The Assassins' Guild: Michaelmas 2001 Game Rules

1.0 Introduction:

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.

1.1 Preparation:

Everyone who wishes to play should provide the Umpire with:

Anyone found to have supplied false details to the Umpire will be disqualified, but I'm sure it's not necessary to say that.

1.2 Preliminaries:

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.
The spirit of the rules is more important than the actual rules themselves. Rules are made to be bent here and there. On the other hand, the umpire will not be bound by the rules if he feels that someone is attempting to exploit a loophole. If in doubt, email the umpire with your question.
Participants may have accomplices. Targets cannot be assassinated by an accomplice. Accomplices may only assist the killer in planning (and carrying out) the murder. They may not take any offensive actions. You are responsible for the conduct and safety of your accomplices, especially during contact with other players. As such, you should ensure they do not openly bear weapons at any time or interfere in any other way. You are liable to be made wanted and to have any related kills invalidated for breach of this rule.
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!)
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. In particular, it is safe to open the door to the Umpire or any player claiming that status.
Players must 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.
Exercise common sense. Players are entirely responsible for their behaviour. Avoid inconveniencing other people, especially porters and the general public. In particular, do not knock on your target's door at unreasonable hours.
This game depends on trust and gentlemanly conduct. Please be honest about whether or not you are dead. Honour among murderers and all that....
You must expect other players to have nefarious intentions at any time during the game. Do not involve (or cause to become involved) college authorities or other non-players to eject or intimidate those attempting to kill you or others. If you feel players are behaving unreasonably, contact the Umpire.
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 7.3.

2.0 Aims:

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

3.0 Victims:

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.

4.0 Weapons:

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, the Umpire may make any kills carried out with an unauthorized weapon invalid, so do come and check before using your latest creation in the heat of battle. In general, all weapons must be completely safe (for both people and property) and actually do something, to indicate to the victim that he/she has been killed. All non-obvious weapons must be clearly labelled.

Messy weapons and water weapons should be used sensibly; where the rules state "with care", no large-calibre water weapons (larger than a Supersoaker XP270 or a Storm Force 2) should be used, smaller water weapons should be carefully aimed and not used to excess.

Ideally, weapons should be specific to the victim - killing bystanders is to be avoided if possible, even when the effect 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!

4.1 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. Note that other weapons may still be used, and also that you may not use water weapons 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.

Water and messy weapons MAY NOT BE USED in the rooms of non players, and must be used with care in staircases and other indoor areas.

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.

ALL weapons which fire a projectile MUST be presented to the umpire before use. This includes 'nerf' guns and other previously accepted weapons.

Rubber bands are an acceptable weapon, as long as head shots are avoided.

4.1.1 Flame-thrower
Represented by a bottle of lemonade, hose-pipe etc. Rules much as for water-pistols. These should probably only be used in summer.
4.2 Contact Poison
Represented by Vaseline, jam, mustard etc. This will kill immediately after 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. 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 in a public area will be put on the wanted list. Excessive use of contact poison, even by Dave Hammond and those already on the wanted list, should be avoided.
4.3 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.
4.4 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.

4.5 Garrotte
Represented by handkerchiefs, or, far better, toilet paper.
4.6 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.
4.7 Poison Gas

Poison gas weapons will not be allowed in this game.

4.8 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...
4.9 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.
4.10 Special Letters

Cards, letters, parcels 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.

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 are deemed to have killed innocent victims.

'Blackmail' letters must be individually approved by the umpire before use. These are poisoned letters which offer a poisoned victim the chance of an antidote in return for promptly killing a player chosen by the sender. The receiver will be made wanted if the killing breaches normal targetting rules, but at least he won't be dead... perhaps a legal method of killing could be contrived. Note also that an inappropriate choice of target by the sender (e.g. a non-player) may end up making the sender wanted too.

4.11 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: Firstly, 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." Secondly, there must be 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. Air-filled objects are not considered to contain explosive, except in the special case of balloons.

You must furnish the umpire with details of the construction of your bomb along with your report.

The volume of the explosive must be marked on or in the bomb in litres, as must the blast radius, 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, Ralph Owen of Caius 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. 'Reasonably' means that 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 = 2.4 + 2.6 * ln (V)

Where V = bomb volume in litres, r = blast radius in meters, and the logarithm is the "natural" log, to base e.

  Table of Bomb Volume vs Blast radius:

 m  0.5  1.0  1.5  2.0  2.5  3.0  3.5  4.0  4.5  5.0  5.5  
 r  0.6  2.4  3.5  4.2  4.8  5.3  5.7  6.0  6.3  6.6  6.8

 m  6.0  7.0  8.0  10.0  12.0  14.0  16.0  18.0  20.0
 r  7.1  7.5  7.8   8.1   8.9   9.3   9.6   9.9  10.2

If there's something the victim and the bomb, it will subtract from the blast radius as follows:

Door ..................... 1 m
Window ................. 0.5 m
Plasterboard wall ........ 1 m
Brick wall ............... 3 m
Stone wall ............... 5 m
Cupboard ................. 1 m

'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.

NOTE: Bombs operated by timers are not permitted. Some method of detonating them involving a 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. Similarly, bombs detonated directly, by the bomber's actions alone, (eg. radio controlled) are disallowed. "Dead man's triggers" (bombs that go off when you die) may not be used for the same reason.

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...

Bombs can be triggered by the victim in various ways. There are endless possibilities: drawing pins positioned to pop balloons, smoke detectors (if the victim smokes), vacuum cleaners booby-trapped with confetti in the exhaust, etc.

Note: Constructing a bomb which is intended to kill the occupants of an entire staircase or college, is not generally valid as it validates rule 1.2.4

If you can defuse a bomb without causing its detonation, so much the better. It is a good plan to start by removing the explosive, however this will not render the bomb totally harmless as detonators contain a limited amount of explosive and are considered similar in effect to letterbombs. If the bomb detonates, all detonators attached to it are destroyed and considered harmless.

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!

Also consider remote bomb detonation. For a bomb left outside your door, detonation from within your room may be done with, say, a coat-hanger underneath the door or by opening the door whilst standing at a safe distance.

You may not remotely detonate a bomb using another explosive device. All bombs are considered bomb-proof.

Please provide the umpire with details of how you defused / detonated the bomb as part of your report. Try and make this interesting for inclusion in the news report. All bomb equipment should be returned to its maker via the Umpire, unless it is defused or dud and you wish to reuse the components to build a new device. Even so, you should keep track of the components and try to prevent their loss: they will still be returned to their original owner later in the game. Components of a bomb that has detonated may not be reused for the duration of the game by any player.

Those with small rooms may construct barricades/bomb shelters/bunkers. These must be registered with the Umpire before use.

4.12 Others

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.

It is possible to use 'novelty' weapons which aren't in this list. Previous unusual weapons have included Fridges (a large cardboard box, which is labelled fridge), or poisoned lipstick. Email the umpire before using such a weapon. A kill using a non-sanctioned weapon may not be accepted!

5.0 Death and Dying:

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; in fact, players repeatedly submitting boring reports will be made wanted "for bad press".

5.1 Injuries:
Any limbs hit by a weapon are rendered useless in game situations for the longer of an hour or the duration of the encounter.
5.2 Zombies:
There are NO zombies: corpses cannot interfere any further with the game. In particular, they cannot defuse or detonate bombs, nor can they warn their friends.

6.0 Police Force:

When a player is dead he may, if he wishes, join the "police force" with the purpose of killing any wanted criminals, such as those who are found to have killed innocent bystanders. The members of the police force will be announced to all players.

Sucessful police officers may earn promotions to higher ranks provided they demonstate skill and fairness in their application of the law. The actions of the police force will be coordinated by the high-ranking Chiefs of Police.

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. Police should not collaborate with assassins unless the target is a wanted criminal.

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!

Police officers who show exceptional bravery or devotion to duty may find that death is not the end...

7.0 Rules of Engagement:

7.1 Permissible Targets:

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. an innocent victim.

7.2 Out of Bounds Areas:

No assassination attempt may be made if victim or assassin is in an out-of-bounds area. The following are always out of bounds:

  • Lecture theatres (including after/before lectures)
  • Practicals/laboratories.
  • Hospitals/libraries/sports-halls.
  • Churches/chapels/synagogues/mosques/temples/stupas!
  • Formal college dining halls.
  • Informal college cafeterias are in the playing arena.
  • Any OFFICIAL university society meeting (e.g. speaker meetings, formal halls), or regularly scheduled meetings of an unofficial society which takes place in college grounds. Pub-meets are within the playing arena.
  • Any Ball, Event, garden party or similar.
  • Seminars and supervisions.
  • Boats (except in leisurely outings, e.g. punting)

Assassinations CAN take place in the Phoenix User Area, Cockroft 4, 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.

"Formal college dining halls" shall be taken to mean in a hall for the purpose of eating food which is served to the table. I am aware that this applies to some colleges' informal dining arrangements.
Any meal where you get the food yourself from a servery is in bounds.

Any further suggestions should be communicated to the Umpire as soon as possible. Please use your common sense!

7.3 Time Restrictions:

Once the game starts, you must make a reasonable kill attempt within each game period as specified by the umpire. These periods will usually be 2 weeks, 1 week, 1 week and after that of decreasing length.

Players missing the time limit will be put on the wanted list for incompetence. Players who are on the wanted list for incompetence can be removed if they catch up on the previous period's kill as well as making an attempt for the current period. If there are too many players left towards the end of the game, the interval will be reduced.

8.0 Reporting:

Whenever you make an attempt on the life of another player or an innocent, successfully assassinate him or her, are attacked youself, or become involved in any other game related incident, you must notify the Umpire as quickly as possible. If you can, confirm the exact details of the event with the other assassins involved — though be careful about exposing youself to danger, when doing this.

In general, all players concerned should submit reports; the Umpire can update the game news more quickly and with fewer problems if this is done.

8.1 Witnessess

A witness is any player or non-player who is in a position to see an 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.

8.2 Multiple Pseudonyms

Each player may begin the game with one pseudonym of their choice, which may be used in the news in place of their real name. Every time they have legally kill another two assassins, they earn the right to use one more pseudonym; but only so long as they remain on the right side of the law (ie. not wanted for any reason).
Police Officers and wanted criminals have no secrecy; their pseudonym(s) are always published together with their real names.

Players may at any time make a choice of the penname under which subsequent reports involving themselves are to be published - subject to that penname being either their real name, or their first pseudonym, or any of their pseudonyms (if a player has earned one or more extra ones). Obviously, the actual pseudonyms themselves may not be altered once devised.

9.0 Innocent Victims:

If you are responsible for the death of 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 (if they die you will become wanted, unless you have a very good explanation). Non-players MAY NOT defuse or detonate bombs intended for you.

9.1 Wanted Criminals:

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 those to whom they are addressed; 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...

10.0 The Umpire:

This term's Umpire is Ralph Owen ( of Caius College.

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 staircase), which is also a no-water-weapons zone. The Umpire's room is P9, Tree Court, Caius.

If you have any queries, send mail, or visit the Umpire (but try to arrange the meeting beforehand), 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.

11.0 Administrivia:

NOTE: It is the responsibility of players to read their e-mail and read the news to see 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.

11.1 Web Pages:

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.

11.2 Newsgroup:
The game also has its own newsgroup ( which players may use for discussion, etc.



The history of this set of rules is thought to be:

The Umpires

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