Crime and Punishment

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This material is published under the OGL
Crime and Punishment
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.


Finding the Truth

In Search of the Truth

The Talent of Inquiry

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.

The Techniques of Investigation

New Uses For Old Skills


The willful torture of another living creature is a heinous act. But that hasn’t stopped it from being performed throughout history, to extract information or enforce cooperation. Evil-aligned governments may use torture as a way to motivate suspects to confess. You may not stoop so low as to engage in torture, but should you or your friends fall into evil hands, it’s important to understand the horrors that may lie in wait.

It’s possible to torture someone without using any skill whatsoever. Anyone can, say, start to cut off your toes or pull out your teeth. But too much pain will simply put a victim into shock, or cause him to start babbling whatever he believes his torturer wants to hear. The true art of the torturer is to keep the victim alive and conscious, and to motivate him to speak clearly and honestly — to tell the truth because he is more afraid of what will happen if he is caught in a lie than he is of what has already occurred.

There are two basic types of torture: psychological and physical. Psychological torture is based on Intimidate, while physical torture — strangely enough — uses Heal.

Forensic Magic

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.

Tools of Detection

New Equipment

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

New Magical Items

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

Life of the Investigator

Adventures in Investigation

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.

Life in the Big City

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.

Agents of the Opposition

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!

Bring 'em Back Alive


Hunting Techniques

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

Fighting Against the Odds

Gaining the Upper Hand

Location, Location, Location

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

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 8th level 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

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

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

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

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

Advance Preparations

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

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 high level 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 thunderstones, 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

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 flashstones or flareshot. The problem is one of communication. If you can communicate telepathically, you can warn your allies of an incoming flashstones 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

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!

Efficient Combat

When you’re fighting a superior foe, you need to make absolutely certain that you’re working at peak efficiency. This chapter presents a variety of new spells that can help you to gain the upper hand; these are provided later in the chapter. Here are a few tips for using these spells and other techniques to get the best of your enemy.

Get the Numbers on Your Side

When you’re setting up your plans, evaluate your enemies. Sometimes you need to spread out — to give man-to-man coverage to each of your opponents. But at other times it will be far more efficient to team up and try to take one or two of your foes out of the fight in the first round or two; this can allow you to use flanking, grappling, and other group tactics on those who remain. Fighters may be your most dangerous enemies in close combat, but they are also the most difficult to take out of the fight; wizards, sorcerers, and rogues can be knocked out more quickly, allowing you to focus your full resources on the bruisers.

Team Play

Flanking is an obvious tactic in group combat, especially if you have a rogue or bounty hunter in play; the extra damage from a Painful Blow or Sneak Attack can add up over time. But Aid Another is a maneuver that often gets overlooked. If you and an ally are both in a position to strike the same opponent, you can take a standard action to assist your comrade. You must make a successful attack roll against AC 10; if you succeed, you may give your friend a +2 circumstance bonus to her attack rolls or AC against your mutual opponent. While much of the time it will make more sense to make an attack of your own, when you’re dealing with a vastly superior opponent who you just can’t hit, you may be better off helping a stronger ally to make a successful attack. This can be especially relevant for a weak spellcaster, if she either has no useful spells or doesn’t want to risk an attack of opportunity; she can at least try to help the melee bruisers with Aid Another — although it may be best for her to stay safely out of melee range. Multiple characters can use Aid Another to help the same person, and the bonuses stack — so if you just can’t hit a speedy foe, ganging up to assist your strongest fighter may be your quickest path to victory.

If you do end up with a spellcaster on the front lines, consider drawing attacks of opportunity in order to assist the caster. A heavily armored fighter can afford to draw an attack — moving through threatened space to flank the target or trying a grapple — to allow the weaker caster to perform a spell or to move away from the front lines.

If you’re really focused on group combat, the Group Tactics feat provides you with a bonus to attack rolls when you are fighting an opponent in conjunction with an ally. This bonus increases for each person with Group Tactics involved in the fight, up to a maximum bonus of +3. If you’re planning to be serious about the bounty hunting business, it’s something you might want to invest in as a team.

Entanglement, or "Why Janni Can't Cast"

An entangled opponent is an unhappy opponent. A victim of an entangling effect suffers a –2 penalty to attack rolls, a –4 to her effective Dexterity, must make a Concentration check (DC 15) to successfully cast a spell, and can at best move half his normal speed; in addition, he cannot charge or run. There are a number of spellsweb and, well, entangle — that cause this condition. These generally cover a wide area. If you’re going to be fighting close up, there are two other valid alternatives: the net and the tanglefoot bag.

The tanglefoot bag can be expensive for low-level characters — 50 gp for a single-use item — but it is extremely useful. It requires no special proficiency to use and counts as a touch attack, allowing you to ignore your target’s armor. Further, if your victim fails a Reflex save (DC 15), his movement speed is reduced to zero. Needless to say, this can slow up that clumsy warrior and give your allies time to bring spells or missile weapons to bear. On the other hand, a victim can break out of the goo by inflicting 15 points of damage to it, so the mighty warrior may not be trapped for long.

Another alternative is the net — an exotic weapon, but one that members of the bounty hunter class are trained in. The net has a limited range, but it is also a touch attack. You can break out of a normal net by inflicting 5 hit points of damage against it with a slashing weapon, by making a successful Escape Artist check (DC 20), or by making a Strength check (DC 25). The equipment section later in this chapter includes a variety of superior fighting nets, include the silk net, mithral net, and special rules for magical nets; among other things, these nets are considerably stronger than their hemp counterparts.

Getting a Hold on the Situation

If you outnumber your opponents, grappling is another thing to consider. While caught in a grapple a character loses his Dexterity bonus to his AC, opening himself up to Sneak Attacks and Painful Blows. He loses his ability to make attacks of opportunity, allowing you to cast spells right under his nose. Meanwhile, he can’t cast any spells that have somatic components — and since wizards and sorcerers are often lacking in physical strength, this can be a good way to take one out of the fight. If you successfully pin your opponent, the only action he can take is to try to escape your pin; in addition, melee attacks against the victim receive a +4 bonus. As the grapple itself is a touch attack, you get to ignore your victim’s armor; so this is another way to deal with a single, well-armored enemy that most of your allies can’t hit.

One of the greatest challenges involved in grappling is getting the tussle started in the first place. Making a grapple attempt provokes an attack of opportunity — and if you are damaged by that attack, the grapple automatically fails. There are a few ways to deal with this:

Grappling is one example of one member of your party creating an opening, but there are many others. A monk’s stunning attack, a trip attack, or use of a spell like hinder can all produce openings for allies who follow you later in the round.

Managing Spellcasters

High-level spellcasters can be extraordinarily dangerous. Charm spells can turn allies into enemies, hold person can take the brawniest barbarian out of the fight, and meteor swarm can devastate an army. However, spellcasters have many weaknesses. If you plan ahead, there are a variety of ways to handle those pesky magi.

  • A spellcaster provokes an attack of opportunity if he casts while he is within an area that you threaten (with the notable exception of touch attack spells). So close as quickly as possible! If you have the element of surprise on your side and can choose the battlefield, try to position your fighters next to the spellcasters from the very beginning of the battle.
  • Concentration is the second great weakness of the caster. If you keep hitting him every time he tries to cast a spell, it will be very difficult for a wizard to do his job. The spell pins and needles and the Twist the Knife feat both help to prevent a spell-caster from focusing on his magic.
  • If you are of the same class as your opponent and have a talent for Spellcraft, counterspells can be a powerful weapon. If you’ve done your homework and learned what spells your enemy favors in combat, you can negate the magic of your enemy with no chance of failure, regardless of his level. You may be 6th level and your opponent may be 12th level, but if he casts a fireball and you have one prepared that you can drop for the counterspell, you automatically negate his attack. As long as you outnumber your opponents, this is a great way to buy time for your fighters to close and engage with enemy magi. You can’t counter a spell that you cannot cast — but that’s what dispel magic and scatterbrain are for.
  • As noted in the previous two sections, both entanglement and grappling can make life difficult for magic users. Get the tanglefoot bag out there quickly!
  • Silence prevents the casting of any spells with verbal components, although it hinders you as much as your opponent. Garble prevents a single target from casting spells with verbal components, but it will not stop him from making noise and raising an alarm. Mystic opposition and opposing currents won’t stop your enemy from casting, but they will weaken the effects of his spells; aural disruption has the same effect, and may prevent your opponent from using his strongest magic. Touch of idiocy has a limited range but affects multiple statistics at once and allows no saving throw. And finally, scatterbrain will drain stored spells from your opponent — which can be very useful if a band of you are taking on a single powerful spellcaster.


If you’re fighting your way through an ancient tomb, you don’t have to worry what to do with the skeletal warriors after you defeat them. Sometimes you may be sent to take a target dead or alive, but death is the business of the assassin. For a bounty hunter, victory in battle is usually just the first part of the challenge. Now you need to return your quarry to face justice (or whatever fate awaits him) — which means keeping your victim alive and in custody for however long it takes to travel. A fighter may not be so bad once he has been disarmed, but a sorcerer has the potential to devastate your party with a word, which makes transporting and even feeding the prisoner a dangerous business. Here are a few things to consider.

An Unconscious Prisoner is a Happy Prisoner

At least, if an unconscious prisoner isn’t happy no one knows the difference. Under normal circumstances, someone who has been incapacitated recovers a number of points of nonlethal damage equal to his level per hour of rest, and wakes up when his nonlethal damage is less than his current hit points. Bounty hunters with the Evaluate Injuries ability can predict how long it will be before a captive wakes up, which lets you know just when to administer another boot to the head. Arcane casters can use the sleep of the unjust cantrip to keep someone unconscious for an extended period of time. And if you don’t fall into either of these categories, you can always pick up a vial of the poppy’s kiss poison from your local alchemist.

The Care and Feeding of Problem Prisoners

The trouble with unconscious or gagged prisoners is that they have this annoying tendency to starve to death or dehydrate. If you’ve got the gold, a set of manacles of maintenance or a ring of sustenance will handle this problem. If not, you can always head back to that alchemist and stock up on mother’s milk.

A Manacle for all Seasons

Part Three of this chapter includes a wide assortment of restraining devices, both mundane and magical. It also discusses the effects of being restrained, just in case you ever have to put up a fight while in chains.

You also need to consider the issue of how you will physically move your targets. If you’re traveling light and you pick up six prisoners, what do you do with them all? If you keep the restraints light enough to allow unhindered travel on foot, you may find that it’s difficult to keep them all under control. On the other hand, traveling with a chain gang will slow you down, not to mention attracting attention and possibly reprisals from friends of your prisoners. A wagon or similar contrivance is usually the simplest way to handle prisoners, unless you’ve got teleportation magic on your side.

In any case, when you’re setting out in search of prey, make sure you think about what happens after you capture your quarry. Do you have a way to hold your target? An idea of how to transport him? You really want to think about these things before you have a powerful sorcerer on your hands and no idea what to do with him!

Spells of Containment

Many of the spells listed above are specifically designed to be used against higher-level opponents. Bumble, hinder, pins and needles, and sleep of the unjust force the target to make a saving throw at a penalty, giving these low-level spells a better chance of affecting a powerful target. Mystic opposition and opposing currents have no save whatsoever. The effects of these spells are not as dramatic as those of fireball or lightning bolt, but they can add up. A few notes on these new spells:

  • Aural disruption does to spellcasters what ray of enfeeblement does to fighters. While not as severe as feeblemind, aural disruption can prevent a spellcaster from being able to use his most powerful spells; it will also lower the save DC of the spells that he casts. On the downside, the victim gets a standard Will save (unlike opposing currents or touch of idiocy).
  • Hinder prevents a target from making his usual free attack of opportunity each round. This can be critical when you’re fighting a single powerful opponent; once he’s hindered, you have more freedom to grapple, cast spells, and move around in his threatened area.
  • Mystic opposition and opposing currents can be used offensively or defensively. These spells lower the saving throw DC of the target’s magic — giving you a better chance to resist the attacks of a powerful spellcaster — but also serve to shield the victim.

In addition to the spells provided here, many existing spells can be extremely useful when trying to capture an opponent. A few examples:

Tools of the Trade

In addition to the new equipment provided in this section, many existing items can be invaluable to bounty hunters. On the alchemical front, tanglefoot bags and thunderstones can help even the odds on the field of battle. Paralytic and soporific poisons — like blue whinnis, taggit oil, and brain juice — can help you capture your prey without a fight. Caltrops can seal off escape routes. Once you get into magic, there are dozens of useful tools. A set of goggles of night will help you strike under cover of darkness. A suit of glamered armor, hat of disguise, ring of force shield, or glove of storing can help you to get close to an enemy without raising suspicions, suddenly producing weapons and armor out of thin air. A glove of storing is an especially effective way to transport a net; after all, a net is a large weapon that tends to attract attention, especially from fugitives.

If you have Atlas GamesOccult Lore, there are many botanical concoctions that can help in a hunt. A fragrant egg is a grenade-like weapon that can temporarily incapacitate opponents; Pigbail’s soporific has a similar effect. Faerie dust can also reduce a target’s ability to defend himself, while godspittle prevents a victim from using magic. Baird’s bedtime blend can keep a prisoner unconscious for an extended period of time. Ranger coffee is similar to strolga (described below); the effects are more powerful, but so are the downsides. If you’ve got the book, take a look through Baird’s Botanical and see what it has to offer!

New Equipment

Fun with Ropes and Chains

New Magical Items

The magical items described below also make powerful aids in any attempt to capture fugitives.

The Life of the Hunter

Blood and Gold

Regardless of which approach you decide to take, as you develop a party of bounty hunters you should look for the following:

Tracking — Whether it’s a ranger, a bounty hunter, or a character who picks up the Track feat along the way, you’re going to want someone who can physically locate your prey. Ideally, you should have both Survival and Gather Information at your disposal, so you can track in any environment.

Mystical Tracking — This is not something you can do at low levels. But in the long run, you’ll want access to some of the following spells: divination, follow the bloody trail, locate creature, locate object, or scrying. Almost any spellcasting character can obtain some of these spells in the long run. An inquisitor gives you the most tracking potential — but at the same time, the inquisitor lacks the offensive power of a wizard or the healing abilities of a cleric.

Stealth and Observation — The strength of the bounty hunter is the ability to study his enemy and strike from surprise. Gather Information, Move Silently, Hide, Spot, and Listen are all valuable skills; you’ll also want someone who can Open Locks for those times that breaking and entering is the only option. Bounty hunters, rangers, monks, investigators, and rogues can all serve this role; in general, the more stealthy characters in your group, the better.

Countermagic — At low levels, you may only have access to pins and needles and opposing currents. In the long run, you’ll want someone with dispel magic; a spellbane or magehunter can be an invaluable addition to the group. A spellbane allows you to be more open when engaging powerful spellcasters, since the spellbane can stand back and counter any magic deployed against you. If you’re relying on a magehunter for mystic defense, you need to make sure you engage your enemy as quickly as possible, since the magehunter can’t shield others except by taking down the enemy magic-user.

Firepower — No matter how good you are, you need to be prepared for a fight. You’ll want one or two specialists in melee combat. A fighter gives you the greatest versatility in combat-related feats. Bounty hunters and rangers combine combat skill and tracking abilities, while bounty hunters and monks are stealthy and skilled at unarmed combat. A paladin’s mystical abilities can be useful, but the paladin's strict code of conduct can be a problem; bounty hunters often need to work around the law. As far as magic goes, the spells of massive destruction — fireball and the like — are usually too clumsy and hamhanded for bounty hunting. Spell slots are generally better spent on tracking, spells of deception, or effects that can weaken your opponents or strengthen your allies.

Taking ‘em Alive — Raw firepower is all well and good, and if you get a lot of “dead or alive” contracts it may be all that you need. But a large part of bounty hunting is the ability to capture an enemy and return him to face justice in one piece. Magically this means spells like charm, hold person, and sleep. On the physical front, nonlethal damage is the key to success. Bounty hunters, monks, and sap-wielding rogues can all throw out hefty amounts of nonlethal damage. A fighter can pick up feats like Improved Unarmed Strike and Stunning Fist, but it can be more effective to focus on Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Improved Sunder, or other feats that help to limit the enemy’s ability to inflict damage.

A Possible Party - The Grey Chain

Angus Dolan’s Grey Chain society is an example of a mid-level group of bounty hunters. It is a five-character party made up of the following individuals:

While they will chase wolf’s head bounties, the Grey Chain specializes in live captures. The Chain makes extensive use of stealth and observation prior to an attack, always looking for a way to weaken an opponent before engaging in battle. Lacking a spellbane, the Chain fights high-level spellcasters by using surprise and speed. They focus on melee combat; between the five members, three are skilled with nets and three have Improved Disarm, and in addition to Improved Disarm, Kayli makes use of Improved Trip and Painful Blow to keep foes off balance. In battle, they begin with nets, hold person, and hinder. Jonath has a tentacle rope net that he keeps in a glove of storing, while Angus fights with a +1 staff of thought disruption or attempts to grapple with an opponent and apply a Choke Hold. Spellcasters are the focus of initial attacks; fighters are disarmed or tripped.

Angus Dolan is neutral by nature. He works for the law, but he doesn’t allow personal interest or emotion to interfere with business. He takes his assignments from sheriffs and other government officials; as far as he’s concerned, the guilt or innocence of his quarry is for the courts to decide. Of the group, Thael and Kayli are most dedicated to the strict pursuit of law; Jonath simply enjoys the fighting, while Nikkal believes it’s her sacred duty to catch inept thieves.

The King's Justice

Law in a Secular Society

Servants of the Law

Divine Law

Theocratic Society

Agents of Divine Law

Law in a Lawless Land

Against the Law

Witchcraft and Blasphemy

Somebody's Watching You

If a nation fears magic enough, it may not have access to spells that detect spells; after all, these are themselves spells. However, there are a few mundane tools that can be used to spot the activity of those nefarious sorcerers. Spellsense allows a character to recognize the emanations of magic — just the thing for your paranoid witchfinder general. The magehound is a dog with the ability to sniff out spells and magic items. Both should be relatively rare; you shouldn’t be bumping into magehound on every corner throughout the continent. But if you are dealing with a serious Inquisition, be prepared to have these tricks used against you.

Secret Magic

If you’re playing a wizard or a sorcerer and you’re passing through a superstitious nation or a restrictive theocracy, you’re going to need to hide your abilities — but you probably want to find a way to use your powers. One of the first questions is what you have to worry about from the opposition. Is it simply a matter of not being seen casting a spell, or do you have to worry about inquisitors or magehounds picking up your scent and tracking you down?

Magehounds and other foes using detect magic present a difficult challenge for any spellcaster. Your best friend in this situation is misdirection; cast this spell on your friend the fighter, and suddenly you don’t radiate magic at all. Other options include nondetection, mystical void, and magic aura (if you’re just trying to hide magic items). In addition to these spells, there are a variety of magic items that can help to conceal your activities from detect magic; these are provided at the end of this chapter.

If your problem is one of physical observation, there are two primary issues: components and effects. The feats Still Spell and Silent Spell are invaluable for concealing your activities, but even if you don’t utter an incantation the appearance of a huge ball of fire may draw unwanted attention.

In a theocratic society where the worship of “false” gods or use of arcane magic is suppressed, you can always try to trick your opponents into thinking you’re calling on the local gods to produce your magical effects. If you’re casting a spell that has no verbal component, you can chant whatever invocation you want. With a successful Knowledge (religion) check (DC 10) you can make up an incantation that at least sounds plausible; remember that the average guardsman can’t check the rulebooks and say “Hey! Clerics can’t cast fireball!” If one of the observers also has Knowledge (religion), he can make a check opposing your roll; if his score is higher than yours, he recognizes that your invocation is a bluff. In addition, if you’re casting an arcane spell with somatic components, an observer can make a Knowledge (arcana) check (DC 10) or Spellcraft check (DC 10) to recognize the gestures as being associated with wizardry. If the situation is reversed, you can disguise a divine spell as arcane; follow the same procedure, but switch Knowledge (religion) and Knowledge (arcana).

You can also use a Knowledge (religion) check (DC 10) to try to disguise a divine spell by pretending to invoke a different god than you actually are; you might recite a prayer to the moon goddess while actually drawing on the power of the sun, for instance. Of course, spells that require a divine focus are a bit problematic; it’s hard to appear to be invoking the Lady of the Moon with a sunburst in your hand. However, many useful clerical spells don’t require a divine focus, including bestow curse, blindness/deafness, cause fear, command, contagion, all cure spells, detect magic, detect poison, dispel magic, geas, harm, heal, all inflict spells, lesser geas, and silence.

One drawback with this trick is that if the gods are really paying attention, you may find that you’ll have a little explaining to do somewhere down the line. If you’re truly acting in the interests of your god, he’ll probably overlook this minor transgression — but what about the deity whose name you’re taking in vain?

Of course, if you don’t have the Silent Spell feat, this strategy won’t be of much use. Another alternative is the cloak of silence spell, which allows you to cast a spell with a verbal component without being heard. This won’t help you explain how a lightning bolt appeared when you gestured — but it can keep people from starting a witchhunt at the first sound of an incantation.

If you’ve managed to find some way to cast your spell in silence, an ally can attempt to draw other eyes in the room away from you for long enough for you to perform your ritual. This requires a Bluff check opposed by the Sense Motive checks of the other people in the room; if successful, the people will glance over at the character instigating the distraction. This trick only works if you don’t appear to be a threat, though; people will rarely look away from you in the midst of battle because a halfling is jumping up and down. It should also be noted that only hostile actions disrupt an invisibility spell; as a result, if you’re invisible and able to cast silently, you can sneak around healing your friends or casting spells like bless or protection from evil.

In peaceful situations, a Perform check (DC 20) will also tend to draw the eyes of the audience. A lesser score may or may not attract attention, at the GM’s discretion; but a truly masterful performance is hard to ignore.

If you can cast without being seen, another alternative to silent casting is to drown out the sound of the incantation with other activities. If you really need to cast divination and you don’t want the people in the next room to hear, get your bard to sing a song, or have the dwarf recite an epic tale. Just because your god has to hear your voice doesn’t mean that anyone else does.

If you can’t disguise your spells, your best answer is probably to rely on subtle long-term effects like darkvision, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, disguise self, bear’s endurance, invisibility, mage armor, magic vestment, mislead, and mount. The long durations of these spells allows you to cast the spell when the opportunity presents itself, and continue to benefit from it for hours to come.

Hiding in Plain Sight

It’s hard to beat Still Spell and Silent Spell when it comes to hiding magic from the masses, but here are a few more tricks for your repertoire. Suppress Spell Energy is a metamagic feat that helps you to conceal your actions from detect magic and detect magical residue. Cloak of silence is a new spell that allows you to maintain a bubble of silence around you — so you can incant as loudly as you want, and no one can hear you. Combine it with invisibility and you can cast all the spells you please, as long as you don’t actually attack anyone. Finally, mystical void conceals the auras of ongoing enchantments and magic items on your person — which can be invaluable when you need to sneak past that pack of magehounds.

Vigilante Action

The Evil Empire

Conspiracies and Cabals

For an interesting challenge, you could use NPC classes instead of core classes; as courtiers and guardsmen, you’ll have to use aristocrats and warriors instead of fighters, rogues, and wizards.

Hiding Your Trail

So you and your band of jolly outlaws are setting up shop in the Dark Woods, and you don’t want the earl’s men tracking you to your hideout. Or perhaps you’re plotting a magical attack against the Church of Pain and you’re worried about the mystical senses of the Church inquisitors. Well, there are a number of tricks you can use to help to throw off pursuit.

If you’re in the wilds, pass without trace is the obvious spell of choice — although, if you’ve got the spellpower, flight will certainly do the trick, too. Control weather can also be quite useful when it comes to covering tracks. If you don’t have magic at your disposal, you can increase the DC of Survival checks used to track you if you cover your trail.

In an urban community, the most important element in avoiding discovery is to get the local population on your side. Performing heroic deeds and spreading a little money around the community can both help to throw off pursuit; see Chapter Two for complete information on Gather Information and urban tracking. However, sometimes you just don’t have the time to earn the friendship of the townsfolk through noble action. If you know how to canvas an area and have a charismatic tongue, you may be able to convince the locals to lend you a hand.

Finally, in this age of inquisitors, you may have to worry about being tracked down by magical means. The spells misdirection and nondetection are two highly effective techniques for avoiding unwanted divination. In addition, wizards and sorcerers have developed a wide variety of tools to help them evade mystical detection. While most of these are fairly simple to produce, they will probably be rarely seen in nations that do not deal with inquisitors on a regular basis; if you’re not worried about people using detect magical residue, you don’t really need powder of power. And, of course, if they are too easy to come by, what’s the point of having inquisitors in the first place?


Methods of Punishment

Action and Inaction

Enforced Action

Corporeal Punishment


Magical Retribution

Spells of Judgement

The following section presents a few new spells designed to punish the guilty. Anathema, ban, and excommunicate are tools that a theocracy can use to mark its enemies, while sever from the source is a severe punishment for an arcane caster. Malediction and scourge are more powerful forms of bestow curse; scourge is a particularly flexible spell that can be tailored to produce especially appropriate punishments.

The Role of the Community

Stocks and Bonds

Healing an Injured Community

Dungeons & Dungeons

Fortress of Justice

Tools of the Warden

Chapter Three includes many useful devices for a prison warden, ranging from the old ball and chain to mana manacles and the orb of silence. Here are a few more magic items designed specifically with the fortress of justice in mind.

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