Back when I thought and planned about setting up a gaming blog, I planned to have a series of posts called Books that Scream, the bright idea being, I’d review books that would make great inspiration for games.
For scenarios, or as resources, even as handouts.
Like in, books that scream for a gaming adaptation.
OK, I was young.
What follows is the sort of post that I could have published had I set up a gaming blog back then.
And because I set it up now, instead, this series of posts will be called Reading for fun and gaming.
The plot in a nutshell: an airship en-route from London to Ceylon and beyond. Upper class passengers, long hours of leisure. Murder, scandal, suicide. And Maliha Anderson, a very young, very bright Anglo-Indian lady with a penchant for investigation.
Murder Out of the Blue is a murder mystery set on board an anti-gravity airship, in an Edwardian steampunk world.
And let’s start pointing out that this is a great read – the setting is rendered with a few well-placed details, the characters are well developed.
The main character is wonderfully drawn and is the ideal companion in an investigation like the one we are presented here.
The story is fun, tightly plotted and fast paced, and at novella-length, it’s exactly the sort of thing that can keep you entertained for two evenings or a train ride.
The setting is original – and connected with the Voidships project universe – but it’s pretty easy to adapt it to any steampunk setting with a minimum of work.
The retired general, the earnest missionary, the Indian nurse, the cold and spiteful wife, the crew of the ship, the bored passengers… the cast of characters makes for excellent NPCs.
The subplots are fun and there’s even a secondary plot that could be used as a “bonus scenario hook” for a follow-up.
One of the great things about mysteries is that they force the characters (and the readers, or the players) to explore the setting and its social rules. To understand the motives of the murderer you have to understand the rules of the world in which the murderer and the victim live (and die), you have to get the effects that certain factors can have on certain individuals.
A murder mystery is probably the best scenario to introduce a new setting to the players, because it forces them to really absorb what’s making their world click.
Murder Out of the Blue does just that – builds its mystery on the solid base of a well-defined world, and therefore works also as an example of how this weaving of plot and setting can be done.
In case you’re wondering, the novel is available for a ridiculously cheap price on Amazon as an ebook – and there’s a bundle featuring two other adventures of the delectable Maliha, in what is planned as a seven-volume series. The bundle is highly recommended because once you read the first, you’re likely to want to read the rest.
And yes, it means you could actually build a campaign out of it.
You can also find the book listed in our charming online store here in the sidebar.
I read this out of curiosity – the plot and setting intrigued me, and I loved the cover – and as part of my research for my project.
I found a winner on both counts.