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Prisons, improvement, captivity in Runequest & Glorantha


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2 hours ago, boradicus said:

Would this have been true in Thomas of Beckett's time?

If you are referring as to why Thomas Beckett was murdered instead of imprisoned, the knights that killed him initially went there to detain him.  But he insulted them rather spectacularly, causing them to run him through.  

That said, Beckett is rather removed from Glorantha and a better question to ask would be where in Glorantha do prison monasteries exist?

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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)

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 Otherwise bind arms to

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 co

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7 minutes ago, metcalph said:

That said, Beckett is rather removed from Glorantha and a better question to ask would be where in Glorantha do prison monasteries exist?

We know about them in Kralorela - Sheng Seleris emerged from one after spending a century in one. I suppose that Danfive Xaron barracks are similar.

Sun County retirement towers appear to be semi-voluntary imprisonment to escape execution or excommunication.

 

All of these are somewhat involved with mysticism. Do martial arts dojos count as monasteries? Theyalans don't appear to have much track with monasteries otherwise, discounting libraries, hospitals or sword halls.

 

We know about Malkioni monasteries which house zzaburi concentrating on their joint studies, like the one brought to Jonatela by Jonat. But there might be lay brothers and/or sisters performing the everyday tasks for them rather than just regular tenants, under supervision of the wizards.

 

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4 hours ago, metcalph said:

If you are referring as to why Thomas Beckett was murdered instead of imprisoned, the knights that killed him initially went there to detain him.  But he insulted them rather spectacularly, causing them to run him through.  

That said, Beckett is rather removed from Glorantha and a better question to ask would be where in Glorantha do prison monasteries exist?

No, that wasn't the gist, actually.  I was more interested in the tensions between Becket and the Crown over who could try and judge the clergy.  I thought perhaps that those relations might have been more inflamed due to the tradition you mentioned.

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8 hours ago, Joerg said:

All of these are somewhat involved with mysticism. Do martial arts dojos count as monasteries?

Regardless of whether are or not, they would be highly unsuitable as prisons.  You want to keep prisoners locked up, not taught powerful magics and the ability to break out!

 

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On 4/14/2019 at 6:54 PM, 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.

In our RQG game last week we fortuitously managed to temporarily knock out a giant who was about to go on a rampage, after freeing him from Red Cow clan thralldom. As giants are naturally contrary, having him swear an Oath not to take vengeance on the Red Cow didn't work. So to get him tractable again and then as far away from the Red Cow lands as possible, we got him stupefied on Hazia.

*BTW, my character, Narses the Chalana Arroy Healer freed and healed the giant. He also freely joined the Oath, in order to convince the giant to take part. If the giant ever does come back to wreak vengeance, both he and Narses will cop a POW 77 Sever Spirit. (Not the first Sever Spirit Narses has faced down...)

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1 hour ago, metcalph said:

Regardless of whether are or not, they would be highly unsuitable as prisons.  You want to keep prisoners locked up, not taught powerful magics and the ability to break out!

One German word for a type of prison is "Besserungsanstalt", improvement (or adjustment) institution. The goal of such a prison would be to reform the character undergoing the procedure there, and IMO that's clearly what was the goal of the Kralori when they put Sheng into that camp. It is the ideology of the Danfive Xaron cult, too.

The use of prison as a revenge agency is a very authoritarian view of that institution. What is the purpose of a prison sentence? Stealing a significant portion of the inmates lifetime as partial exoneration for their misdeeds? Or is is an attempt to re-educate the inmate to be a productive member of society (or to come to heel to the party line), possibly by breaking everything that isn't?

IMO incarceration in a monastery would be in all likelihood an attempt at re-educating and reforming the individual to conform if not to general society then at least to the limited society the monastic life offers.

Yes, this was abused by taking people out of eligibility for inherited positions by altering their caste (or standing) from noble to priestly. But in societies where nobility and kingship is sacerdotal in nature (like the Theyalan and Pelorian), this doesn't quite work, or it works analogous to what the Kralori attempted to do to Sheng. In the Malkioni culture, caste isn't subject to re-assignment unless you follow the New Idealist Hrestoli way (where attaining wizard rank is a promotion, not a demotion).

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I don't think modern theories about the prison work well in Glorantha considering they are fairly unsophisticated bronze age societies.  They stick people in monasteries not to reform them but because a) they don't want said people at large causing trouble or getting on the nerves of the rulers and b) they don't want to have the said people executed with the insult offered to the kin.  Ideas about reforming a prisoner's personality with an eye to his eventual release are irrelevant - the prisoners are sent to the monastery with a lifetime commitment to the gods and to escape would be a repudiation of that commitment.

If you want people imprisoned for a shorter time, then the best solution is to hold them captive for a ransom and put them to work using their skills.  If the jailor's particularly enterprising, he might let certain criminals ply their trade (robbery, prostitution) outside the prison so long as they return and share their proceeds.

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10 hours ago, Joerg said:

Sun County retirement towers appear to be semi-voluntary imprisonment to escape execution or excommunication.

Yes. But until recently (at the Sun Dome Temple in Prax), ordinary punishments were expeditious: beatings, whippings or fines for minor crimes; mutilations or death (by various means) for serious offences.  Traditionally, prisoners were only held in custody until their trial and whatever punishment followed.

"As of 1621, the Count's mines [at Pent Ridge] have only been open for seven years.  Sun Dome justice is still adapting to the need for laborers to be sent out there to work them.  By tradition, established during Sun County's long period of isolation during the Solitude of Testing, punishments and penalties are usually exacted expeditiously: beatings, whippings or fines for minor crimes; mutilations or death (by various means) for serious offences.  Traditionally, prisoners were only held in custody until their trial and whatever punishment followed.  However, since the reopening of Pent Ridge, Count Solanthos has enthusiastically embraced the concept of penal servitude, and many of those who come before him can expect to serve a spell in the mines.  This includes foreigners who fall foul of the law, even those rounded up to play antagonist roles in Sun Dome rituals (if they lose, and live).

"Beg the Count to pluck out your eyes rather than send you to Pent Ridge." 
- Sun Domer adage

The Sun Domers in Prax do not keep (human) slaves. Until the mines reopened, Sun Domers in Prax would normally quickly ransom Praxians, using their Yelmalio counterparts in the tribes as brokers. They don't take trolls prisoners at all; they are immediately and summarily killed. 

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13 minutes ago, metcalph said:

I don't think modern theories about the prison work well in Glorantha considering they are fairly unsophisticated bronze age societies.  They stick people in monasteries not to reform them but because a) they don't want said people at large causing trouble or getting on the nerves of the rulers and b) they don't want to have the said people executed with the insult offered to the kin.  Ideas about reforming a prisoner's personality with an eye to his eventual release are irrelevant - the prisoners are sent to the monastery with a lifetime commitment to the gods and to escape would be a repudiation of that commitment.

Though some certainly retire to a tower voluntarily, these are the same reasons why you might get sent to one in Sun County. The retirement towers are a means to put someone inconvenient out of the way without killing them, in which everyone involved saves face.

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8 minutes ago, MOB said:

Yes. But until recently (at the Sun Dome Temple in Prax), ordinary punishments were expeditious: beatings, whippings or fines for minor crimes; mutilations or death (by various means) for serious offences.  Traditionally, prisoners were only held in custody until their trial and whatever punishment followed.

So basically, going Hammurabi.

Do Templar units have different rules for what incurs punishment, and what kind of punishment, than what applies to non-Templars?

 

8 minutes ago, MOB said:

The Sun Domers in Prax do not keep (human) slaves.

That tells me that the do keep non-human slaves. Obviously not trollkin, so this leaves them with newtlings and the outlier dragonewt manservant of Belvani. Anyone else? Durulz?

 

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In pretty much every Gloranthan human culture in the greater Dragon Pass area, punishment for crimes is one of the following - pay a fine, be exiled, be enslaved, or be killed. Of course, if you can't pay the fine but your crime is insufficient to be killed or exiled, then you might become an indentured worker.

People might be held in a safe place until they either pay their fine or are killed - but the idea of imprisoning folk to "serve their time" as a punishment is likely unknown.

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I am minded of ancient Rome where prisons were used to either hold people awaiting legal action, or subsequently (and not for very long) for execution (which could involve strangulation etc. or later being sent as fodder for the Games); 'detention' included being made a debt-slave. You have to go several centuries after the end of the Republic to find prisons holding people as a punishment.

In ancient Mesopotamia, several law codes included imprisonment, but this wasn't by the state but the injured party, often with several penalties if the prisoner was seriously harmed; it is unclear how the prisoner was released save by paying their debt and a fine. States preferred to have the 'prisoners' employed in work gangs.

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In a general way, I feel as long slavery (or even indenture) is allowed in a society, the idea of depriving someone from his freedom as a punishment does not really need prison ...

And in a place/society where surviving alone is very difficult and groups tend to reject any outsiders (thinking about Prax here), banishment (or casting away from the regular social life at a minimum) sounds like a very natural punishment (and much more practical than prison too).

Thus, I see prisons existing only in societies living in big groups accepting outsiders (like big cities) where slavery/indenture is forbidden. 

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Binding hands or confining arms in the stocks will stop people casting lesser magic. However, this is very dangerous. Medieval records refer to a man and woman being confined in the stocks for the crime of 'being masterless' (having no one to vouch for them) and they were constrained for three days. The man lost both feet and the woman lost her left hand.

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As an aside, one of the punishments for crimes against the Red Emperor is to be fed to the Crimson Bat. The Bat needs to eat about 10,000 people a year, and so criminals are often the first to go.

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

As an aside, one of the punishments for crimes against the Red Emperor is to be fed to the Crimson Bat. The Bat needs to eat about 10,000 people a year, and so criminals are often the first to go.

Calculating from the data in the Bestiary, its minimum requirements is 100 people a week, which calculates to a minimal appetite of 4200 souls per year. Its wartime appetite is 500 to 1000 souls a week (it will be satisfied eating a cavalry unit), which calculates to a minimum of 21,000 victims if kept at wartime hunger for the whole year. Usually way more.

The risk of the Bat coming along to visit might actually be a point for incarceration or press-ganging criminals rather than performing direct executions - you would want to keep as large a buffer between the Bat and yourself and your family as possible. For that same reason, you wouldn't send criminals off to the bat, except for your worst enemies.

In case of a missed feeding, do lay members of the Bat count as Lunar cultists? How long does such lay membership last?

Note that the hungry bat won't stop feeding on non-Lunars, they just don't satisfy its hunger any more.

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2 minutes ago, Rob Darvall said:

Going back to ransom, what kept the officers in the napoleonic era from breaching their parole? There was enough cross channel traffic that breach would have been comparatively easy. A similar mechanism may apply at least within cultures.

I don't think parole applies in the case of gloranthan ransom.  The captors keep the captive until the ransom has been paid.  Then the captive is free to do as he likes, even to the extent of attacking his former captors again.  If caught again, he has no ransom so they may kill him quickly  or for long as they like.

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1 minute ago, metcalph said:

I don't think parole applies in the case of gloranthan ransom.  The captors keep the captive until the ransom has been paid.  Then the captive is free to do as he likes, even to the extent of attacking his former captors again.  If caught again, he has no ransom so they may kill him quickly  or for long as they like.

Not thinking of it as specifically the Napoleonic parole, but more in terms of what prevented the breach?  A sufficiently powerful Gloranthan could simply flee the situation, as could an officer who"d given their parole. Why would/did they not? Also, is this a RW example that militates against pragmatic munchkinnery?

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8 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

Not thinking of it as specifically the Napoleonic parole, but more in terms of what prevented the breach?  A sufficiently powerful Gloranthan could simply flee the situation, as could an officer who"d given their parole. Why would/did they not? Also, is this a RW example that militates against pragmatic munchkinnery?

If they are sufficiently powerful enough to escape despite being locked up in chains  then they wouldn't have been caught in the first place?  I'm not seeing the issue you have and the lack of detail really doesn't help.

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8 hours ago, metcalph said:

If caught again, he has no ransom so they may kill him quickly  or for long as they like.

Where does this come from?

Sure, the individual's credit rating with the cult will have taken a hit, and the ransom backed by the cult may be a lot lower than last time, but no ransom at all doesn't sound right to me. After all, the cult may or will ask for (and likely get) some recompensation from the individual's other ties, like the clan, or other such solidarity institutions (warrior societies?). In the end, the individual will be expected to make up for the expenditures on his behalf, and then some good will bonus.

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Don't forget the giving and taking of ransom nearly always consists of the giving of perilous oaths.
These are in essence a Divine Intervention asking your god, or the god of honour, to strike you down if you violate the ransom conditions.
When playing these oaths should be made in full so the GM has a handle on what sort of effect can be expected. "May Orlanth strike me with a Levin-Bolt if I try to escape" is pretty clear but "May Humakt strike me dead" is an indication that a Sever Spirit is coming your way.

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10 hours ago, Joerg said:

Where does this come from?

Sure, the individual's credit rating with the cult will have taken a hit,

Who said anything about Cults?

I didn't know Cults were credit lending institutions.  Ransom for most gloranthans who have one is their own wealth stored with some friendlies to be paid out in the event of capture.  That's how it is depicted in RQ2.

10 hours ago, Joerg said:

and the ransom backed by the cult may be a lot lower than last time, but no ransom at all doesn't sound right to me.

Look at it from the captor's point of view.  We caught him once before and got his ransom.  We just caught him again.  Why should we believe our captive's promises that more money will be forthcoming?

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1 hour ago, ChalkLine said:

Don't forget the giving and taking of ransom nearly always consists of the giving of perilous oaths.

But in Glorantha, the only effective perilous oath is a runespell (For example Oath, 2pts RQG p336).  I find it difficult to believe that any oath sworn without the presence of such kind of magic will be effective.  One could argue that swearing by one's god and breaking it will incur divine displeasure but what if the captors were sworn enemies of your God?  What if the God's worshippers had a tradition that such oaths given under duress are null and void?

 

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26 minutes ago, metcalph said:

But in Glorantha, the only effective perilous oath is a runespell (For example Oath, 2pts RQG p336).  I find it difficult to believe that any oath sworn without the presence of such kind of magic will be effective.  One could argue that swearing by one's god and breaking it will incur divine displeasure but what if the captors were sworn enemies of your God?  What if the God's worshippers had a tradition that such oaths given under duress are null and void?

 

Your god wouldn't care what the situation is, only your intent.
Gloranthan gods aren't necessarily benign. They can be quite jealous of their prerogatives and swearing on your god should be a serious thing. I think restricting oaths to a rune spell is doing the game a disservice

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