Under normal circumstances, trying to kill your coworker is frowned upon. But when you’re at a Candy Factory Murder Mystery Game, it’s all part of the fun!

Last Saturday, over thirty guys & gals gathered at The Candy Factory for an evening of role playing and lighthearted entertainment. Armed with individual backstories and goals, they were met at the door by an intimidating bouncer with a questionable accent. Those who were able to give the correct password (“Jazz Baby”) were ushered into Fat Stan’s, a 1920’s Chicago speakeasy. Shadowy corners, silent Chaplin films, and of course a well-stocked bar added to the ambiance – everyone arrived in costume and ready to jump in with both feet!

The murder of Lenny Scabface was at the top of everyone’s minds. The unfortunate gangster had beer gunned down shortly before the three-hour event began. A chalk outline marked the location of unfortunate Scabface’s demise, and the chilling knowledge that the shooter was among those gathered added an extra energy to the room. Could it be our beloved and not-at- all-crooked Mayor Trelawney? Or the surprisingly strong socialite, Velma du Boise? Surely not the famous film producer, Oswald Murphy? Only time would tell…

Much credit for this unusual evening should be given to event planner Rose Luciano, Candy Factory member Debbie Boyd, and Debbie’s husband Zach Boyd. The Boyds have been playing and running murder mystery games for seven years and prefer to use ready-made games from a UK company called Freeform Games (www.freeformgames.com). “It started really small,” Debbie recalls about their first game. “We did a game for our church’s youth group, and their parents were so disappointed to not be invited! It just kept growing from there and now it’s an annual event with our friends.”

Freeform Games currently stocks over thirty-five games for groups of many sizes. From medieval lords- and-ladies all the way to modern-day Hawaii, there is a style of game to suit all tastes. Players are provided with a full character description, backstory, special abilities, and secret goals. Gamemasters (or in this case, Doorkeeper and Cigarette Girl) are tasked with keeping track of storylines, assisting players with pickpocketing and duels, and answering questions.

The real genius, however, occurs in the players themselves. The games are designed to be as open- ended as possible. Gamemasters are specifically instructed to make up the rules if they don’t know the answer! That’s where the game takes on a life of it’s own, says Zach Boyd: “I love hearing a new or unusual question. A player will ask me if they can trick another player, or do something I didn’t anticipate with their abilities. The answer is pretty much always, ‘Yeah go for it!’ It keeps things really interesting.”

So whodunnit? We’ll never tell… but watch your back around that piano player.