Framing the PC's for MURDER

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My setting is London during the industrial revolution with fantasy elements and I've got the PC's in an apartment where there's been a murder. There's these two brothers, one an assassin and the other an illusionist, and they're trying to frame the PC's for murder. There's two that would be easier to frame (minor criminals), and two more who are basically investigators. My plan right now is to have the baddies try to take the two investigator PC's out of the picture while framing the other two.

So the assassin killed guy A who lives in the building and used a hat of disguise to replace him, then murdered dude B at the building. They're sort of investigating that murder right now, which is the distraction while I try to frame them for that and maybe more murders? The body of guy A is on the roof in a bin.

tldr; how best frame PC's for muder in a modern/fantasy setting?

(images are all stuff I made for the game)



I would just ask my players if they buy into the premise of being framed and ask for their suggestions as to how that comes about and what trouble it causes. This way, you're sure to present it in a way that will be interesting to the players (if not the characters).

Cool pics, btw. I wish I had that kind of artistic talent. 

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Personal belongings of the PCs being found by authorities at the crime scene is a good start to put them down as "suspects" in the authorities books. Of course, carefully planted by the assassin as he would likely have the skills needed to acquire and sneakily place the belongings.

Witnesses that are paid off to claim they saw the PCs (this also gives the PCs a potential hole to exploit in the mystery/framing). Also, maybe even rig up a murder that has one of the PCs at the scene at the time of the crime and make sure they have no good alibi for where they were. You can get much more complex with it than that too.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
Personal belongings of the PCs being found by authorities at the crime scene is a good start to put them down as "suspects" in the authorities books. Of course, carefully planted by the assassin as he would likely have the skills needed to acquire and sneakily place the belongings.

Witnesses that are paid off to claim they saw the PCs (this also gives the PCs a potential hole to exploit in the mystery/framing). Also, maybe even rig up a murder that has one of the PCs at the scene at the time of the crime and make sure they have no good alibi for where they were. You can get much more complex with it than that too. 



Agreed.

Also keep in mind that if they are investigating the first murder and the assassin knows they are investigating it (since he set it up thusly) it would be easy for him to anonymously tip off the authorities so that they might arrive to catch the PCs in a precarious situation. A good way to do that is to have a time set-up for when the authorities will arrive (or a number of rounds/minutes from a tip-off time by the assassin)...that way if the PCs are only in the location a short time that part of the frame-up would not go as planned. That is a fair way to do it.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

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Apparently, someone else did not. This brings tears of joy to my eyes. 
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
@ OP: Awesome skills dude, nice drawings!

Bit of advice- don't take the player 'buy in' thing too seriously; while I agree it's a valid approach, sometimes its better to keep things (like this scenario) a surprise. Otherwise, the PCs can get bored if they know what'll happen at every turn.
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Bit of advice- don't take the player 'buy in' thing too seriously; while I agree it's a valid approach, sometimes its better to keep things (like this scenario) a surprise. Otherwise, the PCs can get bored if they know what'll happen at every turn.



Emphasis mine. The characters can be plenty surprised, especially if you bring the players in on it to help you make it happen. Even if the specifics of how they're framed and by whom are determined by the players themselves, there are plenty of other surprises to be had during the course of the adventure, even for the DM.

Predetermined "surprises" come with a huge risk of falling flat (players figure it out handily, aren't interested in it, don't catch on, are unfazed when you do the Big Reveal, etc.). It also comes with the added baggage of the DM feeling the need to force outcomes to get his story to play out just so, invalidating player choice.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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How much magic is available in your world? If not magic, what kinds of technology? What is the reputation of the PCs? What is the type of authorities (corrupt? tyranical? just? overtaxed?)? What is the culture's attitude towards evidence (e.g. in L5R witness testimony is the most important part of evidence with higher status witnesses being believed in case of conflicting testemonies and magic evidence is not allowed to be used at all)? Victorian London with fantasy elements is a bit vague of a description to help much in that regards ;)

In a typical 4e D&D setting, framing people is actually quite a challenge. The only times I have done it is as a delaying tactic, as part of a campaign to ruin the reputation of one or more PCs or in one case by a desperate somewhat foolish NPC (which allowed the PCs to show off their skills). Even as a distraction it is a method that tend to backfire. Given the typical resources PCs have, no amount of framing is going to stick and if it was a distraction you just got some incredible resourceful and powerful people involved. Even as a delaying tactic it only works when the authorities are somehow working against the PCs, either because they don't care at all about the outcome (prefering to stick to the lazy answer) or actively dislike the PCs (whether through corruption or past events). After all, everybody is aware of hats of disguises, illusion spells, shapeshifting creatures and mind influencing magical effects, just as everybody is aware of the rituals that allow somebody to gather all kinds of evidence (even something simple as a 1st level ritual Object Reading).
 
In a world as described above, framing people is hardly ever about physical evidence, but all about setting up the situation and depicting the person being framed as likely to perform the crime: motive and opportunity so to speak. If your PCs simply had no reason to kill victim A, let alone had the opportunity, and the PCs have not been in a clinch with the authorities before then any amount of framing is going to fall flat and feel enforced by the players (unless you actually don't mind when the PCs quickly pierce through the mystery and proof their innocence). 

At the very least, you must have some evidence that gives the PC a reason to kill the man, preferably the truth at that. I would probably follow Iserith's advice in this regard. I would ask my players, potentially in private if I would to keep it a bit more of a mystery for the rest of the group, whether they would mind being framed and if so to come up with a reason on why they would want to have killed that particular NPC. I would also ask them what kind of opportunities they would likely have had and whether or not NPCs would know it. (To clarify, if you would want to frame me personally for murder, don't pick a gun as a the murder weapon. I wouldn't know how to get one, nor would I be able to operate it ;)). In the end, these kind of plots work best with player buy in and their help ;)
Surprisingly, getting player buy-in and input does not necessarily decrease the amount of surprise the players feel in game. I'm not sure how it comes about, but when players can establish details some really funny details and connections can arise without anyone meaning for them to.

Being framed for murder is almost the definition of deprotagonization. It turns a hero into a criminal, at least in the eyes of others. The truth is that not all players will be interested in having that happen to their characters, or to have it happen in a particular way, and some of those who aren't would go to great lengths to invalidate it out-of-game, or to short-circuit it in-game, such as by providing an airtight alibi the DM hadn't considered. The DM gets put in the position of having to say "No" to plausible, player-established ideas, and that's a dangerous position to be in.

But let's assume your players are interested in having that happen to their characters, and in playing with it, rather than just cutting the Gordian knot in some way. In that case, you're in real luck, because you can use just about any method you want to do it, and the players will go along with it, even if they pick up on what's going on.

But there's also the possibility of taking it just a bit further than collaborating on it with them. They're bought in to the idea, so you can rely on them not to use their out-of-game knowledge to prevent it, which means you can tell them your plan and bring them in on it. Several heads working on ideas for this is clearly better, which is why you came here, but these heads know their characters, and know what would make sense and be fun and heroic for their characters. Players tend not to deprotagonize their own characters, because they do what they think is appropriate, and they can therefore play into the concept in ways the DM could not otherwise get them to do, such as making statements in front of witnesses that turn out to compound their guilt when the framejob comes out. Or they might go to the extreme and suggest that time-travel was involved and that they were/are/will be the killers, but for good reason.

Players know what their characters are capable of, what their resources are, and can help come up with reasons why those capabilities and resources are unable to extricate them instantly from a bad situation.

Bottom line, players who don't like the idea will prevent it from being as fun as it could be. Players who do like the idea will allow it to play out, even if they know about it, and if they know about it they can help make it even better. I don't know which kind of players you have. Presumably you do, but I can imagine that you might not know how they'd react to this idea unless you brought it up to them.

That said: I recommend that the Object Reading ritual come into play, along with some good, old-fashioned corruption. The investigators of the other murder can use Object Reading on the murder weapon or other items at the scene, and these "incontrovertibly" indicate the presence and murderous actions of the PCs. Only the ritual casters see the images, but some of them have been bought off to interpret certain details against the PCs' favor, and these are bullying the other investigators. The objects in question have been sequestered. The PCs can steal them and use the ritual themselves. This won't clear them, as it's their word against the investigators' but it will give them clues.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

@ OP: Awesome skills dude, nice drawings!

Bit of advice- don't take the player 'buy in' thing too seriously; while I agree it's a valid approach, sometimes its better to keep things (like this scenario) a surprise. Otherwise, the PCs can get bored if they know what'll happen at every turn.



+1

My players do certainly get bored if they know what's coming or have to give too much input. And I know many more players who have attested to the same.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
@ OP: Awesome skills dude, nice drawings!

Bit of advice- don't take the player 'buy in' thing too seriously; while I agree it's a valid approach, sometimes its better to keep things (like this scenario) a surprise. Otherwise, the PCs can get bored if they know what'll happen at every turn.



+1

My players do certainly get bored if they know what's coming or have to give too much input. And I know many more players who have attested to the same.



Agreed!

Also since "deprotagonization" is not a word I would really doubt that being framed is practically the definition for it. So...I probably wouldn't worry about it much.

I'm on a journey of enlightenment, learning and self-improvement. A journey towards mastery. A journey that will never end. If you challenge me, prepare to be challenged. If you have something to offer as a fellow student, I will accept it. If you call yourself a master, prepare to be humbled. If you seek me, look to the path. I will be traveling it.

 

Proudly playing in many wrong ways. I'm not afraid of playing wrong according to the rules. Why are you?

 

100 Crack Reply of the Yagamifire. You are already wrong.

@ OP: Awesome skills dude, nice drawings!

Bit of advice- don't take the player 'buy in' thing too seriously; while I agree it's a valid approach, sometimes its better to keep things (like this scenario) a surprise. Otherwise, the PCs can get bored if they know what'll happen at every turn.



+1

My players do certainly get bored if they know what's coming or have to give too much input. And I know many more players who have attested to the same.

What is the surprise in being framed for a murder? It is something that happens at the start of the session. The real surprise/goal of the adventure is in learning who actually did the murder and why the PC was framed.

The real issue with wanting to make the accusations stick in my experience does require player involvement and acceptance unless you as a DM planned ahead a long time or circumstances conspired to make it possible accidentally. After all, motivation and opportunity don't come out of the blue, and players are going to to balk if you going add them without their involvement since that touches their PCs background.
@ OP: Awesome skills dude, nice drawings!

Bit of advice- don't take the player 'buy in' thing too seriously; while I agree it's a valid approach, sometimes its better to keep things (like this scenario) a surprise. Otherwise, the PCs can get bored if they know what'll happen at every turn.



+1

My players do certainly get bored if they know what's coming or have to give too much input. And I know many more players who have attested to the same.

What is the surprise in being framed for a murder? It is something that happens at the start of the session. The real surprise/goal of the adventure is in learning who actually did the murder and why the PC was framed.

The real issue with wanting to make the accusations stick in my experience does require player involvement and acceptance unless you as a DM planned ahead a long time or circumstances conspired to make it possible accidentally. After all, motivation and opportunity don't come out of the blue, and players are going to to balk if you going add them without their involvement since that touches their PCs background.



My players go into my campaigns not knowing what to expect from the story or set up. So even the very first adventure that initiates the whole thing is a surprise to them.

Getting framed has nothing to do with a player's background. It's the start of the game at hand.

Plus, I know plenty of players willing to let the DM interject a little into their characters. In my d20 modern game, I wrote my character in a manner that would actually help the DM and give him opportunities to play with it and add his own details to various aspects. And as far as I'm concerned, I do NOT want to know what those details will be until they come into play in the game.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
My players go into my campaigns not knowing what to expect from the story or set up. So even the very first adventure that initiates the whole thing is a surprise to them.

But what is the difference of being surprised in the session or a day or two earlier when you tell them they are being framed and ask for their help in how to make it stick? ;)

Getting framed has nothing to do with a player's background. It's the start of the game at hand.

Plus, I know plenty of players willing to let the DM interject a little into their characters. In my d20 modern game, I wrote my character in a manner that would actually help the DM and give him opportunities to play with it and add his own details to various aspects. And as far as I'm concerned, I do NOT want to know what those details will be until they come into play in the game.

Getting framed has nothing to do with background, but getting framed believable and successfully does.

First of all, you need to fabricate opportunity. So as a DM you likely have to decide what the PC did at the time of the murder. How tight is the PC's alibi? How do you as a DM determine the murder happened when that PC just happened to be alone at home (at least in the OPs example they live in the same building)? Also the way the victim was murdered must make sense whether a weapon of opportunity or something people know the PCs possess/can use. The DM likely knows this for his PC, but how would the NPC?

Secondly, you need to fabricate motive. Why would the PC kill that NPC? Since you as a DM do not tend to bother with every detail of the life of a PC, how would you as a DM know whether the NPC and PC know one another or how the treated one another? Are they enemies? Friends? Strangers? What do those living around the PC and NPC know about their relation? Have they seen or heard them argue?

Of course, this all assumes the DM want the situation to stick. If the DM does not mind the players quickly proving their innocence, then little more then unreliable eyewitnesses and weak physical evidence would be enough. After all, when a desperate NPC trying to avoid arrest tried to frame a PC, it made sense it failed quickly (and it was fun seeing the PC rant about how if the NPC was going to frame him that he at least should make him look like the competent criminal he was instead of a bumbling rookie) and when a doppleganger publically killed a known opponent of the PC ruler right next to that PC nobody sane believed the PC did it, but the rumors about that it all was an elaberate ploy to "proof" the PC was innocent, did all the damage the NPC intended it to do ;)

So OP, why frame the PCs? What do the real murderers try to achieve? And how much did they know about the PC? What was within their capababilities to frame the PCs?
My players go into my campaigns not knowing what to expect from the story or set up. So even the very first adventure that initiates the whole thing is a surprise to them.

But what is the difference of being surprised in the session or a day or two earlier when you tell them they are being framed and ask for their help in how to make it stick? ;)

Getting framed has nothing to do with a player's background. It's the start of the game at hand.

Plus, I know plenty of players willing to let the DM interject a little into their characters. In my d20 modern game, I wrote my character in a manner that would actually help the DM and give him opportunities to play with it and add his own details to various aspects. And as far as I'm concerned, I do NOT want to know what those details will be until they come into play in the game.

Getting framed has nothing to do with background, but getting framed believable and successfully does.

First of all, you need to fabricate opportunity. So as a DM you likely have to decide what the PC did at the time of the murder. How tight is the PC's alibi? How do you as a DM determine the murder happened when that PC just happened to be alone at home (at least in the OPs example they live in the same building)? Also the way the victim was murdered must make sense whether a weapon of opportunity or something people know the PCs possess/can use. The DM likely knows this for his PC, but how would the NPC?

Secondly, you need to fabricate motive. Why would the PC kill that NPC? Since you as a DM do not tend to bother with every detail of the life of a PC, how would you as a DM know whether the NPC and PC know one another or how the treated one another? Are they enemies? Friends? Strangers? What do those living around the PC and NPC know about their relation? Have they seen or heard them argue?

Of course, this all assumes the DM want the situation to stick. If the DM does not mind the players quickly proving their innocence, then little more then unreliable eyewitnesses and weak physical evidence would be enough. After all, when a desperate NPC trying to avoid arrest tried to frame a PC, it made sense it failed quickly (and it was fun seeing the PC rant about how if the NPC was going to frame him that he at least should make him look like the competent criminal he was instead of a bumbling rookie) and when a doppleganger publically killed a known opponent of the PC ruler right next to that PC nobody sane believed the PC did it, but the rumors about that it all was an elaberate ploy to "proof" the PC was innocent, did all the damage the NPC intended it to do ;)

So OP, why frame the PCs? What do the real murderers try to achieve? And how much did they know about the PC? What was within their capababilities to frame the PCs?



The difference is in the timing. In the session, it's immediate. There are snap decisions that need to be made. Just as in real life, if you were suddenly framed, you'd have to make decisions on the spot. There wouldn't be much time to think. I do NOT want my players having the extra day or two to prepare for how they're going to handle that. It completely ruins everything, both IMO and theirs. So why are you so against fun?

As to getting framed believably and successfully, WRONG. You can do that in any number of ways. It does NOT, I REPEAT. IT DOES NOT IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM RELY TOTALLY ON WORKED BACKGROUNDS BETWEEN PLAYERS AND DMS.

As to your second point, that can be handled a million ways. As I said, with the character I wrote for my game, I do not care in anyway if my DM comes up with a NPC and says I know this character. I'm going to roll with it. In the games I've been DMing for years now, my players have come up with backgrounds and I've used that material, but it does not always click or mean automatic player buy in. There's so much more to it than just "have a good background".

A good DM can make any situation stick.

Also, I think you've forgotten that sometimes, players make characters with backgrounds and then either A) have random adventures with them that do not corollate to any background information. or B)The DM can come up with motives and histories on the spot throughout the course of the game. After all, it's possible to start with characters X, Y, and Z. Then a few sessions later have them framed by NPCs A, B, and C that they met in earlier games.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
First of all, we are talking in generics. You are taking my comments way too personal and if that is due to how I worded my posts then my appologies. That was not my intent. You know best how to run a game for your players. We are advicing the OP and all interested DMs reading this thread though and neither you nor I know what their players like or dislike. I can assure you from personal experience with a lot of players (from an admittedly limited set from the gaming community at large: people that play organized play in this case) that framing a PC for a murder is not guaranteed to lead to a fun game and can instead lead to frustration and resentment. People like surprises, but for some people being framed is like getting their favorite candy, but for others it is like getting their hated mother-in-law showing up unannounced just as they want to play their D&D game ;) It all comes down to knowing your players, and, if you do experiment, to be ready to speed things along if the players are not having as much fun as you thought they would.

In the end, a DM can indeed make any situation stick. If not handled with care though, it can lead to frustration and angry players. Many players don't mind a DM meddling with the backgrounds of their PCs, but I have seen ample of examples on these boards were people obviously greatly disliked it especially when a DM has different assumptions than the player about the setting and the PC's personality. The DM and players are human after all. I am not saying that for (rather extreme) example stating to a player that his usually calm PC had a loud argument with the up until this game session unknown murder victim the previous day is automatically wrong. The DM knows his players best and if the DM knows that (a) the PC is known for violent arguments and (b) the player does not mind such additions, the DM can certainly pull this off. Some players do feel browbeated into accepting it as a fact when they are confronted with it at the start of a session even though they don't like it all. Before you do something like this you need to give some thought to it. It works for some, but definitely not for others (some of my players would love it, others would detest it for example).

As for setting up the framing in advance either through planned events or coicidence, sure, that is the best way to go in a generic sense, but I get the impression that the OP has already set up the situation. There is certainly no reason to assume that the murder victim knew the PCs and that the PCs somehow would have had reasons to murder the man or that they had a reputation of randomly killing people (all we know is that the PCs are criminals, but most criminals are not murderers). In short, no forshadowing or setting up the situation in advance. I might be wrong though.

To summerize the point I was trying to make for the OP (and to get the discussion back on track), to properly frame a person for a crime you need:
(a) motivation
(b) opportunity
(c) evidence

The relative importance of each of these three depends greatly upon the setting and the resources available to the three involved groups (murderer, framed PC and authorities).

In Victorian London I would assume opportunity and evidence are fairly important. The OP already said the PCs in question are criminals, likely of low status. Since the victim lived in the same building, I am assuming the victim was of a low status as well. So likely the authorities would not care too much about solving the crime and simply stick to the most basic of investigations. Make sure there is something that at least indirectly puts the PC on the spot of the murder around the time of the murder. Witnesses are great, but some kind of physical evidence would even be better. Hide the murder weapon on a spot that the framed PC traverses regularly (preferably inside his house), but don't make it too obvious (people in general don't lay the murder weapon on the sink in plain view). Maybe steal a pair of shoes, and wear those while murdering the victim so that the bloody tracks you leave appear to be belong to the PC. Or grab a piece of clothing, let it rip on a nail or some and put that clothing back into the PC's closet. Still, considering it are poor people murdering poor people, chances are that the authorities will not look too deeply into the evidence. 

In regards to opportunity, at least make sure the PC will have no clear and airtight alibi and that there is an appropiate explenation of how the victim was murdered by the PC. Granted, in a fantasy setting creatures can actually be at two spots at the same time, that still is not particularly easy to acquire ;)

Finally, what does the NPC hope to achieve? If just to discredit or delay a person, a lot less evidence is required then when the NPC wants the PCs in jail.
First of all, we are talking in generics. You are taking my comments way too personal and if that is due to how I worded my posts then my appologies. That was not my intent. You know best how to run a game for your players. We are advicing the OP and all interested DMs reading this thread though and neither you nor I know what their players like or dislike. I can assure you from personal experience with a lot of players (from an admittedly limited set from the gaming community at large: people that play organized play in this case) that framing a PC for a murder is not guaranteed to lead to a fun game and can instead lead to frustration and resentment. People like surprises, but for some people being framed is like getting their favorite candy, but for others it is like getting their hated mother-in-law showing up unannounced just as they want to play their D&D game ;) It all comes down to knowing your players, and, if you do experiment, to be ready to speed things along if the players are not having as much fun as you thought they would.

In the end, a DM can indeed make any situation stick. If not handled with care though, it can lead to frustration and angry players. Many players don't mind a DM meddling with the backgrounds of their PCs, but I have seen ample of examples on these boards were people obviously greatly disliked it especially when a DM has different assumptions than the player about the setting and the PC's personality. The DM and players are human after all. I am not saying that for (rather extreme) example stating to a player that his usually calm PC had a loud argument with the up until this game session unknown murder victim the previous day is automatically wrong. The DM knows his players best and if the DM knows that (a) the PC is known for violent arguments and (b) the player does not mind such additions, the DM can certainly pull this off. Some players do feel browbeated into accepting it as a fact when they are confronted with it at the start of a session even though they don't like it all. Before you do something like this you need to give some thought to it. It works for some, but definitely not for others (some of my players would love it, others would detest it for example).

As for setting up the framing in advance either through planned events or coicidence, sure, that is the best way to go in a generic sense, but I get the impression that the OP has already set up the situation. There is certainly no reason to assume that the murder victim knew the PCs and that the PCs somehow would have had reasons to murder the man or that they had a reputation of randomly killing people (all we know is that the PCs are criminals, but most criminals are not murderers). In short, no forshadowing or setting up the situation in advance. I might be wrong though.

To summerize the point I was trying to make for the OP (and to get the discussion back on track), to properly frame a person for a crime you need:
(a) motivation
(b) opportunity
(c) evidence

The relative importance of each of these three depends greatly upon the setting and the resources available to the three involved groups (murderer, framed PC and authorities).

In Victorian London I would assume opportunity and evidence are fairly important. The OP already said the PCs in question are criminals, likely of low status. Since the victim lived in the same building, I am assuming the victim was of a low status as well. So likely the authorities would not care too much about solving the crime and simply stick to the most basic of investigations. Make sure there is something that at least indirectly puts the PC on the spot of the murder around the time of the murder. Witnesses are great, but some kind of physical evidence would even be better. Hide the murder weapon on a spot that the framed PC traverses regularly (preferably inside his house), but don't make it too obvious (people in general don't lay the murder weapon on the sink in plain view). Maybe steal a pair of shoes, and wear those while murdering the victim so that the bloody tracks you leave appear to be belong to the PC. Or grab a piece of clothing, let it rip on a nail or some and put that clothing back into the PC's closet. Still, considering it are poor people murdering poor people, chances are that the authorities will not look too deeply into the evidence. 

In regards to opportunity, at least make sure the PC will have no clear and airtight alibi and that there is an appropiate explenation of how the victim was murdered by the PC. Granted, in a fantasy setting creatures can actually be at two spots at the same time, that still is not particularly easy to acquire ;)

Finally, what does the NPC hope to achieve? If just to discredit or delay a person, a lot less evidence is required then when the NPC wants the PCs in jail.



No worries, over reacting is my thing. Some like it, some don't. Take it in jest, and I think you'll be fine.

Mostly, I'm just helping to represent a side that I feel gets overshadowed and almost completely and totally covered up by some DMs on this board. Kind of like a conspiracy.

Afterall, the OP can't make a fully informed decisions without thinking about all the factors. Ultimately, yes, he knows his players best. But on my end, I'll fight the good fight.

I'd also like to mention that there's been a lot of talk about backgrounds, but I can't see much mentioning of how information is presented in the game. This can also be vital to a mystery. Are clues presented passingly in a description of a room? Or are they hidden and the players need to explore to find them? This can have an effect on player buy-in.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
I'd also like to mention that there's been a lot of talk about backgrounds, but I can't see much mentioning of how information is presented in the game. This can also be vital to a mystery. Are clues presented passingly in a description of a room? Or are they hidden and the players need to explore to find them? This can have an effect on player buy-in.

No argument there, but the OP asked how to frame a PC, not how to then solve what was really going on ;)
I'd also like to mention that there's been a lot of talk about backgrounds, but I can't see much mentioning of how information is presented in the game. This can also be vital to a mystery. Are clues presented passingly in a description of a room? Or are they hidden and the players need to explore to find them? This can have an effect on player buy-in.

No argument there, but the OP asked how to frame a PC, not how to then solve what was really going on ;)



How you present the framing can be important as well.
My username should actually read: Lunar Savage (damn you WotC!) *Tips top hat, adjusts monocle, and walks away with cane* and yes, that IS Mr. Peanut laying unconscious on the curb. http://asylumjournals.tumblr.com/
My players go into my campaigns not knowing what to expect from the story or set up. So even the very first adventure that initiates the whole thing is a surprise to them.

But what is the difference of being surprised in the session or a day or two earlier when you tell them they are being framed and ask for their help in how to make it stick? ;)

Nothing, and in the latter case, they can spend a few days trying to figure out how to make the frame job even cooler.

Getting framed has nothing to do with a player's background. It's the start of the game at hand.

Plus, I know plenty of players willing to let the DM interject a little into their characters. In my d20 modern game, I wrote my character in a manner that would actually help the DM and give him opportunities to play with it and add his own details to various aspects. And as far as I'm concerned, I do NOT want to know what those details will be until they come into play in the game.

Getting framed has nothing to do with background, but getting framed believable and successfully does.

Very true. Also players being "willing to let the DM interject a little into their characters" is precisely the issue. If they're willing, then not only can a frame job work, but the players can help make it better. If they're unwilling, it's asking for trouble.

I guess a DM can approach it obliquely, and ask the players if they'd be willing for their characters to begin play in a bad spot. Most players probably have some kind of bad spot they'd find interesting, and they might really trust the DM, and so they might go along with it. But framing is a special kind of trouble, one that can completely neutralize certain character concepts. My advice continues to be: openly discuss this with the players and get their help making it cool for your setting.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Assumptions:  Setting matters to the players.  For instance players not gonna just kill every city investigator or guard coming after them, then deciding to go further and pillage bank then simply flee town.  They will try avoid capture via running, subterfuge while trying to solve problem and catch the real killers.

Effectiven Frame job:  Frame job is easiest and best to formulate when thinking from two audience perspective:

1.  What circumstances and facts need to be present for everyone around the pc to believe pc's are responsible for the murder and not someone else.

 2.  What circumstances and facts need to be present for pc's themselves to believe everyone else will definitely blame them for the murder, noone else and they are "fukked";  No chance of talking their way out without incarceration, obvious guilty trial, leaving only option of evading law while capturing the real culprits and then proving their innocence.

So then the question is what circumstance need to be present for above two to exist in your "hook", specifically designed for your Players (not PC) with predictable outcome.  Should be not hard to figure out when viewed this way.

My generic suggestion with predictable player decisions if you can't think of anything:

1. Easy one:  Players can learn there is a Serious Warrant issued for their immediate capture, arrest and hanging for Murder.  A npc friend with pc's can further drive the point that their pictures are being posted everywhere and walking up to the a-hole magistrate and trying to convince him this is all a mistake without clear proof they didn't commit this murder is suicide.  

Predictable player decision:  evading law and everyone else while trying to determine who the heck got murdered, why they are getting blamed for it... Leading them to the murder site and working their investigation outward.

2.  Bit more unpredictable one:  Players find or stumble into the murder scene with the corpse.  As they are there checking it out, law enforcement arrive surrounding the building, then shouting out players names, like a total frame job, that they know pcs are in there and to surrender for murder of the deceased.  

Predictable player decision:  Surrendering or walking out and/or trying to convince the law it wasnt them..which leads to...capture or player decides to fight them and escape when capture is imminant.   Or players escape without direct confrontation from building via sewer or whatever, starting off the evasion, and figuring out who, how & why they are framed for murder, and formulate what they must do to prove their innocense.

Over all...sounds like very fun cat & mouse, investigative mystery adventure!

quarky player decision:  Be prepared and try to predict quarky player decisions...such as "heck with this shitzu.  lets just flee this town now.  Move onto next...or lets take over this town...or lets just kill everyone including magistrates...or etc.  Completely avoiding everything you got prepared for the cat & mouse, murder myster investigation adventure.

You know your players.  If any of these quarky decisions are high probability, you will have to add additional hooks that matter to the player so they decide to stay, evade & solve, then ditching town or going on a killing spree.

Unexpected decisions:  Players decide to get captured and thrown in jail, planning on  "we'll convince them by talking we didn't do this"...plan.  Prepare for that particular sub module...once captured, strippped thrown in jail, players will realizing bad situation just got worse and now must engineer an escape before kangaroo court convicts And hangs them.  players may want to go trial..then must prepare that too.  Either way an escape is most likely only option at end so, be prepared prepared, prepared for all possibility.





Personally I would get murder investigation ideas from TV shows like CSI.
 
I'd be interested to know how this works out, I've been wanting to try something similiar to this with my PC's and I'd like some ideas.

Basically the idea is the PC's go to a town that has been having some trouble with creature's kill off some livestock, sheeps and stuff. The first night they get attacked by a pack of wolves, after killing one the rest flee and the dead wolve turns back into one of the townspeople. Some townspeople comeoutside to see what the commotion is and find the PC's (relative strangers) standing over a corpse of one of their own with weapons that are covered in blood.

The players have to figure out the identity of the other werewolves, and prove that they exist to clear thier name. I was thinking of putting a timelimit on it, they have to figure it out by the full moon which is in 3 ingame days because that's the only way to force a wolve to tranform


I'm stuck on a few points:
-I'm not sure what the townspeople would do to the PC's, if this is a world where it's possible for werewolves to exist, would they let the PC's free range of the town in order to investigate because my gut says no =/
-I don't know how to keep my PC's from just fleeing the town, would they have a bounty on their head for murder for the rest of the campaign?

So basically I'm asking how are you dealing with someone else finding out about the murder that your PC's commited, what are the immediate consequences and how would you attempt to avoid them just fleeing?

I'm stuck on a few points:
-I'm not sure what the townspeople would do to the PC's, if this is a world where it's possible for werewolves to exist, would they let the PC's free range of the town in order to investigate because my gut says no =/
-I don't know how to keep my PC's from just fleeing the town, would they have a bounty on their head for murder for the rest of the campaign?
So basically I'm asking how are you dealing with someone else finding out about the murder that your PC's commited, what are the immediate consequences and how would you attempt to avoid them just fleeing?


Sequence you are hoping for: Players arrive town.  Finds simple livestock kill problem. Decides to investigate,  attacked by wolves. Kill one wolf, rest flees.  Dead wolf turns into person. At that moment towns folks come by with torches, sees pc's over body, believes pc committed murder.  Pc decides to prove innocence by chasing down pack, bringing proof of werewolf existence.

Player decisions to check out problem, then how they deal with townsfolk when they see pc over body, if they will investigate or simply bag out, if or how they gonna prove their innocence.  These cross roads of player decisions, you have to create set of cirumstances so players will make predictable decision that you are looking for.

Anchoring players:  Unlike OP situation where the setting anchors the players..I mean its london world setting where players live, where would players go.  Your situation Fanis is transient through a town that has no personal meaning to players.  You have to then anchor your players to it.  My recommendation and easiest to anchor with predictable outcome is to use one of your players background story, and place a distant and/or immediate family member of that pc rooted at the town.  That member can be the person pc's meet at the Inn first night there, family reunion occurs, & that family can introduce the livestock problem.  Which will make that problem meaningful to player, making a predictable decision to investigate, which leads to your pack of wolf encounter.  Remember one player's conviction to do something is all it usually takes for entire party to go along.  Unless you have a-hole players who don't give a shitzu.  Then pick the loudest, forcefullest personality at table and anchor that player.

Now when the result of encounter unfolds, townsfolks lead by family member excited pc's are trying to solve their problem walks into that moment pc's standing around dead body (make that person VIP of town), townfolks start to blame pc, except the family member.  Predictably Pc's will try convince the folks right there and then he was a werewolf...ofcourse folks wont believe.  At that point the town guards with them can demand the pc to go with them for questioning, creating another player decision: go with them or resist.  At this point you can use your pc's family me,ber npc to intervene and ask players to cooperate, that folks know one of the pc is related to them (whole 1st nite family reunion at inn) and any trouble they cause may cause trouble to him and his family (Wife, kids & farm).  Predictable desicion.  The pc will convince rest of party to cooperate for the moment.

At the barracks where pc's are temp incarcerated facing a uncertain outcome, the npc family member gets them released, tells them town don't believe but he does and that they got 3 days to bring back proof, during which time he made a deal with law that he will remain incarcerated in their place.  If they fail to return he will face their consequence...for murder.


there is your anchor and circumstances that will provide predictable player decisions and your module goes according to your plan, with a sense of urgency attached to it.  Also introduces to party you are willing to incorporate player background (or help create one if none exist) to your adventures.

there can be so much other twists and turns you can introduce, such as pc family member also a infected lycantrope...or half the town, but such twists will make your head hurt and require several adventures and it seems you are wanting a one time module so probably keep it simple.

You know your players and style.  Be prepared for quarky decisions at any decision making point, and unexpected bad decisions.  They may make the correct predictable decisions at the cross roads or they may make quarky or bad decisions...both of which should be predicted and prepared, if want a smooth adventure for the players. 

It can become easy when you focus on player behavior.  Get to "know your players", what makes them tick in game, how they make decisions, whats important and not.  Then creating the environment designed for the players which provides you with the best prediction of how your players will respond to that environment with their decisions, and also preparing for the unexpected & the quarky... you can pretty much get everything you want in smoothly to any adventure.  It all starts with get to "know your players", get in their decision cycle, then predictions comes easy, then preparation clearer.
I haven't really set up much of  a backstory for most of their characters, I usually allow them to flesh them out theirselves. I'll have to talk to my PC's and see if anyone would be interested in having some kind of close family member. Maybe they meet them a few times as the game progresses and eventually we'll get to this module.

Alternatively my PC's have just saved a group of townspeople from a necromancer's dungeon and are in the process of escorting them to a nearby village. I could have one of the townspeople stick out and attempt to befriend the PC's have her assist them when they get to the village and help them deal with whatever issues the village has. Then before the PC's leave town she'll say her good bye's telling them she's going to live with her aunt in village X (werewolftown) a few sessions later the PC's can get a letter from her asking for help and she'll provide more information when they arrive.

The rest of your ideas are golden I hadn't thought about putting 1 person in the village that the PC's would feel responcible for and would feel bad leaving.
Remember the goal is anchoring designed to the player not to you.  What may anchor you in may not anchor your player in.  Common mistake dm can make is setting up a anchor that he thinks should be important & effective because it is important to the dm.  Then players respond to weakly, dont get anchored in, tracks away from your design and dm wonders why and may find himself telling the player this is important so act accordingly.  Thats due to poor anchor, wrongly designed.  For instance that gf relationship you may consider using as an anchor, you have to be certain that npc requests, and well being is primely important to one of your players, not just to you thinking it should be.  Then you can predict with certainty how that player/s will respond to the npc you will use as a "carrot" on the stick To hook your players into next adventure you are designing.

Most common and easiet anchor dm's use are promise or expectation of gold or treasure for a service or the plot.  Then the "reward" becomes the anchor.  Placing a "ruin" or "dungeon", and players deciding to explore instead of ignore, thats the anchor, expectation of treasure and action.  To me such anchor is boring, especially repeated over and over and don't require much insight or challenge by the dm.

Story or plot you may want to introduce is your fun as dm, but unless the players get hooked into it heart, mind and soul, you may get dissapointed when players track opposite instead of what you hope.  That requires a good effective anchor designed to the player/s, then...they will decide on their own to charge right in the direction..and you got it all prepared.

Also anchoring don't require entire group being anchored in.  Thats hard to do.  Different things for different folks.  All it takes is one, and you will find that player will convince the rest the importance. And ultimately thats what you want, player convincing players, discussing and choosing the direction, instead of you telling the group.  Anchor 1 player really good, he will anchor in the rest.

Think, focus on your player response when designing the "hook" the anchor, and not your own response to it.  Very important, but simple mistake dms can make, when designing the hook.