View Full Version : Help me construct an adventure: "Fun at the Opera House"

2008-04-05, 08:35 PM
Hokay, I'm calling on the collective creative talents of the forum here to help me piece together an urban murder mystery which I've decided to base around an opera house. Y'see I've got a lot of ideas, some good and some bad, and because of the structural McGuffin I've set for the adventure (more on that in a sec) I'm finding it a challenge to string it all together.

This isn't for any major campaign, note. This is only gonna be a few sessions so the fine detail in this world will be missing- the city doesn't even have a name yet.

Spoiler'd to save space:

The Set Up:
"The damning silence as the sweet nightsong emanating from the bowels of the city's grand opera house, filtering out into the cobbled streets, is swiftly snuffed; the vaccuum of sound pendulously filled by shrieking and shouts of alarm. Murder! All those present outside turn to face the edifice in confusion and spot a shadowy figure flit amongst the chimney stacks, fleeing the scene of the crime.."

The players take on the role of pre-written characters, witnessess to the scene at the very moment the murder takes place, who, after attempting to catch the rooftop assailant, find themselves tasked with getting to the bottom of the murder investigation (the characters each have their reasons for getting involved so don't sweat the details). After the city watch stumble onto the scene and see the work our supposed "heroes" have accomplished they'll be expecting their help in solving the case; this is sweetened by the opera house's proprietor providing the bounty reward and footing the bill.

The problem lies with the murder itself. The victim was the understudy of the female lead, shot through the heart with a crossbow bolt. A message is attached describing that the female lead will be next, the time being the opening night for the opera's big performance, in three nights time. Given that in this city, opera is quite the affair amongst the high society, even royalty attend, they can't cancel what could very well mark the biggest night of the year in the opera house's history. That leaves the party tonight, two whole days and the final hours before opening night.

Essentially broken up into 3-4 sessions. What I ideally envisage is:

The initial evening and 1st day: After a dramatic rooftop/street scramble the investigation begins; talking to a variety of colourful and furtive npcs that slowly build up a background image of the plot. Some information being easier to extract then others (read: combat). The session should end with a few key stones upturned and a few possible suspects emerging.

The 2nd day: As the plot begins to unfold and kinks start to emerge, their investigation leads them deeper into the strange and insidious world that is stage-life; evidence should start to be gathered in preparation for tomorrow. The session should wrap up on a "Big Reveal" that should throw the players, in anticipation for..

The 3rd day: The "Grand Finale" :smallsmile:, wherein the heroes scramble to conclude their investigation before the curtain rises and make a show (ho ho) of unmasking the real suspect. All singing and all dancing. :smallbiggrin:

The Plot:
The murder plot is actually quite simple. The egotistical male lead and star of the performance, Rannulph, has constructed quite the insidious scheme to try and win the heart of the stunningly beautiful female lead, Annette, who has so far been oblivious to most of his efforts (and is oblivious to most things, as you'll see below).
His scheme is thus: to hire an assassin to dispatch of her understudy, guaranteeing her attendance on opening night. The assassin is then assigned specific orders on how to undergo his next assignment, Annette, unaware of that Rannulph will double cross him, thwarting the attempt on her life and killing him, thus making Rannulph "the hero" in his attempt at taking her heart. Sure it's a mad scheme, but then again, so is he.

Some ideas:

-I wanted a wizard in on Rannulph's scheme. So we have "Morberk", a simpering weasel of a man, in charge of the opera house's special effects department. He had the misfortune of overhearing part of his plans and was quickly subdued by Rannulph when he attempted to intervene. Rannulph has made it clear to Morberk that he is quite dispensible if he happens to talk and, as added insurance against the wizard using magic on him, has torn precious pages out of Morberk's spellbook, rendering his magic, save for the odd cantrip, useless.

The players will find when they question Morberk highly aloof and callous over the affair, almost suspicious, even though he is innocent; merely embittered and generally a bit of a Rimmer-like cowardly bastard. If the party manage to eke out that he needs his pages returned and do so, he'll be willing to help them unmask Rannulph as the killer.

-Annette would be your typical airhead, totally sheltered from the real world by the life of the stage. When questioned she doesn't really understand that her very life is on the line here! The players may soon brush her off as a dead end, but teasing out the situation could reveal that she had a history of hatred for her understudy, wishing nothing more than her death. (Meow.. :smallamused: )

-The assassin is going to be an interesting one. This is a guy who's so confident in his abilities that he actually indulges his clients in whatever their malign little thoughts can dream up, concerning methods of elimination, no matter how outlandish. You could say it's his calling card, and also what interested Rannulph so, per his scheming. His superior talents means he would be a challenge for the pcs, were they to fight him. Because of the double cross I can almost see an impromptu truce forming between him and the party as they face Rannulph and his cronies.

-The deceased's husband. I really wanted to include the Avenging Executioner PrC somewhere so this guy was born. Imagine a man possessed almost by a savage inner demon who hounds the party, believing that in his grief-stricken madness that they are obstacles between him and the killer. He could almost be a surprise boss, when all the dust is cleared from the final battle..

-Because of the usage of assassins and given that this is an urban adventure, I wanted the criminal underworld to be part of the pc's world to investigate. Getting access to that information will be easier for some in the party than others..

There are other ideas to include but they vary in importance and such (plus I'm quite tired :smalltongue:). For now I ask can anyone think of things, specifically encounters, locations and npcs that would be fun to include? Can anyone think of a way to convolute the path the party takes in finding the evidence to solve the case? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and comments.

2008-04-05, 09:36 PM
Make one of the female PCs impersonate Annette during the big opera scene.

Also, Rannulph's outlandish scheme doesn't happen to involve the assassin dressing up like a giant octupus and pushing a 3 ton weight onto Annette's head, does it? That would give the other PCs time to try and intervene, since it would take at least 5 minutes for him to drop it!! :smallwink:

2008-04-05, 10:39 PM
I had a similar thread recently about a Phantom of the Opera-based adventure. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=76136) There might be something in there that'd be useable for your game.