View Full Version : Torturing players

16 February 2002, 06:45 PM
Ok, I have a situation in my game right now, Rise of the Empire / The Phanom Menace timeline. I have a Republic officer that has been captured by a desparate band of terroritsts. So I thought I'd ask everyone how they had the player character get tortured? Perhaps I can use some of your ideas.....

16 February 2002, 10:22 PM
It seems to me that would be a Willpower save with a modifier appropriate to the method of torture used. Something revolving around pure pain would be a Willpower save, where success would mean no information is given. But I would have each positive willpower save mean a -1 to one or other statistic. Every time they fail in their attempt to get information something has to go down, like strength or dexterity (cutting a tendon), or charisma (slicing up the face), or intelligence/wisdom (getting a severe beating to the head), and so on. Let the PC hold out as long as a) he or she wants to hold out and b) the dice rolls are favorable. But each successful resistance roll should cost them something valuable, like statistic points.

Emperor Xanderich II
17 February 2002, 01:58 AM
Please keep this civil everyone.

We've normally just had the players make will checks rather than go into the gory details.

I also think it would be a bit hrash if you started reducing players characteristics. Temperorary reductions are fine in my opinion- we used the wounded effect in D6.

In one of our games, the results of the interrogation effected what happened later in the game. eg the players had toescape from the TIE factory and then broadcast a password to make sure they didn't get shot down by their own side. If the bad guy tortured this out of them, then he would use the passowrd and the players would be in a whole lot of trouble!

17 February 2002, 06:01 AM
The problem as I see it, is that anyone can make some die rolls. The player says he'll hold out to the end, and with good die rolls he does. But what is the effect of the torture? He may not be so quick to stick it out no matter what the torturers throw at him if he knows he'll have a permanent limp, or be missing an eye, or some fingers or whatever. Someone who holds out to torture all the way should probably die. Torture isn't meant to build someone up, but tear them down, painfully, piece by piece.

How about this, for every act of torture roll d6 to see which stat is affected. The player decides if he or she is going to keep their mouth shut. If they talk, talk. If not, have the player roll d20 for that stat. If he or she rolls less than or equal to the stat, it goes down one point. Then, once that's determined, roll willpower to see if he or she could hold out.

If they talk, the torturers get one piece of information only. If not, or if they need more than what was divulged, go for another round. The players will soon realize that their character is being killed (a real in-game consequence) and may voluntarily talk just to end the torture (role playing at its finest).

When it's all said and done, you could even rule that some of the torture might be temporary. All lost points stay lost for one full day. The following day, roll a stat check at DC 10 for each stat affected. If the check is successful, one point comes back (with a max of whatever they had to begin with, of course). If it's failed, then that stat remains where it is permanently.

17 February 2002, 07:15 AM
have they tried running their nails over a chalk board?

all kidding aside, the game shouldn't have to get that gory. as for holding out to the end, torture is never just physical. there are the subtle bits of torture like keeping them up for days at a time and noises below a whisper just beyond their range of hearing.

sonic waves can do a number on a person, there are low key bass tones that can induce vomitting and nausea as well as bleeding from the ears without doing any permanent damage. torture is never about the long term unless the torturer intends to keep the prisoner for a very long time. the reason behind torture is to get fast results.

there is a scene in the movie payback (?) with mel gibson where the mobsters break his toes with a hammer (long time results with excrutiating immediate results). conversely there is a scene where they use shock treatment on mel gibson (he gets tortured a lot) in one of the lethal weapon movies (cannot remember which).

the holding out bit would be a simple willpower check. the job of the gamemaster is to describe the cause of the willpower roll and still maintain a pg-13 rating, which pretty much rules out vivisection and flaying. also there are a lovely array of truth serums to be had that have cause for a fortitude check and apply negative results to all willpower checks.

auschwitz (sp?) style torture really has no place in the information gathering bit, especially with uber classy villians.

of course with a desperate band of terrorists you might decide to go with zippo lighters and trained rats - FORT save and WILL save at -2 - (j/k).

another use for torture might be the bluff
"bring me a chisel and a block of salt..."
"what are you going to do with a chisel and a block of salt?"
"if you tell me what i want to know, nothing"

amazing how often it works...

hope that helps some..

17 February 2002, 08:20 AM
There a are two Imperial truth serums in Cracken's Rebel Field Guide. The first one gives the victim horrific hallucinations, to scare the info out of them (requiring a willpower check), and the second simply poisons the victim, but only if they lie (maybe a willpower check, maybe a simple either/or, player's choice).

17 February 2002, 05:02 PM
Hmm. I think its a bit too harsh reducing player characteristics on a permanent basis. A temporary reduction .. yes .. I will agree with that .. but permanent is definate no no.

Also, I would really only start knocking down characteristics on a ratio to vitality points and a ratio to wounds.

Basically, you could say that .. plucking numbers out of the air here .. that for every 10 vitality lost due to torture (this vitality would be lost by the character rolling a d10 to see how much vitality is lost) there is a temporary reduction in a characteristic of the players choice of 1 point.

Also, for every 4 wounds lost (where a d4 would be rolled instead of a d10 as in the previous case) there would be a temporary reduction of a characteristic of the players choice by 2 points.

Obviously, if this player is rescued or escapes somehow, the ONLY way the characteristic points lost would be retained would be by spending time in a medical facility for a 1D10 (or 1D20 depending on harshness :p ) months (game time months .. not actual months). So basically, the person characer would need to spend up to 10months in hospital. Now, this character would basically not appear in a few missions .. or the rest of the crew could just say they wait 10 months until their team mate heals. So the next mission would be 10 months later.

Now, just as another note, it is pretty much the duty of the person doing the torture to ensure that their captive doesnt die. So, the torturer ideally want to make sure that the person being tortured retains some vitality so that they do not go unconcious or anything like that. In order for the torture to be effective, you have to keep the person alive so they know they are in pain. Also, this way, you may just do enough temporary damage to their characteristice that they will cave in.

A good torture scene would be from the Matrix .. when Morpheus is getting tortured by the Sentinels (well .. I should say THE sentinel Hugo Weaving .. aussie are so cool dont ya think :D B) ) . Morpheus is kept alive .. barely ... but does need time to recover after he is rescued/escapes.

18 February 2002, 01:14 PM
torture... brings back memories...
anyway, how i usually do it is comine will saves of ascending DC, along with penalties depending on the type of torture used. And psych torture can have long term effects, too... phobias, paranoias, etc.

Wade Trenor
18 February 2002, 10:58 PM
You're all right, especially Corsair.

By the way, my name's John Laws. :p

But c'mon, how many times do you think your PC's will ge tortured? Wouldn't it be simpler that if a character is captured, you have the other PC's go to the rescue, and when they find him, he has no vitality left? To see whether he has spilled his guts B) , make him take a Will save with a DC of 15-20 (depending on how long he was captive).

You're all giving Corsair ideas about torture and long chase scenes, and I'm getting more than a little worried. STOP please! 8o

Wade Trenor
18 February 2002, 10:59 PM
Bugger, sent the thing twice...

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