Iduna, Elsa, and Longstache
I am posting these characters as I come up with them, and also doing some thinking about the Mystery as a whole. I might as well give you some insight into the process. There is a lot to think about: what is the story going to be, how are the game mechanics going to work, what can I do to make this mystery special? Hell, what am I even going to call it? "Viking Mystery" doesn't quite have the zing I need. The first part of writing a mystery though, for me, is always coming up with the characters that will occupy the mystery's world.
I love coming up with characters. That probably comes from my Dungeons and Dragons background. It's so much fun to imagine a character from scratch. What does he do, what's he look like, is he good or evil, did he do it, could he do it? After fifteen years of doing this almost every weekend with my D&D group from Texas, it's become second nature. I'll certainly never claim to be the best at it, especially when it comes to making well nuanced or three-dimensional characters. In D&D your characters die pretty often so depth is the first thing you do away with when you re-roll, and this is a murder mystery, so someone here is gonna die too! The person playing the character can develop depth for the great-axe wielding, maiden claiming barbarian if they want to. I'll leave that to them. I've got other things to worry about.
The traditional problem when coming up with characters is coming up with their name. Coming up with names that sound even remotely real is incredibly difficult. They need to be memorable but also unique. Names like "Andrew" or "Callie" are right out! What kind of character, even if he living in 2016 Seattle would have a boring name like that? For anyone who has played Sabotage Adrift, the names I chose for those characters were all references to other sci-fi. Claire Laneway, Tara Krace, and Commando Calribian were named after (and loosely based on) Kathryn Janeway, Kara Trace, and Lando Calrissian from Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars respectively. If those names were dumb, it's not my fault, they were basically pulled as is from their own universes. Blame George Lucas. Incidentally, he is the king of names. Mace Windu? Luke Skywalker? How do you even come up with that? Those names are great, unique, and easy to remember. For the rest of us - characters simple, names hard.
Now to come up with a cast of characters. First question: who lives in a viking world? The King, Queen, princess, and prince are shamefully basic character types, but they need to be there. The mystery takes place in their great hall after all. I can spruce them up later and you can read what I've got so far. Who else is at home in a viking dining hall? The brewer, the butcher, and the barbarian can fill out the tables and each has an interesting story to tell. The creepy axe throwing twins that no one invited are throwing shade around the room. The village elder that no one listens to anymore, the Italian scholar held captive far from his home, and the sketchy mustachioed "wizard" whose every word is sacrilege to the Norse gods. Now that's a cast (or at least the beginning of one). If only they had names that didn't sound absurd.
Let's get on with trying to name some of these folks.
Iduna is the queen from the nearby kingdom that has recently made peace with the kingdom of Sven. With her heart hardened by war and loss, you'll seldom see a smile crack across her lips except when she is in the company of her only daughter, Elsa, as she is today. In her younger days she was a skilled fighter and seductress, and while she claims that a lack of practice has seen those talents wither, those who watch her and know her closely know better than to believe what she says. She impresses everyone who meets her, and most would say they trust her though they never know quite why. She is keen, thoughtful, and deliberate. Her favorite drink is Dry Stout.
Elsa is the princess of Iduna's kingdom and the last remaining heiress of her lineage. She doesn't let the fact that she is a young girl surrounded by burly vikings slow her down - she has big ambitions and knows one day she'll be Queen like her mother, Iduna. She's a master of using her image as an adorable child to her advantage when sneaking around the grounds of her kingdom and spying on people. Oh, she's been caught before, but who can stay mad at that? She is quiet, persuasive, and cunning. Now that she is here, in a land that is not hers, she will be getting right back to sneaking around. Shit, where did she go? Her drink of choice, when she can sneak it, is Milk Stout.
Longstache is a wizard, though some would doubt his powers. He stands by the side of Iduna and Elsa watching over, guiding, and protecting them with his magic. Many claim he's nothing but tricks, but those people have never met him. When you see his eyes glow bright and fire shoot from his hands then you know he is something to be feared. He, of course, loves to cultivate his aura of intimidation and brooding even though he is, at his heart, a kind and gentle soul. Sometimes he can be heard muttering phrases in strange languages while toying with his lengthy mustache. His favorite drink is Imperial Stout.