“For the crime of pick pocketing and resisting arrest, you are sentenced to 30 days in jail.” “30 days? But your honor, I only stole 5 silvers. Surely that sentence is a bit…harsh?” As soon as the words escaped his mouth, Sutter regretted them.
The judge’s face grew red as he bellowed, “You’re right, young man, perhaps the sentence is inappropriate! Make it 60 days and count yourself lucky that we don’t chop off the hands of thieves in this town!”
Sutter could only whimper as he was led away. Sixty days? Well, at least he got to keep his hands.
Venable is a bustling trade center that sits at the intersection of two major caravan routes. Merchants clog the town’s streets daily, impatiently loading or unloading their caravans, loudly negotiating deals, and exchanging rumors and news. Accompanying the merchants is an army of porters, teamsters, guards and drovers. With all the money exchanging hands, it’s no wonder that a fair number of pickpockets and thieves are present.
Since the town watch was arresting more and more miscreants, Venable’s leadership was forced to build a facility to house them. With urging from the church of Pelor, the town leaders decided that rehabilitation would also be a function of the new jail. The two-story, stone building that was eventually constructed is simple, yet functional.
The jail houses up to sixty prisoners, who serve sentences ranging from a few weeks to a few years. The town leadership sees little point in spending time and effort incarcerating offenders for truly long periods of time. If a crime is quite serious, a death sentence is handed down rather than sticking the offender in a cell for a few decades.
Most of the prisoners tend to be minor offenders, convicted of crimes such as burglary, pick pocketing, brawling, and so on. Furthermore, most convicts are first-time offenders. Habitual criminals are only given so many chances to reform before a permanent, life-ending sentence is handed down.
It is important to note that the jail is not equipped to handle powerful NPCs and/or spellcasters; criminals capable of casting spells are incarcerated elsewhere. Furthermore, formidable warriors are more likely to be fined or exiled because of the threat they pose to the guards.
The jail offers a few programs that aim to rehabilitate the inmates. Most popular is a trade-skill training regimen that teaches the prisoners basic work skills. The idea is that after their jail term is over, the inmates will be able to seek out honest employment. For example, a small group of prisoners will form work groups to repair Venable’s cobbled streets. The inmates learn to cut, fit, then mortar into place replacement cobbles. While this type of work does not pay exceptionally well, it would be an excellent way to begin a humble masonry career.
Eight guards and a supervisor are present in the jail at all times to quell any uprisings that might occur. Fortunately, most disturbances are in the form of an unruly prisoner who refuses to roll out for work detail. A few swift kicks and a pounding with a truncheon are about all the coercion needed. Unfortunately, every once in a while, the prisoners riot. This is much more of a serious threat to the guards, so outside help is needed. Duncan Faulk, a local wizard, is always willing to lend a Sleep spell or two to if needed.
The guards work in eight-hour shifts, with an additional five guards present during the day. The extra five guards escort the work teams who perform work release duties.
This is the only way in or out of the jail. A sturdy door is set at the top of a stairway. It is built of iron and secured from the inside with a heavy steel bar. There is a peephole the guards use to inspect individuals on the stoop.
There is always one guard on duty here at all times. This room features stairs leading down into the cells, as well as doors to the pantry and guards’ living area. c) Guards’ Living Area: When not tending to the needs of the prisoners or those of their fellow guards, the men who staff the jail will be found resting in this room. There is a fireplace in the west wall, and a few tables and chairs occupy the space where the guards enjoy their meals or pass the time with games of chance.
The jail’s cook, Mrs. Croft, provides the guards and prisoners with decent fare. The guards eat better than the prisoners, to be sure, but Mrs. Croft ensures that the prisoners’ food is fresh and edible. Soup, bread, and water with lemon or mint are the standard fare.
In this small room, Mrs. Croft stores dry goods, and the guards keep blankets, manacles, and cleaning supplies.
This room used as an office for Sergeant Crayne (the jail’s warden) and his two corporals. A bunk is also present for late-night catnaps. A ledger in a desk provides detailed notes on the prisoners, their offences, dates of incarceration, and so on.
g) Guards’ Quarters
A few down-on-their-luck guards live at the station. When not on duty, they might be found here. The room features a few bunks, a table and chairs, and some footlockers for storing personal belongings.
h) Guard Station
Four guards are always present in this location, alert for any activity that might indicate a fight among the inmates or an escape attempt. A brazier keeps the area warm in winter, although the cells do not benefit from the heat. A sturdy table provides an eating surface for the guards, as well as a place to play cards during long shifts. A weapons rack containing 6 light crossbows, 60 bolts, 6 halberds, 6 large shields, and 6 clubs is present should an uprising take place.
Each cell houses up to six prisoners, although the number of occupants normally hovers around two or three. (The larger cells would obviously house more prisoners than the smaller ones.) The cells feature crude wooden cots, a chamber pot, and a tin cup for each prisoner’s food and water. The prisoners are given three cups of water a day and fed twice: once in the morning and again at night.
The prisoners are released from their cells only if they have demonstrated themselves to be promising candidates for rehabilitation. If this is the case, the fortunate individual will be absent from his cell for eight hours during the day while he or she works with several other prisoners under the supervision of five guards.
The cell doors are made with reinforced wood. An iron bar is slid into place from the outside, then secured with a modest lock.
Jail Personnel and Inmates
Below are descriptions and stat blocks for the jail’s staff and prisoners. Stat blocks for the sergeant, corporals, guards and inmates can be found below. A jail organization diagram appears at right. It illustrates the shifts, number of guards on duty and officer in charge.
Sergeant Crayne is a seasoned veteran of the town watch. Crayne was chosen for the job because of his high ethical standards, good standing in the community and his commitment to seeing that criminals receive their due punishment. Crayne is skeptical about the jail’s ability to rehabilitate inmates via the work program. He has a rather cynical view of criminals, feeling that most should be exiled, executed, or locked away forever.
The guards work in eight-hour shifts, with eight men to a shift. The jail is small enough that a larger contingent is not needed. In addition to the eight men on duty, Crayne or one of his two corporals is always present.
The guards earn 10 gp per month and are willing to augment that income in creative ways. While no guard would accept a bribe to help a prisoner escape, he might pass along a letter, smuggle in some wine, or arrange for a visit with a loved one. These acts are generally accomplished at night for a bribe of 3-5 sp. If a guard were caught, the punishment for a first offense might be a simple talking to, while dismissal from service would be the penalty for a second infraction.
Two corporals are present at the jail during the night and graveyard shifts. The men are both competent, although rumor has it that they tend to look the other way when the guards smuggle in wine, letters and loved ones into the jail at night.
The criminals incarcerated at the jail are minor offenders and not very skilled. If they were accomplished rogues or brigands, they would have eluded capture and would still be on the streets. Furthermore, if the inmates were truly dangerous, they would have been hung by now. Most inmates simply want to do their time and get out. Many realize that the conditions at the jail are far superior to those found elsewhere, so they accept their lot with a small degree of humility and gratitude.
At any given time there are 20+2d20 prisoners locked up.
Using the Jail in Play
Law-abiding characters might play a role in putting a criminal into jail. If the party apprehends a minor criminal (level 1 or 2 NPC) who is guilty of a modest offence, the Venable jail is the most likely destination for the miscreant. If the party intervenes on behalf of a more serious offender, then perhaps the criminal could be spared the gallows and instead be sentenced to a lengthy sentence in the jail. This might be the case if good-aligned PCs are aware of the jail’s rather successful rehabilitation program.
In the event of a riot, the party might be called upon to quell the disturbance if the guards are subdued.
Finally, the party could foil an escape attempt. Perhaps the nephew of a powerful criminal has been incarcerated. Determined that no relative of his will rot in a cell, the crime boss will arrange a jailbreak. The party could get wind of the plan and lay in wait for the rescuers.
Criminal-minded characters may find themselves guests of the jail if they are convicted of a relatively minor crime, such as pick pocketing. Should characters actually kill or seriously hurt someone while committing a crime, death may be the more likely punishment. Violent criminals have a limited shelf life in Venable.
While the options for role-playing in jail are limited, characters doing time might plan an escape. Weapons could be improvised from the wooden bunks or tin mess cups. Alternatively, a character might try to get placed on the jail’s work detail program so that he could escape more easily. Referencing a scenario seed for law-abiding characters, rogue PCs might plan and execute a jailbreak for one of their inmate friends. Such an operation would require a great deal of planning and daring!
|Sergeant Crayne, male human War2/Ftr2; Medium humanoid (5' 8", 165 lbs); CR 3; HD 2d8+2/2d10+1; hp 28; Init +2; Spd 20 ft; AL LG; |
Armor: AC 16 (+4 scale mail, +2 dex), touch 12, flat-footed 14.
Attacks: Base Atk +4, Grp +5; Melee: Longsword +7 (+4 BAB, +2 str, +1 weapon focus) (d8+2, 19-20/x2).
Saves: Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +3.
Abilities: Str 15 (+2), Dex 15 (+2), Con 13 (+1), Int 12 (+1), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 13 (+1).
Skills and Feats: Diplomacy +5, Gather Information +4, Intimidate +4, Listen +5, Sense Motive +5, Spot +5; Alertness, Iron Will, Negotiator, Toughness, Weapon Focus (longsword).
Possessions: Longsword, manacles, signal whistle, 5 sp.
|Corporal, male human War3; Medium humanoid (5' 10", 170 lbs); CR 2; HD 3d8+7; hp 23; Init +6; Spd 30 ft; AL LG; |
Armor: AC 15 (+3 studded leather, +2 dex), touch 12, flat-footed 13.
Attacks: Base Atk +3, Grp +6; Melee: Longsword +7 (+3 BAB, +3 str, +1 weapon focus) (d8+3, 19-20/x2).
Saves: Fort +5, Ref +2, Will +0.
Abilities: Str 16 (+3), Dex 13 (+2), Con 14 (+2), Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Climb +2 (+1 in armor), Intimidate +5, Listen +3, Spot +3; Alertness, Toughness, Weapon Focus (longsword).
Possessions: Longsword, manacles, signal whistle, 5 sp.
|Guard, male human War1; Medium humanoid (5' 7", 170 lbs); CR 1/2; HD d8+1; hp 9; Init +1; Spd 30 ft; AL LG; |
Armor: AC 14 (+3 studded leather, +1 dex), touch 11, flat-footed 13.
Attacks: Base Atk +1, Grp +2; Melee: Shortspear +2 (+1 BAB, +1 str) (d6+1, x2); Ranged: Shortspear +2 (+1 BAB, +1 dex) (d6+1, x2).
Saves: Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +2.
Abilities: Str 13 (+1), Dex 13 (+1), Con 13 (+1), Int 14 (+2), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 11.
Skills and Feats: Gather Information +6, Listen +6, Search +6, Spot +6; Alertness, Investigator.
Possessions: Shortspear, manacles, signal whistle, 3 s
|Inmate, male human Com1; Medium humanoid (5’ 8”, 155 lbs); CR 1/4; HD 1d4+1; hp 5; Init +5; Spd 30 ft; AL CE; |
Armor: AC 11 (+1 dex), touch 11, flat-footed 10.
Attacks: Base Atk +0, Grp +0.
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +3.
Abilities: Str 11, Dex 12 (+1), Con 12 (+1), Int 11, Wis 12 (+1), Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Hide +2, Listen +3, Move Silently +2, Spot +3; Alertness, Improved Initiative.
Possessions: Tin cup.
|The Venable Jail|
Superior Masonry Walls: 3’ thick, Break DC 50, Hardness 8, Hit Points 540 (per 10x10 section);
Front Door (iron door): Hardness 10, hp 60, Break DC 28. There is no exterior lock;
Cell Doors, strong wooden: 2” thick, hardness 5, hp 20, Break DC 25, Open Lock DC 25.