East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Killer job

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The toughest writing job I’ve had in ages is writing a script for a Murder Party.


This is a sort of live roleplaying game: the guests become involved in a murder, and follow the development of the story, and in the end they have to guess the name of the killer, based on the clues and the behavior of the actors laying the suspects.
Quite fun to take place in, but…

Now, there are various different styles of this sort of entertainment.
Some are really closer to live RPGs, and the guests take an active role in the investigation, questioning the suspects and examining the clues. In other versions the guests are more passive – they watch, listen, and draw their conclusions, usually while having a dinner.
The latter was the style of the entertainment I was asked to script, and boy it was hard!

The problem, for me, was conveying the information to the guests through dialog alone.
Each character in the play must have a motive and an opportunity, and through dialog these must emerge, and possibly baffle the audience, while other details and give-away clues are planted. Those that put together the right pieces get to the right solution.


The passivity of the audience is what caused me problems – I am used, when writing my scenarios, to provide material clues and characters for the players to interact with, and then I expect the players to be active.
This different approach completely grounded me.
Now a second draft has been submitted, after the first came back with annotations.
And I’m not really sure the thing works.
Which is bad, because seeing my work rejected would mean become wiser, sure, but also lose a paying gig.
So here I am, with my fingers crossed.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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