Planning a MMORPG Mystery Event
By Black Label
September 2006

Everyone loves a good mystery. Why not incorporate a mystery as your next MMOG role-playing
event?  Creating a MMOG mystery event isn’t so hard but the delivery can be challenging. It does
take some planning and organization. I have been involved in a few mystery events with my guild and
my favorite has always been the Mystery Kidnapping.

To plan out a mystery kidnapping, you need to decide on the plot and answer three basic questions.
Who is the victim that gets kidnapped? Who is the villain? And most importantly, why? Once you
figure out these three things, you can plan out a kidnapping mystery event very easily.

Common victims and targets for kidnapping are the guild leader, the guild officer, or someone of
importance such as a beloved guild socialite or a newlywed bride. Whoever it is, it needs to be
someone loved by the guild so that his/her absence will make the guild rally together for one great
event.  You will need that player’s cooperation, participation and dedicated involvement for this event
to be believable. So find a member who you get along well and someone who can role-play well. You
can also choose a non guild member or a NPC for this role. The mayor’s daughter, the missing movie
star or the famous scientists are all good examples.

The villain can be anyone of your choosing. Pick a NPC from the MMOG you are playing, such as a
powerful dragon or a monster in games like World of Warcraft or one of the arch villains in games
like City of Heroes. Whoever it is, the villain should be formidable if it’s a MMOG NPC. Or, it can be
a player character you’ve created if you wish to role play. Deciding what you plan on accomplishing
in this event will help you decide whether a NPC or a PC villain is better suited.

The reason for kidnapping usually falls into one of these realms of possibilities. The most common
reason for a kidnapping is because the villain wants a ransom to be paid. Or perhaps the member is
kidnapped because of a love triangle or jealousy reasons. Worse yet, he/she is kidnapped because the
villain want to exact revenge on that member. Also think scientific and technological. Perhaps, the
villain needs to experiment with the victim or need to extract something or information (genetic code,
password, hair sample, lost memories, secret knowledge) from him/her. Or think magical.  Maybe
the kidnapper needs to perform a ritual or open a portal with the victim because of a specific family
tree or bloodline. Think devious! Perhaps the villain is corrupting the mind of the victim turning
him/her against his guild (implanting spyware device, hypnosis, or subliminal message triggering a
critical action) What ever the reason, the “why” is the most important part of the murder mystery
because that’s what the guild is trying to solve.

Once you know who did it, why it was done and who it was done upon, then you can start planning
the “mystery” portion of the event. This is what I called the delivery and it is the challenging part of
staging a mystery event. You must offer clues to the guild as they try to figure out what is happening.
The best way to ensure adequate delivery is to divide the event into several crucial sections.

The first section of the delivery is the Discovery phase. So you start off the event by discovering
something. This could be a ransom note, an empty bed, the police informing a missing person for 48
hours, a personal item (jewelry, badge, piece of uniform) left behind. Part of the discovery phase is
that there is a clue that is left behind. The second phase is called the Puzzle. This is where your guild
participants gather together in deciphering the puzzle and the mystery leading them to the next phase
that I call the Answer. In the Answer phase, the guild participants have figured out the clues and are
led to either a contact (NPC or PC), a raid or mission, or a location.      

Here is an example of the following:
Discovery: The mayor has contacted your guild because his daughter has been kidnapped.  The guild
gathers at the mayor’s house and interrogates him. They discover the ransom note.
(Create a PC mayor and place him in a location where you want the guild to meet him. Roleplay the
mayor’s concern about the missing daughter and give clues leading up to the ransom note)

Puzzle: The ransom note reads: “We ha fur dawter. Gif us 50 platanum or elz she dies!” The ransom
note can be posted on your guild website for all to see if you have an artistic member to create that
for you. It should give a clue. The clue provided here suggests the kidnappers have pretty bad
grammer or spelling, leading the guild to suspect orcs as the kidnappers.

Answers: The guild is led to an area full of orcs. A guild raid/hunt
 
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