We concluded my 'one-nighter' Victorian Shadows adventure after two nights, the second of which was a long night. I must say the fact it took two nights is mostly my fault. It had been a while since the group had played the game/characters and for the first outing a throw a mystery at them. The mystery was full of clues as to who abducted good Dr. Talbot and why. Lots of reasons to suspect everybody in the story, with every character having some flaws and suspicious behaviors.
When I build a mystery adventure I use a matrix to layout who knows what. It helps me make sure every NPC has some significant role, it helps me make sure that critical clues are available in multiple places (to avoid a critical clue going unfound), and during play it is a handy reference guide when the players are interacting with NPCs. It was a significant aid during this adventure.
Perhaps my favorite moments involved a couple of players struggling to determine the significance of the sack of fresh potatoes hidden under the housekeepers bed. The poor old woman was harvesting what was left of potato crops planted years ago and abandoned, and selling them on the side for a few coin. They revealed her to Dr. Talbot's son, believing this had something to do with the disappearance of his father. Sobbing, she confessed to stealing the potatoes and begged for forgiveness and her job. The son sarcastically applauded the team for solving the great potato crime while his father was still missing. The look on my players faces was priceless. When you plant red herrings in an adventure you can only hope they turn out so well.
The entire first evening of play was role playing. The choices the players made did not take them into any violent conflict. Regardless of that, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves even though they left the first night quite baffled.
In the end, the party did not quite figure out the mystery but did manage to save Dr. Talbot and prevent the object of the bad guys desires, the notebook of the famous geologist Déodat Gratet de Dolomieu, from falling into their hands. The finale involved encounters with shadow creatures including six legged wolves, a big foot like monster, and some small bipedal dog creatures and their shark mouthed, four eyed dog companions. The party fought back with guns (the weapons include a percussion cap 44 caliber six shot revolver, a Spencer carbine, and some other small bore pistols), knives, a crossbow, and some daring and questionable use of dynamite tossed by our resident mad chemist. So all ended well, even though Dr. Talbot has a bit of restoration work to perform on Alcott Manor.
It was a fun time, and I'll likely be running some more Victorian Shadows soon. Only this time the adventures will be less complicated and more likely to finish in a night. (ha!)
Turns out this is my 100th blog post. Although I am not prolific, this has also been fun, and I thank readers for stopping by and continue to welcome your comments.
The dice never lie.