The Alexandrian

Tagline:In the spirit of Capture the Flag and Paintball, but with twists all its own, Killer definitely deserves the title of Best LARP of All Time.

Running Just as I’ve never had a chance to run the Darkness Revealed trilogy, I’ve also never managed to get a proper game of Killer set-up. Yet another some day…

Killer: The Game of Assassination - Steve JacksonThe history of Killer: The Game of Assassination dates all the way back to 1981. This new edition, released in 1998, continues the nearly 20 year tradition admirably.

Killer’s basic concept can be summed up very simply (in the words of SJG): “Wipe out your friends.” Basically Killer gives you a set of guidelines for setting up a competitive structure in which, yes, you go around killing your friends. This shouldn’t be confused with something like Paintball – where you go out into the wilderness and spend a few hours blowing each other away in a fairly harmless manner. No, as the full title (“The Game of Assassination”) suggests this is more subtle than that – a typical game can stretch over weeks, months, or even (although I pale to think of it) years. You don’t walk up to somebody and shoot them, instead you have to plot ingenious and crafty ways of knocking them off. You’re not a soldier, you’re an Assassin.

With such a simple concept, you might think, you don’t have to even buy the book. And why is it 80 pages long – there must be a lot of fluff, huh?


This is a great manual giving you giving a set of guidelines and a handbook to playing the game. It starts by giving you a general set of rules which you can use to vary the specific nature of your game (examples vary between allowing access to living places or times of day when killing is allowed). From there it gives an exhaustive list of fake weapons which can be constructed and used (and cautionary notes against many which should not be used) – from guns to bombs to poisons to sci-fi contraptions.

From these basics the book provides several optional versions of the game, some general words of advice and caution, some pre-built scenarios which can be used, a scoring system, and a set of photocopiable faux documents for the use of the playing group. And let’s not forget the hilarious illustrations which accompany the text.

All in all by the time I finished reading this manual I was itching to set up a game. Definitely give this book a try, at only fifteen bucks you won’t be disappointed.

Style: 4
Substance: 5

Author: Steve Jackson
Company/Publisher: Steve Jackson Games
Cost: $14.95
Page count: 80
ISBN: 1-55634-351-5
Originally Posted: 1998/12/14

I actually had no memory of reading this book or writing this review until I started converting it for the website; then a flood of memories came rushing back. It was after a few experiences like this that I started keeping a log of books as I read them. Human memory is a really fickle thing.

I do remember now that my interest in this book grew as a direct result of my first experiences with paintball (which I was properly introduced to by members of my D&D group at the time). I was never able to get that group interested in Killer, though.

Has anybody reading this participated in a round of assassination? How was it? Worth the time for me to try to get one set-up?

For an explanation of where these reviews came from and why you can no longer find them at RPGNet, click here.

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6 Responses to “Ex-RPGNet Reviews – Killer: The Game of Assassination”

  1. Pseudoephedrine says:

    Hey Justin, your final link, the one explaining why the reviews are not on, is dead or giving me a weird redirect loop back to this article.

  2. Boric Glanduum says:

    I picked up a copy back when it originally came out. Loved it. Practically wore it out just by reading it. Didn’t have a chance to play much in High School because RPGs and what-not were frowned upon as “childish.”
    Then when I got to college and had a large enough group of similarly-minded people (in fact about 20), we played us a game.

    Hysterically fun.

    You have to take the cautions in the book seriously, though. (At least, I’m assuming they’re still in there.) Officials and People In Authority do not take kindly to people of any age running around in public with dart guns, etc., or yelling about how they “just killed you.” But it’s a blast, and I’d highly recommend it myself.

  3. jdh417 says:

    I did have a friend who had the game and played it in the 80’s in high school. Things went out of control quickly. The scenario was something to do with CIA and KGB agents fighting over some microfilm. One of his friends got caught by the KGB guys in a bathroom and got flushed head down in a toilet during their interrogation. But what ended game was a flour “bomb” set off on everybody exiting a classroom at the end of a period in an assassination attempt. Yes, everyone involved ended up in the principal’s office.

    I’m kind glad I didn’t go to the same high school he did.

  4. Justin Alexander says:

    @Pseudoephedrine: Should be fixed. Thanks for the head’s up!

    @Boric Glanduum: Yeah. I’m guessing that in today’s atmosphere of “zero tolerance isn’t harsh enough”, high school students would be well-advised to stay about a million miles away from this game.

  5. Auroch says:

    This, or something very much like it, is still actively played at many private highschools (mostly boarding, which I understand improves the game) around the country and, to some extent, the world. A current college classmate I know has a story involving a balloon marked BOMB dropped from five stories to the reading area of the library below onto him.

    I’m also a player in the annual game at my college.

  6. The Badger King says:

    I know that they still run this in university (with VERY strict rules), because one of my former students was telling my about this year’s game.

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