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How to escape from shackles

****In some circumstances it really pays to know how to make a smooth escape from stocks, hand and leg irons, chains (with associated ball), knotted ropes, concrete overshoes, handcuffs (padded or regular), leg hobbles, and similar physical restraints, which have been around for hundreds of years in one form or another. Most of the time, your plans call for you to be in a place other than where you have had to submit to these additions, with full motion capability, despite the wishes of the party or parties who have arranged for this inconvenience. In this space, for the sake of simplicity, we will not be covering additional techniques for subduing captives such as straightjackets, chemical restraints, or vicious dogs, which might be employed in addition to or instead of hard bonds.

*Evil plotpoints

  1. Assess. If you have your hands behind your back or cannot see where you are attached to the wall, use whatever senses you have access to to determine what the restraint is and whether it is amenable to removal. If you are with someone who is not obviously your enemy, ask them to tell you what they see, perhaps in exchange for telling them the same.
  2. Key. Is there a keyhole? Some restraints you will encounter do not (cable ties are a common example), and need to be cut or burned off. But for the ones which do, the speediest path to freedom would be if you could somehow fashion or steal a key from the jailer. You don't need the original, a photograph of the key can be used to cut a blank into the proper form to unlock yourself.
  3. Break the bonds. Do you happen to have a knife, saw, or bolt cutter you can use? Do so, by all means. If all you have are your own bare hands, perhaps , more limited - try molecular vibration to generate high temperatures to melt through the metal. Or phase out of the normal dimensions.
  4. Body tricks. Pass through the obstruction by contorting your hands or feet. If the shackle is around your neck it is harder, but perhaps still possible. You can also try to wwitch bodies with the prison guard, using the usual techniques. This will only work in prisons which use biometrics to pass through secured doors, not passwords.
  5. Friends in need. In up to 90% of all situations where a chained or otherwise bound captive is able to go free, it is through the agency of another, whether an ally able to penetrate the defenses of the prison where one is kept, a guard who can be bribed or coerced to betray their trust, or, rarely, a wholly disinterested party who stands no particular benefit from one's escape. Have your consort smuggle in tools secreted about her person in an undetectable way, if she can think of any, or else pass the time to think of some on your own.
  6. Acceptance. Perhaps your ultimate aim is not incompatible with being shackled. For instance if you are chained to the wall and cannot remove your hands from the chains, perhaps you can break the bond to the wall itself and drag your chains around instead and go about your business that way. It could actually be pretty impressive-looking, if that's any consolation. If you are attached to a live bomb, perhaps the bonds are less important than actually disarming or destroying the explosives.


! Strokes of genius

  • Gnawing your limbs off. This is an option which has the great merit of nearly always being available, even if you happen to be an animal at the time of your entrapment. You should, in all cases, weigh the pros and cons of before committing yourself. Occasionally, if if you know you will be subject to restraint, you might be able to plan ahead, by applying a tasty seasoning to your limbs beforehand. In almost all circumstances, jailers and wardens will not allow you to get away with partially cooking yourself, however, so avoid going too far along these lines.
  • Mist trick. While we are on the subject of planning ahead for confinement, let us not forget the stratagem of implanting a device in your body which will dissolve yourself into a mist (perhaps by being eaten by nanobots where you can diffuse to safety where you will reconstitute yourself. The experience, while interesting, is generally excruciatingly painful, so you may want to add a bit of nanoanalgesic as well.
  • Exploit your advantage. Remember that you have a psychological edge over your captors. They have more to fear from you than you of them. They fear your getting free and know you have little to lose. It's a slim edge, but better than nothing. If you are in an epic fantasy and you are shackled, get to know the mind of your creator and keep an eye open for any opportunities to help advance the plot in some dynamic way. If you are not fictional but believe you are, you can use this as part of your delusional act.
  • To be or not to be. The correct answer is "to be."

!! Traps for mere fools

  • Electric shackles. These have been growing more popular as of late, with features ranging from combination locks, sensors, shock contacts with settings that go from uncomfortable to lethal. The most popular ones have batteries and do not require wires which can get in the way.
  • Acid treatment. This almost never attacks steel more than it does flesh. Mild acids, such as the kind found in lemons, limes, and salad dressings, are at most able to impart a rusty appearance to untreated iron.
  • Gunplay. Likewise it is usually a losing proposition to shoot your chains off, and noisy too.
  • Dehydration. As a bound captive, it is almost always a good practice to remain as fully hydrated as you can. If you can arrange to consume a large amount of fluid immediately before your restraints are applied, they are likely to go on fractionally looser than otherwise, you will begin what can be a difficult situation from an optimum starting point, and if you subsequently shrink due to loss of water and fat, it may prove to be the salient point enabling your eventual escape.
  • Iron mask. An encumbrance for the advanced escape artist. In some cases you may be able to make your getaway without actually having to remove this pesky appendage.

+ Precious and needful

  • Hairpin. Or other form of jewelry if you do not have a hat or hair.
  • Lubricant. To help slip your hands out of the cuffs. You may need to improvise, in a pinch, using mayonnaise or Astroglide (external link).
  • Heat vision. Best if you have a glass lens to focus the rays upon a vulnerable link of chain.
  • Skeleton key. Works best with lock mechanisms predating the Industrial Revolution.

Further plotting

Created by: GrinningSkull. Last Modification: Wednesday 04 of August, 2010 12:26:02 EDT by GrinningSkull.

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