This article originally appeared in the November/December 2016 issue.
“Sometimes travelers break the law.
Sometimes they get caught.”
—Prison Planet (1981), GDW
It’s almost a given that PC adventurers eventually end up on the wrong side of the law. Many such groups evade capture; others don’t. For the ones that don’t, the subsequent prison sentence can provide fuel for an extended adventure, especially if the referee uses the aforementioned Prison Planet. But what if the referee doesn’t own or use Prison Planet? What if s/he wants the group to face the consequences of their actions, but doesn’t want to run an entire adventure to do so? What if the player wants to have a character with prison experience and background, but also doesn’t want to run an entire adventure to get it?
There are few alternatives. In Book 1: Characters and Combat, the player has the option of choosing the “Other” career; it’s implied that the player can then simply state that the adventurer was once in prison. A generous referee might simply give a player a few extra throws or assign skills based on a prior prison stint. However, more detail and effort might be needed to properly convey the unique experiences of being an ex-con. The following tables, for use during Book 1-style Classic Traveller generation or when NPC ex-cons are desired, are designed to do just that. The generation process may be specially imposed by the Referee as the result of any of:
- Being apprehended, convicted, and sentenced during an adventure. Thus, this generation process is the only one that begins after initial character generation.
- The player’s desire to create an ex-con as a character. Thus, this table becomes the initial generation table, with the Career being ex-Prisoner
- A failed Survival throw. Obviously, the hero isn’t dead, but begins a prison term after recovery from injury (possibly due to charges of negligence, or the result of a frame-up)
- A failed re-enlistment throw of a natural 2, indicating that the PC did something against the law or the code of military justice, resulting in court martial, incarceration, and subsequent discharge.
- A decoration roll failed by six or more (e.g., Decoration required a roll of 10+, and the player rolled 4 or less after DMs are applied), indicating that the PC did something against the law or the code of military justice, as above.
Sentencing usually follows a (sometimes lengthy) court trial, which
is beyond the scope of this article. The referee need only decide what
got the PC in trouble, and what his or her sentence would be. If in
doubt (or for time’s sake), throw 1D—this is the number of terms to
which the hapless adventurer was sentenced. The generation process then
follows the process from Book 1:
|DM +1 if||: (Terms)|
|DM +2 if||: INT 9+|
|DM +1 if||: STR 9+|
|Re-Enlist||: See below|
Position and Promotion: The PC’s good behavior and willingness to abide by the rules (at least when the guards are watching) has been noted. S/he is accordingly allowed more (relative) freedom, the food is marginally better, and s/he enjoys minor day-to-day perks. Once Position has been achieved, the hero can throw for Promotion each subsequent term. Each level of Promotion moves the inmate a little more up the ladder of trust, with every three levels translating as a +1 DM when consulting the Skills table below. However, prison trust cuts both ways; every three levels of trust equals a -1 DM on Survival throws, as the other prisoners don’t take too kindly to trustys (they might be snitches.) A maximum of six level of trusty are available.
Re-enlistment: Re-enlisting for another term in prison is automatic until the prescribed time runs out. However, if at any time a natural 12 is thrown, the PC has been granted parole and musters out immediately.
Aging occurs per Book 1.
Skills are acquired per Book 1, although there are no automatic
skills; nor an extra skill throw upon the initial term of incarceration.
Extra skill throws are granted upon attaining Position and Promotion:
|Personal Development||Service Skills||Advanced Education||Adv Education (EDU 8+)|
|6||+1 EDU||Blade Cbt||Carousing||Leader|
Notes on Skills
Skills as per Book 1 except Liaison (Book 5: High Guard)
- Blade Combat:
- This is with shiv (improvised knife) only; treat as Dagger. This version of the skill also covers making such a weapon: finding suitable materials, proper honing techniques, etc.
It may seem odd that a prisoner would pick up skills. Indeed, Prison Planet makes no mention of PCs gaining skills while serving their sentences (the adventure focuses more on interactions between PCs and NPCs and efforts to eventually escape.) Yet, skills such as Streetwise, Brawling, and Blade Combat are almost mandatory for sheer survival. Most of the others are picked up during day-to-day interactions between prisoners, or prisoners and guards. The Advanced Education skills are typically the product of rehabilitation efforts such as correspondence courses and sponsored vocational education.
Upon being released from prison, the former inmate is presented with a suit of clothes, the return of any valuables confiscated upon incarceration (throw 10+ for these items to have disappeared), and 2D×Cr150. Throw 9+ for the prison to instead simply give the former inmate a Low Passage ticket and directions to the nearest starport.