September 29

Campaign idea: Go to jail, do not collect $200

At the moment I’m sick and not so I’m trying to keep myself entertained by watching movies; sometimes these films inspire me to come up with an adventure idea, in this case the film is Escape Plan.  The premise is simple, a person who has the ability to break out of prisons.  So why not spin this on its head and present the setting to the players and allow them to plot their escape.

So I got to thinking, how many campaign settings do I know of that use a prison as a backdrop and there are surprisingly few.


Dream Pod 9 devised Sub-Attica for Cyberpunk is one such book, a prison created miles beneath the waves, the ultimate objective for the players is to form an escape plan and break out.  The setting is very well detailed complete with a colourful array of personalities for the players to interact with. This is probably one of the more traditional settings for the players to work with and has plenty of opportunities for role-playing.

Abandon All Hope

By is another prison setting, this time the characters are violent criminals incarcerated aboard a giant spaceship which slips through a dimensional rift.  Here the adversaries are robots, mutants, other inmates and things that have come aboard during the dimensional slip.  Unlike Sub Attica there is no chance of escape; the players have to survive for as long as possible.

Death Valley Free Prison

Was originally another Cyberpunk style setting but this was written for the old Iron Crown Cyberspace system.  This is probably the more open of the three settings, a sandbox world full of opportunities for the players and not just working out a way of escaping.

Set in a prison constructed from Death Valley there are more than just inmates here; some people willing settled within the walls and eke out an existence.  The whole theme is very much inspired by Mad Max.

My idea.

If I was to come up with a setting then I would set it in the future and base it upon the idea of a penal colony.  The player characters would be dropped there on a one way shuttle and then would have to find a way to survive.  I did plan this as a surprise for my players with the Star Trek Colony game.

No matter what route you go down, in the end the players have to escape their jail.  While a closed setting with an escape proof prison may sound like fun, I know I would soon lose any motivation to play the game.

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Posted September 29, 2014 by GeneralTangent in category "horror", "RPG", "sf

About the Author

I've been gaming on and off since about 1989 and during that period have played with numerous game systems. I'm fluent in a few, have a basic understanding of quite a few more and can get by in others. Somewhere along the way I found time to be a playtester, contribute to an unpublished game supplement and be associated with another gaming magazine written by far more talented people than I. This lead to one infamous article being written in which I followed the letter of the adventure and torched the parties river barge. I'm also listed on as a game designer.

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