Greatings! I come seeking ideas!
Im trying to plan out a non combat encounter that envolves the pc's attempting to rescue some folks from a burning building. What I need help with, is thinking up some challenges that they need to overcome on the way... The pc's are level 3, and do not have access to Resist Elements, so it should be a good challenge.
So far I came up with an acrobatics challenge to navigate a burning staircase (failing the acrobatics check results in a section of stair giving way, reflex to avoid falling into flaming debris. If three sections of stair collapse, they become impassable), and a Str check challenge to move some flaming debris (taking fire damage om each attempt), can also be hacked apart, which may take longer, but wont result in dmg.
So, who feels like being a bit creative?
(at work on a phone, so please excuse any typos)
I'd use the following hazards as a "basis"; adjust them to your PC's levels, of course.
Hazards for a Burning Building
Fire (CR 3)
Trigger: A creature takes fire damage.
Saving Throw: DC 15 (Fortitude)
Damage: 1d6 fire damage (half on save)
Recurrence: Each round at the start of the target's turn, until the flames are extinguished (full-round action).
Explosion (CR 5)
Trigger: Predetermined by GM; targets all creatures within 10 radius.
Saving Throw: DC 20 (Reflex)
Damage: 10d6 damage (half on save)
Skills: Perception (DC 16) character notices the problem and can get out of range. May also alert others.
Smoke (CR 2)
Trigger: A creature begins turn in smoke.
Saving Throw: DC 14 (Fortitude)
Damage: 1d6 damage and target begins suffocating. (half on save; no suffocating)
Recurrence: On trigger.
Special: Smoke grants concealment to creatures and objects in it.
Structural Collapse (CR 8)
Trigger: Predetermined by the GM. Affects anything in the area of the collapse.
Saving Throw: DC 20 (Reflex)
Damage: 4d6 damage (half fire, half bludgeoning); (save avoids entirely)
Recurrence: Each round at the start of the target's turn, as long as the target remains in the area of the collapse.
Skills: Acrobatics (DC 28) Character tumbles away from the debris, gaining a +4 circumstance bonus on saving throw against the hazard.
Perception (DC 23) Character realizes the area may collapse and may move out of it entirely, as well as warn others.
Hope that helps.
Try this encounter I ran, it was pretty successful:
The party comes upon a crowd that has gathered outside a fire making its way through six buildings: three on one street and the three that abut those building's rear sides on a parallel street. The people in the crowd have varied reactions to the fire. Some gawk at the fire. Others from nearby buildings race to save their own possessions. Others linger near these piles of goods, eyeing them for something to snatch. Still others, from the burning buildings, shout and frantically comb the crowd looking for loved ones. No authorities are in sight, likely due to the riots. If the fire's going to be prevented from spreading, it'll be up to the party.
If the players try to get a bucket brigade going, they'll need to direct the crowd, which requires them to get the crowd's attention and then succeed at a Diplomacy DC 15 check or an Intimidate DC 20 check. PCs can aid in this action by finding or supplying suitable implements for a bucket brigade (Search DC 15) and finding the nearest public well for the PC who's directing the crowd, as the crowd offers conflicting answers (Knowledge: Local DC 15 or Survival DC 15). Success contains the fire to these 6 buildings. Alternatively, the PCs can risk the fire spreading by using the bucket brigade to aid PCs attempting to rescue trapped people in the buildings. (This tactic will make smoke and fire effect checks occur half as frequently.)
The characters can hear sounds of movement and cries of distress from the burning buildings with a successful Listen check, DC 5. There's a -2 circumstance penalty due to the crackling of the fire and the sounds of the crowd on the street. Remember that there's a -1 penalty per 10 feet of distance. For every 5 points by which the PC succeeds, give him one more piece of information, in order: Building 1 has sounds of movement; it's coming from the first floor in Building 1; Building 2B (building behind the center building facing the PCs) has very faint, high-pitched cries for help; there are two sources of sound in Building 2B. Multiple "low successes" do not reveal information about Building 2B.
To get closer to the buildings requires pushing through the crowd. Each square counts as difficult terrain, unless the PC (or the lead PC of a group moving together) bulls through the crowd with a Strength check, DC 15.
[If they enter the building, the game mechanics for smoke, heat, collapsing ceilings and floors, explosions and backdrafts can be found in DMG2, page 48-9. A brief summary follows.)
Heat: While there may be isolated fires for dramatic tension, these effects occur on floors largely on fire. Roll 1d6 lethal fire damage per minute. The PCs must make a Fort 15 save every 5 minutes or take 1d4 nonlethal and fatigued due to heat stroke. Endure elements eliminates the need for the latter check.
Smoke: While there may be smoke present for general atmosphere, smoke effects appear only on the top floor, or the top two floors if the players delay or go into three buildings or more. On smoke floors, have the PC roll Fort 15 1/round, with each successive check getting 1 harder, e.g. DC 16 on round 2. Failure means a round spend coughing and choking. Two consecutive failures cause 1d6 nonlethal damage. These floors present a 20 percent miss chance and a -4 to Search. I recommend the house rule that PCs that spend a round breathing fresh air reset the Fort save back to 15.
Holding Breath: A PC can hold their breath for 2x their Constitution score in rounds. After that, they must make a Fort save each round: Fort 10 for round 1, Fort 11 for round 2, etc.
Search: No taking 10 or 20! To search for a conscious person requires a Search 15 and five rounds. (A Listen 15 reduces the time spent by 1 round, plus 1 round per 5 points that the check succeeds by. A Knowledge: Architecture 20 check for knowing residential building layouts does the same.) An unconscious person requires a DC 20 to find. Don't forget the Smoke penalties! Only 1-2 searches should be required per floor, as the PCs quickly scan each room they have access to. Feel free to "advance" fire and smoke effects to new floors if the PCs take a long time in the DM's opinion.
An alley connects all six buildings.
Building 1: This building is to the left of the PCs on the street they're on.
The first floor has no fire or smoke effects. A successful search uncovers a family behind a closed, but not locked, door. The father is frantically pushing aside furniture and attempting to pry up the floorboards to get at the family's life savings. The mother and her three children watch anxiously. A Diplomacy 20 will get the man to leave, while aiding his actions will consume 1 minute of time but earn his gratitude. As the PCs get the family out, they say that they think they heard someone upstairs still. A failed Intimidate check convinces the man that the PC is a looter.
The second floor has fire effects. A successful search check brings the PCs to a kitchen in a hastily exited apartment. A Spot 15 alerts the PC to the presence of a large tin jug of cooking oil near a fire and allows them to act in a surprise round before the explosion. Explosion causes 3d6 fire and 2d6 shrapnel. (Feel free to scale the fire damage down based on your party's resources.)
The third floor has both fire and smoke effects. There is no one up hear, but the alley carries the sounds of nearby buildings very clearly. Listen 10 identifies that it's Building 2B that actually has people crying for help in it. Listen 20 reveals that their source is both the second and third floors.
Building 2: This building is in front of the PCs on the street they are on. Three Search DC 15 checks will uncover a TOTAL of one randomly rolled first level treasure (DMG 52) sprinkled throughout the three floors. Only the roof is on fire.
Building 3: This building is to the right of the PCs on the street they are on. It has been shoddily maintained over the years, and the fire has further eroded its structural integrity.
The first floor is filled with rubble. A climb 10 will be necessary to climb the rubble to the second floor.
The second floor has fire effects. In the stairwell between the second and third floors is a passed out drunk.
The third floor has fire and smoke effects. A Search of the third floor reveals a trapdoor in the ceiling hidden by the smoke. It is a pull-down stair to an attic. A Spot 25 notices smoke being sucked through the cracks in the trapdoor up into the attic, while a Search 20 notices that the trapdoor feels hot. If the PCs open the trapdoor, a 30' radius fireball goes off due to the backdraft in the attic (5d6 fire, Reflex DC 15 to halve the damage.)
Building 1B: This building is behind the building to the left of the PCs, facing a parallel street to the one they are on. Only the top floor has fire and smoke effects. Three Search DC 15 checks will uncover a TOTAL of one randomly rolled first level treasure (DMG 52) sprinkled throughout the three floors. The PCs automatically find a cat trapped on the second floor. A Handle Animal DC 15 check will be necessary to calm the animal.
Building 2B: This building is behind the building in front of the PCs, facing a parallel street to the one they are on. This building is where the fire started and the flames are most widespread and intense here.
The first floor has fire effects active. There is nothing to find here.
The second floor has fire effects. A Listen 15 check will locate the source of the feeble cries for help as being from behind a locked door. A Strength 15 check will bust down the relatively frail door in the round of the success or an Open Locks 15 will open the shoddy lock, but that action takes 1 minute. In this apartment is an old man, an invalid, who tells the PCs that his granddaughter may have been trapped while playing upstairs.
The third floor has fire and smoke effects. A successful search finds a room with a bed in the windowless far corner of the room. A Spot 15 will detect the little girl under the bed from across the room, although a PC who gets down on their knees gets a +5 bonus to this check. In between the door to the room and the bed is a 7' wide hold in the floor of much of the room, traversed by a single flaming support beam. Getting to the bed requires a Jump or a Balance 15. The girl, in shock, will require coaxing to get her to come out.
Building 3B: This building is behind the building to the right of the PCs, facing a parallel street to the one they are on. One Search DC 15 check will discover an un-armored Rogue 2 looter who's acquired a randomly rolled first level treasure (DMG 52) in addition to his standard gear, sans armor. Only the roof is on fire.
Nope (on the create water), Our home-brew setting uses Words of Power... Very low magic. I'm going to classify some of the hazards as Traps to let the rouge get some use out of her Trap-Sense.
Thanks for some of those idea... I'm going to have to tone down a few... 10d6 fireball explosions would be a BIT much lol. I think I am going to place oil lamps at various places... these will explode after 2 rounds of exposure to fire.. 1d6 fire damage to all adjacent squares as well as catching anyone in those squares on fire. Perception check (Dc 18) to notice the danger.
The Collapsing Structure doesn't seem as dangerous as I would expect for CR 8.
Other ideas I have come up with.. Fire Weakened floor, much like a pit trap, moving over the effected area calls for a Reflex save or fall (DC 16, 10 foot drop 1d6 damage plus 1d6 fire for flaming debris). This puts the effected character one level down (or basement if on first floor).
I LOVE the idea of Diplomacy checks to calm the panicked people, great idea. They will also need Disable Device to open the handcuffs on the people trapped on the top floor.
Any other ideas people have would be great! Once I have everything written up I'll post the finished encounter.