221B Baker Street
An Introduction to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
“I’m a consulting detective, if you can understand what that is. Here in London we have lots of government detectives and lots of private ones. When these fellows are at fault, they come to me, and I manage to put them on the right scent.”
–Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet
From the dingy Victorian street, the suite off of Baker Street appears unremarkable. It is identical to a hundred others in London—a simple reflection of 221A. Even once you speak to Mrs. Hudson and ascend the flight of seventeen stairs, it scarcely seems out of the ordinary for a bachelor residence. You’re standing in a large, airy room, illuminated by two windows and populated by comfortable chairs. Sturdy wooden doors lead to adjoining bedrooms. Recent correspondence is affixed to the mantle with a jackknife, next to a Turkish slipper stuffed with tobacco.
Yet the whole room fades in deference to the man in the center. In height, he is well over six feet, although so excessively lean as to appear much taller. His eyes are sharp and piercing. His hawk-like nose gives his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His hands are invariably blotted with ink and stained with chemicals. He is Sherlock Holmes, the world’s first and only consulting detective.
Few figures have commanded greater presence in the popular mind than Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective. He has appeared in countless stories and adaptations, cutting across the years with his keen intellect and indomitable spirit. Now, you’ll find a new improvisation in the sage of Sherlock Holmes with Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective. As a unique mix of roleplaying and the science of deduction, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective deserves a place in every gamer’s library, and today, we’ll show you why.
On the Streets of London
“Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to bring it home.”
–Sherlock Holmes, The Boscombe Valley Mystery
Unlike most board games, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective starts with very little setup. There aren’t dice or cards that you’ll use to pursue your strategy, and you won’t be counting actions or pushing meeples around the board. Instead, the game begins simply, almost mundanely. You have a map of London. You have a copy of the London Directory, listing the addresses of residents alongside doctors, theaters, restaurants, gunsmiths, parks, and countless other useful shops and locations. You have your daily issue of The Times, filled with stories of international affairs, local fundraisers, obituaries, marriage notices, and other bits of information. Finally, you have the casebook—one of ten included in the game.
During the game, you and your fellow players each take on the roles of Baker Street Irregulars—Sherlock Holmes’s band of street urchins who helped him during his investigations. In every game, you’ll join the mystery in a new way as you open the casebook and read the introduction aloud. Perhaps Sherlock Holmes will summon you to hear the troubles of a new client, or perhaps he’ll simply direct your attention to an interesting passage in your newspaper.
Either way, you’ll learn the first snippets of information about the case—and that’s the launching point for your investigation. Because in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, you’re not bound to experiencing the mystery through the eyes of another. You make all of the choices, and you decide where to go. For instance, you may learn in the newspaper that a man was murdered in the alley behind Simpson’s Cigar Divan last night. Naturally, you’ll want to investigate the scene of the crime before you can follow up on your deductions. To find the address of Simpson’s, you simply look in the London Directory—20WC. After you’ve found 20WC on the map of London, you can open your casebook to the corresponding section, and read the passage that you find there.
The Science of Deduction
“The faculty of deduction is certainly contagious, Watson.”
–Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of Thor Bridge
Once you’ve turned to the correct passage in your casebook, you have—within the game—arrived at Simpson’s Cigar Divan. The paragraphs that you find under this section explain what you see and encounter, and what the people that you speak to may reveal. After you’ve read the passage aloud, you and your fellow players have the chance to discuss what you have learned together. After all, you don’t have to be alone in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (though you can certainly play the game solo); you have your fellow Baker Street Irregulars to aid in the investigation.
After reading a passage from the casebook, you and your friends will invariably discuss what you have learned. Was the person you spoke to telling the truth or lying? What was the significance of a cigar divan as a meeting place? Did anyone you speak to have a potential motive in the murder? Do their alibis hold up under pressure? Along with this discussion, you’ll be able to pore over the London Directory and the daily newspaper, searching for any scrap of information that might shed light on what you’ve learned most recently. Your conversation, the new information, and the deductions that you make will ultimately guide what you want to do next. Perhaps the proprietor of Simpson’s referred you to a popular pub frequented by the murder victim, or perhaps you noticed the address of a hospital scribbled on a sheet of paper. Once you and your fellow players have decided where you want to go next, you’ll simply choose a new location on the map and turn to the appropriate section of the casebook.
If you’ve never played a roleplaying game before, this style of game might seem unusual to you, but you’ll soon find that the idea can be easily grasped. You’re simply trying to solve a mystery using the clues that you find along the way, and you’re investigating the leads that you believe will lead to the truth—just as you would in real life. Each “turn,” you’ll choose a new location and visit it, hoping to uncover new information. Still, unlike a roleplaying game, the end is always clearly in sight. After all, at the end of the casebook, you’ll find a series of questions related to the investigation, and you’ll need to answer all of them if you’re going to solve the case. You have a mystery to solve and the facts are out there, somewhere on the streets of London.
Hit the Streets, Solve the Mystery
“It is the unofficial force—the Baker Street Irregulars.”
–Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four
The streets of London are wide open, filled with mystery and crime. In Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, you have your chance to solve thrilling, brain-burning cases and match wits with Sherlock Holmes himself. Pick up your copy of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective at your local retailer today, and stay tuned for more news on the Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures standalone expansion!