So this may have been covered before, and of course I do apologize if I missed it...there's just...it's...why is there a prison?
More especially, why is there a prison for these guys? I mean, evil wizard goes blowing people up, isn't the standard reaction to send those hearty adventurers out and smite his arse? I mean, the local drunk/bully/jackass, sure, lock em in the tanty and maybe they'll sober up/learn a lesson. Real bad guys, though? How often have we been commissioned to go and clear out that den of petty bandits, but these serial killers get nonlethal damage and incarceration before their execution?
I mean, I get the point and the theme and so on, and I'm trying to engage myself in running it - though no story with these mechanics can ever really evoke horror it can still be a lot of fun, in a B-movie/Uberwald kind of way. Or Innistrad, perhaps. I just - my characters will ask, and I'll feel pretty silly if I have to say, er, because.
The only thing I can come up with is a Pratchett-like story (Corporal Carrot style) of the career of the notoriously merciful paladin, who took the notion of Law so very seriously, that he would apprehend anybody and attempt to detain them. Rueful stories may abound of the time he tried to cage that gelatinous cube, or the time during that ghoul plague when he put bars on all the plots in the graveyard...
Which could work, but it's certainly a different tone from what's intended. Any of you have a party take issue with this, or is it just a silly-but-necessary-for-suspension-of-disbelief kind of premise?
Adventurers should not and should never be considered a mainstay in the setting so that the integrity of the logic of the setting is never called into question. For example, if, say, the evil wizard is high level and the PCs are trying to catch him-- if adventurers are a setting mainstay, why don't they just go and send a letter to the Adventurer's League or to a known high-level character from a past campaign to go deal with them? Then they can get back to farming. Or, why farm when they can just run in a random direction, kill goblins and make more gold than they could in a year by selling weapons? And if they can't leave the home, say, due to having children, the adventurers can bring back goblins and badgers for them to fight for XP to level up.
Do you occasionally have the PCs come across dungeons that have been fully looted, all encounters defeated, and run into a group of 5 NPCs coming out midway through, decked to the nines? "Oh, sorry. We just saw some dudes guarding the door with +1 amulets of natural armor and figured there was a BBEG inside."
It's wise to just ignore that adventurers exist outside the PCs and assume the world works the same way. The guardsmen arrested these people and put them in prison.
How many guardsmen would it take to capture a Splatter Man?
Why wouldn't they kill him, especially after he's already killed so many, and very likely a handful of their buddies in the process?
How would they keep him in prison?
Aren't there established orders of Paladins? You know, in addition to the smattering of mid-high PC-class NPCs provided with each AP. I'm not saying the world is covered in them, but it seems a general rule that heroes do rise to the occasion.
That last point gives me a notion which might suit us both...perhaps the locals rather expected some group of heroes to rise to the occasion. Only they didn't. No random wandering farmboy turned up with a magic sword and a code of honor to smite the evildoers, so the evildoers...kept doing evil. Until the village militia was rallied, and a lot of local sons and daughters died, and a lot of folks were bitter about it...that adds to the flavor of the thing much better, only - I still don't know why they were taken alive.
Nothing about this world suggests to me that anyone would bat an eyelash at killing a killer. Perhaps, I don't know, an overzealous Sarenraen clergy? Belief in redemption, that sort of thing? Still...
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The simple answer is that there is quite a large world out there populated with a really large population of people. A sizable part of that population is criminal - and its the job of the people (in a justice based society) to apprehend these criminals and see to it that they have proper punishment met against them. Even quite a high level character (relatively speaking) like the like those in that prison are relatively easily contained in a cell.
The correct basic assumption is to assume the world is somewhat like our world, but perhaps a bit more magical.
Yes, the question really should be: why are a group of four/five clearly deranged and dysfunctional "adventurers" called "heroes". That many PCs and GMs don't implement a society-based cause-and-effect structure is due to the players involved, not the world.
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If I'm reading this right, is the question: Why is there a prison outside Ravengro and why are these super villains locked up here?
The meta answer is pretty obvious, it makes a damn cool dungeon.
The in-world answer is a bit more complicated.
First off, it has to do with the Palatinates, Ustalav's three northwestern counties that have broken free from hereditary rule and that are stumbling through attempts of reorganizing themselves as more egalitarian societies. Part of that is an abandonment or lessening of the country's more traditional and arbitrary legal system and "off with his head" style punishments. Now, Harrowstone was concieved before the Palatinates broke free, but even then ideas where trending in that direction, so there was an overture of trying to be forward thinking and humane (or, at least, the selfish corruption of that public sentiment).
Second, the region's rulers were trying to make some money. Page 57 of Pathfinder #53 talks about the deposed count Lorres hired out his prison to the other counties. If they had a prisoner they wanted kept, but not on their soil, they could pack him off to Harrowstone with a few bags of gold and make it someone else's problem.
Third, why keep the prisoners at all? Ho ho! That's fertile ground for all sorts of explanations in a country like Ustalav, isn't it? Bastard children, betrayed allies, villains with knowledge worth saving, killers so good at what they do they're worth keeping around (for a noble, an organization, a religion), criminals with families rich enough to buy them a prison sentence instead of death, the belief of the Pharasmin Penitence that life is about suffering and death is a release, skilled solicitors, bought judges, innocent maniacs(?), the list goes on and on and gets stranger from here.
But also realize that this IS a focal point for potent criminals from across the region, not the norm. So any of the exceptions noted here could have happened, and on its own in a normal jail such an oddity accounts for a single exception. With Harrowstone, you're getting criminals from all over, and when it comes to exceptions and dangerous sorts like those in Pathfinder #53, villians of that caliber seem like the first ones rulers and judicial officials would want to see packed off. So you have Harrowstone, a place where not just criminals, but the most dangerous and potentially embarrassing political cases can be removed to.
All of that contributes to making Harrowstone an exceptional place, not the rule you'd find in most counties. Plenty of criminals in Ustalav meet terrible but quick ends, but for many of the inmates at Harrowstone, strange and dishonorable deeds brought them to the threshold of doom.
|F. Wesley Schneider Editor-in-Chief|
Perhaps the PCs, who routinely kill their opposition, will be hunted by the authorities. Even bounty hunters should be capturing their enemies alive, even if they keep them unconscious. Perhaps the PCs should be pulling their final blows (non-lethal) and stabilising the enemies before they bleed out. (Dying enemies are always add an extra when the cleric selectively channels, avoiding any injured enemies in combat.)
sometimes crims are worth more alive than dead... either monetarily or politically (and not the way that someone else posted - example. The execution of the Lopper could have potentially been a 'win' for the government - 'Look, see justice is served by your Lords' and in money? all sorts of ideas to make a few extra gold from famous prisoners spring to mind)
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Michael Radagast wrote:
Ahaha - thank you very much, Master Schneider! That's precisely the line of thought I was looking for.
Incidentally, the meta answer is the reason I was looking for the in-world. I want to run the damn cool dungeon. xP
Live to serve. ;)
Hope you guys have a blast!
Played it a few months ago. Had a blast! Great dungeon.