Javi wanted to introduce some of his friends to D&D so I busted out Caverns of Thracia, hooray! The kids were very impressed by the page full of autographs from the Grey Company and Jaquays. They insisted on first level characters, 3d6 in order, even rolling for hit points at first level, so needless to say they were captured in their first encounter before even entering the dungeon. Now they're in it, specifically in one of a dozen cells beneath the Beast Lord's palace. Having two bards and basically no actual abilities, I expect they will try to social engineer a prison riot and could use advice on how to make that fun and gameable. What I have to work with is a breakdown of the number, age category, and gender of the human tribesmen slaves in each cell; the fact that their captors are made up of two factions, gnolls and lizardmen; an idea that the guide who led them to the Lost City is named Pig because there is a Thracian beast cult on the surface who name themselves after animals and might or might not be in league with the Beast Lord; and the usual OD&D willingness to make up or borrow mini-games to fit the situation.
Build a relationship map! Figure out which gnolls/lizardmen will be rotating in as guards, and a handful of key players in the Beast Lord's court who might want this or that. Give each one a thumbnail sketch of personality and desires/goals, and their relationships to one another. Bingo, you're ready!
Since they might not survive an extended prison riot (quelled with a Cloudkill, summoned elemental, or similar?) an escape might either be by subverting a guard to escort them quickly out of the place, or through the start of a riot.
They will have to think of what they have to offer as bribes. Perhaps Pig's aid could be bought with the location of a trove of truffles or oak grove (with its many acorns)?
Hm, so it would be a game where they try to ratchet up the tension between the two groups without getting caught in the middle. Maybe something like Jenga, where they have to build up the Jenga tower to a certain height before it collapses (i.e. the riot erupts) to make sure enough fellow prisoners are involved for their plan to succeed? (or the hight it is when it collapses the better their modifier is on their escape rolls)
Different direction, but nothing says prison break like crawling through a nasty sewer, and lots of good toilet jokes for the boys). Sketching a couple sewer/vent/pneumatic tube systems onto the map could be add a wrinkle.
Also, all this beast cult stuff really begs for some polymorphing. Really offsets their lack of gear/competency to change them into [d12 on small creatures table] and sneak out through said sewers. Maybe layer in some mouse guard G-BITS lite for animal skillz for a minigame? Also these.
Alternately, a big table of "things that happen in a riot", roll an extra d6 each round to ramp up intensity to get to the crazy stuff at the bottom of the table.
Lol, months late to this.
Option: People in different cells need to communicate plans. These plans WILL work, but players don't know that. Take two scraps of paper at opposite ends of player group. Each person writes one word of a plan and passes it on to next. Idea is to see if a coherent, readable intent can be discerned.
Option: Characters role play building actual relationships/distracting guards while one person phrases a random secret meeting via tunneling or messages with NPC. Roll on Eric's old wish fulfillment table (d6) for how it goes wrong or right. Possibly use both options where each of the players write the NPC on the slip of paper that they want to speak to/develop a relationship with. Then, perhaps you randomly choose two who have use the verbiage of the plan from option 1.