Random Things – Fellow Prisoners

We’ve all been in the situation where our character has been caught bang-to-rights for some sort of indiscretion or perhaps has been falsely accused and has found themselves in prison. Perhaps you were taken captive whilst raiding a dungeon and now languish in a cell yourself?

One thing that can add flesh to these encounters are interactions with NPCs who have also been taken prisoner, but trying to figure out why these people are in prison can sometime be a bit tricky on short notice. Below are two tables for quickly generating these reasons, one for ‘civilised’ prisons and the other for dungeons or savage jails.

Civilised Prison
1D8 Roll Reason Prisoner is in Jail
1 This prisoner is a debtor who owes a large amount of money to a landlord, noble or guild (equal chance of each) and is currently being held until their debts are repaid. The captive swears that this is all a misunderstanding and her has the money. Roll a D6, on a 1 the person is lying and is a conman, 2-4 their possessions have been confiscated and they have no chance to repay the money, 5-6 their debts are being repaid and they will be released in 1D3 days.
2 They were caught stealing valuables from people at a local marketplace and are being held whilst the local authorities decide their fate. Roll a D6, on a 1 they will be executed, 2-3 they will have an appendage chopped of as punishment before being released, 4-5 they will be branded as a thief and released, 6 they will have to serve community service to repay their debt.
3 The person is a foreign agent caught spying and attempting to steal valuable state secrets, they will be held, tortured to find out what they know and then executed. If the PCs strike up a friendship with the prisoner, they may try to bribe the PCs to take a coded messenger to their handler, promising them rich rewards for doing so (even chance if they do so they get a reward or the handler attempts to have them silenced).
4 The prisoner accidentally killed someone in a tavern brawl and is scheduled for execution once the headsman has finished sharpening his axe.
5 The unfortunate prisoner claims to have no idea why they are in here, they were dragged by guards from their bed in the middle of the night and thrown in jail. Roll a D6 on a 1-3 the person is lying, roll again on this table or decide what their actual crime is, on a 4-5 it is a case of mistaken identity and on a 6 they are deliberately being framed by a third party.
6 The prisoner is a commoner who either refused to behave appropriately towards a noble or was found to have been carrying a weapon in public. Roll a D6, on a 1 they will be executed, 2-3 they will have an appendage chopped of as punishment before being released, 4-5 they will be flogged through the streets before being released, 6 they become the property of the offended noble.
7 The person has been arrested for outrageous drunken behaviour. Once they sober up they will be stripped and made to wear the drunkard cloak, a barrel with shoulder straps before being paraded through the town and mocked.
8 They have been arrested for a minor offence such as stealing a load of bread, they will be placed in the stocks for 1D3 days, pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables before being released.
Savage/Dungeon Jail
1D8 Roll Reason Prisoner is in Jail
1 Captured by raiding parties and bought back to the jail to serve as a either cheap labour or a source of food (even chance of each).
2 This person is the lone survivor of a previous adventuring party who attempted to raid the dungeon and has been left here to rot. Roll a D6 to see what happened to his companions, on a 1-2 they were killed exploring the dungeon, 2-3 they were taken captive but have since been removed by the jailors, 5 they died in prison, 6 they were eaten by the last survivor as the only source of food.
3 The prisoner is a member of the race who inhabit the dungeon, they once had status but failed in some manner of tribal testing and have been judged weak/unfit to remain amongst the tribe.
4 The prisoner is a spy for those who inhabit the dungeon, who has been placed here to wheedle their way into the confidence of the PCs and find out what they know before the dungeon owners decide what to do with them.
5 The unfortunate captive is covered in sores and strange markings, he has been tortured by the dungeon owners because they believe that he has valuable information (even chance whether he does or not). The captive will died soon of his injuries without help.
6 The current owners of the dungeon are not the original inhabitants, they seized it by force from the true owners, throwing the survivors into their own jail cells as a mark of their scorn.
7 The captive is a victim of magical experimentation by the dungeon owners, their skin is covered in strange glowing runes and brands. Roll 1D6, on a 1 the captive has gained a magical ability from the experimentation that made aid an escape plan, on 2-5 they have no useful abilities but some knowledge of the dungeon layout and on a 6 the torturous experiments have reduced them to the level of a mindless beast. Either way the experimentation will eventually prove fatal to the captive if they do not get medical help in 1D6 days.
8 The captive is being held for food, if they do not escape then in 1D3 days they are dragged screaming from their cell and never seen again.

2 thoughts on “Random Things – Fellow Prisoners”

    1. Hi Glenn, thanks for pointing this out – it was due to a minor formatting error. I have now resolved it – thanks again 🙂

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