A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #31
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Well, to put this in context, a D&D caster is someone who walks around with a rocket launcher in his pocket, can mind rape you with a look, create mass hysteria all on their own, and can conjure hundreds of pounds of carnivorous beast in town square.

    The standard of justice and expectations are going to be somewhat different. Simple (or not so simple) confinement probably isn't going to work morally or pragmatically. There is going to be a long term solution - it could be recruitment, it could be mutilation, it could be mental reprogramming, it could be a massive fine, it could be burning out the gift. Whatever.

    The point is that for your game, the mage is on the clock. Whatever elaborate containment means they have are going to be imperfect, but they don't have to work long - only long enough for whoever does the long thing to show up. Which means your player is on the clock.

  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    Well, to put this in context, a D&D caster is someone who walks around with a rocket launcher in his pocket, can mind rape you with a look, create mass hysteria all on their own, and can conjure hundreds of pounds of carnivorous beast in town square.
    Can I just quickly state the assumption you're making here?

    A high(ish) level D&D caster. How many get to the point that they fit that description is questionable and very much depends on the setting. Eberron (with it's assumption that most heroes are lower level) might have an easier time locking up mages than Forgotten Realms.

    The standard of justice and expectations are going to be somewhat different. Simple (or not so simple) confinement probably isn't going to work morally or pragmatically. There is going to be a long term solution - it could be recruitment, it could be mutilation, it could be mental reprogramming, it could be a massive fine, it could be burning out the gift. Whatever.

    The point is that for your game, the mage is on the clock. Whatever elaborate containment means they have are going to be imperfect, but they don't have to work long - only long enough for whoever does the long thing to show up. Which means your player is on the clock.
    Or you just end up with Wizards essentially being above the law, which is an interesting scenario. The main thing that keeps a rising wizard in check is other wizards, and secondarily the thought that if the masses rose up they could theoretically have enough people to make anybody run out of magic. Which means your average caster would likely get killed before they got imprisoned.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Well, a high level caster can do all of those, but even a comparatively low level caster might be able to do one. Socially speaking, any caster has the ability to be a menace to good order and safety. And it's not like your average Joe is able to differentiate at a glance between magickers overall capacity for harm; they just know that somehow this privileged caste might unleash any amount of misery and outrage using just their hands and words.

    Mkre practically to containment, this isVauban variant problem - building cells to handle all possibilities vs the magicker only needing one tick to work. Until you get to flat anti-magic fields, you've got an issue where defense is overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities.

    So either way, containment for routine law seems unlikely.
    Last edited by KineticDiplomat; 2021-10-30 at 05:48 PM. Reason: Random halfway submission

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    I didn't check the book because I'm 90% verse m certain that there's a work around for anything in the GURPS library. But if we assume that most NPCs don't optimise than the average spellcaster probably can't cast spells for free and isn't strong enough to overpower the guards first thing in the morning
    It's still not good to rely on physical labor, because it's very easy to get either "negative FP, so loses HP" or "at full FP at least some times of day" because you either miscalculate or unable to exactly execute your plans. If I needed to keep someone at very low FP I'd rather rely on juuust right amount of starvation/dehydration/sleep deprivation/hypothermia - FP for that accrue slower but are impossible to get rid of unless you acquire things to counteract them (food/water/sleep/warmth).

    I think spellcasters would tend to fall into one of two categories: either unable to escape at full FP if carefully watched, chained etc; or impossible to contain with forced physical labor only, instead of long-term fatigue. Middle ground would be rare.
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2021-10-31 at 09:38 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    Well, a high level caster can do all of those, but even a comparatively low level caster might be able to do one. Socially speaking, any caster has the ability to be a menace to good order and safety. And it's not like your average Joe is able to differentiate at a glance between magickers overall capacity for harm; they just know that somehow this privileged caste might unleash any amount of misery and outrage using just their hands and words.

    Mkre practically to containment, this isVauban variant problem - building cells to handle all possibilities vs the magicker only needing one tick to work. Until you get to flat anti-magic fields, you've got an issue where defense is overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities.

    So either way, containment for routine law seems unlikely.
    A low level caster can do a little bit of what you describe a couple of times per day. With a reasonable number of mundane guards, and at standard assumed spellcaster rarity, they'll be out of spells before the guard's have finished rugby tackling.

    Plus restraints and gags solve a large number of spells, I'm fairly certain there's none which have no somatic or verbal components by default. Which means in 5e you only really have to worry about Sorcerers, and even then only those with Subtle Spell or the right subclass. 3.X makes it harder because of the Still Spell and Silent Spell feats, but your average caster still can't access enough spells to escape without help. Even unlimited Cantrips don't help that much.

    Plus yes, Joe Bloggs has no idea if this spellcaster can cast Firey Doom or not. But take away access to their hands and voice and it still gets a lot harder, of somebody still escapes then they get the assassin's sent after them.

    Of course if you're in a high enough magic setting that spellcasters regularly get to that level of power you instead follow the following procedure: slit their throat, scry to find the location of their soul, Plane Shift and Steam their Petitioner form, hold it until their sentence is over, bring them back to life. Okay, that's still possibly a little extreme compared to just chucking then into an antimagic field, but I was going for style.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    It's still not good to rely on physical labor, because it's very easy to get either "negative FP, so loses HP" or "at full FP at least some times of day because you either miscalculate or unable to exactly execute your plans. If I needed to keep someone at very low FP I'd rather rely on juuust right amount of starvation/dehydration/sleep deprivation/hypothermy - FP for that accrue slower but are impossible to get rid of unless you acquire things to counteract them (food/water/sleep/warmth).

    I think spellcasters would tend to fall into one of two categories: either unable to escape at full FP if carefully watched, chained etc; or impossible to contain with forced physical labor only, instead of long-term fatigue. Middle ground would be rare.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    IMO: when I design a world if there are enough casters that imprisoning them is a regular event, there are enough casters so that some can work for the government and develop containment methods.

    For the most part I run lower-magic worlds where a mob of peasants is very real threat to the average magic user (who ya know, isn't already inclined to murder mobs of peasants), most casters keep their heads low and their hands clean because you will typically run out of magic before whoever really wants to kill you runs out of bodies to throw in your direction.

    So a prison in such a world will typically have 1-3 special rooms for a mage. How powerful a mage they can hold depends on the locale, but typically only larger cities with larger prisons have them. Anti-magic fields, gags, hand-bindings, spell-absorption effects, the works. Some societies may be inclined to include various forms of torture to prevent spellcasting. Think "The Bastille" with a couple of anti-magic rooms in the basement is the most common setup for developed nations.

    ---
    When I run the occasional high-magic world, the prevalence of casters in the general population means there is also a prevalence of casters among law enforcement and government. Magical containment methods are more common, prisons with anti-magic cells are more common, and people to deal with violent magic users are also more common.
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  7. - Top - End - #37
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    For divine casters, what about invoking the domain agreement and having a deity of justice whose sphere of influence includes the prisons and courts - for instance, any deity granting spells to any of their followers who're imprisoned is in breach of the agreement, but the justice deity is in breach if they don't protect those followers from any rival deities followers, grant healing without prejudice and ensure the trials are held honestly.

    Alternatively, you could have magical collars with anti-magic fields on them.

  8. - Top - End - #38
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Thinking about it in terms of wanting them captive with little to no hope of escape while also not wanting to mutilate them since in some settings that can't be fixed if you ever decide you need them.

    Place the spellcaster's head and hands into a pillory or shrew's fiddle and gloves with rigid fingers, a scold's bridle* upon their head so they cannot speak properly, shackles on their legs so they cannot perform any ritual motions with their legs. A blindfold so they cannot see, and as such can't draw line of sight to things.

    The bridle comes off for meals, and then is put back in place. They are not unschackled or removed from the pillory/fiddle for this, their hands are never free under any circumstances. They defecate into a bucket, they get washed by having a bucket of water thrown over them every few days, they are fed by a guard, they never leave their cells, they do not share cells with any other prisoners, even other mages bound the same way.

    Barring a spellcaster who can cast magic without speaking, seeing or making any kind of gesture this should be able to prevent anything that poses a real threat of escape. In the event a magic user does manage to teleport away, they'll be unable to run, use their hands or ask for help, while obviously being a witch on the run from the authorities. If a spellcaster is able to escape under these conditions, you were probably better off not locking them up in the first place.

    If this sounds like torture, then yes it would be, the spellcaster is likely to come out of their time in captivity traumatised, broken and possibly unable to ever fully recover from the experience.




    *The scold's bridle/witch's bridle/branks was a barred cage that went around the head with a metal bar in the mouth that stopped the tongue from moving. Sometimes with a spike to prevent the mouth from closing properly for extra pain and trauma. Put on properly it completely prevented speech and couldn't be removed by the wearer.
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  9. - Top - End - #39
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    I use a twofold approach.
    if a powerful nation really commits to taking a spellcaster, they can throw enough resources at the problem to succeed. But it would be very expensive for the nation, and bad for the caster, so it's the outcome nobody wants.
    so, most nations don't want to make enemies of wizards, and most wizards don't want to make enemies of nations.

    therefore, if the offending wizard didn't do anything too bad, they are punished with fines or similar. pay a compensation to the people you hurt, and we'll still be friends. consider than in a world with resurrection spells, even murder can be fixed this way. if we really have to put you in prison, the prison is nice, and it's one you actually could escape from if you really tried. but it's in your interest not to.
    this works for both parties: the wizard can avoid having high level assassins hired on him, he can avoid being stuck in antimagic or be put in a blindfold and gag 24/7, which is a really uncomfortable thing. he has to pay some money, maybe spend some time locked at home; none of that is too onerous. most wizards will accept that.
    as for the nation, they can force wizards to obey the law, without having to bankrupt themselves in an all-out war.
    it's similar to what most western justice systems do today; be lenient to the small criminals, to encourage them to stay small instead of becoming big criminals.

    If the wizard does not comply, then it's all-out war. the nation will put the strongest characters they have on your tracks, they will stick you in antimagic, subject you to sleep deprivation, keep you drugged. in the worst cases, they will promise a reward of millions for your disembodied, trapped soul.
    evil nations may have elaborate death penalties under torture, and they know you have accomplices ready to resurrect you, but it's ok, if you show up again they will kill you again, and if you get resurrected and leave them alone and start messing up with their rivals, they're happy with that outcome. evil nations may hire you in exchange for protection from the law. that's how evil nations get their high level workforce; we protect you from the law of other nations, we hide you and give you safe strongholds to stay and bar access to those that would hunt you, and in exchange you work for us.

    But the general stance is that the nation will be nice to you and will try to give you an easy way out. if you don't take the easy way out, they will unleash all their resources to hunt you and they will make an example out of you, so that everyone else will see that it's better to take the easy way out.
    If you aren't strong enough to make this mechanism work, your nation will fall into chaos as various high level people will set themselves up as above the law and become de facto rulers
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  10. - Top - End - #40
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    As a standard prisoners get personal possessions taken away. So spell books, religious focus, staffs, wands, instruments aren't in the picture. Then just put them in a locked helmet that doesn't have eye holes. This way they cannot see. They can move about their cell, go to the lavatory, answer questions, and eat. All of these answers about lock their fingers, bind them in a pillory, put on insane headgear means the guards are having to spoon feed them and wipe their backside ( at least pull down pants ). And the helmet is temporary.


    Without material components, and line of sight 90% of all spells straight up don't work. And several classes cannot recover spells if they cannot see. Now there are several edge cases where a verbal/somatic only spell could break the helmet or allow the caster to teleport/shift away. But if they cannot see where they are and have been led around it could put them very high up or in solid rock.

  11. - Top - End - #41
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    Why would you keep them prisoners instead of executing them?
    Indeed. But first
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    see if they weigh as much as a duck
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Quote Originally Posted by gijoemike View Post
    As a standard prisoners get personal possessions taken away. So spell books, religious focus, staffs, wands, instruments aren't in the picture. Then just put them in a locked helmet that doesn't have eye holes. This way they cannot see. They can move about their cell, go to the lavatory, answer questions, and eat. All of these answers about lock their fingers, bind them in a pillory, put on insane headgear means the guards are having to spoon feed them and wipe their backside ( at least pull down pants ). And the helmet is temporary.


    Without material components, and line of sight 90% of all spells straight up don't work. And several classes cannot recover spells if they cannot see. Now there are several edge cases where a verbal/somatic only spell could break the helmet or allow the caster to teleport/shift away. But if they cannot see where they are and have been led around it could put them very high up or in solid rock.
    There's ways around lack of LoS, the easiest being spells which affect the caster or an area around them. Which keeps Teleport online if they're high enough level to cast it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  13. - Top - End - #43
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    your problem ISN'T how to keep the spellcasters in prison.

    your problem is how to make your escape game exciting and fun.

    With that in mind you have to look at what makes for an interesting problem for the spellcaster(s) and other players to overcome to escape.

    With Wizards and priests, as others have pointed out, all you have to do is take their spell components, holy symbols, mistletoe and spell books away. The cleric is going to have to find a way to make a new holy symbol (whittle it out of soap perhaps), but that's the least of your worries as the cleric magic is the least difficult to work around to keep them in prison until you get to third level and stone shape.

    With the wizards and the druid, you're going to want to put the spellbooks and components and mistletoe somewhere they have to break further INTO the prison to get before they break out. Perhaps a magically locked chest in the warden's closet or a room behind the guards armory.

    So really is the sorcerers and other spontaneous, no component, casters you need to plan around.

    Drugs: good idea. The sorcerer's food allotment is drugged to inhibit spell caster. The players needs to take a few days of trading his food for someone else's food to get it out of his sytem and get his spells back. OR, if all food is drugged (expensive!) then the sorcerer needs to take some starvation penalties to get clean.

    memory moss/feedblemind: The sorcerer lives in a fog, a haze, and gets to role play that until the other characters get him off it in some fashion. Perhaps the alchemist or druid starts making rolls to find components for a brew hidden in the crags of the dungeon and corners of the courtyard.

    separate ward for the spellcasters with windowless cells. Food drops through a small hole randomly. Really this depends on looking at the spell list and figuring out what kind of cell you need to build to keep them in there until they get help.

    My goto would be to introduce a really obnoxious guard, dressed in a black uniform who puts a collar around the sorcerers neck, locks it on and then gets the ability to cast the sorcerer's spells while zapping the sorcerer if he tries to cast them. Nothing motivates hatred as much as having your own powers used against you. In order to get free, the players needs to isolate and get the control from that guy to unlock the collar and free the sorcerer.

  14. - Top - End - #44
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Quote Originally Posted by Wintermoot View Post
    My goto would be to introduce a really obnoxious guard, dressed in a black uniform who puts a collar around the sorcerers neck, locks it on and then gets the ability to cast the sorcerer's spells while zapping the sorcerer if he tries to cast them.
    perhaps the uniform is better blue with lighting on it?
    is this a reference to sul'dam and damane?
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

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  15. - Top - End - #45
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    If we're talking about an industrial society, there are a few options. For most arcane casters, you can lock them inside a suit of cumbersome metal armor that they can't cast spells in. You can also confiscate their spell focuses and 'blind' them with iron masks. It's cruel treatment to be sure, but it would work for short term confinement or extremely high risk individuals.

    If this is a society where spellcasting is common, there are even more options which have the benefit of being somewhat more humane. Guards and Wards could make the prison an effective place to keep anyone, with thick fog preventing prisoner spellcasters from seeing their surroundings clearly. A Geas forbidding spellcasting could create problems for a mage that manages to escape. Sympathy/Antipathy, Bestow Curse, and Silence are also helpful.
    Last edited by Kvess; 2021-11-24 at 01:38 PM.

  16. - Top - End - #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    perhaps the uniform is better blue with lighting on it?
    is this a reference to sul'dam and damane?
    I don't know what that is.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kvess View Post
    If we're talking about an industrial society, there are a few options. For most arcane casters, you can lock them inside a suit of cumbersome metal armor that they can't cast spells in. You can also confiscate their spell focuses and 'blind' them with iron masks. It's cruel treatment to be sure, but it would work for short term confinement or extremely high risk individuals.
    I love this. Keep the sorcerers in line by putting them in a breastplate they can't take off. Just lock that baby on. You get a good AC and a high arcane spell failure rate.

  17. - Top - End - #47
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Short term (transport) handbound, blindfolded and/or gagged.

    Long term (resident) drugged and isolated.
    Last edited by Kane0; 2021-11-24 at 10:21 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wintermoot View Post
    I don't know what that is.
    In the Wheel of Time (of which, btw, they're just releasing a tv adaptation i can recommend) there is a people who found a way to control magic users with a collar on a leash.
    They believe all magic users are evil, and must be tamed for the good of society.
    Those holding the leash are called sul'dam, and they have a blue uniform with red lightning. Leashed ones are called damane. The collar allows the sul'dam to use the magic power of the damane, while the damane trying to use magic on her own would get violently sick.
    It's very similar to your suggestion
    In memory of Evisceratus: he dreamed of a better world, but he lacked the class levels to make the dream come true.

    Ridiculous monsters you won't take seriously even as they disembowel you

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  19. - Top - End - #49
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Guards that can cast counterspell or dispel magic could be pretty effective.
    Like say a 5th level caster with 1st level spells like sleep or thunderwave for riot suppression.
    And spells like silence, counterspell and dispell magic to disrupt casting.

    Now your confinement method is sensible but also can be beaten tactically, socially or by out matching. Works nicely if the method of confinement is they have nowhere to go after escaping.
    Last edited by Witty Username; 2021-12-05 at 08:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    In most medieval and ancient settings, the punishment for crimes of various levels were severe and immediate. You were killed, maimed, sold into slavery, or paid a fine. If you failed to pay the fine.... then you were killed, maimed, or sold into slavery.

    There was not a lot of imprisoning people unless they were very, very valuable/rich and could be ransomed.
    Last edited by Easy e; 2021-12-07 at 05:52 PM.
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    Default Re: Housing spellcaster prisoners

    Quote Originally Posted by Grim Portent View Post
    If this sounds like torture, then yes it would be, the spellcaster is likely to come out of their time in captivity traumatised, broken and possibly unable to ever fully recover from the experience.
    The downside being; any mage powerful enough to deserve this time and effort is either locked up and tortured for the rest of their life, or they get out at some point. And they may have some sternly worded complaints to write to the smoking ruin of the prison once they get their magic back.
    So unless torturing for the rest of their life is the actual point of this, it's a terrible idea
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