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Author Topic: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections  (Read 1091 times)

Snimm

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AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« on: 19 March 2021, 23:39:11 »
So I've seen the questions about prisoner capture and possible defections pop up from time to time for Against the Bot campaigns.

Is it time to look at a reworking of those rules?  Changing how this is implemented in MHQ is a on-the-rearmost-burner position on the to-do list, but perhaps it would be prudent for those of us that play AtB often enough to consider some changes to these rules?

What I'm primarily addressing is the concept of hanging on to prisoners in the hopes of getting them to defect over time.  The obvious advantages is you can wait out that nifty elite or veteran Mechwarrior in the hopes they'll sign on with you...but in the meantime, you have to house them, feed them, and provide security against their escape.  After all that, the ungrateful bastards might still escape anyway, and no ransom money for you!

So there's a couple questions I'd like to get people's answers about.

1.  Should ransom still be an available option if you don't ransom them immediately?
     - 'immediately' could mean either before the next day, or at least you need to ransom them before the first of the next month.  Maybe you have to ransom them before the contract is up.  Discuss?

2.  What should maintaining prisoners cost per month?

3.  How likely are they to escape?  Does the risk increase with their overall skill level?  How often should this check be made?
    - In the same vein, might a prisoner choose to simply retire rather than recruit OR escape?  This would be age-based modifier, probably.

4.  Player actions could help or hinder these rolls.  As many captured personnel often come in with injuries, you can obviously use your medical personnel to heal them.  It stands to reason that the more you heal them, the better your recruitment chances, although obviously this is not guaranteed.  A permanent injury would probably make them less likely to want to defect (as opposed to simply retiring).  I suppose bribes - excuse me, "signing bonuses" - could be offered.  Finally, a person who's been imprisoned for, say, a year while you try to woo them probably isn't going to say yes by that point, right?  So the longer you hold them, the less likely they are to recruit?

Any other facets of this I haven't considered?  Thoughts and opinions welcome!
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NickAragua

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #1 on: 20 March 2021, 00:37:31 »
1. I'd say before you leave the planet, or before the contract ends. The opposition may not be too inclined to talk.
2. No idea. Probably not much more than the cost of paying a recruit's salary.
3. I do like the idea of ransom being refused. Then you pretty much have to let the guy go or shoot him. But to me, ransom is an abstraction - maybe your employer is paying you a per-head bounty.
4. Kind of irrelevant - currently, the "defection" roll only happens immediately upon the addition of the prisoner to the prisoner roster, as far as I'm aware. But yeah, it'd be neat if you could improve your odds, by providing medical treatment, letting them retain their mech (or whatever), signing bonuses, etc. Conversely, being a jerk (executing other prisoners, failing to provide medical treatment, feeding them dog food aka not paying prisoner upkeep).

How about clan bondsmen, that's a whole different ball game.

dgorsman

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #2 on: 20 March 2021, 10:14:44 »
HR admins could also be a factor, especially those with high ranks in Negotiation.

Retirement vs. escape/ransom wouldn't be much of an issue until a persistent OpFor is in place.

Something that occurs just now - would prisoners provide a benefit in StratCon, through interrogation?  What would be the mechanism, prisoner experience level vs ... Negotiation?  Admin?  And should there be some kind of general battlefield intelligence system with (additional?) skills?
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BCLegion_Trash

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #3 on: 20 March 2021, 12:32:55 »
I like the thought that the Admin-HR's highest administration skill value might be the primary determinant for defections, and the Merc Unit's reputation being another secondary consideration.

I've got rando-marriages turned on, and I noticed that some of my active members get randomly married to prisoners, and I'd like that to be a factor too.

I tend to hold on to all Veteran and Elite prisoners until the contract is over, because superstitiously I don't want to fight them a second time, and I ransom the Greenies and Regulars back right away for the coin.  IF there was a later chance, a recurring chance, to sway them over, I might hold onto them longer.

1.  Should ransom still be an available option if you don't ransom them immediately?  YES, small chances over time, probably not beginning until the Merc unit is no longer in conflict with the prisoner's home.  maybe monthly checks.

2.  What should maintaining prisoners cost per month?
Maybe a sliding scale based on security level percentage that they won't escape on their own (security % x number of prisoners, monthly)

3.  How likely are they to escape?  Does the risk increase with their overall skill level?  How often should this check be made?
    Yeah, Elite's might be craftier than Greenies.  I don't think age is a bad thing, "experience beats youth and vigor"

4.  Player actions could help or hinder these rolls.  As many captured personnel often come in with injuries, you can obviously use your medical personnel to heal them.  It stands to reason that the more you heal them, the better your recruitment chances, although obviously this is not guaranteed.  A permanent injury would probably make them less likely to want to defect (as opposed to simply retiring).  I suppose bribes - excuse me, "signing bonuses" - could be offered.  Finally, a person who's been imprisoned for, say, a year while you try to woo them probably isn't going to say yes by that point, right?  So the longer you hold them, the less likely they are to recruit?
YES, factors that could help is if the MERC unit is known for kind-capture (if the Mercs are not known for killing pilots and crews on the battlefield).  I mentioned marriage above.  I mentioned that when the Merc unit is finished with the contract or no longer involved in war with the home-state.  Higher again if the prisoner got taken with the merc unit to a new planet during the new contract, so the prisoner would have to hitch a ride home if they escaped.

ThePW

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #4 on: 20 March 2021, 13:32:14 »
1. I'd say before you leave the planet, or before the contract ends. The opposition may not be too inclined to talk.

I current do this while running a campaign. It requires more effort but i like doing it. On each bio i include a section that includes a base roll of 2d6 with the target number of 12. There are various means to lower that TN (each promotion in rank -1, each skill rank spent -1, any upgrades to equipment gets either a -1 or -2, if the equipment assigned to them is GIFTED (-3). I make the roll after a contract ends (and after dealing with defections that result automatically) or when lifting off world (if applicable).

The whole idea is that they, the prospective employee isn't certain they want to stay, right away (The one who automatically earn 'Founder Status' are medics, Astechs or anyone of Veteran or Elite Rank). again, my way of doing (your mileage will vary, of course)


PurpleDragon

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #5 on: 20 March 2021, 14:08:31 »
So I've seen the questions about prisoner capture and possible defections pop up from time to time for Against the Bot campaigns.

Is it time to look at a reworking of those rules?  Changing how this is implemented in MHQ is a on-the-rearmost-burner position on the to-do list, but perhaps it would be prudent for those of us that play AtB often enough to consider some changes to these rules?

What I'm primarily addressing is the concept of hanging on to prisoners in the hopes of getting them to defect over time.  The obvious advantages is you can wait out that nifty elite or veteran Mechwarrior in the hopes they'll sign on with you...but in the meantime, you have to house them, feed them, and provide security against their escape.  After all that, the ungrateful bastards might still escape anyway, and no ransom money for you!

So there's a couple questions I'd like to get people's answers about.

1.  Should ransom still be an available option if you don't ransom them immediately?
     - 'immediately' could mean either before the next day, or at least you need to ransom them before the first of the next month.  Maybe you have to ransom them before the contract is up.  Discuss?

2.  What should maintaining prisoners cost per month?

3.  How likely are they to escape?  Does the risk increase with their overall skill level?  How often should this check be made?
    - In the same vein, might a prisoner choose to simply retire rather than recruit OR escape?  This would be age-based modifier, probably.

4.  Player actions could help or hinder these rolls.  As many captured personnel often come in with injuries, you can obviously use your medical personnel to heal them.  It stands to reason that the more you heal them, the better your recruitment chances, although obviously this is not guaranteed.  A permanent injury would probably make them less likely to want to defect (as opposed to simply retiring).  I suppose bribes - excuse me, "signing bonuses" - could be offered.  Finally, a person who's been imprisoned for, say, a year while you try to woo them probably isn't going to say yes by that point, right?  So the longer you hold them, the less likely they are to recruit?

Any other facets of this I haven't considered?  Thoughts and opinions welcome!

Keep in mind that when I answer these questions, I used to be an interrogator in the U.S. Army.  I am drawing from experience, at least to an extent. 

1.   I believe it should be.  It has been proven that time can be a decisive factor on the breaking of a prisoner.   Unfortunately, time is not always on the captor's side. 

2.  I would think the Ares conventions have some similar guidelines/rules as the Geneva Conventions do.  That said, according to the Geneva Conventions, your prisoners have to be treated at least as well, if not better than, your own soldiers.  That said, I think that the "peacetime overhead costs" could be applied to the prisoners only.  You would not be paying them.  You would be just feeding, housing, and clothing them for the duration of their stay. 

3.  This depends on treatment and conditions and prisoner mentality.  If these are just mercenaries (in it for a C-bill) then they might be more likely to stay and wait it out or even defect, assuming they have no family or loyalty ties to the unit they were in when they were captured.   However, if this is a hard core faction person fighting for the freedom of his home and the safety of his family, he might spend every waking moment trying to come up with a plan to escape.  And this one would never accept recruitment, unless if it were part of the escape plan.  I will have a note on this later on. 

4.  Yes, captor's actions do help or hinder on the decisions of prisoners.  I hope I am not breaking any forum rules by posting this:  Their was a time when individuals of a certain police force would give up the moment the bad guys showed up.  The reason: the bad guys would give the police individuals a ride to his or her home and tell them to "look the other way" while they conducted their business.  Word of this got out.  This particular police force was badly trained, outnumbered, and outpowered by the Crime Lords who ran the area.   If they ever tried to stand up to them, the police individuals and their families were executed.  Word of this got out as well.  As I stated in #3 above, some actions are dependent on the prisoner's mentality.  Some prisoners are just not going to change, regardless of what you do. 

The aforementioned note:  Even if you do manage to recruit a prisoner, how likely is said person to be loyal to the unit?  How do we know that person won't commit treachery at the first opportunity?  If he surrendered and turned on his previous unit, how quickly would he do the same to us?   These are considerations to keep in mind when coming up with rules for prisoners and their actions. 
« Last Edit: 20 March 2021, 14:11:31 by PurpleDragon »
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yukamichi

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #6 on: 20 March 2021, 14:19:35 »
Personally, I already consider the Defection Roll to be an abstraction of factors like the prisoner's long-term choice, the desire (or lack thereof) of their home unit to actually pay their ransom, whether or not your employer wants to keep them for their own purposes, etc...

I don't typically recruit a defector until after a contract has ended anyway; I can fill in the in-between parts with whatever fiction I feel fits.

Something that occurs just now - would prisoners provide a benefit in StratCon, through interrogation?

I assume that this is just something rolled into a Capture mission, which is why it's a specific type of mission separate from the standard prisoner chance (although I've been running Capture and Assassination missions differently from the Stratcon RAW).

Windchild

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #7 on: 20 March 2021, 14:25:39 »
Don't have the time to do an indepth read and response currently, but just a quick note.

I've got rando-marriages turned on, and I noticed that some of my active members get randomly married to prisoners, and I'd like that to be a factor too.
That was something I never considered originally, but considered a bug. I have since swapped so that only prisoners can marry prisoners when it comes to random marriages.

Tecmes

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #8 on: 31 May 2021, 12:08:58 »
On a related note, are Bondmsen supposed to work? I've set the default prisoner status to Bondsman, but it doesn't seem possible to assign them to units, eventhough they appear as active?

Rince Wind

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #9 on: 07 June 2021, 05:16:56 »
Don't have the time to do an indepth read and response currently, but just a quick note.
That was something I never considered originally, but considered a bug. I have since swapped so that only prisoners can marry prisoners when it comes to random marriages.

What about pregnancy? One of my prisoners just got pregnant, which feels wrong.

dgorsman

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #10 on: 07 June 2021, 10:30:52 »
If you'll forgive the crudeness, prisoners can still 'shack up' unless you've got them all in maximum security lockdown.  Unless you're dealing with a long term prisoner it can always be fluffed as happening just prior to capture and detected post-capture.

Which brings up another couple of thoughts.

First, prisoners on long term garrison contracts.  Would these be better 'cycled out' regularly (e.g. first of each month) on long term contracts like garrison posting?  Would it be consistent for each unit to maintain it's own semi-permanent POW camps rather than sending them off for handling by the responsible government, rendering them out-of-scope?  Something that might be a future thing in the MekHQ side is maximum number of prisoners based on total forces, force types, and formation deployment as security i.e. it doesn't make much sense to be keeping dozens of POWs with only a company of Mechs and a few vehicles with most of them always deployed.

Second, is time as prisoner tracked, similar to time-in-rank/time-in-service?

Third, would hiring agencies cherry pick high-ranking/high-skilled prisoners?  For example, on an objective raid for the Fed Suns a captured colonel/tai-sa would likely be stuffed into a shuttle with a DMI escort by the liaison officer for proper interrogation rather than left in place as a common POW.  This would somewhat depend on OpFor being assigned ranks, as well as some consideration for persistent force tracking (capturing a half-dozen majors over a three month objective raid is a bit implausible).
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Rince Wind

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #11 on: 07 June 2021, 14:11:25 »
If it is another prisoner that is the father I am fine with that. Kinda.
But as long as I don't know it the uneasy feeling stays.

I just removed the "trying to concieve" flag from the prisoners, could have thought of that earlier.

PurpleDragon

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #12 on: 07 June 2021, 23:40:53 »
What about pregnancy? One of my prisoners just got pregnant, which feels wrong.

I know this might be a little different, but ever hear of a pirate lady named Anne Bonney?  At some point she was captured and while in prison became pregnant.  That meant a stay of execution and a full pardon. 

In another example, a lot more recent, a prison guard was arrested and got several years for impregnating a prisoner.  So, I would say, let it happen, then decide if there was an offense or not and let that become some fluff for the unit. 
give a man a fire, keep him warm for a night. 
Set him on fire, keep him warm for the rest of his life!

The secret to winning the land/air battle is that you must always remain rigidly flexible.

I like tabletop more anyway, computer games are for nerds!  -  Knallogfall

Windchild

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #13 on: 13 June 2021, 20:14:11 »
On a related note, are Bondsmen supposed to work? I've set the default prisoner status to Bondsman, but it doesn't seem possible to assign them to units, even though they appear as active?
Bondsmen may or may not work. Prisoners are low on my list of personnel features to revisit and finish, but are still on it.

What about pregnancy? One of my prisoners just got pregnant, which feels wrong.
Known low priority enhancement, but... I currently just think it is one of the other prisoners that got them pregnant.

If you'll forgive the crudeness, prisoners can still 'shack up' unless you've got them all in maximum security lockdown.  Unless you're dealing with a long term prisoner it can always be fluffed as happening just prior to capture and detected post-capture.

Which brings up another couple of thoughts.

First, prisoners on long term garrison contracts.  Would these be better 'cycled out' regularly (e.g. first of each month) on long term contracts like garrison posting?  Would it be consistent for each unit to maintain it's own semi-permanent POW camps rather than sending them off for handling by the responsible government, rendering them out-of-scope?  Something that might be a future thing in the MekHQ side is maximum number of prisoners based on total forces, force types, and formation deployment as security i.e. it doesn't make much sense to be keeping dozens of POWs with only a company of Mechs and a few vehicles with most of them always deployed.

Second, is time as prisoner tracked, similar to time-in-rank/time-in-service?

Third, would hiring agencies cherry pick high-ranking/high-skilled prisoners?  For example, on an objective raid for the Fed Suns a captured colonel/tai-sa would likely be stuffed into a shuttle with a DMI escort by the liaison officer for proper interrogation rather than left in place as a common POW.  This would somewhat depend on OpFor being assigned ranks, as well as some consideration for persistent force tracking (capturing a half-dozen majors over a three month objective raid is a bit implausible).
1) Player-based abstraction for the foreseeable future. I might end up doing an indepth prisoner setup in the far future, but for now I've got far more important work to handle.
2) Low priority enhancement, that I'm doing some design work on a combined solution currently (cause... I don't like our current personnel date tracking setup)

Kovax

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #14 on: 23 June 2021, 08:42:31 »
A few considerations about prisoners:  If you're running a mercenary unit, you should not be allowed to keep prisoners beyond the end of a contract.  After that, you're no longer "at war" with the faction the prisoners came from, so continuing to detain them any longer would be "slavery".  Ideally, you would have a choice on the final day of a contract to either ransom them immediately, let them go, or else turn them over to your employer.

Prisoners might incur the same "costs" as a "Green" recruit, since you're not actually paying them, but they do present an additional overhead burden for security and separate facilities.

Windchild

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Re: AtB rules discussion: Prisoner defections
« Reply #15 on: 26 June 2021, 16:44:23 »

First, an update on my post from 13-JUN-2021. I noticed I messed up in an earlier PR earlier today and will be fixing the bondsmen assignment to units in a PR I'm targeting for 0.49.3.

Second, retirement/loyalty are both parts of a future rules project I'm discussing and running through the MegaMek discord.

Third, I will not be handling anything related to StratCon outside of graphical bugfixes and enum swapovers without first discussing heavily with Nick, as that is his project.



Fourth, and bit more delayed than I meant, but...

1) Definitely. Outside of the base logic of keeping prisoners until the end of a conflict, you can always forget to ransom during a contract... A campaign option to automatically handle it (as you wouldn't want it on all campaigns IMO) paired with an pair of ignorable nag dialog to remind you that you have prisoners upon ending a contract and after contract completion should be a pretty easy add.

2) Probably at a base cost. I'd say an option for this would be a solid addition, plus an option for a yearly cost for maintaining a prison facility (probably monthly base cost per prisoner, with a facility cost for housing them). The ability to put this on a percentage-based scale would be great, you can house them in luxury by paying significantly more, or in abject squalor (random death integration with higher chance of death for squalor [it would be best paired with similar payment options for personnel by profession, costs for training (that may drain individual personnel XP?), medical costs (which could integrate with medical treatment and survival chances)... but those are all extremely far out ideas]).

3) Probably somewhat rare, depending on how they are treated. I think base chance, treatment modifiers, skill level modifiers, and  would be a base setup. I wouldn't expect age nor most skill levels (tech skills definitely would be, but otherwise...) to be much of an influence, as it is not necessarily linked to craftiness. As for retirement... I think it would more be your or their employer paying the ransom instead of them retiring. Once you've been captured retirement isn't really a thing until after you are out of the prison facility.

4) Deeper integration would be the best way to handle this, with a number of sources and integrated with retirement/loyalty project and CENSORED.


Fifth, I wanted to share my current notes on the general topic, with secrets written as CENSORED. Note these are future to far future ideas subject to future clarification and decisions, as prisoners are a very low priority ticket on my personnel list... and I will go over this channel again before I do any deeper implementations (mostly looked into initial changes).

1) Simple Additions
a) Still have prisoners at contract end ignorable nag dialog (MekHQ option)
b) Still have prisoners with no active contracts ignorable nag dialog (MekHQ option)
c) Automatic ransom for all prisoners at the end of a contract (campaign option)
d) Standard Personnel View Dialog (modeless, and as such would be really helpful in general)

2) Ransom
a) Ransom values by primary role.
b) Automatic ransom for all captured prisoners.
c) Chance of ransom being refused? It would need to be based on both the person's origin faction and the unit's employer, and thus potentially refused by both

3) Expanded Portions
a) Prisoner escape chance (customizable - base chance, base reluctance [based on a number of factors, some people should be trying constantly, others will do so rarely - faction loyalty would be a solid baseline], treatment, and skill level modifiers. Duration customizable, defaulting to monthly)
b) Monthly prisoner retention cost (either based on normal salary or a base cost per prisoner option), with the ability to pay more to decrease escape chance.
c) Yearly prison facility maintenance cost (probably based on a maximum number of prisoners [options should probably be maximum number of prisoners, base cost per prisoner])
d) Improved enemy pilot defection - make it based on a multitude of factors including prison quality, force reputation, time in prison, prison guard negotiation skill, events, and the roll can happen multiple times based on some factors
e) Implement Clan Bondsmen in a lore-base way, maybe using the AtB rules, maybe not.
f) Friendly pilot capture (probably use Campaign Operations for this, but... will require consideration to ensure the rules actually make sense)
g) Friendly pilot defection to the OpFor (based on their loyalty to the force, a base loyalty value [likely CENSORED-based]) - faction-based

5) Integrated Portions
a) Prison Guard personnel role
b) Implement proper prisoner procreation (heavily option-based, as this gets into a quagmire fast)
c) Implement proper prisoner marriage (heavily option-based, as this gets into a quagmire fast)
d) StratCon integration for prisoner interrogation (discuss with Nick before doing anything - time and torture [option dependant for torture] should affect this, and false information should be a thing... plus the ability to punish for false info)

6) Random Thoughts
a) https://bg.battletech.com/forums/megamek-games/atb-rules-discussion-prisoner-defections/ (some discussion on the topic at hand)
b) Prisoner Loyalty and Defection (influences - treatment, medical care, torture, payments/bribes, food quality, prison quality)
c) Integrated Personnel Map-based Date Tracking (Map<LocalDate, List<PersonnelDatedEventType, PersonnelDatedEvent>>, PersonnelDatedEventType [Enum: CAPTURED {UUID, unit name, entity name}, DIVORCE {replace former spouse}, RANK_CHANGE, STATUS_CHANGE], PersonnelDatedEvent [Class, largely description-based]))
d) CK2-based horrible person options: throwing a person into the oubliette, blinding, castration
e) CENSORED Future Plan Integration

 

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