Casting Murder on the Istanbul Express

I ran Murder on the Istanbul Express recently. I ran it at a games convention, and while I knew some players, I didn’t know them that well.

Playing Murder on the Istanbul Express
Some of the train crew serving the Istanbul Express

So I created a Google Form form to help me cast the game.

Basic approach

My basic approach to a casting form is to list the characters (using the information from the cast list on the back of the character booklets) and let players choose the ones they like the sound of. Like this:

Which of these characters would you like to play? (Please tick more than one!) There is, of course, more to these characters than meets the eye.

And then I listed all the characters as a picklist, starting with “I don’t mind whom I play!”

Further questions

The main problem with that approach is that few characters are exactly what they appear (the detective perhaps being the exception). There were two situations I was concerned about.

First, not everyone wants to be the murderer.

Second, one character is in love with a background character (not a player). As all the characters are gender-neutral, that may result in a same-sex relationship, which not all players are comfortable with.

So that led to these questions:

Would you be happy being the murderer? Murder on the Istanbul Express is a murder mystery – so there’s a murderer. But not everyone likes playing the murderer.

Are you happy if your character has a same-sex relationship in their background? (All the characters are gender-neutral, and there is no in-character romance written into the game, but depending on casting, one character may have a historical same-sex relationship with a background character.)

Two final questions

And two final questions, a general one covering anything else the player might want me to know, and a courtesy one about photographs:

Is there anything else you would like to tell me?

May I use a photograph of you playing the game in future publicity?

How I used the form

Using the players’ answers made casting Murder on the Istanbul Express relatively straightforward.

First, I cast the murderer. I checked for those who were happy to play the murderer and that nothing else they’d put in their answers prevented that.

Then I did the same with the character with a potential single-sex romance.

Then I cast everyone else, leaving those who wrote “I don’t mind who I play” to the end to fill in any gaps.

Casting done

With casting done, I notified the players and sent them their details ready for the game.

Playing Murder on the Istanbul Express
Tense negotiations

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