You’re in charge of a murder mystery dinner theatre for one night. Describe the scenario you’ve set for your guests to solve.
Wealthy investor Bernard Kline hosts an annual private gala on his luxury yacht for his household staff, to thank them for their continued service as well as to provide them the opportunity to network with some of his influential partners. This year will be his last. He plans to announce his successor and step down as the head of the conglomerate. There has been a great buzz about who it will be. He has two adult sons, and many people believe the younger brother is better suited to run the company, but there are senior managers who are equally worthy of inheriting the business. Mr. Kline is known for being eccentric. He made his fortunes on high stakes gambles and it’s unlikely he will treat his succession any differently.
A member of the wait staff discovers the body of Sebastian Kline unconscious in the bathroom. Whispers spread through the crowd about the younger son being poisoned. The celebration comes to a halt as the guests start to wonder if the person next to them is a murderer.
The Key Players
Bernard Kline: Eccentric investor, host of the gala. He intends to reveal his successor at the party but before he can, his son is found poisoned in the bathroom.
Bernard “Benny” Kline II: The oldest son of Mr. Kline. He had a gambling addiction and drug habit, but he got help and will have been sober for one year tomorrow.
Cynthia Abbot: Bernard’s first wife and Benny’s mother. She came to the gala to support her son, believing the inheritance to be his birthright as the oldest.
Sebastian Kline: Mr. Kline’s younger son. He had been helping to manage one of the subsidiaries and was poised to take sole responsibility before his murder. His mother was Mr. Kline’s second wife, who died from complications with the pregnancy.
Amelia Kline: Bernard’s current wife. She is much younger than her husband, and only a handful of years older than her stepsons. There are rumors that her relationship with Seb was more than maternal and that her infant daughter is his child, not his half-sister.
Randall Evans: A senior manager who had been in his role for longer than average and who was on the short list of candidates despite his frequent clashes with Sebastian over management style and investment advice.
Margaret Simmons: Another senior manager on the short list. Her rise to the top of the company has often been described as ruthless. She had been training Sebastian to take over the subsidiary.
John “Jack” Simmons: Margaret’s husband.
Fred Sullivan: A dark horse on the short list. He has only been with the company for a couple years but he already holds positions at the same level as Seb and Randall. Very little is known about him.
Julia Kline: Sebastian’s wife and Jack’s niece. She doesn’t believe the rumors about Seb and Amelia, but she also doesn’t trust Amelia.
Blake Morgan: Benny’s on-again, off-again girlfriend. They’re currently “on” but she is a flirtatious socialite who loves to mingle with everyone at a party and revels in making him jealous. She seems to have her eyes on Fred tonight.
Noah Harrington: A reporter for the local paper on assignment to record the momentous occasion. He fought for the assignment because he wanted the opportunity to get close to Mr. Kline for comment on a bit of investigative journalism he was working on: an old, buried rumor about a third son. Noah believes he has uncovered the truth and he hoped to expose it until the murder flipped everything upside down.
Members of the staff
Mr. Kline’s influential partners
Friends of Seb and/or Benny
All the characters will have deeper secrets of course, and hopefully no one else will die on the journey to the truth. It’s a classic night of who-dun-it!
Notes: I’ve only been to one murder mystery dinner party and it was a blast. I loved the freeform style and tried to use that as my basis for coming up with my own murder mystery. I had the idea for a cruise ship murder, but decided the scope of that was just too large. I still wanted to keep it on a boat, so I figured why not a yacht? The characters developed naturally from there. I think I’d like to play with this a bit more in the future. Maybe craft a full mystery. As it stands, I don’t know who the murderer is. Everyone certainly has a motive. And there are other mini mysteries to solve. Heck maybe I’ll just write a mystery.
I really had fun with this prompt. I hope you’ll give it a try too! Have you ever been to a murder mystery party? What did you like about it? What do you wish had been done differently? Do you think this would make a fun party?
I’m tapped out for tonight. Have a great night! See you tomorrow!
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