Each player is randomly assigned a celebrity identity and a code name. Celebrity names are printed on nametags that players wear for all others to see, but code names are kept secret. Each player also receives a “contract” for an assassination target. The contract includes the code name of the target player/celebrity and a trivia fact about the celebrity. Finally, each player also starts the game with a poker chip that can either be redeemed for information or used as a bullet in an assassination attempt. Players mingle in mixer fashion while noting the celebrity identities printed on the nametags. When a player thinks he had found the celebrity/player matching his contract he may attempt an assassination by confirming the target player’s code name while handing the player a poker chip. If the attempt is successful then the target is “dead” and must forfeit any poker chips, including the one just used, to the assassin. The dead player also gives his contract to the assassin, thus assigning the assassin a new target. If the assassination attempt is unsuccessful the target player keeps the poker chip and both players continue mingling. A player who needs more information on a target celebrity may trade a poker chip to the moderator for an additional trivia fact; there are three facts total per target. A player without a poker chip may receive one from the moderator, pending supply and with a time penalty. Dead players may continue mingling and collecting chips from unsuccessful assassination attempts but may not pursue any targets. The contracts player who outlives all opponents wins.
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I attended my first National Puzzlers’ League convention in 1998 and became interested in hosting game parties modeled after the NPL convention program. Shooting Stars, a cocktail-hour variation on the live-action game Assassin, was the mixer at my first game party. Players reviewing the nametags noted a gallows humor in the choice of celebrities, which included John F. Kennedy, Phil Hartman, Sharon Tate, Marvin Gaye, and Selena. Additional trivia facts were intended to provide more helpful clues. This set was used for one of the celebrities.
1. Your target was a celebrity presenter on “Hollywood Talent Scouts.” The most famous “discovery” your target presented on that series was Marilyn McCoo.
2. Your target was one of the first disc jockeys to earn a six-figure salary.
3. Your target performed in several television movies, two Disney films, a variety show, and is probably best remembered for playing Colonel Hogan in “Hogan’s Heroes.”
The management of game materials was a bit clunky and the use of poker chips was probably unnecessary but players had fun, as my brother-in-law Don and friend Robin demonstrate.