Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Inspiration is everywhere: Day 2

OK, Day 2's inspiration comes from a book I picked up at a charity shop yesterday for less than £2. I read it many years ago, on the recommendation of wise gaming guy Kenneth Hite, who mentioned it in one of his Suppressed Transmission columns. It is Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, which it turns out you can also get on Kindle.

Larson's book is an account of two things happening in Chicago in 1893: the World's Fair, symbol of all bright and good about the future, and, er, a series of horrible murders by a guy named Herman Mudgett, better known as H. H. Holmes. Holmes murdered at least nine people and maybe many more. Not normally what you'd call "inspirational," you might say, but that's because you don't know about the


That's right, I said murder castle. I mean MURDER CASTLE. Holmes's, er, home was an elaborate, three-story hotel into which Holmes would lure guests, employees and others for the purposes of murdering them (and, in the case of his employees, claiming the insurance money -- pro tip: if your employer makes you take out a life insurance policy with him as the beneficiary, there is at least a 50% chance he is a murderer). The hotel was a labyrinth of windowless rooms, hidden elevators, and something called a "death shaft." Check it out:

Just to point out some highlights, then, that's: 

  • "Mysterious room"
  • "Secret room"
  • "Dark room"
  • "Hanging secret chamber"
  • "Asphyxiation chamber"
  • "Death shaft"
  • "Room of the three corpses"
So, a complex, multi-storey residence full of secret rooms and death traps, ruled over by a madman whose reign of evil must be stopped, you say? 

I am eager to get my hands on the comic on the subject, part of the Treasury of Victorian Murder series, illustrated by Rick Geary!

It's got maps, it's got a crazy murderer, it's got a legit dungeon in the heart of a 19th century metropolis.

Holmes used to get different builders in for different stages of the constructions process. I like the idea of having the PCs return to the same location over a long period of time, but having construction so that the layout is different each time. 

1 comment:

  1. Devil in the White City was also, apparently, one of Ken Levines big influences on the design of Columbia in Bioshock Infinite.