30 More Prisons
30 Prisons, some of which are dreadful places in which to be, whilst others can be surprisingly pleasant, as far as somewhere can be pleasant when you are not allowed to leave it. Some are short term places of confinement, others are where you will spend the rest of your life unless you manage to escape.
When the Sorcery Springs Geyser Basin became a National Park and had park rules drawn up for it, and rangers to patrol it, they needed somewhere to hold the less severe lawbreakers who could not afford their fines, (the really bad lawbreakers being sent to one of the Queen's dungeons outside the Park), and so the Geyser Gaol was founded in one of the warm pools of the park. After being stripped of weapons, spell books, shoes and any warm clothing the lawbreakers were, if it were spring, summer or autumn, placed in the chest deep warm pool and locked in with a grating that was locked in place over the pool. In the winter, the grating is not needed-the -30 to -50 Centigrade temperatures prevent the inmates from leaving the pool without freezing very quickly.
On the surface, Athernia Island might not seem much of a prison at all. A tropical island, it has a population of men and pretty women who seem totally devoted to their husbands. In fact, the women were men who were magically turned into women and forced to wear a Binding Oath Ring , which makes them be loving, sweet and sexy *wives* to their husbands, and the women have to do whatever they are told unless it would get them hurt or killed or make them break the law. As they used to be male, this is a horror for them, and they are unable to tell anyone who they used to be.
(I got the idea from this story. https://www.fictionmania.tv/stories/scifi/sisterso...
Rather then have individual prisons, the country of Berthric has local jails for those awaiting trial and one huge town with huge thick walls for it's inmates to prevent escape. Whilst murderers and traitors are executed, and really petty crimes just mean a fine or a few hours in the pillory, everything else gets one sent for the rest of one's life to Lockup City, (which is the size of real life London including the suburbs.) The guards who patrol the walls and gates only prevent escapes and kill, if necessary, to prevent them. Inside the walls, the prisoners, who are there from anything from rape and manslaughter to tax evasion and just getting on the wrong side of the government, control different sections of the city. Some places are lawless where anyone not in the ruling gang is enslaved, tortured and killed, others are islands of law and order where violators are banished to the lawless areas of the city.
A very few rules are kept by all, or nearly all. Most prisoners will not murder or molest babies and young children, arson is avoided for everyone's sake as fire can endanger all, and even the most lawless gangs have a saying-'Steal all except the holy wheat and bread ration.' For the two days of Holy Sunreturn, the gangs have an uneasy truce so that everyone can celebrate without fear, but for the rest of the year most of the city is a very dangerous place.
( Film example-Escape From New York )
On the planet of Zygloth 3 , a moon of the gas giant Xava, all forms of blindness, from being born blind, to accident or malice, can be fixed within a day by trained medical personnel. Once all the sightless had their sight fixed, a reversible way of blinding criminals was found and different periods of blindness, ranging from a week long to lifelong, along with a forehead tattoo, were used to punish them. Anyone who willingly heals the sight of a criminal before their sentence is up, is blinded for life. Here, being deprived of sight is the 'prison' as the blind have to depend on others and be nice to them and cannot see to steal or assault people.
The Castle is many things-a royal palace, a jewel house, a place of safety-but it is also a prison for certain political prisoners such as royal pretenders who are too dangerous to be allowed to be free but don't deserve to rot in an average dungeon. Conditions are normally reasonable as it is generally only aristocratic prisoners that are confined here.
( Real life example, the Tower of London. )
This country has a serious problem with paramilitaries, and when put together these groups would fight constantly with each other, so they were put into separate prison blocks. At first conditions were bad, food was poor, and prisoners were often beaten up by their guards. But a combination of hunger strikes and dirty protests in the inside, and the paramilitaries on the outside making a habit of murdering prison guards whenever possible, won the prisoners freedom from prison work or ill treatment and the right to wear their own clothes and for the most part be left to themselves.
( Real life example-the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. )
The Cube is a cyber-prison, where the prisoners are sedated and connected to VR, and kept in suspended animation until their sentences are served. Officially it is supposed to be an austere and unpleasant but not overly harsh place, like a British prison in the 1950s but the Warden is corrupt. For a good bribe, your *sentence* can be spent lazing around in a VR luxury island, whilst for those who can't or won't pay bribes, or who were convicted of crimes against children, they end up in a VR Shawshank Redemption style torture dungeon instead and come out seriously mentally damaged.
Centuries ago an agreement was made between a King and the queen of a hive of Zosim that lawbreakers, rebels and dissidents would be delivered to them to either be killed and eaten or to be stored for later use. More a place of execution then a prison, some luckless prisoners are kept alive and fresh there to be later slain and consumed.
In this country, all but the most dangerous and/or insane prisoners and those found guilty of capital murder are sent to prison schools to be taught anything from learning to read and write for the illiterate to being taught a trade or even a degree for those clever enough, rather then being locked up in a cell for most or all of their time in prison. Provided they behave themselves, discipline is only as strict as that of a rather strict boarding school. For the recalcitrant and the disruptive things can get much harder but even they have a chance to reform. Some prisoners actually don't mind being here, and far fewer reoffend on the outside then in other harsher prison regimes.
As the penalty for murder, this country has The Chair Of Life to punish offenders, but they are generally granted an appeal to the courts and are locked up in basic conditions with plain food (except for their last meal which is quite luxurious as it is the last meal they will ever eat as themselves) and one hour of exercise a day. When they leave here, barring an escape or the reversal of their murder conviction, it will be in the body and with the memories and mind of the person they murdered.
Crematoria is a planet that is airless, with over 1700 Centigrade temperatures on one side and minus 150 temperatures on the other. Over one of the largest craters a prison mine has been built, and the prisoners are only fed if they mine ore. There are not many guards, but to escape the prisoners must overpower the guards, put on space suits (and there are only enough of those for the guards) leave at sunrise or sunset when the temperature ranges from minus 20c to plus 50c , run to the ore/supply ship that comes just once a month, trick their way in and overpower or kill the crew. If they are too slow they will either be cooked alive, or frozen, despite their suits.
( Idea borrowed from the Riddick film. )
For the worst of the worst traitors, murderers and sex criminals they are hanged and by magic their spirits are trapped within their dead bodies in the stinking darkness of a coffin, in both mental and physical agony as their bodies swell and rot, with absolutely nothing to do.
( Plot hook, the PCs need vital information from one of these tortured spirits and the spirit demands to be raised as an Undead in exchange. )
At the age of nine people are forced to wear a ring that intersects with their nerves and forces them to behave themselves and obey the laws, no matter how hard they try not to. Should the central control system ever go down there will most likely be a city-wide riot and looting spree.
Those who are convicted of serious crimes are sent to the 'Forlorn Hope' penal regiment for 25 years, with death as the penalty for desertion or mutiny. They are always the first regiment into combat and the last to be allowed to retreat and discipline is strict. There are compensations though-whilst they cannot win medals, they can be promoted instead, and whilst they are not paid legal plunder of the foe is allowed.
( Real life examples-German and Soviet penal units in WW2. )
In this case, the Maze really is a maze that is fiendishly difficult to escape from, perhaps with deadly traps and creatures within it. Most who are placed inside won't make it out, the very few who do are deemed to have served their sentence.
( Film example, The Maze Runners. )
This foul dungeon has no light and is normally a place within a prison to punish recaptured escapees and the badly behaved for a short sharp shock, rather then the whole of one's sentence.
Few of those who are sent here will last very long, as the whole sentence will be spent in chains mining asbestos for 18 hours a day with very inadequate breathing apparatus.
It is said that in here is everybody's biggest and most terrifying fear and that no prisoner comes out of this room still sane.
Most people in The Courthouse are there willingly and don't need to be locked up, but perhaps a few notorious brigands or gladiator slaves are locked up in sturdy cells for a few hours or at most a few days before their fights and possible deaths in the area within.
Prisoners convicted of serious crimes are put in suspended animation on a ship traveling to the far reaches of the galaxy. By the time the ship reaches it's destination the prisoners well have served their sentences and can become colonists on a rather rough and ready planet where most people would not have the talents to flourish. There even some of their criminal talents on more settled worlds can be channelled into more useful things. Thugs can guard against monsters and/or violent aliens, for example. Fraudsters and con artists can con aliens out of their land rights.
21-Hell is a very small place.
Locked up in single cells with only one prisoner released per day for exercise, the frustrated prisoners end up yelling and swearing and keeping each other awake most of the time, unable to fight because they are locked in . Some prisoners have spent more then twenty-five years like this and have gone insane from the conditions.
22-The School (2)
( Based on this story. https://www.fictionmania.tv/stories/magic/Searle1.... )
On the surface the St Agatha School for Young Ladies seems like a well run girl's boarding school. The pupils never break the school rules and always behave themselves. In fact the vast majority of them are former criminals who agreed to enter witness protection and testify against their bosses and friends. Once they had done so, they were transformed using the Staff of the Daughter into young girls, and hypnotised into behaving well, unable to break the rules or the laws of the wider society, to tell anybody, even each other, who they used to be, or even to swear. If their criminal abilities were needed by the government to steal something or assassinate someone, they could be used, but only in the service of the government or the Headmistress. The staff have been warned not to abuse or beat their charges; to do so would rapidly weaken the geas to the point where the magical hypnotism would no longer work. The Staff of the Daughter was never meant to allow ill treatment or rape of the girls which it created.
A dragon keeps a small number of human slaves whose job it is to sort and clean it's treasure hoard for it. Without horses and with the area around an open plain that stretches for miles the slaves have no chance to escape, and the dragon has warned them that he will eat them if they try.
The Royal House of Tabriz used to practise royal fratricide under which the brother who came to power slew all the others to prevent revolts and civil wars. But that was deemed too savage, and was replaced by imprisonment in the Royal Cage, sometimes for the rest of the royal prince's lives. Whilst they have servants and sterilized concubines to keep them company and a courtyard to walk around in, the long confinement has been known to drive some princes insane.
( Real life example-the Turkish sultans practised such a thing for several centuries. )
Why have prisoners locked in cells doing nothing when you can have them working in chain gangs planting and picking crops and doing other such labour? You can hire them out to landowners and get paid for it. At best, a plantation can be marginally less unpleasant then a normal prison, at worst it can be hell on earth for the unfortunate prisoners who labour there.
(Real life example-Angola State Prison in Louisiana )
What a horrible way to spend your days, chained to an oar rowing under the blows of the whip to the beat of a drum, the boredom only swapped for fear when your ship is in battle, as you know that if it sinks the crew won't unchain you and you will drown when the ship goes down.
Female prisoners who are young and attractive enough (or male prisoners in the case of a ruling Queen) might end up in the royal harem and one day end up providing the royal heir and even find true love with the monarch and a certain amount of political power.
28-Princess Training Grounds
Under the Royal Castle of the at best semi-sane Queen Yocasta are the Princess Training Grounds, run by the strict and no-nonsense Dracia Eldren , where a large number of de facto kidnapped daughters of the middle class of Vallermoore are trained to replace the Queen's dead daughter Princess Chrysta-and the fact that they are murdered if they mess up in any way when acting as the Princess by Dracia's agents is the reason why so many replacements are needed. The accommodations themselves are as pleasant as a royal bedroom-it's the training that is the unpleasant part.
For a crime that is thought serious enough like murder or treason, those convicted are sent through a one-way magical portal to The Hell of Half-Nothings where like in many prisons the main torment is the immense boredom.
For those caught breaking naval law, a colony of Giant Mussels can be used either as a short term naval brig to hold prisoners down for a few hours or a longer term place of execution for the condemned to slowly drown as the tide rises. If placed on them, they hold the prisoner down, and to free him or her they are poked lightly with a cutlass or another type of sword.
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? Responses (4)
I really don't love lists. It's just me and my preferences. I've said before and will say again, I'd love to see you go to work on a '1', something you really flesh out.
Having said that, I DO like this 30. It's got something for every genre flavor, and it's about something EVERY GM wants to do at some point: Finding a dark hole to throw the party into. :)
There's a couple here I really like, and might even use in my Numenera or Blue Rose game.
I won't use my usual review system, because Concept/Craft/Style/Substance don't seem like a decent meter for measuring lists. But there's some good stuff here.
A very broad set of ideas. Some quite odd.
As a note, leaving someone partly in water for a long time will eventually kill them. We are pretty insoluble, but no perfectly so.
They are normally left there for no longer then 24 to 48 hours in the geyser gaol as it's for relatively minor crimes.