Monday, November 17, 2014

The Crediton Killings by Michael Jecks


While going through Half-Price books a while ago, I came across several volumes in the Knights Templar Mystery series. The one I did not however, was the Crediton Killings. Bad news as I'd just finished volume three and was eager to start the next one.

Amazon to the rescue. For whatever reason, it's 99 cents right now in Kindle format. So for less then the price of a cup of coffee, I was entertained for a few hours.

Michael Jecks characters, Simon and Sir Baldwin, are becoming old friends. Much like watching an enjoyable series coming back for another season, reading another novel in the Knights Templar series is an nice diversion. 

One of the interesting things that Michael Jecks brings to the forefront of the reader, is how important food is. I've mentioned the themes of famine before, but Michael felt it so important he did a little video over it on Youtube.

I notice that much like the Dresden Files series, that time tends to pass between the novels. As these novels are now numbering past ten, I think maybe twenty in total, I'll be curious to see if that trend continues. It's a good trend though, both in Dresden and here, because otherwise the main characters would be running from place to place and murder to murder. 

In this novel, a street beggar has no one looking after him. A potential care taker doesn't want the child around because of the extra costs of feeding the child. While there are still problems with hunger today, even in America, where numbers range from one in five children suffering 'food securities', it's a real problem.

In addition, there are mercenaries involved in the novel. The mercenaries have numerous leadership issues and motivations run the gambit of who could be committing murders in the town of Crediton.

The author does a solid job of laying down the groundwork for how Simon and Sir Baldwin go about their business of trying to find the murderer and it flows smoothly.

In terms of gaming, it's brought to mind several different things.

Motivations: What was it Ultron said in the trailer for the Avengers? You're all covered in strings or something? People are bound to one another in many ways. Here, the mercenary captain is suspected of murdering three women for different reasons ranging from rage, shame, and even pettiness. All three were 'known' to the captain and his motivations different for each as his own personality is revealed to the reader layer by layer.

Having said that though, there are other characters, like Wat, a fellow mercenary who wouldn't mind being captain, have their own motivations that cause their own appearance of innocence or guilt shine to the forefront.

Having characters that the player's interact with on a regular basis, have their own cache of secrets and motivations is a good way to give the player's an inside look as to how their minds work. Filling in the details of how the character's get along ahead of time and seeing how a husband may be perhaps too doting on a wife, or a child may be looking sickly and frail in one scene and not seen again.... these things lend continuity to the game.

Mind you, in standard dungeon crawls, it might not be necessarily to know the inn keeper's name and what he does when food or ale or running low, but if the player's are involved in small towns and are frequent guests, they may make conversation to find out rumours about locals, either people or local legends. Use those elements to your advantage and lay the groundwork for future sessions there.

The Crediton Killings brings mercenaries and murder to the forefront of the historical novel and does so in an entertaining and quick read.