Christmas Morning (The Scream)

The characters will enjoy a good night's sleep though the coming morning will be far less peaceful.

You awake to see a steaming cup of tea on your bedside table and the sound of the bedroom door being gently shut. A stocking hangs from the mantelpiece with a brightly wrapped present sticking out of it.

Glancing out of the window reveals a winter wonderland. The sky is blue, the sun is shining but everything is white, covered in several feet of pristine snow. In the trees, large icicles have formed and catch the light, giving everywhere a magical look.

As the characters dress themselves they can examine the scene out of the window. There has been a massive amount of snow overnight and thick drifts are visible. No one will be leaving the house today.

Each character has a present wrapped in red paper in their stocking. Examination before unwrapping makes it obvious that it is a book. Each character receives a different book.

The Aristocrat
'A History of Stately Homes.' The book has chapters on all the major homes in the country including the Aristocrat's own.
The Old One
'The Gardener's Guide to Roses.' An illustrated guide to growing roses.
Private Eye
'Heroes of the American West.' A rather gaudy and lowbrow book on the famous gunslingers of the American West.
Eastern Wisdom
'China and the New World.' A book on the politics of China and the Americas.
Kid Reporter
'The Times Atlas of the World.' A large atlas focusing mostly on the British Empire. There is also a bone with a ribbon around it for the Little White Dog.
The European
'Homer's Iliad.' A copy of the classic Greek work translated into the European's native language.

The books are all red herrings placed by Jimmy Cheese to keep the detectives guessing. They also allow the Game Leader to build up the atmosphere before …

The Scream

A female scream is heard coming from the back of the house, possibly outside. A few moments later doors bang and there are more shouts. Any character rushing to see what has happened will see Jimmy Cheese in the doorway of his room. Leaning on his sticks he calls out to ask what is happening. If the characters don't come rushing to investigate, one of the staff will come to get them.

Either the maids, the cook or Tim the houseboy will have 'discovered' the body of Henry the groundsman in his cottage. They were (or at least they say they were) sent to fetch Henry after he did not show up for his breakfast. Whoever 'discovered' the body will now be sobbing in the kitchen being comforted by another member of staff. This may involve a glass of brandy.

Henry's Murder

Late last night, as Henry sat for a quiet beer whilst reading the local paper, his murderer paid him a visit. The two chatted for a little while and then his murderer struck him about the head with a large and heavy icicle. The murderer's original plan had been to stab him with a kitchen knife but death by icicle was a more fitting crime for the great detectives to solve. However, in the cold conditions the icicle would not melt so the killer piled the fire high with wood and coal before leaving.

It doesn't matter who murdered Henry, which is part of Jimmy Cheese's plan. One of the staff was responsible and all are capable of it. Even Jimmy Cheese could have done it, though the two prime candidates are Newgate the Butler and Johnny the Footman. Mrs Baxter the Cook and Tim the Hall Boy are possibilities with the two maids as unlikely but plausible killers.

Murder Scene - External

Henry's cottage is about 20 yards behind the main house, next to the garage. It is a small two-roomed structure with a bedroom and a kitchen / living room. An outhouse behind the cottage provides toilet facilities.

There has been a heavy snow fall overnight, the ground is covered with over two feet of snow and large icicles hang from trees and gutters.
A pathway of freshly-disturbed snow runs between the back door of the manor house and the cottage. Apart from the pathway the snow around is completely undisturbed.
Only one set of footprints runs to and from the cottage, belonging to whichever staff member discovered the body.
Several large icicles hang down from the cottage's guttering plus one spot where it appears that one icicle has broken off.
Murder Scene - Internal

Inside, the cottage is cramped but it is clearly a home. A few knick-knacks and photos can be seen amongst the tools and the clutter of daily life. Overall, it appears well cared for and tidy. Henry's body sits at the table, slumped face down over a bloodstained newspaper. By him is a knocked over beer glass and the beer, blood and newspaper have made a soggy mess. The table occupies much of the room and Henry's chair is close to the fireplace.

All the trails of blood from the injury match the pools of blood on the table so there is no evidence that the body has been moved.
There is a lot of ash in the fire place that is still warm, suggesting there was a roaring fire last night.
The rug underneath the table is coated with ice. (From the icicle that was melted by the fire and then refroze once the fire died down)
The fire tongs used for putting logs and coals on the fire place are casually discarded to one side. This is out of place with the rest of the cottage where everything is neatly put away.

There is a lot of information the characters can gather about the cause of death:

The body is cold and the cause of death appears to be a blunt object.
The back of the skull is caved in, suggesting an attack from behind.
The dead man was struck several times in the same place, though the first blow probably knocked him unconscious.

Trying to piece together the timeline of events will provide the sleuths with clues.

The stiffness of the body suggests he has been dead for several hours (1920s forensic science cannot be more precise than this).
It was still snowing until the early hours so any footprints from last night will have been covered.
The Staff

The scream and the servants' reactions are all faked and designed to bring the detectives into the crime scene. Detectives taking the time to assess a staff member's emotions or body language may learn something. Tip to Game Leaders: though all the staff are faking their reactions, draw the sleuths' attention to only one or two of them. If the detectives have a suspect, they will pay less attention to the other staff members.

All the staff are dressed, ready for work but looked shocked and are milling around uncertainly.
Whoever discovered the body has snow on their shoes and the bottom of their dress / trousers. Everyone else is dry.
One person doesn't look as shocked as the others (most likely one of the male servants).
One member of staff (probably Mrs Baxter the Cook or Tim the Hall Boy) will constantly interrupt as the sleuth attempts to question whoever discovered the body. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to distract the sleuth.

All the staff will be cooperative but the Game Leader should not allow questioning to become too detailed. The crime scene should be the focus of the players' attention. Once the characters have found all they can at the crime scene it is time to move on to the next fixed scene, Breakfast.

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open/oneshots/ultralite/mincepiesmurder/fixedscences/christmas_morning.txt · Last modified: 2014/03/10 11:59 by darth_tigger
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