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Prisoners

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
So I was reading the thread about the intimidation skill, and it got my pondering, how does your group handle prisoners? It's always been an area o e struggled with, the options as I see it are:

  1. Take no prisoners, not especially heroic or 'good'
  2. Bind them and take them with you. Seems ok but can lead to a host of problems as you are responsible for their well being, and also the danger of them trying to sabotage you.
  3. Strip them of all but a few basic possessions and send them packing, again this could come back to haunt you as they may return to extract retribution
  4. Secure them in a room and sort them later when the immediate threat is dealt with, I think this is the best option but not always possible.
Again it is circumstancial but I'm thinking in a standard dungeon crawl scenario by default.
 

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Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
It depends on the group...and the specifics...but usually we tend to take prisoners of a few higher ups and tell the lower level ones to "not let me see you around here again".

If the beings are particularly evil, or have done really extra evil things, then they might not get taken prisoner unless there is something to be gained from them being in captivity.

METAGAMING: After the second or third time my character takes a prisoner only to have them escape (Batman's entire lifetime of work) or lets someone go only to have them come back and attack us again (the german soldier from Saving Private Ryan) they aren't going to let it happen again. No more prisoners from that point unless there is a REALLY good reason for doing so. I once got the stink eye from the rest of the party for offering an evil mage we had just defeated one of two fates...either we cut off your head or your hands.

GMs....don't keep punishing your players for being Good.
 

aco175

Hero
Lately, since 5e started, my main group has been letting them go. A few times a monster like a goblin surrenders and grovels for his life. The PCs talk to him and get any information before sending him on his way- sometimes with threats if he is seen again. Only a couple times has he come back with problems for the PCs.

I think some of the how they are treated is based on the DM and how the game is run. Similar to checking every door if the DM likes to throw traps and such. If the DM is punishing the players for things, then the players react in the way that avoids the confrontation.
 

Cadence

Hero
Supporter
The three ten-to-twelve year olds I'm DMing for:
  • Offered to let two surviving Kobolds join them. One decided it was a good deal, the other ran away later.
  • Made a deal with the Bugbear Witch (who knew the cure to what ailed their village) and agreed they would leave each other alone
  • Sent the two surviving bandits tied-up and in custody of the bandits' two captives who were going to the next village.

So far they've always tried to stop the fallen foes from dying if they weren't dead yet. They also try to capture anything vaguely an animal that attacks them to try and tame. I suggested to one last night that the Ankheg might not be safely trainable even if they did stop it from dying. He rethought and let it go.

Edit: Let the idea of taming it go. They probably would have let it escape if it gave them a choice.
 
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Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
The three ten-to-twelve year olds I'm DMing for:
  • Offered to let two surviving Kobolds join them. One decided it was a good deal, the other ran away later.
  • Made a deal with the Bugbear Witch (who knew the cure to what ailed their village) and agreed they would leave each other alone
  • Sent the two surviving bandits tied-up and in custody of the bandits' two captives who were going to the next village.

So far they've always tried to stop the fallen foes from dying if they weren't dead yet. They also try to capture anything vaguely an animal that attacks them to try and tame. I suggested to one last night that the Ankheg might not be safely trainable even if they did stop it from dying. He rethought and let it go.
I don't think I could resist the urge to have a "teachable moment" scene where a trusty or loved captured animal saw a mate or pack in the distance and yearned for freedom.

Good on the kids for being kind by default! Tell them random internet stranger gives them a thumbs up.
 

Jd Smith1

Adventurer
In the last eighteen years with my current group, they keep a policy of no quarter given or asked. Occasionally they will take a prisoner for the purpose of 'vigorous interrogation' and then a summary execution. Otherwise, a foe surrendering is simply an easy kill.

In our current campaign (Degenesis setting) they take the occasional prisoner so the Judge PC can have them stand trial (on the spot, with him presiding), which nearly always results in execution.
 

Nilbog

Snotling Herder
The reason I ask is that it causes such decision paralysis for the group I DM for, they agonise for so long over what to do that it brings the session almost to a halt. I now tend to have foes fight to the death just to avoid the situation.

Even as I DM I've tried to emphasize ( without straight out telling them) that letting creatures live isn't always bad, but they still have the paranoia that anything left alive will come back to haunt them, even though on the rare occasions it happens it never has.
 


aramis erak

Adventurer
So I was reading the thread about the intimidation skill, and it got my pondering, how does your group handle prisoners? It's always been an area o e struggled with, the options as I see it are:

  1. Take no prisoners, not especially heroic or 'good'
  2. Bind them and take them with you. Seems ok but can lead to a host of problems as you are responsible for their well being, and also the danger of them trying to sabotage you.
  3. Strip them of all but a few basic possessions and send them packing, again this could come back to haunt you as they may return to extract retribution
  4. Secure them in a room and sort them later when the immediate threat is dealt with, I think this is the best option but not always possible.
Again it is circumstancial but I'm thinking in a standard dungeon crawl scenario by default.
Mine have done all of that and beyond... in a supers campaign, the part deposited some NPC supers into a prison in another dimension.
"Hire them" has happened a few times, and make them a party member a couple times.
 

aco175

Hero
We have had a group of bandits surrender and it turned into a plot point where they were mostly farmers trying to not starve. It led to a group blackmailing all the locals to do their bidding. The PCs even gave them gold in the end. The farmers ended up fixing the road and making a decent wagon stop out of it with the PCs help.

I had a goblin fight that the PCs just stepped in and offered gold for information rather than just fighting. They ended up finding out the location of the boars they were hunting and left only to return with one of the boars to give to the goblins since they had killed three and could not get them back to town.

Side note; the group had been more free with gold in 5e since there appears to be less to spend it on. Like the goblins, they will walk into bars and just buy everyone a drink.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
As I just noted in another thread - taking prisoners is a thing large organizations do. Police, military, and intelligence organizations take prisoners, because they have resources that can be dedicated to the management of those prisoners.

Your typical D&D group of five do-gooder vigilante adventurers do not have reources for managing prisoners. So, no stuff it becomes a problem.
 

As I just noted in another thread - taking prisoners is a thing large organizations do. Police, military, and intelligence organizations take prisoners, because they have resources that can be dedicated to the management of those prisoners.

Your typical D&D group of five do-gooder vigilante adventurers do not have reources for managing prisoners. So, no stuff it becomes a problem.
Exactly.

In most games I’ve played, and all the ones I run, prisoners are the exception not the rule.

Even for organizations larger and with more resources than an adventuring party, a prisoner is someone exceptional who has notable value alive.

Otherwise, the LG Paladin-approved result for surrendered baddies is a quick death. The evil sorts tend to do the same, it just tends to take a lot longer.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Otherwise, the LG Paladin-approved result for surrendered baddies is a quick death.
So, you have different paladins where I come from (which is okay, just noting the difference, though).

The LG Paladin-approved result of surrendered mooks is, "Throw down your weapons and depart, post-haste. If we see you again we will consider it that you have broken your parole, and no further quarter will be given."

And, so long as you aren't a Rat Bastard GM and not matching your game to the player's preferred genre, that works and is fine. Arguments of the form, "But in reality..." do not enter into it.
 

uzirath

Adventurer
When I run games for younger children, they usually take prisoners, treat them well, and release them (often with gifts). Admittedly, they haven't read Game of Thrones yet.

With my adult groups (whether as a player or GM), what to do with captives is a regular challenge. Often captives provide opportunities for good roleplaying and to learn more about the enemy. In recent games, any of the following have occurred:
  • Left bound for others to deal with.
  • Turned over to the authorities.
  • Convinced and/or paid to work with the party (whether as henchmen or spies).
  • Allowed to flee into the wilderness.
  • Prisoners convinced the party that they were working for the wrong team (or at least that the ethical issues at stake weren't as simple as their patron had led them to believe).
I ran a campaign a while back where the PCs were in a series of adventures featuring the same villain. They were alternately captors and captives of the guy and got to know him quite well. Later in the campaign, they ended up working with him against a mutual enemy. (Oh the glorious debates that raged around that decision!)
 

Jd Smith1

Adventurer
So, you have different paladins where I come from (which is okay, just noting the difference, though).

The LG Paladin-approved result of surrendered mooks is, "Throw down your weapons and depart, post-haste. If we see you again we will consider it that you have broken your parole, and no further quarter will be given."
I've never seen LG paladins run that way. Turning evil creatures loose to wreak havoc upon the common folk? Inconceivable. Major alignment failure for aiding the machinations of evil at the expense of the innocent. Welcome to life as a plain fighter.

Of course, I quit using alignments a long time ago precisely because of these sort of debates. Now in the rare occasions I run fantasy, paladins oaths are to kill evil creatures and thwart their efforts. And the 'nits become lice' argument is a cornerstone.
 

Eric V

Hero
I've never seen LG paladins run that way. Turning evil creatures loose to wreak havoc upon the common folk? Inconceivable. Major alignment failure for aiding the machinations of evil at the expense of the innocent. Welcome to life as a plain fighter.

Of course, I quit using alignments a long time ago precisely because of these sort of debates. Now in the rare occasions I run fantasy, paladins oaths are to kill evil creatures and thwart their efforts. And the 'nits become lice' argument is a cornerstone.
Do the paladins run campaigns of genocide against orcs, goblins, et al? I imagine they would.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I've never seen LG paladins run that way. Turning evil creatures loose to wreak havoc upon the common folk?
So, that's a genre choice thing. If you've never seen it, you've just always made that particular genre choice the same way.

Of course, I quit using alignments a long time ago precisely because of these sort of debates.
So, you see, without alignments, what I say is easier, because you don't have to justify "alignment change", or worry about "evil creatures loose" or anything like that. They are just creatures. They can be convinced to be different.
 


Jd Smith1

Adventurer
So, you see, without alignments, what I say is easier, because you don't have to justify "alignment change", or worry about "evil creatures loose" or anything like that. They are just creatures. They can be convinced to be different.
Trying to convince them might work. Killing them always works.

Therefore, if you truly care about the innocent, there is only one course open to you.
 

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