So it's late, and I can't sleep, and I'm plotting out the next game of Rippers, and I figure I could take this moment to share some GM wisdom. So here is Handy GM Tip #138, a sub-rule of GM Tip #1, which is "Just Make Shit Up".
Handy GM Tip #138: The Two Part Mystery.
Here's how it works. Come up with a mysterious mystery, but don't bother with making up the truth behind the mystery yet. Give yourself a vague idea of some clues or locations or personages involved, and leave the rest to GM Tip #1. Spend one session letting the PCs investigate, and let them go where they want to, and make up any clues or red herrings or possible clues that might be red herrings, and interesting NPCs and obstacles you can think of. If you're the sort that can keep everything in your head, cool. Otherwise jot down notes of events and NPCs as the session goes on.
Don't worry too much if they don't make direct sense, this is the early stages of an investigation, the detectives are merely trying to figure out all the pieces of the puzzle, and if they get an idea of where they go, the better.
The beauty of this is they don't go together anywhere. Yet.
So after one session of investigating and whatnot, end the game at a suitably dramatic point, and over the course of the week or two before the next session, look over all of your notes, and figure out what the hell is actually going on. This is a good point to use Handy GM Tip #92: Stealing The Player's Ideas. Let's say the players latched on to one particular NPC. An easy and fun way to make your players feel all smart and accomplished is if you decide that that guy did in fact do it, and then they can go "Aha! I knew the King's adviser was evil and working with the rival kingdom!" When, in fact, he wasn't. At least not until your players said "Man, I bet the King's adviser is evil and working with the rival kingdom..."
An example of this in action:( Collapse )
So there you go, that's how one does the Two Part Mystery.
If you do it right, to the players it looked seamless, like the pieces fit exactly where they pointed to all along. And you save the trouble of figuring out a bunch of clues and leading the players on a proper mystery trail, which they may very well miss your one all important clue or spend half the session following leads that go nowhere, or other typical player/mystery pitfalls.