Limiting it to the enemy makes it stand out even more that the enemies are arbitrarily made to be harder to kill than the mercs. That’s a bad thing, since it undermines the equality between units regardless of what side they are on (a bandit is not fundamentally different from a merc).
I could only see prisoners work with the current system if the healer-companion gives you a chance of keeping some enemies alive. That way you side-step the issue of death states, since the point of the healer (last I checked) is to give you a random chance of saving a merc who gets killed (but with an intact body) in battle. You’d just be applying the same mechanic to the enemy as well for the purpose of taking prisoners. You also avoid the problem of wanting to target certain units and save scumming, because you simply wouldn’t be capable of doing that. A deeper system would otherwise require creating a lot of new mechanics to make it work.
I think our difference in opinion might come down to one of perspective. It doesn’t seem like an incredibly difficult thing to do from my point of view. It’s already well known that all of the items that are going to be in the game aren’t in yet. On the feature listing about the goblins, nets have been listed, which is just one item of many more that could potentially be added to the game. I don’t see why it would be impossible to have an item specifically for incapacitating a target, both usable to players and enemies. % Chance of capture could be extremely low at the outset and could go up based on fatigue, hp, resolve state, etc. If one of your own people gets captured on the field, its implied that they were taken prisoner whether you lose or flee. Prisoners would be represented on the UI in slots similar to non-combat personnel that are with the company. There wouldn’t have to be a feeling of inequality, since both sides have access to the same tools.
Even ignoring potential items in the game that could facilitate a prisoner system, there are items currently in game that already lend to the possibility. As has been mentioned elsewhere, a blow to the head with the mace does not have to be fatal to incapacitate a target. The same goes for many other crippling injuries. I like the lethal feel that the game has. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice or undermine it, but the fact that every battle can only end in death when the human urge is self preservation makes things unrealistically one dimensional. Not to mention the potential for game play expansion that a prisoner system would allow. If people want to play their games the wrong way then they will. File tampering, save-scumming, etc. Its going to happen. People who want an iron man experience will do just that. No reason to gimp potential game play in fear of what players that don’t want the real experience are going to do.