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I am going to play the Out of the Abyss scenario with my players, and I allowed them to choose among all available races (fun is my primary objective).

One of the players chose to play an Aarakocra, curiously named KFC. The problem is as following: the Aarakocra can fly (yes, I didn't think this over when allowing all the races, nevermind).

How can I prevent this character from escaping too easily from the prison of Velkynvelve? Are there any spells that can prevent him from flying? Or should his wings simply be tied together?

Note: at some point, he will probably free himself from any binds/manacles/spells, and will probably help with a distraction to allow the others to escape, which I am fine with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking for something in the rules that might prevent this? Otherwise you are asking for personal preference / thought process. \$\endgroup\$
    – Airatome
    Mar 6, 2016 at 18:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been removed. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 6, 2016 at 18:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Airatome yes, like a spell or a potion effect, for example. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yotus
    Mar 7, 2016 at 13:42

7 Answers 7

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It's fine if he escapes. The rest of the party can't fly away, so he'll have to come back for them anyway. (Or he could abandon them and fly off, but then his character has left the game and you can ask him to make a new character.)

If he flies up above the level of the walls, it might cause bad consequences -- it might alert the guards, and they might shoot crossbows at him. But I don't recommend altering the module to thwart him if he's just doing aerial scouting.

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Arm the tower guards with ballistae and harpoons, and the guards walking the parapets with crossbows. Nets could be strewn between towers and above prison yards. Have some flying guards or guard-beasts ready.

A flying escapee would be pretty visible. Depending on the surrounding terrain, even if one breaks free it might be pretty easy to track and follow the escapee.

Typically a prison breaks wants to be more subtle than taking to the air. (Helicopter prison breaks are for movies.) Escapees need a head start before the guards start looking for you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Except that helicopter escapes are happen about once per year and are generally successful en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_helicopter_prison_escapes \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Mar 6, 2016 at 19:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well how about that. Still, the bullet holes in the helicopters mentioned in several of these stories would be a problem for our aarakocra friend. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim Grant
    Mar 6, 2016 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ If more prisons had helicopters for the guards, this would be harder! \$\endgroup\$
    – cr0m
    Jan 25, 2017 at 0:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @cr0m The solution to bad guys with helicopters is more good guys with helicopters? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jun 4, 2021 at 15:04
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Other answers talk about discouraging him from flying.

If you want to prevent him from flying at all, remember that Aarakocra can't fly if they are wearing medium or heavy armor. If you don't want to give him actual armor, put him in a restraint vest that "acts as" medium armor, but gives no AC.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a very cool method to restrain him. Weld a breastplate on him and let him walk around. \$\endgroup\$
    – cr0m
    Jan 25, 2017 at 0:30
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Don't stop him from flying, stop him from wanting to fly. Simply have the warden threaten to kill his teammates if he attempts to fly out, and unless he's evil, or the breed of neutral that's close to evil, that should be enough. Regardless of alignment, he should see that escaping (without another mitigating plan) would cause severe tension at the table (kill off other PCs by his actions) and that should be sufficient to stop him.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I like this answer, but my players are new to role-playing, so I doubt he will follow his alignment with 100% accuracy \$\endgroup\$
    – Yotus
    Mar 7, 2016 at 13:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Yotus Not that "following alignment with 100% accuracy" is good roleplaying anyway. While a lawful good paladin wouldn't abandon his companions under normal circumstances, he's not mentally incapable of considering it as an option. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cubic
    Mar 7, 2016 at 14:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agreed, alignment isn't a set of rules that dictate everything, but it should be used as consideration. Furthermore, it gives you, the GM, a tool to use when a player seems to be going off the deep end 'Are you sure you want to do that? It might lead to an alignment shift, and your party doesn't tolerate evil' \$\endgroup\$
    – lithas
    Mar 7, 2016 at 14:54
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The slave pen has a ceiling

The slave pen in Velkynvelve, where captives are kept when not being put to work, is described as a cave with an iron-barred door. It's reasonable to assume this door covers the entire entrance, and the roof doesn't have openings that would allow aerial escape.

The prisoners are chained

The book states that all of the prisoners in Velkynvelve are wearing iron slave collars and manacles connected to a belt with short lengths of chains. If they took the manacles intended for hands and affixed them to the aarakocra's wings, that would seriously impede flight. Alternatively, you could simply have prisoners be chained to each other, or have their chains held by the drow, so even if the aarakocra is free to fly, they can only go so far before reaching the end of their chain.

Flying and ranged opponents

Once they're actually making their escape attempt, even if the aarakocra character is unchained and able to fly freely, there's still quite a lot of danger for them. All of the drow have ranged attacks, with the regular drow and drow elite warriors equipped with crossbows tainted with drow poison, and the two drow priestesses are both spellcasters with ranged spells.

In addition, there's an optional encounter with four chasme and two vrock who are fighting each other but may attack the PCs as well. These demons are all capable of flight, and it'd make sense for them to be particularly inclined to attack a PC who's entered their flyspace.

Note that falling, either due to being reduced to 0 hp or knocked unconscious by drow poison, is a major threat to this PC. If they're unconscious from drow poison, the landing will wake them - if the damage doesn't knock them out! Worse, depending on whether they fall, they might end up in the pool (where a Juiblex-corrupted gray ooze lurks, attacking any PC who comes close), or into the giant spider webs below the platforms (which restrain creatures that fall in them, requiring a Strength check or damaging the webs to escape).

All in all, rather than things being too easy for the aarakocra, they could easily find themselves in the most danger of all the PCs.

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I'm sorry, if you wanna be sure, you gotta clip his wings. It's the only way.

Sure, you can try restraints. Or burying him in rock. Or encasing him in armor. But anything you try is going to be failure-prone, and cruel. Clipping the wings is terrible. But when it's time to let the bird fly, a cleric can fix it, good as new.

So, if you wanna be sure, you gotta clip his wings. It's the only way.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I suspect this would not get an auto-flag for length if it had an explanation of why other ways wouldn't work. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Mar 8, 2016 at 2:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, good point. I added some length. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 8, 2016 at 3:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ What about a ball and chain ? If the ball is heavy enough, it should prevent flying, wouldn't it ? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yotus
    Mar 8, 2016 at 8:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yotus - That's a good idea. It is basically a form of restraint, essentially the same as chaining him to the wall. It will work for awhile. Until he or someone else breaks the chain. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Mar 8, 2016 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. For those without the experience, note that clipping the wings is not removing the wings, just trimming the flight feathers and possibly just on one side. I've done this with my wife's free-range chickens to keep them in their fenced pen. If Aarakokra flight is physical (not magical) it should be effective, as well as allowing the the PC to be 'restored' by magic later. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jun 4, 2021 at 15:15
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I just remembered all the Lucky Luke episodes I watched when I was younger, and thought: hey, why not a ball and chain ?

If it is heavy enough, it would be dangerous for the Aarakocra to try flying, and he would be free at the same time the other prisonners find a way to break/unlock/pick the manacles.

Also, it would not be too cruel (even if the Drows are).

(Note: I made a new question regarding the weight an Aarakocra can carry when flying)

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