Vertical Transportation for a Vast Army


Advice


I'm looking for a cool way to get a huge army from deep in the earth to pour out onto the surface world. Any suggestions for something other than teleporting?

Background:
An evil ruler is secretly drilling a giant hole below his castle at the request of his evil master. Once it's completed, a dark army will launch a surprise war on the surface lands.

Limitations:
1.) The hole will be roughly 30,000 feet (9km) deep and 30 feet (10m) wide when completed (subject to changes if needed).
2.) The hole goes straight down and is being drilled using some kind of burning laser magic or something (I'm not envisioning some dramatic mining machine reaching down from the surface).
3.) The hole isn't a sealed cylinder. It connects to lots of random caves and tunnels. In other words, there are, at some points, big gaps in the walls from natural phenomena.
4.) The journey shouldn't take forever (I'm thinking hours or days, not months).


A lot of casters with reverse gravity?

Give the entire army wings?

A couple of really massive flying creatures? Undead or construct so they don't tire. Like a massive dragon.


The ancient skull-shell of a beholder-lich?

A fleet of lava-boats, to float up as the surface sea runs down, with apocalyptic clouds of steam making fog and lava-lightning around the landing zone. Have some big elementals not joining the fighting, as they go about building levees at the edge of the hole (the underworld doesn't WANT to be flooded, it was just a way to float ships...). Your side caverns can be protected by having them slope up and make airlocks, or let their full or partial flooding be a part of the scenario.

If the levees get built/stay built, the underworld dries out mostly. Maybe breaking the levees is one way to strike back at the underworld. Perhaps, having fought the vanguard, the PCs can smash/protect the levees to soak/thwart the gathering main force?


If the villains have enough burning laser magic to make a hole that deep, even if they don't have the finesse for a mass teleport/teleportation circle (if they did, why bother with the hole?) they will likely also have enough power to run some serious vertical transport. More finesse = expanded Reverse Gravity (possibly acting upon a set of platforms that parts of the army stand on, like elevator platforms. Less finesse but more steampunk feel = steam powered elevator series powered by additional uses of burning laser magic. If not enough burning laser magic is left over, depending upon the surface environment, a hydro-powered series of elevators would be another possibility (surface spies would notice that the villain diverted part or all of a river to flow into a hole in the ground, and nobody can figure out where it goes; this also introduces water into the underworld, but in a controlled manner, so not necessarily a bad thing as long as not used to excess; surface dwellers might be able to slow down the villain's plans by interfering with the supply of water).

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

In the AP* where this happens, the "drill" also creates screw-shaped ramp-platforms that allow easy transport. ^_^

*:
See Book 6 of Serpent's Skull.


A Gargantuan or Colossal tamed creature able to burrow at a speed of 10 feet can bore a 6 mile deep vertical shaft in 6 hours. This beast remains a nightmarish siege engine as it can tunnel beneath the walls of most any stronghold on the surface and collapse it quite quickly, providing easy access for the invading army to wreck havoc.

An invasion force with a 20' racial climb speed or able to feather fall and levitate would make the ascent in roughly 2 hours. With access to something along the lines of "communal overland flight", at-will fly or a faster racial climb speed the ascent would take but an hour. This would be a fearsome army as it can ignore the walls of their surface enemies.

If the invading force is more prosaic and has to march on foot, allow at least a week to bore the passage in such a fashion that infantry can make the ascent without being unduly slowed from constantly marching up-slope and a minimum of 2-3 days' march once the passage is completed to get the force to the castle dungeons. (Roughly half the time required to bore the passage for the army to march out.) If this army is comprised of creatures that don't need to concern themselves with fatigue, they can make the ascent in half or a third of that time.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Considering that flying up at greater than 45° angle require a fly check at DC 20 most flying armies will suffer an horrendous attrition rate trying to fly up a 30' wide shaft en masse. Every check failed by 5 or more would create a falling flier, that probably will hit other fliers and force further checks, with a lethal chain reaction of falling bodies.

Elevators seem the best option. Give them magically hardened adamantium chains to justify how they are able support the weight of the long chains.


Swamp gas balloons.


Go simple. Use hundreds of floating disks or several big ones for the wave effect. Explane it by a whole lot of wands or better yet an eldric machine.


Purple worms with Howdah style rigs on their back.

Obviously the BBEG must conquer Shai-Hulud.


Lots of burrowing monster to open the way?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I'd probably go with ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, lifts, et cetera.

Otherwise, why dig the huge hole at all? A gate or teleportation circles would work just fine with no hole. Ditto for burrowing critters. Balloons and other forms of 'flying' could come pouring out of a hole only slightly wider than they are and would only need it to be deep enough to reach the nearest accessible side passage - rather than going all the way down to 'the homeland'.

The only reason you would need a wide and deep opening would be if a not particularly mobile army were physically climbing out of it and thus needed room for many to exit simultaneously.


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Floating Disc is a level 1 spell; Levitate is a level 2 spell. I don't see why there couldn't be some grand "Levitating Disc" spell that's somewhere in the 6-8 realm. Just bring the whole army up on one big invisible floating disc. Bonus points if the spell mixes in some ghost sound for some elevator music; 30,000 ft is a long way.


Pretty simple idea, but what about platforms of similar diameter to the hole, pushed by summoned (or better, called) air elementals?

Or maybe have them held at the edges by earth elementals (hiugher strength), who burrow/earth glide through the outer walls.

Or even a combination of both -- earth elementals on the edges of the large platform, and air elementals below for extra stability.

Drilling the hole on an angle might have been smarter, though. Then ou could just use sleds pulled by earth elementals or something like that.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Chuck Roast wrote:

...The hole will be roughly 30,000 feet (9km) deep...

...I'm thinking hours or days....

9 kilometers in days. There's no problem. Horizontal travel permits 24 miles per day, which is over 38km. So in 1/4th of a day, 9km gets covered.

Assuming a spiral ramp with 1:4 elevation-to-distance-traveled ratio, you're still looking at one day of marching.

Now, an inclination makes for harder travel, because there's still that climb involved. So go ahead, be generous... make the ramp a 1:12 ratio and give the army a whopping three days of travel to reach the top.

Math. It's what's for dinner.


Earth elementals are a good idea; if the hole is only 30' across, that's only 6 squares. So, assuming a circular hole, 4 huge elementals could make a platform and they would each be in contact with enough earth to just glide straight up. At this point, we are probably just talking about several castings of Elemental Swarm, which is doable by a few sufficiently high level casters, or someone who is sufficiently skilled enough to operate a Codex of the Infinite Planes.


I would consider this mountain terrain (due to the constant uphill slope), which means travel at 3/4 speed for creatures walking up the ramp, so I'd say add in a 4th day to be sure.


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If he has a giant laser, why isn't he firing it at the opponent?


I dunno, lots of dire badgers? Like, oodles of dire badgers? Or hundreds of slaves to tunnel for them.


Giant Crossbow with a platform headed bolts. Each platform has at least 1 caster with feather fall


How vast is the army in question? I can't imagine the spiral ramp/staircase being much wider than 5'-10' in a 30' wide shaft. So only 1-2 creatures wide at a time. Also, a 1:12 spiral ramp/staircase only rises ~7.85 feet on it's way around a 30' wide circle, so the height of the creatures could come into play if we are talking about Large or larger creatures, or even tall medium creatures if we take into account the thickness of the ramp/staircase.


Ooh. An elaborate elevator system that uses rocks/sand/water as counterweights that are dropped off at the bottom, into a portal that is linked to a portal at the top that dumps it back into the system. It's basically a big, endless, water wheel where the powering force is magically looped.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Anguish wrote:
Chuck Roast wrote:

...The hole will be roughly 30,000 feet (9km) deep...

...I'm thinking hours or days....

9 kilometers in days. There's no problem. Horizontal travel permits 24 miles per day, which is over 38km. So in 1/4th of a day, 9km gets covered.

Assuming a spiral ramp with 1:4 elevation-to-distance-traveled ratio, you're still looking at one day of marching.

Now, an inclination makes for harder travel, because there's still that climb involved. So go ahead, be generous... make the ramp a 1:12 ratio and give the army a whopping three days of travel to reach the top.

Math. It's what's for dinner.

Our current GM, that is an passionate mountain trekker said "no way" to that kind of speed when climbing a mountain, even along a road.

For those that like anime, check Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin. Episode 8 give a good depiction of what happen it you fight after changing altitude without giving your body time to adapt.
I think it will not be different for a race usde to live 9 miles under the earth it it get to the surface without taking the time to adapt.

I pathfinder terms they would be fatigued or exhausted for several days.

A good depiction in Pathfinder would be to have them exausted or fatigued for several days.
It would be a interesting situation. A huge army pouring out of a hole in the ground and then stopping for several days.

That is, naturally, if they have some kind of "normal" biology.
If we are speaking of outsiders, elementals, constructs or undead that don't apply.


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There are already rules for altitude sickness, so going from 9 miles down to sea level should be similar to going from sea level to 9 miles up.


Chuck Roast wrote:

I'm looking for a cool way to get a huge army from deep in the earth to pour out onto the surface world. Any suggestions for something other than teleporting?

Background:
An evil ruler is secretly drilling a giant hole below his castle at the request of his evil master. Once it's completed, a dark army will launch a surprise war on the surface lands.

Limitations:
1.) The hole will be roughly 30,000 feet (9km) deep and 30 feet (10m) wide when completed (subject to changes if needed).
2.) The hole goes straight down and is being drilled using some kind of burning laser magic or something (I'm not envisioning some dramatic mining machine reaching down from the surface).
3.) The hole isn't a sealed cylinder. It connects to lots of random caves and tunnels. In other words, there are, at some points, big gaps in the walls from natural phenomena.
4.) The journey shouldn't take forever (I'm thinking hours or days, not months).

This falls under the ridiculously needlessly complicated scheme of things.

The smart move is simply to have the army march up to the nearest cave system by the target. And since you have all that labor right there, simply dig a tunnel that emerges at the target.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
RaizielDragon wrote:
There are already rules for altitude sickness, so going from 9 miles down to sea level should be similar to going from sea level to 9 miles up.

I hadn't checked and forgot that we already have rules.

PRD wrote:


Low Peak or High Pass (5,000 to 15,000 feet): Ascending to the highest slopes of low mountains, or most normal travel through high mountains, falls into this category. All non-acclimated creatures labor to breathe in the thin air at this altitude. Characters must succeed on a Fortitude save each hour (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or be fatigued. The fatigue ends when the character descends to an altitude with more air. Acclimated characters do not have to attempt the Fortitude save.

High Peak (more than 15,000 feet): The highest mountains exceed 15,000 feet in height. At these elevations, creatures are subject to both high altitude fatigue (as described above) and altitude sickness, whether or not they're acclimated to high altitudes. Altitude sickness represents long-term oxygen deprivation, and affects mental and physical ability scores. After each 6-hour period a character spends at an altitude of over 15,000 feet, he must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 per previous check) or take 1 point of damage to all ability scores. Creatures acclimated to high altitude receive a +4 competence bonus on their saving throws to resist high altitude effects and altitude sickness, but eventually even seasoned mountaineers must abandon these dangerous elevations.

As the army would be operating under the "High Peak" rules the effect would be pretty brutal.


Research a variation of Planar Adaptation, Mass for altitude sickness.

For travel up, get mounts of some type. High level casting of Communal Mount should be nice. Also useful would be a gargantuan animated object. It won't tire, and can carry a whole lot up. Either by climbing or flying.

/cevah


The Sideromancer wrote:
If he has a giant laser, why isn't he firing it at the opponent?

Now why didn't I think of that? StarCraft 2 Wings of Liberty mission The Dig lets you do that after a while. Of course, it could be that the laser is good for destroying extremely hefty targets, but can't destroy smaller targets any faster and just wastes its energy overkilling a few of them while the rest swarm in to kill it. I hear that the original Command and Conquer laser turrets were like that . . . .


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

here's a simple one... 30,000 feet of spiral staircase.


The solution is simple and non-magical, drill the hole at an angle so they can simply march up the tunnel.


The last Serpents Skull module has something similar.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
NoTongue wrote:
The solution is simple and non-magical, drill the hole at an angle so they can simply march up the tunnel.

that requires significantly more digging.

I assume an angle of 30 deg if you want it to be easily traversable.

this comes out to a tunnel that is 60000 feet long, twice the original tunnel's length.


Bandw2 wrote:
NoTongue wrote:
The solution is simple and non-magical, drill the hole at an angle so they can simply march up the tunnel.

that requires significantly more digging.

I assume an angle of 30 deg if you want it to be easily traversable.

this comes out to a tunnel that is 60000 feet long, twice the original tunnel's length.

Perhaps, but the walking distance for the army would be the same as if you used a similar angle for a circular pathway along the edges. Except that height of creatures becomes much less of an issue and you can walk many more per row.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Diego Rossi wrote:
As the army would be operating under the "High Peak" rules the effect would be pretty brutal.

Turns out they wouldn't be.

Turns out 9km below sea level is about 2.4 atmospheres of pressure. Turns out that's the equivalent of a dive 15m below water surface.

Since we're talking about going from pressures above what bodies have evolved for* to their natural operating pressure, we should be looking for decompression sickness, not high-altitude sickness.

Well, supposedly an ascent rate of 10m per minute is considered safe, with the last 6m taking at least one minute.

At the climb rate I suggested - three days for 9km - that's an ascent rate of 6.25m/minute.

So no DCS, no altitude sickness... just the rigors of a three-day uphill march.

At 1:12 ascent ratio, that's 4.76 degrees. Just for fun, it turns out that the America Disabilities Act recommends wheelchair ramps at exactly that ratio. Admittedly, that's for short ramps, and a 1:16 or 1:20 is recommended for long, sustained ramps.

So, unless the army is wheelchair-bound, the 1:12 slope shouldn't be a problem. And really, since my math was provided to give a basic game-plan, the ascent could be stretched to a whopping five days and let the wheelchair-bound army come to the surface to invade as well.

*This of course assumes that the army isn't built from some sort of creature that inherently considers the surface a hostile environment. Even dwarves and drow don't count.


Anguish wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
As the army would be operating under the "High Peak" rules the effect would be pretty brutal.

Turns out they wouldn't be.

Turns out 9km below sea level is about 2.4 atmospheres of pressure. Turns out that's the equivalent of a dive 15m below water surface.

Since we're talking about going from pressures above what bodies have evolved for* to their natural operating pressure, we should be looking for decompression sickness, not high-altitude sickness.

Well, supposedly an ascent rate of 10m per minute is considered safe, with the last 6m taking at least one minute.

At the climb rate I suggested - three days for 9km - that's an ascent rate of 6.25m/minute.

So no DCS, no altitude sickness... just the rigors of a three-day uphill march.

At 1:12 ascent ratio, that's 4.76 degrees. Just for fun, it turns out that the America Disabilities Act recommends wheelchair ramps at exactly that ratio. Admittedly, that's for short ramps, and a 1:16 or 1:20 is recommended for long, sustained ramps.

So, unless the army is wheelchair-bound, the 1:12 slope shouldn't be a problem. And really, since my math was provided to give a basic game-plan, the ascent could be stretched to a whopping five days and let the wheelchair-bound army come to the surface to invade as well.

*This of course assumes that the army isn't built from some sort of creature that inherently considers the surface a hostile environment. Even dwarves and drow don't count.

I would note Pathfinder doesn't follow typical rules for heat and pressure anyway.

Otherwise the underdark would be too hot to live in and all the caverns would collapse under the pressure of the rock above.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Goblin_Priest wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
NoTongue wrote:
The solution is simple and non-magical, drill the hole at an angle so they can simply march up the tunnel.

that requires significantly more digging.

I assume an angle of 30 deg if you want it to be easily traversable.

this comes out to a tunnel that is 60000 feet long, twice the original tunnel's length.

Perhaps, but the walking distance for the army would be the same as if you used a similar angle for a circular pathway along the edges. Except that height of creatures becomes much less of an issue and you can walk many more per row.

yes, but building stairs is more cost effective than making twice as much tunnel.


It doesn't matter how long it is (within reason), because plot trumps economics.

There are a couple of other differences. A spiral stair many km long would benefit from a guard rail, and I don't see how they'd build that. Expect some attrition from people falling off the edge.

Conversely, a 20km laser-straight angled tunnel would act like a giant sewer. Any water or other debris that happened to end up in the tunnel (say from intersecting Darklands) would naturally flow down it, and given its length and straightness the flow would be really rather fast. It wouldn't be hard to flush the entire dark army back down the hole with a suitable rainstorm and a few tons of gravel.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
Mudfoot wrote:

It doesn't matter how long it is (within reason), because plot trumps economics.

There are a couple of other differences. A spiral stair many km long would benefit from a guard rail, and I don't see how they'd build that. Expect some attrition from people falling off the edge.

Conversely, a 20km laser-straight angled tunnel would act like a giant sewer. Any water or other debris that happened to end up in the tunnel (say from intersecting Darklands) would naturally flow down it, and given its length and straightness the flow would be really rather fast. It wouldn't be hard to flush the entire dark army back down the hole with a suitable rainstorm and a few tons of gravel.

the spiral would extend to teh center, with a pole going up the center(being one of the points the stairs are affixed to). the only way you could fall is down the stairs.


That's a very precise, and very bendy, laser to be able to cut a spiral staircase with a block in the middle, effectively having no opening to the surface other than the spiraling opening of the staircase itself.

I guess we are talking magic though, so physics is right out the window already.


The Rule of Cool is something that should be considered.

There's got to be a hole in the center of the tunnel, or we won't get any Wilhelm screams. Same reasoning for why it can't be less than vertical.

The vast army needs to be able to emerge from every side of the hole at once, for maximum coolness. Sustained waves of this are even better, and consider flying something boss-like up through the center.

A wider hole could also be considered as cooler, but otherwise only results in a difference of scale.

Does the hole open to the sky or to an enclosed room? If it's open to the sky, consider having an allied group fighting along with the PC's to stem the tide. If it's in an enclosed room, there's still a chance the PC's could halt the hordes themselves, through various means. Both are cool, but in different ways.


If the army has to walk or otherwise endure significant rigors in the ascent, you might want the shaft to get them up to a very large enclosed room a short distance below the surface that is used as a recuperation and staging area. Of course, this is a good thing to have for elevator machinery, etc., and is even likely to be needed for the initial drilling operation.


Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber
RaizielDragon wrote:

That's a very precise, and very bendy, laser to be able to cut a spiral staircase with a block in the middle, effectively having no opening to the surface other than the spiraling opening of the staircase itself.

I guess we are talking magic though, so physics is right out the window already.

I've already mentioned (I think anyway) that they'd build the stairwell. for specifics probably shape stone a thousand times over. they could even have little side rooms with this every few thousand feet for the ascent


The Grand Shaft at Dover Castle can serve as an inspiration it allowed for a thousand men to deploy in an hour the staircase in only 130 feet but the choke point effect will be the same.
A “lot” of wall of stone or similar spells could make it


Give each soldier 6 potions of Spider Climb. A 30 minute duration for each potion giving a 20 ft. climb speed along walls means 1 mile of travel each potion. 9 km is approximately 5.6 miles. If you hustle the soldiers for the final hour, you only need 4 potions each soldier.


Bandw2 wrote:
Goblin_Priest wrote:
Bandw2 wrote:
NoTongue wrote:
The solution is simple and non-magical, drill the hole at an angle so they can simply march up the tunnel.

that requires significantly more digging.

I assume an angle of 30 deg if you want it to be easily traversable.

this comes out to a tunnel that is 60000 feet long, twice the original tunnel's length.

Perhaps, but the walking distance for the army would be the same as if you used a similar angle for a circular pathway along the edges. Except that height of creatures becomes much less of an issue and you can walk many more per row.
yes, but building stairs is more cost effective than making twice as much tunnel.

That makes no sense. I'm just assuming here that whatever your big laser is, if it can melt through all that rock, it can melt your labor too. Therefore, any construction being done would need to be done while the lazer is off. And I'd also assume that intermittent drilling would be inefficient, because, well, for one it'd take forever, and secondly I'd reckon there'd be a pretty high chance of whatever stairs are constructed would likely be damaged by the giant laser that excavated the space for them to begin with.

Mudfoot wrote:
Conversely, a 20km laser-straight angled tunnel would act like a giant sewer. Any water or other debris that happened to end up in the tunnel (say from intersecting Darklands) would naturally flow down it, and given its length and straightness the flow would be really rather fast. It wouldn't be hard to flush the entire dark army back down the hole with a suitable rainstorm and a few tons of gravel.

Water actually seems like a huge issue no matter what. You can and should protect the hole's exit from rain and water flow, it'd probably be hard to dig if you don't, but the hole will inevitably hit underground rivers. And they will flow out and drown your army, unless your goal is to make it float (what IS the army made of, anyways?). Even if you seal up every underground river as you go, there's still the phreatic zone to consider and water will pour out no matter what.

If you protect the hole's entrance, cast stone wall against every underground river, and Transmute Mud to Rock all along the surface of the phreatic zone, I guess that should probably cover your water problems, though, no matter your angle.


Goblin_Priest wrote:
Mudfoot wrote:
Conversely, a 20km laser-straight angled tunnel would act like a giant sewer. Any water or other debris that happened to end up in the tunnel (say from intersecting Darklands) would naturally flow down it, and given its length and straightness the flow would be really rather fast. It wouldn't be hard to flush the entire dark army back down the hole with a suitable rainstorm and a few tons of gravel.

Water actually seems like a huge issue no matter what. You can and should protect the hole's exit from rain and water flow, it'd probably be hard to dig if you don't, but the hole will inevitably hit underground rivers. And they will flow out and drown your army, unless your goal is to make it float (what IS the army made of, anyways?). Even if you seal up every underground river as you go, there's still the phreatic zone to consider and water will pour out no matter what.

If you protect the hole's entrance, cast stone wall against every underground river, and Transmute Mud to Rock all along the surface of the phreatic zone, I guess that should probably cover your water problems, though, no matter your angle.

If the circular stairway has small grooves like a handicapped street corner, then a little water will run off via the grooves.

As to preventing influx of underground water, consider that the hole is melted into the rock. We are talking equivalent to a lava tube. That sucker is already sealed tight. Adding stairs might open into a porous layer, but if you use stone shape, it will not, because you are merely changing the form of the surface, and not making holes in it.

/cevah


If one has access to giant burning laser magic device... why not reverse the polarity and have a giant tractor beam magic device. ;)

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