You may laugh, but Inquisitor’s hostage negotiation policy is true to life. Is it story time? Does a druid crap in the woods?

So no shit there they were, stuck in a hostage situation. It had been an exciting afternoon of attempted poisoning, someone-in-this-room-is-a-murderer style mystery, and a convoluted series of dominated catspaws. But once all the j’accuses were j’accused, the local assassin still managed to grab his target by the throat. It was the surprise round, and the local disinherited duchess was in the cruel grip of a murderous mercenary.

“Now here’s what’s going to happen,” said this dastardly duelist. “Her ladyship and I are walking out of here nice and durr [sic].”

There was a look of confusion around the table.

“What did you cast on him?”

“I’m glad you asked,” said the smug wizard with the high initiative. “It’s just a little number I like to call feeblemind.

We all took a moment to read the spell.

“So wait a minute. Is there anything in there that prevents him from stabbing his human shield, just like he threatened?”

The wizard frowned down at his spellbook. “Technically no,” he said.

And then the bad guy stabbed the hostage. All hell broke lose as her ladyship and her one remaining hit point scrambled for cover. She’d been lucky that the damage roll was low. Meanwhile the rest of the party and the local constabulary set about beating the ever-loving Gygax out of the feebleminded assassin.

When the smoke cleared, the duchess demanded an explanation. “What in the hells is the matter with you? I could have been killed!”

“Meh,” said the wizard. “We’ve got breath of life as backup. You wouldn’t have been killed for long.”

Regular readers will realize that all of the above relates back to our recent conversation concerning hit points. It’s awfully hard to make the human shield trope work when the worst a baddie can do is deduct a few hp. And that’s not even taking easy access to resurrection into account. In other words, it’s hard to make deadly force a serious threat.

So for today’s discussion, what do you say we bat around a few ideas for hostage scenarios? How do you make a good old-fashioned knife-to-the-throat actually threatening? Do you have to invent elaborate scenarios involving trap doors, readied actions, and spheres of annihilation? Or can you make the mundane version work? And just as important, how do you impress upon trigger-happy players that calling the bad guy’s bluff might not be the best idea? Sound off with your best hostage crises and Waterdhavian standoffs down in the comments!


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