Corporal Punishment
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Basic Information

Corporal Punishment (literally, punishment of the body) is that section of punishment that involves the deliberate infliction of pain and/or injury on the condemned without the intention of the damage in question being fatal.

The most common forms of corporal punishment usually involve beating the offender with a blunt object, ranging from the bare hand to clubs and whips. There may well be a variety of different implements available for different circumstances. Other forms of punishment may include deprivation of food or water for a specific period, feeding with noxious substances to induce gastro-intestinal distress, exposure to environmental extremes such as partial drowning or excessive heat or cold or binding, hanging or restraining the condemned in painful ways. Extreme forms of corporal punishment may include permanent mutilation by the amputation of body parts or scarring by methods such as branding or tattooing. Most forms of torture can also be applied in this context.

Note that the lack of intention to cause fatality or permanent harm doesn't guarantee success - accidental fatalities are quite common in some forms of corporal punishment and bad aftercare may lead to others being ultimately fatal.

Attitudes to corporal punishment vary from culture to culture - in some it will be normal and regarded as just and sensible, others may simply regard it as more convenient that imprisonment and similar things (or even more humane) whilst some cultures may be horrified by the mere concept. Historically, many cultures have reserved this as a punishment for low status individuals and exempted those of higher rank from its grasp. Likewise, where the institution exists, there will be specific forms for its use - ranging from flogging at a public stake to simply being beaten up by the people against whom your crime was committed.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • In a lot of systems, this may be fairly trivial for PCs with high "hit point" scores - any damage that doesn't kill an ordinary human is likely to be trivial to them.
    • Also, unless you have a very unusual system, players don't feel pain inflicted on their characters and are liable to be quite cavalier in the face of their suffering.
  • Historically, this sort of thing was really common and could potentially be a frequent sight in urban areas.
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