Harvard University HRSFA HRSFA

Live-Action Clue®

  1. Introduction
  2. I. Before the Game
  3. II. Dirty Secrets
  4. III. The Game Begins
  5. IV. The Search Is On
  6. V. The Structure of a Turn
  7. VI. The Murderer's Sneaky Tricks
  8. VII. Things to Do in Clue When You're Dead
  9. VIII. Endgame
  10. IX. Scoring


Welcome to HRSFA's Live-Action Clue! We hope you will have a good time doing dirty deeds.

The game is inspired by three sources: The Parker Brothers board game Clue, the movie of the same name starring Tim Curry, Lesley Ann Warren, etc. (from which you will find quotations throughout these rules), and "how to host a murder" party games. As in the board game, players are trying to find out who did it, with what, and where. As in the movie, each player has a dirty secret they'd rather keep just that—secret.

The rules as you see them were created by Claudia Mastroianni '91-'94 and Katherine Bryant, based on the original idea by Lee Valentine '93. Matt Duhan '95, Matt Ender '93, Lori Rodriguez, and Zil Lyons also contributed to the development of the game.

The objects of the game are pretty simple:

  • If you're the murderer, you don't want anyone to figure out the crime. Meeting this goal may require you to, er, remove some of the other players forcibly.
  • If you're not the murderer, you want to figure out who did it, with what, and where. You also want to avoid being murdered!
  • And, no matter who you are, you want to collect as much dirt on everyone else as you can, while keeping your own dirty secrets private.

I. Before the Game

"And you'd had a letter, and you'd had a letter..."
"Get on with it!"
—Wadsworth and everyone
  • Sometime before the day of the game, you will receive an invitation to the Bawdy House. The invitation will tell you who you are and what you know, about yourself and other people. The invitation will also inform the murderer that he or she is the murderer.
  • Please make an effort to come in costume. We have tried to assign players to colors they've told us they can provide a costume for. And for the sake of your feet and knees, wear comfortable shoes!
  • You may want to bring a notebook and writing implement to the game, to keep track of the information you learn.

II. Dirty Secrets

"You're not being blackmailed?"
"Oh, I'm being blackmailed, all right. But I did what I'm being blackmailed for."
—Wadsworth and Miss Scarlet

There are two types of information you will come across during the game (well, two that count; random gossip you may find on blackboards is fun and encouraged, but hardly trustworthy!): subplot fragments and card equivalents.


  • Each player has a subplot. This is something unsavory in their lives that Ms. Bawdy found out about and used to blackmail the character.
  • Each subplot contains three crucial pieces of information that can be put together to figure out the whole story.
  • At the beginning of the game, each player knows one piece each of three other characters' subplots (as well as his or her own complete subplot, of course!). Someone has each piece of each subplot. Some subplot information is also scattered around the rooms, and can be found through player and butler-aided searches (more on those below).
  • It's up to you to get the information from other players or from searches and then put the information together to make the whole story.

Card Equivalents

  • In not quite the words of Schoolhouse Rock!, "I find it very interesting—a card equivalent's a person, place or thing!" Specifically, a card equivalent is a piece of information that exonerates one particular character, room, or weapon of the murder. (They're called "card equivalents" because they're equivalent to the cards used in the original board game Clue®.)
  • Each player will start the game with three card equivalents. Other card equivalents can be found through player and butler-aided searches (yes, I promise, we'll get to those in a bit!).
  • Information on card equivalents is exchanged during a Suspicion (that's coming up later, too).

III. The Game Begins

"Pardon me, sir, but tonight you may well feel obliged to my employer for the use of an alias."
  • Please be on time. It causes delays for all the other players if someone is late—and you wouldn't want to get the murderer mad at you, now would you?
  • When you arrive, you will be greeted by one of the butlers, who will give you a packet of information and show you to a room. The packet will give you further information about what you see and hear while waiting. This information becomes your card equivalents (see above). You will also get a map of the house and a list of your fellow guests.
  • While waiting, please do not disturb anything that may be in the room with you.
  • At some point, there will, I am afraid, be a scream. Shame, shame. Please do not leave the room you are in until you are fetched by a butler; we'd hate to have any further mishap befall anyone at this point!
  • The butlers will fetch you and bring you to headquarters, at which time certain things will be revealed and plans made.

IV. The Search Is On

  • As soon as we are done at headquarters, players will be paired off to do an initial search of the house. Each pair will be assigned certain rooms to search for evidence.
  • What evidence? There will be an index card hidden somewhere in each room with information written on it. That information may reveal one of three things:
    • A subplot fragment.
    • A card equivalent.
    • The existence of a secret passage. (More on them in a moment.)
  • Anything found by a pair during this initial search is considered to have been found by both players, so both players know this information from here on out.

A very important note!!

When you find a card in a room, either now or later in the game, do not remove the card from its place. Any information found during a search is considered to be permanently in the room and is not to be disturbed or removed.

  • During this initial search, do not remove weapons from rooms. Also, it would be very poor form for the murderer to dispatch his or her partner; after all, it would give away your identity very quickly!
  • After the initial search is done, we will return to headquarters. At this point, each player may choose a room to go to, and from here on out the game proceeds in turns.

V. The Structure of a Turn

Each turn may be divided into two phases: movement and action.

Movement Phase

  • During the movement phase, players may either stay in their current room or move one room away. The map shows which rooms are connected to each other. You may only move to a room that is connected to the room you are in by an arrow—or by a secret passage.

    Secret Passages

    • Once you find that a secret passage exists in a room, you know how to get into the passage—but not where it goes. You may only use a secret passage during the movement phase. If you want to use it, ask the butler where it goes and be on your way. If you already know where it goes, from an earlier turn, then just go ahead and go.
    • Just because you know how to go one way through a passage doesn't mean you know how to go back—opening the door to a passage from inside the passage doesn't show you where the mechanism is inside the room. You must find the mechanism during a search.
  • If you are staying in your room till the next turn, don't open the door and watch everyone else moving around. Also, you may not change your mind about which room you're going to after you open the door to your destination room. If any movement irregularity occurs (e.g., you opened a door, then realized you had gone to a room you couldn't have gotten to on the map), call a butler immediately, and we'll straighten things out as best we can.
  • No two players may spend more than three consecutive turns in the same room(s) as each other. On the fourth turn, you must go your separate ways. If you don't, when the butlers come to your room, they will assign each of you to a random room. Please don't make us do this.

Action Phase

This is where most of the game happens. You may do two things on each turn: one search and one information exchange. There are two kinds of searches, and two kinds of information exchange.


  • In a player search, you yourself search the room for the hidden index card and the information it contains. If more than one person in a room decides to do a player search, all those who search get to see the information. Anyone who decides not to do a player search does not get to see the information.
  • In a butler-aided search, you ask the butler (who will make rounds of the rooms each turn, to answer questions, resolve problems, and provide these searches) what you find in the room. This will get you another piece of information—a different piece than what you would find by searching yourself. Again, only those who choose to do a butler-aided search get to hear what the butler has to say.

Information Exchange

  • In a Suspicion, one player suggests a combination of character, room and weapon that he or she thinks may be the solution to the murder. Then, in arbitrary order (decide among yourselves first, if it's an issue), the others in the room are asked if they can disprove the suspicion. This is where you use your card equivalents.
    • If you have a card equivalent for an element of the Suspicion, you must tell the person making the Suspicion which one you can disprove. (If you have more than one, you only need to tell one.) This information should be whispered, written down, or otherwise given privately, so that others in the room don't hear it.
    • If you do not have a card equivalent that matches the Suspicion, say so, and the question passes to the next person. Once one person has disproved the Suspicion, no one else has to respond.
    • You may make only one Suspicion per turn (if you choose to make a Suspicion at all). Everyone, including those who choose to trade subplot information instead of making a Suspicion, is obligated to participate in disproving the Suspicion.
    • What are you obliged to tell? Only the card equivalents you had at the beginning of the game. You are not obliged to tell card equivalents you have found in searches or that people have disproved for you in Suspicions you have made.
  • The other option is subplot exchange. Players who choose this option may trade however much subplot information they care to, about themselves (unlikely!) or others. You may not lie about subplot information at this stage. Also, though you need not recite your subplot fragments verbatim, it's important that you get all the information across.


At the end of a turn, you must deal with weapons.

  • If you are alone in a room and there is a weapon present, you may pick it up and take it away with you. Why would you want to? If you and the murderer wind up alone together in a room, and you're armed, he or she can't kill you. Weapons must be carried openly—nobody here has a concealed weapons permit!
  • If there is more than one person in a room, and any of them are armed, all who are armed must drop their weapons. (If rooms get cluttered with too many weapons, the butlers may tidy up and put them back where they belong. As Wadsworth said:
    "I buttle, sir."
  • If you decide to stay put during the movement phase and everyone else in your room drops their weapons and leaves, you may not pick up a weapon before the next turn starts. All weapons manipulation—dropping or picking up—occurs at the end of the turn. In the above case, you could pick up a weapon at the end of the next turn, if nobody came into your room during that turn.

So, to recap how a turn works: First, during the movement phase, move to a new room if you're going to. Then, in whatever order you like, each player may (1) either do a player search or a butler search, and (2) either make a Suspicion or trade subplot information. At the end of the turn, if there is more than one person in the room, all must drop weapons. If you're alone, you may pick up a weapon.

At the end of each turn, the butlers will call out "Time!" or something similar. At this point, the movement phase of the next turn begins.

Of course, while all of this is going on, bear in mind that there's a murderer on the loose...

VI. The Murderer's Sneaky Tricks

"Why would he want to kill you in public?"
—Miss Scarlet
"Mrs. White, no man in his right mind would be alone together with you."

While everyone else is busily trying to figure out who did it, with what, and where, the murderer is trying to knock off a few more players before they can finger him or her. Here's how this works:

  • At any point during a turn before the weapon-dropping at the end, the murderer, if armed, may kill an unarmed player if the two are alone in the room together.
  • If the murderer wants to trade information before killing, that's fine. If the murderer wants to kill the other player before he or she has a chance to search the room, that's fine too.
  • The murderer may then run as many as three rooms away. Here, the murderer has the special aid of the butlers; they may tell him or her which rooms are occupied and unoccupied, but not by whom (or by how many). If the murderer knows about a secret passage, he or she may use it in running away.
  • If the murderer is alone in a room and armed, he or she may move one room away to see if anyone might be waiting alone there. He or she may not have the aid of the butlers in deciding which room to move to. If the room turns out to be empty, the murderer returns to his or her original room.
  • The murderer should inform a butler when a killing has been made. The butlers will wait three turns to see if anyone finds the body.
  • If you should happen to find a body, scream! It adds such color to the game.
  • When a body is found, or after three turns if it hasn't been, the butlers will spread the news of who died and where to the other players.

Now, what happens if you, poor soul, meet the murderer alone and unarmed, and fall victim to his or her nastiness?

VII. Things to Do in Clue When You're Dead

"Two corpses, everything's fine."
—Colonel Mustard
"Being killed is pretty final, wouldn't you say?"
—Mrs. White
  • Stay where you died until you are found or your death is announced. (The butlers will let you know when your death has been announced.)
  • Fear not: Just because you're dead, doesn't mean you can't still score points. Write out everything you know: Whodunit, where, and with what (you need all three to score—guess or hedge bets if you don't know), and everything you can piece together about everyone else's subplots. Guessing isn't likely to work for subplots, but it can certainly be entertaining. Until you've finished writing up, be alone no matter what. You may not eavesdrop, search other rooms, or otherwise seek more information.
  • After you submit your solution to the butlers, you may haunt: wander around from room to room, eavesdrop, write blackboard gossip, whatever. Don't reveal anything to still-living players, though. Well, nothing that scores points. If you want to give them a message from their Great-Aunt Nora, that's entirely appropriate.

VIII. Endgame

"To make a long story short—"
"Too late!"
—Wadsworth and everyone

Unless everyone gets massacred, the butlers will use their judgement to decide when the police should arrive. At that point, all of you will be herded back to headquarters to write up everything you know. Give your write-ups to the butlers, and then all will be revealed...bloodshed! Scandal! Mrs. Peacock was a man!

Your world will never be the same.

IX. Scoring

"One...plus two...plus one...plus one..."
Each subplot fragment (3 per other player, max): 5
The entire subplot of another player:
(so the maximum for each other player's subplot is 25 points)
Nobody figures out your entire subplot: 30
Nobody figures out the whole solution: 50
The first death within the game: 25
Each subsequent death: 10
Figuring out who, what, and where: 100 ÷ number of solutions
Staying alive until the denouement: 15

You may guess on the final solution if you don't know. You may give several alternatives, e.g. Dr. Brown or Ms. Red in the Lounge with the Revolver or the Knitting Needle. But each alternative you add increases the number of possible solutions you're including. In the example, there are 2 people, 1 room, and 2 weapons for 2 X 1 X 2 = 4 possible solutions. So if you're correct that it was one of those four, you would get 100/4 = 25 points. So the maximum possible score for a hedged bet is 50 points. You get the full 100 points if you have just one solution and it's right.

Live-Action Clue rules ©copyright 1998 by Claudia M. Mastroianni and Katherine L. Bryant. Photography ©copyright 1998 Mary Tsien. All rights reserved. Permission to redistribute granted so long as this copyright notice is included.

Last updated 2 May 2010. ©1995-2017 HRSFA.
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