"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Prison Break

Over at B/X Blackrazor, JB has been discussing the Slave Lord series. In his most recent post he quickly talks about having the PCs be captured.

I have mentioned a number of times how much I like to use the Reaction Roll subsystem in B/X. One of the things I decided early in the development of the Northern Marches is that a very poor reaction roll when meeting with an NPC with authority (a high priest, a lord, etc.) could result in the PCs insulting the NPC so badly that a large group of guards (big enough to be either foolhardy or extremely risky to fight against) would be summoned and the PCs be put under arrest.

So, I needed a quick method to adjudicate the seriousness of the offence, what happens in the dungeon and the possibility of escape. I took a page from Barbarian Prince and came up with a very quick system.

Gravity of Offence (d6 +/- Charisma modifier)
1 or less: Marked for Death - You have committed a very grave offence. The death penalty is demanded. Until then, you are imprisoned. All your money, possessions and mounts are confiscated. You are provided with food and lodging while in prison. At the start of each day in prison roll one die: "1" means you manage to escape (see below for details), "6" means you must finally meet the headsman and are taken to a public execution. Any other die roll means you continue to languish in prison.

2: Thrown in the Dungeon - You are thrown into a deep dungeon. You lose all your wealth, possessions and mounts. While in the dungeon, you are provided with food and lodging (of a sort). At the start of each day in the dungeon roll 2d6, a result of 2 or 3 means you escape that day, any other result means you continue to languish in captivity. Every full week (seven days) you spend in the Dungeon inflicts 1d6 hit points of damage on you, due to unhealthy conditions, disease, and gradual weakness and starvation.

3 & 4: Imprisoned - You are imprisoned. All your money, possessions and mounts are confiscated. While in prison, you are provided with food and lodging. At the start of each day roll one die, 1 means you escape, any other result means you continue to remain captive.

5 & 6: Minor Offence - You are held overnight. Tomorrow you are assessed a fine of 1d6 x 10 x level gold pieces. If you can't afford it you are Imprisoned (see above).

Escape: If the result indicates a successful escape, present the prisoner with the opportunity (loose bricks in cell wall, a bribeable guard, the means to pick the lock, etc). If they are successful in their escape, have them make an Evasion check being pursued by a suitable number of guards. An alternative is to quickly develop a dungeon map and have them explore their way out.


  1. Escape:

    Should be some non-still wanted options for escape. Powerful patron gets pardon on your behalf, insulted personage decides you've learned your lesson, insulted personage offers you a "deal" retrieve this item for me...

    Oblivion CRPG intro is an example of escape dungeon only to find yourself in a "dungeon".

  2. I actually ended up running a prison-break scenario in my Hackmaster campaign. Long story short, the player straight murdered a tied-up old lady in front of new hirelings, then left said hirelings on watch and specifically told me they were getting drunk. LOL

    I wrote up the scenario, had another player run an NPC thug who was sharing the cell, and they very nearly didn't get out. I threw one or two scraps of clue their way, but they kept thinking that either a) they were going to be able to fight their way out past guards, or that b) the Deus Machine was going to show up.

    With maybe 4 hours to go before execution, they finally wised up and did a serious search of the cell, found the secret door that I almost may as well not have placed, and ran through a Slavers-style "we don't have any shit so let's pick up rocks and stuff" crawl. Managed to avoid the few monsters (skellies and rats) and make it out in the end; now they'll have to deal with the consequences of having let the thug out (if we ever pick up the game again).