Help with Lord of the Rings Murder Mystery?
November 2, 2012 7:35 AM   Subscribe

So I'm writing a LoTR murder mystery dinner game and I need your help. The murder victim of the night will be Frodo, and I could use ideas for (a) good, juicy reasons why each of my player-characters might want to kill Frodo as well as (b) other fun mini-plots between the other characters.

For example: imagine that Arwen is secretly carrying on with Gimli behind Aragorn's back, and Frodo has threatened to tell everyone. Or maybe river-sprite Goldberry hates Frodo because his newfound fame brought over-development to the area, spoiling the natural beauty she loves so much. (And so on, and so yadda yadda forth.)

My characters (which are set - these can't change) are: Aragorn, Arwen, Belladonna Took, Bilbo, Celebrian, Elrond, Eowyn, Faramir, Galadriel, Gandalf, Gimli, Goldberry, Legolas, Rosie Cotton, Sam, and Tom Bombadil.

While I would like to use as many canon bits from the Tolkien universe as possible, I'm open to bending the lore to make the story more fun. Obviously I've already done some of this - having Belladonna be alive and having Celebrian stick around in Middle-Earth, for example.

Finally, while I would like each character to have a reason to kill Frodo, I haven't yet picked the murderer. I'm open to suggestions on that front.

That's about it - any and all ideas, even just vague notions, would be greatly appreciated!
posted by ninotchka to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Oh Mr. Frodo, no!

Are you up for having couples killing Frodo together? Because Sam and Rosie could decide to do it in order to have Bag's End all of themselves.

Or Sam and Frodo could be having an affair and Rosie would have killed Frodo in a jealous rage. Or Rosie and Frodo could be having the affair.

Gandalf kills him because Frodo never gave up the ring.

Bilbo wants to keep Frodo safe, and the ring tells him that killing him will save him. Bonus points for Bilbo turning more Gollum-y over the course of the night.

Tom Bombadil just does it because he's insane. And then he sings some more.
posted by Katemonkey at 7:44 AM on November 2, 2012

Whoa. Awesome.

I'd say the obvious one is that Sam really hates being Frodo's (or Bilbo's I suppose since he's the only Baggins I see in your list) whipping boy and is bitter over how badly the Baggins family really has treated the Gaffer, his father, and how they have basically no recourse because (I'm not sure if this last part is true but it feels right to me) Number 3, Bagshot Row where they live is owned by the Baggins and they can put them out on the streets if they don't hop to as quickly as they should.

Eowyn could have some bitterness for Gandalf taking Shadowfax from her Uncle and how it was supposed to be her horse (that last bit isn't canon as far as I know of course).

Gimli could be grumpy at Legolas for never visiting him (not sure about your timeframe here) after the end of the LOTR saga like he said he would.

Arwen could be mad at her father for not choosing to be human (illogical I know because timeframes) because she relates more the human side of things. I think I'm getting the whole "half-elven" and choice thing right here, don't quote me.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:49 AM on November 2, 2012

I think everyone who knows LOTR and has watched british mystery shows knows that this is ultimately going to come down to a secret gay hobbit love affair.
posted by selfnoise at 7:59 AM on November 2, 2012 [9 favorites]

Yes, per selfnoise's answer, The Very Secret Diaries may be of some use here.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:58 AM on November 2, 2012

Eowyn: I don't have a motive but she could have done it disguised as a man
Faramir: resents his brother's death
Galadriel: accidentally gave him the wrong gift
Aragorn?: maybe something about not being able to tell the hobbits apart, but that would work better for Merry and Pippin, I think
posted by tracer at 9:00 AM on November 2, 2012

I dunno, I think if Sam does it it has to be some sort of mercy killing, because he can't stand to see Mr Frodo suffer so. I think if you do that well it could be really creepy. In fact, if I were you I'd go for that as your final answer, because it's a good 'twist'. Maybe Mr Frodo even asked him to do it....

As for the others, I think you want to fit them to mystery plot tropes, rather than one-liner type motivations with no real story potential. Some ideas:

For Rosie, it's obviously a jealousy thing. I mean, I have no idea even from the books how she managed to live in the same house with the guy.

For Aragorn and Arwen I would rip off Agatha Christie and have them both 'confess' to the crime at the beginning, because they assume the other one has done it. Why? Well, turns out Aragorn isn't Isildur's heir at all - his mum had an affair with the milkman. And they both knew that Frodo had found out about it...

With Bilbo it's got to be the ring getting to him. I really like Katemonkey's suggestion where he gets more and more gollumy. For this reason, I think it's important that the murder take place before the ring is destroyed. This also leaves open the possiblity of a Moonstone- like plot where one person killed Frodo, but another now has the ring.

Rather than Arwen having an affair with Gimli, I'd have Eowyn having an affair with Merry. Totally plausible. And as for Faramir, well, he caught sight of a tousle-haired halfling doing something unmentionable with his wife through the crack of a door. He's not sure who it was, but he suspected Frodo - maybe with Frodo gone he might start to suspect Sam?

Belladonna Took may be concerned that he is going to let Bag End fall into the hands of a gardener and his frightfully common wife. Better the Sackville-Bagginses end up with it than that!

Tom Bombadil doesn't have a motive, exactly, but every time someone asks him whether he killed Frodo or where he was at the time, he's all evasive in doggerel rhyme:
"Did Tom kill Frodo?
Did Tom eat a dodo?
Where was he?
What said he?
Did Tom play polo?"
If the person doing this can keep it up, Tom may also end up dead by the end of the evening.

With Gandalf I'd be inclined to have him worried that he has killed Frodo by mistake, possibly in some sort of spell-gone-wrong scenario. Then he can spend the whole evening lying and trying to cover up for himself, thus increasing the confusion.

As for the elven folk and Goldberry, I have no ideas at the moment but I will think about it.
posted by Acheman at 10:04 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Arwen... realizes she made a big mistake marrying Aragorn, decides she wants her place on the boat back.

Celebrian... in Agatha Christie some long lost relation who has not been heard from for ages is almost always an imposter. She says she was captured and tormented by Orcs. I say she's Sauron's agent. Whether he turned her, placed her under his sorcerer's enchantment, or just created a look-alike, I don't know.

Elrond... can't abide the thought that a mortal will be allowed into the Undying Lands. He plans to do away with Bilbo, Sam and Gimli as well. It it regrettable, but the purity of Elvenhome must be preserved.

Galadriel... thinks Frodo knows what really went on with her and Gimli. Celeborn must never find out.

Bilbo... an aging hobbit has to think about his pension. He is Frodo's next of kin, and Bag End was his anyway. The royalties from the Red Book will be immense, and it was him who started it. It's only fair.

Belladona Took.... well an aging hobbit has to think of her pension. That fool Bilbo is too generous by half, and has no thought what will become of his old mum. It's all right for him, he can go off gallivanting into the West when he feels the need. If Frodo dies, the estate passes to Bilbo, and eventually to her.

Gimli.... fears Frodo will reveal that she is a female dwarf.

Gandalf... has always hated hobbits, especially the Bagginses. He keeps trying to send them to their doom, but the pesky things always manage to survive. Frodo should have been the one to go into the fire, not Gollum. He won't get away this time.
posted by philipy at 7:08 PM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Celebrian... in Agatha Christie some long lost relation who has not been heard from for ages is almost always an imposter. She says she was captured and tormented by Orcs. I say she's Sauron's agent. Whether he turned her, placed her under his sorcerer's enchantment, or just created a look-alike, I don't know.

I think this idea is genius!

For Goldberry, maybe you need to run with your original idea where she has environmental concerns, and turn her into a full-on ecoterrorist. She is concerned that Frodo's activities are already attracting unsavoury types (like Nazgul) to her lovely unspoilt landscape, and she's heard about Sauruman's plans.
posted by Acheman at 9:30 AM on November 3, 2012

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