As suspects in a murder, the players must engage in a game of deduction to uncover the murderer in their midst. The only thing they have to go on are the clues given by the Singing Bone, a bone horn haunted by the spirit of the deceased. Without speaking, the Singing Bone provides clues based on the evidence possessed by the murderer to guide the other players to determine their identity. The other players must use the clues to unravel the story of the murder, and convince as many others that their suspicions are correct. But beware, even if a story sounds convincing, it may be told by the murderer, trying to frame an innocent person.
For 6 – 7 players.
Two decks of Evidence cards
- Possession cards
- Environment cards
One deck of Clue cards
4 clue tokens
One minute hourglass
Singing Bone Hat
pen and paper, or scoring tokens (if playing with scoring variant)
There are three roles in the Singing Bone, each with their own objective:
As the Bone: get the majority of suspects to identify the murderer after four clues.
As a murderer: Warp the information provided by the Bone to convince as many suspects as possible that you are not the murderer.
As an innocent suspect: Use the information provided by the Bone to correctly identify the murderer and get as many other suspects as possible to find them too.
- Shuffle the role cards and deal one role card to each player. The players should look at their cards, and whoever has the Singing Bone card reveals it. The rest of the players keep their cards hidden.
- The Bone then puts on the Singing Bone Hat, shuffles the Possessions and the Environment decks and deals 3 of each face up to every suspect.
- The Bone asks all players to close their eyes, then asks the murderer to open their eyes. After silently identifying the murderer, the bone asks the murderer to close their eyes, and then all players to open their eyes.
- From here, until the end of the round, the Bone cannot speak. Likewise, the Bone may not gesture or charade in any way to provide additional information to the other players.
A Round of the Singing Bone is made of 2 phases: the discussion phase, and the accusation phase:
- The discussion phase:
- The Bone draws 3 clue cards and plays one face up, then places a clue token on any one space on the played clue card. After marking the space, they start the one minute timer.
- After the Bone has played, the suspects may discuss what they think the Bone’s clue means.
- The Bone draws a third clue card while the suspects discuss.
- When the one minute timer has run out, the steps of the discussion phase repeat. This continues until the timer runs out after 4 clues have been played.
- The accusation phase:
- After 4 clues card have been placed, the suspects engage in a final one minute discussion phase, and then prepare to accuse the murderer
- When the hourglass runs out, players count to three and then point to who they suspect is the murderer.
- After noting who has been accused, the murderer reveals themself. If they have less than half of the accusations, they are ruled innocent and declared the winner of the round. If they have more than half, the suspects to correctly accuse the murderer and the Singing Bone are the winners.
- End of Round:
- The round is over after the accusation phase.
- To start the next round, pass the Bone card one player clockwise, and then reshuffle and deal out the rest of the role cards.
- Repeat the setup phase, with the new Bone reshuffling both Evidence decks and dealing 3 new cards of each to every other player. After the evidence and roles have been dealt, repeat the process of identifying the murderer, and then proceed into the next round.
- If playing without score, the game can continue for however long you wish to keep playing. If playing with score, see below.
- For a more competitive game, The Singing Bone can be played with scores. A pen and paper, or some other method of tracking score, is needed to do so.
- The scoring game can be played over any number of rounds, we recommend 3. Decide on the number of rounds you will play before starting the game. The player with the most points at the end of the rounds is the winner.
- The game plays as before with a few additional rules:
- At any time after the first clue card has been played, a player may submit their accusation for who they believe the murderer is.
- To submit, they write down the name of the person they want to accuse, and then place their accusation paper face down. They then place scoring tokens on top of their accusation card equal to 4 – the number of clue cards that have been played at the time of their accusation (one token for each clue they skipped)
- Players may still discuss after they have submitted their accusation, but they can not change it.
At the end of each turn, scores are calculated according to the following rules:
- Each innocent suspect to correctly accuse the murderer, scores one point, and an additional point for each other suspect to correctly accuse the murderer. If they submitted their correct accusation before four clues have been played, they receive additional points equal to 4 – the number of clues played when they submitted their accusation.
- Example: John accused the murderer correctly after two clues were played, and two other suspects also accused the correct person, but not until all four clues were played. John receives one point for his correct accusation + 2 points for the other two correct accusations + (4 – 2) points for accusing after only two clue cards were played, for a total of 5 points. The other two suspects receive 3 points, one for their correct accusation, and two for the additional correct accusations from the other players.
- Note: the murderer’s accusation is not counted for scoring.
- The Bone scores points equal to the highest scoring innocent suspect.
- The Murderer receives one point for each suspect that does not accuse them. This does not include the murderer’s own vote.