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Why is My Character Starting in Prison?

For an upcoming one-shot I’ve been told that the party will be starting the game in a prison. I don’t know if the GM will be telling us why we were all arrested, so just in case he doesn’t I’ve been brainstorming a few reasons and thought I would share them here.

Just as a note, we will be playing a good/neutral party, so these aren’t super dark.

Table 1: Why is My Character Starting in Prison?

  1. You were growing an illegal plant. I like the thought of this for a druid or baker, rhubarb is still illegal, whether you’re using the roots in a pie or the leaves in a poison.
  2. You walked into town, unknowingly smuggling contraband in your pack. Roll on Table 2.
  3. Your relative tried to start a rebellion.
  4. You’re a thief. Roll on Table 3.
  5. You’re a counterfeiter.
  6. You ran a Ponzi scheme.
  7. You insulted the ruler.
  8. People thought you were a mad man. Historically people with mental disorders were often jailed, sadly, so perhaps your character has a nervous tick or was previously suffering from a sickness that made locals think he was mad.
  9. You were in possession of banned books. I like these as philosophy books that a collector buys solely for their historical importance.
  10. You were in a bar brawl.
  11. You mistook another horse at the tavern for yours and rode off, stealing it.
  12. Selling harmful wares. The “health potions” you found in the last dungeon were actually poison.
  13. Embezzling.
  14. Drizzt Do’urden sues you for identity theft.
  15. Debt. You probably caused ¥1,792 in damages on your last chase through town and didn’t have enough for reparations.
  16. Poaching. Maybe while fishing by the river you hooked a protected fish, as the game warden walked by.
  17. Illegally modifying weapons.
  18. Vandalism. Perhaps you fell asleep on your wagon and your horse pulled it through the Queens gardens.
  19. You’re a prisoner of war. I like the thought that the war is long over, but you’re left to rot.
  20. You didn’t commit a crime. Roll on Table 4.

Table 2: What Contraband Was My Character Carrying?

  1. An animal
  2. A plant
  3. Products under trade embargo
  4. A disease
  5. Rebellious papers
  6. Gold
  7. A trophy from the body of a slain beast
  8. Something you inherited. Roll again on this table.

Table 3: What did My Character Steal From?

1-2. Houses

3-4. People

5. Stores/Banks

6. Treasuries/Museums/Archaeological sites

Table 4: Why is My Character Innocent?

  1. Somebody blamed their crime on you. Roll again on Table 1.
  2. You were under the effects of mind control. Roll again on Table 1.
  3. You lied and pleaded guilty so that you could preach to those in prison. Roll again on Table 1.
  4. A case of Mlmistaken identity, but there’s a monster hunting the man you were before coming to prison. Roll again on Table 1.
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