In this session, we once again experimented with porting A Weekend in the Country (Second Edition) by Lari Assmuth to a different setting and victim. We used the Mythic GM Emulator’s event meaning tables to produce random subject/action pairs to prompt our changes.
Note: We didn’t have a tumbling tower on hand, so we tried to replicate the threat mechanic from the rulebook using cards. We removed 1d6 cards from a secondary deck prior to each clue, representing the time spent searching. A joker meant there’d been a murder. For each murder, we randomly drew which of the remaining suspects had been killed and randomly rolled the location in which the body was found.
Author’s Description: Spend a weekend relaxing in the Adlers’ country home with the old cavalry colonel, his wife, his family friends and his staff. Until… a murderer strikes!
This session: Spend a weekend relaxing at a ski lodge on a remote mountain top with a wealthy heiress and her entourage. Until… a murderer strikes!
Desirée “Dizzy” Peacemaker, wealthy heiress and fangirl of the Flycatcher detectives (she/her)
Jax (J♥), engaged to Dizzy, but not from a rich family (they/them)
Roger (K♠), friend of Jax, an artist from a wealthy family (he/him)
Agnes (Q♦), executor of Dizzy’s trust (she/her)
Alex (J♣), longtime minder of Dizzy as caretaker/chaperone/servant (they/them)
Flycatcher Detective Agency, operated by twins Ursa and Ned Flycatcher, whose slogan is, “You catch more flies with us!” Dizzy invited them for a weekend ski getaway because she’s a big fan of theirs, closely following their cases in the news. (The Flycatchers were first seen in Early Retirement.)
Bedroom Suites, Great Hall, Basement, Utility Shed, Kitchens
1. Bedroom/3 cards/10♠: Still in her nightgown and bathrobe, Ursa feels a cold draft while investigating the murder scene. There’s an open window in Dizzy’s second-story bedroom.
2. Utility shed/5 cards/9♠: Ned goes to check whether all the snowmobiles are still present. Along the way he finds a pendant in the snow.
3. Great hall/3 cards. Joker! Reset deck. Ursa, now fully awake and dressed, heads to the great hall, where she finds Agnes, looking terrified. Roger’s body is here. 7♥: Agnes reports that she heard an argument, but couldn’t make out many details, just that there was maybe a male voice.
4. Basement/2 cards/6♥: Ned suggests that Ursa top off her coffee in the kitchens while he investigates the basement. She passes him a knife for safety. On the staircase down, Ned finds an SD card. The photos on it are compromising, but only Dizzy is identifiable in them, not the other person.
5. Kitchens/6 cards/4♠: Ursa learns that the cook saw someone on the ski lift late last night.
6. Bedrooms/5 cards/4♣: Ned speaks with the housekeeping staff, some of whom saw Jax near Dizzy’s room last night.
7. Utility shed/5 cards. Joker! Reset deck. Ursa finds Alex dead in the utility shed, behind a door that was supposed to be locked. 7♠: The mechanic reports being up late last night fixing a snowmobile and hearing harsh words exchanged between Jax and Agnes.
There are now only two suspects remaining, Jax (hearts) and Agnes (diamonds). If we flip another Joker, one of them will be found dead, and the other will escape unscathed, a murderer at large. Also, if we accuse but are proved wrong, the same result will play out. Right now, we have two pair, 7s and 4s. Two pair is a weak poker hand. It only beats a single pair or a high card. We (and Ned and Ursa) agonize for quite a while on whether to accuse or risk pressing on for more clues. With the cards we have in play, the only draw that could really help us is a 4 or a 7. (Drawing a spade would give us a flush, but we can’t accuse with that because the spade character, Roger, is already dead—and therefore innocent.) After some probability analysis, we decide to risk an accusation.
With two pair, 7s and 4s, we must accuse Jax because we have no diamond clues at all. Ned and Ursa confront Jax for murdering Dizzy. It’s a sloppily assembled accusation, muddling jealousy over Dizzy’s relationship with Roger (7♥) and anger over terms of the inheritance managed by Agnes (7♠). The twins accuse Jax of sneaking around Dizzy’s room at night (4♣), murdering her, and escaping out the window (10♠) onto the nearby ski lift (4♠).
With two pair, As and Js, Jax refutes the claims of Ursa and Ned. Of course Jax was up near Dizzy’s room at night—they were to be wed! Inspired by the A♣ in the defense hand, we narrate the outcome as follows. As Jax argues in their own defense, they pick up a glass from the sideboard and take a drink. Then they start to choke and then collapse in convulsions. Ursa realizes it was her glass that Jax drank from! She drops to her knees to check on them, but Jax is already dead. Hearing the sound of a snowmobile, Ned rushes to the window. He sees Agnes speeding off into the whirling snow. There is no way to bring her to justice now. For the first time, the Flycatchers have lost a case.
The threat mechanic we tried out here was definitely tenser than the die-rolling one we used in our earlier games, but we don’t like it as much as the tumbling tower. It has the advantage of portability, since it just needs a deck of cards, but it needs a bit more tinkering. That said, we enjoyed the tension of the murders during the investigation, and we really agonized over whether to accuse when we did. So in that respect, this threat mechanic worked for getting us emotionally involved in the game.