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Expanding "Murder in the Footlights"


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"Murder in the Footlights" is a free introductory mini-scenario downloadable at Chaosium's website. Let me know what you think. Do these characters require stats? Are there enough redundant clues to meet the "Three Clue Rule"? What else would you add to make the scenario complete?

Expansion for Troy Wilhelmson’s “Murder in the Footlights”

The free mini-scenario “Murder in the Footlights” has a great villain and evocative set pieces for the final confrontation. I like the fact that although the antagonist is a mad stage magician, the adventure doesn’t require the supernatural or the Cthulhu Mythos to be effective. However, because of its brevity, it jumps immediately from the introduction to what would ordinarily be the final stage of the player-characters’ investigation. My goal in writing this expansion is to fill out the parts in between with clues, suspects, and necessary non-player characters. Author Troy Wilhemson provides an immediate hook by informing us that the missing girl, Rose Murphy, associated with “rather dubious men” – hence her politician father’s desire to keep the search for her a quiet, private one.

NPCs and Clues

Estelle Vaughn

Miss Vaughn is Rose Murphy’s best friend. She went with her to the vaudeville theater twice before Miss Murphy’s disappearance and is sure that she was followed home the second time (she was, by The Great Raspini’s henchman, Otto). Fortunately, she ran into a beat cop. Estelle reports that Rose wanted to see The Great Raspini’s performance both times and found the man fascinating, although Estelle says Raspini struck her as “creepy.” Miss Vaughn turned down Rose’s invitation to attend a third performance with her.

Estelle can tell the investigators the names of some of Rose Murphy’s disreputable beaus: Rex Stanton, actor; Mick Hanley, small-time hood; Brad Sedgewood, jazz musician; and Steve Franks, boxer.

Rex Stanton

A would-be actor and former college classmate of Miss Murphy, Rex Stanton dated Rose a few times, liked her a lot, but was told firmly that she didn’t want to get serious with anyone. He was also told to stay away from Rose by another beau, Mick Hanley, a minor member of one of Boston’s criminal gangs. “She really goes for the bad boys,” Stanton says wistfully. The fact that he couldn’t afford to take her to fancy places like the Hornbill Club probably didn’t help his chances, either.

Stanton waits tables at The Golden Bun diner when he isn’t rehearsing with his acting troupe. They have performed at the vaudeville theater several times; Rose first went there to see him act in a show. He can tell PCs of the rumors that the theater’s prop room is haunted but he never saw anything strange going on himself.

Mick Hanley

Hanley grew up on the street and works for the Boss Flannery organization as a lookout and “collection agent.” He isn’t as tough or as important as he likes to pretend. Mick enjoys flashy clothes, flashy cars, and flashy girls. He was immediately attracted to Rose Murphy when he met her at the vaudeville theater and took her out to various speakeasies and jazz clubs after warning off Rex Stanton. He hangs out at Ace’s Pool Parlor and will resent PCs who ask too many questions, threatening to make them disappear, “like that crazy magician at the vaudeville theater.” He’ll talk, though, if they bribe him, call his bluff, or imply that police might suspect him in Miss Murphy’s disappearance.

Mick Hanley took Rose Murphy to the Hornbill Club the night she disappeared. They had a fight and separated; Hanley is vague about the exact circumstances. “I suppose she went to see that stupid magic act again.”

Brad Sedgewood

Brad is a trumpet player at the Hornbill Club, a popular jazz restaurant that Rose Murphy frequented. He danced with her several times on occasions when she wasn’t escorted. “Rosie’s a sweet kid but a bit wild, “he says. “She’ll make some fellow a good wife when she settles down.”

Two nights ago (the night Murphy disappeared), Sedgewood saw Rose come in with Hanley. When the latter became loud and disrespectful to her during dinner, Brad had the Hornbill Club bouncer toss Hanley out. Sedgewood offered to pay for her dinner and asked her to stay for the show. Rose thanked him but said, “no,” that she had someplace else to be.

Eve Longstreet

A dancer at the vaudeville theater, Longstreet came to know Rose Murphy casually because she was such a regular patron. She may show up at The Golden Bun or other locations the investigators might visit looking for Miss Murphy because she wants to pay back the $5 Rose had loaned her. Like Estelle Vaughn, Miss Longstreet can identify the men Murphy has been hanging out with recently.

Longstreet reports that she, too, has been followed from the theater and once saw a tall, gaunt figure lurking in the shadows. She managed to catch a late cab to escape. Eve can tell the PCs of the haunted prop room. She reports that Rose seemed fascinated by the magician Raspini but she regards him as a lecher, since he always seems to be ogling young women in the audience.

Steve Franks

A rising professional boxer who works as a part-time bouncer at the Hornbill Club, Franks has dated Rose Murphy several times. She even attended one of his fights. He was only too happy to shove “that thug” Mick Hanley out the Hornbill Club’s door. He and Sedgewood have been friendly rivals for Rose’s attention. Franks reports he offered to take Miss Murphy home after the disturbance with Hanley or to call her a cab. She declined, saying she had somewhere else she could go. “Probably the vaudeville theater,” he says. "She practically lives there.”

Edited by seneschal
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I almost ran this scenario as an introductory scenario, but felt it needed more 'meat on the bone' - your additional info sure would of helped me flesh it out. I ended up running the scenario about the Harlem jazz player and the Mob, the one where the jazz player has an instrument of Nylarthotep which raises the dead, ending up in a zombie monster mash-up.

It was a great scenario but I would have preferred 'Murder in the Footlights' for an introduction if it had more collateral. Having a villain get away in the end can be quite useful as a reoccurring character.

Someone is bound to benefit from your efforts

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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