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My group is trying to recover an indestructible item that fell into a pool of lava of unknowable depth. How can we:

  1. Determine the depth

  2. Get to the object.

If the depth isn't that deep we can just use water to cool the lava, but otherwise what ways are there to deal with this? I mean magical methods, of course, since there is no mundane way to do this.

Edit: Our characters are 6th level and currently (we're constantly dying off) we have a wizard and a druid for spellcasters. The lava pool is located inside a shrine in a caldera, which is guarded by a huge rhino being that semi-hates us. He apparently frequents the shrine often, although not clear how often.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hey, hey, HEY! No fishing the One Ring out of Mount Doom! \$\endgroup\$ – Gustav Bertram Sep 22 '14 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure how water would help, unless it's an incredibly tiny amount of lava... or a huge amount of water. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Sep 23 '14 at 14:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Check here for answers: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/dwarf-fortress ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Smithers Sep 28 '14 at 19:39
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Your question is pretty broad and we may need a few more information as to what are your resources (Level, spell casters, time at your disposal and such...). As you did not give any of those pointers, I will give a few answers without taking into account this kind of limitations.

Fire Elemental (or any non-breathing, fire immune summon/pet) This is definitely the easiest solution as it solve both of your problem. It will explore the pit then retrieve the object. Small elemental are not the brightest kids around, it may take some work to explain them what you are looking for. An alternative is, if you have the right level, to polymorph/shape into the Elemental, it solve a fair bit of the communication issue.

Make yourself immune to fire, cast detect magic and hold your breath Solution number 2 is just a little variation of solution one. It is probably harder to do and it may be problematic as detect magic may not work through stone. Locate object may work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Small elemental are not the brightest kids around" -- in a vaguely similar circumstance, my group simply buffed the elemental with fox's cunning and comprehend languages. Luckily this combo still only requires 3rd level casters. \$\endgroup\$ – starwed Sep 22 '14 at 5:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Problem with the diving: do Pathfinder rules overrule upward buoyant force? If not, you're just not heavy enough to sink, and even swimming down can only get you so far. An elemental would surely be exempt, though. \$\endgroup\$ – kaay Sep 22 '14 at 8:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sinking in lava might be a challenge. It's molten rock, with the density of, well, rock. \$\endgroup\$ – Martijn Sep 22 '14 at 14:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Martijn To be a bit nit picky, lava is actually lower density than its solid rock form (magma densities vs. solid densities, note that 1000 kg = 1 metric tonne). Of course, the magma densities cited there are still much more dense than water (1 t/m^3, where magma and solidified lava rocks are all 2-3 t/m^3). Swimming/sinking would indeed be very difficult. \$\endgroup\$ – ajp15243 Sep 22 '14 at 20:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ Harmelyo - solution 2 may be improved using Air Bubble instead of just holding your breath, maybe also Freedom of Movement as a way to handwave solving the swimming/diving into lava issues \$\endgroup\$ – G0BLiN Sep 23 '14 at 8:23
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Lava Is a Low-level Threat

Pathfinder's rules for lava say that

Lava or magma deals 2d6 points of damage per round of exposure, except in the case of total immersion (such as when a character falls into the crater of an active volcano), which deals 20d6 points of damage per round.

Damage from lava continues for 1d3 rounds after exposure ceases, but this additional damage is only half of that dealt during actual contact (that is, 1d6 or 10d6 points per round). Immunity or resistance to fire serves as an immunity to lava or magma. A creature immune to fire might still drown if completely immersed in lava (see Drowning).

This means that after somehow gaining but 1 point of fire resistance, lava is as dangerous as murky water.

Although one still must find a way to breathe while submerged and make Swim checks, the lava problem itself is solved by, for example, the 2nd-level spell resist energy. Cast the spell resist energy on a party member then have him hold his breath, dive in, and feel around until the item's located.

If the DM has house rules regarding lava that changes these rules--and, perhaps, most DMs should--the DM should make those house rules clear to the players.


This particular rules quirk has existed since Pathfinder's grandfather Dungeons and Dragons, 3rd Edition, whose Dungeon Master's Guide (2000) says, "An immunity to or resistance to fire or heat serves as an immunity to lava or magma" (89). If an editing error (which it really could be), it's a 14-year-old editing error that neither Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 nor Pathfinder corrected.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I wonder whether that was originally intended to mean that immunities/resistances to fire also apply to lava damage, since the damage doesn't seem to be explicitly typed as fire damage, and is an editing artifact...since that rule seems nonsensical. \$\endgroup\$ – user3829 Sep 22 '14 at 7:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ That is hilarious! \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Sep 22 '14 at 7:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ The immense viscosity of lava is still an issue even if it doesn't burn you to a crisp within seconds. For how long can you hold your breath? Also, how much buoyancy do you have to overcome when diving in lava? \$\endgroup\$ – John Dvorak Sep 22 '14 at 7:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Dougal Updated answer to link to the drowning rules. And, although a simulationist system, Pathfinder et al. rarely deals with things like viscosity and buoyancy. It's usually best to consider things their fantasy equivalents (e.g. fantasy lava) rather than actually possessing the properties we know things have in reality. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Sep 22 '14 at 7:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think I'd be more concerned about the fact that I'm a lot cooler than lava, and lava hardens when cooled. Ever stick your hand in melted candle wax? I suspect that as the lava around you rapidly hardens into a rocky shell, swimming will become problematic... \$\endgroup\$ – Zimul8r Sep 23 '14 at 16:09
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Druid Wild Shape + Wizard Utility

Your Druid can wild shape into any number of animals. At 6th, she can even turn into a Small elemental (per Elemental Body.) Add fire resistance from Resist Energy and now you could turn into a Dolphin to swim around or (if the GM rules that molten rock is too thick) become a small earth elemental with earth glide and roll through. This will give you at least an hour to search the lava for the item.

There's another problem though: you (probably) can't see, so you won't know where in the pool to go. Your Friendly Neighborhood Wizard can help with this. The spell locate Object, while unable to be cast on you, can be cast by your wizard. They can direct you to the right area of the pool, which you can feel around in until you snag it. Alternatively, with some ranks in UMD, the Wizard could scribe a scroll of it and hand it go the Druid to cast.

Of course, this is predisposed to the lava bring ordinary lava, and not some special, ultra-hot designed to deal with items that can't be destroyed by normal means...

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