How can I recruit prisoners to my army in Bannerlord? In Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, the most efficient way to get new troops for your army is to recruit prisoners and convince them to change their alliances. That's not all you can do with your prisoners though: you can also ransom them for a good source funds for your campaign, if you prefer.
On this page, we'll tell you how to capture prisoners, how to recruit or ransom them, and how to execute lords or nobles (as well as explaining why this might be a bad idea in most cases).
How to capture enemy soldiers in Bannerlord
To take an enemy prisoner in Bannerlord, no matter if they are regular bandits or the noblest of lords, you need to defeat them in battle by knocking them unconscious by using blunt weapons. Taking down an enemy with a bladed or ranged weapon will kill the soldier outright.
On the subject of kills versus takedowns, it's important to distinguish that running over an enemy with a horse will knock them unconscious as it counts as blunt damage, unless you have conched a lance in advance as that is a bladed weapon. (You'll know if you have killed an enemy if the notification at the top right of the screen shows a red skull, and a white skull shows they're unconscious.)
At the end of the battle, you'll get a results screen which shows both numbers of killed and unconscious enemies. Of those unconscious enemies, you'll then get a choice of which ones to capture and make your prisoner.
Keep in mind at all times though that there is a limit to the number of prisoners you can capture. The prisoner number cap is around half of your current troop party size. Should you exceed this prisoner cap, the prisoners will slow your army down in the world map and even have a chance to escape your grasp.
How to deal with prisoners in Bannerlord
Once you've taken an enemy character prisoner, you have a few choices of how to deal with them. Your main options are recruitment or ransom, and your decision will probably be led by whether you're more in need of troops or gold at the time.
However, in rare cases where you've taken a lord or noble prisoner who's causing you too many problems, you may want instead to choose to execute them as a last resort.
Recruiting prisoners to your army
If you capture a particularly strong soldier you may wish to recruit them to your army. It may take having that prisoner in your party for a long time before you get the option to convert them to your cause; but keep them captive long enough, and eventually you'll get the option to make them defect to your party.
Bandits can also be converted into normal troops once you have recruited them by having the disciplinarian perk, which is found at Leadership level 125.
The only prisoners that cannot be recruited are nobles and lords, as the option to recruit them is greyed out. You can talk to them, but there isn't a lot you can say.
Ransoming prisoners for gold
If you don't fancy recruiting any of them as troops, then the simplest way to deal with your prisoners is to ransom them. Head to the biggest town nearby and you'll find a tavern where you can ransom some or all of the prisoners you have, in exchange for gold.
How much gold you get is dependent on the prisoners you have. Looters are worth practically nothing, but if you manage to capture a highly specialised soldier, or even a lord/noble, then they are worth significantly more gold.
Ransoming prisoners also has the side effect of increasing your trade and roguery skill points, and I highly recommend taking some time to ransom them one by one to increase those skill points multiple times.
Executing lords and nobles
You may find that a particular lord or noble is getting in the way in undermining your progress. Letting them go or ransoming them for gold will only result in them coming back later on with a new army. In this case, there is one other option, but it's not exactly pretty.
To execute a captured lord or noble, go into the party tab on the map and select the named prisoner. You'll see three options, one of which is highlighted in red. This is the execute option.
But before you do anything hasty, understand that executing lords or nobles is highly frowned upon. You'll lose some reputation and relationship with the prisoner's faction, and anyone allied to them will sour significantly towards you. In fact, there doesn't seem to be much benefit to exectuions, aside from getting rid of a persistent threat. I wouldn't really recommend it when you can just keep a noble prisoner instead.
With that, you should now know everything you need to know about how to handle prisoners of all kinds in Bannerlords. For a less aggressive alternative method for gaining newcomers to your army, have a look at our guide to recruiting companions in Bannerlord.