The Prisoner

This is a role playing game from Steve Jackson games based on the television series the Prisoner. There's a tremendous amount of information here to help the GM (Games Master) run the game. I have a little experience with rpgs, and to me this game would present a major challenge to potential gamemasters, but at the same time would offer them chances for great creativity.

The manual starts out with an introduction to the series, and notes that mental and psychological conflicts are actually more important than physical conflicts. Also, inconsistences in rules and gameplay are not only okay, but can actually help the stories since what the players think is true in one game may not be true in the very next one.

The book also has quotes from the various episodes in the side panels.

One of the over-riding themes is trying to determine who are friends and who are enemies, who is an actual prisoner, and who is working for those who run the Village.

Chapter 1 deals with the players, and what characters they might be in the Village. They need to work up a detailed outline of the characters, and to discuss the advantages and disadvantages the various character types might have.

Typical prisoners can include spies, diplomatis, journalists, photographers, scientists, doctors, academics, technicians, bureaucrats, clerical workers, laborers, dependents of Village prisoners, and innocent bystanders, among others.

The chapter also goes into how to determine just how the various characters arrived in the Village.

Chapter 2 is about the Village itself, and starts out with the basics for the GM. For example, the GM needs to determine exactly where they Village is, who runs it (a government, the Illumanti, a business coropration, the Trilateral Commission or who?) and who is No. 1.

Then the various jobs possible are discussed, along with slogans and ceremonies. Prisoners vs. warders is discussed, along with No. 2, the village voice (the daily announcements over loudspeakers), no. 6, and various places in the Village, along with the map of the Village from the series.

Chapter 3 is alternate realities, and here things can get very strange. The Village the GM uses could be the same one in the television series, or it can be an entirely different village in the same time or even in another time in history. This game could be based on aliens running everything, or some form of supernatural creatures running the Village. The events can take place in the past, like a Village run in the Middle Ages, or in the future, like a post-apocalyptic Village.

What the purpose of the Village is in the campaign needs to be decided, also.

Chapter 4 is on various types of campaigns that could be run. There's even an adventure design flowchart to help the GM. The author compares the games to the preparation of television scripts, with three distinct acts.

One of the main purposes for the GM is to sew distrust among the players. Chapter 5 is on weird science and covers the various types of scientific machines, devices and abilities that could be involved in a game.

Chapter 6 is information for the GM only, and includes a sample adventure based on the first episode of the television series-Arrival. Then there are plot synopses of the actual episodes.

This is a very complete manual and should be of great help to anyone wanting to run a Prisoner role-playing game or campaign.

Main index page

Main Prisoner index page