Come for No-Tell Motel's murder mystery, stay for the juicy goss

VIP stands for Very Idle Peepers

Come for No-Tell Motel's murder mystery, stay for the juicy goss
Credits: Shawn McGuan/Bannerless Games

Motels are an iconic fixture of mid-20th century America, both as a roadside oasis offering relief to highway travelers and as quirky novelties for roadtripping families. I always imagined them somewhere coastal, such as Florida or southern California, their ocean blues and flamingo pinks dangling the tantalizing promise of pools, fun, and free cable television to a terminally rural adolescent.

In pop culture, motels primarily come in two varieties: kitschy attractions (see above) or seedy dives, the latter harboring society’s castoffs and those either wanting to hide or having nowhere else to shelter. All manner of illicit and illegal acts happen within their cigarette-stained walls with no more notice than you might give a fly on the window—curiosity, a glance of recognition, and a shrug. The Stellar Motel at the heart of tabletop RPG designer Ken Lowery’s latest game, No-Tell Motel, sits squarely in that second category. 

The rich and famous clientele of the No-Tell Motel prefer to bunk amongst the grime because it turns prying eyes away from their strictly personal business. But like almost all figures drenched in power, money, or fame, they forget that hospitality workers—while quiet and obsequious by trade—see and hear far more than they let on. Enter: the player-controlled character in this delightful solo RPG. They embody the No-Tell Motel’s overnight clerk in the wake of a grisly murder. Driven by a sense of justice, burning curiosity, or lead-heavy boredom, they glean rumor and gossip from guests and record everything in a dossier. This Agatha Christie-wannabe then attempts to finger the murder from among the repeat customers, and the game reaches its climax when evidence and doubt is weighed and judged in a single roll of a six-sided die.