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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    GnomeWizardGuy

    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    In my game around 100 years ago a series of murders caused some very bad stuff to happen. (Reason the world is the way it is now IC) My players want to try to find out what actually happened as they think it could make things better despite fact that the murders took place 100 years ago and it has been suggested to them IC that it won't do any good. I don't have any idea how they might go about investigating the murders. I don't want to try to tell my players they can't try to investigate the murders though.
    Hence my question
    How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    Some information that may be relevant.

    System: Pathfinder

    Setting: Homebrew Fanasty Setting

    Players Current level : 1st

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Protecting my Horde (yes, I mean that kind)

    Default Re: How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    Quote Originally Posted by somethingrandom View Post
    In my game around 100 years ago a series of murders caused some very bad stuff to happen. (Reason the world is the way it is now IC) My players want to try to find out what actually happened as they think it could make things better despite fact that the murders took place 100 years ago and it has been suggested to them IC that it won't do any good. I don't have any idea how they might go about investigating the murders. I don't want to try to tell my players they can't try to investigate the murders though.
    Hence my question
    How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    Some information that may be relevant.

    System: Pathfinder

    Setting: Homebrew Fanasty Setting

    Players Current level : 1st
    Magic and grave robbing. The tried and true method to resolve anything for an adventurer.

    In seriousness the easiest methods are going to be spells that let them communicate with the dead, so they can at least get clues, and then working on putting those together.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    John Longarrow's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Barstow, CA

    Default Re: How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    Quote Originally Posted by somethingrandom View Post
    Hence my question
    How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?
    I think this is up to the players to decide. As DM, you don't need to provide anything that gives them leads. They need to work out what skills/spells/what not they need to figure it out.

    I'm guessing that as DM you know who the killer is, why they committed the murders, and what was so special about these killing that make them different. Let the players try stuff, let them go poking around, let them ask questions.

    They will either decide they can't figure it out now, decide they won't be able to figure it out, or start bringing attention to themselves that they may or may not want. Fact is if your players want to do this, I'd say let them! They are forging their own plot hooks for you to use!
    Few things are more disturbing to a dragon than to be attacked by a naked gnome slathered in BBQ sauce.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Germany
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    Maybe someone did investigate the murders a hundred years ago, but fell victim to the murderer or was silenced by his superiors? If so, there might be a journal with clues and theories. Elven or dwarven witnessed might still be alive. Likewise, the perpetrator may still be alive (or undead).

  5. - Top - End - #5

    Default Re: How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    They could talk to some of the races who would have been alive at the time. Dwarves and elves spring to mind.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Default Re: How might players attempt to solve a 100 year old series of murders?

    As the DM, I suggest that you make sure you know the following things:
    • Who/what actually did the murdering
    • Why they did the murdering
    • What kind of investigation was done at the time
    • Why that investigation didn't "solve" the murders (or why that solution was in turn suppressed)


    That last one is kind of key. In the real world, it seems "cold case" murders are generally solved because either better tools become available (like DNA testing) so the existing evidence can yield new information, more evidence is found (such as actually finding the body or murder scene), or someone confesses (either a witness or the killer). "They just didn't look hard enough, and 100 years later we looked harder but in the exact same way and somehow the evidence was still there, so we found it even though they didn't" is kind of unlikely unless there were reasons the original investigation was not done well (which there might well have been in your case, since it sounds like these murders set off some world-changing events, and thus people may have had bigger fish to fry than solving them).

    After you know why the murders are still unsolved, you can think about what kind of additional/new techniques the PCs may have available to use, and what evidence available to the original investigation remains. I suggest that you also look at what magic is available in the campaign world to figure out what spells would have already been tried (and why they didn't work), and get an idea of what spells the PCs might want to try. I don't play Pathfinder, but in GURPS I remember various spells for finding out the history of what happened to certain objects or in certain locations, so those could become relevant if available in your setting. (Also various other forms of divination/information magic.) If these tools weren't used at the time, why not? If they were, why didn't that solve the mystery?

    Possible hooks:
    • One of the murders was investigated by a police organization that has enough organizational continuity to still have some case notes from 100 years ago. However, they don't see any reason to let a band of scruffy outsiders go through their fragile, confidential archives. The PCs will either need to work their way into their good graces, or possibly go over their head and convince the city government that they need access.
    • Similar, but one of the murders was instead investigated by a noble who liked to play detective (and may not have had any skill or training in this area, just enthusiasm, money, and spare time). He collected a wad of "evidence" and kept a notebook full of "clues". The PCs would have to track down stories about this guy to find out that he did so, then find out where his descendants put all of this "junk" and convince them to grant access. (This might be a good way for them to find clues that were not followed up at the time, assuming the PCs have some kind of actual training in appropriate procedures to do so.)
    • One of the murder scenes has been preserved more-or-less intact for some reason (family simply boarded up that wing of their rambling mansion, everyone at a remote shrine was murdered and the shrine was simply abandoned after that, or whatever - this almost never makes actual sense, but might make good-enough-for-the-game sense depending on setting and murder details). PCs would need to, again, convince someone to give them access, and also possibly adventure to someplace inconveniently located.


    Finally, assuming this wasn't The Actual Plot You Had In Mind, think about how you're going to weave hooks to the adventure(s) you had in mind into their murder investigation sidequest. The murder investigation might be a good way to get them to explore certain areas, learn about the history of something, meet some NPC contacts, or stumble across something that's going on right now. That way, if they do get stymied in their murder investigation (which is quite possible if you decide the reason the murders were never solved is for the kind of reason that would also keep the PCs from having a reasonable chance of solving them), they'll have built up some other plot/adventure hooks while going down that blind alley and the game can keep going as the players decide to follow up on one of those instead.

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