From time to time I like to browse “the indie rpgs un-store“, if you haven’t done so you really should. Like they explain on their homepage the un-store isn’t really a store. It’s more of a clearinghouse for direct sales. Any sales driven through the un-store are processed directly by the publisher. It gives us as buyers the benefits of dealing direct (and getting some great indie games at great prices) with all of the convenience of having a one stop shop. The un-store was where I first came across D. Vincent Baker’s “Dogs In The Vineyard” which is a really brilliant game, as well as many other little gems from a wide range of smaller independent publishers.
On my most recent amble through the un-store I spotted “A Taste For Murder” by Graham Walmsley. It is a very clever game for between four and six players set during the inter-war period in a traditional English country house, very much in the style of an Agatha Christie story.
The game is quite special in that it doesn’t call for a GM, everyone plays a part. It has a solid structure to direct the storytelling which gives everyone a chance to participate. Simply put the game has two “acts” and a denouement, at the end of the first act one of the characters is murdered, the interactions and relationships of the characters up until that point will determine who and will begin to sow the seeds of our murderers motivation. During the second act the slain player takes on the role of “Inspector Chapel” and rather than continuing to influence the relationships of the remaining characters will begin to investigate the dastardly deed. Finally in keeping with all good murder mysteries once suspects have been fully fleshed out the inspector calls everyone together and outlines the suspects motives, they can defend themselves and finally the killer is revealed.
In itself the game is spectacularly simple, the die mechanics are elegant and the near crossover between Murder Mystery and RPG works incredibly well. The PDF book costs a princely $9 on the un-store at the time of writing and is worth every penny/cent. As an RPG it works really well with a more mature bunch of players, it has a leisurely pace to it and really lends itself to good storytelling. The central focus of the game is on relationships, influence and motive – its not about clues and evidence, so the more depth that players put into their characters and their actions the richer the game.
The PDF runs to 128 pages, but don’t be put off by the size, the book has some stylish formatting which exaggerates the page count dramatically and also contains some nice background information and tips and hints on play, the mechanics and rules themselves are probably only around 40 pages or so, it is easy to read and quickly picked up.
I can’t recommend this game enough and at $9 I don’t think you should pass it up. One of my favourite movies of all time is “Gosford Park”, and for me this is the perfect game system to role-play that kind of story.
“In an English country house, someone is about to commit a murder. Even they do not know what they are about to do.”