Crime and Punishment - The Players Sourcebook of the Law

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This material is published under the OGL
Crime and Punishment - The Players Sourcebook of the Law
Author: Keith Baker
Publisher: Atlas Games
Item Code: AG3223
Release Date: March 2003
Format: 8.5" x 11", case bound
Page Count: 160
ISBN-10: 1-58978-039-6
Price: $29.95 US
Product Blurb:
Law is one of the defining elements of civilization. But it's too often overlooked in a fantasy setting. In a world where high-level characters can single-handedly defeat armies, how can any powerful individual be captured or imprisoned?

Just as Dynasties & Demagogues deals with political intrigue, Crime & Punishment takes an in-depth look at campaigns that focus on the forces of the law. Using this sourcebook, players can now take the roles of bounty hunters tracking down mystical renegades, justicars seeking to restore order in a cesspool of corruption and crime, mage hunters, itinerant justices, the local sheriff's men, or even spies for the crown.

And consider that even an innocent adventurer may find himself hunted by the law if he doesn't know what to watch out for. If the characters are on the wrong side of the law, this book provides information on what they may be up against, including new magical methods of law enforcement and imprisonment.

Crime & Punishment includes:

  • Extensive rules on conducting investigations, including new uses for old skills, new forensic spells, and specialized equipment. Plus new classes for agents of the law and those who work against them.
  • A detailed look at different systems of justice, from common law to divine law, with an emphasis on how such systems can provide opportunities and challenges for adventurers.
  • Information on running campaigns based on the law, showing players how to bring together a party of bounty hunters, a royal justice and his entourage, or a group of investigators solving crimes in a gritty metropolis.
  • Floor plans and descriptions for a variety of prisons, ranging from an extraplanar cell, to a stone garden filled with petrified prisoners, to a full-fledged mystical fortress.
This text is quoted from promotion material. Text and images are copyrighted by the original publisher.

Open Game Content[edit]

The Investigation[edit]

Talent of Inquiry[edit]

The best investigators and inquisitors draw on a variety of special talents that help them gather information and uncover the truth. Some of these are given below, as feats.

New Uses For Old Skills[edit]

Forensic Magic[edit]

This section provides a set of spells that can help a character conduct an investigation or locate a suspect. All of these spells can be used by inquisitors, but many can be also used by clerics, wizards, or other spellcasters.

Some of these spells can have a considerable impact on a character’s ability to get to the bottom of a mystery; a GM may wish to restrict access to these spells based on deity. For example, it would make more sense for a god of Knowledge to provide his priests with final vision than a goddess of Healing. A GM may also wish to use the inquisitor class in a particular region, but say that this nation has not mastered detect bloodtraces or form bloodstone; this would make it more difficult to identify and track a murderer.

Investigative Equipment[edit]

The following mundane equipment can be useful in situations where inquiry is required.

The following magical abilities and items can also be used to aid in an investigation.

The Investigative Team[edit]

An investigative team should include individuals who can fill the following roles:

The Mouthpiece — Detective work involves a great deal of talking. Gather Information is a critical skill, with Sense Motive a close second. Bluff and Diplomacy can help you soothe ruffled feathers or talk your way past suspicious guards. An investigator is an ideal choice for this task, since her Networking talent enhances her ability to gather information, but a rogue or a bard can be just as effective.

The Scout — Finding a suspect is one thing; following her is another. An expert in stealth and observation is an invaluable addition to the party. Move Silently, Hide, Spot, Listen, and Search are all critical skills. A rogue is well-suited to this role, and can add Open Locks and Disable Device to his repertoire; once he’s tailed the villain to her lair, he can break in and scout it out. But investigators, rangers, and bounty hunters also have sharp eyes and silent feet — and a ranger or bounty hunter can handle herself in battle if she’s spotted by her quarry. At higher levels, a shadowdancer or illusionist-thief could also fill this role, using his magic to hide in plain sight.

The Scholar — Someone on your team needs to be able to use Gather Information. But the word on the street is only one piece of the puzzle. Knowledge skills may help you catch clues that would otherwise slip by. Divination magics can be priceless when it comes to locating a stolen object or identifying a killer. And Heal and forensic pathology can come in handy when magic won’t do the job. This role is tailor-made for the inquisitor, but the loremaster is a close second choice; if neither one is available, a bard may be able to fill in, provided she has taken a few Knowledge skills to flesh out her training in Bardic Lore.

The Muscle — Raw firepower isn’t as important for an investigating team as it is for a group of dungeon crawlers, but you need to be prepared when things go wrong. Rangers, monks, and bounty hunters are excellent choices, as their skill with stealth and observation can allow them to act as back-up in other positions when things are peaceful.

Magical Backup — Like martial skill, mystical firepower and healing are not as critical for sleuths as for most parties. However, it’s good to have some sort of healing available, whether it’s a bard or a cleric of Knowledge or Trickery. If the group does not have an inquisitor, then a diviner, enchanter, or illusionist can also prove useful — either for acquiring knowledge through mystical means, or being able to overcome obstacles through charm or deception.

Gather Information[edit]

Gather Information is an extremely useful skill. This skill can be used to direct conversation or track an enemy through an urban area; both of these can be invaluable when you’re trying to follow the activities of a particular group or locate your nemesis. The ability to read a room using Sense Motive can also be useful if you’re dealing with suspicious characters; at least you’ll know who’s keeping an eye on you and when to watch your words. And should you get caught up in a guild war or similar feud, the forensic skills and spells may be invaluable. Perhaps you’re not going to make a living by solving crimes, but the ability to identify the person who killed your friend — using final vision, testimony of the broken window, detect bloodtraces, or by performing an autopsy — can be the critical first step in obtaining a little personal justice.

Be Prepared[edit]

Your enemies have access to all of the same materials that you do. Testimony of the broken window and detect bloodtraces will allow them to identify you. Urban tracking or follow the bloody trail will let them find you. Seemingly innocent bystanders may be part of an enemy investigator’s intelligence network. And an enemy with Sense Motive can even read the room to tell when you’re trying to read his thoughts. So be aware — these tricks aren’t just there for you!

Bringing Them In[edit]

Hunting Techniques[edit]

Those characters who specialize in bringing down fugitives have a few unusual tricks in their arsenal of tactics.

Location, Location, Location[edit]

You can’t do anything unless you find your opponent. To a large degree, this falls back on the tricks provided in Chapter Two — forensic magic, tracking, Gather Information, and other skills.


So, you’re trying to track down your mark? Well, tracking is the logical place to start. If you’re serious about bounty hunting, you’re going to want a skilled tracker in your group — whether it’s a ranger, bounty hunter, or someone who has picked up the Track feat independent of class.

Gather Information[edit]

Along with Track, this is the other no-brainer. If your target is in an urban area, you’ll want to break out Gather Information right away. Even if it doesn’t help you find your prey, it may at least give you the name of someone you can talk to for specific information.


If you’ve got an investigator in your group, she may be able to use her Networking ability to help obtain information about your prey. Even if you don’t have an honest-to-goodness investigator, you should think about the NPCs who you associate with on a regular basis. Perhaps the innkeeper has information about your quarry. If your prey is a thief, do you know any other rogues who could dredge the grapevine in the local guild? A good GM will make sure that there are a few leads out there to be found. Further, if you come up with a logical source for information, she may reward your creativity even if it isn’t what she had planned.

Getting information from a contact may require bribery, an exchange of favors, or a show of force (if you don’t care about maintaining a good long-term relationship with the NPC). If you’re a smooth talker, you can use Gather Information to get your contact to talk.


There are many spells that can help you to locate your prey. Discern location is as good as it gets, but as an 8thlevel spell it’s out of reach of most characters. Locate creature is an obvious choice, but it has a short range and requires a personal familiarity with the target. If you have an inquisitor on hand, follow the bloody trail has a longer range and requires no personal contact with your victim, provided that you have a bloodtrace to follow. If your target is out of range of these spells, scrying and greater scrying may give you enough clues to determine your target’s general location; if you ask the right questions, augury or divination can also lend a hand.


There are two types of bloodhounds — the living, breathing kind and those made of magic. Either one can fill gaps in your party. If you have an animal handler in your group, a living bloodhound can assist or replace a human tracker. A magical bloodhound can use follow the bloody trail for you — this is a handy tool if you don’t have an inquisitor at your beck and call.

Going Public[edit]

This is rarely the best idea and it may be something that your employer forbids, but in some circumstances you may want to take your quest to the public at large. Offer a reward for information about your target, and spread nasty rumors about what he’s been up to, so people will be more inclined to help. You’ll want to have a decent level of Sense Motive so you can tell if someone’s lying to try to claim your reward. Again, going public is rarely a good idea, since it will tip off your target; anonymity is a powerful defense. But when you’re completely out of ideas, this just might produce results.

Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself[edit]

The role of the hunter is quite different from that of the typical dungeon crawler. You don’t need to kick the door in without knowing what you’re going to find, and if you’re wise you never will. If you’re dealing with an enemy who is stronger than you are — either through natural power or because you need to restrain yourself — you need every advantage you can get, and knowledge truly is power.

If you have been sent on a job, the odds are that you know something about your targets. Try to find out as much as you can before you leave. Name and appearance are vital for finding the target, but what about behavior?

Knowing a target’s alignment can help you to predict his movements and how he will react to situations and proposals. It also helps with spell selection — do you want protection from chaos or protection from law? Will detect evil let you spot your enemy? Will your holy sword inflict extra damage, or should you stick with the staff of thought disrupting?

If your enemy is a spellcaster, what are his favourite spells? Aside from knowing what to expect, this can also help you set up magical defenses like mystical opposition or protection from energy. Pay attention to saving throws — if you’re going up against an enchanter, you want the monk with the high Will save to take point; keep the barbarian with 6 Wisdom out of the way until you’re sure he won’t get charmed. If the target is a fighter, what are his preferred tactics? If he’s an expert archer, you’ll want to make sure you catch him face to face. If he’s a terror in melee, sniping may be a better alternative.

Does he use any magic items? If so, is there any way for you to counter these items? Can you steal them or catch your victim when he is separated from them?

Try to anticipate other weaknesses he may possess. If you can determine his class and guess at his statistics (Is he frail? Robust? Clumsy? Quick?), you can get a good sense of what his saves may be. If he’s a fighter, ranger, or barbarian, Fortitude will be high but he will be vulnerable on other fronts; consider using mind-altering magic. Effects like hold person also have the advantage of bypassing a fighter’s high hit points. A wizard or sorcerer will easily resist your enchantments, but will be vulnerable to poisons, thunderstones, and other physical effects. By planning in advance, you can make sure to hit your target with the attacks that will cause maximum damage.

If your employer can’t provide you with this information, you will have to turn to other sources. If the target is well-known in a particular area, you may be able to obtain useful data from Gather Information, Knowledge (local), or even Bardic Lore. Detect magical residue can provide some sense of a target’s skills and power. And if it comes to it, there is always personal observation. The bounty hunter usually has the advantage that she knows her target’s face — but he doesn’t know hers. Once you’ve located your enemy, don’t be in a rush to attack him; observe him, see what you can find out about his patterns and behavior. Get into a conversation — can you get him to tell you anything by using Gather Information? Do you have access to detect thoughts? An investigator with the Read Character ability? Can you Spot anything interesting? This isn’t just limited to human opponents — you never know if that dragon you’re after might have a chink in his armor.

It’s equally important to know your own abilities and those of your allies. If you’re facing multiple opponents, try to pick opponents ahead of time — maximize your strengths and hide your weaknesses. So the barbarian shouldn’t take on the enchanter — who would he be best suited to fight? If you set him against the rogue, who is his secondary target once the rogue has been defeated?

Choose Your Ground[edit]

So, you’ve learned everything you can about your prey and tracked him down. The next question is the degree to which you can choose the battleground. If your target has gone to ground in some sort of stronghold, you may have to bring the battle to him; in this case, the best you can do is to thoroughly examine the safehouse. Do you need to cover multiple exits to prevent your quarry from escaping? Depending on your capabilities, this could involve spreading caltrops across an area or the use of spells like web or alarm, either to slow retreat or to alert you to possible flight.

Ideally, however, your target will not be aware of your pursuit. In this case you have far more flexibility. Using stealth, disguise, a familiar, or magical techniques of observation, and take some time to watch your prey. If he’s in a city, does he have a pattern of movement — and if so, where is he most vulnerable? If he’s traveling through the wilds, will he be stopping at an inn or camping for the night? Again, you’ll usually have the advantage of anonymity; your target may be generally paranoid, but unless your cover has been blown, he won’t know you’re after him. Look for ways to turn the ground against him. If he’s resting at an inn, can you bribe the innkeeper to create a distraction or slip paralytic poison into his drink? If he has servants, can you subvert one of the hirelings — or even replace her, using illusion magics or the Disguise skill?

While this is advice for the bounty hunter, it can apply to other types of adventure. If you’re out to slay a dragon, can you draw it into a location that suits your needs — where you have concealment from its breath? Can you identify its feeding habits, and drug the beasts it preys upon to slow down the dragon itself? The key is patience — taking the time to study your situation and pick the perfect battleground.

In certain situations, time of day can be just as important as location. If the fight will occur outdoors, consider whether your group has the edge in terms of Low-Light Vision and Darkvision — either due to racial abilities or goggles of night. If so, a night attack can be extremely effective; if not, you don’t want the enemy to have an advantage over you.

The Art of the Ambush[edit]

When you’re trying to set up the perfect ambush, there are a number of things to consider.

Advance Preparations[edit]

If you know you’re going to get into a fight, you can do all your preparations ahead of time. Get your protection spells up! Spells like mirror image may draw attention if used in a public place, but protection spells, cat’s grace, bless, and the like can all help without making you stand out to your target.

The next issue is positioning. In an outdoor attack, you’ll want to look for concealment, especially for your spellcasters. In an indoor battle you need to cover the escape routes, and position your people close to their designated targets. And as mentioned earlier, you should always look for other ways to skew the odds in your favor — whether it’s poisoning the beer or setting up traps along likely escape routes.

Communications: Sound and Silence[edit]

In the ideal ambush, you want to be perfectly coordinated. You need to be able to quickly adjust your battle plans based on unexpected surprises, like the sorcerer summoning a demon to even the odds or suddenly flooding the area with darkness. At the same time, the less your enemies know of your plans the harder it will be for them to react effectively. If your GM allows open table talk, this isn’t an issue. If she’s strict about it — only letting you discuss strategy if your characters are actually talking — things are more difficult. The ideal solution is telepathic bond or a set of circles of thought; both allow silent telepathic communication. Unfortunately, telepathic bond is a highlevel spell and circles of thought are very expensive. Lower-level hunters may have more luck with the message spell or message stones, although these have a limited range.

If you’re going to rely on verbal communication, come up with abbreviated designations for each target and each member of your party. If there are multiple areas that have tactical significance — like doors to an inn — assign designations to these points as well. Instead of saying “Jonath, Kayli, get the rogue who’s headed for the back door,” you want to be able to say “Green, black, coins at the bolt.” This leaves your enemies in the dark as to exactly what you’re doing — and it gives you an excuse to come up with cool code names. A slightly simpler alternative is for your entire party to learn an obscure language, and hope that your enemies don’t know it. If you shout all your commands in Ignan, odds are good that most of your foes won’t know what you’re talking about.

If you’re operating from a long distance and don’t have a method of magical communication, thunderstones or flashstones can be a useful way to signal an attack (in addition to blinding or deafening your targets). This brings up one last point — disrupting your opponent’s communications is just as valuable as getting your own plans in order. If you can deafen your enemies with a thunderstone, it will be even more difficult for them to coordinate with one another. The silence spell can be an invaluable tool for a surprise attack, especially if you’re making a night attack on a camp; it has a long range, and if you hit a sentry with the spell you can charge onto the scene and begin your work without waking any sleepers. Of course, silence will affect you as well, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve done your planning in advance! All of these techniques can also interfere with enemy spellcasting, though again, silence will hinder you as well as your enemies.

Speaking of Flashstones[edit]

Alchemical weapons like thunderstones and flashstones can provide you with a vital edge in combat; if you have to cover a significant distance to reach your prey, a concealed archer providing flareshot covering fire can be an excellent distraction. At close range, thunderstones can be problematic; there’s no way to spare your friends from the effects of the stone. However, allies can shield their eyes to avoid the effects of a flashstone or flareshot. The problem is one of communication. If you can communicate telepathically, you can warn your allies of an incoming flashstone without giving your enemies a chance to react. You can use a verbal signal, but there’s the risk that your enemies will come to recognize the signal. Alternately, you can come up with a code, like counting in Ignan; any number means “flareshot!” but the since each number is a different word, your opponents may assume that the signal has a different meaning.

Flashstones, thunderstones, and tanglefoot bags are all grenadelike weapons. As a result, they make excellent back-up weapons for wizards, sorcerers, and other characters with poor Base Attack Bonuses and low hit points. A wizard should be staying off of the front lines anyway, and he’ll still have a decent chance of hitting an area with a flashstone in spite of his poor BAB.

The Surprise Round[edit]

If you’ve done your job, you should get a surprise round at the start of an ambush. If you’re out in the open, you may have to spend this round drawing a weapon — walking around with drawn blades has a way of putting people on edge and spoiling surprise. But even in public, Quick Draw or gloves of storing can let you produce a weapon and still act — while a weapon like a quarterstaff can be carried in plain sight without raising suspicions. It’s just a harmless walking stick, after all.

While your enemy is flat-footed, he does not receive his Dexterity bonus to his Armor Class. Aside from the obvious advantage of making him easier to hit, this has two useful secondary effects. First, rogues and bounty hunters will get bonus damage from Sneak Attack and Painful Blow. In addition, a flat-footed opponent does not get to make attacks of opportunity — so if you’re not in the right position, this is your chance to move in! Get into flanking position. Grapple with a weak enemy. Get close enough to threaten enemy spellcasters in upcoming rounds. And if you’re right next to an opponent and you need to cast a spell or use a ranged weapon, now is the time to do it!

The King's Justice[edit]

Influencing NPC Attitudes[edit]

Most of the legal systems presented in this book use the standard system for influencing NPC attitudes. The following table determines the DC for using the Diplomacy skill (or a Charisma check) to influence the attitude of a nonplayer character. Note that you don’t have to specify the final result that you hope to achieve. For example, if a justice has an initial attitude of hostile, you must get a check result of at least 20 to improve his attitude to 20. But if the result of the check is 25 to 34, his attitude improves to indifferent.

And if you manage to get a result of 50 or higher, he goes all the way from hostile to helpful!

See also SRD:Diplomacy Skill.

Itinerant Judges[edit]

If you’re looking for an interesting alternative to the standard dungeon crawl, you might consider trying a brief campaign in the service of the law. The life of a traveling justice can be filled with adventure and intrigue, and can make an interesting basis for a party.

Consider the Following Party Structure:[edit]

The Justice — If you’re going to make a campaign out of the pursuit of the law, someone needs to play the justice. A justice can start taking levels in the inquisitor class as early as 3rd level. If you start off with a somewhat experienced group, the justice can begin with a few inquisitor levels. That way he can serve as his own truthteller and also make up for the fact that he’s got an NPC class.

The Investigator — Most of the time an itinerant justice will trust in the report of the jury. But as an adventuring group, you never know what you could encounter. Cover-ups, conspiracies, doppelgangers, and stranger things abound — for such cases, it’s good to have someone on the team who specializes in gathering information. An investigator is the logical choice for this, but a rogue or bard can serve equally well.

The Confessor — Assuming that the nation isn’t filled with atheists, it never hurts to have a representative of the gods in the party. Criminals and townsfolk alike may be more willing to unburden themselves to a minion of the divine that to a representative of the king. And if blood is shed, the ability to heal never hurts. A hint: a cleric of a god of Good, Protection, the Sun, or the like usually makes a better confessor that a priestess of Death, Destruction, or Evil.

The Shields — An itinerant justice would be wise to travel with a few good blades at his side. Aside from the likelihood of bandits on the roads, there’s always the possibility that the townsfolk may take umbrage with an unpopular ruling. The justice must be prepared to enforce his decision through force of arms. And if you conduct your own investigation, you never know what you might find. Both fighters and paladins serve this purpose admirably, but if you start at higher levels you may want a magehunter, to help to control mystical prisoners.

Divine Law[edit]

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