Killer - The Rules


Killer is a mock combat game for a large number of players. Each person has to try to survive whilst everyone else is 'killed'. The last person to be left alive is, not surprisingly, declared the winner. The game shall be open to people who live for much of the time within a five mile radius of Great St. Mary's Church in Cambridge city centre.


Everyone who wishes to play should provide the Umpire with :
  1. Full name
  2. College/Department if applicable
  3. E-mail address (full if not
  4. Your official address and if different the address at which you will be living (ie sleeping and spending a reasonable number of hours at) during the course of the game. In this game this will be given to your assassin, to prevent unfair advantage to those at colleges where the porters refuse to give out room numbers. Any player with a real-life psychopath trying to kill you, explain to the Umpire and you will be excused. Anyone with a real-life psychopath trying to kill them who wants to play Killer as well needs their head looking at. Should you become wanted, your official room address will be made public as well as your name (see WANTED LIST, below).
  5. If you live relatively far from the city centre, brief details of city centre visits that you regularly make. I shall use my discretion in deciding which details to pass on to your assassins. The aim is to involve outliers more in the game, since trekking out to Girton to kill a target is usually only done by a few of the keenest players.
  6. Whether water weapons are allowed in your room i.e. if it contains anything which could be seriously damaged by being soaked (for example, your computer). Players should note that 'no water weapons' rooms must have a sign on the door declaring this.
Anyone found to have supplied false details to the Umpire will be disqualified, but I'm sure it's not necessary to say that.


  1. For any deliberate breach of the rules a player may be identified as a legitimate target for all other players, i.e. put on the wanted list, or, in serious cases, disqualified from playing.
  2. The spirit of the rules is more important than the actual rules themselves. Rules are made to be bent here and there.
  3. Participants may have accomplices. Targets cannot be assassinated by an accomplice. Accomplices may only assist the killer in planning (and carrying out) the murder.
  4. In general, a victim is not dead unless they know about it. No weapon can be considered to have any effect unless it actually does something (the more dramatic the better!)
  5. No one may attempt to impersonate the Umpire (either in person or through messages etc). Taking or attempting to read items in the Umpire's pigeon-hole, or trying to hack into the Umpire's computer accounts, is also strictly forbidden.
  6. Exercise common sense. Players are *entirely* responsible for their behaviour. In particular, avoid inconveniencing other people.
  7. Players are expected to inform the Umpire of _all_ kill attempts they make, and also of any attempts on their own life. Feel free to dramatise the events in your report.
  8. This game depends on trust and gentlemanly conduct. Please be honest about whether or not you are dead. Honour among murderers and all that....
  9. Rule 1.2.7 no longer exists
  10. Rule 1.2.9 is wrong again :-)
  11. If the game becomes tediously slow, and/or the end of term approaches, the Umpire may introduce a time limit. Players will then have to make a serious attempt to kill someone within the time limit, or they will be put on the wanted list for incompetance. In this game, there is a time limit system already in place - see section 6.3.

2.0 AIMS:

  1. The main aim of the game is for everyone concerned to have a good time.
  2. The aim of each player is to be the sole survivor.


You will be given details of your target(s) by the Umpire, in the dead of night (well - secretly anyway) shortly before the start of the game. Of course, you will not be informed about whom your assassin(s) are.


The following gives an outline of the various weapons which can be used against enemies. It is not an exhaustive list and players are encouraged to use their imagination. However, it is up to the discretion of the Umpire whether a player using an unauthorized weapon has killed the victim. So do come and check before using your latest creation in the heat of battle. In general weapons must
  • be completely safe (people and property).
  • actually DO something, to indicate to the victim that he/she has been killed.
Ideally they should be specific to the victim - killing bystanders is to be avoided if possible, even when the effect (eg perfume poison) is harmless.

The Chief of Police is likely to take a tough line over policemen/women using "non-standard" weapons (e.g. those that could easily endanger the lives of others, such as contact poisons). Police found to have breached WILL be suspended. Claiming you didn't read the rules properly will not be a defence!

Weapons marked (*) in the following list should be used with extra care.

  1. Guns
    • Gun - represented by a water pistol. You must get a definite hit with the main jet. If you just splash them with water (e.g. at extreme range or out of ammo) then it is only a flesh wound - they can carry on as normal. If they are hit in the head or torso then they are killed instantaneously.
      If your private room contains expensive equipment (e.g computers) which may easily be broken by maniacs with water pistols, you may ask the Umpire and have it declared out of bounds for water-based weaponry ONLY. Your assassin will be reminded of this, but you should also have a notice in plain view on your door stating that no water weapons are allowed; it then automatically becomes ILLEGAL to use water-based weapons in the room. (But anybody who passes will know you're playing). Note that other weapons may still be used, and also that you may not fire a water pistol OUT of such a room.
      Water pistols may not be used in shops or parts of shops where the PRINCIPAL goods on sale are electrical appliances, books or other goods which are likely to be the worse for it. Obviously if the adjacent goods are tinned foods or pencil sharpeners, you may shoot away. This should be common sense, but is worth emphasizing.
      If small water pistols are used, it is a good idea to confirm the kill immediately with the victim who might not have noticed the hit if wearing thick clothing. This avoids arguments later, when the water has evaporated.
      Cap pistols may also be used, although almost point blank range (clear shot from less than one metre) is needed to claim a hit.
      Soft air guns may not be used, however soft plastic pellets fired by say a spring may be safer. Always present these first to the Umpire for a safety check, before using them.
      (*) Rubber bands are an acceptable weapon, as long as head shots are avoided.
    • Flame-thrower -- represented by a bottle of Champagne, hose-pipe etc. Rules much as for water-pistols. These should probably only be used in summer.
  2. Contact Poison - represented by Vaseline, mustard etc. This will kill within 5 seconds of contact even if it is wiped off. This sort of contact poison is deemed to be no longer effective if it has dried enough that the victim does not notice it (be honest, please...). If wearing non-porous gloves then it will have no effect for 5 minutes as the poison is diffusing through the material. You may remove the gloves quite safely within the 5 minute time period but they must not be re-used during the game. Similarly, poison will take an appreciable time to diffuse through anything thicker than, say, a towel. Powder, eg. talc is also permitted. As contact poison is dangerous to anyone else who might touch the surface in question, anyone using it will be put on the wanted list.
  3. Club or Cosh - represented by a cardboard poster tube or a newspaper rolled up and stuck with Sellotape. The effect depends upon the location of the hit:-
            Head .......... Unconscious for 5 minutes.
            Body .......... Immobilised but conscious for 5 minutes.
            Arm or Leg .... The limb is immobilised for 5 minutes.
  4. Knife - Foam, soft rubber, retractable plastic or cardboard knives may be used. If the knife has been made by you eg. from cardboard, it must be plainly labelled 'KNIFE'. Plastic ones which are more obviously knives don't need this. Plastic swords are permitted, but please be careful. Cardboard swords must be clearly labelled 'SWORD'. A rolled up paper tube is a cosh, not a sword.
  5. Garrotte - Represented by handkerchiefs, or, far better, toilet paper.
  6. Grenades - Confetti in bags made from tissue paper, water bombs, or (small) flour bombs may be used. You may also employ snowballs. Use common sense with the last three. They will kill if they strike any part of the head or body. If they hit a wall and splash your head or body appreciably (ie. if you're wettish) you are dead. If they just splash your arms or legs, you are only wounded, and survive.
  7. Poison Gas - represented by perfume/after-shave/air-freshener. This kills instantaneously if it is at a noticeable concentration. Obviously, don't spray it in people's faces. N.B. It will kill all those who smell it - think of all those innocent victims...
    Gas masks may be fashioned from a handkerchief tied across the face.
    Poison gas should be used with care to prevent the deaths of people other than the intended victim. It is probably best to use it only in the target's room. If you have any problems come and see the Umpire.
    If you have a cold and genuinely couldn't smell anything then you were immune to it (lucky you).
    Balloon-and-pin arrangements (scent still required!) can be labelled as Poison Gas, rather than as Bombs (see the section on booby traps below).
  8. Dart or Arrow (*) - represented by a grape fired from a catapult or a dried pea from a pea-shooter. This has the same effect as a gun. Avoid head shots. A paper plane may be used as a poisoned dart, provided it is clearly labelled as one. Being hit by a random one in a boring lecture does not count...
  9. Poisoned Food or Drink - Use Tabasco sauce or peppermint essence in sufficient quantities to taste. N.B. Experiments to establish the lethal dose are liable to kill the guinea pig (more innocent victims!).
    Buying your victim a Pizza Gamberi from Pizza Express does not count as a poisoning, even if they do go a bit strong on the Tabasco. However, leaving an extra-strong Phileas Fogg Tortilla Chip in their pigeon-hole, which they then proceed to eat, does.
  10. Special Letters
    1. Containing contact poison or some sort of audible detonator (letter bombs). Musical birthday cards are a special type of letter bomb, requiring no additional detonator or label. It will kill the victim if it goes off, although signing it from e.g. A. Sassin might be an idea.
    2. Cards, letters, parcels, etc. that are sent through the mail service (University or Royal) or are handed to porters, and have leaked their contact poison or poison gas are deemed to have killed innocent victims.
  11. Bombs Bombs can be deadly in their effect, but they require careful preparation and setting up if they are not to kill innocent bystanders.
    A bomb is represented by a box or container consisting of two pieces:
    1. The detonator - to tell the victims that the bomb has gone off. It must bang or bleep sufficiently loudly to be heard by any victims. Remember rule 1.2.4, "A victim is not dead unless they know about it."
    2. The explosive. The size of the bomb is determined by the volume of the explosive. 'Explosive' could, for example, be cotton wool or plasticene, or water placed in a closed container like a wine bottle.
    The volume of the explosive must be marked on or in the bomb in cubic centimetres, and it must be labelled 'BOMB' in large letters. If your construction might worry passers-by, write on it:
    "This is an imitation bomb for the mock assassination game run by the Cambridge University Assassins' Guild. Any queries may be addressed to this term's Umpire, Tom Oinn of Queens' College ."

    In the event of the bomb being triggered, the blast shall be assumed to act in a 'reasonably' straight line, and along this line may encounter obstacles. By 'reasonably', I mean a bomb placed right up against the door (outer or inner, for those with double doors) to a room, will blast in all directions into all corners of the room through the door, not through the side of the wall.
    For people with 'oaks' this may sound unrealistic, but this is a game not reality, and I have to be fair in this respect at least to those with only one door.
    The blast radius of a bomb can be generated from its volume by the following formula:
    r = 50*V^(1/3)
    Where V = bomb volume (cubic centimeters)
          r = blast radius (centimeters)
    If there's something between you and the bomb, it will subtract from the blast radius:
    Door:              1 m
    Window:          0.5 m
    Plasterboard wall: 1 m
    Brick wall:        3 m
    Stone wall:        5 m
    Cupboard:          1 m
    Clearly remote bomb detonation for a bomb left outside your door, from within your room, is best done with, say, a coat-hanger underneath the door. More preferable is for you or your neighbour to diffuse the bomb without its detonation. If you are unsure then come and check with the Umpire.
    Table of Bomb Volume vs Blast radius:
    volume/cc    Blast radius / metres
      25                   1.46
      50                   1.84
     100                   2.32
     200                   2.85
     300                   3.34
     500                   3.96
    1000                   5.00
    2000                   6.29
    5000                   8.54
    'Ready made' bombs include alarm clocks, tape recorders, plug timers, and such like. Party poppers also count as bombs, but remember that they are of extremely limited volume and are hence only likely to be useful as letter bombs. They can be used as detonators for larger bombs.
    Bomb equipment should be returned to the maker via the Umpire, unless it is defused or dud. It may not normally be re-used, unless it was defused or dud. The Bomb Squad is on holiday, but the umpire would like to hear how you fare in performing your own bomb defusion.
    An exception to this rule is that the detonator, if encased in a sturdily constructed case of steel (or other such material), may be re-used. The Umpire will rule whether the detonator has survived a blast or not.
    NOTE: Bombs operated by timers are not permitted. Some method of detonating them involving an person's action of some kind must be used. This is because it is unfair that people should be blown up while asleep; there is no defence against it.
    The one exception to the triggering rule, is that timers may be used on bombs INSIDE a player's room, because there is a defence to this. It consists of locking the door...
    Devices which prevent motion sensors or other triggers from going off for a certain period of time are permitted, if you can work out how to make one!
    Bombs can be triggered by the victim in various ways. There are endless possibilities: drawing pins positioned to pop balloons, red light bulbs, smoke detectors (if the victim smokes), vacuum cleaners booby-trapped with confetti in the exhaust, etc.
  12. Other
    • (*) Poisoned umbrellas may be used to transfer contact poison on to a player (as in the case of the Bulgarian Georgi Markov). However, you should be careful to avoid actual injury to the participant, and may well need to cover up the tip of your umbrella with something softer.
    • Razor-edge hats may also be used. It goes without saying that a real razor is totally out of the question: however, any hat with a brim visibly marked with the word "ASSASSIN" may be used.
    • Dropping a large (i.e. of side at least 40cm) piece of polystyrene packing labelled 'fridge' on your target counts as dropping a fridge on them; it may then be reasonably assumed that they are dead.


Deaths should be reported to the Umpire as soon as possible after the event, stating all salient details (when, where, how, and whether any innocent bystanders were killed). It is best if both assassin and target report the death to make sure there is no mistake. Creative/amusing reports are encouraged.


When a player is dead he may if he wishes join a "police force" with the purpose of killing any wanted criminals, who have been discovered to have killed innocent bystanders. The members of the police force will be announced to all players.
Police may also attack players openly bearing weapons in "pre-emptive self-defence", but once a weapon is out of direct sight the player cannot be killed by police.
The actions of the police force will be coordinated by the Chief of Police.
Police officers should take great care not to kill innocent victims. In general, police who kill innocent bystanders will be permanently suspended from duty, whether they are innocent players, non players or ducks.
The umpires will consider individual cases though, and if there are extenuating circumstances the officer will be allowed to resume his duties. These would include bystanders who deliberately threw themselves in front of a criminal to stop a bullet, or if the police misidentified a passer-by with reasonable cause.
If police shoot innocent players, the players will not be killed, but the police will be suspended anyway, so there!



You may attack anyone - however anyone who is NOT one of:
  1. Your assigned target.
  2. The assassin assigned to you, if you learn their identity.
  3. Anyone holding a weapon or having one in full view, whether or not they are about to attack you. Once the weapon is hidden, the person is no longer a legitimate target.
  4. Anyone on the Wanted List.
is an innocent victim.


No assassination attempt may be made if victim or assassin is in an out-of-bounds area. The following are always out of bounds:
  1. Lecture theatres (including after/before lectures)
  2. Practicals/laboratories.
  3. Hospitals/libraries/sports-halls.
  4. Churches/chapels/synagogues/mosques/temples/stupas!
  5. Formal college dining halls. - Informal college cafeterias are in the playing arena.
  6. Any OFFICIAL university society meeting (e.g. speaker meetings, formal halls). Kills at unofficial social meetings (e.g. the pub meet) are permissible.
  7. Any Ball, Event, garden party or similar.
  8. Seminars and supervisions.
  9. Boats (except in leisurely outings, e.g. punting)
Assassinations CAN take place in the User Area, Mond, departmental/college computer rooms etc, but only as follows:
  1. Outside the hours 9am to 5.30pm.
  2. Use only weapons which CANNOT POSSIBLY damage equipment (eg garotte, knife, cap gun etc),
  3. Minimal inconvenience to any other users (players or bystanders). So, for example, point a cap gun and say 'Bang' rather than actually firing it.
Should the situation occur again, computer rooms in libraries are defined as computer rooms, not libraries. A computer room is, in general, defined as a place where the public (or any clearly defined group, e.g. members of a college) are permitted to use computers. Players' private rooms do NOT count.
Any further suggestions should be communicated to the Umpire as soon as possible. Please use your common sense!


From the start of the game, players will have 336 hours (14 days) to make at least one kill attempt; after this, they must make their subsequent kill attempts each within 168 hours (7 days) of the previous one. Players missing the time limit will be put on the wanted list for incompetance...
If there are too many players left towards the end of the game, the interval will be reduced to 72 hours (3 days).


A witness is any player or non-player who is in a position to see the assassination take place. Witnesses can, of course, talk about the assassination to other players. Killing your target when there are witnesses present will get your name in the News.
In game terms, dead witnesses tell no tales but provoke investigation. The police force has a very up-to-date forensic department, and players do not escape the Wanted List by disposing of witnesses.


If you have killed an innocent victim (see rule on Permissible Targets) then you are put on the Wanted List (a public file containing the names and addresses of known criminals).
Getting other people to open your mail/door for you will make you responsible for them (unless you have a good explanation). Players who incompetently _attempt_ to murder innocent victims will also be put on the wanted list. If an innocent person is killed by genuine mischance, and players could not be expected to foresee this they may appeal to the Umpire. Poison letters are considered attempts on who they are addressed to; poison on door handles will be considered to be an attempt on the life of anyone who may reasonably be expected to try to open the door. So if you poison a communal door, you have attempted to murder innocents, and are on the wanted list. To discourage indiscriminate contact poisonings (which get tedious), it's now assumed that people other than a room's occupant could reasonably try to open its door.
If you are on the wanted list the police will come after you...


This term's Umpire is Tom Oinn .
The primary method of contacting the Umpire is through email, though players are welcome to visit.
The Umpire is immortal. No one may be killed in the Umpire's room (CC1, Cripps Court, Queens'), which is also a no water weapons zone.
If you have any queries, visit/mail the Umpire, preferably before the query becomes a matter of life and death (yours or anyone else's).
Player-Umpire communications may be made public at the end of the game for everyone's enlightenment and amusement. If you do not wish a certain communication to be made public, please tell the Umpire. Thanks.
NOTE: It is the responsibility of players to read their e-mail to see the news and whether they have been put on the wanted list. Players are deemed to know that they are wanted/police as soon as the Umpire sends e-mail to that effect. They are not wanted/police before this. This may seem a bit unfair, but is less so than expecting the Umpire to guess if a player has logged on recently. Players are not wanted before the Umpire announces the fact and therefore are not automatically permissible targets, even if people know they will be wanted soon. Of course, you may shoot anyone displaying a weapon.



The game now has its own newsgroup ( -- the news and announcements will be posted here by the Umpire, and players may use it for discussion etc.
If you wish to post something anonymously to, ask the Umpire to do it for you.


The game has its own World-Wide Web pages, which will host these rules and game news.
To avoid waste of bandwidth, game news will not be distributed by email.


  • The Umpire's Rule is law. There will be no right of appeal against a disqualification.
  • Official complaints about a person's behaviour will almost certainly result in disqualification. Involvement of the (real) police will definitely cause you to be disqualified.
  • It is considered that taking part in this game implicitly allows people to enter your room through an unlocked door or open window. Entering a room by any other means is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. If you don't want trespassers, make certain they can't get in.

The history of this set of rules is thought to be:
Author unknown.
Typed in by Paul Roberts (PER10).
Later history unknown.
Used by CUSFS for a while.
Martin Hardcastle (MJH22) made some modifications.
Julian Birch (JMB29), some modifications and clarifications.
Richard Fairhurst (RJF1001), further modifications and clarifications.
Ben Jameson (BFJ1000), yet more modifications.
Jim Cameron (JC10007) and Elizabeth Pringle (EMPP1), even more, mistyped, modifications.
David Allsopp (DNA1000), surprisingly, made some modifications.
Paul Menage (PBM1001) was Easter 1995 Umpire, and initiated 3 targets per player.
Nigel Harris (NJH27) made modifications.
Ben Harris (BJH21) changed even more things, notably the bomb blast radius formula to be based on a cube root.
Chuan-Tze Teo (CTT20) modified still more rules.
Martin Read (mpr22) corrected the text of the bomb rules, and set a (semi-)codified timing rule (after a few shoutings, getting the wording right)
Lynnette Dray (lmd21) modified a few more things, surprisingly.
Tom Oinn (tmo21) htmlified the whole thing.