Mark S. Cookman
10 Prisons You'll Likely Die In
Well, we've made it once again to Friday. Today, we conclude our crime and punishment theme with a collection of prisons. In story-telling, there are generally two types of prisons. The type that might appear as part of a character history, i.e., no matter how tough its reputation, it is ultimately the type that you come back from. The prisons listed below are decidedly of the second type. The type that no one is ever meant to visit or return from. Listed below is a collection of dark and hidden places, far from prying eyes and helping hands, where hundreds have been sent to die. These are nasty, unfriendly, and thoroughly dangerous places that only true adventurers would visit by choice.
Prison adventures usually revolve around one of three major themes: rescue, espionage, or escape. Rescues are when one (or more) PC's or NPC's must be removed from the prison and taken somewhere safe. Espionage adventures might involve collecting some knowledge or item from either a prisoner (or his effects) without getting caught. Escapes are probably the most common type of prison adventure, in which the goal is to get all of the party free from the prison. Below are some things that might help you as you craft your prison adventure.
Below are the tools that you can use to make your own prison adventure that your players will remember, maybe even without hating you. ; ) I hope that you find them useful.
First, you'll need a good plan for your prison. Luckily, Roleplaying Tips Weekly E-Zine Issue #382 covered that pretty well.
Next, you'll need some general NPC's for both guards and prisoners. This might help with that.
Of course, you'll need a map. If you are a talented and artistic sort, then you won't need any help with this. However, if you couldn't draw the map of a smily-face without it looking wrong (like me), then you might be able to find a suitable prison map here or here.
Personally, I find background sounds to be one of the best add-ons for RPG's. With that in mind, here are some fantastic Prison Sounds for your typical medieval prison.
Finally, I also like to use pictures to get my players more involved in the story. Here are some Prison Pictures that might help to inspire either you or your players.
Below are the penal institutions promised you in the title. I hope they get your brain flowing and allow you to develop something great to wow your players with. Here are the 10 Prisons You'll Likely Die In. As always, Happy Gaming!
The Wakefield - Once a proud ship in the royal fleet, this broken hulk now serves as a political prison. The hulk is anchored over a razor sharp reef that it sits upon at low tide and rises just above at high tide. It leaks; it stinks; and its location is kept secret. Three ships share the responsibility for patrolling the waters near the prison. No one has ever been released from The Wakefield. If anyone has ever escaped The Wakefield, then they are keeping it to themselves.
The Minaret of Atonement - This is a tall desert tower in which the wicked might be made to atone for their misdeeds. A fallen Deva serves as the warden of the prison and the leader of the guardian order of monks who dedicate their lives to those at the prison. The guilty are chained to the inside walls of the high rising citadel. The monks maintain songs of worship and atonement while they do their duties. The sounds of religious music never stop; the songs and chants are 24/7. Many prisoners go mad. No one is known to have ever escaped from the Minaret of Atonement, but many have been released, feeble in both mind and body.
Marecagetrou - Once an outpost at the edge of the Great Swamp, this decaying fortress has been converted into a prison for magic users. Wars fought long ago over the fortress have rendered this area sterile of magic. In fact, the quarter mile square surrounding the decaying stonework of Marecagetrou exists within an anti-magic field. The warden is a master ranger and between his followers and the giant crocodiles, no one escapes. It is rumored that long ago a sorceror once escaped from the prison, but stories differ as to how. It is also known that three people serving time in Marecagetrou were released about 5 years ago.
The Mazes of Theandyr the Lawful - This is a completely magical prison that exists in its own pocket reality. Theandyr was a powerful lawful good techno-mage. He created an endless set of mazes, patrolled by mechanical minotaurs and other constructs, accessed by hidden portals, and all enclosed within a snowglobe for both the good of the kingdom and to appease his leige lord's wicked desires. No one has ever escaped or been released from the Mazes of Theandyr the Lawful.
The Cliffs of Vacz du Vong - Within the complex of enlightenment held by the element-mastering monks at the top of Mount Noiboun is a hazardous prison where the cells only have three walls. The fourth is open to the elements and creatures. Prisoners may choose to leave through the open wall, falling to their deaths some 32,000+ feet below, any time they want. The last time anyone was released from Vacz du Vong was 10 years ago. No one has ever escaped and lived to tell the tale.
The Chateau de Corail - Deep under the sea within a maze of coral is a small prison meant to be inescable. Prisoners are chained together in threes and live within a sunken five story tower that is kept magically filled with air. Sea Elves guard the outside of the sunken tower, while a family of dragon turtles patrols outside of the coral reef the tower is enclosed in. No one has ever escaped this prison alive and those who are released have the memories of how they got in and out wiped from their minds.
Schijnselhold - In reality, this is a tiny prison built in the middle of a vast salt sea to hold and care for less than twenty complete mental vegetables who are locked in a never ending illusion world of never-ending torture and pain. All of the illusions are tailored to each inmate to maximize suffering. It is impossible to escape from here and no one is ever released. There are rumors of a rescue attempt a few years back that was unsuccessful in releasing anyone, but none of the potential rescuers were caught.
Warsteiner Farm - The public knows "Warsteiner" as a dark and evil prison that no one ever comes back from, but no one seems to know where it really is. The truth is a dark one indeed. Those sent to Warsteiner travel naked, in a caged wagon drawn by horses and travel for a week before reaching a friendly looking homestead; the sign reads Warsteiner Farm. The wagon is parked in the barn and 1 - 3 days later the orc tribe that the prisoners were sold to comes to pick them up. Sometimes the orcs make them fight to death in their arena; sometimes they are used for sacrifices in dark orcish rituals; sometimes their fates are even worse. No one ever escapes or is released from "Warsteiner".
Kallichore - A magical prison adminstered by the Royal College of Mages for the most dangerous of villains. The prison, itself, is a magically-excavated, multi-level dungeon with no physical entrances located within the airless moon of the planet. Magical creations and constructs guard and care for the prisoners. No one has ever escaped from Kallichore, but four prisoners were once released to perform a service for the Royal College of Mages. What happened to them is unknown.
Turma Svialta - On a towering plateau, in the midst of an icy tundra is a city of white tents where every surface radiates with blessed, holy light. Between the intensely-bright continual light spells and the frozen terrain, most of the long-term prisoners here are as blind as bats. A silver dragon serves as the warden for this "highly enlightened" prison, while a number of blind monks serve as the day-to-day guards. No one has ever escaped from Turma Svialta. A few have been released, but none have anything useful to say other than they'd never go back to the place.