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Prisoners are people who have been taken captive. This usually includes raiders, but colonists can be imprisoned too.


Prisoners are ordinary pawns under restraint. They have no Recreation needs, but all other needs and most moodlets apply to them. This includes a need for food and the chance for mental breaks. They are confined to their cell, and will not do work. Prisoners retain their faction allegiance; imprisoned colonists who are released will immediately rejoin the colony, while other prisoners will try and leave the map.

Prisoners cannot open doors if not undergoing a prison break. While inside your colony, they will try to leave if there is an opening, such as a hole in the wall or a held open door, including if it is held open because of an item inside. A prisoner that can move will wear the most comfortable[Verify/Detail] clothing placed in their cell. They eat the food with the best mood buff that they can reach, ignoring food restrictions. Mobile prisoners can use a nutrient paste dispenser that faces into their prison. Otherwise, wardens will bring any food allowed by their food restrictions. A prisoner's medical settings, as well as defaults for all prisoners, can be adjusted in their Health tab.

Colonists assigned to Warden can interact with a prisoner in multiple different ways, including delivering food and recruitment. Colonists assigned to either Warden or Doctoring can feed a prisoner in medical rest. See #Interaction for more details.

Unwaveringly loyal[edit]

Unwaveringly loyal prisoners are unable to be recruited to your colony, and do not have resistance to lower. They are otherwise the same as regular prisoners, including the ability to become a slaveContent added by the Ideology DLC.

Unwaveringly loyal prisoners can be recruited after undergoing the Brainwipe psychic ritual.Content added by the Anomaly DLC.

Unwavering loyalty can be disabled in the storyteller settings. Note that the enabling unwaveringly loyal pawns decreases the percentage of raiders that are automatically killed on downing to almost exactly make up for the percentage of pawns that are now unrecruitable - this means that the number of recruitable prisoners remains constant with either option, but the total number of prisoners increases with unwaveringly loyal enabled. This is pure benefit if the player only intends to recruit from the pool of randomly downed raiders, however if the player was willing to specifically target good pawns for safe-downing and recruitment, such as through bleed kiting or psychic shock lance, then some portion of those previously recruitable pawns will instead be loyal and thus unavailable.

If an unwaveringly loyal pawn joins your colony through any means, they will lose their unwavering loyalty.


Prisoners can be loaded into a caravan. If they can walk, they can carry 35 kg worth of items, like your colonists. When inside a caravan, the prisoner will never try and escape unless its part of a mental break.

If the caravan enters a loaded map (such as an ambush), the prisoner will wander around idily, and may walk into the crossfire. Enemies will also target prisoners if their factions are enemies.

Capturing prisoners[edit]

In order to capture any prisoner, you need a valid prison, which is enclosed and has an open bed or sleeping spot (See #Prisons below).

The gameplay steps required to capture a pawn depends on their state:

  • Downed pawns can be captured with 100% success, without drafting a pawn. Select a colonist, and right click the future prisoner.
    • Raiders, berserk pawns, and former prisoners in a prison break are unable to be captured directly. They must first be downed.
    • NOTE: Raiders in particular have a chance to die whenever they are downed from pain - such as from being injured. This does not apply if the pawn is downed from other causes; some ways to get around this include:
  • To arrest a colonist, guest, ally, or slaveContent added by the Ideology DLC, you need to draft a colonist and select the target to capture. The colonist will then walk up to the target and attempt a capture. The chance of success depends on their Arrest Success Chance, and will be displayed on the prompt. Arrest success chance largely depends on Social skill, but is negatively affected by Manipulation penalties. If the arrest fails, the target will go berserk. Pawns with the dead calm geneContent added by the Biotech DLC always have a 100% success chance, regardless of arrester stats, and thus will never go berserk when arrested.
    • Colonists can be captured even during a mental break, except for berserk. This immediately ends most mental breaks, without catharsis. When released, colonists will get the −6 Was imprisoned moodlet for 12 days. This mood penalty will not occur if the colonist is instead re-recruited. Arrests will not end the run wild or catatonic breakdown mental breaks.

If you attempt to capture a pawn from a neutral or allied faction, the faction will immediately turn hostile. This includes transport pod crashes, if they happen to be part of an existing faction.

If you need to capture a pawn, then sleeping spots can be used to instantly create a prison and bed space anywhere indoors. You can also turn a colonist bedroom into a prison.

Reasons to imprison[edit]

  • To recruit raiders, guests, or transport pod crashes into a colony.
  • To use raiders for their human resources.
  • To end most mental breaks. Colonists can immediately be released afterwards.
  • To keep a colonist restrained in order to overcome drug withdrawal.
  • To convert a colonist or slave to a desired ideoligion.Content added by the Ideology DLC
  • To act as sources of bloodfeeding or hemogen packs.Content added by the Biotech DLC


Megasloth getting sheared at the exit of a prison door, holding it open for a prisoner to escape.

Prisons are required to hold prisoners.


A prison must be designated in a fully enclosed room, closed off with walls and other impassable objects like doors, coolers and nutrient paste dispensers. Prisoners cannot be captured unless the prison is enclosed, and mobile prisoners will walk out of the map if an opening exists.

In order to actually form a prison, at least 1 bed or sleeping spot must be placed. Selecting the bed allows you to set "For Prisoners". Colonists and slavesContent added by the Ideology DLC may not share the same room as a prisoner; when 1 bed is set to prisoners, all beds will be converted to prison beds. The beds will turn orange to signify this, and the whole room gains an orange outline when selected. In order to actually capture a prisoner, there must be an open sleeping area for them to stay.


A prison is called a prison cell if there is 1 bed available, or a prison barracks if there are multiple beds. A prison is otherwise treated as a bed room or barracks, including mood impacts for its Impressiveness.

Prisoners can only use items that are in their cell. Food, beds, and nutrient paste dispensers placed inside a prison are reserved for prisoner use. While a colonist can be ordered to eat food placed in a prison cell, they will not automatically do so. Colonists on the food binge mental break, as well as animals, will ignore a prison for this purpose.

Unless you want your prisoners to die, make sure that it is hospitable. Regulate the temperature, or give prisoners sufficiently insulating clothing, such as tribalwear. Make sure that food gets to a prisoner (either via a storage zone, warden delivery, or nutrient paste dispenser). Otherwise, see #Mood regulation for how to make your prison better for the inmates... or worse.


Players can assign wardens to do the following tasks:

  • Recruit - Reduces the prisoner's resistance, then attempts to recruit.
  • Reduce resistance - Reduces the prisoner's resistance, does not recruit.
  • Release - Releases the prisoner. Imprisoned colonists will rejoin the colony, while other factions will attempt to leave the map.
  • Execute - Order wardens to kill the prisoner.

The following options are added by DLC:


Prisoners start with resistance, or unwillingness to join the colony. This must be lowered to 0 for recruitment attempts to begin. Unwaveringly loyal prisoners do not have a resistance stat, and can't be recruited.

Under the Recruit or Reduce Resistance orders, wardens will attempt to lower the resistance. How much is reduced depends on a prisoner's mood, the warden's Negotiation Ability, and the prisoner's opinion of the warden. Wardens with more Social skill have a greater Negotiation Ability. There is a delay between each conversation.

Once resistance hits 0, wardens will try to convince the prisoner to join the colony, with a chance to succeed, depending on each prisoner's recruitment difficulty percentage, their current mood, faction, how many colonists you currently have, as well as your storyteller. If the prisoner is assigned to Reduce Resistance, then wardens will continue to converse without actually recruiting.

For exact mechanics and chances of recruitment, see #Recruitment.


EnslaveContent added by the Ideology DLC and Reduce WillContent added by the Ideology DLC work analogously to Recruit and Reduce Resistance, except that the end result is that the prisoner becomes a slaveContent added by the Ideology DLC. A prisoner starts with much less will than they do resistance.


A wild man can be arrested and imprisoned. However, they must be tamed using the usual animal mechanics, rather than being recruited as a prisoner. Once tamed, they will join the colony as a colonist.


Wardens will take the prisoner outside your colony, and free the prisoner. "Outside the colony" means beyond your outermost line of connected walls, so it could be just out the door, or across most of the map if your defenses stretch that far.

Releasing a prisoner of another faction will give a goodwill boost of +12. In order to count towards goodwill, the prisoner must successfully leave the map healthy, with any wounds tended to. Prisoners that can't walk can't be released. Pirates and savage tribes do not interact with goodwill, so releasing them has no effect.

Releasing a colonist will have them rejoin your colony. Slaves retain their home faction.


Wardens will cut a prisoner's neck immediately, killing them without fail. This is a different action from the Prisoner execution ritual.

Executing guilty prisoners - those who have harmed the colony in 24 hours - give a −2 moodlet to non-Psychopath colonists. Executing a non-guilty prisoner increases the penalty to −5.

Colonists following an ideoligionContent added by the Ideology DLC with the Execution: Respected if Guilty precept instead gain a +3 moodlet for executing a guilty prisoner, with the executioner gaining +10 mood instead. The Execution: Required precept gains the same moodlets (but shorter) for executing anyone. If the execution was desired by precept, then fluid ideoligions gain a development point.

Executed prisoners who are then resurrected will have the execute toggle deselected to prevent their immediate re-execution.


Attemps to convert the prisoner to the warden's own ideoligion. The target ideoligion can be selected, which will only allow wardens of that ideoligion to convert.

This is functionally the same as regular conversion that can occur randomly between colonists, except that it is done on a regular basis.



Pawns with the Bloodfeeder gene will automatically drink the blood from a prisoner, directly. This happens when a bloodfeeder is below their desired Hemogen and if the bloodfeeding would not kill the prisoner.

Hemogen farm[edit]

Automatically orders the operation extract hemogen pack when a prisoner's blood loss level reaches 0. In addition to creating drinkable hemogen, it also trains the surgeon's Medical skill.


  • Prisoners can be escorted by a warden to a prisoner bed. Prisoners can be escorted to a prisoner medical bed, if needed, without a risk of escape.
  • Prisoners can initiate social fights, both with colonists and other prisoners. Social fights with wardens are unlikely, as recruitment conversations quicky increase opinion.
  • Prisoners can be given any number of medical operations. This includes injecting drugs, installing artificial body parts, organ harvesting, and more.
  • Prisoners are valid targets for a gene extractorContent added by the Biotech DLC, subcore softscannerContent added by the Biotech DLC, or subcore ripscannerContent added by the Biotech DLC.
  • Prisoners can be sold to a faction base or slaver for silver, or a royal tribute collectorContent added by the Royalty DLC for honor. Colonists who do not like slavery will get a -3 moodlet, modified by ideoligionContent added by the Ideology DLC.
  • If a prisoner dies, the mood penalty depends on their cause of death. "Intentional" means, like violent combat, count as an execution.

Prison break[edit]

"Prisoners have staged a breakout! They've somehow defeated the door lock and are making their way out. They may seek weapons, fight, or try to escape."

In addition to prisoners being able to leave if there's an opening, prisoners have a small chance to actively break out and escape. This is affected by the following factors:

  • Number of doors in their cell.
  • Prisoner Moving capacity.
  • Genes relating to aggression.Content added by the Biotech DLC
  • Number of prisoners. Events are rolled per prisoner, meaning that the more prisoners you have, the greater the chance of a prison break happening.

Once it happens, all rooms within 20 tiles of the prisoner who started the prison break have a chance to join it. The original room will always join. Other rooms have a 50% chance to join. If a room does join, all prisoners in that room are affected too.

During a prison break, prisoners are able to open all doors. They will attempt to equip and use weapons and weapon-like utility items such as orbital bombardment targeter. Because of this, it is recommended to set armories far away from your prisons and watch out for any weapon dropped by your own pawns. Additionally, placing the exits away from the edge of the map will increase the time it takes for the escapees to exit the map.

To contain a prison break while reducing the risk of killing the escaping prisoners, low damage blunt weapons (such as clubs and fist) are recommended. Alternatively, brain implants that cause brain shock Content added by the Royalty DLC can be implanted in long term or particularly unruly prisoners, and EMP weapons used to down them instantly and safely.

Since prisoners are technically part of an enemy faction, any friendlies on the map will engage them. While this is potentially helpful to contain larger breaks, the use of proper weapons leads to a higher chance of outright killing the escapees. Recapturing escaped prisoners from factions that have turned friendly since that prisoner was originally captured will not affect relations with that faction.


In order to start recruitment, a target pawn must first be captured, and become a prisoner. Prisoners then must be set to "Recruit" (or "Reduce Resistance" and then "Recruit") in the "Prisoner" tab of their personal info box (bottom left of screen when pawn is selected).

Then colonists assigned to wardening will "chat" with the target prisoner. This can be repeated every several hours, each one reducing Resistance by a predictable amount (based on the Social pawn's Social skill and the target's Mood).

Starting resistance[edit]

Each prisoner has their own recruitment difficulty:

  • The maximum difficulty is 99%, while the minimum is 10%. The average is 50% with a standard deviation of 15%.
  • For each level of technology between your faction and the enemy's, the difficulty is increased by 16%. New Tribes have a harder time recruiting outlanders, for instance.
  • The storyteller will change the recruitment difficulty of prisoners depending on your existing population.

A prisoner's base resistance depends on their difficulty. At 10% difficulty, prisoners have no starting resistance. At 50%, they have 15. At 90%, they have 25. At 100%, they have 50.

This is multiplied by the storyteller's 'population intent' factor- the greater your population, the less the storyteller will want you to have an increase in population, and hence the higher the starting resistance. At -1 intent, the resistance is multiplied by 2. At 0, the resistance is multiplied by 1.5. At 1, the resistance is multiplied by 1. At 2, the resistance is multiplied by 0.8.

Finally, the resistance is multiplied by a random factor between 0.8 and 1.2.

Resistance reduction[edit]

A warden will reduce a base of 1.0 resistance per conversation. This is multiplied by:

Prisoner's opinion of the warden:

  • At -100 opinion, the resistance reduction factor is 50%.
  • At 0 opinion, the resistance reduction factor is 100%.
  • At 100 opinion, the resistance reduction factor is 150%.

Prisoner mood:

  • At 0% current mood, the resistance reduction factor is 20%.
  • At 50% mood, the resistance reduction factor is 100%.
  • At 100% mood, the resistance reduction factor is 150%.

Negotiation Ability:

Word of Trust[edit]

The Word of Trust psycast Content added by the Royalty DLC will reduce resistance by 20, multiplied directly by the prisoner's Psychic Sensitivity and no other factors.


Mood regulation[edit]

Increasing mood makes prisoners easier to recruit, and less likely to go berserk. If you want to increase prisoner mood, you can do the following:

Changing ideoligion[edit]

If you want to change the target's ideoligionContent added by the Ideology DLC, then instead try and make the prisoner upset. Lower mood reduces certainty gain, and may cause a Crisis of Belief extreme mental break, which reduces certainty by 50%. The following can help with decreasing mood:

  • Keep prisoners in a confined, dark space, without a bed or furniture. Even if there's only 1 prisoner, placing 2 sleeping spots will create a prison barracks.
  • Feed the pawn human meat, insect meat, raw food, or kibble. Certain ideoligions can make some of these foods more desirable, but kibble is never desirable to eat.
  • Keep them in pain. Inflicting injury comes at the risk of scarring or permanent damage, however, and a mindscrew Content added by the Royalty DLC cannot be removed by traditional methods once the pawn is converted. A torture crownContent added by the Ideology DLC is a risk free way of inflicting pain, but dressing prisoners has its own difficulties.

Keep in mind that crises of belief that would drop a pawn's certainty to or below 0%, will instead convert the pawn to a weighted randomly selected ideoligion with a new certainty. While this process might select the intended ideoligion, it may not while also requiring their certainty be reduced again. If a pawn's certainty is below 50%, consider improving their mood above their extreme mental break threshold to prevent this.

Prisoner suppression[edit]

Whenever they are berserk, under a prison break, or just escaping, sometimes you will need to subdue a prisoner. When berserk, prisoners will fight other prisoners, then will punch the weakest area (usually a door) to escape. When under a prisoner break, they can just open the door.

If you need to keep the prisoner alive, it is best to use low damage weapons and attacks - even just melee attacks with a gun or bare fists. Several unskilled pawns work better than 1 skilled one. For berserkers, you can have a skilled Construction pawn constantly repair the door. This trains Construction but is labor intensive. You can also wall the prisoner in, which will cause them to stop attacking the door and just wander around in their cell instead.

If free roaming animals are within the prison, then berserking prisoners will prioritize them over breaking out. You can place animal sleeping spots inside the prison for an automatic form of prisoner suppression. Note that animals are slightly more dangerous than humans. In addition, most animals will create a large amount of filth, quickly lowering the room's quality. You may want to use straw matting.

Unwanted prisoners[edit]

Enemies who have fallen in battle may not always be worth capturing in the first place. For example, a hostile with a shattered spine will require a bionic spine to replace, which may not be worth it. Unwavering prisoners can't be recruited normally, so fall under the same boat.

There are several ways to dispose of these prisoners:

  • Release: The least upsetting way to remove a prisoner. Colonists will not become upset if an enemy prisoner is released, and it may increase goodwill by a small amount.
  • Expendables: This is not exactly "getting rid of them", as much as making best (and ultimately temporary) use of them. Recruit them, and send them out for a long caravan that you wouldn't expend another colonist for. You can set them on a trading expedition, or scout a base/map. Or, you can use them as a meatshield. A "colonist" dying still gives a negative moodlet (-3, same as incidental death or non-guilty euthanasia), which is affected by opinion. Cut off their tongue to prevent social interaction from happening. Of course, unwavering prisoners can't be recruited.
  • Euthanasia: Execute in a more humane fashion by neck cut. This costs 1x herbal medicine (or better) and trains Medical experience. An 'innocent' prisoner going through euthanasia is less upsetting than an innocent execution.
  • Execution: Execute a prisoner in a raw manner. Those with an ideoligion favoring execution will enjoy it. With a fluid ideoligion, execution is a very easy way to gain development points (so long as it is Respected if Guilty).
  • Human resources: Use prisoners for their parts. Artificial limbs can be removed without penalty.
  • Selling: Prisoners can be sold for money at a faction base or slaver, or exchanged for honorContent added by the Royalty DLC from a royal tribute collector. Each sold prisoner gives -3 mood.

Version history[edit]

  • 0.8.657 - You can now release prisoners. This gains you goodwill from their faction.
  • 0.13.1135 - Prison breaks added.
  • 1.1 - Interface now reports the chance of a successful arrest before you try to make it.
  • 1.1.2570 - Escaping prisoners are no longer able to equip bladelinked or biocoded weapons.
  • 1.3.3066 - Prisoner escape chance is multiplied by the number of exits the prisoner has. Escaping prisoners will attack enemies with weapons they pick up, including orbital bombardment targeters, orbital power beam targeters, and tornado generators.
  • 1.4.3523 - Unwavering prisoners added. Fix: Resurrected executed prisoners retain the execute option and usually immediately get executed after being resurrected.
  • 1.4.3529 - Fix exploit: Unwaveringly loyal can be bypassed by enslaving prisoners. Fix exploit: Capture>Enslave>Imprison>Release recruits pawns immediately.
  • 1.4.3555 - Fix: Enslaving a pawn removes unwaveringly loyal. Fix: Unwaveringly loyal inspect pane text not appearing for slaves.
  • 1.4.3613 - Fix: Child prisoners attempt to wear adult clothing, causing it to disappear.
  • 1.4.3641 - Fix: Error on releasing space refugee prisoners.
  • 1.4.3682 - Fix: Dead calm pawns go berserk when arresting fails. Fix: Captured prisoners escaping from reformed caravans.
  • 1.5.4062 - Fix: The "run wild" mental break can occur on unwaveringly loyal pawns, causing them to be tameable. Unlisted change: Unwaveringly loyal prisoners can be converted to different ideologies.