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Volcano + City + 800 years = what's left?

Lackofname

Explorer
Need a bit of brainstorming, or at least, some extrapolating.

In my game there was a city that was overrun with an abyssal plague and actual demons. The Goddess of fire smote the city with a volcano--the lava kind, not the explosive/pyroclastic flow kind (Mountt St Helens/Pompeii). The civilization promptly fell (due to plague and demons). 800 years have passed. The local natives have left the city alone--that whole 'demon angry goddess and plague' being a mighty big taboo to avoid.

My group, new settlers to the area, is now looking to go investigate the ruined city, and I'm wondering what to put there to find.

One desire is for them to battle demons. Trouble is, logic is kind of getting in my way. Any free demon would have left to go cause havoc elsewhere. One trapped under all that rubble couldn't be encountered. So how, amidst the destruction, to have a demon trapped in such a way that it can't get out but the PCs can get in. (And also you know, be accidentally released rather than good and truly trapped, allowing the characters to taunt it from outside the proverbial jail cell before walking off, because that is exactly what this group would do.)

Finally I'm not sure how to navigate the treasure issue, since "you find a lot of cool stuff because it's a city" vs "you find nothing because what hasn't fallen apart from age was wrecked by a volcano". Finding nothing makes some sense, but going into a city and getting nothing seems massively disappointing.

So far all I can imagine is that the buildings at the edges of the flow weren't destroyed, and some stone buildings were tall enough that while the first/second floors may be buried under rock, upper floors were not, and that might allow access to lower floors (although the lava's heat might have melted the building's walls etc so maybe not).

Any way to suddenly give access to preserved but unreachable places would be ideal.
 
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Finally I'm not sure how to navigate the treasure issue, since "you find a lot of cool stuff because it's a city" vs "you find nothing because what hasn't fallen apart from age was wrecked by a volcano". Finding nothing makes some sense, but going into a city and getting nothing seems massively disappointing.
Think you may have answered your own question. Logically theres probably nothing left there, as long as you somewhat convey that to the players beforehand then if they still decide to explore the ruins and find nothing then logic prevails. If you fill the area with monsters and treasure to placate them it'd probably seem forced and illogical. Perhaps moving on to another location might be a better option.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Need a bit of brainstorming, or at least, some extrapolating.

In my game there was a city that was overrun with an abyssal plague and actual demons. The Goddess of fire smote the city with a volcano--the lava kind, not the explosive/pyroclastic flow kind (Mountt St Helens/Pompeii). The civilization promptly fell (due to plague and demons). 800 years have passed. The local natives have left the city alone--that whole 'demon angry goddess and plague' being a mighty big taboo to avoid.

My group, new settlers to the area, is now looking to go investigate the ruined city, and I'm wondering what to put there to find.

One desire is for them to battle demons. Trouble is, logic is kind of getting in my way. Any free demon would have left to go cause havoc elsewhere. One trapped under all that rubble couldn't be encountered. So how, amidst the destruction, to have a demon trapped in such a way that it can't get out but the PCs can get in. (And also you know, be accidentally released rather than good and truly trapped, allowing the characters to taunt it from outside the proverbial jail cell before walking off, because that is exactly what this group would do.)

Finally I'm not sure how to navigate the treasure issue, since "you find a lot of cool stuff because it's a city" vs "you find nothing because what hasn't fallen apart from age was wrecked by a volcano". Finding nothing makes some sense, but going into a city and getting nothing seems massively disappointing.

So far all I can imagine is that the buildings at the edges of the flow weren't destroyed, and some stone buildings were tall enough that while the first/second floors may be buried under rock, upper floors were not, and that might allow access to lower floors (although the lava's heat might have melted the building's walls etc so maybe not).

Any way to suddenly give access to preserved but unreachable places would be ideal.
I see a couple of opportunities, here.

First, the goddess may have been doing more than merely killing demons with the lava. She might have been counting on the cooled lava to seal a gate to the Abyss. A gate that is now about to be excavated by unwitting explorers (preferably of the PC kind).

Second, as for treasure: If the PCs have reason to believe something might be burried, that’s great for the excavation-thing. But also, it could be fun to put something right out in the open that should not have survived the lava. At that point, the question shifts from what can we find? to why is this here?

That’s the kind of plot hook that’s bound to make the players suspicious!
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
Have it trapped in volcanic stone. Think the statue of Pazuzu from "The Exorcist."

The PCs accidentally free it and now must find and defeat it.

Pazuzu_Exorcist_2.png
 

nevin

Adventurer
Lava is not hot enough to melt steel, or iron. Also volcanoes often spew enough ash and rock to cover and insulate things, Items in caves buildings etc could survive. In pompei they found unbroken dishes and pottery in pantries. Maybe the demons are trapped in the pockets created by the lava flowing over

Just remember that lava is just above the melting temperature of gold by around 200 degrees.
Some porcelains require over 3270 f to melt. Lava is between 1800 and 2190 f. Clay pottery melts at around 2300 f. Lots of things can survive lava. Getting them out is the problem
 

nevin

Adventurer
Lava is not hot enough to melt steel, or iron. Also volcanoes often spew enough ash and rock to cover and insulate things, Items in caves buildings etc could survive. In pompei they found unbroken dishes and pottery in pantries. Maybe the demons are trapped in the pockets created by the lava flowing over

Just remember that lava is just above the melting temperature of gold by around 200 degrees.
Some porcelains require over 3270 f to melt. Lava is between 1800 and 2190 f. Clay pottery melts at around 2300 f. Lots of things can survive lava. Getting them out is the problem
 

MattW

Villager
The Demon isn't stupid; it anticipated that the volcano would erupt - and that it would need to hide from the goddess. Therefore, there is a demon-built "fallout shelter". This is a vault where the demon's body is preserved in some sort of hibernation (maybe it's in a protective casket or sarcophagus). This is not ideal for the demon, but it's better than being burned up.

How to open the sarcophagus? It will open if exposed to sunlight. Or moonlight, if you prefer.
 


Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
The lava flowed through the streets but somehow did not burn down doors, break windows, &c so anything inside a building may have survived. Introduce the possibility by having the PCs explore a half-buried building and they locate a door leading to the basement (full of odds and ends and a few portraits and a collection of something - ornate swords?).

The area looks like an archeological excavation site. Somebody lurking about (and occasionally working on things) resembles Indiana Jones.

The former sewers are now lava tubes.

A Xorn or other inhabitant of the Elemental Plane of Earth could create tunnels / trenches to access currently-buried buildings.

The PCs could be sent to a library or monastery or other depository of ancient books to seek out a city map from before the disaster, to guide the new digging.
 

Lackofname

Explorer
Lot of good responses right now. I didn't realize that various things like pottery had such a high melting point. Stone has varying degrees of melting points (that's part of the difference between volcano types, I think.) The demons (and the city) had no idea the smiting was coming--the volcano rose out of the ground maybe an hour or two before the fire flowed. But on the topic of "fallout shelters", I can see a magical college or some wizard's home or a temple having one. It could've had an automatic contingency and caught a some mid-battle, or a fleeing wizard chased by a pack of hungry fiends could've hit the panic button and trapped them all in stasis.

Anyhow, for context, the PCs are the only new comers, ever. However, a new player had to join this week because another bowed out. His new character is a knight on a ship of a rival country coming to investigate this continent, and they conveniently shipwrecked in the harbor of the ruined city. The knight then picked up something possessed by a prince who died in the lava flow, and now the two souls are hanging out in the same body.

I was kind of thinking of say, the collective weight of the party on top of certain spots might crack open a pocket. Release toxic gasses held inside. Also demons trapped in such a pocket may have not simply sat in there for 800 years, but gotten clever. Either:

1) They scratched out summoning traps before killing themselves. If the trap was ever triggered, it would summon them back.

2) Possessed an object and go dormant. The civilization had automatons (and warforged, and...) so the demons could have possessed that, and as soon as the PCs pop up, they could come to life. Or someone (the survivors of the wreckage? A PC?) could pick up an object and wham.
 

MarkB

Legend
One option is to give the demons a reason to stay. Maybe a group of the more powerful ones in the buried centre of the city were able to carve out a protective bubble for themselves in the lava, along with some innocent civilians, and in the intervening years have made it their own personal little hell, magically maintaining the citizens, torturing them by repeatedly letting them burn almost to death and then restoring them.

PCs who explore the city think they hear tortured wails and assume it's either their imagination or some lingering ghosts, but if they follow the sounds to their source, they can break into the bubble and attempt to free the trapped people, even if only to let them finally die and pass on to the afterlife.
 

Bohandas

Adventurer
Some porcelains require over 3270 f to melt. Lava is between 1800 and 2190 f. Clay pottery melts at around 2300 f. Lots of things can survive lava. Getting them out is the problem

I'd be more concerned about the sudden heat causing it to shatter
 

tomBitonti

Adventurer
Say, the demons that arrived through a portal: Perhaps a physical ring (ala stargate) or an outline, with enabling components at key points. The lava was intended to destroy the key components, but demons and cultists were able to scatter them in time. Many of the demons fled or were destroyed. Others are able to remain on the material plane only in close proximity to the components. Others are specifically tasked with guarding the components. The components are in places in the buried city which were protected from the lava flow.

The demons must remain close to the components, either because they are bound to the components, or because they would become unstable and return to the abyss if they travel to far away.

Many of the demons have found a niche in the lava field to slumber. Others watch restlessly from their hidden chambers. The demons are disorganized and have varied agendas: Some want their component moved to a richer location, such as a well populated city. Others would rather just slumber away. A number of them seek to re-assemble the components -- which would reopen the gate. But of course, each wants to be the one who reopens the gate, since that decides where in the abyss the other end opens, and because reopening the gate would garner favor and empowerment. And still others, while clever, just want to slaughter folks.

Mixed in would be the remnants of cultists and of worshipers of the fire god, each reawakening to activity as they learn that the city is being disturbed. Perhaps there are just ancient records, clues to be found by the players to help them understand the history of the city, and the problem of the demons.

Also trapped in the city could be fire creatures of various sorts. Most simply hostile, but others willing to communicate or at least give ominous warnings.

Buried treasure could include weapons and magic items used by cultists, by city folk who fought against the demons, and by worshipers of the fire goddess. This would be in addition to hardy valuable items which would have survived.

Thx!
TomB
 

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