (see Tips).

Decorate. Traditionally, the game of "Clue" takes place in nine rooms of a mansion: the kitchen, study, conservatory, hall, dining room, billiard room, lounge, library and ballroom. If you don't have nine rooms, divide rooms accordingly, and add a few props to give them some atmosphere. For example, pile some books in the library, cover the windows with a dark blanket in the lounge, or set up a card table with a few balls sitting on it to represent the billiard room. Label the rooms to avoid confusion.

Plan your menu in advance. A good game of "Clue" begins with a meal. The dinner also gives the butler, or host, an opportunity to prepare a few things (see Section 2). The meal does not have to be complex, but the guests should have to sit in an appointed dining room to eat. It can be simple snacks, a hearty dinner or a multiple-course meal. If you are planning a more complicated meal, have it prepared in advance, and have somebody play a member of the staff to help you serve it.

Create clue cards in advance. You can draw your own clue cards, use the clue cards that come with the board came, or print new clue cards on your computer. Each clue card should list all locations, characters and weapons so players can check them off as they discover the hidden clues.

Create location and player cards. Standard index cards with the name of the location or player work well for this. You can also use the cards that come with the board game.

Create innocent and guilty cards. You will need one guilty card, and the rest should be innocent cards. The number of innocent cards you need depends on the number of guests attending. There should be a card for each guest, and only one of the cards should be a guilty card.

Hosting The Game

Greet each guest at the door. You, as the host, are the butler. Lead each guest to a different room or area that represents a room. If you did not assign characters in the invitation process, this is a good time to hand out character cards, as well as costume props. Collect the character cards after having assigned characters to the guests. It's also a good time to hand players an innocent or guilty card. Shuffle the cards beforehand so the person who ends up with the guilty card, otherwise known as the murderer, is randomly selected.

Place the guilty envelope in a central location, next to the weapon and location cards. While you are greeting the guests, the murderer should insert her player card into the envelope, as well as a murder weapon card and a location card. The murder weapon and location cards chosen are up to the murderer. The murderer should then return to her original room. This process is most effective when rooms are divided in such a way that no other guest can see when one guest leaves to place her cards in the guilty envelope.

Gather the guilty envelope and store it in a safe location, such at your pocket. Mix the character cards and the remaining location cards. Divide the cards into a number of stacks that matches the number of guests.

Return to the guests and hand them each one stack of cards, as well as a clue card sheet. Allow them to fill out the clue sheet card, then collect the cards from them. Repeat this process with each guest. The guests keep the clue card sheets.

Invite the guests to have dinner. Seat them in the dining room, serve the dinner, and then excuse yourself for a moment. This is where having a second person comes in hand because he can take care of your guests' dinner needs while you attend to the next step.

Hide the character cards, the location cards and the prop weapons throughout the nine rooms. Do not hide the weapon indicated by the weapon card in the guilty envelope. That weapon should be placed in a non-game area for the remainder of the game. The cards and weapons should be hidden well enough not to be easily located, but not so hard that they will not be found.

Return to the dining room and finish the dinner. After the dinner is finished, move to a central location to "discover" the body. The body can be role-play and imagination, or you can fashion a body out of clothes to represent the victim. If you choose to fashion a body, be sure to place it while you are hiding the weapon, location and character cards.

Request that your guests split up to locate clues. Clues include player cards, location cards and prop weapons. Each clue that a guest finds should be marked on his clue card sheet and then replaced in the exact location in which it was found. Players can also talk to one another in an attempt to discover clues, but remind guests that each character has secrets and should not to divulge information to other guests. Each guest should remain in character. Set a time limit, such as an hour, for searching for clues.

The Grand Finale

Gather your guests in a central location after the time limit has expired.

Allow each guest to make an accusation, based on his clue card sheet. For example, a guest who has not located the candlestick prop, the Mrs. Peacock card or the billiard room card, might say, "I think Mrs. Peacock did it in the billiard room with the candlestick." If another guest has found the candlestick, the Mrs. Peacock card or the billiard room card, she can challenge the accusing player with one of the pieces of evidence she found. For example, a player who has found the Mrs. Peacock card might say, "It was not Mrs. Peacock. I saw her in the dining room during the murder." Allow each guest to have a turn making an accusation. Guests should fill out their clue card sheets as new information is revealed. The murderer should make accusations, as well, to keep in character.

Repeat Step 2 until a guest accuses the murderer of the crime in the correct room, and with the correct weapon. This may take several rounds. Every guest should have a turn each round.

Award the person who solves the crime with a small token. A solved crime means the guest guessed the murderer, the weapon and the location accurately. A reward can be a gift certificate or a baked good, for example. You might also grant the murderer a reward, for being a good sport, and because she was not able to make an accurate accusation because she was the murderer.

About the Author

Cristel Wood is a writer specializing in food, photography, gardening and video games. She holds an Associate of Arts from South Puget Sound Community College and has worked for her local Parks & Recreation department, Mt. Baker ski area, Vista Village Retirement Community and has taught ESL in Peru.