Hostage Taking


Advice


In a lot of media, you'll have scene where a battle going on. The battle stops when The Rogue sneaks up behind an enemy and holds a dagger to their neck, forcing all of the victim's allies to surrender.

My instinct is that this is a readied coup de grace following a grapple, but there's no way I know about that lets you make an opponent helpless short of tying them up, which isn't what's going on in the scene above. Any ideas?


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Such a thing isn't really considered/supported in Pathfinder or most RPGs in general I think. Who'd want such a mechanic to be used on their own characters one day?

Only way I think it can be done viably is between two NPCs where the victim is an ally or protective charge of the party and they suspect it's a one-hit kill by GM fiat.


I would call that some variety of called shot. That is, putting the dagger to their throat would be a called shot, after which (if successful) you'd get a big bonus on making the actual called shot to hurt them.

Though I agree with Protoman that it'd be a bad precedent.


This sort of thing really doesn't work in turn-based wargaming combat.


The thing is, in the real world a knife to the throat will kill a person, even if the knife wielder isn't particularly strong.

In Pathfinder it does 1d4.

As a result, some things from the real world (and fictional representations thereof) don't translate well.


Readied action to make a called shot to the throat is the closest you're going to get.


Play something different than Pathfinder. Something modern, not something carrying around 30 years of gaming history ;)

My go-to game for cool, scenic scenes like you describe would be Apocalypse World, but there should be plenty of games that could handle it. Burning Wheels (and derivatives Torchbearer and Mouse Guard) might be able to pull it if as would maybe even D20-ish 13th Age with a really indie-competent GM.


In Fate Core / Atomic Robo I'd do it as an Intimidate/Provoke attack for mental harm.

Sovereign Court

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Handaxe Beak wrote:
My instinct is that this is a readied coup de grace following a grapple, but there's no way I know about that lets you make an opponent helpless short of tying them up, which isn't what's going on in the scene above. Any ideas?

Actually that doesn't even work. A coup de grace is a full-round action, but you can only ready actions of size standard or lower.

I agree that hostage-holding is a weakness in the rules; it would be nice if we could re-enact exciting movie scenes.


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It might be possible with the Throat Slicer feat. (Coup de grace a pinned opponent as a standard action.)

Otherwise, against an opponent who's already at negative hit points, you could ready an action to attack them, which would be deadly in the majority of cases.

If you're a GM, try doing that next time one of the PCs falls unconscious. "Drop all your weapons and surrender, or the elf gets it."


Matthew Downie wrote:

Otherwise, against an opponent who's already at negative hit points, you could ready an action to attack them, which would be deadly in the majority of cases.

If you're a GM, try doing that next time one of the PCs falls unconscious. "Drop all your weapons and surrender, or the elf gets it."

I've done that one actually! Had a good old-fashioned standoff halfway through book 2 of Mummy's mask when a bunch of rogues on top of a building knocked out the party's cleric in the surprise round, then kept readied actions to shoot him again (for the kill) if any party members made any sudden movements. Made for a great, tense scene!


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

There's a scene like this in Pathfinder #38, Racing to Ruin. An NPC has the party's NPC ally with a knife to their throat and is making demands.

If he isn't obeyed, he cuts the ally's throat as a standard action on his initiative in the first round, which drops the NPC ally to -1 hp by fiat.


As a GM, it just isn't possible to do by the rules so for story purposes you have to sometimes just ignore the rules.

But, otherwise there just aren't rules that allow you to do this type of thing successfully against opponents with a similar level of capabilities as yours.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Joana wrote:

There's a scene like this in Pathfinder #38, Racing to Ruin. An NPC has the party's NPC ally with a knife to their throat and is making demands.

If he isn't obeyed, he cuts the ally's throat as a standard action on his initiative in the first round, which drops the NPC ally to -1 hp by fiat.

They're also

Spoiler:
on top of a roof at the time, which means that the NPC is gonna be rolling off next round unless someone grabs them, thus setting up a dilemma of grabbing your ally vs. attacking the guy.

...unless that was just something my GM added. Hmm....


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You can do this with Bushwhack and Throat Slicer.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Meraki wrote:
Joana wrote:

There's a scene like this in Pathfinder #38, Racing to Ruin. An NPC has the party's NPC ally with a knife to their throat and is making demands.

If he isn't obeyed, he cuts the ally's throat as a standard action on his initiative in the first round, which drops the NPC ally to -1 hp by fiat.

They're also

** spoiler omitted **

...unless that was just something my GM added. Hmm....

Serpent's Skull:
No, that's in there, but I figure not every hostage-taking event will be taking place on a rooftop. Falling damage is covered in the rules, anyway. Better hope they took an NPC hostage with a good Con score to absorb that d6 falling damage at -1 and bleeding out, though!

Matthew Downie wrote:
It might be possible with the Throat Slicer feat. (Coup de grace a pinned opponent as a standard action.)
Castilonium wrote:
You can do this with Bushwhack and Throat Slicer.

This is pretty much exactly what I was looking for, four feat requirement notwithstanding. At least it's possible!

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