How To Throw a Fantasy Murder Mystery Dinner

reading time: 6 min

murder mystery, dinner, party, fantasy, nerd, hobby,



Nerd alert! Last weekend, a bunch of my friends and I met up at a friend's for a super geeky and fun Fantasy Murder Mystery Dinner that we got as a present for our friend's birthday.

But first: What is a mystery dinner and how do you host it?

A mystery dinner is a party game paired with a dinner theatre, in which the play is a murder mystery, and the diners are invited to solve the mystery as they eat and play. I would estimate that the typical murder mystery could be completed within 2 to 3 hours, although if you linger over drinks and appetizers or dessert, the night can go on as long as you wish.

1. The Setup

The way most mystery dinners usually work is that you purchases a kit that includes a story about a murder that occurs either during the course of the dinner or before the party even begins. Last time we did a Roaring Twenties Themed Murder Mystery Dinner, but this time the theme was fantasy. 

We bought our kit on a German website called Krimi Total, but Night Of Mystery seems to be a great English alternative!

One of the guests/actors is the murderer and has to cover up his or her crime. There are a specific number of characters in the story to match the size of your group, with background information that only the performer of that character is allowed to see, costume instructions and a package of clues and rumours that are handed out by the Inspector/game master over the course of the game. Oh, and of course there's food!

We were lucky enough to be able to host our murder mystery dinner at our friend's house, who not only has a great taste for interior decor (loads of nerdy but tasteful gadgets from various movies and games), but who's also so passionate about anything nerdy that he provided us with the most amazing dinner setup: metal goblets, gorgeous crystal glasses, bottles of grape juice and wine, a big bowl of mulled apple cider, drinking horns, rustic bowls with dried dates and figs, wooden plates with fresh fruit, big chunks of cheese, roasted duck, various sorts of fish and meat... of course, as a vegan I'm not a big fan of all those animal products, but in terms of authenticity, we pretty much aced the medieval flair.

BTW: This specific murder mystery dinner kit was called "The Legend of the Stormblade", and since our friend is a major fantasy fan, we also got him a giant sword for his birthday that he had to pull out of a papier-mâché rock like Arthur had to do with Excalibur. Yeah, pretty nerdy, I know. 



2. The Menu

Speaking of food, it is very important to make a menu that fits the setting of your murder case, as the entire event takes place during dinner. Since the entire dressing up, purchasing the game kit and planning the menu is already quite a bit of work, make things easier by assigning everyone a different food or drink to bring! If you need some inspiration for nerdy fantasy meal ideas, check out this website for Lord of the Rings inspired recipes.

We divided the dinner menu between our 9 party guests, and I was - once again - responsible for the dessert. This time we decided to go for a more medieval buffet style: besides the meat, there was also roasted pumpkin stuffed with bulgur, sweet potato and spices, as well as red cabbage, potato dumplings, fresh chunks of rustic bread from our local Christmas market, stew and my vegan lentil no-meat loaf. After we had already stuffed our faces with all that, we later had some of my Elvish Lembas Bread (from the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Bilbo's Seed Cake (from the Hobbit) as well. Everything was homemade of course! 



Recipe: Elvish Lembas Bread (Vegan)

Ingredients for 12 lembas breads:
2 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup almond flour (ground almonds)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1/3 cup raw cane sugar or brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp maple syrup
2/3 cup coconut milk

Full recipe here. Note: This lembas recipe also looks promising.


Recipe: Bilbo's Seed Cake (Vegan)

Ingredients:
250ml plant-based milk (I recommend vanilla soy milk or almond milk) 
60ml fresh lemon juice (in my case, this was the juice of 1 lemon)
1 tbsp lemon zest
120ml sunflower oil or coconut oil
245g spelt flour
30g almond flour (ground almonds)
pinch of salt
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
120g raw cane sugar or brown sugar
1-inch piece of vanilla bean, scraped
1 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp poppy seeds

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a medium Bundt cake pan and sprinkle with shredded coconut or bread crumbs.
Mix plant-based milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for a couple of minutes. Then add oil and lemon zest and whisk.
In a mixing bowl combine spelt flour, almond flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, vanilla and sugar. Mix thoroughly, and add the lemon milk mixture. Combine using a hand mixer, then fold in the poppy seeds.
Transfer the batter into the Bundt cake pan and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. 

For the glaze I used this recipe, but replaced the milk with soy milk of course.



3. The Costumes

Unlike our 20s themed murder mystery dinner back in June, which didn't leave as much room for creativity as it took place in a real historical era, the fantasy setting was great to create very unique and fanciful costumes. The roles were quite stereotypical, ranging from barbaric warriors and magicians to dwarves and elves. Everything else is left to your imagination and interpretation.

Luckily, our group pretty much consisted of nerds (if that wasn't obvious enough yet), some of us even do regular pen-and-paper role-playing games, so we all were willing to go all out, get into character, and not worry about being a little silly. As a result, every single one of us put a lot of effort into their outfits, and I have to say, I'm pretty proud of us!

Here's what we ended up looking like:

Amazon & Barbarian
Knight & Alchemist/Priest
Ranger & Dwarf
Wizard & Elf

My assigned character was Nimuel, the youngest daughter of an Elf king. Basically, an Elvish princess. For my costume I drew inspiration from the portrayals of elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, especially Arwen's blood red gown that she wears in the Return of the King. The black velvet dress is from eBay, and I completed the look with some red velvet that I bought at a drapery shop for 4 bucks per meter to sew my own attachable long sleeves, a longer underdress and a red detail underneath the lacing at the neckline

To make the silver headpiece, I followed this tutorial and finished off my tiara with a few silver and white beads. A tiara is not mandatory for an elf character of course, but since I was of royal blood and kind of followed Galadriel's and Elrond's headpiece, I decided to simply make my own. I also braided my hair into this medieval inspired double braid. As for make-up, I kept it super simple and only used mascara because elves are creatures of nature and don't use any make-up to cover their flaws (simply because they don't have any, lol). Unfortunately I'm not a natural flawless beauty like Lady Arwen in the Lord of the Rings, but still, I think I pulled it off quite well with my pointed ears and all that :) What do you think?


I am still blown away by how much passion and love and dedication went into these costumes and the overall evening. I think we did a great job, if I do say so myself.

But the most important thing is: We had a LOT of fun that night. Great people, great food and a great story. The night ended with the pulling out of the magical "stormblade" by our birthday knight, the (symbolic) beheading of the murderer and a midnight walk through the foggy streets in costumes. What more can you ask for?!


PS: Can you spot BB-8 from Star Wars in the picture above?

You might also enjoy: 

http://be-alice.blogspot.com/2016/10/medieval-festival-impressions-diary.html
Medieval Festival Impressions + Outfit
http://be-alice.blogspot.com/2016/06/murder-mystery-dinner-friends-food-fun.html
Roaring 20s Murder Mystery Dinner

Maisy

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