ZEITGEIST The RHC audit - how to make the best out of a great premise

Levistej

First Post
The RHC audit in "Digging for lies" is a great moment in the module. Not only does it serve as a way to reign in greedy constables but also comes at a time when some bigger secrets are revealed, mainly Saxbys corruption and the OBs existence.

While it happens in the background, I'm interested in how fellow DMs implemented it in their campaigns. As I'm writing a master thesis with roleplaying and D&D as one of its main subjects, I think this could be a great opportunity to kick things up a notch. I'm gonna copy some stuff from another thread, so here it goes:

We ended the last session with them bringing in all the items that were seized at the fair and being informed that the Viscount Inspector is in town for an audit. My party did a lot of stuff that clearly isn't by the book. Our gunslinger executed more then one criminal, the wizard is doing his best to have good relations with the Family and constantly intentionally leaks information to the press while the rest of them simply have one or two items too many.

How did the rest of you play this out?

Should the audit be a background thing with Saxby pulling the strings to condemn the PCs?

Should I do a zone of truth interview with each and every party member?

Should I have them followed throughout their missions in Flint?

I'd really like to see how other DMs handled this, for I am a bit lost. Although I love the idea of an audit, I think the time and effort needed to interview 6 party members could prove to be a bit too much.

If I interview them, should I do it one on one via Skype, or ramp up the tension by taking them one by one into another room while we're playing out our regular session? Should I maybe stage a group interview, giving them an opportunity to come clean, point fingers or maybe bury themselves even deeper?

If I don't go the interview route and just present them with the results of the audit as a background investigation, I'm sure they'll call out foul play on my behalf, which I can understand.

What I surely intend to do is write a report from Saxby which incriminates all of them and give them an opportunity to find it before the end of the chapter, that should spice things up a bit. Should I maybe add a staged crime on top of this? Maybe take them to prison? This would be a chance to meet Rock Rackus in a natural manner and present him in a way that doesn't scream "obnoxious celebrity".

Anyway, I'd like your opinion and experiences, so fire away! :D
 

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Mrpereira

Explorer
My group is smaller than yours, and we haven't begun playing the campaign yet (we begin tomorrow)but I plan to let the other players do the interviews, as a parallel to what I did with the warcouncils in WOTBS.

If you decide that the party was followed and observed, the other players can play the tails and have them confront the players with what they saw, while you as GM can play Saxby (or whomever is in charge of the interviews) and ask more direct questions, that the others can follow up on. Make the players sweat :). This will only work if the players are capable of ignoring what they know.

With a big party, you could mix it up and let one or two players interview a third player, with the others outside, so at least some of the players wont know what was said, and thereby incriminate the others. It will however take some time to go through.
 

gideonpepys

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
I used the audit to set Saxby up as an antagonist, framing her as jealous of the unit's success and growing popularity and keen to bring them down a peg or two. Then Viscount Price-Hill steps into the room and turns out to be something of a sweetie, lavishing them with praise and more or less letting them off scot free (although my lot hadn't really done anything major). This makes sense, as later in the adventure (if memory serves) he is keen to approach any unit member with political and promotional ambitions.

It's the only chance you really get to roleplay Saxby before she gets taken out. I made her sound like Margaret Thatcher.

Another alternative would be to make her sympathetic, only to disappoint the group when she turns out to be low-grade Obscurati, but I think there are enough sympathetic villains in the campaign already.
 

Odysseus

Explorer
I didn't do interviews. I just had the PCs answer questions at regular intervals during the adventure. To make them a little paranoid.
 

mdusty

Explorer
I just had it going on in the background throughout the adventure and then present them with the results later on. Only one of them had really done anything wrong, which was get a little close to the Family, and the Viscount just gave that player a gentle reminder about how 'we are the good guys and they are the bad guys.' Maybe if the players had been a bit more bad cop, I probably would have done an interview one-on-one.
 

Empirate

First Post
I gave the party a chance to notice they were being tailed. Sure enough, the group's Inquisitor (we're playing the PF version) spotted her assigned tails, pushed them into a corner, and interrogated them. Which made the internal affairs guys pay extra attention, and look favourably on the group's abilities.

In my game, the audit was not only to find negative stuff (like constables taking bribes, brutalising innocents or embezzling funds), but also to come to a fair assessment of the constables' merits. While far from spotless, my groups' constables have been pretty scrupulous and more or less law-abiding, only resorting to creative workarounds sometimes, not to any outright breaking of rules. Their record is thus a rather good one.

After spotting their tails, they discussed the audit issue amongst themselves and grudgingly accepted it. They even came clean about some of the more questionable things they do – mainly love interests, one is involved with a former Risuri corsair who has been 'freelancing' since the war, and one has actually hooked up with Gale. They asked for and received one-on-one interviews with Pryce-Hill, and came clean about everything that might be seen as incriminating.

Pryce-Hill was impressed. The group had shown capability, loyalty, and trust in their ultimate superiors. He flagged them "ready" – for whatever may come and befall the nation of Risur. He also got the group's Inquisitor the promotion to Captain she deserved. She's now the youngest ever Captain in the RHC's history, and Delft's second-in-command (after Saxby was removed from office and Delft stepped up), even though she's a field agent (earning military rank and privilege in my campaign), not a bureaucrat Assistant Chief Inspectress.



All in all, I used the audit to offer the group a glimpse of where they stand in the grand scheme of things, to remind them of their responsibilities, limits and options, and to showcase how the PCs are important persons in the world. The players liked it, and although it only really came up in two sessions (one at the beginning of the adventure, one towards the end), they repeatedly talked about it during and after.
 

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