Saturday, January 5, 2013

Interlude: The Escape

In the event of a worst-case scenario during an adventure, this interlude provides suggestions for what happens if the PC's are caught ad imprisoned, along with how they might escape.

-Nate



Interlude 31: The Escape
There comes a time in the career of every adventuring party when things just don't work out right. Perhaps the PC's are beaten into unconsciousness and left for dead, or maybe they find themselves in a no-win situation and actually surrender. Whatever the case, they could wind up being held prisoner, either aboard a ship or in a building on land. Rather than being an unhappy ending, this situation instead can make for a truly engaging scene, as they look devise an escape plan and settle the score. Should this situation arise, the GM would do well to consider the following factors.

Taking Stock of the Situation
First and foremost, the PC's find themselves stripped of all possessions. This should make for a particularly challenging situation, given that they're probably accustomed to having their chosen weapons and other equipment.
  • Any characters who were hurt badly enough while being captured should roll the bones; adapting to any new developments, such as the loss of a hand, can be part of the drama.
  • Rogues in the party must find or improvise some thieves' tools, especially if the PC's are locked in irons. Likely candidates for substitution include hairpins, needles and the like. Depending on the likelihood of the item in question, an equipment penalty from -2 to -5 could be appropriate.
  • Hougans, bokor, clerics and perhaps even occultists must deal with both the lack of spell components and perhaps inability to prepare spells, as well. Depending on what they can find, such characters might be forced to make do with a limited repertoire, which should provide an interesting challenge.
  • All of the PC's could be forced to deal with improvised weapons, based on the items to which they have access. For those who are given work details, this could include the tools for laboring; another option is stealing them from unwary guards.
  • Along the same line, it could help build conflicts if one or more NPC's were to claim the Player Characters' equipment and perhaps even use it against them.
  • Finally, the PC's could always by themselves a little time—and perhaps create opportunities to escape—if they can convince their captors that they hold the secret to a hidden treasure cache.
Imprisonment
Once the PC's are locked away in confinement, it could be important to have some details about their dwelling. As mentioned above, this could happen aboard a ship at sea; in such a case, refer to the deck plans for a sloop, a slave ship or even a galley. Indeed, serving aboard a galley was especially common in those countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, if they are in a port city, use the floor plan for an appropriate building. Unless they're brought to a major fort, such as Cape Coast Castle, the chances are good that they find themselves in an impromptu prison, often a converted warehouse.



It has a door of iron-banded wood sealed with a stout padlock (DC 20 to open; hardness 10 and 30 hit points). What is more, shackles are added around the walls, and captives are kept locked in them. Buckets serve for inmates' toilet needs, and bowls of soup and hunks of bread are provided for meals. Guards are usually posted outside the door, with the number assigned depending on the size of the incarcerated party along with the reputations of the prisoners.

Lieutenant
Warrior 5; CR 4; Size medium; HD 5d8+10; hp 36; Init +3 (+3 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+3 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +8 (2d6, short musket) or +6 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +7, Jump +7, Survival +7, Swim +7.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass, pair of pistols.

Sergeant
Warrior 3; CR 2; Size medium; HD 3d8+6; hp 23; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +5 (2d6, short musket) or +4 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +2; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +5, Jump +5, Survival +5, Swim +5.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

Soldier
Warrior 1; CR 1/2; Size medium; HD 1d8+2; hp 10; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 14 (+2 Dex, +2 armor); Atk +3 (2d6, short musket) or +2 (1d6+1, cutlass); AL LN; SV: Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +1; Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Background: Military.
Skills: Climb +3, Jump +3, Survival +3, Swim +3.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (light), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Proficiencies (simple, martial).
Fortunes: None.
Equipment: Buff coat, short musket, cutlass.

This is only a temporary measure, of course, a holdover until the PC's can be transferred to a more secure location, something like Cape Coast Castle.

Paying the Price
As part of their incarceration, the PC's are likely to face some kind of punishment. This could include humiliation at the hands of an enemy, physical labor, or perhaps even torture. While the GM should not overdo this part of the situation, it can be an effective means by which to establish an enemy. For example, if the PC's are subjected to the not-so-tender mercies of a jailer who whips them while they haul heavy stones as part of a work detail—thereby inflicting subdual damage an perhaps even fatigue upon them—it can create more dire circumstances, and make the scene even more engagin once they have a chance for some comeuppance.

A trial could be an opportunity for engaging roleplaying. Should this occur, each of the PC's is brought before the court and accused of his/her crimes; the judge asks questions, while witnesses present their own versions of the events in question. It could make for an especially lively discussion if the PC's have differing opinions about the facts of the matter.

A Little Help
During their incarceration, the PC's might have a chance to work with one or more allies. Some of the possibilities for this include the following.
  • Characters who have animal companions—especially those who have invested in fortunes like Parrot Perch, Monkey Magnet or Dog's Best Friend, and perhaps even the Bonded Animal feat—might find that these creatures have survived the fateful encounter. After all, enemies might not consider an animal to be much of a threat. Considering the tricks that these pets might have learned, they could certainly prove useful.
  • Imprisonment could also give the GM a chance to introduce new NPC's, or to make use of old ones. For example, a chivalric gesture toward a local noblewoman could pay dividends if she visits the prison and takes pity on the PC's, as could an act of kindness toward a street urchin, or something similar.
  • This is also a good chance for PC's to make use of any contacts they might have, depending on their chosen backgrounds.

Choosing the Right Moment
Another important consideration is where and when to take action. Likely moments include while being forced to participate in a work detail (in Algiers, for example), or while being escorted to the place of judgement or execution (as might happen in Port Royal or other places). Other preparations should lead up to this moment, building a sense of tension and anticipation. Once the escape effort begins, the action should be fast and furious. Something akin to a running chase is probably best, rather than having the PC's stand and fight all of their enemies. Although this might mean that some opponents survive, this only makes for an even more memorable confrontation in the future. Similarly, this could mean that they are forced to leave behind valued possessions and the like.

Making an Exit
Once the deed is done, it behooves the PC's to move as far away from the scene of the action as they can, and as quickly as possible. Therefore, having a vessel—or at least horses—available is advisable. As long as they can put some distance between themselves and the long arm of the law, the PC's can live to fight another day.

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