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D&D 3E
Prison for psions? 
24th-May-2007 07:12 pm
So I'm going to reboot my campaign online pretty soon and I need some help brainstorming.

Where we last left off, the PCs had gottem themselves thrown in prison, (the apparently infamous tower of Balun-Mar). The plan is that the campaign will start something like 10 years later, with the PCs breaking out of prison. What I plan to happen is to have a powerful NPC basically assault the prison in an attempt to kill another prisoner, and then the PCs will be able to escape in the confusion (and perhaps encounter this other prisoner, which could lead to all kinds of fun quests--I haven't worked out all the details, though I plan to run the escape as an adventure. It isn't just a deus-ex-machina "you escape").

The issue is, the party currently consists of a psion, a wilder, a binder, and a barbarian. Now it makes sense that the barbarian can be kept locked up (though I'm sure it takes a couple of guards to keep him down), and similarly the binder can be kept at bay by simply not letting him draw the signs to make his pacts. However, keeping a psionic character from manifesting is a bit harder. You can't just take away their spell components like with a wizard or sorcerer). The idea is that this prison was built for all the nasty bad guys, so the guards would definately be expected to be able to keep a psion under wraps. But I'm trying to figure out how they would do that.

Ideas I'm considering:
* Have an area of the prison that is wrapped in a permanent null psionics field. Because it will be a PbP, I could easily run the psions separately until they meet up with the other party members. However, I'm not sure I like this idea, as it would suggest that there is (or was) a psion around powerful enough to create a permanent field, which I'm not positive I want to have. I could also have the field be a "natural" effect of the area the prison is built in, which might explain what it was put there in the first place.
* Some kind of null-psionic handcuffs. Either literal cuffs, or maybe a collar that they cannot easily remove. I kind of like this idea better, as it makes the challenge more than just "get away from the area" to "how do we get these things off?" Also, theoreticallly the characters could then take the item with them, and use it in the future perhaps.
* Some kind of personal-level effect. Like maybe a power is used (and reused) on them that makes it nigh-impossible for them to manifest. I kind of imagine maybe the warden as another psion, who spends his time manifesting this power every few days/weeks to keep the prisoners in line.

Any other thoughts? What do you guys think I should do with this? I don't want to totally lock down the psions (though it might be neat if there is an encounter where they can't use their abilities), but I need some kind of reasonable explanation for why they haven't blasted their way out of the prison over the past 10 years.
25th-May-2007 01:22 am (UTC)
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/items/universalItems.htm#psionicRestraints Seems to be something you could look into. You could either have total lockdown or you could let the psions have a trickle of usage.
25th-May-2007 02:39 am (UTC)
Argh! I had sworn I had seen that item and looked for it, but then couldn't find it. Thanks for pointing it out to me again :)
25th-May-2007 02:56 am (UTC)
Of course, there is nothing saying that the psionics user that made this prison is alive today. They could have existed long ago and the non-psion ancestors have decided to use this area as a prison, not knowing that indeed it was a prison for psions. Have ancient sigils and signs that only they can read, have the staff call them crazy and apply all sorts of "treatments" to them, etc.

That way, it gives you some decent history to play with while never acknowledging whether or not the PC's are the only ones or even if there are high level psions that exist to this day. Heck, you can always tie the psions you decide to create later to the descendants to this particular prison,, A nice little out but still leaves some mystery, you know?
25th-May-2007 02:58 am (UTC)
Apologies, that was this account that posted that, I just wasn't signed on
25th-May-2007 03:05 am (UTC)
No worries.

Yeah, I know what you mean. I do kind of like that idea--maybe I could do both. In general powers are dampened, but the restraints really lock the thing down.

I was thinking that the tower would be attached to some mines (where the prisoners go to work. They have to do SOMETHING after all, and working in the mines is a staple). Though it might be interesting if those off-limit tunnels actually let to some kind of dungeon where the guy who built the place used to reside... the characters probably wouldn't follow that as an adventure, but I could leave the hook open to them.
25th-May-2007 12:11 pm (UTC)
Alchemical potions and preparations.

Make the work force in general submissive & docile and suppress other powers.
25th-May-2007 04:02 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of the handcuffs or neckcuff myself. its simple and to the point. if your afraid of them using it later and dont want them too, maybe have it so the cuffs only work within a certain distance of the prison itself. if you want to limit the amount to only one, maybe have it so the prison had the majority of the cuffs made for a certain distance, but a few were made without that limit so they can transfer to another prison.

just a few ideas at least ^_^
25th-May-2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Lead-shielded prison walls, or lead-shielded helmets on guards (ala Juggernaut).
25th-May-2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
That might be interesting. You have to get off the guard's helmets before you can do anything to them.
25th-May-2007 07:44 pm (UTC)
There was a "magic" item in the old alternity game. It was a Mental prison. Basically a circlet that when placed on put the person in a prison in his own mind. He could never get out and all of his "powers" are manifested in his own mind. AKA He wouldn't be able to do crap.

The down side it makes his last 10 years sitting in a chair. The upside no mental powers :D
25th-May-2007 08:56 pm (UTC)
Good to hear that you're reviving this one! I can't add much in the way of methods, but some things to consider:

Ten years is a long time. If you haven't already, give some thought to what unfolds over that time span - changes in the staff (and accordingly, how prisoners are treated), attempted escapes, and in particular what the PCs might've been doing. PCs who show remorse and/or are well-behaved might be shown some trust and given minor freedoms, while PCs (and NPCs) who are flight risks will be locked down hard.

Similarly, some methods of psionic restraint, particularly drugs and active suppression, will prove problematic over long periods (permanent mind damage and/or a "missed dose"). If lengthy imprisonments are the norm, you could end up with quite a few vegetables...

Of course, passive anti-psi doesn't have to be perfect, it just needs to restrain a psion long enough that someone can put an arrow in them. You could mix and match solutions, too.
25th-May-2007 09:40 pm (UTC)
I've given thought as to what has been changing in the world outside, but I haven't really considered the prison system as changing (I also might go for something slighty less or more than 10 years--I'll have to timeline it out). Though having the PCs have made some friends among the guards could fit (as I think one of the PCs wanted to take Leadership...). Thanks for pointing it out to me.

I'm thinking I'm going to go with minor restraints (maybe restricting to 1 or 2 pp/round. Maybe all the guards have save-boosting feats, so the PCs have learned that some thing are less effective. Definately will have to write in an escape attempt or two (which might give them some clues about how to get around the prison). This time period will all be "backstory", so I have almost total control over what happens.
25th-May-2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Oh! One other thing I forgot to suggest was potential changes in the PCs themselves. You mention that one PC was looking at picking up a new skill, but if they're going to be locked up for a long period with little opportunity to practice their skills, they might actually lose a few of them, or trade them for other skills. This would impact a wizard most, since they're not likely to even have their spellbooks to study...

(Out of curiousity - I'm not familiar with the terms wilder and binder. Your one comment about the binder makes them sound like a demonologist, but can you clarify them for me?)
25th-May-2007 10:27 pm (UTC)
The wilder is a type of psionic caster (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/psionic/classes/wilder.htm), while the Binder is a class from Tome of Magic, using something called Pact Magic (which is similar to being a demonologist. The idea is they bind entities called "vestiges" who grant them powers). It's a neat system, which I highly recommend (though it's only 1/3 of the book).

I'm allowing all the players to rebuild their characters as they want (which will represent the possible loss and gain of skill sets). There are no wizards or sorcerers in this world (only psionic characters), so not having a spellbook isn't an issue.
25th-May-2007 11:21 pm (UTC)
No comment on psionics, but a note about the binder: It is infinitely hard to keep a person from scrawling, even behind bars. Look for the movie Quills, or even watch some of the higher-security episodes of Lockup on MSNBC. Even with full-hand manacles, he can find some part of his body to use as a tool to administer feces onto a wall, if pressed that far.
25th-May-2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
Good to know. I figure likely he'll be watched pretty closely (it does take a minute, and when the vestige manifests it is pretty noticable).
25th-May-2007 11:34 pm (UTC)
Keeping him from speaking would work, but feeding time would always be a hassle. I guess just having a guard handy with a wand of Whelm might do the trick.
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