Dungeons & Dragons Online

Creating a Vampire Murder Mystery for our Campaign’s Halloween One-Shot

If the names Orpheus, Ysaora, Quillith, or Ehrik mean anything to you, please don't read any further!

My campaign is a few weeks in and I thought it would be fun to do a halloween-themed one shot as a break from our normal story. The idea is that this would be a dream sequence for the characters. I asked them to bring characters 3 levels higher than they currently are so they can play around with different leveling up ideas before committing (a few are 1st time players and have lots of questions as they level up). I told them this would be no-consequences and just a fun murder mystery.

What they DON'T know is that this takes place in-world, just 200 years earlier. One of my big bads is a vampire woman who has recently taken over the ruling capital in a region of my homebrew world. This one-shot is meant to be her origin story in the region – the day she arrived, lied about being the relative of the matriarch of a fairly low-ranking noble family, murdered the matriarch, and took over the family. She would then spend the next 200 years maneuvering to rule over the entire region.

Naturally, the murder mystery is who killed the Lady of the house, the widowed, childless middle-aged matriarch who was just beginning to court new suitors. My initial thoughts are that the Vampire came ahead of time as a mist or bat and turned a housemaid into a Vampire Spawn, ordering her to turn on her Lady.

I'd want the BBEG to arrive after the murder is discovered, so that: (i) she is immediately cleared of any suspicion, (ii) she can implore the adventuring party for help, wanting them to pin the murder on the housemaid, (iii) she can solidify herself as the caring distant relative of the hapless Lady who died a childless widow so that she's the obvious choice to take over after our adventuring party "solve" the murder (maybe even end up "marrying" one of the male suitors).

This is all to set up a payoff about a year from now when the party finally travel to this region and I whisper to one of the characters that they recognize the ruler of the region as the woman from his dream.

My initial inclination is to allow the party to find out pretty early on that the body was likely killed by a vampire bite and allow them to investigate the house and village to track down the vampire (in reality, just a vampire spawn pumped up a little for CR purposes, maybe even including a swarm of bats or rats in the final encounter or to drain the party a little bit).

I'm a relatively new DM and not super familiar with crafting full-on homebrew adventures. My sessions thus far have been mostly reskins of published adventures or others' ideas and I would love any guidance on if there already is a published adventure out there similar to this that I can rejigger or if anyone has any ideas/advice on how to build this encounter on my own.

tldr: Novice DM crafting a Halloween murder mystery one shot where the party unwittingly help a vampire BBEG get away with murder and put her in a place of power.

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