This scene resolves a major social conflict. The player characters have fingered and apprehended the suspected traitor Dhermyrdh (with a bit of collateral damage), and must bring him before the head of the Academy of the Mind, who will decide his fate.
The following four player characters participate in this scene.
- Hollis, a human psionic.
- Kolath, a kandar legion officer.
- Marlith, a human librarian for the Academy of the Mind.
- Jorlak, a human priest of Zardor, guardian of Knowledge.
As before, most of the text is taken from the actual game transcripts from Dreamlyrics.com, slightly edited for clarity and consistency of tense. Text that’s not in italics represents the game mechanics I’ve used to resolve the conflict at the heart of this scene.
The null room is a chamber deep within one of the towers, surrounded by psi-nullifying grids that prevent the use of any psionic power. There are other such chambers used as prison cells, where those accused of serious crimes are held.
This chamber is larger and less austere, used for hearings and trials. This null-field doesn’t usually cause the headaches or nausea that typify the larger null-generators supplied by the Karazthan. But to any wizard, being cut off from their powers is not a pleasant experience. Which is why such hearings tend to be short.
Kalnardeth d’n Zurar is the most senior hierarch of Filgeth, outranked only by the enigmatic Eight, whose identities are a closely kept secret. For all anybody knows, Kalnardeth himself may be one of the eight. If he is, he’s not telling, and neither is anyone else.
With his thinning grey hair he’s not the best-looking of all kandar, he makes up for it by immaculate grooming. Behind his piercing purple eyes lies a sharp mind, as adept at academy politics as it is at wielding mental energy.
It is he who will decide Dhermyrth’s fate. Standing guard stood two mageguards, armed with curious Karazthan-made energy weapons. They’re only really for show, but those weapons are still deadly; Kolath would have loved to see his Legionnaires armed with such things rather than the crude fireworks they’re supplied. But they sent a message to the accused – don’t even *think* of trying anything.
That’s my framing the scene. It’s essentially a conflict between Dhermyrdh and the four player characters. Kalnardeth will decide in favour of whoever wins the conflict.
Despite this, Dhermyrth still didn’t have the look of a man who knows he’s defeated.
Marlith was not thrilled to have been brought along. For one thing he hated the feeling of the null-field, even =if= these were less onerous than some of the others he had experienced. But more importantly, he hated being so close to power … power than might remember him. He preferred the safety of anonymity to the potential danger of recognition. He stayed to the rear of the group, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
Jorlak the priest came to a stop when first entering the room. He took a deep breath and then continued with the rest of the group
Hollis had not even been sure they would allow her in the exam room. After all, she was “merely” a human, and most of the Academicians didn’t like her very much. But she wanted to be there in case Kolath needed her.
Not that he couldn’t handle himself; but he was looking stressed, so she willed a little companionship in his direction, and a smile if he happened to look her way.
“So, Gurnyla”, said Kalnardeth in slow, measured tones, “What are the charges against Dhermyrth, and why is so urgent that he be subjected to mind-reaming”.
“Legionnaire Kolath will explain in more detail”, she replied.
“Kolath, you have the floor”, said Kalnardeth.
He had not expected to have to speak first and he was not prepared. Kolath nodded his respect for the hierarch and cleared his throat, playing for time as he searched his brain – a brain which still, after all this time, did not provide him the ready wit and memory he’d known as a young man and advancing Legionnaire- for the proper words.
Then, as simply and directly as he could manage, he told what had happened, what Dhermyrth had done and what they had done in order to apprehend him. How the traitorous Karazthani guildmaster Guruinath had vanished into thin air from his cell within the Legion citadel where he was being held. How Dhermyrdh’s mental signature had been detected on the recording device moments before the same device recorded a psionic event that went off the scale. How Dhermyrdh had been tracked down to a mansion in the wealthy quarter of the city, and how Hollis had apprehended him.
“We seem to have more than one human with significant powers who is not of the Academy”, says Kalnardeth, “That is an issue which will have to be dealt with after we have considered the matter in hand”.
He turns to Jorlak.
“The Legionnaire states that you have confirmed the mental signature to be that of Dhermyrdh?”.
The priest starts when he receives that attention, then considers his words carefully. “Technically, I have not matched that signature directly against this prisoner, but rather against an object he was reported to have moved. In hindsight, perhaps we should have asked him to use his abilities again so I could recheck the signature.”
“Quit waffling,” Hollis said. “Marlith took us to the boat and named Dhermyrdh as the kandar he’d identified as having access to using the machine. Jorlak then verified his psychic signature as the mystery user. Remember? Me, then Dhermyrdh, then the powerful machine signature.
“Jorlak said it was *the same.* Not close, not almost, not fifty-one percent. The same. Now we have him dead to rights, if you two will show a little spine and stand up for the truth, so the Academy can ream him mind and break this terrorist plot. You cannot possibly all be that afraid of the Karazthan, or being thrust into the public eye. Now you’re peeing your pants, trying to hide your head in a hole, and in the process letting the Academy, the Legion, our government, and any hope for human freedom be destroyed.”
Marlith cringed inwardly at the crazed woman’s tone, inching a bit further away from her just in case she the powers decided to smite her where she stood.
That lot puts an Aspect “Rather convicting evidence against Dhermyrdh” on Kalnardeth on the principle of “say Yes or roll the dice”.
The Legionnaire made a small diminishing sort of gesture as Hollis spoke, but his lips did twitch as if he was repressing a grin.
“Not that I disagree with you, Little One, but a bit of diplomacy in your words and tone might not be amiss.”
Hollis glanced sharply at Kolath, then relented as she always did. “You’re probably right.” She sighed. “I apologize. But in my defence, it just seems like they are always trying to find excuses not to confront evil, even when it so richly deserves it. They appear afraid to confront it, lest it see *them* and get angry.”
Clearly she had a lot to learn about how the world worked, thought Marlith. And, now that he had spent some time with her, he thought he better understood why so many looked down at humans. People like Hollis certainly didn’t do much to instil confidence in the rationality of humans, he thought with an inward sigh.
“There seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence linking you to the disappearance of The Legion’s prisoner”, Kalnardeth said, addressing Dhermyrdh, “Do you have an explanation?”.
“So I used the boat for an errand to the docks. Perhaps that ticktockmen device was miscalculated? It picked up my use of the boat? I landed near the barracks, after all”.
He pointed an accusing finger at Hollis
“And how many of my friends did you kill when kidnapping me, feral creature?”, he said, “The penalty for murder is death, you know”.
“None,” Hollis said, doing her best to look innocent. “But I definitely messed some up who were trying to kill *me*, so … I would call that self-defense. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Besides, they were happy to give you up; apparently word got ’round about you, and they all wanted to wash their hands of your treason. Do whatever it took to avoid bringing the legion down on their heads. I would have brought some of them here to testify against you, only I promised to leave them alone if they stopped trying to fight me and let me take you.”
“Lies!”, said Dhermyrdh, “Don’t listen to her. If any witnesses survived, they’ll tell you. And if they didn’t, The Way of Vision will tell the truth”.
That’s worth an Aspect “You really can’t trust a feral human” on Kalnardeth. General prejudices against humans and all that. Again, no need to roll dice for that.
“Aha! Then you can do the same thing to verify Dhermyrdh’s conspiracy, can’t you? Just take a walk through his brain; if he’s innocent, I’m the governor of Calbeyn,” Hollis said. “And, I’ll stop whining for justice and leave you alone.”
“My associate has a point, Dhermyrdh is the one who is lying, and lying poorly at that.”, says Kolath.
At this point it’s reached the stage where we want to wrap things up and resolve things one way or another, and I rolled actual, physical dice to resolve the conflict.
Since both parties are being “economical with the truth” here, I’m resolving this with an opposed contest of Deceit between Hollis and Dhermyrdh. Kalnardeth finds in favour of whoever wins.
Hollis has Fair Deceit.
Dhermyrdh has Great Deceit
Hollis rolls [+][+][ ][ ] for a result of Great
Dhermyrdh rolls [+][-][ ][ ] for a result of Great
That’s a tie. Which is where those aspects come in.
Those two aspects on Kalnardeth can be free-tagged, but they cancel each other out.
But Dhermyrdh has an aspect “Is going to get what he deserves”. This was the result of another psionic character (in a completely different scene) using Precognition on him. That can now get free-tagged for +2, which clinches it for Hollis.
There is an agonising pause before Kalnardeth spoke.
“While I do not want to condemn you on the mere word of a human, the testimony of the representative of The Legion must carry some weight”, he said, “And your manner sadly leaves me with the conclusion that you do indeed have something to hide”.
“But, as they say, if you really do have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear”.
He turned to Gurnyla. “Have him reamed; find some suitable volunteers if you don’t want to dirty your own mind with whatever’s in his. Perhaps that human refugee that arrived yesterday? I hear she’s strong in The Way, and I’m sure our friend would love that”.
“Bitch”, Dhermyrth screamed at Hollis, “You will pay for this. With your life”.
“Silence!”, ordered Kalnardeth. He motioned to the mageguards. “Take him away”.