View Full Version : Underwater Help

An Enemy Spy
2008-11-15, 03:15 PM
I'm kinda new to this game and I was thinking about making a 3.5 campaign completely underwater. Players would be merfolk and things like that. However, due to my inexperience, I have no idea how to run a decent sea campaign, cuz almost everything is meant for the ground. Could you give me some suggestions, maybe even submit some homebrewed stuff?

2008-11-15, 10:13 PM
Well, I might be able to get some were-otters working... maybe a shark-like fiend...
But first consider: Can you think three dimensionally enough to run a campaign where everyone can move up and down thatt easily?

2008-11-15, 10:18 PM
I've been considering this subject myself, as my campaign world is split into two worlds, one of which being those under the oceans.

I feel that the idea of extensive underwater gameplay requires some significant mechanic reworking. Having recently taken up SCUBA diving myself, I've thought a bit about it...

One major thing to be reworked is visibility. How far can you see in your daily life? At the right spot, on a clear day, maybe miles, and close to that even if the visibility is bad. Underwater, 200 feet is the best visibility you are likely to ever find. If you are lucky, in the right spot, with the right conditions, with visibility dropping to 10 ft. if the sea floor is the right material and is disturbed.

Other than that, the most obvious and most significant is the restriction of motion...hmm...

2008-11-15, 10:19 PM
I seem to recall WotC releasing a sourcebook centering around underwater campaigns, along with one for desert campaigns and arctic campaigns. IIRC, they were called Stormwrack, Sandstorm, and Frostburn respectively. Haven't read them myself so I don't know how useful they are, but I hope this helps nonetheless.

An Enemy Spy
2008-11-15, 10:20 PM
Well if you are playing a race designed for water, mobility probably isn't a huge deal. You have a point where visibility is concerned though. How far can dolphins see?

2008-11-15, 10:24 PM
In core alone, your player races would probably run to:

Aquatic elf (Favored Class: Fighter) LA 0
Locathah (Favored Class: Barbarian) LA 1
Merfolk (Favored Class: Bard) LA 1
Sahuagin (Favored Class: Ranger/Cleric) LA 2

So, a bit different as a dynamic. You're looking at a slightly less magical campaign. There are plenty of monsters, to be certain.

As DracoDei mentioned, though, 3D combat is what will get you.

2008-11-15, 10:24 PM
During the few incidents that I've had air-based or underwater fights, I've always just improvised. Sounds interesting though. Sorry I couldn't help... :smallfrown:

2008-11-15, 10:27 PM
I have Stormwrack, but don't particularly like it. Mostly I hate the ship-to-ship combat system, which is what I've been focusing on, but I believe it makes no significant changes to underwater combat as a whole. You'll want Stormwrack for its additions of some new races, new feats, new spells, etc, but I still suggest reworking a few things.

As to movement underwater, there are some interesting concerns. An underwater creature must either have no cavities containing non-liquids, or it cannot move up and down with any haste without the risk of significant injury.

I believe (not really sure, I'm no expert) that most but not all fishes have no such cavities and are perfectly maneuverable.

2008-11-15, 10:34 PM
Here's what I'd reccommed mechanically:

Ranged weapons are all but useless underwater, as the drag makes them slower and highly inaccurate. Underwater combat is very melee-heavy and has a defined reliance on reach weapons.

Swimming downwards is done at half speed and requires an adjustment of total body pitch that provokes an attack of opportunity. Creatures with the Water subtype do not face these restrictions.

Combat is done on five planes:

{table=head]Plane|Vertical Displacement
Too far above|Greater than 10 ft. upwards
Above|5 to 10 ft. upwards
Engagement|Up to 5 ft. displaced above or below
Below|5 to 10 ft. downwards
Too far below|Greater than 10 ft. downwards

Only the middle three planes can be attacked, with the Engagement plane defined as the sum of 5 ft. cubes that a creature fully occupies vertically. Attacking the above or below planes is done at a -4 penalty.

2008-11-15, 10:43 PM
Not how it would work mechanically, but technically, but explosive abilities should have shockwaves and sonic based damage should probably be upped... Also there are some things that should be able to do vertical movement with ease (such as some fish having bladders filled with gass that they controll for the purpose of adjusting their (overall) density to raise or lower themselves.


2008-11-16, 09:32 AM
There are a number of good 3rd party sources for underwater campaigns. Legends and Lairs: Seafarer's Handbook by Fantasy Flight Games is one such product. Stormwrack by Wizards of the Coast is a decent book.

http://dcrouzet.chez-alice.fr/gaming/d20downloads.htm has a download for the compiled underwater rules which you may find useful. There are lots of downloads so you'll have to scroll down a ways to find it.

I really like underwater monsters, hence my pearl dragon, cecaelia and Davy Jones write ups. Here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4574437&postcount=1 , Here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4216596&postcount=1 and Here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4493933&postcount=1 Check out the seaclaimed creature template as well on EnWorld too (it's linked in my post on Davy Jones).


2008-11-17, 11:50 PM
Well, I might be able to get some were-otters working... maybe a shark-like fiend...
But first consider: Can you think three dimensionally enough to run a campaign where everyone can move up and down thatt easily?

Don't forget whales, and undead whales, possessed whales, sentient pirhanas, giant half-demon siamese squids in flooded crypts (sunken ships are a little too generic)... this pretty much goes without saying.

Also don't forget, for the sake of lamer publishers, I'm pretty sure that there's an aquatic template for pretty much every core race (elves, dwarves, humans, halfings, gnomes, goblins, orcs, trolls...).

For 3 dimensions, just think of it this way, x and y are 2d, but add in the z axis (effectively forward/backward) and things become 3d.

You could lay out an 'elevation 0' point and then write down the elevation of players every consecutive round near their markers on the map. If 'rooms' change when you swim up 100ft, say, then you might want to draw another area, state the elevation parameters, etc.

For RP purposes, only the DM might know where the actual sea level is, say, if the merfolk lived on the ocean floor where no sunlight can reach (where either they have darkvision or they've invented the concept of light even though non-magical non-techy fire/photons is non-existant aside from volcanic eruptions or geysers or perhaps creatures that like to glow).