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My player's characters were Arrested

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  • My player's characters were Arrested

    it's been along time since I've posted, although I've never stopped running games.

    I'm back because before the holidays half of my PCs got themselves arrested in game.
    I should note we're running a mortal game and just dipping our toes into the supernatural. It's also worth noting that the PCs were guilty of the crimes they were arrested for and the cops had ample evidence.
    At the time I wasn't sure what to do about it. Now, one of them had a lesser demon (Inferno) attached to their soul. So I used it to aid them in their escape. Opening the locks and rendering everyone in the building temporarily unconscious.
    A very literal get out of jail free card.
    It wasn't ideal, I would have much rather had my players manage a way out on their own. In my opinion the demonic assist was just a hair better then deus ex machina. But it seemed the best option i had at the time.

    I should say, during the game everyone was having a good time and their was a great deal of tension in the scene.

    As it's over I'm not asking for advice, but I want to know what would you have done? Either as a player having their character arrested or as a storyteller having your players get arrested?

    I'm currently worried my players won't take the threat of the police seriously again. When your playing or running how serious of a threat are the police?
    I normally consider being arrested in game to be tantamount to death, assuming release or rescue aren't in the cards.

    But I'm eager to read your thoughts.

  • #2
    I generally run it pretty seriously. Probably not tantamount to death, due to the possibility of being bailed out and characters being outlaws. But mortals especially are going to have it hard, not being able to lean on supernatural worlds and abilities the way others might. Especially in games like Hunter, where the standard monster hunter is basically a murderer. Sure it's fine if you're burning a horrible tree monster, but if you're killing a mage you're killing someone who has ID, connections, and a human body that's been left behind for some investigator to ponder over.

    While I imagine the players would not take the threat of police too seriously in that game, I think the concern could be pushed aside in future games just by giving a heads up in the zero session or whatever letting them know that, in that game and future games, the threat of law enforcement will carry more long-lasting risks. If you want to run that way, at least. There's plenty of horror stories where characters do things that should get them arrested and flouting the law basically becomes part of the story, and it's a valid way to do things. But if you want the authorities to be appreciated more in-game then you can just let the players know beforehand and make an effort to show the risks of getting on their bad side. Tales From the 13th Precinct was nice about fleshing out a police department, how they work and what officers can be like.


    • #3
      Hi nofather,

      I think by and large we're on the same page. I take my games seriously and expect the same from my players, for the most part. it's been a while since I've read Precinct 13, although that was years ago but I was quite happy with my characterization of the county jail and its officer.
      I should say this took place relatively early in the story, so was adverse to writing off these characters as unplayable and having my players make new ones.

      But I'm curious about is solutions to this scenario. what should happen after your players are arrested?
      Do you have an NPC rescue them? (My anwser)
      Do you play out a trial and try to have them acquitted?
      Do you write off and replace the characters?
      Do you have your characters try and fight their way out?
      Would this kill your game?


      • #4
        It depends on the crime and the context of it really.

        Like, if the players get caught because they did something really stupid, and refused to leave when the cops show up, then yeah, going to jail tends to end that character.


        • #5
          First thing I would do is check everyone was on board with continuing since some players might feel that the story had reached a satisfactory conclusion, after that I would have gone through what npcs might intervene and everything I had going on behind the senes to come up with an out.
          I assume you did something similar, worst case scenario have something like TFV recruit them.


          • #6
            If I was pressed for time campaign wise, I would probably figure out a challenge that leads to an opportunity for them to escape. An officer that is Urged by a spirit, a ghost of a police chief that wants their help to resolve his Anchors, something along those lines.

            Another possibility is that freedom is costly, requiring them to perform a high risk mission for their benefactor, similar to the Suicide Squad. Maybe an Unchained has infiltrated the police force, a Guardian of the Veil, Hunter Conspiracy or Seer Pylon. They are certainly not doing this to be altruistic, they need agents to do something for them. They see the party as filled with potential, but too green. They can help remedy this, maybe even give some gear. But they will require compensation and probably extract a guarantee against double crossing or the characters just going on their way.

            But my favorite option is to make them go to jail and then build up from there. Maybe their cell was the only one open and the walls are carved with binding circles, the mad scribbles of a deceased occultist. Maybe they found an Avernian Gate, a Locus, a temporal anomaly or even Infrastructure. Maybe they were trying to prevent something from getting out. There is power in there, oh yes, enough power to help them escape. But there is also danger for those who attempt to harness it unwarily. They will need to piece together its history, uncover it clues in forgotten or hidden parts of the prison.

            Then I would mix in some elements from Deus Ex: A Criminal Past, recasting the context to make certain prisoners be augmented by minor supernatural effects or subordinate to main splats. A prison is loaded with Essence resonance, unwilling test subjects and potential recruits. Its far too temping for a supernatural splat, or perhaps several, to be involved with it.

            The characters being arrested is not the end, its the beginning to a fascinating arc. A prison complex is a small, compact, entrapping chronicles setting, one you can make dense with history and nuance, one where acquiring any resources and holding on to them is a challenge in itself. It can be a golden opportunity to make the characters graduate to the next tier, to be more methodical, tactical and leave less loose ends because that is the nature of the challenge.
            Last edited by KaiserAfini; 01-01-2021, 02:34 PM.

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