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Dedicated Prison

Dedicated Prison
Isometrical perspective of Pentonville Prison, 1840-42, engineer Joshua Jebb. Report of the Surveyor-General of Prisons, London, 1844. Image reproduced in Mayhew, Criminal Prisons of London, London, 1862

Crime and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

In a dedicated prison,  prisoners are kept in cells sealed with iron doors and the best locks gold can buy (Hardness 10, 60 hit points, break DC 28, Open Lock DC 40). Usually the door will be considered sufficient to hold you  in and you wonĀ’t be restrained. However, if you are a known spellcaster  or escape risk, you may be placed in masterwork manacles (Hardness 10, 10 hit  points, break DC 28, Escape Artist DC 35, Open Lock DC 30) or an iron pillory  (Hardness 10, 60 hit points, break DC 30, Escape Artist DC 35, Open Lock DC 30); a  spellcaster will also be gagged.

Note that while hung in manacles or placed  in a pillory you don’t have sufficient range of movement to try to pick  the locks on your restraints. monks  or other characters who are considered to be escape risks or dangerous unarmed  combatants may be placed in loose wrist manacles and bar ankle manacles  these aren’t hung from the wall, but are merely encumbering enough to limit  the chance of escape or attack.

Such manacles will probably  be of average quality (Hardness 10, 10 hit points, break DC 26, Escape Artist DC 30, Open Lock DC 20). If  two prisoners are forced to share a cell, they may be chained together at the  ankles; this can make for rather comical escape attempts. The interior walls  will be typically be thick stone (Hardness 8, 180 hit points, break DC 40).

Newgate Exercise yard by Gustave Dore , from ā€˜London : A pilgrimageā€™ by Gustave Dore and Blanchard Jerrold 1872
Newgate Exercise yard by Gustave Dore , from ā€˜London : A pilgrimageā€™ by Gustave Dore and Blanchard Jerrold 1872

In any dedicated prison whether it’s a city jail or a full-fledged prison tower the guards will take care to strip you of any useful equipment. If you’re considered a serious escape risk, a guard may take 20 on a Search check in an attempt to find thieves tools, spell components, or anything else  that could help you in an escape. It’s possible to use Open  Lock or Disable Device without  proper tools; if you can create makeshift tools, you only take a -2 circumstance  penalty to your check. However, a watchful guard will try to keep a cell clear  of any materials that could be used to create picks. You’ll have to use  your imagination to see what you can come up with; if you can filch a writing  quill off the sheriff’s desk, that might do the trick. Otherwise, the GM can impose up to a -5 circumstance penalty for having to use completely  inadequate materials.

In a tower, you will probably  have a barred window in your cell. Bending iron bars requires a Strength check  (DC 24). A Small creature could slip through a window after the bars had been bent  but the frame of the window is generally too small for any Medium  creature to try this. The walls themselves are made of thick stone (Hardness  8, 360 hit points, break DC 42). A prison will always contain a few windowless  cells for dangerous criminals  so if you squeeze out the window and are  later recaptured, don’t expect another room with a view.

As for the guards themselves, like the simple dungeon the levels of the guards will vary based on the size of the community. A metropolis will have more capable troops than a small town. However, the guards of a dedicated prison will generally be well trained. A typical prison could be managed by a Watch Captain (Human Fighter 7), with four Guard Officers (Human Fighter 4) as lieutenants, and 12 Turnkeys (Human Warrior 5) to round out the staff. In a major metropolis, these levels might be doubled, and it’s own Guard (Human Warrior 3) increased by a factor of five.

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