Prison adventure ideas

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Bulletsponge
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Prison adventure ideas

Postby Bulletsponge » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:31 pm

So, one of my players got pinched while engaging in a bit of space piracy/murder in the Trojan Reach. His hired marine companion got spaced on the spot. This player is also psionic, but his captures are unaware of this.
Another of my 3 players is going on vacation and will miss two game sessions. So, the 3rd player is rolling up a prisoner character and we are going to play out a prison adventure.
I have been reading the old Prison Planet adventure for ideas. While full of good stuff, I figured this community would be able to come up with some great stuff as well. I may just convert Prison Planet to fit in my campaign, but I'd like to see what ideas you all have. Thanks in advance!
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:19 pm

Gareth's Prison Planet adventure book is the best out there.
msprange
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby msprange » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:21 pm

Also has the potential to be played twice, differently, for when your players inevitably get pinched again :)
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steve98052
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby steve98052 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 5:41 pm

For tighter quarters, there's this from the classic The Kinunir:

http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Gaesh_Prison_Hulk
Linwood
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby Linwood » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:19 pm

There are a lot of old movies out there you could borrow from...

Some things to consider:
1 - Tech level of the facility
2 - Location - in space? On a planet? Hostile environment? Dangerous beasts / sophonts about?
3 - Level of security. Big difference between a Supermax (locked in solitary 23+ hrs a day) and others. A prison mining operation could provide lots of opportunities to interact with other inmates, a high security facility with few opportunities to leave one’s cell less so.
4 - Culture - do the locals believe in rehabilitation or punishment? (Maybe this is their golden opportunity to learn knitting.) Or do they see the prisoners as entertainment? (Thinking something like Battle Royale here. But something like The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is another possibility - turn them loose on a potential colony world with the minimum needed to survive and if they’re still alive after X years they’ve earned a reprieve..)
5 - Story. Is there a way you can take advantage to set up a larger campaign arc or move a plot forward?
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby PsiTraveller » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:04 am

The prisoner is psionic? If so, will that remain a secret or will they be transferred to a psionic control facility, or offered a new job for a shadowy organization.... They are removed from the prison and are sent on much more dangerous missions. Use La Femme Nikita mixed with Alias as inspiration.

If you want to keep them in the prison concept, what are their psionic powers? If telepathic and they have suggestion, this could create an excape scenario. If they can teleport they have to figure out how to escape while nude. :P

Reading minds helps with passwords, routines and local knowledge etc.

With Awareness you have suspended animation and escaping as a corpse, just hope for burial and not cremation or launching into space. Maybe they sneak out a the morgue. Enhanced strength can help bend bars to escape. Inspiration adds a bonus dice and things get all sorts of statistically strange.
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby paltrysum » Thu Jul 12, 2018 3:24 pm

Are you using the planetary prison on Khaliki (Trojan Reach 3111 D31156B–9) Ice Capped Non-Industrial O:2912 Prison, Exile Camp? It's in the region of your campaign and this affords you the opportunity to develop it.
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Epicenter
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby Epicenter » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:14 am

If you're having a player generate a prisoner character, I am assuming you want to actually play out prison things.

I think the first choice you need to make as a GM is how you intend to have the players get out of prison:

Do you intend to have the players:

1) ... break out of the prison and escape as fugitives ("prison break")?
2) ... have the players freed on some context by the authorities, possibly to do something dangerous ("the Dirty Dozen" or "the Fast and Furious")?
3) ... serve out their time and being freed? I'm not sure this is really a good option -- piracy and murder are pretty serious so they'd be in prison for a long time if not forever. It wouldn't be done in two sessions in any case and not very interesting for a tabletop game in any case (it might be interesting as a single-player game).

The most difficult part about playing out prison scenarios is the escape. The point of a prison world is to hold various criminals (potentially political prisoners) far from civilization where they can't spread their views or prey on people -- these are people governments do not want to simply casually allow back into society. At the same time, that means players are going to find it very difficult to escape and the methods that exist tend to end up deus ex machina (eg; events that would essentially happen regardless of what the players do).

Unfortunately, piracy and murder makes the character the "scum and villany" in Mos Eisley (unless he had some sort extenuating circumstance, which I kinda doubt). I'm surprised he wasn't spaced as well. Regardless, given he's scum and villainy my ideas would be make him muck around in that.

For example, when I was designing a prison planet, I had a few ideas, ranging in what I wanted to do. I settled on this:

A prison "planet" that is actually a bunch of hulks in orbit around a world, with stripped down hulks being removed to melt down the remains and new ones arriving. The prisoners serve as shipbreakers - removing fittings from the hulks like toilets, desks, light fixtures, plumbing, wiring, and so on. The gutted hulks that remain are then towed off to be melted down and recycled. This kind of work isn't very profitable - only by using prison labor does it generate a small profit. The really profitable parts - such as the Jump Drive, fusion reactor, large battery arrays, ship's computer, and life support and other major systems have already been removed by civilian contractors beforehand; only after these valuable parts that could be used to make a true starship are removed are the hulks handed over to the prison cluster. This is also why civilian shipbreakers don't complain about prisoners doing this - they've already removed anything with good resale value.

Working conditions are pretty bad - a lot of the hulks are radioactive, there's old batteries that might explode, and so on. Oh, the local star (whose life zone they're in) also flares a some days out of every month, showering the hulks in deadly radiation - everyone has to be in a hulk or space station or die. The ships are lashed to each other using cables but it's still about 100 meters between each ship - prisoners are not expected to move from hulk to hulk, but some do by shimmying along the cables or other methods. Obviously, the danger of "falling" into space and very slowly cooking to death in the Life Zone's strong sunlight is terrifying and most prisoners usually "secure" an emergency EVA unit. This doesn't even get into the prison gang wars. The prison works as the administrators control the oxygen, food/water, battery recharges, and lodging for most of the part. Prisoners work a week in the ships - sleeping in their spacesuits, sipping food liquids, and so on, getting resupplies every day from an old beaten-up in-system tug that stops by every hulk for about 30 minutes whereupon prisoners trade their output for resupply.

The most productive gang in a week is given the weekend off - they get to go to the dorm starship, take off their spacesuit, watch vids, and so on. The others only get this privilege once a month. Prisoners have a very basic set of things they're supposed to have - anything beyond this is confiscated by the prison authority; a basic spacesuit and work tools (hand tools - such as drills, electric saws, crowbars, screwdrivers, and so on). This opportunity is also used to check the health of prisoners and ill prisoners are given medical treatment; this meets the bare requirements of the prison's responsibilities to prisoner welfare. Only the most vile criminals and dangerous political prisoners are sent here, so it's basically a death sentence without actual execution by the state. The Imperium sends people here ... and many planetary governments pay the Imperium to take their worst off to here as well.

The basic social unit of the prison is the "work gang" - a group of 8 to 12 inmates who are moved as a unit to work sites and their productivity is added up to determine if they get perks or not. Over time, this has led to alliances of gangs, gang overlords, and so on. Small, weak, or new gangs are regularly leaned on. Most work gangs "pay" a certain amount of their salvage to more powerful gang alliances for "protection" or owe fealty to larger gangs to protect their own salvage from being taken. Some work gangs get their salvage taken entirely, don't get resupplied and die for want of oxygen or water. Similarly, new prisoners have to "prove" themselves as well or risk being shanked for their spacesuit and so on. New prisoners (such as the players) will be "processed" - new prisoners with the proper Zero-G skills might simply be organized into a new gang. Otherwise, a gang that has taken ... losses ... will conveniently pick up all the players to replace their losses.

As you can see, because the prison authority controls the essentials, it is pretty loosely run - they don't even keep track of prisoner rolls but they do keep strict control over what ships jump in - ships that jump in which don't identify themselves get destroyed. Beyond this, provided not too many prisoners die and productivity is kept to a certain level, the Wardens leave the prisoners alone, leading to alliances of gangs of workers controlling what really goes on among the hulks. Over time, prisoners have salvaged sufficient parts to make their own solar power to run atmosphere recycling, hydroponic gardens, and so on, but these operations are small - most that are detected by the wardens are shut down (not by Marines but simply by fire from the prison authority ships after a warning of those aboard to leave), so any "independent" operations are always small and not in the position to allow the prisoner population at large to be independent of the authority. Nevertheless these "indie" operations remain critical to the running of the prison - tiny prisoner-merchant lords do things like secure an inmate's possessions while he's in the dorm ships (otherwise, they'd just get their basic spacesuit when they leave with anything else being confiscated), trade vaulables for other things so on. As might be expected the "lords" of the gang faction system basically do no work and kick back in their "palaces", giving orders to their lieutenants.

The typical long-term prisoner will have a weapon, hazardous environment spacesuit, extra oxygen bottles, an EVA thruster, a portable music player, and some jewelry (people are always forgetting things like rings or necklaces in ships and these are found and kept by prisoners) - work gangs might have an inflatable oxygen shelter secreted away (always good for stretching the legs outside of the suit, if only for a few hours), old rations to break the monotony of the liquid diet, cigarettes, booze, and so on. While some of these items are fabricated in an ad-hoc fashion, mostly prisoners find stuff while they're salvaging and keep a few things for themselves; while a prisoner is initially given a TL9 spacesuit, if he finds a environment spacesuit secreted away somewhere, he'll likely have it inspected at a "business" (the inspection paid for with a gold ring a work gang-mate found under a mattress, for instance) to see if it is good, trade in his old spacesuit to the "business" and walk out wearing his new H-E suit. Meanwhile the "merchant" might rig up hammered sheet-metal or something to make the basic prisoner suit a bit more durable to trade to a newbie.

The escape opportunity exists in the form of a potentially jump-capable starship among the hulks. It starts with the discovery of a jump coil hidden in the hull plates of a starship being turned into scrap. ("What the heck is a Jump-5 crystal coil doing in a ship like that?" "It was a tramp freighter, those coils are primitive, probably from the first generation of J-5 battleships so its really heavy and it's damaged - merchant probably got it, decided he wanted a J-5 merchantman, found a powerful fusion reactor from somewhere and tried to do the work himself to make a "sleeper" ship. It probably fell over while they were trying to install it and they just shrugged their shoulders and decided to just put hull plates over it because it'd be too much work to remove it - if they had the reactor for J-5 jumps it'd be more than enough power to lift 60 more tons of mass" "So it works at Jump-5?" "No, it's cracked. We could probably repair it enough to work for one Jump-2 though...").

The jump coil is the breakthrough. The rest the players will have to negotiate and fight for:

* An Engineer and a few assistants to repair and install the Jump Coil if the players can't do it themselves.
* An empty hulk of appropriate size (this should be fairly easy).
* A Manuver Drive. The artificial gravity system of any starship can actually be used to create a low power M-Drive, provided it's reasonably close to a planet. An engineer will be required to do this work.
* A power supply. Prisoners find high capacity power cells and power conditioners all the time. The ship will need about 30 displacement tons of cells for a Jump-1. A power supply is more problematic. Traveller ships typically require a fusion reactor for a drive. You can't really power a Jump off of a battery. However, it's possible to make a Explosive Power Generator (EPG) from a thermonuclear warhead - which work crews find every few years on some odd hulk or another. There's probably a few floating around the work camp somewhere. Then an engineer will be needed to convert it into an EPG. (The EPG would be detonated outside of starship, irradiating the hull.)
* A navigation computer and a navigator. Navigation computers/star charts exist in the prison cluster in the hands of prisoners. But they'll need a navigator. If a PC is a navigator all the more reason.
* A place to work on their jury-rigged ship which won't be attacked/seized by the Gang Lords or discovered by the Authority. This will require delicate negotiation. Obviously, most Gang Lords are interested in leaving the system, but even the most ruthless and powerful Gang Lord will have to fear for his life when those who don't get a ticket out find out what's going on. Obviously the players will have to fear betrayal too.

A few thoughts: If your players don't have the requisite skills (Engineer, Astrogation, Computer, or Piloting) they'll have to find people who do. If you don't have much time to play out the entire assembly, it'll be a plus if your character(s) has at least one of skills; you can simply say one of the Gang Lords already has a ship mostly set up, he just needs some help to finish the last parts, using the skills the players have (be careful of betrayal of course - the Gang Lord might leave them behind or kill them en route or a lieutenant who gets bumped so the PCs and go is obviously not going to be too happy if he's promised that he'll be the new Gang Lord after the escape). If your players have none of these essential ship skills chances are they are probably are a team of stone cold killers (funny how Traveller works like that) ... and Gang Lords can always use some sicarios to secure the last components in return for a trip out...
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby Bulletsponge » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:57 pm

Dang, Epicenter. That is some really good stuff. You should put that together into a module.
Because I only have 2 sessions to pull this off, I could have the players stumble across a prisoner that is already in the process of building this ship. Like they see him sneaking off to the already scrapped hulks and follow him. He is only a few parts away from its completion and that's where the players come in.
You have me rethinking everything I have prepped. lol
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby steve98052 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:30 pm

Epicenter wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:14 am
[Lots of good ideas]
Bulletsponge wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:57 pm
Dang, Epicenter. That is some really good stuff. You should put that together into a module. . . .
If I get the In Design template converted to Word or Scribus before my seven day In Design trial expires, I'll send it to you if you want to follow Bulletsponge's suggestion.
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby Condottiere » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:14 pm

Epicenter
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby Epicenter » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:54 am

Bulletsponge wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:57 pm
He is only a few parts away from its completion and that's where the players come in.
It'd probably flow better if the player(s) have some skill the prisoners need. I've always thought that it might be possible for a single prisoner to do this, it's likely you'd need at least a gang of prisoners. When they first show up, they'd simply be approached by the gang who are building the ship (it's nearly complete). Some trustworthiness tests would likely be involved. It's not hard for the prisoners to figure out who has what skills and how to see if the player is telling the truth or not. I don't suggest these require actual skill rolls, it's just narrative fluff to show the players how they were tested.

* Engineer: They demand an engineer repair something - like a fuel-cell system, a maneuver drive array, or something similar. A skilled engineer is likely the most in-demand occupation among the prisoners and therefore while the Engineer can name his price, the Engineer is also useful in general (unlike the other two occupations which are only needed for an escape ship) so there's a good chance an engineering wizard (you know, Engineer-4 or higher types) might literally be kidnapped or similarly coerced.

* Pilot: The prisoners actually have ship's piloting simulator they've put together; they were using to train some of their own to pilot stuff, but they'd like a really skilled pilot who is cool in crisis. The pilot's test will first involve piloting a "mule" - a stripped down modular cutter used for transporting supplies and salvage around the hulks - provided the cutters don't leave a certain area, the authority doesn't pay it too much mind what prisoners do; the pilot will be required to travel a 'obstacle course' to pass the test. The pilot will be required to compute in his head orbital insertions coming out of Jump in a gravity well without the ship breaking up or burning up.

* Navigator: The prisoners have put together detailed near-space navigation maps using optical telescopes (part of the passive sensor arrays on starships) and parallax observations taken over decades. While computing Jumps is usually pretty trivial with a Jump Chart and a computer, the problem is that the prisoners don't have the software for a real jump computer. So the Navigator will have to dig way back to training when they had to do things "longhand" (sort of like how modern navigators are still taught to "shoot the stars").

Of course, that the ship is "nearly" complete still allows the players to have to participate in securing one or perhaps two more components.
steve98052 wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 5:30 pm
If I get the In Design template converted to Word or Scribus before my seven day In Design trial expires, I'll send it to you if you want to follow Bulletsponge's suggestion.
Sure. Though I have no idea of the economics of this stuff. I guess adventures are mostly given away for free since nobody would pay for them?
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby AndrewW » Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:08 am

Epicenter wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:54 am
* Navigator: The prisoners have put together detailed near-space navigation maps using optical telescopes (part of the passive sensor arrays on starships) and parallax observations taken over decades. While computing Jumps is usually pretty trivial with a Jump Chart and a computer, the problem is that the prisoners don't have the software for a real jump computer. So the Navigator will have to dig way back to training when they had to do things "longhand" (sort of like how modern navigators are still taught to "shoot the stars").
Alternately, someone with computer skill could write the jump software.
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby Epicenter » Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:28 am

AndrewW wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 2:08 am
Alternately, someone with computer skill could write the jump software.
It's something I considered, but that's one of Traveller's slippery slopes, "the post-human automated society" question, which is why I put in a Navigator.

It seems logical to me (and apparently you) that someone should just be able to get rid of the Navigator and use a computer program. Yet, Traveller requires someone with Navigation skills.

Yet, if you automate the Navigator, why do you need a pilot? Surely ships in Traveller should have an autopilot capable of landing a ship or taking a ship off (even doing insertions for gas giant scooping for that matter). It'd require sensors and so on, but things that like could probably be found on various hulks at some point or another and an autopilot could be adapted from something for another ship. So now the pilot isn't necessary either. All you need is a computer programmer to adapt a Pilot program for similar design vessel to their cobbled together ship.

A further stretch, but still within the realm of possibility is getting rid of the Engineer. You'd need a Engineer because you're cobbling together a ship and you don't have the automated factory that would normally put things together. Or would you? Perhaps there's a repair and rebuild assistant robot they found in one of the old hulks. Maybe its limbs are mangled but it could still identify what is necessary and direct human hands to do the work by seeing what the robot wants to do, but can't. So now we don't need a Engineer either, just the all-important Computer Programmer to write the Engineer program.

Automation can certainly remove people from the equation, but very quickly it becomes - why do these prisoners need the players at all? Where's the "in"? They have automation that can do it all already. Surely one of the prisoners is a computer programmer. It's a skill that's a lot more necessary than Pilots, Drive Engineers, or Navigators -- or is it? I mean extrapolating current trends, maybe someone can just tell the Universal Assistant (computer) what you need to do and it writes the program itself and simulates millions of permutations of conditions to debug its new program and tells you it is ready after a few hours or days. So you don't even need a computer programmer. It reminds of that line from the Matrix where Agent Smith says something to the effect of "I say your society, because after this, it became our society as we did everything for you."

As a compromise to keep the humans relevant, I'd say that a computer programmer might be able to write a program to replace any of the skills above (particularly Navigator because it seems the easiest), but the programmer would also need the skill in question; you need to be an Navigator and have Programmer to write a navigation program (or have a Navigator assisting you).
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby AndrewW » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:24 am

Epicenter wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 9:28 am
Yet, if you automate the Navigator, why do you need a pilot? Surely ships in Traveller should have an autopilot capable of landing a ship or taking a ship off (even doing insertions for gas giant scooping for that matter). It'd require sensors and so on, but things that like could probably be found on various hulks at some point or another and an autopilot could be adapted from something for another ship. So now the pilot isn't necessary either. All you need is a computer programmer to adapt a Pilot program for similar design vessel to their cobbled together ship.
Well, there is the Virtual Crew software.
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby steve98052 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:01 pm

Epicenter wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:54 am
Sure. Though I have no idea of the economics of this stuff. I guess adventures are mostly given away for free since nobody would pay for them?
I don't know the economics of it either; I haven't put my work up for sale. For something of uncertain value, it's possible to sell for "pay what you want", which is what I'll probably do with the spider cat ecosystem. If I do a "thousand useful items" book, I'll set a solid price, and also offer a preview edition.
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Re: Prison adventure ideas

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:24 pm

Someone with both astrogation and computer skills could write some jump code for a ship's computer.

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