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hkokko

Prisons, improvement, captivity in Runequest & Glorantha

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21 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

Plus some impests. Are they still a thing?

Yes. As well as plenty of other spirits of reprisal.

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41 minutes ago, The God Learner said:

Touch your magic-rich prisoner with an unattuned truestone.

I thought about that, but it is a bit of a waste. Great to use their own magic against them though.

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That's an interesting topic

If you attacked someone (or someone attacked you) then it is resolved through ransom. If you escape, the ransoming party will complain against your clan/tribe. It's a matter of honor but it's also a matter of civilization. A lot of comments are about how could we prevent dangerous PCs or NPCs (especially those loaded with magic) from escaping? That is not the point IMO, the point is what happens if they do and their clans rejoiced at this? It would be Chaos: no one would take hostages any longer, it would be an endless cycle of killing and revenge. The ransom legal system is about avoiding this, it's about having a more civilized society. If you lose to the Greydogs your family, your temple and your clan leader will pay (then you will owe them but it's called Loyalty). Okay, maybe you are planning a rematch but you won't be planning on killing anybody, you'll plan to take another hostage to get even; and even if it sets a cycle hostage ransoms this is manageable (as opposed to a killing spree). This being said, alright you escape with your powerful magic. What happens when the Greydogs complain? You dishonored your family, your Temple (therefore your gods), your tribe, your clan. Are you better off? Far from it.

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Lovely answers - thank you tribe. 

What about ordinary prison time, no ransoms at all. 

For example thieves and other criminals, people who have not paid their debt and may go to prison for a debt, even merchants who have broken laws. Any additional views this brings..

I am picturing the normal prison scene, dozens or hundreds of prisoners imprisoned due to various causes - smuggling, killing innocent people, breaking other city laws, not paying their debts, arson etc...

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I don't think that prison would be regarded as a form of punishment, only as an intermediate holding area.

Such a prison would only be found in an urban environment.

Prison as in waiting for seeing the magistrate - not sure that there is much of a waiting limbo, unless the magistrate has to come from the next city. It is quite likely that there is little time between capturing a thief and getting a verdict. Of course, then a wait for the public execution of the verdict might be involved.

Financial forfeit may very well result in indenture or outright slavery if not paid off. That's work gangs in the quarry or similar.

Arson is one offense that is likely to receive a quid-pro-quo response, a public burning. There are few crimes that were more feared in urban environments.

Think of Hammurabi's code of law.

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In rural medieval societies (not sure about the ancient era) they had the price for blood: you committed a crime you were to give money to the offended party. If it was really serious you could be beaten, killed or exiled. But putting offenders in jail, in western countries, is pretty recent I believe. 

Edited by jps

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I can see an interpretation of Danfive Xaron being similar to what we think of as criminal prison, in Lunar societies. That'd be more in the Heartlands than in any of the areas currently supported by RQG, I think. Among most places an RQG game is likely to take place, I imagine crime is either dealt with by payment/weregild or death. Maybe thralldom. I remember a series of events in King of Dragon Pass where one woman steals another's horse, from two different clans, and it turns into a murderfest between the families and possibly a clan feud depending on how you respond to the events. But that sequence can last into the next generation, after both women and the horse are dead.

I figure in Glorantha, if someone with any sort of notable magical prowess is accused and believed guilty of crime by the clan/city authorities, they're probably just exiled or killed. Not worth the risk of keeping around, for cultures in the Dragon Pass area.

Examples like Hammurabi's Code make sense to me for areas like Esrolia where the increased population demands written legislation, and maybe some larger Sartarite cities like Boldhome, but I get the impression that most of the play region lacks codified law, but relies on a LM Sage's memory of historic examples as Lawspeaker, and the few absolute rules (like hospitality).

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25 minutes ago, Crel said:

Examples like Hammurabi's Code make sense to me for areas like Esrolia where the increased population demands written legislation, and maybe some larger Sartarite cities like Boldhome, but I get the impression that most of the play region lacks codified law, but relies on a LM Sage's memory of historic examples as Lawspeaker, and the few absolute rules (like hospitality).

Sure, but then only those larger cities are where you would expect a sufficient number of wrongdoers to end up in the temporary care of law enforcement. Those, and ports where you collect drunk sailors to simmer down before the ship leaves, although that almost sounds like guild business rather than law enforcement.

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53 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Sure, but then only those larger cities are where you would expect a sufficient number of wrongdoers to end up in the temporary care of law enforcement.

And probably pretty temporary care at that. I struggle to imagine an Esrolian priestess-queen spending lots of time mulling over whether or not someone committed X crime. And as far as I recall, most of the examples from Hammurabi's code are pretty immediate--he's a real big fan of lopping off body parts.

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Even in Nochet, there isn't really what we would recognise as centralised law enforcement. People in Nochet belong to kinship groups, cults, or are under the protection of one of these. The queen is the head of the Ernalda cult and a member of one of the most powerful kinship groups (and takes husbands from other powerful groups). Her prerogatives are backed up by bodyguards, vast wealth, and sacred authority. But she doesn't have law enforcement officers patrolling the streets to enforce order. She doesn't have prisons. Heck, she doesn't usually get involved in "justice" except when two disputing groups come to her - example, member of the Norinel subcult (the City Goddess) steals something from House Delaiano and gets caught. House Delaiano proposes to cut off her hand, but our thief has a religious right to appeal to the Queen for meditation. So both parties go to the queen, and instead of a maiming, our thief pays a fine to Delaiano.

Prison simply doesn't exist as a punishment.

Edited by Jeff
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I'm currently writing an adventure that involves breaking Pinfeather out of the Duck Point city gaol. I've always imagined that duck gaols look like the one Flash is thrown into in Flash Gordon (1980): just a cage in the Marsh. Or local pond. With lots of quicksand nearby. (Quicksand's nowhere near as prominent a thing in life as I thought it'd be as a kid...)

 

FlashSwampCage.jpg

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From what I've read, the precursor of the modern prison (ie extended incarceration) is the Monastery - the perp take religious vows and spends the rest of his life at a monastery (which could resemlble Oz/Prison Break/Orange is the New Black/Porridge).  But that's really a punishment the judges are likely to consider for the well-connected when using traditional punishments (whippings, multilations etc) would bring shame on the perp's clan.

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On 4/14/2019 at 11:27 PM, hkokko said:

What about ordinary prison time

What's a "prison"?!  

Seriously, it doesn't really seem to fit the Bronze Age world theme.  The Salt Mines of Pavis are probably the best example of a "prison", or one of the Lunar slave farms.

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18 hours ago, jajagappa said:

What's a "prison"?!  

Seriously, it doesn't really seem to fit the Bronze Age world theme.  The Salt Mines of Pavis are probably the best example of a "prison", or one of the Lunar slave farms.

Exactly. Search the ancient cities for signs of prisons as we know them today and you won't find any. The closest is the Tullianum of Rome, which was simply a holding center for those awaiting execution, like Vercingetorix or Sejanus.

Instead, you'd be sentenced to hard labor, which makes the salt mines of Pavis a great example. And a great adventure seed...

Edited by Ultor

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Hard labor seems to have the same problems with magical persons (and everyone is in Glorantha). How would you deal with that...

I remember GM'ing the MOB prison scenario set in far reaches of Sun County many years ago. At the time did not consider the magic may return etc problems of 

Regarding prisons: 

 

This simplistic source: https://www.ancient-origins.net/history-ancient-traditions/prisons-and-imprisonment-ancient-world-punishments-used-maintain-public-020588

Mesopotamian Imprisonment 

The earliest known use of imprisonment as a form of punishment can be traced to the Mesopotamian civilization. In the oldest known surviving law code, the Code of Ur-Nammu , it is written that: 

If a man commits a kidnapping, he is to be imprisoned and pay 15 shekels of silver. 

In another Mesopotamian law code, the famous Code of Hammurabi , it is written: 

If anyone has a claim for corn or money upon another and imprisons him; if the prisoner dies in prison a natural death, the case shall go no further. 
If the prisoner dies in prison from blows or maltreatment, the master of the prisoner shall convict the merchant before the judge. If he was a free-born man, the son of the merchant shall be put to death; if it was a slave, he shall pay one-third of a mina of gold, and all that the master of the prisoner gave he shall forfeit. 

It was not favoured - "Rather than imprisonment, the Mesopotamians had a preference for the use of criminals for forced labor. "

So if we want to have prisons and hard labor (and who wouldn't) we need to figure out how to handle the magical prisoners...

 

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..another mention was found here http://see.news/interested-in-knowing-more-about-prisons-in-ancient-egypt/ and a bit more here http://www.prisonhistory.net/prison-history/history-of-prisons/

Prisons can be interesting hooks / threats etc for the game so I would not rule them out but would consider what needs to be done for them to be part of thematic rich world. 

 

Edited by hkokko

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Fazzur had a solution how to imprison Hofstaring. The Lunars also managed to imprison Grazer King  Jardanroste Redhair in an escape-proof but not sneak-visit-proof magical prison.

This sounds like you need access to  and control over a bit of the Otherworld - most likely the Underworld. Places like Alkoth, the Blackmaw in the Antones Estates at Nochet, or the Necropolis further inland in Esrolia would make good prison places, too.

The Red Moon offers some prison camp possibilities, too.

In Prax, you could have a prison in the Winter Ruins, smack dab in the middle of the Dead Place. I would allow an alchemist to collect Dead Place material (IMO salt), "distil" its properties further and make it an application to draw sigils on prisoners which reduce the magic flow, too.

 

Magical removal of a vital organ and keeping that in a well guarded place would create some form of chain that blocks escape and give the guards a means to make the prisoner go catatonic in case of transgressions.

Ongoing torture was what shaped Sheng Seleris, but most such penitents get broken, or as the Danfive Xaron cult puts it, healed.

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On 4/15/2019 at 4:27 AM, hkokko said:

What about ordinary prison time, no ransoms at all. 

For example thieves and other criminals, people who have not paid their debt and may go to prison for a debt, even merchants who have broken laws. Any additional views this brings..

Pavis has the Salt Mines, where prisoners do hard labour for the duration of their sentences.

I think the Crimson Bat writeup said that people empty the prisons to provide food for the Bat, so that implies that there are prisons.

Serious crimes are often punished by mutilation or death, especially with Heortling's eye for an eye culture. So, prisons are really applicable for those. Perhaps there are holding cells where mutilated or executed people are kept for a week, so Regrow Limb and Resurrection don't work.

 

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12 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Red Moon offers some prison camp possibilities, too.

In my Lunar army camps I've generally placed stockades at the center where they place rebels, bandits, thieves, etc. until they can dispense justice or execute them. All weapons are taken, and the Lunar magicians place a warding upon the stockade.

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Just now, jajagappa said:

In my Lunar army camps I've generally placed stockades at the center where they place rebels, bandits, thieves, etc. until they can dispense justice or execute them. All weapons are taken, and the Lunar magicians place a warding upon the stockade.

How does this keep them from teleporting or DIing away?

Divine Intervention could be blocked or at least made difficult by sanctifying the ground. (Which might make an interesting battle tactic...) The RQG rules aren't entirely clear on this.

p.272

Quote

Divine intervention has the same sort of limitations as Divination.

p.271

Quote

There are many things that a god cannot tell or find out. Most significantly, a god does not know of events pertaining to another deity or that deity’s worshipers, especially events occurring within “foreign” (i.e., belonging to other gods) sacred or temple grounds.

However, p.271

Quote

initiates and Rune Masters are extensions of the deity, and can tell the deity many things through prayer. Thus, a deity will know what has happened to its Rune  Masters and, to a lesser extent, its initiates.

Which would explain p.272

Quote

An anti-Chaos party, consisting of a Zorak Zoran leader, and Storm Bull, Babeester Gor, and Orlanth followers should be able to escape a Thanatar temple, if the leader calls upon Zorak Zoran and the god responds.

So apparently escaping from the sanctum of the enemy via DI appears possible. In that case, a sanctified prison won't help much, either.

Blindfolding will hamper non-guided teleport.

Is there a Gloranthan equivalent to Wheel of Time's forkroot tea which disrupted a magician's ability to draw on magic?

Otherwise, spirit possession might be the way to knock out a magical prisoner for good.

Or possibly elementals as magical shackles. That does take either volunteer elementals or some hefty amount of Extension on their Command spells, but imagine a prison ground which extends shackles of elemental earth, allowing movement within the compound but not away from it, or chains of moonglow attaching the prisoners to one or several posts outside of their control. Engulfing a shackled prisoner might be an unopposed attack.

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37 minutes ago, Joerg said:

How does this keep them from teleporting or DIing away?

It didn't particularly!  The characters escaped by being swallowed by a Trickster and finding a secret door in his gut that led into the Otherworld. 

38 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Divine Intervention could be blocked or at least made difficult by sanctifying the ground. (Which might make an interesting battle tactic...)

Likely if the Lunar camp had been one of the Heartland Corps' or Lunar College of Magic, it would have been more difficult.  This was just the camp of Andrega Silverflame and her vexilla.

40 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Is there a Gloranthan equivalent to Wheel of Time's forkroot tea which disrupted a magician's ability to draw on magic?

It's an option I've thought of before, and there definitely is in my Glorantha (though I've not yet had occasion to determine what it is called).

41 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Otherwise, spirit possession might be the way to knock out a magical prisoner for good.

Good use of certain Passion spirits, e.g. Madness spirits, Pain spirits, Grief spirits, even Lethargy spirits.

42 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Or possibly elementals as magical shackles.

That also has a good feel to it.

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15 hours ago, jajagappa said:

It didn't particularly!  The characters escaped by being swallowed by a Trickster and finding a secret door in his gut that led into the Otherworld. 

That's why you cannot hold powerful PCs or NPCs. If you think that having Runemagic is bad, then having HeroQuesting magic is far, far worse.

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49 minutes ago, soltakss said:

That's why you cannot hold powerful PCs or NPCs.

It's like what Fazzur had to do with Hofstaring - banish him to a Lunar Hell.  Plenty of old forgotten places to put these powerful foes in the Otherworld where they can't readily get back from.

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