Adding a character to your murder party (part 2)
By Steve Hatherley
In Part 1 of this article I talked about adding a character to your murder mystery game to cater for another guest. Well, I've recently been discussing this very point with someone who wanted to add a character to Death on the Gambia.
That first tip covered picking a suitable character to add to the party. I’m now going to talk about what happens next – creating the character itself.
In this particular example, we talked about adding an assistant to one of the characters. The assistant would be briefed to keep an eye on their boss. (I’ll try and keep it as general as that, for those who haven’t yet played Death on the Gambia.)
The first thing you need to do is write a couple of paragraphs of background. The background needs to answer two simple questions – who are they, and why are they here (ie, wherever the murder mystery game is set).
You should also try and give them a problem – a dilemma of some sort for them to solve. They might not have enough money to purchase the item they want, or they might be being blackmailed. You can look at the other characters in the game for examples.
Our assistant, for example, might be present because he (or she) has been assigned to watch their boss. Their background might state that they are young and ambitious, or maybe old and cynical. It’s up to you.
To make them fun to play, you will need to make sure they have some links into some of the plots. This means you will have to read the other characters to see how you can draw your new character in – perhaps they know a useful clue, or have witnessed an event.
This does mean that you will know the plots – including who the murderer is. That’s a necessary evil if you’re adding your own character, unfortunately. (Personally, I don’t mind knowing who the murderer is.)
In Death on the Gambia there are three or four main plots that our character can be linked into. (I'm not going to explain them here, for obvious reasons.)
Who they know
You should also ensure that the new character knows a few other people – knows something about them (maybe a secret) so that they can strike up conversation. Knowing a secret about someone gives the character a certain amount of power, which they may then be able to trade to achieve their own goals.
Don’t provide information about every character, just those that your character might know something interesting about.
So in our example, our assistant knows information about three other characters, as well as their boss.
The goals or objectives section is just a summary of the character’s objectives – what are they trying to achieve over the course of the evening. Are they trying to acquire an object or win the heart of a good man – or both? They should of course be trying to solve the murder.
The goals/objectives should flow from the rest of the character. You can write them as single line bullet points, or with a bit more detail on each.
Because you’ve created a new character, the existing characters won’t know anything about them. To fully integrate them into the party, the other characters should know something about your new character – even if it’s only to get them talking to each other. This is easiest done by adding a snippet of information about the new character to other characters.
You should think “Who might know this character - and why?” and then tell them what they know.
You might want to keep the new character as a surprise. If so, you can put the information in a sealed envelope with “Do not open until told to” written on it.
Freeform Games publish one or more free extra characters for all their games, most of which are written by their customers. If you write an additional character and Freeform Games like and publish it, they will reward you with a free game.
This article may be re-published as long as the following paragraph is included at the end of article and as long as you link to the URL:
Article by Steve Hatherley. Find out more about hosting interactive murder mystery games for your friends and family at http://www.great-murder-mystery-games.com.