Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Last Jury Trial of Wizard City

An idea for a mystery module for Wizard City (or any high magic setting, really): jury trials are a holdover from less magical times.

The Background

A famous wizard mob boss allegedly commits literal mass murder in front of a crowd of 2000 people then gives himself up to authorities and admits to the crime, then pleads not guilty while still admitting to the crime. His case goes to a jury trial.

It goes horribly wrong. He's found unanimously innocent, despite the mountain of evidence against him, including his own testimony, in which he bragged about the murders to the whole court.

The player-characters are tasked with finding out what went wrong, BEFORE the retrial is set to occur. They get paid for each flaw they find.

What they start out with:

- Court Transcripts
- Identities of the Members of the Court
- Identity of the Defendant
- Identities of all Wizard-Lawyers involved
- Identities of the 9 Jurors (12 seems like too many for one adventure).
- Addresses for most of the people there.

Their job is to piece together what the heck happened that led to a unanimous non-guilty verdict.

The answer? Everything. Everything went wrong. Literally everything.

Court Transcript: magically modified post-trial.

Jurors: Suggested, Brain-washed, Commanded, Sleeper-Agented, Doppleganged, Threatened, Cursed, Bribed, or Thrown-Into-Future.

Lawyers: Wizardry used extensively. Enchantment spells layered with testimonial-illusions. Security threats conjured in the courtroom. Multiple people illusioned to look like the defendant. Zones of Truth dispelled and replaced with illusion versions. The works.

Defendant: Cloned several times prior to incident. The guy sitting in jail and at the trial was actually just some bum who was altered to look like one of the clones.

Judge: Utilized divination spells to augury and foresee the trial, thereby biasing his opinions before it even began.

Prosecutors: Memories of law practice modified, bamboozled and confused.

Evidence: Tampered, extra-dimensionally lost.

I sorta imagine it was like this, literally. Giant 8-ft tall wizard lawyer man,
12 identical egghead people in a box labelled "Jury".

The Catch

None of this really matters. New laws have been passed. Summary punishments are set to take effect within the month. The jury system is being phased out (for obvious reasons). This is all for the purpose of satiating some idealist's notions of justice and improving the system.

The double catch is that this entire endeavor was an elaborate ritual - the massacre, the trial, everything, down to the last detail. That's why getting everything was important. Every factor is a component in the ritual. What does the ritual do? Does it wipe all existing memory of a person, even to gods? Does it bequeath immortality? Does it assure that a person may not be named? (If the defendant was only referred to as "the defendant", this could be fun.)


  1. Okay, so I've been thinking about this a bit, and I think the players need to know about the double-catch from the very beginning, or receive a LOT of clues to help the figure it out very quickly.

    Going around collecting different viewpoint summaries of a comedy-of-errors is funny and all, but it's more like reading a book than playing a game. BUT, if thee players realize that the whole thing was a ritual, then they should realize that they can interact with the scenario to change things about how the spell resolves.

    And that interactivity, I think, is the real promise of this setup.

    1. I've been thinking about this too, and you're right - there needs to be something more gameable in this than what's obvious. It's not quite enough to have players going about interviewing people.

      Having the double catch ritual unresolved and subject to mutation is a great way to go about it. The other way that I can think of would be to introduce some factional play right into the middle of it. Wizard gang turf war wizard trial, anybody?