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Basic Information

Exposure is one of the slower and more exemplary forms of execution, usually only deployed when the authorities have a point to make and the werewithal to guard the execution site for a prolonged period.

Simply put, the condemned is secured in place and left exposed to the local weather and wildlife until dead - the terms of execution may or may not allow them to be given food and drink whilst exposed (although some forms rely on it1). The lowest input version of death on The Wheel also qualifies. Death may result from thirst, starvation, hypothermia, sunstroke or complications resulting from sunburn, depending on the conditions of execution and local weather, although local animals may help out as well. Means of exposure include variations on crucifixion, staking the executee out on the ground or hanging them up wrapped in chains or in a cage. In some cases the remains will be left on display even after death either until they disintegrate, or until the cage is needed for someone else (unless, of course, the new prisoner is simply shoved in with the remains of the last one). Infamously, as previously noted, local scavengers may not wait until the condemned has actually died before they start to feed.

Again, friends or relations of the condemned may attempt to kill the executee before natural causes can do their work.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Due to the inherent time delay, this form of execution provides plenty of scope for a rescue effort.
  • Although any culture that uses this form of execution is likely to have harsh penalties for those who interfere in it.
    • Like the non-lethal version of the wheel, this can also simply be a more extreme version of the stocks.
  • PCs may be tempted to release condemned persons from an exposure … this may not always be a good idea, especially if they're being executed for a good reason.
    • Subversive fun in having the PCs release someone from a crow cage in their introductory adventure who later turns out to be the BBEG for the campaign.
    • "Undead creature in a crow-cage" is also a fairly standard trope for fRPGs.
  • In the Gaslamp Fantasy Girl Genius, the City of Beetleburg executes by exposure by placing the condemned in a glass jar in main square and leaving them to die from hunger, thirst or sunstroke (or, presumably, the cold depending on season).
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