Arsenic & Lies

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The latest game to cross my feed: Arsenic & Lies. It’s a card-driven larp in the style of Graham Walmsley’s Will That Be All?, aimed at creating a dramatic murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey.

It is 31 December 1919 and the party at Weatherby Manor is in full swing. The guests exchange furtive whispers of intrigue, blackmail and forbidden love. At midnight, a glass of poisoned champagne shatters, dropped from a dying hand. The family has to find – or frame – the killer before the police start looking too closely into their secrets.

The characters are workshopped based on names and capsule descriptions (e.g. Percy Weatherby - black sheep), with relationships and secrets created using the card deck. The killer is randomly assigned. There’s an act structure, where in act I the killer poisons someone (while everyone talks about their messy business), and in act II the family “investigates” (argues about motive) before someone is accused. The player of the victim plays an unexpected guest in the second act, and looking at the secret cards, some of the intrigue possibly revolves around them.

It looks like it could be fun, and the flexibility in player numbers (5 - 10) is a big bonus. Currently I’ve got the PDF, and I’ve ordered a card deck through DriveThru (warning: there’s no cheap postage on cards, so it’ll set you back US$40 in total). I can easily see it being run as part of a double feature in Wellington, or at a con next year.