Fantasy elements in a trial, suggestions?

So next session my players’s PCs will be on a trial for a crime they did not commit, but I want to add a twist to the trial, some weird element to make it special. Most likely the trial will be resolved with a DoW. So I ask you for suggestion on elements to make it cool. (Also one of the player is actually a lawyer.)

More details on the situation: the law in my setting is run by the clergy, a fire themed catholic church, they are also the highest authority. The PCs are accused of the murder of one of the bishops.

Any idea is helpful!

Why would there be trials when the clergy can conduct a Ritual and a Miracle to divine the truth? It’d be fairly easy to perform, honestly! Even a Minor Miracle could grant something akin to an Aura Reading to let the priest know if the defendant was lying or trying to deceive.

Is Faith being used? If so, why wouldn’t this be the case if, indeed, the Church was the highest authority?

Didn’t think about it, but I think it wouldn´t be that interesting to solve it with “just a prayer” don’t you think?. On the other hand it can be a good opportunity to show “the power of the church”.
This is our second session so I’m still new to GMing BW.

To me, this is an opportunity to world build, to show how this fantasy world is fantastical. There are no courts. There is only the revelations of the Faith. Why would there be courts in land where priests can scry the truth through prayer? Isn’t this how they became the highest authority? None can lie before the might of the Lord.

If you can answer why there are courts, then maybe we can work something else.

But, if that does seem boring, how about this? The priest responsible for scrying the truth? He just lied about his revelation. He knows the PC is innocent, but proclaims him guilty nonetheless. Why? Maybe his acolyte knows why? Maybe the acolyte has gone missing - either on the run for his life, or kidnapped by his master? If the PCs can find this acolyte, they can finally get the truth told?

Just brainstorming without knowing any details, of course.

But alas! I just read that one of your PCs is a lawyer. Hrm, missed that in my first reading. I guess that obviates everything I said. Too bad! But wait… if the lawyer PC is a lawyer, is he also part of the Church? Is he faithful?

Have you read Three Parts Dead?

Who says a trial run by fire worshiping Catholic priest-judges isn’t a ritual to divine the truth?

If this Fire God was accusing me of a crime you better believe I’d demand to be able to depose my accuser.

No no, the PLAYER is the lawer, not the character :S that’s why didn’t want a mundane court

Awesome ideas. The trial will be a big ritual in witch part of the truth is revealed, I think it is a great way to show part of the world as you said, and at the same time know more about the big picture.

I have not read that book, Noclue. Reading a review right now. Seems cool.

Thanks for the input guys!

Perhaps God does not like being called upon to adjudicate every legal matter. Maybe He provides His insight for the really major trials; maybe not. That’s up to the idiom of your world. Divine revelation need not be complete or entirely useful. Maybe prayers reveal that something one person said is true, but that is not the whole of the case. Or maybe it reveals that something is false, but also that the speaker did not know so. Maybe all the prayer reveals is who among the clergy is the most unbiased and therefore should be granted the authority to preside over the trial—then you get a real sense of the magic of the church and a DoW.

I think DoW is fine too, but using it will in part drive home that this isn’t like our legal system. There isn’t presentation of evidence, a jury, a set of legal precedents, all those things we take for granted. Instead there is an arbiter who is invested with all the authority of the law and there are people who want to convince him. That’s it. Evidence, precedent, all that only matters if you can make the one guy believe you. DoW for your life!

The city is powered by a fire God who has contracted out his services in return for worship. Lots of overlapping Byzantine contracts for divine favor…Then the God dies and the creditors are circling the corpse. It’s a mystery and a bankruptcy lawsuit all wrapped up into one.

do any of the PCs have any skills or wishes that help with legal proceedings? Etiquette, Religion, suasion, rule-of-law-wise? If not, can they circle up a priest-jurist who is favorably disposed toward them? Or maybe your church assigns bound djinn to represent the defendants.

How did the characters end up in this situation? Was the murdered bishop a relationship? What Beliefs tie them either to him or to the church?

When everything else fails, demand trial by combat.

Just because the “church” is running the court, doesn’t mean the court couldn’t become corrupted!
Are all members of the court, or even the church, Faithful? Are there certain members that have gained their position through politics rather than faithfulness?
And if so, could the players trial be little more than a pawn used in the struggle for true power and the control of the very throne itself?
(Just a Thought)

Thanks everyone for the replies.
The session went good, the players liked it but it wasn’t as intense I a imagined it to be. The trial consisted of a ritual where the priests invoked “the flame of truth” in the center of the court, acused and witnesses declared putting their hands in the flame, if they lie the flame would burn them (it can be fooled and the PCs knew that). I didn’t use DoW after all. The PCs left free of charge and they offer themselves to continiue with the investigation (good beliefs material). The session ended with the PCs facing an infiltrated assassin who shot and killed another high rank priest in front of them (got lucky with the fate die), they caught him after a Fight! The killer was a crazy fanatic magic user, and when the PCs tried to interrogate him, he escaped and killed himself to keep the secret (this might have been a little extreme, i know)

The session was useful to intruduce aspects of the game (both setting and mechanic wise) and It was good overall. But I think it lacked flow, this is in part because I’m not used to the system yet and because I had to improvise some parts to compensate holes in the setting (not that I have a problem improvising). Anyway, I’m liking the system and can’t wait to see where the story goes!

How was Artha awarded following the trial and the scenes with the assassin?

Did the assassin escape as a result of a failed Interrogation test? I ask because if there’s any other reason, that’s not fair to the PCs, I think. They worked hard to capture him in a Fight! so their intent should be honored.

Players had beleifs related to the trial and the investigation and the church. I gave Fate and Persona points accordingly.

Did the assassin escape as a result of a failed Interrogation test? I ask because if there’s any other reason, that’s not fair to the PCs, I think. They worked hard to capture him in a Fight! so their intent should be honored.

No. That was a terrible mistake of my part. As I said I’m still learning the system; none of the PCs have Interrogation, I should have asked for a Begginers Luck test.

Kind of makes me wonder why this assassin/mage would take such a drastic action, was he that fanatical or just that fearful of getting caught?
If there’s a cult of assassin that take the death before dishonor belief, what happens when the characters finally catch that one member who breaks that code, willing to (DoW time) aid the characters in exchange for protection from his former brotherhood?

Looks good to me. With the trial behind them, were any Beliefs resolved and rewritten? Did one of the players qualify for either the workhorse, the MVP, or the embodiment award?