Player Wants To Destroy This Building - Would It Work?


Advice


Note: Slight Carrion Crown spoilers.

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All right, so a player in one of my games is looking to destroy as much of this building as possible. What they want to do is use one of their abilities to destroy the walls of room E3, in the middle - basically taking out five feet of the walls in a big rectangle to undermine the structural integrity. It's a big temple, moderately high roof. Yes, this is within their powers. No, they can't reshape that destruction into more complex and elaborate forms.

The building is cited as made of 'fieldstones' - how much damage do you think doing this would cause?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It would certainly weaken the structural integrity. If the PC made a low to moderate knowledge: engineering roll on top of it (DC 10, for example), I would say it would collapse as the PC desires.

Without engineering, it may collapse partially and possibly in places that does not guarantee advantage to the PC.


What is the roof made of?

It is really impossible to say w/o knowing what it is made of.

Most likely you would bring down the walls and roof of E3, which would collapse the roof in the surrounding room. Maybe you could have an engineering roll to bring down the outer walls.

E1 would be unaffected unless you bring the whole thing down.


I'm no engineer, but it looks like taking out the walls of E3 would cause that room's ceiling to sag in and likely collapse, but wouldn't do anything to the building as a whole.

So, not much practical effect, unless the idea is to let the sun shine in.


The plan you linked doesn't show which of the walls are supporting/ bearing walls. But most likely at least some of those they want to weaken are.

KestrelZ's suggestion of having them make an kn. engineering check is good.
If possible I'd move the rectangle north or south to remove the walls of either E3+4 or E6+7 to make sure that either half of the building collapses. But removing part of the walls of E3 should do it as well. Whether only the roof of E3 collapses or more is up to you.


The book doesn't say what the roof is made of, probably because it wasn't expecting people to try and do this sort of thing. XD Closest I can get is noting that it's a church.


Make the character do a knowledge (engineering) check. If no one is trained, see if they can scrounge up design records in the town/city they're in.

Poor checks: slow progress on destruction due to several unaccounted for factors (materials used in building, supports they weren't aware of, etc)

Good checks: they get the building destroyed in 3d6 hours accounting for excellent progress destroying supports and walls? I don't know about time, but basically: good knowledge engineering check = whatever, let them destroy building if they've already completed that section of the AP.


Does it say whether the ceiling is arched, whether there are pillars, or whether the roof has beams or rafters? If you're looking at arches or rafters, you'd probably have better luck targeting the supports for the roof instead of the walls. If there are pillars, go for those.

And can you clarify this: "basically taking out five feet of the walls in a big rectangle to undermine the structural integrity".

IANAE, but I don't see that 5 feet of damage anywhere in that building will destroy much, especially if it's only 5 feet high, also. (I'd look at it as "what would happen if they tried o make a new door and failed miserably"--probably a small area of collapsed roof, only.)


The book doesn't provide any details of that kind - it doesn't really describe the roof at all.

By removing five feet, I mean using what's basically a destructive power to completely destroy five vertical feet of the wall (and doing all the walls of that room at once, not one by one). To put it another way, uh... imagine using big battering rams to simultaneously knock down all the walls of that room, leaving big gaps of empty air and no lingering connections between floor and ceiling. The walls of the other rooms are untouched, but E4-E8 would all have one open side now.


Generally speaking, buildings are actually pretty robust. They've had to be. Even before structural analysis, builders learned through trial and error even if nothing else. Sometimes the mortar wouldn't be mixed right. This brick has an un-noticed flaw, that board has been chewed by termites, etc... Yet most builds will still survive for a long time. through storms, renovations, age, fierce winters, oven-like summers, etc... Churches in most religions are particularly stout since they are expected to last 'forever' in that local.

Even completely taking out a load bearing wall is probably not going to have an immediate significant effect. It will weaken and sag, but probably not just collapse. A corner of multiple load bearing walls is more likely to do something. But you don't really know which are loadbearing. A 'push' to get things happening would be good. Team of horses tied to grappling hooks pulling on the roof is the first that comes to mind for me. (A summoned rhino charging into a wall is also a nice image.)

Having said all that. Minor damage to cause a structural collapse is also kind of a common theme in stories, novels, movies, legends. So if you think it makes for a good story, knowledge engineering check and go for it.


Let's see here. if they are just stacked field stones and no mortar, and with that thickness they could likely push over those walls so we have to assume there is mortar holding them together, even if it is something like a calcium carbonate mortar (limestone). There are A LOT of interior walls in that place, so many that the load is well distributed. It is 110 ft (22 squares)long at the longest and 50 ft (10 squares) wide at the widest point, we have to assume a wood based roof because making a stone roof out of fielded stone would be a pain, if its even doable (I'm sure someone somewhere has tried, human nature to want to build the impossible, quarried stone is much better for that sort of thing). If the roof load is buttressed destroying some of the interior walls probably won't do a thing, if not then they would probably have to drop a significant amount of wall in E3, and in doing so most likely bury themselves in the rubble.

If using hand tools the locals are definitely going to notice and at least ask a few questions, if using magic like disintegrate they could likely bring down the whole damn place in 2-3 casts if you calculate by volume, if you rule that just 10 foot of the wall goes down then it'll take far more. Long and short I think they would have to take out just about every wall in E3. If those 's' (I think they mean secret but whatever) mean structural, then taking those down would cause the collapse and those people in e3 and e8 would take the worst of it. If not then like I said before almost every wall in e3 would have to be dropped to collapse the roof, and likely the side rooms (assuming similar material was used) would be relatively safe, safer.... safeish. Still wouldn't want to be in one of them though.

Whatever you rule tell your players to look up Collapses and Cave Ins in the CRB to see what they might be subjecting themselves to as to remind them undermining the structural integrity of a building while inside the building is unwise.

Regards
DRS


I'd keep it simple and use the game rules to determine effectiveness, instead of trying to learn about actual real world engineering.

Knowledge (Engineering), player can pick a DC prior to rolling...

DC: 10 - you can collapse the building while you're in it, you'll need to make reflex saves to run out and avoid damage.

DC: 15 - you can collapse the building in a way that significantly reduces your risk of self injury, but doesn't completely remove it.

DC: 20 - you can collapse the building without any risk to yourself.


Stone to flesh on some load bearing walls would make quick work.

I'm no structural engineer so I can't tell you which ones would be load bearing based on that picture. However, a DC X know(engineering) could.

And then you turn those walls to flesh. Boneless weak flesh. It has a side effect of not only being destructive, but down right weird.


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Claxon wrote:

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I'm no structural engineer so I can't tell you which ones would be load bearing based on that picture. However, a DC X know(engineering) could.
...

Also consider, it is unlikely the person that made that picture is a structural engineer. So I wouldn't rely all that heavily on analysis of the picture anyhow.

If collapse would inhibit the story, give it a high DC knowledge engineering check.
If collapse would promote the story, give it a low DC knowledge engineering check.
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Claxon wrote:
Stone to flesh on some load bearing walls would make quick work. ...

I once had a group that used stone to flesh on a wall. Then set down to luch. Ewww.....


Heh. XD Well, I guess we'll be going with Know (Engineering) to see just how well it's ruined by this. Thanks for the advice, everyone. ^^

Liberty's Edge

Going by how building’s often grow or are re-purposed I would be tempted to suggest that the walls in question were once exterior walls and as such are load bearing.

Many temples like this in smaller villages like this one would have started out modest and then grown due to popularity. The main room and the one behind the secret doors plus a couple off to the side may be the original structure with the other rooms and expansive forecourt added later. I very much doubt that the building was built this way originally.

So yes load bearing walls, probably quite thick 3-5 ft wide at the bottom with the now outside walls while not bearing as much weight as the original walls would still be 2-3 ft thick.

Depending on what they are looking to do; should they disintegrate a 5ft section the surrounding structure would likely sag but not collapse; some stones would fall and possibly injure those in the immediate area. Undermine the walls foundations would have a similar but less dramatic result.

Repeated disintegrate or rock to mud spells would bring the roof down depending upon the level of the caster and where it was placed. A good Knowledge Engineering roll should highlight a weakness if there is one in the structure where a single well placed spell “could” bring down the house. (if you wish this to happen as the GM)

Knowing a bit about this adventure; the rot in the village’s society and religion “could” permeate the structure of the temple and make it susceptible to this sort of attack. If I recall correctly this is built in a swamp so the walls would already be well versed in subsidence and would be built with this in mind. Time and environment will have it’s way however.

So it is actually down to you as to whether you would like this to happen or not.

Regards

Sic

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
KestrelZ wrote:

It would certainly weaken the structural integrity. If the PC made a low to moderate knowledge: engineering roll on top of it (DC 10, for example), I would say it would collapse as the PC desires.

Without engineering, it may collapse partially and possibly in places that does not guarantee advantage to the PC.

Or for that matter ON the PC when he's casting the magic.


How long do the intend to take at the job. If they have a week and magic then they should be able to do it with no check at all. If they need to get it done in just a few hours I would break out the knowledge checks to speed things along.

Have they already dealt with the inhabitants of it?
Do they mind if the villagers see them at work?
How long do they have?

My PCs ended up rounding up the whole village and forcing them to relocate. They leveled the whole place to make sure they would not come back.


The roof would collapse. What is it made of?

If its heavy then the roof will push out the side walls causing the front and sides of the building to be destroyed, the statue area would be left near whole.

If its light then only the center of the building roof will crumble but the rest would still stand.

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