Framed! (Campaign Help)

edited May 2010 in General Discussion
So I'm finally going to be re-kickstarting my campaign "Broken Empire": and I'm going to be starting with the pcs being framed as a group for treason, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder, punishable by death. We're starting when they get arrested at a local tavern, and I'm planning on allowing them to escape from prison and attempt to gather enough evidence to clear their names.

The situation will be as follows: the leader of the council of elders has been slowly going mad for power, and over the past decade has orchestrated the deaths of several of the other members. The most recent one was botched (the assassin failed) so now he needs someone to pin the crime on. The party is a group of misfits with no real ties in the city. Perfect scapegoats. The leader will fabricate some evidence that not only was the party involved, but also that they were working for their tyrant neighbor country. Nothing gets a jury fired up like treason.

My question is: what sorts of evidence would be compelling for the PCs to find that they could use to prove their innocence. I'm planning on using overheard conversation to get them pointed in the right direction, and of course there's the infamous "note" with cryptic details and the plotter's initial on the bottom, but have any of you tried anything else, maybe a little more original? Also, if anyone has any suggestions to make sure that they try and clear their names, rather than just fleeing the country (cause that would really throw a wrench into my plans :). Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


  • JimTriche
    Posts: 483
    What matters is how they play it I think. If they can present a compelling case, in character, take it into consideration. Especially if they have heard about the other elders dying. The characters should question motive, opportunity, witnesses (maybe not to the crime but at the very least to their own whereabouts), and any lack of physical evidence to the event. If they can turn the suspicions of the Jurors towards the Elder, all the better. But my question would be why does he need someone to pin the crime on? Why not pin it on the assassin himself and kill two birds with the proverbial stone? Then again, that wouldn't get the PCs involved as easily.

  • gaaran
    Posts: 740
    Exactly, yeah, one I'm trying to get the PCs involved, and two he wants to both keep the assassin around for future work, and the assassin at this point knows too much, putting him on trial would be dangerous.

    My goal is to have enough evidence and clues to point to the council leader, so that the PCs can exonerate themselves, I'm just looking for ideas for ways for the PCs to find that evidence that are interesting and original. Thanks for the ideas though! :)
  • Idabrius
    Posts: 52
    As a note, if you're looking for any injection of "realism" from the middle ages, I can offer some ideas and/or concepts:

    Jail -- not ever used as a punishment, just as a holding place for noble prisoners until they can be ransomed off. Also not in their own buildings, usually in a tower or wing of a manor-house. Most punishments were either a fine (low justice for small offenses like hitting your neighbor) payed to the lord or execution (high justice, stealing from the king's assizes, murder)

    Trials -- really, the evidence doesn't have to be compelling. The party just has to convince whoever is in charge that they didn't do it. Swearing oaths of loyalty is usually good, especially if they are well respected in the community. Leaders have a hard time destroying those who are influential. Really, I'd think it would almost be more interesting if instead of proving that they were not involved they had to prove they could be _useful_ to the council of elders.
  • Idabrius
    Posts: 52
    Addendum: Although, the jury-of-peers thing wasn't QUITE the same, it is also possible that they need to find oath-vouchers to swear that they didn't do it. That was one way a trial could go down in Anglo-saxon and Norman England for quite some time. Basically, if you can find five to twelve guys that swear you didn't do it, you're off the hook. This, of course, only works if the same crime doesn't keep happening as you start to get a bad reputation. Additionally, more men are required depending on how serious the crime is and they may have to be men of station.

    Thus, it might work as an adventure hook if the PCs have to, instead of finding evidence FIRST, do something like get a few local nobles on their side. Only AFTERwards would they be searching for evidence and then more for their own ends (like revenge!)
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