Hidden in an ancient forest above the Miskatonic river deep in the Massachusetts wilderness is Arkhamville Manor. Constructed in the late 16th and early 17th century by Count von Ripanuvich on land shunned by the Mohegan it was a retreat and fortress for those investigating occult matters the like of which were considered blasphemous in Europe.
So begins the dark, perhaps treacherous tale of Arkhamville and its inhabitants. It is a tale of the occult, of people forced to flee their European roots lest the Church denounce them for their dark studies, and who settled in the relative seclusion of Massachusetts, establishing a fortress mansion and community of workers from which they continued their search for immortality, to be bestowed by one of the elder gods.
With the mansion and the village came rituals and construction, carried out under the noses of the more Puritanical and God-fearing surrounding villages and coastal towns. On down the years the work continued – not always harmoniously – with descendents of those original occultist immigrants ever seeking that elusive key to the secret of immortality.
Now, in much more recent times, one Jedediah Dexter, who previously left (or perhaps was forced to leave) the community 30 years previously, has returned – only to meet a violent end, and leaving you facing a question.
Who killed him?
Arkhamville, which opened on October 1st and will continue through until November 1st, is a Halloween-hunt-murder-mystery, which encourages visitors to play a part in the forsaken community and discover the truth behind the murder.
It is a collaborative effort on the part of an impressive list of participants, lead by Kitto Flora and Rafe Holder, who came up with the story for the event, and Shauna Bonetto, who has donated a full region for the project. Many of those who have contributed to the project are also active participants in the story, and help to bring both it and Arkhamville to life.
The region itself is all you’d expect of a murder mystery set around the time of Halloween. Beneath dark, brooding skies, beset with fast-moving clouds perhaps heralding a coming storm are all the required ingredients: mysterious manor house, lights all ablaze, on a hill, a mysterious and not altogether welcoming fun fair, a hunched church with dank graveyard beside it, and up on the hill, above even the wheels and bins of an old conveyor system, a place of dark magic, with cairns made of skulls and a blood-red ramp leading to a mysterious gazebo watched over – literally – by two gnarled white, and leafless, trees.
When you arrive, make sure you collect your game items from Trooper Eddie. These comprise a notecard with the back story, a police pass, which will track your progress in your investigations, and a choice of optional Arkhamville costumes (one male, one female). Personal scripts are capped, so you may also receive a warning that you need to remove items or (I assume) face ejection if you don’t – those receiving the message have 6 minutes to comply, with reminders about every 2 minutes.
Warnings like this can dampen enthusiasm for a place, but at least this one is sedate, rather than a brief warning followed by the royal order of the boot. I was slightly over the limit, and removing a couple of HUDs I knew I’d not need while in the region solved the issue for me.
There are no actual rules as to how you should proceed – although a good place to start is with the body (which I’ll leave you to find – it shouldn’t be that hard :)). From here it is a case of following the clues, meeting “residents” of the mansion and the village and finding out what you can.
I’m not going to give too much away, partly because that’ll obviously spoil things if you’ve not yet spent time in Arkhamville, but mostly because I haven’t yet solved the mystery myself. Suffice it to say that there is a fair amount of interaction with “people” and things in Arkhamville, and as an investigator, you don’t always get your own way – those who know anything about matters are prone to make demands of you first.
Arkhamville is already proving very popular; during my visits, there were rarely less than 22 people in the region. This can make things a tad laggy, so if you tend to run in deferred with shadows, etc., active, you may want to consider setting your lighting options to NONE other than when taking snapshots.
Certainly, if you’re interested in sleuthing away an evening, Arkhamville can easily draw you in.
Arkhamville was a featured build on the Beaverville region for Halloween 2012 and is now closed.