(DM Question: Is wildshape a spell or just an ability for druids?)
"I'm game for anything at this point. I can try to lift one of you up on my shoulders using the wall as a support to look out." Tempest says as he removes his shirt under his leather tunic. "That guard seems to have gone through a mishap during transformation. I've never seen one with those features or demeanor." he adds.
Tempest will walk under the hole and crouch down ready to have someone stand on his shoulders.
(I think I would rule wild shape as an ability rather than a spell. It’s hard to say that it isn’t magic, but it feels qualitatively different to me, so you figure it might work).
You note that the center of the grate, where it is hoisted by the chains, has been warped through frequent use, concave towards the ceiling. You figure someone could get a better view if they looked from here.
Tempest will look around at the others and say, "I'm not as strong in this form but if I can shift my form I should be able to lift one of you up." Tempest still in a crouch will attempt to use Wildshape and transform into either a Brown Bear or Ape depending on how big the pit is and what he would know could fit in the area.
Ellis had heard Darion talk about how gutsy that was for him to take blame and hoped that wouldn't put him in more danger. The other questioned why they would have beaten down on him more, shrugging his shoulders. "I'm not sure why either, but they must have done this while I was unconscious." he said back, listening as Daner talked about climbing but knew that he couldn't help at all with his ankle like this. Then he mentioned that they will need to find another way out, wondering if they can get someone to let them out by someone faking dead or being willing to be turned. "I can be a distraction since I'm useless otherwise and I'm already marked. If I cause too much trouble by casting spells or say that I'm willing to be turned, they would have to take me out of here to either their master or to be sacrificed. At least you guys can all escape while they're busy with me." Ellis had said back, almost resigning to his fate. With his ankle broken, he would only be a major hindrance to everyone else and knew that he wouldn't be able to get out by himself either. But at least he would have helped them escape, saving their lives so that they could be free and go back to their homes. He listened to Darion and Tempest, nodding back as he took off his blouse for them to use, watching Tempest. Whoever decides to be lifted up by Tempest to look outside the grate, Ellis would look at them. "It's okay, you guys can do this. Don't worry about me." Ellis would say with a gentle smile, giving them Bardic Inspiration.
(OCC: Since Bardic Inspiration is just a Bard ability and meant to 'inspire' someone, I assume that will work as well? 1d6 to an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw)
Darion gives a squark of suprise at the wildshape, taking a couple of steps back. He gives a little sigh when he realises it is going to be him climbing. He turns to Ellis first "I don't want to let these bullies take anyone, we'll find a way to get everyone out!" He tries to sound confident, though the crack in his voice betrays his nerves.
Grabbing the different shirts, he makes a primitive rope, weighted just in case. He then makes an attempt to climb up using Tempest's hands. If he gets up, he will thread the rope through the bars to stabilise himself as he looks around.
Tempest is easily able to hoist up whomever wishes to be hoisted to get a good, steady look at the surroundings.
Muffled sobs and moans rise from four pits with circular iron grates covering them. A chain hooked to each grate stretches over a pulley bolted to the ceiling and coils around an iron winch set into a nearby wall. Iron manacles dangle from hooks on the south wall. To the north, a faintly glowing stone disk covers the floor of an otherwise empty alcove, and carved into the top of the disk is a serpentine symbol. You see a shut iron portcullis to the west of the room; the only discernible exit. Most prominently, only about 15ft to your north is what appears to be a gently glowing stone tablet. It features a number of colored beads along tracks, like an abacus. One of these beads are shifted to the right while the rest are shifted to the left.
Whoever is lifted may make a Perception or Investigation check.
Darion looks around the room, precariously balanced with Tempest's help. He relays down what he can see, then adds "The good news is Dendar isn't here!" The attempt at humour falls flat, the strain in his voice evident. "The guards seem to be gone, so we might have a small window to do something."
He takes the 'rope', tying it off on the grill as planned, giving something to climb / hold onto. Risky, as it will be seen but perhaps useful for this small opportunity they may have to escape.
As he looks around, he tries to work out if that magical snake symbol is the anti-magic ward and see if there is anything else useful.
Investigation: 17 I'll use that bardic inspiration. As he hears the encouragement from Ellis (a little song?), he feels some of the doubts shift and his concentration focus a bit more.
As a bit of the doubt melts away, Darion's keen mind receives a moment of clarity and he makes the connections that he needs to, even through the haze and the adrenaline. The glowing tablet is surely the source of the magic dampening. There was writing present on the tablet, but Darion couldn't read it. To the best that he could tell, it was Draconic, but there was some subscript that he could swear was written in Gnomish. Darion believes that the magical device is relatively straightforward, but without knowing what is listed on the tablet, it will be difficult and risky.
As for the snake symbol in the disk in the north alcove, there was no mistaking it... this was a circle of teleportation. With an impressive check of 21, Darion surmises that this is probably part of a local teleportation relay. It wouldn't take much arcane know-how to get the thing to fire, but without knowledge of the basic sigil sequence of the destination, the most likely result would be teleportation to a random destination in the local relay. If he could catch a glimpse of any other teleportation circles in the complex and read the sigils traced on the pad, he would be able to use this to teleport to it.
Darion could not see any mechanism to lift the portcullis on this side. He could only assume that the mechanism was on the other side of the gate.
Finally, Darion sees that there are three other covered cells present in this room, which must be like the one that he was stuck in.
Daner removes his shirt to be added to the ‘rope.’ As Tempest transforms, Daren is more intrigued than anything. He had heard stories of this before, but never seen it in action. And what is that creature?
Darion gathered his wits a little faster than Daren and clambered up to the grate, taking the role with him as he went. “What do you see?” Daner calls out as he moves over to support, or possibly catch, Darion as he climbs.
Darion softy calls to Daner, explains what he can see, though he is still slightly hedging his bets over whether to reveal he has magical training, describing the two arcane objects "There is a couple of things that look magical in here. There is a strange glowing tablet thing, I wonder if that was what interfered with Tempest's magic earlier? Also, there is something on the floor - I have heard tales of magical devices that can teleport people, and this looks like it could be one of them!"
Darion will give a very tentative push on the grate to see if there is any movement at all then (presuming it is as heavy as it looks), says to Tempest "Now you are this, whatever it is, are you strong enough to open the grate?" As he is saying this, he is also checking the glowing tablet, wondering how fragile it is or whether he thinks it would take quite a lot of force to break (so could someone conceivably break it by lobbing stones at it?)
The grate does not budge when Darion pushes; it is very heavy. However, Darion can see that it is not bolted or secured to the floor in any way, so it would theoretically be possible to pop the lid off should sufficient force be exerted from below.
Darion does not suspect that the tablet would break if it were hit with a stone. However, he does think that the various beads could be moved if they were hit by a stone. There are 8 different beads, each with their own horizontal track where they can be slid left or right, and they are each a different color. All beads are shifted left except for the white bead, which is shifted all the way to the right.
Darion decides he won't attempt to chuck stones at a magical artifact! If nothing else, it feels somehow absurd to try and operate a complex magical device with stones, like he was some drunken Orc!
He carefully climbs down, and says to the group "There are some beads on the tablet, perhaps they could turn off the device. There was writing on there I did not recognise though. Do any of you speak Draconic or Gnomish? I wonder if the strongest amongst us should try and push the grate open - it is not fixed down. What does everyone think?"
Darion slumps back, slightly discouraged. It feels escape is so tantalising near, yet just out of reach.
OOC: I'll wait for the others to post before I do anything more!
(Is the hole in the grate large enough for one of us to fit through? Does having a climbing speed mean I'm proficient with climbing?)
After Daner reports his findings Tempest will look up to the grate and attempt to climb up to it. If the rope is still attached to the grate he would use that as an aid if not he would take it with him.
If the hole is large enough Tempest will try to climb all the way out using the grate bars like monkey bars (pun intended) and lift himself through the hole. If successful he will lower the makeshift rope into the pit and lift his companions out of the pit.
If there isn't a hole large enough he will wedge himself against the wall and push up on the crate to try to lift it. (Preferably in the best spot for the grate to be lifted based on Daner's guidance.)
Ellis had heard Darion talk about wanting to get everyone out, but could tell that he was nervous about how to do that exactly. He watched as Darion got lifted up to the grate, wondering what he is seeing up there before they came back down. He listened magical devices being up there, a tablet that looks like the thing responsible for interfering with Tempest's magic and something that could possibly teleport people as well. That would be perfect, probably the only way he can get out of here since he can not run like the others. Then Darion came back down and asked if they speak Draconic or Gnomish as he shook his head. "No, sorry. Common and Celestial is all that I know." he had said back, nodding in agreement when the other suggested that the strongest among them should try to push the grate open since it's not fixed down. Then Ellis heard as Daner knows Gnomish and was going up to the grate now with Tempest's help. "I feel terrible, not being able to help at all really and just holding you guys back." he had admitted to Darion, looking down at his broken ankle. In the meanwhile, he at least would have been listening for if any guards might be on their way back by now, wanting to warn the others if there are any coming back so they can hopefully not get caught trying to plan an escape.
With eagle-eyed perception, Daner has his own look around the room. The chain system that operated the grates was a simple machine. A simple rope & pulley with a wench. Daner supposes that if somehow they could pull down on the chain that was meant to lift the grate, along with someone pushing on the lid from the bottom, they might stand a chance at moving it.
As for the Gnomish on the tablet, it seemed to be a subversive message that was left by the wizard who was forced to create the device for the Yuan-ti. It explains that each bead corresponds to a school of magic. One can set the device to dampen only certain schools of magic. The gnome suggests that prohibiting Enchantment magic might nullify the magic of the Yuan-ti in the room. He also writes that Abjuration must always be set to not be dampened, otherwise the device would be rendered inert (as the device would dampen itself).
Tempest. The holes between the bars of the grate are not small enough to slip out. You could fit a human arm through one, at best (not an ape arm). When you push, you feel the slightest give. You figure with some good way to plant yourself or with some extra help, it might be possible to make a hole just small enough that someone could crawl through. You figure it would make some unholy noise though.