Mystery and crime-solving adventures have always presented a fascinating alternative to typical fantasy role-playing game (RPG) fare, while also presenting a formidable design challenge for the Dungeon Master (DM). At first glance, it is apparent that the mystery fiction author has a pronounced advantage over the RPG adventure designer; the former has control over the actions of all characters involved in the story, while the latter only has control over the non-player character (NPC) criminals and neutrals. As a result, the challenge behind writing a mystery adventure involves how the DM can bring the protagonists (in this case, the heroes) to a solution to a crime at an engaging pace and appropriate difficulty while having no control over the primary characters whatsoever.
The solution to this problem dates back to 1928. Continue reading