Crime and Punishment
Author Keith Baker
Series Campaign Style
Publisher Atlas Games
Publish date 2003
What’s worse than being stranded on a desert island? How about being stranded in a pocket dimension the size of a large walk-in closet? A mystically advanced society could use plane shift to store dangerous prisoners in small inter-dimensional spaces, similar to those used in portable holes or bags of holding. This is the principle behind the portable cell. While these items are useful for bounty hunters looking to transport troublesome captives, there’s no reason that an entire portable prison couldn’t be built using these items; you could have a hundred portable cells folded up in a footlocker.
So, if you’re trapped in a portable cell, what are your options? The first problem you may need to deal with is food and water. Needless to say, Survival won’t help. If you can cast create food and water you’re all set. Otherwise, unless your captor provides you with supplies, you’ll begin to suffer from dehydration and starvation. With that said, this may actually be your best chance of escape. A smart bounty hunter will simply throw rations in when he first drops you in the cell. If your captors instead open the cell on a regular basis, you may be able to make a break for it during one of these interludes.
If you can fly, or if you can cast dimension door, teleport, or any similar spell, you can use this ability to escape as soon as the door is opened. You cannot use dimension door or any other form of teleportation while the cell is closed.
A Medium creature standing on the shoulders of another Medium creature will be able to reach the top of the cell. This can allow you to try to attack the person who opens the cell, or to simply Climb out as quick as you can. To make an attack, you must first make a Balance check (DC 14) – if you fail, you fall off of your friend’s shoulders. Otherwise, the attack proceeds as normal. If you want to Climb out, make a Climb check (DC 15).
If you’re on your own, you can try to Climb up the side of the portable cell. However, the walls are extremely slick and hard to keep hold of; this requires a Climb check (DC 30), and you must repeat the check every ten minutes that you stay braced near the top of the cell.
If you can cast gate or plane shift, you can leave whenever you want to – unless, of course, your captor took your plane shift spell focus when he put you in the cell. If you can’t cast gate or plane shift and your captor doesn’t plan on opening the cell, things are fairly grim. The only other option is to try to cut your way out. The walls of a portable cell have a Hardness value of 8; it takes 30 points of damage to create a hole large enough for a Small creature, and 60 points of damage to open a gap wide enough for a Medium creature. The cell repairs itself at a rate of 5 hit points per round. In addition, the walls of a portable cell have an inherent Spell Resistance rating of 20 – and don’t forget, casting a fireball in an enclosed space is not a good idea. Even if you can open a gap, the fun is just beginning – the hole will open into a random spot on one of the planes, but who knows which one?
A cautious captor may put you in some form of restraints before placing you in the portable cell; this can make life even more difficult for you. In addition, while the cell is closed there is no light inside; unless you have Darkvision you will be at a considerable disadvantage. In other words, don’t get stuck in a portable cell!