I'm starting a new campaign soon, and the opening few sessions are going to feature an adventure path of sorts where the players are in a city that just cracked in half.
Long story short, the players start the campaign in prison. A cataclysmic magic event (the focus of the campaign) takes place that causes a rift to crack open in the earth. Naturally, this rift goes directly through the center of the city where they're imprisoned.
The plan so far:
The city is a portside border pass, primarily populated by humans and elves, with a large amount of guards/law enforcement. The rift happened almost immediately, and several unfortunate buildings/civilians fell into it. Many more buildings are cracked in half or crumbling from the structural damage. This includes the prison the players are trapped in. The rift is going to function like a bottomless abyss that will be about 350 ft. across. Water will be pouring into it in places where it breaches the ocean. Fire, arcane energy, negative energy, and other suspicious magical things are pouring out of the rift. Fire elementals are forming alongside the rift and aggressively attacking survivors.
The players' goal at this point is to rescue survivors and move them away from the rift until more substantial help arrives (the Pathfinder Society).
I'm working on building the specifics for this adventure right now, and thought maybe I should mine you guys for ideas.
Does anyone know of any adventure paths/modules similar to this concept?
Does anyone have ideas for encounters/monsters that would work well for this? My players are starting at level 2.
Really just any ideas/thoughts people have on this in general. I've never built an adventure path 100% from scratch before so I'm looking for any help I can get.
Thanks for reading!
Encounter at the Docks
A well-dressed man is exhorting several sailors into rowboats and pointing at a cargo ship in the port. His vessel and its precious cargo is sliding into the maelstrom, straining at its anchor as it slides inevitably towards the maw. The man promises a fair reward (true) if they can save his vessel (or quickly unload the cargo and get it safely to shore). Several dockworkers will also assist, but a negative energy-infused water elemental is also at work, creating a small whirlpool (or dislodging any additional anchors or tug attempts). The PCs have to deal with it to give the workers time to unload the cargo into other boats.
Just as the PCs are deciding whether to help or not... a poorly-dressed beggar/old sailor runs up, pointing and yelling at an old derelict ship that's been moldering in the harbor. The old hulk was basically a flophouse and refuge for homeless dock vagrants (and more recently people who've lost their homes). It too has come loose from its mooring; the old pier and pilings it had been tethered to finally pulling free in the waterfall-like force of the cascade into the abyss. Will the PCs instead rush to save as many people as the can from the doomed wreck (it can't sail free on its own)?
Many people have lost their lives and livelihoods. Naturally some seek to find answers. One such group has determined that this catastrophe is a judgement of the gods and they have rounded up many evil-doers in their neighborhood. Mostly looters, but some n'er'do wells and pickpockets, these people are bound and standing at the edge of a crumbling courtyard that used to be a pleasant garden of a noble's home. An incendiary demogogue of an aristocrat, driven mad be the senselessness of recent events, is beseeching a kangaroo court consisting of a prosecutor and a defense attorney to find each one of the captives guilty. Both are terrified of the aristocrat and his armed servants and all the defendants will be found guilty eventually and tossed into the pit... unless someone intervenes.
A huge air elemental (in whirlwind form) and a gang of fiendish gargoyles are swooping down and scooping up people off the streets and flying them out over the abyss and tormenting them before dropping them from high above to plunge screaming into oblivion.
This is too much for 2nd level PCs, but whatevs.
I suppose you could have some people falling into the abyss but caught in the rope rigging and cargo nets of smashed ships which pitched over the side and are smashed against the edges of the rift and snagged on outcroppings, hoping to be rescued.
One of the city's emergency granaries and storehouses is being looted. A crazed cult is then tossing all the food into the abyss so that "The lost ones have food and supplies!" Can the PCs protect this source of rations and supplies for the rest of the city at the cost of a fight with misguided townspeople... or is there something to their belief?
Bump and Jump
The rift has caused structural and foundation problems. As the PCs are traveling down a narrow street or alley (one with close sides and few niches or alcoves like doorways), a nearby cellar or sewer collapses and causes the street to tilt and collapse into a slope (ie. not into the rift itself). Unfortunately, at the end of the slope is a small market square (or a building that manufactures marbles or ball-bearing if you want to be comical). Suddenly, rubbish bins, rolls of cheap rugs, handcarts, and finally barrels and carts (one which held apples which spills out before the cart comes loose) start to roll down the slope towards the PCs, requiring them to jump over or muscle aside the debris (requiring varying DC checks for Acrobatics or Strength checks), with failure causing minor damage and potentially knocking them down and into the sewers or old cellar systems.
If the PCs do avoid the rush, give them a reward somehow, like an intact barrel of beer, and maybe have some nearby people mention saving some citizens who slid down into the sub-structure and need to be found and brought back out (the PCs should have had to jump over or catch such sliding unfortunates as they passed).