Ideas For A Trial

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I'm a fairly new GM and I just got my group off of the prepackaged campaign.

Through a series of standardly wacky Gamma World events, one member of my group has assumed the mayorship of the town I've created for them to explore. Another one of the members, however, murdered an innocent walrus merchant and a few of his allies and the mayor have a vested interest in bringing him to justice. How can I create a court or trial scenario that will be fun for all parties and still be infused with the kind of zany crap Gamma World needs?
Some kind of divine inspired trial.  Maybe accused are, after much fighting amongst a team of lawyers on either side, thrust into an arena and given the Thunder Dome treatment.

Make it versus Killer Mutant Wallabies and you've got a new meaning to Kangaroo Court.

Or time for something completely different
First, you need outside help. Let the Mayor know that there's a travelling lawman around these parts who will gladly preside over the trial as an impartial judge, and he's well-known for never making an incorrect ruling.

When the lawman rides into town, it's easy to see why. "He" is an 8-foot-tall android named G.A.V.E.L. (Government-Authorized Vessel for Electronic Law), and his microprocessors contain the complete legal libraries of the great Ancient schools of law (including Old Yale, New Yale, Stampford, and Hard Vard Yard). There's just one problem, though: G.A.V.E.L. comes from a timestream with many strange and quirky laws, most of which are punishable by an immediate death penalty.

For the sake of your story (and party), the Mayor will quickly find himself the target of G.A.V.E.L.'s latest sentencing. Pick something, any old thing, that the Mayor does in-character, and have G.A.V.E.L. announce that the chosen action is illegal according Statutory Code Alpha Pi Blueberry 42 Alpha, Section 9, Subsection X-teen, Paragraph 37, Sentence 9. Furthermore, Sentence 10 specifies that the crime, if witnessed by a lawman, is not subject to trial, and the perpetrator shall be sentenced and dealt with immediately, so help me Gork.

If the PCs try to make up their own law to reference in the Mayor's defense, G.A.V.E.L. responds, "Don't be ridiculous. That law pertains to the number of white chocolate chips required to be present per cookie in order for a product to legally be advertised as a 'white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie.' Don't even get me started on what I'll do to the perp who tries to get around THAT one!"

Suddenly, the Mayor is the one in trouble with the law, and it's up to his party members (including the accused!) to get him out of town before G.A.V.E.L., uh... lays down the law.
Encounters DM, Season 4 & Season 5 - Amorous Armadillo Game Shoppe - Oviedo, FL
First, you need outside help. Let the Mayor know that there's a travelling lawman around these parts who will gladly preside over the trial as an impartial judge, and he's well-known for never making an incorrect ruling.

When the lawman rides into town, it's easy to see why. "He" is an 8-foot-tall android named G.A.V.E.L. (Government-Authorized Vessel for Electronic Law), and his microprocessors contain the complete legal libraries of the great Ancient schools of law (including Old Yale, New Yale, Stampford, and Hard Vard Yard). There's just one problem, though: G.A.V.E.L. comes from a timestream with many strange and quirky laws, most of which are punishable by an immediate death penalty.

For the sake of your story (and party), the Mayor will quickly find himself the target of G.A.V.E.L.'s latest sentencing. Pick something, any old thing, that the Mayor does in-character, and have G.A.V.E.L. announce that the chosen action is illegal according Statutory Code Alpha Pi Blueberry 42 Alpha, Section 9, Subsection X-teen, Paragraph 37, Sentence 9. Furthermore, Sentence 10 specifies that the crime, if witnessed by a lawman, is not subject to trial, and the perpetrator shall be sentenced and dealt with immediately, so help me Gork.

If the PCs try to make up their own law to reference in the Mayor's defense, G.A.V.E.L. responds, "Don't be ridiculous. That law pertains to the number of white chocolate chips required to be present per cookie in order for a product to legally be advertised as a 'white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookie.' Don't even get me started on what I'll do to the perp who tries to get around THAT one!"

Suddenly, the Mayor is the one in trouble with the law, and it's up to his party members (including the accused!) to get him out of town before G.A.V.E.L., uh... lays down the law.

Brilliant
I agree that a third party would be in order.  In fact, once the townsfolk discover that the mayor is a friend to the accused, they may DEMAND that somebody else be in charge of a trial.  And they have just the person in mind...  Not G.A.V.E.L. but a wandering hermit from out in the wilds.  (And who is a friend of the townsfolk and hates adventurers/interlopers.)  He may decide that the proper punishment is for the accused and his friends be banished - for a year and a day?  This will allow you to give them adventures until they want to go back to town - and not beat up the locals.

Best complements I have yet received:

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Making it up as I go along:

{BRJN} If I was writing the Tome of Lore, I would let Auppenser sleep. But I also would have him dream. In his dreaming he re-activates the innate powers of (some) mortal minds. Or his dreaming changes the nature of reality - currently very malleable thanks to Spellplague &c. Or whatever really cool flavor text and pseudo-science explanation people react positively to.

{Lord_Karsus} You know, I like that better than the explanations for the Spellplague.

 

Prepped ahead of time:

I started the thread "1001 Failed Interrogation Results" (which seems to have faded into that great electronic goodnight, alas)

{ADHadh} These are all good and make sense! I just can't come up with something that's not covered here and is not completely ridiculous.

 

My 4e characters:

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LFR Half-elf StarLock8 Gondolin Nightstar

AoA Dwarf Guardian Druid8 Narvik from House Wavir

Character Ready-to-go:

Neverwinter Dwarven Invoker / Heir of Delzoun, worships Silvanus (!) "Truenamer" - speaks Words of Creation

Concepts I'm kicking around:

"Buggy" Wizard - insect flavor on everything.  His DMPC version is going to become a Lamia.  Becauae lichdom is so cliche.

Halfling Tempest Fighter - just because nobody else is doing it

Shifter Beast-o-phile Druid - for Nentir Vale campaign

Whoa. Thanks to all who posted ideas! I ended up going with ChaoticGood's, but reskinning it to fit the flavor of the current town and adventure.

The Mayor played right into my hands by talking to his brother, the robot lawyer. Of course he recommended finding an impartial third party, since the judge of the town had a blood feud with the victim of the murder and would no doubt find the accused innocent. The lawyer also had the perfect choice for a third party, and would be happy to contact him.

Meanwhile, the accused searched for a defense lawyer and ended up scaring off every one he found, being a Telekinetic Giant. He opted to defend himself in the trial.

At sunset, when the third party was due to arrive, an air raid siren went off in the town. Markets closed, denizens scurried and locked themselves in their homes and a shadow appeared on the horizon.

Riding in on a motorcycle was a gigantic alligator with a cybernetic implant on the right side of his head, complete with a glowing red eye and a wire connected to--what else?--a humongous steel gavel. He donned a cowboy hat, stepped off the motorcycle and approached the Mayor. In a charming Southern drawl, he announced his name was GAVEL, and his intent was to preside over the trial as judge, jury and executioner. He warned the players that his rulings tended to be "swift, harsh and excessively fair," which greatly pleased the Mayor, who was sure GAVEL would not take kindly to murderers. Naturally, when GAVEL popped open the head of his hammer like a briefcase and pulled out a contract binding the players to accept his ruling, the Mayor signed immediately (The gavel also had a pen at the bottom).

At once, the trial began. To allow for the roleplayers to shine, GAVEL asked for opening statements, submission of evidence, calling of witnesses and cross-examinations. Interaction check bonuses were thrown out for especially impassioned speakers. In what was admittedly a very difficult and complex skill challenge, however, the players failed and GAVEL had his ruling.

The smile on the Mayor's face when I sentenced the accused to immediate death was nice, but the way his smug look faded when I ran the gauntlet of sentencing him and his cadre to death as well for minor gesticulation infractions was priceless. Now, my players aren't the type to run, even from a Large creature with a giant hammer, so someone pulled out a flak gun. He wasn't going quietly.

Of course I had planned for this, so I had statted out GAVEL as a Solo long beforehand--one that would challenge the players, but wouldn't be impossible to beat. The slayers in the party were overjoyed, especially since he was designed to discourage ranged attacks and encourage melee infighting. When they finally got the picture, they rushed to flank and beat him unconscious--at which point his cybernetic eye began to blink and beep rapidly. In a waffling panic, the players tried to run as his laser eye fired randomly for a round until the Radioactive used Hawking Portal to get two of his allies out and two of the remaining three were able to run. The only remaining player had just been resuscitated...the accused.

And then it all came together. The Mayor himself said, "If he dies in there, I will give him the highest honors this town can give." Not only was the party united, but perhaps even stronger than before.

Now GAVEL did not explode, as the party expected him to. Rather, his beeping reached a fever pitch and he stood back up under full robotic control, and in a berserker rage. Lawfully, of course. He knocked the accused aside on his way out, only to take huge damage from an AoO. Undaunted, GAVEL burst through the wall of the courthouse like the Kool-Aid man, where the party, as one, blasted him into oblivion.

Now the real story can begin.
Brilliant work, bojangles! It sounds like you've got a great handle on one of the finer points of GMing: convincing the party to do the work for you. Laughing
Encounters DM, Season 4 & Season 5 - Amorous Armadillo Game Shoppe - Oviedo, FL