The Assassins' Guild FAQ

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What's the Assassins' Guild about?

The Cambridge Assassins' Guild plays a game every Michaelmas and Lent term, in which each player is given the names of other players in Cambridge and has to hunt them down and "kill" them using a variety of harmless toy weaponry such as cardboard knives, fluffy plushies, water guns, NERF guns etc.

The usual format assigns you, the player, three targets (which refresh when a target 'dies') and assigns three other assassins to target you! You kill these targets and survive your assassins until a few assassins are left. The survivors then fight in an epic duel with nerf guns and water guns until one person is left and crowned the winner! Note, there are no respawns, but there are ways to participate even when you're dead!

Why do people play Assassins?

If you think these reasons are far fetched, then check out the reports of archived games and the awards to see all the hijinks and shenanigans that previous players have gotten up to!

Do I have time to play?

The amount of time you spend is up to you! For the Event Based game, each event will only be a few hours on one single day. You do not have to participate for the entire event or every event! You are free to join in whenever you want and in whichever event you want. And you can leave a battle or event when you wish to.

Of course, the more time you spend and the more assassins you kill, the more points you will get. But assassins' has always been about having fun no matter how much time you put in. If you want to play for the win, then by all means do so! If you want to play just for a bit of fun and adrenaline, then you are welcome to!

How much does it cost? How do you get weapons?

It's free! It doesn't really cost anything to run the game (other than time), so we don't ask anyone to pay for it. That said, most assassins at some point will probably spend a few pounds on some sort of weapon (such as nerf guns or water guns), although it's perfectly possible to do well using weapons constructed from materials commonly available in the student study-bedroom. Examples include pens, rulers, umbrellas, paper throwing stars, plushies, etc. As long as you label your common objects as weapons, most mundane and harmless things can act as weapons. See the weaponry rules for more examples!

How do you kill people?

It's simple. Hit someone in the head or torso with a weapon to kill them. Hit them in the limbs to incapacitate that limb for the encounter/battle. As long as you are there in person to kill your target, the kill will count (no 'poisons', realistic weapons or 'bombs' though please. We do not want to alarm the public). There have been many hilarious ways that people have died, from a variety of fun weapons! Check out the archived games and read some of the reports.

If you have any innovative or silly ideas for ways you should be allowed to kill people, you can ask the Umpires to approve them - generally they will be happy to unless your creation is dangerous (eg. a BB gun) or unfair (a voodoo doll that makes the target fall down dead instantly wherever they are).

What happens when you kill someone?

Well, they die (in the game!), and generally you feel a well-deserved sense of accomplishment, particularly if you've spent a lot of effort tracking them down or setting them up. Then you send an email to the Umpire telling them who you killed and how.

Of course, if the person you killed wasn't an assassin, you might get points deducted and a weird look from the person you just killed!

Each time you send a report to the Umpire, you can write a fun/narrative/humorous/fictitious account of what happened along with the real story. The Umpire can then publish your report under your pseudonym onto the website, letting all other assassins delight in your glorious assassination! Check out the archived games reports for a feel of the shenanigans players have gotten into before!

What happens when you die?

You're eliminated from the main game. If you want to keep playing, you can immediately sign up as police and hunt players who have broken the rules or failed to meet their assassins competency quotas.

How do I sign up?

You can sign up here on form, which is usually linked on the main page. You will be emailed when the game is about to begin and before each event with all the details.

The only details that you need to provide to sign up is your name, college and any specific notes (such as disallowing anyone to try and kill you when you're on a bike etc).

If you do not want to sign up for this term's game but you are interested in future games. Please sign up to our mailing list

If none of those links work, you can always email the Umpires to sign up to the game and/or mailing list.

Is Assassins' a good activity to meet people and make friends?

The nature of Assassins games mean you naturally encounter other people in a fun, friendly and safe context. Between assassinating your targets, evading those targeting you and meeting other assassins through alliances or rivalries, you get to meet a lot of people! A wise assassin once said, a toy weapon and a fight for survival is better than any ice breaker!

Anyone who signs up for assassins is expected to be friendly to respectful (as noted in the conduct section of the Rules). This facilitates a comfortable, yet adrenaline fuelled environment for the game. Assassins games is great for establishing friendships across colleges, subjects and social groups.

And of course, memorable and fun times bring people closer together! As well as the fact that you can ally up (or betray) your friends. Your non-assassins friends can also act as accomplices, anyone can be involved!

Assassins games are not about forming/joining core groups or cliques to play. It is a multicultural activity played by many different social groups for a variety of different reasons. One really does keep on meeting new people every game!

What do you guys do besides try to kill each other?

We're actually quite a sociable lot - many assassins are friends outside of the game, or become friends outside the game. There are often social events such as socials, pub meets during the game as well as at the end (and sometimes the start) of each of the main games. These sometime devolved into a bit of a fun, no-consequences battle with weapons that assassins inevitably bring!

Why would I want to hang out with a bunch of gun-toting psychos?

You'd be surprised how pacifistic most assassins are outside of the game. Admittedly, you'll probably find that they talk about assassins a lot, but normally it's about the funny situations people got themselves into, rather than how cool it was that they wrought so much simulated violence on their hapless targets. We may arguably be geeks, but we're not psychopaths.

Do Assassins get in trouble with the authorities?

The assassins rules are carefully designed to avoid inconveniencing the public in general and authority figures in particular. Respect, consideration, and discretion are part of the art, rather than being unthoughtful or boisterous.

Our weapons are safe and unalarming, but we also conceal them rather than brandishing them for all to see. We avoid realistic looking weaponry and anything that could be mistaken for a bomb. Usually, assassinations are quiet and discrete as to not cause a ruckus. And if a firefight begins, we are just a bunch of people having a fun nerf/water fight in the park or quiet streets. Timeout can be called to pause the game to not disrupt the public. The game has ran for many years with no serious incidents. Sure porters may ask certain students to leave if they are caught causing a ruckus, but in the end, we are visiting our friends (even if we intend to shoot them with a water gun at some point) and no one can fault us for having a bit of harmless fun whilst doing so.

What's this about banned weapons?

There are certain weapons which have been used in past Assassins game and are now, for one reason or another, not allowed. Sometimes this happens because we no longer want particular weapons or players holding them to be seen for safety reasons - bombs were one case of this because it alarmed the public; another is the restriction on cap guns which look like real ones. Due to new firearms legislation you can now be arrested for carrying these around visibly in public. (Yes, even if they have one of those orange bobbles on the end. Yes, even if they're painted bright pink - real criminals do actually do that to confuse police officers. Sorry.)

The other reason weapons are disallowed is because they break the game. The classic example of this is poisonous baby rubber hedgehogs, which were small bouncy balls which could be thrown down corridors in handfuls. When these entered widespread use, it quickly became clear that they were stupidly powerful in indoor fighting and everyone would need to have some, so they were taken away again to stop the game being ridiculous. Other things which have been removed include poison gas (which caused lots of arguments as to whether people could smell it or not, and led to lots of aerosols being sprayed around which were dangerous to people with athsma) and body armour (which was removed because it turned the game from one about sneaking around and getting the jump on your target to one about having protracted firefights in the streets).

Read more here about banned weapons

If you have finished the FAQ and want to know more about the rules, here are the pocket rules (the condensed version of the Main Rules) and the Main Rules.

History, background and foreign affairs:

Non-essential info, just for fun!

How long has this been going on for?

The Guild has records (accessible via the website) of games going back as far as Lent 1993, which we believe makes us one of the older university societies. It's thought that there were games of "killer" played before then by the CU Science Fiction Society and others, but they probably only involved a handful of players and bore little resemblance to the games played today.

Are there any other guilds?

Many! Popular rumour has it that the game originated at MIT; certainly an organisation called the Assassins' Guild plays a game there at the moment, although it's not a great deal like ours, focusing more on role-playing and less on killing at all costs.

There are also several other guilds in the UK, although none as old as ours; although Durham claim that they were the first Assassins' Guild in the UK, their ruleset clearly acknowledges that it is based on ours, so this claim seems suspect. Durham's game is somewhat different, with much less intrigue and rules-lawyering; notably, they only issue one target at a time, generally making alliances impossible.

There is also an Oxford Assassins' Guild, who have a style even further removed from ours, focusing on lighthearted day-long or week-long killfests instead of six-week elimination games. Sometimes we play Varsity matches against them. The Sheffield Assassins' Guild may also be functioning. The Cambridge guild webpage contains a list of links to other guilds' sites, which may or may not be up-to-date.

I want to start a guild!

Excellent! Being one of the more prominent Assassins' Guilds in the UK, occasionally we get approached by people from other Universities or similar institutions, who want to start a Guild of their own and often want general advice, or, quite frequently, permission to borrow our ruleset. We're always happy to provide the former; as for the latter, you're probably welcome to it provided that we continue to get credit for it, but be aware that our rules are somewhat heavyweight and complicated and contain a lot of stuff that another guild would quite possibly never need. If you're just starting up, you're likely to have a smallish number of keen players; it's likely that one target each will work fine, particularly if most of the players know each other, and you probably don't need to worry about things like competence just yet. In any case, if you're after general suggestions for setting up a game in your area, you're welcome to email the Umpires at

Does this have anything to do with Terry Pratchett? Did you get the idea from the Discworld novels?

Although there are a great many Pratchett fans in the Assassins' Guild, it was not thought that his writing had any relation to the invention of the game. It is possible, though, that the name of the guild was adopted in a nod to the respected Ankh-Morpork institution. We also precede both Assassins' Creed and the Hitman games (take that, EA/Square Enix)

In 2023, we received the following email and attachment, which brilliantly disproves our earlier beliefs:

Dear Umpires,

By chance and nostalgia, I noticed in your FAQ you have a section about Terry Pratchett.

I can confirm that the Guild was indeed named after the Discworld Guild, because I wrote the original entry for the CU Societies handbook when we were first a registered CU society in the early 90s. Previously there were various instances of "Killer" or "The Killer Game" but no guild as such.

There was some discussion as to whether we should be the "Assassins Guild" or the "Guild of Assassins", partly because "CUGA" was a bit easier to say than "CUAG", and also sounded like "Cougar" and therefore suitably stealthy and aggressive.

I contacted Terry by email, and he agreed to be the Honorary President of our Guild, with the immortal words, "Yeah, it's fandom, innit?"

For our CU handbook entry and Freshers Fair posters, I drew a coat of arms based on Terry's description and various bits of Discworld art at the time - the cloak and dagger from my rendering survives in the logo on your current webpage. Several of us took it to show Terry at a book signing in Cambridge, though we eventually decided to leave the huge supersoakers outside the bookshop to avoid upsetting the staff.

Best regards,

David Allsopp, PhD (1995)

Nil mortifi sine lucre

Original Coat of Arms

Who wrote this FAQ?

The original version of this FAQ was written by Jonathan Hogg, who graduated from Cambridge in 2004 with an almost-unblemished track record of swift but spectacular deaths, by which time the FAQ had barely been touched in many moons and was already out of date. Then it was rewritten early in 2005 by Adam Biltcliffe. It was then updated in October 2020 by the Umpire and two-time winner, Yuhang Xie, and further changes made in November 2023 to add to the history.