Jump to content
hkokko

Prisons, improvement, captivity in Runequest & Glorantha

Recommended Posts

How does Glorantha especially with RQ rules address imprisonment and capture of the enemies who have spells.

Earlier on I managed this by getting rid of tattoo runes and devices which were sigils  which I deemed were part of the spell or by manacling with slave bracelets or for short term things knocking the person unconscious.

Are there other ways to handle this for short term capture and long term prison sentences (hard labor,  isolation cells,  sheriff's simple cell, the traditional hole in the ground that locals might have dug up.

In the capturing situation: Prisoner might still have spells in memory (spirit magic, rune magic, spirits in tattoos for the shamans) and depending on spell type the magic points may replenish...

If the answer is slave bracelets - how common are these and how easy you have made them to put on - as these might become interesting weapons themselves if they are easy to use.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, hkokko said:

How does Glorantha especially with RQ rules address imprisonment and capture of the enemies who have spells.

Earlier on I managed this by getting rid of tattoo runes and devices which were sigils  which I deemed were part of the spell or by manacling with slave bracelets or for short term things knocking the person unconscious.

Are there other ways to handle this for short term capture and long term prison sentences (hard labor,  isolation cells,  sheriff's simple cell, the traditional hole in the ground that locals might have dug up.

In the capturing situation: Prisoner might still have spells in memory (spirit magic, rune magic, spirits in tattoos for the shamans) and depending on spell type the magic points may replenish...

If the answer is slave bracelets - how common are these and how easy you have made them to put on - as these might become interesting weapons themselves if they are easy to use.

 

Slave bracelets are very rare. The main way of dealing with dangerous captives is to disarm them, watch them, and hope to ransom them as soon as possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You'll have to discern whether a person was captured in a slave raid or whether a fighter in combat yields in exchange for ransom. Most people who have some kind of offensive magic will be able to yield for ransom. Those that cannot will end up as slaves.

The point is when yielding for ransom, the yielding person gives their oath. They will expect fair treatment and provision so that their captors can receive the ransom, but in exchange they are to obey the reasonable demands of the captors.

Only captives who wouldn't yield honorably would be subjected to slave bracelets.

Biturian using them on Norayeep might only have been a way to transport them, but then Biturian's dealings with artifacts of high magic are extremely unusual or exaggerated anyway, sadly distracting from the story told.

5 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Slave bracelets are very rare. The main way of dealing with dangerous captives is to disarm them, watch them, and hope to ransom them as soon as possible.

Blindfolds and conventional manacles go a long way to subdue rebellious captives, too, as does regular infliction of pain - if only pour encourager les autres.

 

Organized slave-taking expeditions e.g. by Lunar tax collectors in occupied territories might use slave bracelets. It is quite possible that there is a slave bracelet industry somewhere in the Lunar Empire. Even if so, it is highly unlikely that their output is anywhere high enough that slaves will carry such items for the rest of their lives. More likely they only carry them while on the road to their new (somewhat permanent) owners.

The permanent owners might use branding or similar methods to both deface existing identity marks and to impose some other spell of retaliation. We know of the Fonritian noose.

But then, the one slave revolt of which we have seen at least a few panels in Prince of Sartar - Beat-Pot's rebellion - doesn't show any indication of either slave bracelets or markings on Beat-Pot while in the kitchen or defaced tattoos on his fellow rebels. Apparently, the Lunar method of keeping slaves under control was to mix slaves of varied origin in order to make organisation among them harder.

Offering conversion to a slave cult as a way to privilege might be another insidious way to ensure long term obedience. Those slaves who won't be tamed provide the meat for gladiatorial games, high risk jobs or sacrifices (e.g. to maintaining the Glowline or the Corn Rites).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, hkokko said:

How does Glorantha especially with RQ rules address imprisonment and capture of the enemies who have spells.

Earlier on I managed this by getting rid of tattoo runes and devices which were sigils  which I deemed were part of the spell or by manacling with slave bracelets or for short term things knocking the person unconscious.

Are there other ways to handle this for short term capture and long term prison sentences (hard labor,  isolation cells,  sheriff's simple cell, the traditional hole in the ground that locals might have dug up.

In the capturing situation: Prisoner might still have spells in memory (spirit magic, rune magic, spirits in tattoos for the shamans) and depending on spell type the magic points may replenish...

If the answer is slave bracelets - how common are these and how easy you have made them to put on - as these might become interesting weapons themselves if they are easy to use.

 

I'd imagine that drugs or poisons that render prisoners unconscious, docile or suggestible would be used for the duration of captivity. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Sumath said:

I'd imagine that drugs or poisons that render prisoners unconscious, docile or suggestible would be used for the duration of captivity. 

I don't imagine that is particularly common. Honestly, the way most folk deal with captives is to ransom them or transport them a long way from their home. Or have them agree to work for you, in exchange for an agreement to protect, shelter, and feed them. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Magical options might include casting Extended Hallucinate or Fear spells on captives to keep them subdued. Or summon a spirit and have them possess the prisoner until ransom time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Jeff said:

I don't imagine that is particularly common. Honestly, the way most folk deal with captives is to ransom them or transport them a long way from their home. Or have them agree to work for you, in exchange for an agreement to protect, shelter, and feed them. 

Fair enough. I started to look for a poison or plant that would fit the bill, and couldn't find one that was really suitable anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Sumath said:

Fair enough. I started to look for a poison or plant that would fit the bill, and couldn't find one that was really suitable anyway.

I think the mistake is assuming that Gloranthans have a better solution to the problem of captives than ancient world humans had. Your basic choices are:

Ransom them. Works great for important people and potentially very lucrative. Also it means people are more likely to not kill you or your kin if they are captured. Downside: they might return with armed companions after being ransomed (the Julius Caesar problem). You are stuck with them until the ransom is paid.

Put them to work. A source of labor and skilled labor. Downside: they are dangerous and can rebel.

Kill them: Solves the problem of having dangerous captives. Downside: often angers the gods, probably results in their kin doing the same thing to you. Also means you forgo lucrative ransom or labor.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Videopete said:

Doesn't pure metals drain pow or make it hard to cast. Sounds like a way to make life hard,

That's an expensive option - iron reduces the chance of casting magic, but you need quite a lot of it to make sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I think the mistake is assuming that Gloranthans have a better solution to the problem of captives than ancient world humans had. Your basic choices are:

Ransom them. Works great for important people and potentially very lucrative. Also it means people are more likely to not kill you or your kin if they are captured. Downside: they might return with armed companions after being ransomed (the Julius Caesar problem). You are stuck with them until the ransom is paid.

Put them to work. A source of labor and skilled labor. Downside: they are dangerous and can rebel.

Kill them: Solves the problem of having dangerous captives. Downside: often angers the gods, probably results in their kin doing the same thing to you. Also means you forgo lucrative ransom or labor.

 

Slavery might be more enticing than you might think for those to be enslaved. They don't die, they get fed and for non nobles this is more of a change of boss than any thing plus some are able too if skilled buy their freedom or earn it 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Jeff said:

I think the mistake is assuming that Gloranthans have a better solution to the problem of captives than ancient world humans had.

Right, but magic-capable prisoners are a problem Gloranthans have that ancient world humans didn't have. If you take a lot of prisoners after a battle, for example, there could be some very potent magic capability there, not necessarily individually but amongst the troops as a whole. So you'd need to keep them apart as well until you can ransom them - no communal prisoner camps, unless they were well guarded enough or segregated enough to prevent the occupants combining their magic to punch a hole through their captors' walls.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn't find the spell in the RQG materials, but you could always just turn them into Herd Men, if you're on good terms with your friendly neighborhood man-eating tapir :P

Otherwise bind arms to sides, blindfold, and gag, all cloth, to prevent them from speaking and making gestures. Even then, I figure you'd be quite hard-pressed to keep anyone with access to Teleport, Flight, or especially Guided Teleport who didn't want to be ransomed and had the open RP.

I suppose that opens up another interesting side-topic: control of access to worship. If a captured Storm Voice sneaks into the clan's worship ceremony and somehow manages to participate, he's suddenly got lots of shiny juju back to make a break for it.

I can see another option being not to bind/restrict high-value prisoners at all, but to treat them well amongst other Storm worshippers, assuming their ransom will be paid. Try giving them less reason to escape--particularly since if they really want to, they're likelier to succeed, or at least cause damage/deaths in the attempt. I feel like the prisoners discussion is more relevant across cultures than within a single culture. Orlanthi sharing a similar sense of what battle and honor means living in Dragon Pass might be more inclined to be good captives than Lunars or Praxians. And, as Videopete noted, for random schmucks meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Edited by Crel
typo
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Crel said:

Orlanthi sharing a similar sense of what battle and honor means living in Dragon Pass might be more inclined to be good captives than Lunars or Praxians.

Honour would be a good way of ensuring captives honoured their captivity. If you offer your ransom to save your skin then reneging on that could be seen as dishonourable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Sumath said:

Honour would be a good way of ensuring captives honoured their captivity. If you offer your ransom to save your skin then reneging on that could be seen as dishonourable.

Really it's probably the second-most reliable way of ensuring some naughty captive doesn't burn down half your village in the night with Ignite. Most reliable being cutting throats.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A captor could always ask a prisoner to take an oath that they would not attempt escape. Although given that the alternative could be to kill them I'm not sure how binding such an oath might be. But if it was freely given then that could be an option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, Crel said:

Otherwise bind arms to sides, blindfold, and gag, all cloth, to prevent them from speaking and making gestures. Even then, I figure you'd be quite hard-pressed to keep anyone with access to Teleport, Flight, or especially Guided Teleport who didn't want to be ransomed and had the open RP.

Don't forget Divine Intervention as the great villain's escape. The only way to capture someone with a remaining pool of rune points is to incapacitate them before they can use them if these rune points allow a magical escape.

Offering ransom is a specific form of entering the hospitality of the captor. It is no coincidence that host and hostage have the same word stem.

Breaking hospitality is secondary as a crime only to kinslaying. It does happen, it does impose a demeaning fine if your bonded Trickster did it (see the Lightbringer's Quest station at the bottom of the Obsidian Palace), and it will cause your allies to turn away from you. You end up as an outlaw.

If you still don't trust your captive's oath, get a Humakti to cast a binding (Sever Spirit-inducing) Oath on you and your captive. That's about the best insurance that Glorantha offers short of maiming your captives.

25 minutes ago, Crel said:

I suppose that opens up another interesting side-topic: control of access to worship. If a captured Storm Voice sneaks into the clan's worship ceremony and somehow manages to participate, he's suddenly got lots of shiny juju back to make a break for it.

Actually, if you hold an oath-bonded Storm Voice for ransom, having him participate in your rites in a guest of the clan role is sort of mandatory. If he breaks the oath sworn by his deity, those will be the last RP he regained for a long, long time.

 

25 minutes ago, Crel said:

I can see another option being not to bind/restrict high-value prisoners at all, but to treat them well amongst other Storm worshippers, assuming their ransom will be paid. Try giving them less reason to escape--particularly since if they really want to, they're likelier to succeed, or at least cause damage/deaths in the attempt. I feel like the prisoners discussion is more relevant across cultures than within a single culture. Orlanthi sharing a similar sense of what battle and honor means living in Dragon Pass might be more inclined to be good captives than Lunars or Praxians. And, as Videopete noted, for random schmucks meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Thanks to the Unity Battle and the World Council of Friends, there are few foes who won't be amenable to weregild. Chaos foes unbound by Lunar niceties, Zombies, and Tusk Riders aren't good prospects for surviving captivity. With trolls you have a fair chance, provided you know how to negotiate your ransom - read "A Tasty Morsel" in the collected Griselda stories.

Heartland Lunars are no strangers to ransom and hospitality, although their definitions may be different from an Orlanthi's expectations. A ransom usualy exceeds the value a slave might have in the market. If there is a bounty on your head (or parts of it, like a beak), your ransom had better exceed that bounty significantly to make the extra fuss worth the while for the captor, including keeping other bounty hunters from snatching you up.

 

Things get weird when your sworn in captor gets captured himself, or when you are robbed from your captor by a third party. But that's the scenario kind of complication.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prisoners that have offensive magic are going to be the most problematic and the ones you get rid of first. I suspect these are also in the least likely to be captured category too. I think it only comes down to a few spells that are problematic, most others can be easily dealt with. For example blade sharp, fireblade, etc are dealt with by not letting them keep their weapons. Befuddle is likely the worst, but dealt with by however never dealing with prisoners alone. If they do use befuddle the other person pummels them, they soon stop. Captured rune levels will be dealt with swiftly, but once their magic is gone they can be overwhelmed. A captured shaman is likely the worst to deal with and only done by fools or the powerful. The two minute timescale of spirit magic is the best limitation. Ignite - keep them out of range of the your buildings (50m). In a world where everyone has magic, everyone will understand how to deal with it. Everything else will be on a case by case basis.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Remember that most magic requires a focus and replenishing rune magic requires worship. Plus having a shaman around with a crap ton of disembodied spirits to act as guards spirits or a Wizard there to just tap the tar out of some one.  At least in old Runequest an unfocused spell takes 2 rounds of concentration to cast, any body that mean mugs ya for 12 seconds is getting a beating. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Videopete said:

At least in old Runequest an unfocused spell takes 2 rounds of concentration to cast

So, exactly the same as in new RQG, according to page 254...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scenario 1:

  • Captor: "Right, I've captured you and am going to collect your ransom. Do I have your word of honour that you are not going to try to escape?" 
  • Prisoner: "Sure, no problem"
  • Captor: "OK, I'm going now, be back in a bit".
  • Prisoner: "Ha, after 10 minutes I'm going to use Bladesharp on this rock and cut y bonds, then escape"
  • Prisoner duly escapes and tells the ransomers not to bother with the ransom.
  • Captor: "Ransomers, my Prisoner has a ransom and said that I could collect it, but escaped before I could do so. Could you remove his ransom and tell everyone?"
  • Ransomers: "Sure, that undermines the whole concept of Ransom, consider it done"

Scenario 2:

  • Captor: "Right, I've captured you and am going to collect your ransom. Do I have your word of honour that you are not going to try to escape?" 
  • Prisoner: "Nope"
  • Captor: "Are you sure, because otherwise I'm going to have to kill you"
  • Prisoner: "Nope, I'm going to escape"
  • Captor: "Now, come on, don't be silly, you have a ransom for a reason"
  • Prisoner: "Tough, you are not going to get any of, urrrgh!"

Scenario 3:

  • Captor: "Look, I have captured you and was going to ransom you, but you stiffed me last time"
  • Prisoner: "That was last time, I'm a good boy now. I doubled my ransom and paid the ransomers off so I could have a ransom"
  • Captor: "Are you sure? You'd better be telling the truth!"
  • Prisoner: "Yes, sure, here look at my ransom scroll".
  • Captor: Right, ok, be good until I get back"
  • Prisoner: "Idiot! Time to escape again"
  • Later ...
  • Captor: "OK, he did it again and skipped ransom"
  • Ransomers: "Right, we'll have him and spread word that he isn't getting any more ransoms"

Scenario 4:

  • Captor: "Look, I have captured you again, but you stiffed me twice"
  • Prisoner: "Boy, did I get a beating last time, those ransomers are tough. It's all sorted now."
  • Captor: "I just don't believe you"
  • Prisoner: "Honest, my ransom is now 10,000L, urrrgh!

OK, so they don't all play out like that and a lot of people will take the prisoner to the ransomers to collect the ransom.

However, the Ransom System is there for a reason and anyone abusing it by claiming that a ransom can be paid and then escaping so as not to have the ransom paid undermines the system. This would be frowned upon and the Ransomers have a lot of clout with powerful folk.

In RQ2, when we got 1,000L cash, the first thing we did was to go to the Ransomers and pay a 1,000L Ransom. We had to pay an extra 10% to the Ransomers as a fee, but it was worth it. When we became Rune Level, we upped it to 10,000L.

Edited by soltakss
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We used to keep prisoners for ransom drugged, as we had Sleep Potions.

We sometimes used Extension with Spirit Magic to keep them docile for long periods of time (Back when Extension worked with Spirit Magic, in case it doesn't now).

Once we gained Slave Bracelets, we used them on powerful foes.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, soltakss said:

Scenario 1:

  • Captor: "Right, I've captured you and am going to collect your ransom. Do I have your word of honour that you are not going to try to escape?" 
  • Prisoner: "Sure, no problem"
  • Captor: "OK, I'm going now, be back in a bit".
  • Prisoner: "Ha, after 10 minutes I'm going to use Bladesharp on this rock and cut y bonds, then escape"
  • Prisoner duly escapes and tells the ransomers not to bother with the ransom.
  • Captor: "Ransomers, my Prisoner has a ransom and said that I could collect it, but escaped before I could do so. Could you remove his ransom and tell everyone?"
  • Ransomers: "Sure, that undermines the whole concept of Ransom, consider it done"

Scenario 2:

  • Captor: "Right, I've captured you and am going to collect your ransom. Do I have your word of honour that you are not going to try to escape?" 
  • Prisoner: "Nope"
  • Captor: "Are you sure, because otherwise I'm going to have to kill you"
  • Prisoner: "Nope, I'm going to escape"
  • Captor: "Now, come on, don't be silly, you have a ransom for a reason"
  • Prisoner: "Tough, you are not going to get any of, urrrgh!"

Scenario 3:

  • Captor: "Look, I have captured you and was going to ransom you, but you stiffed me last time"
  • Prisoner: "That was last time, I'm a good boy now. I doubled my ransom and paid the ransomers off so I could have a ransom"
  • Captor: "Are you sure? You'd better be telling the truth!"
  • Prisoner: "Yes, sure, here look at my ransom scroll".
  • Captor: Right, ok, be good until I get back"
  • Prisoner: "Idiot! Time to escape again"
  • Later ...
  • Captor: "OK, he did it again and skipped ransom"
  • Ransomers: "Right, we'll have him and spread word that he isn't getting any more ransoms"

Scenario 4:

  • Captor: "Look, I have captured you again, but you stiffed me twice"
  • Prisoner: "Boy, did I get a beating last time, those ransomers are tough. It's all sorted now."
  • Captor: "I just don't believe you"
  • Prisoner: "Honest, my ransom is now 10,000L, urrrgh!

OK, so they don't all play out like that and a lot of people will take the prisoner to the ransomers to collect the ransom.

However, the Ransom System is there for a reason and anyone abusing it by claiming that a ransom can be paid and then escaping so as not to have the ransom paid undermines the system. This would be frowned upon and the Ransomers have a lot of clout with powerful folk.

In RQ2, when we got 1,000L cash, the first thing we did was to go to the Ransomers and pay a 1,000L Ransom. We had to pay an extra 10% to the Ransomers as a fee, but it was worth it. When we became Rune Level, we upped it to 10,000L.

Actually it is worse now in RQG since the ransom is normally paid by your kin and/or your temple. Screw around with that and you have trouble with your priests and clan or tribal leaders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Actually it is worse now in RQG since the ransom is normally paid by your kin and/or your temple. Screw around with that and you have trouble with your priests and clan or tribal leaders.

Plus some impests. Are they still a thing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...