Walk with me, dear traveller, and I shall tell you about the greatest prison break in the history of Faerûn! It starts in the gleaming city of Neverwinter, amid its high temples and shady docks, follows through an island full of pirates, and ends exactly where it began! I promise excitement, awe and entertainment. Walk with me, and let me tell you of the days of high adventure! (Yes, I am copying Conan… Just shut up and read.)
- Bacardi Riga III, Gnome Extraordinaire
The Cast (D&D 5/LVL 5): Bacardi Riga III (flamboyant gnome illusionist), Gilthanas (playboy half-elf paladin), Klin (violent elf druid), Malak (professional half-orc rogue)
Previously: The party left the quiet town of Phandalin and went to the majestic Neverwinter, where they helped the Church of Selûne recover three shards that fell from the sky, believed to be tears of the goddess herself.
CHAPTER ONE: Jehovah’s Witnesses, Cockatrices, and Smugglers
The party’s stay in Neverwinter was prolonged, when a priestess of Selûne was gruesomely murdered by suspected members of the Zetas (anti-religious assassins). Being the theatre troupe that we are, we pretended to be gamblers and went searching for clues amid the gambling house near the docks, discovering that a guy named Gard, captain of the vessel “The Lantern”, was a big shot involved in illicit business with the Zetas.
Klin (the druid) disguised himself as a Jehovah’s Witness and went knocking on doors, preaching the word of Silvanus. We found some culprits in a warehouse, connected to the Zetas, and involved in illegal cockatrice trafficking. The druid got turned into stone, but I got myself a handful of cockatrice feathers! So, all-in-all, a profitable, honest, hard day’s work.
CHAPTER TWO: Pirates, Perfumes, and Never Split the Party (Part 1)
We had to wait by the prison that the cockatrice effect wore off from Klin. Also, we were hoping to question one of the captured culprits. Well, tough luck, he “hanged himself” in the cell during the night. Apparently the bastard Zetas’ reach is considerable.
The captain of the guard asked for our help in investigating the “suspicious exchange of merchandise” in a big warehouse by the docks. Knowing that “The Lantern” had sailed to Waterdeep a few days before, we had nothing better to do. Therefore, we did what we do best: disguised ourselves of exuberant specialists in exotic perfumes.
Inside the warehouse we stalled as long as we could, waiting to witness some shady business. After long hours of discussing fragrances among other “I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-talking-about” issues, a large boat docked in the warehouse’s peer, and a band led by a GREATAXE WIELDING OROG joined the camaraderie. We didn’t even have an opportunity to do our act, since they practically attacked us on sight. Needless to say that when a gnome wizard is corralled by a GREATAXE WIELDING OROG his hit point pool isn’t rather reassuring…
And so, the friendly GREATAXE WIELDING OROG picked the unconscious gnome, pressed the axe’s blade to his throat and boomed in a friendly voice “Either you drop your weapons and surrender, or the gnome loses his head.”
The rogue lowered his weapons. The druid surrendered. The paladin… Oh, the paladin said “Well, screw you! I’m a paladin, I ain’t gonna surrender!” With murder in our eyes we look to the guy. WHAT?! Dude, they’re dragging us into the boat! We are unarmed, the gnome is knocked-out, and they’re chaining us! “Oh, too bad. You’re my mates, and I’m fond of you, and all that, but… Screw you! Oh, look! There’s my mount! Best of luck! Toodeloo!”
And that is how the ship departed the city of Neverwinter, with three guys aboard in shackles and another one frolicking in his horse along the docks. Did he go straight to the authorities in order to launch an entire fleet in pursuit? Of course not! He went back to bitches and booze…
CHAPTER THREE: More Pirates, a Painting, and Sea Monsters
We woke up imprisoned with two other guys in the ship’s hold. One of them was a lunatic that wouldn’t stop screaming. Klin jumped on the guy and punched his face until it became pulp. We (the gnome and the half-orc) looked at him with surprise and shock. “Well, it says here in my character sheet that My Answer to Everything is Violence, so…” We continued to gaze upon him in utter awed silence, while the DM granted him Inspiration. Mental note: do not piss the druid.
With teamwork we were able to unchain ourselves and unlock the door (Mage Hand), and proceeded to slaughter pirates. Along the course we met a kitchen maid who gave us useful information, and discovered a painting by world-renowned gnomish painter Ipe. Almost simultaneously, something hit the ship hard.
We reached the deck in the middle of a ravaging storm, with a hydra attacking the pirates. This is our chance! Well, ok, but to do what? Join the hydra and attack the orog, or join the pirates and attack the hydra? Talk about getting out of the frying pan into the fire…
I use my illusions to distract the orog, making him believe a second hydra was attacking the ship, thus giving Malak and Klin enough leverage to finish our captor. We jump into a lifeboat, and row the hell out of there… with me holding tight to the gnomish painting!
CHAPTER FOUR: Ice, Ice, Baby, the Pirate Hideout, and Never Split the Party (Parts 2 and 3)
Lost at sea we stumble upon a female elf floating in a wooden board holding a pirate’s corpse by the head. “I am a priestess of Auril, and bring icy death to all who do not worship my deity!” I shit you not. By no means is this some gnomish wackadoodle story.
By some reason that absolutely fails logic we decide to give Juliana (she was from Brazil) a lift in our lifeboat. Well, you guessed it right: Gilthanas’ player needed a temporary character until the party got reunited, so he decided to respect the DM’s request for a “normal and peaceful character that could swiftly join the party”.
So, if this was a story to start in media res, it would go like this: Once upon a time there was a half-orc rowing a little boat in the middle of the ocean. For traveling companions he had a druid with anger management issues, a gnome holding tight to a painting twice his size, and an evil priestess wanting to submerge the world in an ice age, clutching the corpse of a pirate overboard. Oh, and let us not forget the kitchen maid that was also rescued from the sinking pirate ship.
Fortunately, this is Dungeons & Dragons, and no such nonsense could ever come to be.
The most improbable travel companions in the history of… well, pretty much any kind of history, ended up reaching the shore of an island. They decided it would be best if the half-orc stayed behind guarding the boat, the painting, and the kitchen maid (well… yes, obviously the half-orc’s player couldn’t make it to the session at the last minute), while the rest of the group went to explore the island.
Guess what? It was the pirate lair, with “The Lantern” anchored in a hidden bay! Bingo! Now we just needed a plan to deal with seventy or eighty pirates, and manage to sail a ship that required a crew of… hummm, seventy or eighty pirates!
The gnome, the druid, and the priestess infiltrated the hideout in search of anything helpful. We managed to catch a couple of pirates by surprise, and when the nice gnome was preparing to question one of them, the crazy ice bitch manacled the other to a table and went Hannibal Lecter on him, gutting the poor guy as a sacrificial honor to her goddess. My gnome looked agape to the man he was about to question, and watched him die from a heart attack!
By this time my gnome was really starting to feel tempted to abandon these murder hobos and join the pirates.
We kept exploring the lair, gathering several bits of useful information concerning the campaign background, until we finally reach a chamber which the DM described as “a room with three portals with magical runes inlaid”. At this moment I look at the DM with a very ominous stare. I pick my character sheet and remember him: “Huuum… The main trait of my gnome is Pathologically Curious/Acts Without Thinking... I jump into the first portal and activate the runes!” The DM looks at the other players. “Does any of you know Arcana in order to activate the runes?” No, says the druid. No, says the priestess. Oh shit, says the DM…
So, presently we have: the paladin walking the brothels of Neverwinter; the half-orc guarding the boat, the painting, and the wench, in the other side of the island; the druid alone with the crazy ice bitch inside the pirate lair; and the gnome in anyplace possible in the multiverse and beyond. At times like these, I almost feel sorry for our DM.
Naaaah! Just joking! I don’t feel sorry at all.
CHAPTER FIVE: Lies, Deception, Illusions, and The Greatest Escape Ever
With the entire party scattered to the seven winds, the “island faction” decided to flee the pirates, and risk sailing the waves in the little boat. Eventually, they arrived on Neverwinter. Grave news awaited them. Bacardi Riga III, gnome extraordinaire, had been detained, charged with attempt on the life of one of Neverwinter’s Nobles. The news were brought by none other than Gilthanas himself, who rejoined the party. The crazy ice bitch thus went home, and there was much rejoice.
The group rushes to the jail, demanding to see Riga and claiming there must be some misunderstanding. But the captain of the guard refuses access to the prisoner. With no other option, the druid shapechanges into a cockroach and walks inside the prison. The DM decides it’s time for payback, so he has all the rats in the place chasing the cockroach. The druid shapechanges into a rat, and browses the cells until he finds me. He removes the shackles and the gag. “Riga! You’re alive! We’ve come to rescue you!”
Gnome Player (aka me): “HOORAY! Let’s get out of here! Do I have my equipment with me?”
DM: “Hummm… No!”
Gnome: “Bugger! Ok, no problem. I still have my spells memorized, right?”
DM: “Hummm… Actually you got beaten up pretty bad by the guards, so I’m going to say you lost all your spells.”
Gnome: “WHAT?!?! Are you joking with me?!?!?!?!??!”
DM: “Hummm… Ok, I’ll let you have ONE spell.”
Gnome: “One spell? ONE SPELL???? What am I going to do with only one spell? Besides, if I don’t have my equipment with me, I can’t even work the material components!”
DM: “Hu-hu. Well, that’s too bad…”
Gnome: “Ok, druid, shapechange again into a rat and go tell the other guys I can’t get out of here without help!”
Druid: “Errr… Actually I’ve already used all my shapechanges for the day…”
Gnome: “Oh, this is just great! Now we have TWO characters jailed… We are the worst adventuring party of all times! I don’t even know how we survived the first level goblins! Also, we have AGAIN split the party…”
And so, there we were. The paladin and the rogue unable to enter the prison. The mage and the druid unable to exit from it. Time for a cunning plan!
Gnome: “Can I at least use my cantrips?”
DM: “Hummm… Yeah, sure.”
Gnome: “Wunderbar! Ok, we’ll sleep for a few hours so that the druid can restore his shapechanging ability. Done? Ok, shapechange into a cockroach and I’ll hold you in my hand. I use Mage Hand and knock on the door from the inside. That’ll startle the guard, he’ll come to investigate, and I’ll cast Charm Person, which is the only spell in my list that doesn’t require material components! WOOHOO!
DM: “Hummm… Well, the door is at a curve and you don’t have line of sight to guide the Mage Hand.”
Gnome: “WHAT? Are you serious? Dude, I’m going to kill you! I’m this close to breaking your neck!”
Druid: “I can summon a bear and have it knock on the door.”
And so he did. The bear knocked at the door, the druid unsummoned it, and when the guard opened the main door I cast a Minor Illusion to mimic a gold ring rolling on the floor, and when he was in front of my cell I was able to see him and cast Charm Person. Besides, having leveled to level six before the session, my gnome illusionist now had “Malleable Illusions”, which allows me to manipulate any illusion within reasonable limits.
Gnome: “Great, he failed the save! Ok, guard, you’re my best friend; there has been a terrible misunderstanding, open the lock! Thanks. Now, I’ll hold the druid-cockroach in my hand, grapple to the guard’s back, make an illusion of a cloak hanging from his shoulders, tell him to go outside… and voilà!”
DM: “Hummm… You still need to convince him to do that.”
Gnome: “But… I cast Charm Person! I am his best friend!”
DM: “Ok, but you still need to Persuade him to leave his post.”
Yes, my gnome is acquainted with several languages. Unfortunately, I rolled miserably in Persuasion, so the guard wasn’t too keen in doing what I suggested.
Gnome: “Damn! Ok, new plan! I’m a small forest gnome, so I’ll hold hands with the guard and ask him to go with me talk to the captain and explain this misunderstanding. I’m still holding the cockroach in my hand.”
DM: “Ok. He sees no problem with that. He walks along the corridor, goes up the stairs, and starts to open the door to the main hall. What do you do?”
Gnome: “Ok, it’s all or nothing! I’m going to do a Minor Illusion, so that the thing hanging from his hand is not me… but a large handkerchief dripping snot!”
Paladin (outside the prison): “…”
Rogue (also outside the prison): “…”
DM: “Hummm… Ok, he tells the captain: «Sir, there has been a terrible mistake! This is my friend Bacardi Riga!» And he raises your arm slightly. Well, he is interacting with the illusion, so he is entitled a Will saving throw. He failed. He is absolutely convinced that he is holding a large handkerchief dripping snot.”
Gnome: “Excellent! I let go of his hand, and have the handkerchief gently fall into the corner.”
DM: “The captain is baffled by the guard’s idiocy, and tells him to stop drinking. He accompanies him to the cells underground. You’re in the main hall. There are four guards in the room, all looking at the handkerchief.”
Gnome: “Shit! Huuuuu… Ok, I use another cantrip and make an air draft blow the handkerchief into the captain’s office. I crawl bellow the illusion. Do I see my equipment anywhere?”
DM: “Yes. It is in a small cabinet.”
Gnome: “FABULOUS! I pick it up quickly. Ok, druid, shapechange into a Chihuahua, I’ll place my hand above your neck, and we’ll pretend that a Chihuahua walks out of nowhere with the snotty handkerchief in its mouth, and get past the guards! We have to be fast, before the captain finds I’ve escaped the cell.”
DM: “The captain finds that you have escaped the cell. He is shouting for the guards to close all doors.”
Druid: “Dude, we’re never going to pass through the guards!”
Gnome: “Never mind that! Just run! The alternative is having you shapechange from Chihuahua to a polar bear and run to the exit, with me on your shoulders shooting Fire Bolts! Actually… THAT WOULD BE AN AWESOME IDEA! Damn! Just forget about it! Run to the door!”
DM: “One of the guards catches the dog.”
Gnome: “I keep running, with the illusion-handkerchief over me! Do I manage to get outside?”
DM: “Yes. But the door closes, and the druid is still inside.”
Half-orc (bashing savagely at the door): “I WANT MY DOG! I WANT MY DOG! GIVE ME MY DOG!”
DM: “They take the dog and put it in a cell.”
Party: “But it’s a very small Chihuahua! He’ll pass through the bars!”
DM: “They… lock a very tiny chain around the dog’s neck.”
Party: “Why the hell are they chaining a Chihuahua?!?!?!!?!?!?! What his he accused of?”
DM: “Becauuuuuse… reasons!”
Paladin and Rogue: “We force the door open and go searching for the dog.”
Gnome: “I’ve got my equipment! I peek inside and use my spider staff to cast Web, in order to entangle the guards in countless cobwebs!”
Before the befuddled guards, the half-orc rogue enters the cell, breaks the chain holding the Chihuahua, holds it close to his chest, gives a disapproving look at the guards, and proclaims: “No one takes my dog from me!”
We proceed to evacuate the prison in an orderly fashion.
And that, dear traveler, is the tale of my escape from Neverwinter’s prison. It has been a pleasure entertaining you.
Until we meet again!