Fortress of Justice

This media shows the cultural heritage monument with the number 17573 in South Tyrol.

Crime and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

The dedicated prison is a solid and secure building, but it is the product of a mundane society. In a nation that deals with spellcasters on a regular basis – where magic is commonplace and demons, dark elves, and doppelgangers may need to be held alongside human prisoners – a jail is designed with a much higher level of security. Such an institution would be designed to be impenetrable.

All of the restraints and techniques used in dedicated prison would apply here as well, but based on the nature of the society and the level of magic available, any of the following options could be implemented:

  • AdamantineExceptionally powerful prisoners are restrained in +5 enchanted manacles forged from adamantine and fitted with amazing locks (Hardness 25, 25 hit points, break DC 40, Escape Artist DC 45, Open Lock DC 50). The enchanted manacles can only be damaged by weapons with
    a +5 enhancement bonus, and can only be broken by creatures whose natural attacks are considered to be magical weapons. Doors to high-security cells and restricted wards are also be made of adamantine (Hardness 20, 80 hit points, break DC 30, Open Lock DC 40).
  • Arcane locks – The doors of the prison fortress are sealed with arcane lock. Typically, this would be accomplished through the use of wands of arcane lock. Each ward of the prison is locked using a different wand. Guards wear key talismans allowing them to open the doors on their ward; the warden has talismans for the entire prison. Even within a particular ward, high-security cells could be locked with a separate spell – that way, if a guard was to be captured and his key talisman stolen, the high-security cell could not be opened.
  • Collars of Pain – Prisoners who are considered to be escape risks may be equipped with collars of pain; the watch commander on the ward will hold the associated control ring.
  • ForbiddanceThe high-security areas of a theocratic church could be shielded by the effects of the Forbiddance spell, preventing creatures of opposing alignments from moving through the areas. The watch commanders would know the passwords for deactivating the various zones of Forbiddance, which would have to be done in order to transport prisoners between different areas of the fortress.
  • Glyphs of Warding – The hallways of a prison fortress are often filled with glyphs of warding. The standard trigger is based on an object carried by the guards; if you aren’t within ten feet of someone carrying the security object, you set off the ward. The security object is generally not a key talisman; it’s intentionally nondescript, making it difficult for an escaping prisoner to quickly take the object from a fallen guard. Possible objects could include a coin or a lock of hair, either of which could be sewn into one of the guard’s boots. Blindness, bestow curse, Hold Person, and Invisibility Purge are all commonly used glyphs. A rogue can locate and remove a glyph by making a successful Search check (DC 28) followed by a Disable Device check DC 28); if he is using makeshift tools, he takes a circumstance penalty of -2 to -5.
  • Guards – A prison fortress is staffed with the finest soldiers the nation has to offer. The warden may be a fighter, paladin, or lawkeeper of up to 15th level. The precise number of guards depends on the size of the fortress. 5 percent will be Knights (Human Aristocrat 2/Paladin 6), 10 percent Watch Captains (Human Fighter 7), and 20 percent Guard Officers (Human Fighter 4); the remainder will be Turnkeys (Human Warrior 5) and Guards (Human Warrior 3) . In addition, the fortress will have a small corps of spellcasters to maintain the mystical wards and to manage magical prisoners. The classes of these casters will vary based on the national bias between arcane and divine magic. But a fortress will generally include at least 1 spellcaster
    of 10th level, 2 casters of 7th level, and 4 casters of 5th level. A fortress will also include 5 to 10 specialists of other classes. A theocracy might have
    a few paladins to supplement the soldiers. A fortress geared to hold mystical prisoners could also have spellbanes or magehunters. It’s up to the GM to decide what best fits the culture.
  • Needless to say, this is a fairly impressive force; a 15th level fighter may be a hero of the realm. However, few nations will have the resources or the need to build a fortress of justice. If you intend to hold demons and devas, you want your best people on the job!
  • Hell Cells – Different wards of the prison are designed to hold different types of prisoners. A section designed to imprison extraplanar beings like demons or celestials would include an orb of dimensional stability extending over the relevant cells. Demons will typically be shackled hand and foot in +5 enchanted manacles forged from adamantine, and contained within a magic circle created using a rod of containment (see below).
  • Indelible Marks – Most prisoners, especially those who can shapeshift, will be branded with an indelible mark in a prominent location upon admission to the prison. The mark indicates the security risk posed by the prisoner, including whether she is a known spellcaster.
  • Paladins and Lawkeepers – In a lawful good theocracy, a prison fortress will have at least one low-level paladin on duty at all times; this paladin will man the gate and continuously use detect evil. In other lawful theocracies this role may be assumed by a lawkeeper, who will use detect heretic. Most of the prisoners in a theocratic fortress are marked with ban; this will allow a high-level lawkeeper to keep track of the location of the prisoners using his mystical senses.
  • Silent Cells – Silent cells are a slightly more humane way to contain spellcasters without having to keep them bound and gagged. An orb of silence is embedded into the floor, so that its effects cover a few small cells. Within a silent cell, no one can speak, and no sound can be heard. The guard has access to a lead sheath that can be lowered over the orb, in case speech is necessary.

The walls of the fortress are hewn stone (Hardness 8, 540 hit points), at it is designed to resist a siege. Like the dedicated prison, a fortress may be built on an island or mountain peak to take advantage of natural defenses; if not, it will certainly have a moat and outer walls.

Tools for the Warden

There are many useful devices for a prison warden, ranging from the old ball and chain to 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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