Folks, here's a write-up of the murder mystery I ran. Feel free to steal any of the ideas in here. I started off by making twelve character sheets, and the three players each picked two--not knowing that I had removed four characters that I wanted to keep for my own.
2050 started off very much like the thirty years before it: Dumb. Technology and society have ceased to develop and, in many ways, have begun to devolve. On January 5th, however, billionaire Charles Higgins invites a cadre of potential investors to his hotel The Tower to witness what he’s promising will be a “history changing discovery.”
* 1st Floor Blueprints
* 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Floor Blueprints
Charles Higgins – The host. One of the richest men in the world.
Shadrach Netinyahu – In charge of security at The Tower Hotel – Shadrach is a man of duty, and his duty is to keep people safe while they’re at The Tower Hotel.
Ellie Collins – Nerdy geneticist and granddaughter of Francis Collins, the head of the human genome project. Professor at Yale University.
Daniel Avraham – Rep from a diamond company out of Israel – Daniel is tall, dark, and handsome. A genial fellow who appears eager to discover what the demonstrations all about.
Adara Kanaan – Only daughter and heir apparent of a Saudi Arabian oil tycoon and hotelier. Rich. Refined.
Martin Lockhart – Co-owner of the Fayetteville gun company St. Clair & Lockhart. Martin’s got swagger. He’s a cocky, brazen, boots on the table kind of old guy. Has an old disobedient dog with him at all times.
Rodrigo Ramierez – Martin Lockhart’s protégé – He basically just emulates Martin. He snuck a pistol into the hotel despite a strict warning not to carry weapons.
Denji Hayashi – Middle Management at Generic Car Company – Denji doesn’t speak English very well, but he was sent by his employers to witness the demonstration. He carries with him a decorative katana.
Jade Winter – Translator for Denji Hayashi – A green-haired cynical temp.
Kenise Karalana – Fashion mogul out of New Orleans – Kenise has the sharp looks and regal bearing of Angela Bassett. She is dignified and a master of etiquette. She walks with a cane.
Lilith Morrison – Personal Assistant for Kenise – Lilith looks a lot like Joan Jett and has the same demeanor.
Lucian Sang – Doctor and Rep from MEDTEX out of Charlotte – Lucian has the typical narcissistic demeanor of many doctors—more so because he’s in charge of other doctors.
Jalen Westmoreland – Med student and PA to Lucian Sang – Jalen plays his cards close to the chest. It’s hard to tell what he’s feeling or thinking.
Late at night, in the middle of a huge snowstorm, the guests arrive to The Tower via helicopter. The pilot can barely land because of the intensity of the weather, and the guests can hardly see their hand in front of their faces as they’re ushered up a curvy mountain path to the hotel. The pilot takes off again to get clear of the storm.
The guests enter into a lobby—fancy and intentionally old school. Everything’s analog. Nothing’s digital. The guests meet their host Charles Higgins and his head of security Shadrach Netanyahu, who encourages everyone to go to their rooms and meet back in the lobby in the morning for the demonstration.
At the demonstration, characters sit in an auditorium space. It’s cold in their seats and freezing in the demonstration area. Higgins shows The Capacitor, a sort of clockwork cylindrical device with lots of gears and belts and an opening for a watch battery. When he places the battery in, it generates a massive multi-colored electrical field—like the coolest iTunes visualizer ever. Higgins turns it off via a huge lever across the room behind a shield, and he explains that the main challenge is containing the tremendous amount of energy that pours out of the machine. The Capacitor—he explains—promises limitless cheap energy, surely a large enough development to kickstart a new human renaissance. All he needs is investors and the proper technology to contain such massive amounts of energy, and that’s where you all come in. He wants to reconvene over lunch.
At lunch, a few characters arrive late—Rodrigo, Ellie, Anara, Denji—and Higgins doesn’t arrive at all. Eventually Daniel and Ellie go to his room to look for him. He doesn’t answer, but they hear a commotion from inside, so they try the door only to find the safety latch is in place. Ellie runs to get help while Daniel kicks the door down. Inside, he finds a very dead Charles Higgins. The rest of the guests come upstairs and the whodunnit begins.
A preliminary search of the body reveals that he appears to have been strangled, as he has hand-shaped bruises on his neck. A preliminary search of the room reveals Higgins self-phone, a lady’s bra, a couple wine glasses, and some empty bottles of wine. They discover that all doors have been locked from the inside, including a dumbwaiter in the closet.
The guests press the cellphone to Higgins dead thumb to gain access and discover that his last text exchange was with a phone number not saved as a particular contact. Higgins’s texts basically say, “I shoudn’t have invited him here. He hates me.”
After some hilarious awkwardness on Daniel’s part, the guests figure out that the bra belongs to Lilith. She admits that he flirted with her the night before and that she was bored, so she slept with him, but it was uninteresting, and he left at midnight to meet with someone.
Upon a further search of the body, Jalen Westmoreland finds fingernail marks on the body. He thinks he’s onto something until Lucian Sang points out that the fingernail marks actually match Higgins own hands. The guests begin to suspect poison.
They ask Lilith how she’s feeling—poisoned?—and she freaks out a bit but says she’s fine.
Daniel asks about how they departed from one another. Lilith says she went back to her room, and Higgins took the elevator to meet whoever he was meeting. The guests decide to descend to the basement. They don’t find much and return to the dining room to discuss possibilities.
Ellie Collins has to use the bathroom and asks if someone will come with and stand by the door of her room. Someone (was it Daniel?) agrees; however, she seems to take forever, so when he goes in to check on her, he finds that the door to her balcony is wide open, and she’s nowhere to be found. A zigzag path ascends a cliffside; however, instead of footprints in the snow, there’s a curved line, like the ones left behind when you roll a ball through the snow. Further, Daniel can see a light in the distance—like a campfire flickering.
The guests assemble a search party to go into the blizzard to investigate the light and—despite numerous navigation roles—manage to maintain their bearings (damn). Ultimately, the light goes out, and they find a feverish Ellie wrapped in a blanket from her room.
They carry Ellie back to her room and put her in her bed. She’s delirious and continues mumbling about a sweet chariot. Daniel says he doesn’t feel well and wants to go to his room. Meanwhile, Lucian Sang keeps getting nose bleeds, and Kenise Karalana keeps thinking that she’s seeing the ghost of Charles Higgins.
While they’re discussing things around the dining room table, they see Daniel coming out of the janitor’s closet, when asked, he says that he doesn’t feel safe and wanted tools to better secure his room. They encourage him to stay with the group, and he complies.
As night approaches, everyone changes their rooms so that no one’s sleeping by themselves. They settle down for the night, but Lilith is awakened by a tapping at her window. She investigates and finds a shadowy figure standing on the railing of her balcony. It attacks her, trying to strangle her, but she fights back, and the figure turns to ash in her hands.
The rest of the guests are awakened by a horrible banging noise and descend to the basement to discover Martin Lockhart trying to destroy The Capacitor. He says it’s the cause of all of their problems and that he’s cursed for what he’s done. When the guests question him, he brings them back to his room where his normally disobedient old dog is waiting patiently. Martin orders Rodrigo to give him the pistol that he knows Rodrigo snuck in.
When Rodrigo complies, Martin shoots his dog between his eyes. The dog crumples to the ground dead. A moment passes, and then the dog clumsily gets back to its feet. The wound in its head still very much there. Martin shoots the dog again, and it again collapses to the ground dead, only to rise to its feet again. Martin is horrified and keeps repeating, “I’m cursed. I’m cursed because of what we did.”