Contortionist/Escape-Artist

This skill enables a character to get loose from restraints, whether mechanical, like ropes, pillory and stocks, manacles, or the like, or from the grip of a living foe, as in being held captive, especially by dint of some uncomfortable immobilizing hold such as is described for wrestling under the Brawling skill description. Through working assiduously on stretching range of motion, use of special relaxation exercises and/or special training in dislocating one’s joints, holding one’s breath and slowing metabolism, and knowledge of stresses and controlled flexing, this skill gives the character a chance to escape from any physical restraint he is bound with, often relying on subtlely pumping the body up during the process of being bound, thus obtaining the slack needed to wriggle free upon relaxing at the next opportune moment.

If the character is shut up in a box, chest, or cage composed of bars placed closer together than (character height ÷ 7), he must also have the Draughlatch skill in order to attack the lock and/or hinges from the inside in order to get out, otherwise this skill gives him no recourse. The Escape Artist skill is focused on getting out of restraints placed directly on the character’s own body, over which he has some direct control in the original application or through which he can conceivably slip by manipulating his own body.

The att. mod. for the use of this skill is based upon the character’s STR and either CRD or AGL (GM’s discretion, vs. restraints on Arms and/or Wrist/Hands, or the full body, respectively), with a bonus based upon his Acrobat skill and/or his skill at tying knots (vs. restraints that are hand-tied of ropes), as applicable.

If the character is also a Craftsman and Artificer of the specialty required for making the type of container (box, chest, or cage) in which he has been confined, a bonus should be allowed based on that skill for getting free of that container.

 

GM’s Notes: 

The base DV for getting free from any given restraints is determined by the character’s specific situation. The GM must consider the number of limbs bound, whether those limbs have been bound together, and/or to his body, bound behind his back, whether or not he is bound to some anchor-point, whether or not he has any slack with which to work, etc., each factor that inhibits the character’s getting free. Each of these factors is counted separately, and the base DV is equal to the number of factors, per factor added.

For examplefor a character who is bound at the wrists or ankles or who is shackled by one hand or foot to a wall, post, or anchor stake, the DV is 1. For every additional factor limiting the character’s ability to move, the DV is raised by the number of inhibiting factors, 2 for the second for a total of 3; 3 for the 3rd for a total of 6; 4 for the 4th for a total of 10; 5 for the 5th for a total of 15, and so on, and so forth.

Any slack less than (character height) in length between a character’s wrist or ankle bonds or in the lead to an anchor point that confines his movement is considered “limited” and will inhibit character range of motion in some way that will interfere in getting free, counting as a separate inhibiting factor in determining the DV.

Having each hand and foot shackled to a separate point on wall or post would count as 4 factors, providing a base DV of 10. If the slack for each limb were limited, that would be 8 factors, for a base DV of 36.

Where there is no slack at all between bonds or an anchor point, OR in the event that the character’s bonds leave him nearly or completely suspended (whether drawn out spread-eagle or stretched out with arms above head and feet barely touching ground), that will count as a separate and additional factor.

For example, if the wrists or ankles of the character above were bound together with only limited slack or also to an anchor point with sufficient slack again to allow full range of movement, this would. be the next factor, for which 2 would be added to the DV, making it 3.

  • IF the character’s wrists were bound with no effective slack between them, or the lead line to the anchor point from them was limited, this would be a 3rd factor, raising the DV to 6. If his wrist bonds had no slack between them AND the lead line was limited, that would be a 4th factor, raising the DV to 10.
  • IF the character’s arms were also bound to his body so his wrists (shackled together with no slack) were before him, that would be a 5th factor, raising the DV to 15, and if they were bound so his shackled wrists were behind him, that would be a 6th factor, raising the DV to 21.

The character must make a check against each factor to get each limb free (or pair of limbs where arms or legs are bound together), with the DV steadily declining with each success at the same rate at which it was first compounded, step by step.

For example, in the above example the character was bound with a DV of 21. With a successful check against that DV, the character could have wriggled himself about so his arms were in front of him, lowering the DV to 15 for the check to work his arms free of the binding to his body. A successful check against DV15 would free his arms from that restraint and lower the DV to 10 for the final check to get free of the wrist bonds, which are still anchored to the wall by a limited lead line.

This is the theory, anyway. The actual order in which the restraints are defeated is not important. That is the province of the character’s skill, and the player certainly need not have such intimate knowledge of it for his character to succeed. For the character to get free, the player need merely work his way through the DV’s, as described.

The limits on available slack are simply a factor to be considered, a condition of the fetters adding to the DV, not restraints in and of themselves from which the character must make a d100 check to get free. A character in a single restraint that allows him full range of motion for the whole body will have a base DV of zero (0) to get free.

There are other factors to consider, however, as follows.

The DV for slipping free of tied bonds is based on the CRD & STR att. mod’s of the character who tied them. The DV to get free of restraints tied by one who has skill at Knot-Tying should always include that SL, as well. These two factors determine how tightly they have been tied and the STR necessary to loosen them, or the CRD or AGL needed to work them loose.

  •  IF a character is bound in a system of bodily restraints that have been designed by a character who is also an Escape Artist, that SL should also be added to the DV to get loose.

When the knots are being tied to restrain or bind him in ropes of any kind, however, the Escape Artist character should be allowed an Escape check vs. the skill of the character doing the Knot-Tying during that process. at each point in any system of rope restraints that are tied (wrists, ankles, etc.), the character should be allowed a similar check.

This gives the Escape Artist character the chance to exercise one of the tricks in which he is trained to fool the one tying the knots into believing that he has tied them tightly, when in fact the Escape artist has created slack that allows him to slip out of them when the time is right.

  • IF successful, the DV for getting out of that particular set of restraints is divided by the character’s Escape SL (SL 1 reducing the DV to get out afterwards to 3/4th’s normal).
  • IF the check is failed, his ploy is discovered and he is tied tightly and truly with the full DV to stand against any attempt to Escape.

In the case of bonds arising from the use of magick, such as being bound by the surrounding plant life in a “Nature Bonds”, or being wrapped up in ropes, sheets, towels, or other similar objects subject to an “Animate Object” dweomer as a means of restraint, the DV to Escape should be equal to the [(magick POT) + (caster’s MGA att. mod.)].

  • IF the wizard wielding magickal restraints has the Escape Artist skill himself and applies that knowledge to the casting, his Escape SL should be added to the DV to get free, as well. In some cases this may make getting free especially difficult, if not down right impossible for some, but every character (PC and NPC) deserves to receive the full benefit of his portfolio of skills and the extent of his knowledge and experience.

The manacles employed in the GM’s world to restrain miscreants may be locked, but likely only with a padlock strung through the rivet-hole in them, not with a built-in lock like modern handcuffs. If a prisoner is of poor or common estate and it is obvious that he is unable to pay to get out of them, or if his captor has no intentions of letting him go free, he is riveted into them by a smith. The prisoner requires the services of a hammer and chisel to be free of them by conventional means, if he doesn’t have recourse to this skill.

For magickal bonds that work in the same manner, trapping the character by a confining clasp of some sort such as results from a “Death Grip” magick, “Hands of the Grave”, “Helping Hands”, “Hand of Light/Dark/Shadow/Spirit/Earth” or the like, the Escape Artist skill does NOT apply directly, but only grants a bonus of (1 per 4 SL’s) against wriggling free of the strength of the clasp, by virtue of AGL and STR as is done in wrestling, described under “Brawling, Grappling, & Wrestling”.

If the Escape Artist is hurt, he is subject to the full round of P-RES checks for numbness (shock), stun, and/or unconsciousness due to attempting to manipulate his body while wounded, as described under the heading “Pain & Stunning” in Tactical Play & Combat.

To attack locks and/or hinges in order to get free of boxes, cages, or other enclosures from the inside, the character will need to be a Draughlatch, as noted, and have those tools with him. To that AV, for these purposes only, the character should be allowed a bonus based on his skill as an Escape Artist simply to reflect his knowledge of such enclosures and the best ways to attack them to get free.

The DV for getting free of such an enclosure can be increased when designed by an Artificer who is also an Escape Artist, or who has one such to advise him, by up to the SL of the Escape Artist whose knowledge is used in designing the enclosure or the Artificer’s SL, whichever of the two is less.

The time required to exercise this skill in getting free of any given restraint, as described above, is equal to (DV ÷ 10) consecutive Actions according to the character’s RoA and the rules for tactical play. This is rounded to the nearest whole number. From this should be subtracted the Escape Artist’s SL and AGL att. mod., while never reducing the time to less than one (1) Action.

When more than one impediment binds the character this amount of time is determined for each d100 check required to get free. In a series of restraints, as the DV declines with each successful d100 check, the time required to get through each step of restraint also declines.

 

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