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Old Screeds

Captured! [13 November 05]

I recently wrote about capturing prisoners and what to do with your prisoners afterwards. But what about when the shoe is on the other foot ... what if you, oh brave hero, are captured?

The core rules seem to anticipate this problem, offering a few solutions to the dilemma of regaining your liberty:

The Escape Artist skill is ideal for wriggling out of bonds and tight spaces. It is also useful for wriggling out of grapples. It also works against nets, manacles and certain spells, such as Entangle and Animate Rope.

With a little skill in Sleight of Hand, you'll be able to hide away daggers and other small objects that will be very handy when the time comes to make your break for it. Secreting away a Ring of Spell Storing (with just the right spells stored in it) is a sweet option!

The Spell Mastery feat is ideal for the wizard who has had his spell book confiscated. If the spells you have mastered include gems like Rope Trick and Dimension Door, then your escape is assured. If you get enough sleep and a chance to prep spells!

Two other feats are great for the captive caster. Still Spell is nifty when your hands are tied. Silent Spell is the answer when you are gagged. Together these two let you cast a spell even when hogtied, grappled or held! Even a Silent Still Mage Hand (cast as a second level spell) may be enough to get you started on the path to escape!

Certain class features are invaluable when you are captured. It is hard to entrap a Wildshaping Druid. The Shadow Dancer and the Horizon Walker have assured get-aways thanks to Shadow Jumping and Shifting Planar Terrain Mastery, which lets you Dimension Door every 1d4 rounds. Still, those abilites are plenty useful all the time, not just when captured.

Anway, these are all just tricks! What can the average Joe Hero, lacking fancy ranks in Escape Artist, do to improve his or her lot? Here are a few bits of advice:

  • Remember the rules for improvised weapons. That stool in your cell just gave you and two friends each an improvised stool-leg club!
  • And even if there is nothing around to improvise, remember that you can use your fists and hands. A successful Disarm attempt can steal away a weapon ... and if you surprise your target, then he or she will be deprived of all AoOs, making your non-proficient disarm more likely to succeed (because flat-footed foes are denied attacks of opportunity).
  • Of course, if you have a natural attack, like a liontaur, or the Improved Unarmed Attack feat, like a monk, then you are always armed.
  • Be watchful for opportunity knocking. Strangely, an alert hero often finds that fate has been distributing get-out-of-jail-free cards. Look for the sleepy guard, the evil villain's cute daughter with a grudge against Dad, or the escape tunnel dug years ago by a desperate inmate.
  • Listen carefully. Talkative evil villains are often eager to gloat and reveal their diabolic plans when you are at their mercy. Those are great tips for later use! And keep that talky guy talking -- the cavalry may be just moments away!
  • Befriend the weak and inconsequential. Friends in low places are invaluable to prisoners, from cooks to guard dogs to the rats in the walls.

But despite your best efforts, if your DM has devised an escape-proof prison (either by cleverness or fiat), then you may be out of luck. In fact, if your DM is intent on playing the bad guys to the hilt, you may find your character under assault, torture, rape, and worse. If that's the scenario that's shaping up, and if you are uncomfortable with that (as I would be), then call a time out, send the DM a note, or ask for a private chat. The game is intended to be fun, not abusive; tell your DM when you think he may be crossing the line. And if bad comes to worst, remember that you can always vote with your feet.

But with a good game master, there's every reason to expect your captivity to end well, to be fun, and to make a great story. It's not the end of the world if your character is captured -- it's the start of a new adventure!

Home | This page last modified: 13 Nov 05