A Series of Mysterious Events


For UANewsletter #37, in the second half of 2006, the staff of the UANL challenged the FRUA Community to create mystery-based adventures.  It was a fun idea, and one that quickly piqued my interested.  But then Hans posted a list of potential mysteries, seeds that could be used as the kernel for any number of individual storylines, and a weird idea came to mind.  What if I made one design, and incorporated all of these ideas.  With a title lifted from Lemony Snicket, my Series of Mysterious Events was born.  I didn’t answer all the questions, but I came pretty darn close!

Here’s the list, if you’d like to look for them while you play:

Why is your important client willing to pay so much to buy that <name of worthless trinket>?


Why is there fresh blood, for the third morning in a row, on the statue of <revered person>?


Why do all the horses refuse to travel <name of road>?


Why have all the cats begun to gather at the <name of old, abandoned house>?


Why are those vicious assassins trying to kill that <very unimportant person>?


Why are all the men of <name of village> blind?


Whose brain did they put in that flesh golem...?


Why does that 300-year-old portrait have your <wife's or husband's> face...?


Why does the Baron keep his son hidden away from the sight of the world?


Whose baby was left on the doorstep of the magician's guild, and why are all the magicians acting so strangely?


Who keeps digging up the body of your dear Aunt Eunice, and why...?


Who killed the notorious <type of monster> that was terrorizing the whole countryside, and why haven't they taken credit for it?


What could that odd spinster Agnes be doing so late at night in the swamp?


Why did that <type of monster> kill all your friends but spare you?


What's buried under the Cardinal's flower garden?


The King is returning this afternoon. He left one prince, but now there are two -- both identical in every way, each claiming to be the true prince.  Can you solve this riddle before the King arrives...?


What's the secret of the "Elminster Code"...?


"Dude, where's my chariot?"





Hi, everybody!

I found time to play Ray Dyer's UANL Mystery Challenge mod, "Game R10: A Series of Mysterious Events" (gamer10.zip), and I'm really impressed!

The mod is nicely paced, quite interesting, and fun. The new music and art were well-chosen. Evocative, descriptive text brought to life a variety of different settings. By Ray's adroit wordsmithing, drama was deftly added to many key scenes. Dialog between characters was equally flavorful. Background and depth of motivation were given to many important characters, including the player's own protagonist. Yet, none of those things is the real marvel of this mod...

By my count, Ray incorporates 13 (perhaps 14) different mystery scenario suggestions into a single storyline. When he said that he had done this, I wondered if he had used those mysteries simply as unrelated mini-quests in an episodic and meandering adventure, or, if he had done it the hard way by weaving all the individual threads into one, interconnected web of intrigue. To my delight, he did the latter. This type of multifaceted integration is a daunting artistic challenge for any author, but Ray accomplishes it in an unstrained and fascinating manner. Bravo!

The strengths of this mod are so worthy of praise that it seems nitpicky to mention any weaknesses. However, I must report that there are a few minor bugs of the repeating event variety. The party's first meeting with the cardinal should be a one-time-only occurrence, but if you try to explore his church, he will seem to develop a short-term memory problem. So will a few lesser characters, like the innkeeper and the barmaid.

Also, if you come from the wrong direction in the swamp, you may see an incident begin that you have already resolved.

I expect that working under a tight deadline is mostly to blame for those oversights. Ray completed the whole design in a week (a fact which adds on to my high esteem of this mod)! Those bugs, as I say, are minor, however, and don't detract any from the playability.

I give "A Series of Mysterious Events" an unqualified, hearty recommendation. All by itself, this mod has more than justified the UANL's Mystery Challenge. Indeed, that idea cannot now be seen as anything less than inspired.

Terrific work, Ray!

All of the preceding modules and game worlds are trademarked property of TSR Inc, which is now the property of Wizards of the Coast, Inc. I take no credit for the stories or ideas presented here, I merely converted them to a playable format for SSI's Unlimited Adventures game.