(Special thanks to an old friend of mine, Grymalkin, who helped to make the monologue more stylish.)
''twas ten years ago I think...aye, I was with the city guard back then. I knew my streets, and those who walked 'em. I knew what the dangers were. Most of 'em, they stayed right in line, too much violence being bad for business, that sort of thinking.
Then a new scourge fell upon the lowly 'uns. 'twas on a day like this... well, I didn't notice at first. A body was found, a streetgirl, her throat slit right open, jus' like that.
Little harm done, you'd say, and maybe a good riddance even, but there were more. A few, then a few more, then all of a sudden it's more than a dozen. Who cared? Streetgirls, some paradise-peddlers, petty thieves. All found cold right there at night, or in the broad daylight, and all dead as a door nail.'
Pause, a sip of the cheap beer.
'Well I cared. There was one pretty, Lucilla, mmmm... had nothing with her, don't get me wrong. But we had an understanding, us two. A bit of jokin', a bit of names-callin', if you know what I mean.
And then they found her, killed like an animal...'
Pause, a small drink, a sigh.
'So I got to it. And you know, the big ones, who rule the streets, they move slowly. But you feel when they do. People gettin' nervous, fights, heard there was a lynching even. Well, no part was found of the poor sod they caught. But the bodies, they still appeared.
Three more... and it stopped. After a year, jus' like that! We figured somebody put the bloke to rest, but, never knew.
Me, I quit a few years after. It wasn't the same anymore.'
A deep drink. After a while he looks up, and starts to whisper.
'They found a body again. Then another, then another. Same killings as before, it must be the same man! They keep it quiet, 'cause people would get crazy again. I got friends in the watch, they tell me the stories. Won't take long until the last beggar knows, and then it gets ugly.
This one took me long to figure out. Look outside, cloudy, aye? But it's not all clouds, there's holes, with light shining through.
You know, this guy must be insane. I noticed, that it was always a cloudy day, with little sun coming through. I believe, when beams of light fall on the city, the killer looks for one. And if he finds it, whatever goes on in his crazy head will make him kill again!'
He finishes the mug, a sad smile on his face.
'So that's it. You've got to find a beam of light, on a cloudy day... but there won't be no treasure at its end, not in this city. I've no idea why he kills, and I don't want to know. You just got to stop him.
You claim to be righteous... will you, uh, 'pursue justice', if no one will help you, and there is no great reward waiting for you?'
Today, the Undertown Killer is still well-known in the city.
Most of the stories have turned into fables about demons and horrible deformed creatures, but many still remember.
Hurry is required, for it will take two more victims for the initial rumours to grow into a panic. The guards choose to keep it quiet for now, but may be persuaded to some cooperation if suitably approached. Don't expect too much though.
1. There is indeed a killer on the loose, a madman who thinks to be blessed by the gods. He seeks the blessing by sunlight before each kill. Will the characters catch him, racing after beams of light across the city, looking like madmen themselves?
The long break was no accident, the killer went blind, and considered himself cursed for some transgression from the god that supported him before. But the one new thing in town, is a capable healer, able to cure many ailments, even his blindness.
And so the madman is a devout follower of this holy man, while embracing his renewed role as godly revenge. Should the PCs approach the saint, that is completely innocent in this matter, and openly preaches of the power of light, the killer might attack them, or be warned that he is sought.
2. Years ago, a young man of a powerful family came into power. Trouble is, he would become very visible, and was far from an angel before. He had a vice like few had, and no one would ever admit. Inside the brothels and shady streets, it mattered little, but a young politician would be destroyed soon even in this city of filth.
A loyal servant, a true asset of the family, has cleaned up this past, and removed all that knew of the secret.
And what happened now? Perhaps the lord returned to his 'pastime' again, or the servant has succumbed to his conscience at last, becoming mad himself... whichever way it turns out, it won't be pretty, especially in the political context.
The murders were all commited in a certain distance from the servant's home (but not immediate neighbourhood), so getting all the locations together should provide a strong clue where to look first.
3. It was a dark cult all the years ago, that preyed on the weak and immoral first, to eventually extend its grasp over everyone else. Noble heroes have defeated them, and kept the evil in secret to protect the innocent.
But they were not defeated completely, or someone stepped into their place now.
It will take some skill to find the truth most chose to forget, and yet more to defeat the cult. A reward will come only if all is kept private.
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? Responses (19)
very nice! I have always been a fan of serial killer/modern crime stuff, spun off into fantasy. Nice and subtle 3-way plot, with plenty of room for chaos, surprises and ambiguity!
also, the 'Undertown Killer' is a great name.
Nice job on the introductory jibber-jabber.
I enjoyed your grim little mystery and predict that I will soon be able to use it in a game. Its elements have all been seen before, but they are capably described and presented with an invigorating Victorian flair. It makes me want to dust off Bassage Market and The Dovecote Rookery and set my PCs to hunting there...
'Come, Dr. Watson! The game's afoot!'
Ahh! They say utilization is the sincerest form of flattery - and if you actually connect it with Bassage Market, then that is high praise indeed.
Thanks! Let me know how it turned out, if you try it.
When the Shark Bites!
Nice one! Setting it in Bassage Market would be brilliant!
I like this-the game is afoot!
I am a big fan of mysteries and murders in the game. A great piece!
I love the introduction, it- and the options evokes a dark gritty noir feeling. Splendid work Manfred.
Can anyone say "Jack the Ripper" - good luck with that one
I've definately got to use this in my current game - especially as couple of my players are running female charaters (of a somewhat less than honest nature I might add) - never hurts to scare the PCs a little
Nothing particuarly original but a good solid plot nonetheless - like it a lot - 4/5
Ah, the Tales of Adventure. These were some of my favorite plots, simply because of how variable they can be when used. Very nicely done. This could be easily used in any setting.
We clearly need more of these! (And thanks.)
Testing for manfred, post site back online
Thank you! And we are back!
Hah, I've been wracking my brains trying to come up with an urban plot for my party for this coming Saturday, and I was glad enough when the run was postponed a week. I think I'll use this one!
Great submission. Going to modify it for use in my own game.
I combined several of your options with some extra and setting specific flare. In my version the Undertown Killer's victims always smell of flowers - the scent of a paralytic distilled from a rare flower type.
The killer is the son of a local politician, a boy who had some rather cruel tastes at the local brothels, and kept that a secret. But when one of the prostitutes threatened his father with the information, his father flew into a rage and berated his son, threatening to disown him to avoid scandal. Having lived a life of leisure to this point, and believing himself far above commoners, this was unacceptable.
The boy, not being much physically, used the paralytic to stop his victims resisting before he slit their throat. When he was finished his gruesome work by killing all the women who knew of his predilections, and went to show his abusive father how he'd 'made it all better', the father flew into a rage and hurled a vial of the paralytic at him. Getting in his eyes, it blinded him.
It's not until twenty years later, when the father is long dead and the city my game takes place in is coming out of it's economic depression, that the killer pops up again. Why? Because a good healer has moved into the town, and promptly healed his blindness.
In those dark twenty years the Undertown Killer was only able to think about his own cruel fetishes, the knife, the blood, and the poison all long since having become part of his sick fascination. He's had twenty years to become obsessed with reliving it. And now he's back to kill again.
. . . . That explanation got long fast. Heh! Thanks for the story seed!
Happy to oblige!
This is a wonderful plot, very Jack the Ripper. Simple in nature and wondering why it was never done before but as had been said previously the monolog at the beginning is the park that set it to fire for me. The speaker can be put right into the session as the players over hear him or even sit down and talk to the disturbed man. I love it.
This has some very nice flair to it for Jack the Ripper....eh...Rip off.