A new tabletop RPG inspired by the Phoenix Wright video games will have players take the stand, pass down sentencing or fight their case as defence or prosecution in court.
Justicar comes from indie designer Nevyn Holmes, who cites the Phoenix Wright series - in which players defend clients as the titular Ace Attorney by uncovering evidence, drawing conclusions and shouting “Objection!” a lot - and 1992 murder-trial comedy film My Cousin Vinny as key influences on the upcoming RPG’s depiction of courtroom capers. (Full disclaimer: Nevyn has written for Dicebreaker in the past.)
The tabletop RPG forgoes a conventional single game master in favour of four roles filled by the players. The judge keeps the courtroom proceedings running and rules on the actions of the other players. Another player represents the combined stand - encompassing suspects, defendants, witnesses and other characters who present their evidence and other key connections to the case, both true and fabricated - while two others take the position of defence and prosecution, fighting for their respective sides of the case by questioning the stand and analysing the given information.
With the judge and stand serving as more GM-like figures for the prosecution and defence as they provide details of the characters, surrounding narrative and crime at the centre of each session, Justicar is more akin to a collaborative storytelling game than a traditional RPG.
Holmes describes the intended outcome of each roughly two to three-hour playthrough as uncovering a mystery created between the four players, as each player influences the “truth” of the crime and its culprit(s) in line with their role’s actions and goals - aiming for an interesting story around the table, rather than a purely competitive victory or defeat.
Contributing to the game’s depiction of legal battles is law consultant Kevin Merritt, who will help instil “just the right mix of romanticized and accurate” in Justicar’s mix of mystery, comedy and drama.
Justicar is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter, with a digital and physical release planned for the summer.