The story behind the game indicates the death of a wealthy old woman triggers feuding over her will. The players utilize traps located on the game board, which represents a mansion, to kill characters controlled by other players in order to claim the estate for themselves.
At the start of gameplay, players are passed out Character cards which correspond to matching pawns on the board. Since there are 12 characters, It is often the case that players control more than one character. However, which player controls which character is not revealed. Along with the character cards, there are also Portrait Cards, which determine who the current favorite for the inheritance is, and Trap Cards, which are used to spring traps and knock off other players.
During each turn, a player would roll two dice and move two pawns, one pawn for each die. It is legal for the player to move a pawn that is not theirs in order to bring it closer to or onto a Trap Space. If a pawn is moved onto a trap space by exact roll only, the player must have the corresponding trap card in his or her possession in order to spring the trap. Springing traps is not mandatory, however. After that, play would move on to the next player.
During the game, A Portrait Card is displayed in the picture frame above the fireplace. That character is now the current favorite to inherit the fortune. At that moment, for all intents and purposes, that character is now marked for death and must try to escape the mansion before he or she is either knocked off or the portrait changes.
Also, during the game, a Detective is waiting outside, slowly advancing toward the front door. His arrival signifies the reading of the will and the announcement of the winner. The Detective can only move one space at a time, and only when a Detective Card (hidden inside the Trap Card pile) is played. There are 13 steps to the front door. If the Detective makes it to the front door before all other characters have been eliminated, the game is over.
1313 Dead End Drive is an updated version with 16 heirs in a mansion who are going to kill each other. The players can steal moneybags by killing rivals. There are slightly different booby traps and the game is suddenly over, when the card Clock Strikes Midnight is drawn from the deck.