Need help with ruins adventures

Greetings all

For my upcoming campaign i plan to have the PCs whisked off to a foreign world. there they will inhabit a land that was once a powerful nation of dnd-esque elves. All the elves are dead and gone some 200 years and the folks that killed them off have also departed.

The PCs thus have lots of lovely ruins, particularly of castles and cities, to explore and recover cool stuff from. I'm thinking lots of ancient magic style reverse engineering, finding cool old magic items and general exploring what came before them.

I've already detailed several of the cities/castles but i have several more to go and need some inspiration.

What kind of fun and interesting things could i have at these sites?

Things i have already that might prompt the imagination are as follows.

a) A huge castle with extensive tunnel networks beneath it inhabited by undead living out the last battle when the castle fell.

b) a harbour built in a gorge, the harbour is filled with burnt out ships. Large warehouses, homes and temples are carved into the cliff face.

c) a town destroyed so thoroughly that nothing stands above 3 feet in height. The only remains are basements, cellers and vaults.

d) A city of the dead where the ancient elves came to inter their deceased. The city has been abandoned but not damaged making for an eerie haunted feel. No undead but hundreds of tombs ranging from public mass catacombs for the poor to elaborate tombs for wealthy Elves guarded by magical guardians, traps, etc.

Things i have mapped out but have no details for. These are what i need ideas for.

  1. a trio of fortresses that used to secure the southern border of the kingdom against open steppe land ruled by mongol-esque centaurs.

  2. a pair of fortresses securing the northern border of the kingdom where it changes to mountainous terrain.

  3. A large city on the borders of an immeasurably vast forest.

  4. A coastal city

  5. a city near to a race of mountain dwelling creatures known for mining, gems, stonework etc (cough...dwarves...cough). This city was a trade city between the two peoples.

  6. A large city spread across two banks of a huge river, used to be a military port and was destroyed by siege when the besieging force dammed the river and then freed it, causing a vast flood.

  7. a small town used as the principle logging centre of the empire.

  8. a lonely keep on the coast, far from enemies, serves no real startegic purpose.

Any ideas? I'm not adverse to radical ideas such as completely destroying some of the settlements but i still want some kind of encounter/adventure/plot for each location.

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200 years and even the ruins are invisible under the vegetation. Maybe 10 or 20 years are better.

Domestic animals became wild: unicorns or tricorns, hounds, cats, tigers, big monsters.
Northern treemen gone mad seeing their forest burning and want to kill all two legged people. Since then the fire traces disappearedof course.
The enemy collected thousands of elven heads in ring shape or formed a big pile or 5 lesser ones as 5 points of a pentagram. They made some magical or other realm-related ritual here.
Statues of elves: the enemy turned them to stone permanently.
Magic items which harm the user if he isn't an elf.
Centaur villages.
Huge elf statues like in Egypt. some of them damaged.
Magic items: flying items for 2 persons.
Speaking little monkeys (elf language) who are living in their society. They can be from 100 to 10000 in number. Int -2. Average lifetime: 4 years.

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Birbin again has it. The ruins aren't covered after 200 years because of partly working systems the elves built. Think "There will come soft rains". The players could just bull through the systems, but they are the only "sources of inspiration" around. How much visible treasure are the players willing to destroy looking for potential wonders?

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I wondered what has happened to those people who vanquished the elves. Was that another tribe who got killed in the final battle together with the remaining elves? Or did they move on after eliminating the elves? But why did they leave all the treasure behind? Did they come just to anhinilate the elves due to an ancient hatred?
Or was there no external foe at all? Was it a civil war that lead to the destruction? Your players might slowly discover hints for the reasons for this schism.

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Vetrenius, there is indeed a backstory to it but i'd rather not go into it. At least one of my future players has frequented these forums in the past (Santiago, bugger off!).

I know what the victors and the losers of the war are up to now. Its really just some interesting ruins based plot that i need. Preferably something a little different, rather than, just undead guarding vaults over and over again.

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Maybe one of the better preserved ruins is inhabited by other humanoids emulating an elven society (or what they think is an elven society). Indeed the characters might mistake them for survivors of the genocide for quite some time.

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How about ruins in which some humans feverently pray to the elves hoping to make them return. Anyone who has elven artefacts with him is either seen as an elven avatar or heretic. Anyone trying to loot the temple will face a horde of fanatic believers.

oooh, i like the idea of a relatively intact city populated by another race aping the Elves of bygone years, that could work.

This particular bunch of elves won't have anyone praying for their return, they weren't the nicest of fellows.

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If they were not very nice... all the more reason to have worshipers :smiling_imp:

You could have a worshiper that talks about them as good and benificial beings to the pcs... when he knows in fact, they were not.

Just 'cause you are evil, doesn't mean you don't like pets.

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Thanks for the information!