Dungeons & Dragons Online

Gotta run a prison break

I've spent a lot of time building up the immense magical powers elves have in this world, like 10th-level spells aren't an especially rare thing and pretty much everyone has at least a little magic. And elves are also super-sticklers for bureaucracy and rule of law, it might take 10 years for a court case to even finish up because when you live for 1000 years, what's the rush? So of course my players want break an NPC out of an elf prison. Which, fine, wasn't really in my plan of possibilities, realistically they should all be caught immediately and roll up a new party of all-lawyers, but they're all really into it and I respect their reasons for thinking it will be fun. I just can't think of any ways to make it actually be fun. (And yes I am committed to doing the thing at this point, so I'm looking for ways they can succeed, not ways to have them captured/TPK'd/whatever.)

Actual question at the bottom of the post, wall of background info incoming:

The main thing they have going for them is that they've teleported from thousands of miles away, so if they can pull it off they just have to leave again, nobody's going to bother with them as long as they don't come back. Not a problem, they have plenty of other places to be.

Read more:  My players have ten days to try and revive a party member. How do I handle this?

Defenses they know about:

  • the interior of the prison blocks spellcasting
  • the entrances are enchanted to detect magic and the guards are pretty good at physical searches.
  • The guards they've seen have mostly been orcs; there's at least one halfling at one gate
  • The exterior walls are stone, and the interior walls and bars of the windows are all living vines the toughness of iron.
  • Windows are tall, but 6" wide.
  • The prison is square, with a wall, a yard of some size I haven't determined yet but that should be reasonable for a big prison, then the building, which is built around a courtyard.
  • The NPC is on the 1st floor on the side facing the outer yard, not the courtyard

Stuff they don't know:

  • the guards come in a variety of both strong and spellcasting types; the casters have badges that override the antimagic defenses.
  • Magic items still work inside the building, which is why they're so careful to make sure none get in
  • They sort of know about the "Ritual of Truth" but they haven't put together that's why the NPC they're rescuing can no longer succeed on mental-stat saves. It's something they super need to avoid unless they want the same for their PCs. (Only a problem if they get caught, it's a 10-minute cast time.)
  • The prison is the only one in the kingdom and can house about 300 prisoners.
  • The empire doesn't have the death penalty
  • The empire does have "Marks of Honesty" which are basically magic tattoos that snitch when you do whatever thing they're set to trigger on. (They're expensive, wear off eventually, and require manpower to monitor so they're not a general population thing, but realistically that's the punishment the NPC is looking at if they don't rescue her.)
Read more:  My campaign involves an NPC paladin falling (as in, becoming an Oathbreaker) and I want advice on how I can do that without making it too obvious.

Other: Elves are all about the politics and they have connections but they haven't looked into what those connections could do for them. They COULD have just gotten a pardon, but they didn't want to because then they wouldn't get to do a prison break. So now corruption is maybe an option, but I'm drawing a blank developing anything there.

Finally the actual question: What challenges can I throw at them that will be challenging but fun and possible to overcome?


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