RPPR Episode 143: Murder She Wrote My Scenario

News: Get Zombies of the World and both Base Raiders supplements for $30! I will also be attending Go Play NW this month. I don’t have a schedule yet for games I will run yet but I will post on social media when I do. Stay tuned!

Synopsis:The small town mystery is an old but still viable subgenre. From Murder She Wrote to Stranger Things, we can’t get enough of local citizens sleuthing brutal murders and occult conspiracies. Shaun, Caleb, and I discuss the genre and how to use it in a tabletop RPG environment and how to apply elements of it in other genres and games. We also have an Unknown Armies anecdote!

Shout Outs

  • Bestiary 6: I finally had time to read the latest monster book from Paizo. Lots of interesting critters that could be used in other games.
  • Cadfael: A TV show about a medieval monk solves crime through deduction. It helps that all the bodies are dumped in the same pond.
  • Outcasts: A sc-fi TV show about a space colony that has to deal with mysteries and surviving in a harsh universe.
  • Belly of the Beast: A tabletop RPG about surviving in belly of a giant monster. An AP is coming!
  • 8 Tracks: Music streaming site that emphasizes playlists created by users.
  • Mystery in Space Volume 2/The Weird: A little known DC hero vs a jerk JLA.
  • The Murderbot Diaries: A great sci-fi novella about a rogue robot that just wants to watch TV but has to keep its free will secret.
  • 28 Days Later Omnibus: a collection of comics set in the same post-apocalyptic universe as the movie.
  • Agents of Dreamland: an excellent new interpretation of the Cthulhu Mythos in the modern era.
  • We also talked a bit about Wonder Woman and Nier Automata. Both are good.

Song: ?????_?????????.adx by High School Drama Teacher

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  1. One a related note, talking about matters of scale, when I ran Deathwatch RPG, I learned firsthand in the very first scenario that the death of one person may be a tragedy but the death of billions is but a mere statistic. Something to keep in mind.

  2. Also, if honesty is counted as a defense – I would say in defense of Kojima when asked before MGSV came out about Quiet’s character design he was very up front with “we want to sell figurines and get hot cosplay chicks”. The weird, esoteric and preternatural explanations of things is almost a part of his style – it would be stranger if there wasn’t some weird shit going on there. Like Volgin’s inexplicable power over electricity in MGS3.

    Which I think has still NEVER BEEN EXPLAINED.

  3. Speaking of a small town with an arcaneish thing behind it is a game called A Night in the Woods. May want to look into it.

  4. I misheard someone saying something in the beginning. And that took my brain to setting a murder mystery in Tolkien Shire. Now I want to run that game. Hobbit murders. Obviously the reason for the murders is some cursed treasure brought home by Bilbo or Frodo. Now with both of them gone years and years ago the curse has taken root in the shire. The question is what system to set it in ?

  5. I love the Hobbit murders, Fridrik! Would totally play that game.

    I think Caleb’s theory about regionalist/local color being the primary emotional draw was really insightful. And it points out the difference between urban setting stories that tend to be more procedural-structured, and small town stories that are more character-focused.

    I also think there’s a very major stylistic difference between episodic “murder of the week” stories, and longer-form serialized mystery stories like Stranger Things that you guys didn’t really touch on much. In RPGs, this is similar to the one-shot/campaign difference. A series of interconnected one-shots following a strict formula would be more like a Murder She Wrote-style gamee, while a longer campaign would be more like Stranger Things or Twin Peaks.

    Speaking of Twin Peaks. a couple of things: they did in fact resolve the central Laura Palmer murder mystery in the show, about half way through the second season. It really robbed the whole show of its structural force, and the rest of it kinda petered out into various silly subplots with only occasion flickers of interest. BUT I highly recommend you all check out the new third season, which eschews all the limiting strictures of normal TV and takes things in a much more Unknown Armies direction. It’s been a heck of a ride so far.

  6. Author

    I liked Trekie’s cosmic horror of the week campaign idea. Also, Kojima protested way too much about Quiet’s character design.

  7. The Cadfael TV show is great. The novels by Ellis Peters that the show was on are also very good, and maybe better because it doesn’t have to conform that BBC time limit and episode format.

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