Last night, there was a trial in Dungeon World. The prosecutor was the party’s Cleric Lenore, the defendant was Rath, the party’s Wizard, Rath’s sister—our party’s Ranger Serafina—was a witness for the prosecution, and the judge was the Prior of the Cleric’s religious order.
Roughly three weeks before the trial, the party was on Death Mountain, the ominous location of James Raggi’s Death Frost Doom adventure. [Subtle Spoilers] Following an erie trail of evidence, Rath led the party directly to the the seal that was holding back an ancient curse, and they opened the seal. Fleeing Death Mountain, they made there way to Ravensberg, a town built around the Cleric’s shrine, and the curse followed them.
While still on the mountain, Rath rolled a miss while casting his Invisibility spell, and the spell erupted out of him like vomit, in an inky pillar of cloud that reached into the sky. They continued to flee, and the cloud collapsed, becoming a wave of darkness that rushed down the slope behind them.
Everybody Defied Danger to duck behind boulders and trees as the wave of inky fog rolled past them—everybody but Rath, who got a partial success. So his face turned invisible—not completely, just the skin and flesh, so that he looked a bit like Skeletor.
When they arrived in Ravensberg, Rath carefully kept his face veiled with the hood of his cloak. Our Dungeon World takes place on a frontier continent much like colonial North America, and most commoners are unfamiliar with the reality of magic. The party warned the town of a coming siege, and the town mustered its defenses. Over several days, refugees arrived from outlying farms and villages, speaking of the an unnatural horde ravaging the land. Finally, the siege came one night, and the party went to the barricade to give orders.
Mounting the barricade, Rath threw back his hood, revealing his terrifying visage, and cast Fireball into the oncoming horde. Again, he rolled a miss, and the fireball blew up the barricade, injuring everyone in the party and killing a few peasant guards. Immediately the corporal commanded the guards to lay hold of the necromancer! But the guards were panicking while a few were dragging the wounded away from the burning barricade.
The party beat a path to an earthen bank at another edge of the town in order to draw the horde’s attention away from the burning barricade. The enemy overwhelmed them, and Rath cast Fireball again so they could escape. Another miss! The fireball arced over their heads into the sky, coming down a few moments later to blow up the bell tower of the Cleric’s shrine!
The corporal was devoured by the enemy, and a panicked guard shouted through the streets to flee the city! “Our god has abandoned us because we harbored a necromancer in our midst!”
Lenore silenced the guard, and used her “Divine Guidance” ability to gain a boon from her god—a sudden rainstorm put out the fire and saved the shrine, encouraging many guards to continue defending the town. Soon, though, she led a retreat to the shrine, which stands on a high hill surrounded by a tall iron fence. Rath, who had been looting the shops during the chaos, was arrested immediately when they reached the gate, and kept chained in the shrine’s crypts in the week since.
When the trial began, Rath head-butted the guard that was leading him in chains into the sanctuary, making his face visible again. (The regular spell renders you visible when you attack, so we figured the botched spell would end when Rath attacked someone with his face.)
Instead of charging him with raising an ancient curse and bringing doom upon them all—which were viable charges under the circumstances—Lenore charged Rath with “improper use of a fireball, discharging a fireball within city limits without a permit, disorderly conduct, creating a nuisance, and looking funny”. Since the civil government was disrupted by the invasion, Rath was tried under canon law. The trial was varied and entertaining, exposing facts about their adventure on Death Mountain that could be damning to the whole party. Rath gave the old Crucible defense of being seduced into witchcraft by D&D, and publicly repented. Privately though, he had made even more diabolical pacts during his imprisonment, taking Necromancer (from Grim World) as a Compendium Class—he got the moves Animate Dead and Hexed Body Part, the latter of which was demonstrated when he head-butted the guard!
That was the end our session, and we plan to play again today. Based on the evidence presented in the fiction, and the kind-hearted nature of the judge, the trial could go either way. But this is a shrine of the Cleric’s own order and the Prior knows her as the person who receives direct blessings and communications from their deity. So I’m thinking that the Prior will call her into his chambers to discuss the trial and ask for her insight!
Have a good day, Dungeon Worlders! And stay off Death Mountain.