Why you shouldn’t torture the prisoners

Goblins: Interrogating goblins by torture seems to be creepily prevalent in D&D games. Anyway, it’s not necessary, because goblins will always tell you everything when threatened with torture, no Intimidate check necessary. They’ll mix in 20% malicious lies, but they’d do that under torture as well.

Hobgoblins: Hobs will inform you of their name, rank, and serial number, and then try to escape or commit suicide as soon as possible. They can withstand torture very well, but they will enthusiastically betray their superiors if you convince them that their efforts are unappreciated.

Bugbears: Bugbears are vicious, unfeeling brutes. By “unfeeling” I mean “they don’t have pain receptors.” However, they are easily bribed.

Orcs: If you try to torture orcs, or even tie them up, they will get so mad that the pulsing vein in their forehead will burst and they will die.

Gnolls: Stressed gnolls undergo frenzied visions of following Yeenoghu and ripping people limb from limb. In this state, they slaver foam, snap their teeth, and giggle curses. They don’t give information.

Elves: Elves enter a trance state much like the gnolls do, except theirs involve dancing in magical glades instead of running down panicked humans. Instead of slavering foam, they murmur, “More tea?” and “Sindural shall play the aulos while Mistral distributes the mystic crumb cakes.” But elves will tell you anything during pillow talk.

Half elves: Half elves never have secrets worth knowing.

Dwarves: Dwarves have high pain tolerance and unending reservoirs of stubbornness and hatred. However, they love beautiful things. Instead of torturing them physically, make them watch as you hit a dwarf-made ewer with a hammer.

Halflings: Torture is unnecessary to get information out of halflings. Just engage them in friendly small talk. They will accidentally reveal 1d4 secrets per hour, from closely-guarded pie recipes to secret tunnels into the castle.

Humans: Torture might work on humans, but you probably shouldn’t do it. Because torture is evil.

5 Responses to “Why you shouldn’t torture the prisoners”

  1. Mike Monaco says:

    OK, that’s awesome.

  2. This is awesome. I wrote up some Interrogation rules, using the 2d6 Reaction Roll chart from B/X a while back that this reminds me of.


    Interrogation involves violence or threat of violence to coax answers and intel out of creatures. The character leading the negotiations will apply their Charisma and Intimidation bonus to the reaction roll, modified by the NPC’s disposition. Using Intimidation will cause a reduction in disposition toward hostile at a rate of one step per reaction roll. Harming the NPC automatically makes them Hostile.

    2- The NPC will provide no further information, even if harmed or threatened further (no further reaction rolls to intimidate).

    3-5 The NPC divulges nothing, but if actual physical or psychological harm is done, the character may receive another reaction roll.

    6-8 The NPC divulges nothing, but the mere threat of violence grants another reaction roll.

    9-11 The NPC answers 1d4 specific questions, though this information could be false, truth or a good mix of both. A follow-up reaction roll can be used to press an answer with intimidation, seduction or diplomacy creating a sort of “good cop / bad cop” scenario.

    12+ The NPC spills their guts. They tell everything. However, it is only entirely truthful if the victim has not been harmed thus far. If they have been harmed, the truth may be littered with lies.

    Charmed! The NPC is completely and utterly afraid of the character and will tell them the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if previously harmed.

  3. StuRat says:

    You forgot that you need to feed halflings during the small talk.

    This of course has been printed out and put into the D&D folder.

  4. DukofDeath says:

    I Love it and will use it! However, I changed the human reason slightly since I always think of what happens in movies when somebody is tortured (and left for dead):

    Humans: Torture has a 50:50 chance to work on humans. If it does work and the party decides to kill him afterwards, there is a secretive 50:50 chance that the human actually lives and recovers. Humans hold grudges for a long time, even through generations. You might be asking for trouble or a completely unwinnable combat meeting in the future.

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