No, actually, you got it. Flip the legs around in your head and you’re there.
This is good enough. The letter trick hasn’t been explained sufficiently, but as I clarify in the explanation, given Rune’s reasoning in discord, the defeat there would’ve been inevitable; and continuing from here wouldn’t be fun, since the discussion would come down to the details and desperate red clutches - both from me and the players, making the exercise pointless.
I will now explain the solution in detail.
The culprit is Genji.
Krauss and Shannon had had an affair at some point in the past. The affair had ended, but nevertheless, Genji held a grudge - detesting disloyalty above all. Instead of killing him, however, he chose to make him suffer - taking the fall for the murder of his family.
Let’s start with the letter. You… didn’t really figure this one out fully, but the core of the trick had been struck, and from what theorizing Rune showed off in discord, he would’ve gotten close enough with his theory there.
Firstly, Genji knew in advance Kinzo intended to commit suicide that night. Kinzo gave Genji a letter and instructed him to give it to the family. It was Kinzo’s last will and testament.
Genji, however, had other plans.
The trick consisted of two major factors: psychological ones and the actual physical ones.
Let’s… start with the psychological ones.
As theorized by Rune, Genji had made preparations to create a disarray during dinner.
He’d told Jessica something was wrong with Natsuhi - that her mental state and her treatment of servants was getting out of hand.
He’d poisoned Nanjo to give him a stomachache.
He planted the love letter in Battler’s bag (it was originally an old letter between Krauss and Shannon) and hinted to George. Knowing George’s obsession, it wouldn’t have been hard to guess what would’ve happened next. Battler, frustrated over George’s behavior and seeing he wouldn’t believe him anyway, taunted George and claimed he was in a relationship with Shannon. However - his very own taunting, he’d given away that they couldn’t have possibly made any plans together. He claimed the two of them would go to the VIP room together and described a steamy shower, all arranged beforehand by Shannon. Of course, as you are aware, the VIP room has no bathroom in it. A mistake Shannon wouldn’t have made.
Krauss, Natsuhi, Hideyoshi and Eva would’ve been in a face-off by default.
Last are Maria and Rosa. Genji understood beforehand that Rosa would’ve been paying more attention to Maria than anything else, especially in an atmosphere as hostile and unknown as the one that would’ve been caused by his other machinations. You may find it interesting that his own actions brought to that state of things between Maria and Rosa. After all, the inciting incident over them bonding was the disappearance of Maria’s father. Naturally, the culprit behind that was Genji. Krauss, you see, wasn’t the first time Genji acted upon seeing betrayal of another partner.
You may wonder what would have given Genji the confidence and ability to anticipate the human mind to the degree that he had. The answer is simple. He was the old colleague Maria’s father had met the night he disappeared. Before becoming a butler, Genji was a psychologist. (It goes without saying, but I did not anticipate you to take this leap in logic; it’s only there to explain what had actually happened).
This disarray would’ve minimized the risk for the act of switching the letter.
Which, as speculated, was done by strings.
I would like to take this time to point out that your main barrier in proper reasoning here was the assumption that the letter had to be moved from one side of the table to the other in one quick motion - by a strong tug of a string. Obviously, something like that would’ve been noticed by most if not all.
But that’s not what Genji had done.
As I have attempted to tell you earlier, what follows is not trivial. I tried hinting that you needed paper for this with the Aftermath chapter - and you really did.
There were two strings. String A and String B. There were also two nails - one near the entrance (the one Krauss has accidentally stepped on) and one at the very - very south of the room. (Hold your objections, they will be addressed shortly.) The nail near the entrance had not been placed when everyone had walked into the dining room. The one on the south had, since it was at the very, very south, nobody would’ve gotten in its way.
Let us take a look at the state of things when everyone walks into the dining room. String A will be colored blue, and string B will be colored red for convenience sake. The parts that are transparent show that the string runs under the table. The little square at the very bottom is the nail on the south part.
As you can see, string A runs from the position where the letter was, went down the table to the south, went underneat it to the point in front of the door, turned right, went around the lamp, and towards where Genji was. String B goes from roughly in front of where Maria was, goes to the north, goes underneath the table to the south, then turns right - again, towards Genji.
None of the strings are tense - they’re simply lying where they are.
Almost immediately, a question rises: How did nobody notice the strings?
None of the strings would have been noticed due to the simple simple fact it was extremely thin and - more importantly - the bright lights would’ve caused the extremely polished table to create a strong reflection, ensuring that the strings are harder to see.
So, the dinner begins.
Genji takes the letter Kinzo had given him. As he is placing it in front of Krauss, he attaches String A to the statuette with scotch tape. He then goes to his spot and awaits for Shannon’s cart to arrive.
Shannon’s cart, as speculated, had been sabotaged beforehand. I would’ve accepted any explanation given for it, it truly didn’t matter. My explanation is that Genji had simply unscrewed the wheel beforehand and waited for the cart to crash at any point as she was wheeling it up. (He knew she would, given he was the head servant.)
The reason for this was not only for the letter - but for Genji to be able to place the nail on the top side of the room.
Another objection arises: Genji, given this explanation, couldn’t have possibly pinpointed the exact position the cart would’ve landed. What if it had crashed right as she wheeled it in? How does he get to the entrance?
The answer is relatively simple - he pretends to be searching for the busted wheel. Or he takes a chance and decides to hope nobody realizes he went around the table, despite the fact that Shannon would’ve been close enough for him for there to be no need for that.
He then returns to his position, and we have an image roughly like this:
(I made the string a bit thicker to make it clearer what was happening in this case. Which is to say - I’m sleepy and forgot there was a much easier way I could actually draw it but fuck it.)
In other words, by pulling at the string at times where he could tell nobody was looking down , he inched it towards the south end of the table, roughly around where Maria was sitting.
In other words, you get something like this after he’s all done:
Of course, next question: How does nobody notice it was moved if they happen to glance down at the table?
Simple human oversight. Because Genji had carefully inched it and moved it slowly, they would’ve only noticed a small difference from the last time they’d seen it. With not a lot of attention being brought to the letter, the statutette, or anyone really caring about the letter to begin with, it was a hole in human way of looking at things Genji could exploit.
When Maria complained about her food - as he was grabbing her plate, he attached string B to the statuette and detached String B. (Detach A - when he arrives, attach B - as Rosa’s tasting). Genji does NOT switch the letter at this stage.
Obviously, the alternate solution here is that he simply moved it all the way until the end of the table, and made the switch of the strings then. The trick will ultimately work the same.
This plan obviously relies then, given the positioning of String B, that Genji knew Maria’s food would be bad beforehand. How did he set that up?
There was nothing wrong with the food.
It was the cutlery that was tampered with. And once Maria had gotten the resedue of the foul taste over the meat Rosa, who’d taken a bite of it, would taste it as well - even if she hadn’t used Maria’s cutlery.
He then goes to the kitchen, and gets another plate. As theorized before, he stood at the door between the hallway to the kitche and the dining room to overhear Battler’s game and write it into the letter, along with the other details he couldn’t have forseen (who would help Shannon, specifically). Given that he’d left the lower end of the first page empty, it was easy enough to write it.
How did Genji come back from the kitchen so quickly to overhear Battler’s game and have enough time to write in the letter?
The replacement dish had originally been meant to Ange. Genji never informed the servants she wouldn’t be arriving just for this purpose - so Gohda would’ve had another dish ready from the get-go.
Genji then returns. The switch happens as he’s revealing the plate with Maria’s food. He has the bell that had covered the plate covering most of his hand from the people down at the table. Nanjo is still sick, Rosa focused on Maria. The letter had been in his sleeve. He held the bell with his ring finger, pulled out the letter from his sleeve with his index and middle finger, placed it right next to the statuette, moved the statuette over to his letter, and then took the letter that had originally been there.
It goes without saying, but you were never required to say this.
It is at this point that I should probably digress to point out that it was only after doing this that, had Genji been caught, he would’ve been in trouble. Had he been caught at any other point, he could have simply claimed he was following Kinzo’s instructions. If he had been caught here, though? That would’ve been pretty bad. This was his margin of error.
Returning to his previous position, he simply pulled on String B much like he did String A to move it back to its original position. And the deed is done. Krauss, when picking it up, didn’t pick up the statuette from its base, and thus never noticed the string.
After everyone leaves, Genji simply cleans up after himself, removing all evidence in the process.
Of course, there is the last question.
This was another part where you looked at the situation a bit wrong. You reasoned there was no reason for the letter to be moved, given that there’s no way anyone would’ve known about an arbitrary area of awarness in advance. This was true and it is true right now. Genji did not do it for that reason.
His reasons were much simpler - so that, once the letter was read - nobody could say he ever went near it. Thus, when the police think over the crime, he becomes effectively ruled out.
As for the letter itself - it’s quite simple. To frame Krauss.
Nobody had reached for the letter and indeed, nobody would ever claim anyone reached for the letter. If Krauss had attempted to, he would’ve been dismissed, given that he’s the prime suspect. This left only two possible solutions:
- Krauss made up the letter as he was reading out something else (what the police ended up concluding).
- Krauss covertly wrote the letter and switched it himself, as he was reaching for it.
The “solution” would’ve come down to whether or not Krauss had bothered to show anyone the letter after the fact. But given everything, those would’ve been the only two acceptable circumstances.
It was a double bluff, basically. A trick to create the illusion that Krauss was attempting to make a trick to divert suspicion away from himself after his wife and daughter are murdered.
I… think that should cover all in regards to the letter. Do let me know if there’s something I left out.
THE VIP ROOM
This one is essentially as Rune described. Rune’s mistake was simply imagining the legs to be facing the wrong direction. Basically, it was like this:
(Apologies for the wonky diagram, this is just to get the point across. In retrospect, one of my biggest regrets here was the sloppy way the original diagram was made, as well. I originally designed it with simply a “show where everything is” midset, but I should’ve perhaps paid more attentions to getting all the proportions right. Alas, my diagram-making skills are poor regardless, so I apologize if anyone had considered but dismissed the solution because of it.)
The narrowness and the fact that there was a bit of the wall making a small hallway, and given the small gap in the door, and with the mirror itself creating a fake sense of depth, it would’ve been good enough to fool anyone who’d just heard a gunshot and believed to be staring at a dead body. The light source came from one Genji himself had planted in the corner of the room (thanks to some extra power plugs put in during the renovations).
Naturally, the mirror covered up what was happening in the room at the time - Jessica fighting for her life, desperately trying to win the “game”. She caught the gun with her feet and fired it through window 1, which was opened, but alas - she choked and died. Much like Genji anticipated she would’ve, anyway. If she’d reached the gun, she’d tipped over the chair. If she tried reaching for the gun, she would’ve tipped over the chair. If she didn’t do anything, he would’ve killed her when he inevitably reentered the room.
Does this mean that the gunshot was optional in the scheme?
Correct, and it not happening, while not allowing Genji an alibi, would’ve still allowed for an alternative.
You see, the legs seen by everyone weren’t fake. They weren’t fake, but they weren’t Jessica’s.
They were Battler’s.
After knocking him out with his drink, Genji shaved his legs, put a skirt on him, and used him as his pair of legs.
Wait, what the fuck?
Do recall how Battler found it suddenly chillier than he’s used to when he woke up, despite it being mentioned the temperature was pretty much perfect and there was no reason to touch the thermostat. And why he had to scratch his leg in the first place during the Aftermath chapter…
As you can see, though, I would’ve accepted fake legs just as well. Could’ve even gone for using Kinzo’s cold dead corpse as a substitute as well.
(Yes, he really did die in that fall.)
After the gunshot went off, he went to get the clippers. He was a trusted servant, making sense for him to go get them, and he would’ve shooed off anyone bent on following him (not that there would have been any reason to; and even if they had, with Battler on the scene and Jessica inevitably dead, Genji would’ve been the last person on their minds, even with the mirror trick in place).
Genji then reentered through window 1, set up the scene, grabbed the mirror during Hideyoshi’s lack of attentiveness, and shut the light on the right side of the room off. He then broke window 2 and threw the mirror outside. (This a question I was surprised nobody had considered; given that the window was fully broken - it meant it probably hadn’t happened when the gunshot had gone off. Meaning it was broken deliberately and for some other reason.)
Genji then grabbed Battler, the lamp, and left the room. On his way back, he simply places Battler back in his sleeping position.
Okay. What was the objective here?
Again, to frame Krauss later.
If Jessica fires the shot, he goes and takes the cartridge out, making it seem like the revolver wasn’t even fired, and making it appear like yet another attempt by Krauss to create the illusion of an impossible crime. He egg timer contraption had been set up beforehand. (Genji could not have simply taken the revolver with him to further tighten the noose around Krauss’ neck., since disposing it outside would’ve ensured police eventually found it, and keeping it on his own person would’ve been a death sentance - so leaving it behind was the best option.)
If Jessica does not fire off the shot, he THEN simply leaves Battler behind, creating room for a theory in which Battler and Krauss had constructed a sick game of murder. The numbers game would’ve also become deceptively simple in the eyes of the police if the two had been in on it from the beginning.
As for such a cruel way of creating a remote gunshot?
It was an extra fuck you to Krauss.
He, who had betrayed his wife with a woman right under his nose, would be forced to unknowingly be present while his daughter was still dying, begging and struggling for her life.
This one was exactly what it had appeared to be. Genji had made a mistake - he’d practiced getting the key under the door, and it would’ve worked well enough. He did not practice actually breaking the string (since that would’ve meant he locked the door permanately and couldn’t really explain himself afterwards). This made him forget that on the night of the execution, given how tough the string was, he wouldn’t be just tying the key, he would be attaching it with tape to ensure it separated itself from the key. And once the tape was attached, the key was too thick to slide under the door. And given that at the time, Genji had to go with Shannon and on that patrol to come across the VIP room, he had no choice but to leave it behind.
The reason for this mystery being included to begin with was to simply hint to the players strings are a thing that exists and that the string itself is strong. That’s all there is to it.
That should cover it all, I think.