View Full Version : Serial Killer/Murder Mystery/Red Love

2016-11-25, 03:30 AM
So, I recently picked up a book called Legendary Villains: Vigilantes. Those of you familiar with Pathfinder may recognize this as one of the newer releases from Legendary Games. The book is fun and gorgeous, but I'm not here to pitch it (but you should check it out). Inside this book is a very cool archetype known as the Symbiotic Slayer which is basically a Pathfinderized version of Venom/Carnage from the Marvel universe which I'm going to assume you are at least passing familiar with. One of the sample characters presented in the book is one of these Symbiotic Slayers and her name is Red Love. Much like Carnage, she is a homicidal maniac due somewhat in part to her bonding with this strange symbiotic abberation. What I am looking for is a sleuth scenario adventure (or series of such) that I can adapt for this villain. I have been doing some research and many agree that these types of adventures are very difficult to write and run. Probably beyond my meager skills. Have any of you ever played in or run a good one? Obviously, it would be helpful if the adventure was styled on a sword and sorcery type setting where things like magic can come into play. Also, my players are hair-trigger murderhobos so I don't want to bog down too much with tons of skill checks and whatnot. Any setting/edition/system is fine, if it is close to the 3.hybrid I play, so much the better. At this point I'm just looking for suggestions to get me pointed in the right direction. Any and all comments appreciated. Thanks.

Edit: I plan on utilizing some elements from Horror Adventures as well to play up the creepy aspect of the symbiote and the deranged psycho killer bit too. So any suggestions there would be helpful also.

Martin Greywolf
2016-11-25, 10:34 AM
I have actually run three or four adventures like this. So, here goes.

1) Layers

Your adventure will likely have several reveals. Step 1 is to recognize what they are, make them interesting, and foreshadow them enough to make your players go "ooooh, that does make sense".

So, let's create pretty vanilla 3-layer reveal structure. These reveals will probably be: there's a symbiote, the host is a woman and identity of said woman. To make these work, you need your average Joes to assume that the killer is a magical creature/wizard/etc, that he's a, well, he, and the woman absolutely should appear very soon in the adventure as supporting NPC, preferably in a position where players will not kill her on sight (shop owner? bard's hair stylist? the world is your oyster).

2) Hints

Now, every of these three layers needs some clues to hint towards them. These need to be many, and last one of them must absolutely be found and understood - although, if your players will not figure it out, have it happen at a great cost to them.

As an example, let's take the symbiote reveal. There can be some weird goo left at the crime scenes. The PCs, having heard you describe it, will likely try to investigate. Have them find out (their own knowledge checks, NPC expert tells them, whatever) that the goo is a particular slime specific to aberrations, have NPCs assume that a rough wizard is breeding mutants.

Then, have the goo appear in a place where said thingy (magic creature, aberration, demon) couldn't possibly go. Have NPCs marvel at this fact and discuss how powerful the person must be, what kinds of artefacts it packs.

And then, players are attacked by goons scared by the villain into attacking them, and they can tell them there is no trace of wizard magic around her, and that she has a weird armor.

Lastly, have them be beaten soundly by the symbiote - if they figured out enough about it, go easy on them (maybe even give them actual mechanical bonuses), if not, amke sure at least someone they care about is seriously hurt.

3) Interesting failures and bottlenecks

If your players don't notice a clue or fail to investigate it properly, you need to have a plan B, and it must be interesting. Asking around for info on her and finding nothing isn't interesting - asking around on info only to find a severed head of your horse in your bed as you return, however, is. It also opens another trail to pursue.

This approach also lets you avoid bottlenecks - clues that stop your adventure cold unless they are pursued/understood properly. These are, as you can probably tell, a very bad thing to have.

4) Talk to your players

Yup. As always, let them know what you're doing, remind them of it etc. You should have fun too, after all, so ask them to indulge you here for an experiment. If they like it, you can have more adventures like these, if not, you haven't lost that much. This will let you remind your players to not murder people immediately upon meeting them.

5) Ninjas!

After all this is done, go over your adventure and insert a proper fight after every scene, or every other scene, without one. This will keep the stakes up and blood boiling. Use all the tricks you need here - the villain using shadows to snipe with a crossbow, hiring/threatening goons into service, a mafia boss who mistakenly thinks you're after him and could be persuaded to cooperate in bringing this wildcard psycho down, etc etc.

2016-11-25, 03:53 PM
Thanks, Greywolf. Good advice. Can you think of any existing mods I might use? There must be some good ones out there. Maybe the players investigate a series of blood murders and the killer turns out to be a werewolf, or something.

2016-11-27, 08:32 PM

Really? No love. Nobody has ever played a good "whodunit" in any system ever?!