Sunday, June 19, 2016

Dwimmermount with Middle Schoolers -- XXXI (pt. 1)

Here it is!

Part One of our 31st and very last session of Dwimmermount for the regular 2015-2016 school year:

Last time, Vale the Grey and her adventuring company were arrested and charged
with the “malicious wounding” of Ysabelon Numerary of Saint Asana and one Jeffroy,
her sometime associate and “scout” by profession. If found guilty, because of Ysabelon’s
rank and social status, Vale could face an extremely steep fine (likely several thousand gold)
and the prospect of a lonely prison cell until she could somehow find a way to pay it off.

The entire game session was to take place in the Great Hall of Muntburg.

Vale, now broke, opted to speak in her own defense before Castellan Thevenin Verodart
rather than hiring someone to arrange her defense, contact witnesses, and pay any
necessary bribes for her.

I’ve never actually run a trial in an RPG before, and pondered the roles that charisma, social rank,
and the persuasion skill might play. Should I focus more on free-form speaking in character
or more on dice-rolling and mechanics? I also thought about the format of the trial -- should I try
to emulate a medieval hearing or take my cues from modern law courts?

In the end, I went with something that resembled a 60-minute TV court drama, briefly narrating
a swearing in, invocation of Saint Typhon (patron saint of Justice), and formal reading of
the charges. We then moved to opening statements by the prosecutor, Proctor Louys Herint



However, things took a turn when a messenger arrived to notify Castellan Verodart that a special
delegation from Adamas had just arrived, sent by no less a luminary that Archbishop Saidon
himself. A recess was called as Verodart hurried to receive his unexpected guests.

Soon, Inquisitor Vader Henrich of the Holy See of Saint Typhon appeared in the great hall,
declaring his role as the new prosecutor in this case. Castellan Verodart respectfully objected
since this was a local, civil matter, but Henrich explained that there were new charges being
brought against Vale: heresy and treason -- both capital crimes!



Vale and her companions found themselves taken into custody by Captain Vaast and locked
in various rooms within Muntburg keep’s inner gatehouse (no more cozy house-arrest for them!)
until the trial could be reconvened.

Vale convinced a guardsman to send a message to Asceline, leader of the amateur adventuring
band “The Five Delvers.” Over the months Asceline had made quite a tidy sum selling maps and
supplies to Vale and her companions, and she was willing to appear as a character witness.
In addition, I offered Vale’s player the chance to request a favor of Asceline (a thief by trade) …
would she prefer to have a particular witness named by Vale not appear to testify, or would she
prefer that Asceline snoop around and try to get Vale a list of the witnesses that Inquisitor Henrich
planned to call? Vale chose the later.

A week later, when the trial reconvened, Castellan Verodart had been replaced in the seat of
judgment by Her Holiness Archbishop Morna, Senator of Adamas. This was an extremely
startling development! Why would devotees of Saint Typhon possibly agree to an appointment
of a sister who had taken her holy vows in the order of Saint Tyche? And why would the arm
of the Great Church so closely concerned with justice and administrative matters yield to oversight by a sect that emphasized the shifting of chance (“Our Lady of Fortune”)? 



Something was certainly going on beneath the surface here and perhaps, if they could discover it, Vale and company could turn this situation to their advantage (and avoid being burned at the stake) ...