How to Host a Murder: It's the Pits
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Arthur E. Faxe, the eccentric entrepreneur and amateur archaeologist, sails this month for ancient Mesopotamia in search of human fossils and in the hope of proving the Darwinian Theory of Evolution. Faxe has chosen a region of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley known since ancient times as Vages for the site of his expedition. This area is distinguished by an immense and prominent boulder that can be seen for miles and is known locally as the Rock of Vages. A small cleft, or opening, at the base of the rock is the site of an unusual collection of fossils. The cleft, discovered in 1854 by French archaeologist, Henri Formie, is described in scientific literature as Rock of Vages, Cleft Formie. By arrangement with the local government, Faxe and his entourage will establish an extensive camp in an abandoned military fort near the archaeological site and overlooking the Tigris River.
Faxe advises, "We are endeavoring to locate evidence in fossil form of the existence of an ancient human or near-human ancestor. I have spared no expense to see that my staff and guests are provided with the most modern of equipment necessary for their research and the essentials necessary for their comfort."
Purveyors of goods to the expedition advise that no less than fifty cases of fine wines and champagnes will accompany Faxe along with appropriate linen, silver and china, tables, chairs, canopies and tents, as well as a quantity of armaments for hunting and defense against bands of brigands which are known to roam the area. A domestic staff of thirty will be on hand, as well as an archaeological research team of seven.
The expedition, by arrangement with the Turkish government, will occupy an old fortress situated near the site of the dig. The fort, unused by the present government but once a key military post, is called Fort Ap Aachih.
Terra Sunder, Major General E. B. Sawtedd, Lester A. Fayre, Lady Melissa N. Lynke, Anne T. Ickwitee, Hamilton MacTorr, Ashley R. Sonnyste, Conrad Iver.
Terra is Art E. Faxe's daughter. Beautiful and enthusiastic, she enjoys the social status conferred by her father's wealth and fame to the fullest. Life is a constant round of gala events and balls. Terra has taken an active interest in the theater, the arts and music. She has also enjoyed surprising success in designing fashionable lingerie for her friends, which she blushingly markets under the name "Terra Sunder Wear." Though married a few years ago, Terra now lives apart from her husband, Castor Sunder. She is close to her father and insisted on joining him at the expedition site, much to his pleasure.
Costume Suggestion: Dressy attire which possibly shows off a bit of her lingerie.
MAJOR GENERAL E. B. SAWTEDD
A soldier of considerable experience and skill, the Major General is a veteran of numerous military actions. During a previous command, he led his troops on a forced march across miles of desolate wilderness to bring relief to a besieged British regiment surrounded by revolting native hordes. He has just returned from a lengthy tour of duty in the Punjab, where he distinguished himself in the management of an unruly local population through frequent application of his favorite disciplinary device, the bullwhip. The tale of his accomplishments has been set to verse in the emotionally-charged epic poem, The Empire Stripes Backs, by Lloyd, Alfred Tenny's son. The Major General is always impeccably attired, sports a monocle and moustache, and carries a riding crop. Everyone calls him "Sir."
Costume Suggestion: Military uniform, sidearm, whip, monocle.
LESTER A. FAYRE
An American railroad tycoon, "Les" is said to be one of the wealthiest men in the world. He currently heads a coalition of American and European businessmen who propose to lay a rail line from the Mediterranean to the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The railway will provide a direct shipping route for goods that must now flow downriver into the Persian Gulf before beginning the long journey to the European markets. Ruthless and calculating, Les is also known as a connoisseur of fine food and wine and has a particular affection for vintage cognac. Les and Faxe have participated in several business deals and a close, if competitive, relationship exists between them.
Costume Suggestion: American western wear, six-shooter.
LADY MELLISSA N. LYNKE
Young, vital, enthusiastic and adventuresome, "Missy" is heiress to the Lynke family fortune. Her father is, of course, Lord Chayne Lynke, Duke of Gayte, a man of great wealth and renown. She has returned recently from a world tour, by varied modes of transportation, in wild and remote regions of the globe. Missy scarcely had time to repack her trunk when she and her friend Ashley decided to leave for a tour of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. There, they joined up with the Faxe expedition where they became entranced with the archaeological project and have joined eagerly in the work.
Costume Suggestion: Colorful and unusal garmets (acquired on her travels).
ANNE T. ICKWITEE
Of ancient English country lineage, the Ickwitees of Barfrumpshire, Anne is a very unconventional young lady. Her family and friends were startled when she entered - and won! - the local bathing beauty contest (revealing a scandalous two inches of ankle). She shocked them even more by distinguishing herself as an Oxford scholar and graduating from the Women's College with honors. Her interest in archaeology comes naturally. Her late father, Ian Ickwitee, discovered the famed Lopswich femur. Anne herself assisted Professor Herman Anasse at the dig in which he discovered the fossil now known worldwide as the "Jawbone of Anasse." Anne is participating in the Faxe expedition by special invitation of Art E. Faxe.
Costume Suggestion: Khaki clothes or knickerbockers.
Of Scottish parents but orphaned as a baby, "Ham" was raised in England by a maiden aunt who read to him nightly from the works of Shakespeare, Bacon and the like. The experience ruined him for honest work, and at an early age Ham made his way into the theater. His work has been called "the quintessential example of modern British stagemanship." Arthur E. Faxe has taken an interest in Ham's career to the point of financing some of Ham's productions. Ham has taken a leave of absence from his profession to join Faxe at the expedition site.
Costume Suggestion: Dramatic attire; black cape, tails, top hat and cane.
ASHLEY R. SONNYSTE
Ashley is a charming and vivacious young English countrywoman. Because of her father's illness, she has managed the extensive Sonnyste estates - rich agricultural land and several buildings situated in southern England - for the past few years. Unfortunately, the estates were destroyed by fire; shortly thereafter, Ashley's father, Colonel Sonnyste, died. Forced to fend for herself, she came to London where, by virtue of unwavering determination and the greatest of good fortune (and insurance proceeds), she has made a place for herself in society. Lady Mellissa Lynke has become Ashley's close friend, and the two young women impetuously set out on a world tour. Upon returning to London, they again immediately departed on a journey to the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. Once there, they joined up with the Faxe expedition.
Costume Suggestion: Elegant English country attire or traveling clothes.
Intellectual, well-educated, aristocratic yet hard-working, and quite clever, "Con" is Art E. Faxe's right-hand man at the archaeological site. He has participated in many other expeditions and is the author of several learned works on the subject of fossils - including the practical guidebook Archaeologically Speaking, It's the Pits. Educated at Oxford, Con distinguished himself as a scholar and an athlete who played cricket and soccer internationally for England. Since graduating he has dabbled in business in London's financial circles, where he has quite a following, and has traveled extensively. Con is a member of London's most prestigious card club, the Gribbley, where he is to be found most evenings when he is in town.
Costume Suggestion: Khaki outfit, pith helmet, pick, shovel.
We are in the midst of a murder-party-a-month binge and this was our first outing (and the first time I'd hosted a murder party in over 10 years). While any murder party can be fun (what's not to like about getting friends together and eating?), this is one of the better ones in the HTHAM line.
The solution was a little twisted, but you have to have that so that most everyone is a valid suspect. In fact, this game had 7 of the 8 characters with plausible motive and opportunity, which is very very good for a murder party game.
The setting is a little dry (19th century Turkey), but it's still one of the better in this line.
Although full of interesting characters and surrounded by intriguing murder circumstances, this game can and will be the pits if you do not follow the story closely. My friends and I have played many murder mystery games and this remains one of the most loved and most hated. It's kind of complicated. The facts are there if you can follow them. What I did love about it was the way the ending pulled together reasonably, as some of these games are off the wall in their conclusions. The story is fun and imaginitive. Put your thinking caps on and listen closely. My advice: don't over-do it on the wine (as I did) before you play.