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Word crawl/Poe Party Crawl

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Welcome, friend, to HannahCT's Poe Party word crawl!

This crawl is based on Shipwrecked's Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Dinner Party web series. The crawl steps are based on what happens in each episode so I highly recommend watching (or maybe rewatching if it's been a while) each episode before you do that step in the crawl. I've done my best to avoid spoilers for anyone watching the series for the first time as they do the crawl, but beware that if you scroll too far down you'll find out which characters die and encounter various other spoilers.

Most challenges require you to write for 5-20 minutes or write 1 – 999 words. There's also one step that requires a bit over 1k. If you do every challenge, most people should end up having to write about 3.5k plus do timed challenges that add up to either 66 or 71 minutes.

Instructions The first step is to select the character that you will follow for the duration of the crawl. Choose one of the following characters using a 12-sided die, a random number generator or personal preference. I balanced the tracks as much as possible, so no character should be significantly easier or harder than any of the others. (The numbers are just for those using a die or number generator to choose.)

  • [1] Annabel Lee
  • [2] Charlotte Brontë
  • [3] Edgar Allan Poe
  • [4] Emily Dickinson
  • [5] Ernest Hemingway
  • [6] Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • [7] George Eliot
  • [8] H. G. Wells
  • [9] Lenore
  • [10] Louisa May Alcott
  • [11] Mary Shelley
  • [12] Oscar Wilde

Don't worry if your character meets an untimely end – you'll still be able to participate in the crawl. In some steps there are specific challenges for murdered characters. If your character has been murdered and there isn't a challenge listed for them to complete, you can either skip the step (easy route) or choose another character to 'haunt' and do their challenge instead (medium route, and the one I used for balancing tracks). You can pick the new character by personal preference, by using a die, or by using a random number generator. You can either haunt the same character until that character dies or choose a new character to haunt each time.

An alternative option is to go back and choose a new character if yours is murdered and start again from chapter 1 with that character (hard route). If they also die, go back to the chapter 1 again and choose another character. Keep going until you pick a character that actually survives all the way to the end. If you want to make it really hard, do all the challenges your character is given after they die (dead characters have challenges in chapter 6, chapter 9 as well as the chapter after their death) before you switch to the new one.

Alright, now that the instructions are out of the way, let's get started! [Final warning: spoilers lie ahead.]

A Tell Tale Invitation

What is that rapping at your chamber door? It's a raven, and it comes bearing an invitation: “Edgar Allan Poe invites you to Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery invite-only casual dinner party/gala for friends potluck.” Write 200 words – 10 words for every word on your invitation – as you try and persuade the raven to take your RSVP back to Edgar. [If you are Edgar or Lenore, write 200 words while you argue about the wording of the invitations.]

Kickstarter video

Edgar and Lenore are going to put on “a wonderful party with the finest... candles and the most extravagant of... soups and a murder mystery game that shall rival any other murder mystery game ever produced.” Edgar would like to assure you that he's definitely not asking for your money to put on a party to impress a lady. Okay, maybe he's lying about that - but they do need to secure some funds or the dinner party won't be happening. As they try and raise the money, write 73 words (1 for every raven Edgar has sent to Annabel).

Chapter 1: The Bells

“Welcome, friend, to Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery invite-only casual dinner party/gala for friends potluck.” “Now, tonight will be quite exciting. You were all given a character card with a name and a brief biography. Please study it, for it is to be your identity for the duration of the evening.” (Almost) everyone has arrived and the game is about to begin.

If you are Edgar, write for 15 minutes as you welcome your guests and then try to explain the rules of the game. If your character complains about their character card and/or swaps with somebody else (Emily, George, Charlotte, Louisa, Ernest), write for 10 minutes. If you are Annabel, write for 20 minutes as you and Eddie apologise for being late. If you are Fyodor, H. G., Mary, Oscar or Lenore, write for 5 minutes as you wonder when someone will be murdered and the game will begin.

Chapter 2: The Masque of the Red Death

“A grave and sinister act has been committed here this evening!”… and it's not just Louisa May's dress. Write for 10 minutes as Edgar tries to convince everyone that this is an actual murder and not part of the game. “Right in the soup!” bonus round: if your character makes a comment about soup (H.G., Charlotte, Ernest, Fyodor, George, Lenore) write for an extra 5 minutes as you argue with Lenore / defend the soup you worked so hard on.

Chapter 3: The Purloined Letter

“That wasn't there before, right?” Everyone returns to the dining room to find a note: Good evening authors. What a lovely party this is. I hope you left room for the next course, when you all get your just desserts. Tell no-one, seek no help, do not under any circumstances leave this abode or the only thing you will be authoring henceforce is your own death. About the only thing the characters agree on is that this note is poorly written.

If your character is still alive (or is Lenore), write 200 words while they argue over who the likely culprit is. Add extra words to this amount for each of the following that applies: If evidence is found linking your character to one of the murders that has taken place so far (Mary, Annabel, Fyodor, H.G.), write an extra 50 words as you protest your innocence. If it is discovered that your character had a motive for one of the murders (Mary, Edgar, Charlotte, George), write an extra 50 words as your try to defend yourself. If your character directs suspicion towards another person (Oscar, Lenore, Ernest, Edgar, George, Charlotte), write an extra 50 words as you explain why you suspect that person.

If your character died in the last episode (Louisa), write 350 words as you come to terms with your unfair death.

[Note: The affects of the extra words above are cumulative, so if two things apply to your character then you must write the extra words for both things. If your character directs suspicion onto more than one person you only need to write the 50 words once. You can either add up all the words you need and write them as one big block or write the extra words separately.]

Chapter 4: A Descent Into the Maelström

“Friends, something's afoot. I suggest we scour the house for clues. I suggest we split up.” “That's a terrible idea! Whoever is paired with the murderer will be in grave danger!” Edgar is clearly right about this, but the characters pair off anyway. They might be authors but they're clearly not very genre savvy...

If you are Annabel, Ernest or Edgar do a 5 minute word war as Edgar and Ernest bicker about vacation spots. If you are H.G. or Lenore, write for 20 minutes to distract yourself from the awkwardness as you accidentally reveal your connection to Eddie / tell H.G. about your fianceé. If you are Charlotte, sprint for 10 minutes as you scathingly insult the study. If you are Fyodor, do a 3-digit challenge as you search for inspiration in Edgar's books. If you are Emily, write for 15 minutes as you explore the house. You might be alone, but at least you're definitely not paired with the murderer – and the soup is actually pretty good. If you are Oscar or George, you take Mary's body to the cellar and then find an elevator that leads to the kitc– ARGH! It's a mouse! This is by far the worst thing that has happened tonight! Write for 10 minutes as you recover from this terrible shock. If you were Mary, write for 20 minutes as you prepare a really good eulogy for yourself.

Chapter 5: The Oval Portrait

“Edgar now will you hire a cleaning lady? This blood is never going to come out of the carpet!” ... “Agatha Cristie will be here soon. She'll hopefully be able to figure all of this out.” But in the mean time...

If you are Edgar, H.G. or Ernest, write 400 words (100 for each body) as you take the latest corpse to the cellar. There's going to be a trove of celebrated authors down here soon if you don't nab the culprit... If you are Annabel, Oscar or George, write 500 words as you head to the washroom to clean up. If you are Emily, Lenore or Charlotte, do a 3-digit challenge while you wait for something to happen to relieve this awkwardness. If you were Fyodor, write for 20 minutes as you and the other murdered guests complain about how everyone seems more concerned with making jokes than figuring out who killed you all.

Chapter 6: Spirits of the Dead

“Well, we have a lot of dead people in this house. I'm sure at least one of them saw whomever killed them.” “Is the good professor suggesting we have a séance?” He was suggesting exactly that, and now Krishanti has arrived and the séance has begun.

If you are dead (Louisa, Mary, Fyodor, George), write 400 words as you figure out what to say when Krishanti summons you. If you are Charlotte, write for 5 minutes as you try and get your sneezing under control. If you are Emily, you're fed up of people not noticing you! You are not a ghost! You are a live person, and you are standing up for yourself! As you go to fetch the sage Krishanti needs to continue the séance, do a 15 minute word war. If you are Lenore, write 500 words as you reminisce about Guy. If you are Annabel, Edgar, Ernest, Oscar or H.G., do a 3-digit challenge as you go to search for Emily (Annabel) / follow Annabel (Edgar and Ernest) / go to watch the drama unfold (Oscar) / continue working on your invention (H.G.).

Chapter 7: Mesmeric Revelation

“My, we are becoming adept at this murder game, are we not?” Oh no, not more murders. Edgar thinks he's noticed something important though – to the washroom!

If you are Edgar, write for 20 minutes as you explain your theory to the others. If you are Oscar, write for 20 minutes as you process that George's murder was meant for you. If you are Lenore or H.G., write 350 words as you head back to the attic to work on the final part of H.G.'s invention. If you are Annabel, Charlotte or Ernest, write for 15 minutes as you stare awkwardly at Oscar. If you are Emily, write 500 words as you express your frustration that even though you've been murdered nobody except Annabel seems to notice you or remember who you are.

Chapter 8: The Cask of Amontillado

“What's going on here tonight?” “Here? Oh, I'm- I'm glad you asked. We are having... a... writer's conference.” “So it's not a dinner party?” “Um, yes... and no. We are having a writer's conference about... food metaphors.” A pair of constables show up investigating the disappearance of Agatha Cristie, who Edgar and the others definitely haven't seen because they've been busy having a perfectly innocent and murder-free writer's conference about food metaphors.

If you are Edgar, write 400 words as you try and convince the constables that there is nothing suspicious going on. If you are Annabel, Charlotte, Ernest or Oscar, roll a die, multiply the result by 100 and write that many words as you and the others do a series of increasingly ridiculous things that Edgar has to try and explain. If you are H.G. or Lenore, write for 10 minutes as you finish your invention / take the camera to the roof.

Chapter 9: The Sleeper

“Excuse me, one more thing. What's with the dead body?” ... “Even in cases of self-defence, murder is often punishable by death – which is why I always say DON'T DO MURDER!” Once the constables finally notice that there's something wrong, the characters list off everyone who's died so far.

If your character has been murdered (Louisa, Mary, Fyodor, George, Emily, H.G.), write 200 words as you and the other victims despair of anyone ever figuring out who murdered you all.

Now we have the law on our side we're bound to solve this murder mystery soon! Luckily the first course Constable Jimmy took in constable academy was What to do in case your dinner party turns into a mass homicide, but unfortunately he and Constable Jim forgot the very first rule: Don't drink anything. Oops. So much for them helping to solve the case. Once the constables are out of the picture the surviving characters start accusing each other all over again.We're running out of time, so let's make it quick:

If your character is accused of being involved with one or more of the murders (Ernest, Oscar, Edgar, Lenore, Annabel), write 150 words as you scramble to defend yourself. If your character is not accused (Charlotte) write 400 words as you peruse the paper.

Chapter 10: Annabel Lee

“You crazy, contemptuous cow! You murdered my best frien- my acquaintances! (Let's call them acquaintances.)” The murderer is finally revealed!

Write to the next thousand as everyone processes their shock.

Chapter 11: The Tell-Tale Heart

“No, it can't be.” “Oh, it can. ... Congratulations, Mr. Poe. You've figured it out.”

Write for 10 minutes as the murders are explained one by one.

End Credits: Write 1,139 words – one for every person who backed the series on Kickstarter. If you were a Kickstarter backer, you can write half the amount (570 words) as a thank you for helping to make this series available for everyone to enjoy.


“I did see you reading War of the Worlds the other day.” “What? No I wasn't. I haven't read his entire body of work in the time since his tragic demise. I don't know what you're talking about. This conversation was passing the Bechdel test until now.” Annabel and Lenore were having a perfectly nice Bechdel-test-passing conversation until Annabel brought up Lenore's choice of reading matter. Do you know what the Bechdel test is?

If you do, write to the end credits music from the War of the Worlds movie (or just write for 6 minutes and 9 seconds). If you had to look it up, write to the end credits music from above and then write 50 extra words for each web page (or other source) you looked at while you were researching the test (if you got distracted by TV tropes, Wikipedia or a similar site, all those unrelated pages also count).

Good luck!