[RPG] Make NPCs hard to interrogate


So my ~11th level party is going to be interrogating a prisoner (demon, if it makes any difference) to try to get them to reveal their master's evil plan. They'll be doing this in the prison where the demon is incarcerated in a big city.

Ultimately, I would like for this to be achievable, and give information if the party does well, but for it to provide a challenge.

My main problem in this is that one player is a psionic, with access to the psionic equivalent of dominate monster. I would rather this take more than a single obvious spell cast to solve. Also in the party are an alienist and a cleric (no wizard or artificer).

The master will have taken sensible precautions, including casting spells to make interrogation harder. Assume the master has access to any spell up to 9th level. The PCs are also on a bit of a clock: the longer the interrogation, the less up-to-date the information they receive is, and the further along the demon's plans will be.

Obviously, I can use a cop out answer such as "this is all the prisoner knew", but that doesn't provide a challenge or provide the PCs more information the better they handle the situation.

I'm looking either for advice of how people have handled similar situations, or spells/abilities I could employ to make the situation challenging for the PCs more than just "I cast dominate monster until he fails his save (and fails again for performing an act against his nature), then he tells us everything".

Best Answer

Magic kills your interrogation? Several solutions come to mind:

1. Fight magic with magic

If you have a problem with a dominate spell, that means your evil master has a problem with it. If it is a rather common spell he will know about it and will have certain defenses in place. Because what good is a demon, if everyone can just turn him around and against you?

He could have a domination spell of his own active on the demon, so your wizards spell would have to be more powerful to beat it, or they would both exert some control over the demon, always getting some control time after each other. This won't work with the common domination spells in DnD though, since the newest spell always overrides all previous domination spells, but maybe there are custom spells, which can make the minion domination-proof

Another way would be some safety measure. A spell which is triggered by mind probes, domination magic, or the daemon spelling the beans. It could be a self-destruct spell, or a teleport or anything. It could also be, that the demon is a magical creature just holding its physical form by sheer will, every waking moment fighting against breaking apart in this realm. So the demon would just have to stop trying to break apart and die.

It could also be a slow trigger on certain explicit questions: When the players ask him to tell them the name of his master, he will start to writhe in agony and start to fall apart, so they stop him - and they can think about some other questions. Maybe the favourite restaurant of his master? If certain commandments are in place, the players will have to try and find a way around them, without exactly knowing what they are...

2. Need to know basis

The next best approach could by what is commonly known as "need to know" - why should the demon know the name of his master, his current whereabouts, the secret location of the hideout or the big plan? The minion will know exactly what he needs to know.

He will know the voice of his master, but maybe not his face. He probably was in the secret hideout several times, but was always teleported there by the master. So he knows what the place looks like from the inside, maybe got a glimpse out of the windows, but has no idea where exactly it is. All he knows is a meeting point from where he is teleported. For low magic it could also be a carriage, which he rides blindfolded to the destination. For high magic it could also be a mind-wipe / mind-lock spell, so the memories are not accessible, the demon will just know enough to contact his master again. Maybe just a location in a forest, where he will have to wait for the master to show up. Then the players can either try to beat the poweful mind-wipe spell, or they can try to lay out an ambush, with the controlled demon as bait.

Or if the prisoner just knows some things about the hideout: Sound? Is it near a tavern, mill, river, forest? Dirt on the ground in a special color? Certain leaves, which just grow in a certain part of the forest? They could gather little hints and combine them with the knowledge of locals to gather information about the hideout and finally find it with this trail of clues!

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