Interrogating NPC's

In my game, we have a companion that is burly and mean, with a bit of smarts thrown in for laughs. They recently captured an escaped thief and wanted to interrogate him. Now, obviously, using magic, this is a no-brainer. But the person playing his companion wanted to "get the information out of him the old fashioned way"!!!

Certainly, on the person being interrogated, the Brave and Loyal personality traits come into play. But what should the interrogator "use" in game terms to try to come up with opposing rolls?

Strength + Leadership (Intimidation)

Presence and Communication could be used, but use strength if he is using muscle to squeeze information out of him.

I think this is only limited in by ther creativity of the person running the companion. What skills does he have and how might he use them to get the info? It all depends on how the companion plays this out, and what means the thief has to resist.

Does your player just pound on him, or does he use his skills to up his chance of success? Does the player use the theif's fatigue levels against him by drawing the interrogation out? Does the player have Piercing Gaze, Strong Will, or perhaps some negative flaw that will effect the outcome?

The player's approach and the NPC's reaction is what then should define the opposing roll.

Also not to be forgotten is that "forceful" interrogation is nearly always VERY unreliable. False information isnt just possible, it is extremely likely.

I once heard an "expert" on a tv news show talking about the effectivness of "forceful" interrogation. He pointed out such methods almost always yeald information. The problem is sometimes they tell you what you think you want, sometimes they tell you what they think you want, sometimes they tell you what they want you to think, and maybe sometimes they tell the truth. That sounds reliable enough for me. :smiling_imp:

I reckon the interogator will use Pre + Leadership to intimidate the thief, while the thief will use Sta + Loyal/Brave to resist. But unless the interrogator beats the thief's roll by 6 or more, the thief will try to lie: Com + Guile vs. the interrogator's Per + Folk Ken. If the thief fails to lie, another round of interrogation ensues, this time with less risk of the thief lying. All rolls modified for roleplaying, of course.

Regarding real-world interrogation - all intelligence sources are unreliable (and I'm speaking as an intelligence NCO). Any information source is valuable, even unreliable ones, and especially if you can manipulate it to yield further information. For example, how will the subject react when informed that his accomplish is being questioned? That his statement is in conflict with some observed objective fact? And so on. Contrary to many people's wishes, torture is an effective way to obtain useful information (especially when different people's versions and facts can be used to direct the questioning, which is often the case). That it isn't reliable and may be misleading can be said for ALL intelligence sources. There are many argumetns against torture, ineffectiveness isn't one of them.

Hmmm, IIRC from the Bonisagus chapter of HoH:TL, Guile rolls are usually countered with Intrigue rolls (and vice versa) not Folk Ken. Whatever works though I guess.

I think you should be wary not to telegraph what you wish to hear when torturing. Many people have been known to confess to everything when you torture them, if you say things they might be able to confess to, you will not even get clear results when crosschecking with other suspects.

Sorry but every single thorough investigation into this has yielded the fact that torture 95%+ of the time yields completely useless information. And most of the rest yields questionable information.
Yes, ineffectiveness IS one of the arguments against it.
Its actually the single biggest argument against it. Its nearly useless, nearly always mentally damaging to those employing it and simply immoral exactly because it is so useless.

And in this case, a mage chooses it before using magic? What a complete i***t.

Torture as others have noted is not great for extracting information. The most famous example of this is Stalins secret police who used torture so often that it drove the more thoughtful investigators out, creating a police force utterly terrifying but totally unable to solve the simplest crimes. Even Stalin couldn't control them.

However,m we know torture is ineffective as an information gathering source NOW, but would folk have known it THEN?

Certainly magic is by far the best way to get what you need from some ones head. In fact very low level magic + torture would also work very well as you could guarantee accurate information.

AFAIK torture was widely practised back in the day although i don't know if this was for information or more as a punishment.

Depends on where you are and when. When the order came down in France to arrest the Templars, a lot of them fled to England. The ones that were captured conessed to just about any silly thing they were accused of. The interrogators were doing things like burning off their feet and shoving the charcoal remains of them in the victim's face.

In England, the arrest order came down a month later. All but 3 Templars had already escaped (probably to Scottland) These three wre threated as guests under house arrest. The torture order came, and Edward II confessed that they need to import specialists from France for this. The English system of law was great fro punishing and executing people in horrifingly gruesome ways. But as a means of interrogation, it simply was not a part of their law. They knew how to kill you slowly, but not how to inflict the sort of non-lethal pain to make people talk.

And although English Law could be brutal, torture never successfully became a part of their legal system.

Thanks for all the replies. I will discuss with my troupe your thoughts and see what they think.

Interestingly you can blame ecclesiatical reform for this. Before the Fourth Lateran Council, trial by ordeal, including battle, was allowed in many places. Then is was banned, just before the game period. In some few areas, England among them, this spurred the creation of jury trials. In most other areas, however, it meant a reversion to Roman methods of torture.

And as to the question of if they knew that torture did not work: yes and no. The Romans knew about the problem of people confessing to anything at all to make the pain stop. So, torture was banned in some places. Then pro-torture people got the idea that "anything that breaks the skin is torture" through, which is where you get racks and such from. So, what they meant by "torture" differs from today, they knew it didn't work, and many of them actually didn't care, becasue they needed a confession and torture got them a confession.

You need to torture him to tell him his buddy is being questioned? This is classic "prisoner's dilema". Torture of either party is unecessary for the strategy to work.

And again, you don't actually need to torture someone for this to be effective.

It's the main one the US military uses: and they approve of things the rest of the civilised world consider torture if they think they will be effective. Waterboarding, for example.

From Wikipedia:

History of Torture:

The Romans used torture only for interrogation before judgment; officials did not regard crucifixion as torture, as they only authorized it after issuing a death sentence. In the Roman Republic, a slave's testimony was admissible only if it had been extracted by torture, on the assumption that slaves could not be trusted to reveal the truth voluntarily.[33][citation needed] Over time the conceptual definition of torture has been expanded and remains a major question for ethics, philosophy, and law, but clearly includes the practices of many subsequent cultures.

In much of Europe, medieval and early modern courts freely inflicted torture, depending on the accused's crime and the social status of the suspect. Torture was deemed a legitimate means for justice to extract confessions or to obtain the names of accomplices or other information about the crime. Often, defendants sentenced to death would be tortured prior to execution, so as to have a last chance to disclose the names of their accomplices. Torture in the Medieval Inquisition began in 1252, although a papal bull centuries later in 1816 forbade its use in Catholic countries.

In the Middle Ages especially and up into the 18th century, torture was deemed a legitimate way to obtain testimonies and confessions from suspects for use in judicial inquiries and trials. While, in some instances, the secular courts treated suspects more ferociously than the religious courts, Will and Ariel Durant argued in The Age of Faith that many of the most vicious procedures were inflicted, not upon stubborn prisoners by governments, but upon pious heretics by even more pious friars. For example, the Dominicans gained a reputation as some of the most fearsomely innovative torturers in medieval Spain. Many of the victims of the Spanish Inquisition did not know (and were not informed) that, had they just confessed as required, they might have faced penalties no more severe than mild penance; confiscation of property; and even, perhaps, a few strokes of the whip.[citation needed] They thus ended up exposing themselves to torture. Many conceivably clung to "the principle of the thing", however noble (or foolhardy) that torture victims may face.

One of the most common forms of medieval inquisition torture was strappado.[citation needed] Torturers bound the accused's hands behind the back with a rope, then the torturer suspended the accused by hauling up the hands, painfully dislocating the shoulder joints. The torturer could add weight to the legs, dislocating their joints as well. The prisoner and weights could be hauled up and suddenly dropped. This refined torture (with dropping added) was called squassation. Other torture methods could include the rack (stretching the victim’s joints to breaking point), the thumbscrew, the boot (some versions of which crushed the calf, ankle, and heel between vertically positioned boards, while others tortured the instep and toes between horizontally oriented plates), water (massive quantities of water forcibly ingested—or even mixed with urine, pepper, feces, etc., for additional persuasiveness), and red-hot pincers (typically applied to fingers, toes, ears, noses, and nipples, although one tubular version [the "crocodile shears"] was specially devised for application to the penis in cases of regicide),[citation needed] although church policy sometimes forbade bodily mutilation. If the torturer needed stronger methods, or if a death sentence was issued, the person was sent over to the secular authorities, who had no restrictions.

Torturous interrogations were generally conducted in secret, inside underground dungeons. By contrast, torturous executions were typically public, and woodcuts of English prisoners being hanged, drawn, and quartered show large crowds of spectators, as do paintings of Spanish auto-da-fé executions, in which heretics were burned at the stake.

In 1613 Anton Praetorius described the situation of the prisoners in the dungeons in his book Gründlicher Bericht über Zauberei und Zauberer (Thorough Report about Sorcery and Sorcerers). He was one of the first to protest against all means of torture.

In ancient and medieval torture, there was little inhibition on inflicting bodily damage. People generally assumed that no innocent person would be accused, so anybody who appeared in the torture chamber was ultimately destined for execution[citation needed], typically of a gruesome nature. Any minor mutilations due to rack or thumbscrew would not be noticed after a person had been burned at the stake. Besides, the torturer operated under the full authority of the church, the state, or both.

In order for these tactics to have effect, in order to even elicit a response sometimes - yes you do.

Which is about as reliable IMHO as the reports saying there are WMD in Iraq. These reports are written to serve political wills, not conduct proper science. In fact, resolving the scientific question will require such horrendous experiments I'm glad (and hope) no one has taken up the mantle. Lacking such evidential basis, everything is mere opinion.

Look, I'm not promoting torture. Torture corrupts the torturers, and leads to their failing as human beings and often as investigators. It creates a culture of fear and intimidation that is anything but conductive to the rule of law. There are a lot of perfectly good reasons to reject torture. But if used intelligently, the use of torture (and drugs) can yield information that you just won't otherwise obtain. I think it's naive to think otherwise.

Except its also contrary to all evidence.