Have you ever read a mystery book so good it felt like you were a part of it? What if you really could be? Roleplaying games are an excellent source of entertainment—and an endless well of mystery! While the game that most commonly comes to mind when discussing tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) is Dungeons and Dragons (and you can certainly explore plenty of mysteries playing it!), there are plenty of other games that lean even harder into the mystery genre.
Do you fancy yourself a Miss Marple? Want to put yourself in Nancy Drew's shoes? Are you as hard-boiled as Sam Spade? Become your ideal detective and explore heart-pounding mysteries with these eight fantastic roleplaying games!
Recently funded through Kickstarter, this tabletop roleplaying game is great for anyone with a soft spot for silver sleuths—and the cosmic horrors of H.P. Lovecraft. In this game, the players are a group of old women in the Murder Mavens Mystery Book Club. Like a typical cozy mystery, these grannies help the authorities crack cases in their idyllic New England Town. Unlike a typical cozy mystery, the threads they unravel all lead back to dark occult conspiracies that threaten their beloved community.
This game comes with a 168-page core book and involves low preparation and easy gameplay, regardless of how experienced you are with TTRPGs.
I'm Sure You're All Wondering Why I've Gathered You Here This Evening
This roleplaying game is set in a sprawling mansion on a remote island. After receiving an anonymous invitation, you arrive at the gathering to find a dozen other guests. As the door locks behind you, the butler announces that you have been brought here to inherit the very mansion you're standing in. The only condition is you must be the sole survivor among the guests at dawn.
Two to six players are unleashed to navigate secret passageways, traps, and weapons in a deadly bid for wealth. Besides the game guide, the only other thing you need to play is a standard deck of cards.
This is a delightfully exciting game for players who want long-form, fully immersive experiences. In a "play-by-post" experience, players write letters in character and send them to other players through the mail. A game of Epistolary can last in real time anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Through your missives, you're working together to unravel a mystery—and prevent something truly terrible from happening.
This exciting game comes with a 37-page guidebook, and is great for roleplayers who don't have a lot of time to set aside for regular play sessions!
Kids on Bikes
If you can't get over the Stranger Things craze or let go of your nostalgia for The Goonies, then this roleplaying game is for you. Set in a small town in a time before camera phones, GPS, or the internet, players create youthful characters that must unravel big mysteries with big stakes. Start with well-known tropes like the Popular Kid and the Loner Weirdo, then flesh your character out as you go along. The game also features an additional co-controlled character who is in possession of mysterious powers.
Kids on Bikes includes a 60-page core book. Since it's a game light on rules, that means you can dive right in for some fast-paced storytelling!
If you've been fantasizing about the day when you get to flex your investigative skills with a murder board, then you'll love that this game utilizes an actual corkboard! The roleplayers are given a murder mystery complete with a gritty conspiracy tangled at its core. Over the course of the game, the players must explore interconnected characters and uncover clues. If you get good enough dice rolls, then you get to build string connections on your corkboard.
This game is for three to four players and allows for extensive worldbuilding.
Any Nancy Drew lovers out there? In this game, roleplayers step into the shoes of high school sleuths in a small town in modern America. With cases from a stolen bike to a tarnished reputation, the stakes may not seem too high, but when you're a teen, everything feels like the end of the world. Navigate a web of relationships, solve problems, track down clues, and face off against enemies!
Like to keep your roleplaying a little more cutting-edge? This game is a cyberpunk setting that sees characters equipped with illicit tech wield it as they please. Whether you'd rather don the guise of a hard-nosed detective or a drugged-out hacker, your path is yours to choose in this dark world full of opportunity. The more you play, the more the world and its tangled web expands.
24 Hour Crime Scene
Do you work better under a time crunch? Someone has committed a violent murder, and it's up to the roleplayers to figure out who the killer is. There are only 24 in-game hours to investigate the crime scene, interview suspects, and solve the case. As detectives, the roleplayers are in charge of assigning meaning to clues, hoping to compile enough evidence to charge one of the suspects by the time the clock runs out.
This is an exciting game for one to four players. After purchasing the 20-page guidebook, all you need is pens, paper, and a standard deck of cards.
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