PDA

View Full Version : Murder! Merfolk Murder!



jmbrown
2009-12-15, 05:59 PM
Sadly, one of the most overlooked aspects of adventuring terrain is the underwater section. And for good reason; underwater adventures are hard to run, low level adventurers don't have the resources for it, and underwater is really, really scary! (http://acidrefluxweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/l006_jpg.jpg) Still, it's a potentially untapped source of adventure. This topic is for brainstorming and sharing adventures you've used for amphibious settings.

The biggest problem of underwater adventures is the water itself. I've thought about using a form of magical seaweed that, when consumed, gives limited water breathing (1 hour per dose) but it's toxic (save vs. poison that acumulates with each dose or you're sickened for the duration). The weed is plentiful making it cheap but that leads to opportunists trying to hold down a monopoly on its cultivation and because the weed only grows in specific spots there are wars over farming it.

Another problem with water is pressure. The weed protects you from debilitating effects up to 500'. Any deeper and you need an armored suit (similar to the clunky suits of the early 20th century). I also thought about introducing a Jules Verne style submarine although that would get really expensive.

All of this culminates into my idea that merfolk are destructive, warmongers. While they're limited to what they can do on land, they can cause some pretty heavy destruction to cities with freshwater canals and coastal towns. They scuttle small boats, kidnap sailors, and overdose them on the magic seaweed to become their slaves. The slaves have no choice but to support the merfolk because they won't get the weed if they don't.

Imagine an army of merfolk with armored shark cavalry, giant squids tearing up boats, scrags and merrows launching artillery, and their clerics controlling water to flood city streets. I really want to turn merfolk away from the neutral guardians of the sea to massive jerks that simply can't be touched because their greatest defense is their terrain.

Anyone else want to share underwater ideas/stories?

Gamerlord
2009-12-15, 06:01 PM
Undead don't need to breath. That is all.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 06:04 PM
Undead don't need to breath. That is all.

They also take to the water as gracefully as a lead stone.

Gamerlord
2009-12-15, 06:07 PM
They also take to the water as gracefully as a lead stone.

Then explain how my undead lich could build an underwater kingdom.

The answer?

A WIZARD DID IT,LITERALLY IN THIS CASE.

deuxhero
2009-12-15, 06:09 PM
A bit back I had an idea for a pearl (for IDing) monopoly.

Catch
2009-12-15, 06:10 PM
They also take to the water as gracefully as a lead stone.

Whale skeletons. Zombie sharks.

Now I really want to draw up a merfolk necromancer.

FoE
2009-12-15, 06:13 PM
I can get over the breathing problem there are magic items and spells that take care of that. Pressure is also a problem, especially since I know next to nothing about diving. But I could handwave that as well, through the use of magic and submersibles.

My big problem is fighting.

One of my favourite Fighting Fantasy book "Demons of the Deeps" dealt with an underwater adventure; a guy gets dumped overboard by pirates, but luckily in the one spot of the ocean where an enchantment magically grants him gills, fins and everything else he needs to live underwater. He has a day or so to figure out how to take vengeance on the pirates. It was all pretty cool except his only weapon was a sword.

How the hell do you swing a sword underwater? Or fire a bow? Or hell, swing your fists? What about spells?

Sure, you could have fights between underwater craft, but how does the whole party contribute to those kind of fights?

hiryuu
2009-12-15, 06:24 PM
It is entirely unnecessary to do that to merfolk. Why? Sahuagin exist in greater numbers and are even more angry, and some of them look like perfectly harmless elves... Kuo-toa also exist and worship things that make gods like Hextor look like amateur hour.

I hear merfolk flesh, though, can make you immortal if you eat it...

Shademan
2009-12-15, 06:25 PM
you do it like conan. you grapple and cut em up like a fish. thats how!
...or like lara croft and just punch them on the nose..... yeah.....she fails.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 06:27 PM
Whale skeletons. Zombie sharks.

Now I really want to draw up a merfolk necromancer.

Even though it has a swim speed, they have no skills. They get an automatic +8 for swim speed to avoid hazards but a shark zombie would have a rough time (probably fail about 70% of its rolls) in stormy water or in any unfavorable conditions. The skeleton whales have strength to spare but even they have about a 30-40% chance to flop around in stormy waters.

Still, the idea of undead fish shock troops is an awesome thought. I'm going to have to steal the idea of merfolk necromancers.


How the hell do you swing a sword underwater? Or for that matter, fire off spells?

You use a piercing weapon which is why slashing and blunt weapons take a penalty (although a relatively low penalty which is something I never cared for).

As for spells, yeah that's a problem. Merfolk in fantasy are capable of speaking clearly while underwater. I guess it's a stipulation of having lungs and gills at the same time. I'd just rule that a person who can breath underwater can also speak clearly.

sofawall
2009-12-15, 06:33 PM
They can still take 10. I don't feel bad about having a zombie shark not be able to swim in a hurricane.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 06:39 PM
They can still take 10. I don't feel bad about having a zombie shark not be able to swim in a hurricane.

Which will get a shark by in rough waters (10 + 5) but toss in any circumstancial modifiers like a net or spell that reduces skill checks and you've got them flopping around 80% of the time.

Now skeleton whales... yeah. The very idea of taking a docile animal and turning it into a vicious killing machine reaks of Rule of Cool. A skeletal sperm whale is a veritable battering ram and slaughter machine.

Edit: Oh, yeah. dr/5 bludgeoning. Not going to see too many warhammers underwater :smallamused:

Catch
2009-12-15, 06:40 PM
In the event that stormy conditions occur (which would be up to you anyway, as the DM) it seems reasonable. I imagine undead aquatic creatures would be as clumsy as terrestrial ones, so if the party's wily enough to start an encounter with Control Weather, Whirlpool or any of the fancy Stormwrack spells, they've probably earned the opportunity. Kinda like battlefield control, but at sea.

Gamerlord
2009-12-15, 06:41 PM
Also, why merfolk? I myself had Sahuagin as the servants of the lich-ruler of the seas. They look much cooler.

Grumman
2009-12-15, 06:47 PM
I agree with the others that have suggested using a different race, like the Sahuagin. Or even better: the dreaded Saltwater Aboleth.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 06:51 PM
Also, why merfolk? I myself had Sahuagin as the servants of the lich-ruler of the seas. They look much cooler.

Sahuagin aren't as stable as merfolk. To me they're basically goblins of the sea. Faster, stronger, and far deadlier goblins but like goblinoids they're savage, disorganized, and kill each other as much as they kill their enemies.

Sahuagin might make good servants to an overlord but they're absolutely useless as a world power. Merfolk are neutral, keep to themselves, and have centuries of isolation to consolidate power. I don't plan on making them cruel but I definitely have plans on making them a world power.

FoE
2009-12-15, 07:05 PM
You use a piercing weapon which is why slashing and blunt weapons take a penalty (although a relatively low penalty which is something I never cared for).

Sure, and that's why tridents and spears are popular for underwater folk. But what if you're an axe-wielding barbarian who's been going on dryland adventures most of his life? Hence the reason why underwater adventures are none too popular.

WotC certainly thinks so: outside of sahaugin, water archons, aboleths and one shark, there are virtually no aquatic monsters in the 4E MM and MM2.

shadow_archmagi
2009-12-15, 07:18 PM
OH NO

THE SAUHAGHIN HAVE FOUND ME

DDO reference aside, I like them as villains. Particularly since they have a 4-armed mutant version. I was thinking I'd have a 4-armed fishman bard/dirgesinger with a 2-face vibe, playing demoralizing and inspiring music at the same time.

awa
2009-12-15, 07:22 PM
don't be disheartened by all the nay Sayers telling you to switch to some other water race. I think the merfolk is a great idea you might also play up the fact that they want to conquer more but are limited by their biology.

Also im looking at the hypertext srd i don't think sharks have any ranks in swim i think they just use that +8 bonus and their str

by my math all the sharks points have been sunk into listen and spot and a 3 hd shark couldn't have 8 ranks of swim any way so they must be including the +8 from having a swim speed.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 07:40 PM
Sure, and that's why tridents and spears are popular for underwater folk. But what if you're an axe-wielding barbarian who's been going on dryland adventures most of his life? Hence the reason why underwater adventures are none too popular.

WotC certainly thinks so: outside of sahaugin, water archons, aboleths and one shark, there are virtually no aquatic monsters in the 4E MM and MM2.

You've also got chuul, one of my favorite aberrations to use as guard dogs.

But 4E would probably be easier to rule underwater combat than 3E and it's a shame Wizards just ignores it. TSR filled the monstrous compendiums with underwater... abominations like the sea lion, squark (squid/shark), sea bear and sea rhinoceros (drawn the sound of a sea bear attack). Eberron was supposed to have a vast kuo-toa civilization that apparently never got off the ground.

Volkov
2009-12-15, 07:42 PM
I can get over the breathing problem there are magic items and spells that take care of that. Pressure is also a problem, especially since I know next to nothing about diving. But I could handwave that as well, through the use of magic and submersibles.

My big problem is fighting.

One of my favourite Fighting Fantasy book "Demons of the Deeps" dealt with an underwater adventure; a guy gets dumped overboard by pirates, but luckily in the one spot of the ocean where an enchantment magically grants him gills, fins and everything else he needs to live underwater. He has a day or so to figure out how to take vengeance on the pirates. It was all pretty cool except his only weapon was a sword.

How the hell do you swing a sword underwater? Or fire a bow? Or hell, swing your fists? What about spells?

Sure, you could have fights between underwater craft, but how does the whole party contribute to those kind of fights?
Even with magic, rising too quickly in the water will screw you over with the bends. If you breathe with lungs, you will need to ascend slowly, or be wracked with incredibly painful convulsions and possibly die.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 07:45 PM
Even with magic, rising too quickly in the water will screw you over with the bends. If you breathe with lungs, you will need to ascend slowly, or be wracked with incredibly painful convulsions and possibly die.

We'll just rule in that magic can prevent the nasty side effects of depressurization while still allowing you to function normally.

Blame it on them wizards.

FoE
2009-12-15, 07:46 PM
TSR filled the monstrous compendiums with underwater abominations like the sea lion, squark (squid/shark), sea bear and sea rhinoceros (drawn the sound of a sea bear attack).

OK, it took me a minute to realize you were joking. :smalltongue:

@V: MAAAAAAAAAAAAGIIIIIC!

Volkov
2009-12-15, 07:47 PM
We'll just rule in that magic can prevent the nasty side effects of depressurization while still allowing you to function normally.

Blame it on them wizards.

Hopefully the gas your breathing isn't pure oxygen, which will rapidly kill you at high pressures. Oxygen+Helium=Good. Pure oxygen=Bad and gets worse at higher pressures. Oxygen+Nitrogen=Very bad. Pure Nitrogen=Wait, your supposed to be dead already from inhaling this stuff.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 08:04 PM
OK, it took me a minute to realize you were joking. :smalltongue:

@V: MAAAAAAAAAAAAGIIIIIC!

No, there really are some WTF-inducing underwater monsters from the TSR days that will make you scratch your head and ask the question "Who thought this would be cool?"

FoE
2009-12-15, 08:11 PM
I know. I own those books. I thought you meant the sea lion and the squark were good monsters.

Even as a wee lad watching my older brothers play D&D, I thought the sea lion was kind of stupid, in a "Star Trek V" kind of way.

Thurbane
2009-12-15, 08:24 PM
There are no fingerprints, Deep under water (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVQlHxGF1iE)

Gnorman
2009-12-15, 08:31 PM
Hopefully the gas your breathing isn't pure oxygen, which will rapidly kill you at high pressures. Oxygen+Helium=Good. Pure oxygen=Bad and gets worse at higher pressures. Oxygen+Nitrogen=Very bad. Pure Nitrogen=Wait, your supposed to be dead already from inhaling this stuff.

Ahem. A moment of silence, for the catgirls.

starwoof
2009-12-15, 08:37 PM
I know. I own those books. I thought you meant the sea lion and the squark were good monsters.

Even as a wee lad watching my older brothers play D&D, I thought the sea lion was kind of stupid, in a "Star Trek V" kind of way.

Whats wrong with sea lions?:smallconfused:

Volkov
2009-12-15, 08:38 PM
I know. I own those books. I thought you meant the sea lion and the squark were good monsters.

Even as a wee lad watching my older brothers play D&D, I thought the sea lion was kind of stupid, in a "Star Trek V" kind of way.

I direct you to the...Drum roll please!!! SEA SMILODON TIGER!

JeminiZero
2009-12-15, 08:52 PM
My 2 cp: If I were a surface dwelling kingdom who is constantly getting attacked by merfolk over centuries, I would at some point, start investing seriously in stuff that can fight them off, and even take them on in their home underwater.

Idea 1: (Not copied from Avatar despite what it might seem). Breed an army of sea creature lycanthropes. All you need is a good-ish sea animal strain to infect a bunch of voluntary peasants, with the promise that they, their children and so on and so forth, will have a secure future as the kingdom's defenders.

Of course the first generation will have a hell of a time since their transformations are uncontrolled. But their children will have full control over their transformation, and will become dedicated to your cause when merfolk attack their seaside village/guardpost and massacre their parents (who incidentally also find that being unable to transform when you actually want to sucks tremendously).

After that subsequent generations will have full control over their form. They can shift to hybrid form letting them wield weapons/armor, breath underwater, swim around and basically remind merfolk why burning down villages tends to make angry high level PCs.

Idea 2: Warforged. And considering that Merfolks are acting like jerks all over the world, there will be a considerable market for water-proof fighting machines. If that isn't enough, you could make a sentient-construct X-prize: 100,000 gp (on top of the large garunteed market) for the first company to invent a way to cheaply mass produce Warforged.

jmbrown
2009-12-15, 09:09 PM
My 2 cp: If I were a surface dwelling kingdom who is constantly getting attacked by merfolk over centuries, I would at some point, start investing seriously in stuff that can fight them off, and even take them on in their home underwater.

Idea 1: (Not copied from Avatar despite what it might seem). Breed an army of sea creature lycanthropes. All you need is a good-ish sea animal strain to infect a bunch of voluntary peasants, with the promise that they, their children and so on and so forth, will have a secure future as the kingdom's defenders.

Of course the first generation will have a hell of a time since their transformations are uncontrolled. But their children will have full control over their transformation, and will become dedicated to your cause when merfolk attack their seaside village/guardpost and massacre their parents (who incidentally also find that being unable to transform when you actually want to sucks tremendously).

After that subsequent generations will have full control over their form. They can shift to hybrid form letting them wield weapons/armor, breath underwater, swim around and basically remind merfolk why burning down villages tends to make angry high level PCs.

Idea 2: Warforged. And considering that Merfolks are acting like jerks all over the world, there will be a considerable market for water-proof fighting machines. If that isn't enough, you could make a sentient-construct X-prize: 100,000 gp (on top of the large garunteed market) for the first company to invent a way to cheaply mass produce Warforged.

I'm stealing all of this because it's so deliciously flavorful. Government sanctioned underwater lycanthropes... it reeks of pulp fantasy.

Alleine
2009-12-15, 09:30 PM
Don't count the Sahuagin out completely. If the landwalkers get gov't sanctioned lycanthropes, then the merfolk should have some others to help do their dirty work. Sahuagin mutant barbarians as slaves. If the fighting gets nasty just drop a few of these boys into the area and let them go wild while the merfolk stay at a safe distance. Rage + Sahuagin frenzy + 4 claw/weapon attacks? Jawesome.

Gnorman
2009-12-15, 09:52 PM
From Frank Trollman's Races of War (http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=33294):


The first thing to understand about the Sahuagin is that they have already won. Completely. The surface of the world is about 3/4 ocean and they own almost all of it. From the standpoint of the Sahuagin, the only places on the planet that have non-Sahuagin races in them are the stale crusts that they already had the presence of mind to cut off their sandwich. All of the non-Sahuagin races are all ghettoized. Even the other aquatic races have been marginalized to the point where they only get the brackish water (Locathah), the rocky shallows (merfolk), the underground darks (Kuo-Toans), or the muddy salt marshes (Lizardfolk). The real real estate the ocean and coastline are pretty much the private playground of the Sahuagin.

Individually, Sahuagin will kick your ***, and collectively they will kick the *** of any nation you happen to support. The combined populations of all other sapient races on any planet are less than the population of Sahuagin on that planet. The Sahuagin are also much smarter and better organized than you are so their cities are actually more productive than yours per person in addition to the fact that they have more cities than all the other races and their cities are more populous.

The Sahuagin mutate constantly, but are not inclined to Chaos. They just all have different appearances and capabilities. But every one of them is gifted with super intelligence and thick natural armor. The Sahuagin deep seers are some of the most gifted wizards on the planet and honestly have nothing better to do than just scry on crap and tell the armies where there's some cool stuff to go loot. From time to time the Sahuagin will come onto land to beat the living crap out of people and take control of important or valuable items. Then they take the spoils of war and drag it back under water, laughing the whole time.

Against this backdrop of crushing inferiority, how do the other races maintain? Most of them are fighting for stakes so small that they haven't even noticed that the vast majority of the planet is owned and operated by brutally efficient fish men. But one race that certainly has noticed the power discrepancy is the race of elves most likely to be forgotten: the Sea Elves. They actually live in many of the same areas and have a war going with them.

Life is hard for a Sea Elf, because every one of them is born into a post-apocalyptic world where mutants run amok and hunt them for sport. But it's actually even worse than that because in addition to simply being physically and intellectually inferior to the Sahuagin like everyone else is they are actually stupid and useless even contrasted with the surface races. An average Sea Elf is as much the intellectual inferior to a Sahuagin as a Griffin is to a normal human. The Sahuagin consider the Sea Elves to be little more than animals, and they aren't wrong.

The Sea Elves keep surviving at all because they see farther than Sahuagin in low-light conditions (and are thus often able to swim away from potential encounters with Sahuagin during the morning and twilight hours that Sea Elves leave their hidden nests), and also because every so often a Sahuagin gets born who looks exactly like a Sea Elf. These Sahuagin mutants, called Malenti, are a little bit worse than a normal Sahuagin in that they lack the rending claws. But they're still stronger and smarter than any Sea Elf that ever swam the 7 seas. So when these Malenti realize that they get a crap deal from Sahuagin society, they often as not run off to join the Sea Elves, where they almost immediately rise to positions of leadership. They also gain crap loads of experience very quickly because the odds are so stacked against them. In short, the reason that the Sea Elves still exist is that they actually are a splinter faction of Sahuagin that uses real sea elves as beasts of burden instead of simply hunting them like the more normal Sahuagin groups do.

And yet, despite the fact that the Sahuagin have won at everything, they still continue to fight the other races and take their children and stuff. Partly this is to feed the insatiable demands of their Baatezu masters, and partly this is because on some deep level the Sahuagin are convinced that it actually couldn't possibly be that easy. In addition to looking for bling and candy to take from the weaker races, the Deep Seers are also combing the world for the one thing that the Great Mothers are pretty sure exists somewhere: the hidden army that the other races are putting together to take the world back from the clutches of the Sahuagin Empire. As far as anyone knows, it doesn't exist, but for some reason the Great Mothers keep insisting that the searching continue. Maybe they know something we don't?

theMycon
2009-12-15, 09:58 PM
Hopefully the gas your breathing isn't pure oxygen, which will rapidly kill you at high pressures. Oxygen+Helium=Good. Pure oxygen=Bad and gets worse at higher pressures. Oxygen+Nitrogen=Very bad. Pure Nitrogen=Wait, your supposed to be dead already from inhaling this stuff.

A partial editor of Encyclopedia of Toxicology, 2nd ed clarifies- what he said is extremely accurate underwater, but not so much on land.
Note that this isn't my field of expertise, just a side job where I learned a hell of a lot. If you want to know anything at all about Salts & Mycotoxins; I can talk for hours.


While you're correct that divers use a helium oxygen mix, this is still misleading. Heliox's used primarily because it's light, cheap, and Helium doesn't interact much with the bloodstream- it essentially passes through you, and when pressure around you goes up, it stays light enough to breath. When you get too low & pressure goes way up, they mix in hydrogen 'cause it's even lighter. It is basically a vessel to get your body the proper density of gas & still have enough oxygen.

Respiration is more complicated than this- but for simplicity say you need to breath a certain pressure of O2 to breathe, so multiply "atmospheres"* by "percent of Oxygen" and hope you end up with something around 15-30% to emulate what we're used to on earth. Thus, spacesuits (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen#Life_support_and_recreational_use) often use pure oxygen at about one third atmosphere to get a little more O2 in the blood than normal, and they're fine for hours. But, as you said, Divers need something under 10% (and lots of inert "filler" gas) or they'll get oxygen toxicity.

The air we breath (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth) is about 80% nitrogen. It is only dangerous under water because of being so relatively heavy. Nitrogen itself isn't the least bit poisonous- sometimes they "carbonate" beer with it instead of CO2 because it makes smaller bubbles (less head)- but breathing pure N2 will eventually kill you, because it'll eventually replace the oxygen you need. Think of it as holding-your-breath-while-sprinting; or (more closely) exhaling-only-breathing; you won't last long, but it's not because of the gas you're sucking it


*1 = total pressure of the air we breath at sea level, roughly.

waterpenguin43
2009-12-15, 10:09 PM
There is a celestial elsewhale in my campaign setting that is gigantic enough that it can and did swallow a coastal city. It did so to save it from the approaching undead army, and the city has now adapted to living inside the stomach of a massive whale, thanks to magic and architectural logic. Does anybody else like this idea?
Also, in my campaign, about half of the sahuagin are good aligned, due to a schism between them in which about half of them atoned for their misdeeds.

JeminiZero
2009-12-15, 10:15 PM
I'm stealing all of this because it's so deliciously flavorful. Government sanctioned underwater lycanthropes... it reeks of pulp fantasy.

Its not nearly as pulpy as it first looks. :smallwink: Remember that unlike other generic settings, Lycanthropes in D&D tend towards certain alignments depending on the creature- not all are necessary evil or chaotic. Hence when I said a good-ish seed creature, I meant one that would NOT arbitrarily go berserk and murder half the city when the moon is full. Instead, they will dance in the flower fields under the stars... at least until the merfolk come along.



In addition to looking for bling and candy to take from the weaker races, the Deep Seers are also combing the world for the one thing that the Great Mothers are pretty sure exists somewhere: the hidden army that the other races are putting together to take the world back from the clutches of the Sahuagin Empire. As far as anyone knows, it doesn't exist, but for some reason the Great Mothers keep insisting that the searching continue. Maybe they know something we don't?


But how could they? The Illithid cabal (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=101587) has made sure no one knows of their secret plans. :smallamused:

the_archduke
2009-12-15, 11:29 PM
I hear merfolk flesh, though, can make you immortal if you eat it...

Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen reference FTW!

theMycon
2009-12-15, 11:51 PM
Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen reference FTW!

(I thought this was referring to some old Rumiko Takahashi Manga/Anime... Mermaid... Scar? Forest? Something like that. Of course, Mermaid Flesh is 90% likely to kill you, too.)

Rappy
2009-12-16, 12:08 AM
The dread lacedon template (from Advanced Bestiary) eliminates the whole "sea zombies that can't swim" problem.

This also works the opposite way. Dread lacedons that are completely aquatic gain the ability to move on land. Nothing says "we're screwed" like a cavalry of merfolk necromancers atop a dread lacedon leviathan.

Into the Blue also has a relatively large dose of oceanic undead, and Tome of Horrors has the brine zombie. Add those to the mixture and you have a fairly nasty seaborn army.

FoE
2009-12-16, 12:53 AM
Whats wrong with sea lions? :smallconfused:

It's a bad pun that's passed off as a monster.

Rappy
2009-12-16, 12:58 AM
It's a bad pun that's passed off as a monster.
Not quite...

You see, sea lions are a heraldic mythological creature, along with sea wolves, sea dogs, sea horses, and the sea rabbit (seriously). This was based on the belief that every creature that walked upon the earth had a counterpart within the seas; hence why mermaids were so popular.

That doesn't make it any less corny, but still.

FoE
2009-12-16, 01:05 AM
You see, sea lions are a heraldic mythological creature, along with sea wolves, sea dogs, sea horses, and the sea rabbit (seriously). This was based on the belief that every creature that walked upon the earth had a counterpart within the seas; hence why mermaids were so popular.

Yeah, but that doesn't discount the fact that WE KNOW BETTER.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-12-16, 01:10 AM
The problem with underwater adventures is that the PCs are at a distinct disadvantage. There's the breathing and depth issues, you need to invest your limited skill points specifically for the adventure, you have a chance of losing your action on a poor skill roll, most attacks are weaker, movement is limited, and in general, PCs suck. To counter this, WotC made the monsters underwater more dangerous than those on land. I only recommend trying it with an optimized group.

awa
2009-12-16, 01:59 AM
that's a good point take a ghoul vrs a aquatic ghoul they have the same cr and nearly identical stats, but the large penalties for fighting underwater make what on land might be an easy fight vastly harder, and that's assuming they can function underwater. Added problems such as mid levels where you need your magic weapons vrs level appropriate threats but lack easy access to magic that can let you use them (assuming their not piercing weapons) effectively enough to fight those level appropriate threats.

This becomes a lot less important at higher levels becuase you can often do with out to much trouble acquire magic to bypass these constraints but a low and mid levels it makes every fight for more difficult.

If you are planning an underwater campaign i would let the players know during charecter creation

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-12-16, 02:04 AM
that's a good point take a ghoul vrs a aquatic ghoul they have the same cr and nearly identical stats, but the large penalties for fighting underwater make what on land might be an easy fight vastly harder, and that's assuming they can function underwater. Added problems such as mid levels where you need your magic weapons vrs level appropriate threats but lack easy access to magic that can let you use them (assuming their not piercing weapons) effectively enough to fight those level appropriate threats.

This becomes a lot less important at higher levels becuase you can often do with out to much trouble acquire magic to bypass these constraints but a low and mid levels it makes every fight for more difficult.

If you are planning an underwater campaign i would let the players know during charecter creationThe ghouls are at least not a worse fight. Compare a Riding Dog to a Shark. The shark is better in almost every category, but the same CR.

awa
2009-12-16, 02:35 AM
sure i'm just pointing out that even on an otherwise completely level playing field the underwater fight will be vastly harder.

I will point out that there are are a lot of creatures out of the water that are far to strong for their cr (or to weak but that's another matter) and some underwater creatures are pretty weak for their cr (but not many)

Shademan
2009-12-16, 05:28 AM
My

Idea 1: (Not copied from Avatar despite what it might seem). Breed an army of sea creature lycanthropes. All you need is a good-ish sea animal strain to infect a bunch of voluntary peasants, with the promise that they, their children and so on and so forth, will have a secure future as the kingdom's defenders.



WERE-SEALS! YAAAY!
no dolphins tho'. those buggers are evil:smallfrown:

hamishspence
2009-12-16, 06:29 AM
Just because Sahaugin "should" be that powerful, due to their intelligence and alliance with sharks, does not mean that they are.

In terms of biodiversity, most of the sealife tends to be in the shallows.

If sahuagin control the deep oceans, that doesn't mean they have nearly all the resources and the sea elves, etc are subsisting on what's left.

Also- in Faerun at least, their control seems somewhat limited, with other races creating great empires and being able to cope with sahuagin raids.

They might be more powerful in Eberron and Greyhawk though.

Innis Cabal
2009-12-16, 06:39 AM
The Sahaugin in Faerun are plenty powerful. So powerful in fact that they are a -serious- threat on a global scale. Well, at least affecting all the printed material at the time of 2nd ed.

hamishspence
2009-12-16, 06:42 AM
Serious threat, sure, but not to the point of marginalizing all the others.

Grand History of The Realms recounts quite a bit of the long history of Seros (the confederacy of the Inner Sea) and its ups and downs.

And it never comes across as "a petty ghetto permitted to exist by the sahaugin"

Optimystik
2009-12-16, 07:28 AM
How the hell do you swing a sword underwater? Or fire a bow? Or hell, swing your fists? What about spells?

Stormwrack, IIRC, has feats that allow for better casting underwater, including one that lets you cast fire spells underwater without penalty (Steam Magic?) and one that lets you cast bardic spells underwater, and control sailing winds with bardsong.

There's also a nice one that I do remember - Sanctify Water, that allows clerics to turn all the water in a radius around themselves into holy water. Great if aquatic undead are floundering their way over to you.

Without that supplement, I think Silent Spell is your best option, or psionics.

jmbrown
2009-12-16, 08:59 AM
Just because Sahaugin "should" be that powerful, due to their intelligence and alliance with sharks, does not mean that they are.

In terms of biodiversity, most of the sealife tends to be in the shallows.

If sahuagin control the deep oceans, that doesn't mean they have nearly all the resources and the sea elves, etc are subsisting on what's left.

Also- in Faerun at least, their control seems somewhat limited, with other races creating great empires and being able to cope with sahuagin raids.

They might be more powerful in Eberron and Greyhawk though.

I don't know how the canon has changed but when Gygax wrote up the sahuagin he put some obvious restrictions on them. They can't survive more than 4 hours on land, they can't survive in fresh water, and their mortality rate is ridiculously high because they either eat their young or pit them against each other. He based the sahuagins on the Incans in terms of design and civilization and although they're formidable they're too thinly spread, disorganized, and petty to pose a serious threat as a world power.

bosssmiley
2009-12-16, 10:52 AM
Sahuagin aren't as stable as merfolk. To me they're basically goblins of the sea. Faster, stronger, and far deadlier goblins but like goblinoids they're savage, disorganized, and kill each other as much as they kill their enemies.

Sahuagin might make good servants to an overlord but they're absolutely useless as a world power.

Check out the alignment, Int score and social organisation of the Sahuagin. That's right. They're evil, super-intelligent sea nazis, and they look at the coasts as their rightful hunting ground.

From Races of War:

Borderlands of the Sahuagin: Sore Winners

The first thing to understand about the Sahuagin is that they have already won. Completely. The surface of the world is about 3/4 ocean and they own almost all of it. From the standpoint of the Sahuagin, the only places on the planet that have non-Sahuagin races in them are the stale crusts that they already had the presence of mind to cut off their sandwich. All of the non-Sahuagin races are ghettoized. Even the other aquatic races have been marginalized to the point where they only get the brackish water (Locathah), the rocky shallows (merfolk), the underground darks (Kuo-Toans), or the muddy salt marshes (Lizardfolk). The real real estate the ocean and coastline are pretty much the private playground of the Sahuagin.

Individually, Sahuagin will kick your ass, and collectively they will kick the ass of any nation you happen to support. The combined populations of all other sapient races on any planet are less than the population of Sahuagin on that planet. The Sahuagin are also much smarter and better organized than you are so their cities are actually more productive than yours per person in addition to the fact that they have more cities than all the other races and their cities are more populous.

The Sahuagin mutate constantly, but are not inclined to Chaos. They just all have different appearances and capabilities. But every one of them is gifted with super intelligence and thick natural armor. The Sahuagin deep seers are some of the most gifted wizards on the planet and honestly have nothing better to do than just scry on crap and tell the armies where there's some cool stuff to go loot. From time to time the Sahuagin will come onto land to beat the living crap out of people and take control of important or valuable items. Then they take the spoils of war and drag it back under water, laughing the whole time.

Against this backdrop of crushing inferiority, how do the other races maintain? Most of them are fighting for stakes so small that they haven't even noticed that the vast majority of the planet is owned and operated by brutally efficient fish men. But one race that certainly has noticed the power discrepancy is the race of elves most likely to be forgotten: the Sea Elves. They actually live in many of the same areas and have a war going with them.

Life is hard for a Sea Elf, because every one of them is born into a post-apocalyptic world where mutants run amok and hunt them for sport. But it's actually even worse than that because in addition to simply being physically and intellectually inferior to the Sahuagin like everyone else is they are actually stupid and useless even contrasted with the surface races. An average Sea Elf is as much the intellectual inferior to a Sahuagin as a Griffin is to a normal human. The Sahuagin consider the Sea Elves to be little more than animals, and they aren't wrong.

The Sea Elves keep surviving at all because they see farther than Sahuagin in low-light conditions (and are thus often able to swim away from potential encounters with Sahuagin during the morning and twilight hours that Sea Elves leave their hidden nests), and also because every so often a Sahuagin gets born who looks exactly like a Sea Elf. These Sahuagin mutants, called Malenti, are a little bit worse than a normal Sahuagin in that they lack the rending claws. But they're still stronger and smarter than any Sea Elf that ever swam the 7 seas. So when these Malenti realize that they get a crap deal from Sahuagin society, they often as not run off to join the Sea Elves, where they almost immediately rise to positions of leadership. They also gain crap loads of experience very quickly because the odds are so stacked against them. In short, the reason that the Sea Elves still exist is that they actually are a splinter faction of Sahuagin that uses real sea elves as beasts of burden instead of simply hunting them like the more normal Sahuagin groups do.

And yet, despite the fact that the Sahuagin have won at everything, they still continue to fight the other races and take their children and stuff. Partly this is to feed the insatiable demands of their Baatezu masters, and partly this is because on some deep level the Sahuagin are convinced that it actually couldn't possibly be that easy. In addition to looking for bling and candy to take from the weaker races, the Deep Seers are also combing the world for the one thing that the Great Mothers are pretty sure exists somewhere: the hidden army that the other races are putting together to take the world back from the clutches of the Sahuagin Empire. As far as anyone knows, it doesn't exist, but for some reason the Great Mothers keep insisting that the searching continue. Maybe they know something we don't?

hamishspence
2009-12-16, 11:23 AM
Still homebrew.

Sure, in his world, Sahaugin have taken advantage of their high Int and LE alignment to take over most of the ocean.

But have they done it in Eberron, Greyhawk, or Faerun?

Is there anything in Dragon, Dungeon, etc to suggest the Sahaugin have this kind of overwhelming superiority?

You could say the same about the Mind Flayers and the Underdark- super-intelligent and LE, but they haven't taken over.

jmbrown
2009-12-16, 11:36 AM
Check out the alignment, Int score and social organisation of the Sahuagin. That's right. They're evil, super-intelligent sea nazis, and they look at the coasts as their rightful hunting ground.

From Races of War:

And what happened to the Werhmacht in WWII? They spread too thin and ended up flanked on three different fronts (European, Russian, and African). Military history has proven time and again that a single, overwhelming army simply can't dominate the entirety of the world because people feel threatened and ban together for mutual protection.

The sahuagin have zero allies even among themselves. Do they rule the seas or are they prisoners of the sea?

Edit: Prisoners of the Sea... I'll have to remember that name for a future adventure.

Ormagoden
2009-12-16, 11:44 AM
Magic items might not be as prohibitive as you think.

Think about the economy in a water campaign.

If water and water adventures are incredibly common, perhaps even daily routine. Magic items and equipment, and mundane items (like the OP's seaweed) would be quite common as well. Therefor the cost to create them might be drastically reduced. Early on the players can rely on mundane items to get them by and then purchase the good stuff when they can afford it.

Alternatively, why not allow the players to take a +0 LA template that allows them to breath underwater and tolerate shallow depths. You could even make a feat chain for it (that has to start at 1st level).

Think Kevin Costner from waterworld (or don't)

[/2cp]

FoE
2009-12-16, 12:48 PM
Sure, in his world, Sahaugin have taken advantage of their high Int and LE alignment to take over most of the ocean.

But have they done it in Eberron, Greyhawk, or Faerun?

Not in Eberron. The oceans don't really get much play in Eberron, since the setting lends itself to land-based intrigue and exploration.

jmbrown
2009-12-16, 04:49 PM
This is what I got out of 2 pages so far:

-Natural occuring sea plant that filters water through lungs and eliminates the effect of decompression up to a certain depth.

-Weredolphins :smallsmile:

-A LA +0 template for people who go through a magical transformation to become amphibious.

-A LA +0 aquan race close to humans (Sea Half-elves?)

-Zombie sharks and skeleton whales, oh my.

-Tritons are like the Persian empire at the height of its glory. Advanced civilization, enlightened, believe in the equal rights of all creatures but they're being attacked on all fronts and the rest of the world is unconcerned with what's happening underwater.

-Slave trade? Merfolk want slaves, sahuagin want live food and sacrifices...

-Water based human mercantile colonies. Massive coral reefs provide rare sea life for study, building material, and natural resources humans are trying to support. Pearl trade? Underwater based drugs (sea sponge snorting)?

-Merfolk are like the Mongol hordes. Tactical geniuses, masters of war, and ever expanding. They're at constant war with the equally expansive sahuagin, defend their homes from human expansion (a result of mercantilism), subjigate the sea-elves who make easy slaves, and have bitter but strained relationships with the tritons.

-Sahuagin are basically the same. Despite their numbers and raw power, they're too disorganized, shortsighted, and fight each other as much as their enemies to pose a [i]world threat. Some sahuagin are more honorable (but still evil) and sell their services to the highest bidders much like bugbears.

-Underwater liches, F yeah.

-Special feats for combat underwater and more variety in underwater items (primitive depth charges? What kind of artillery would merfolk use?)

-Underwater class variants (sea bard, aquaman druid, casting spells underwater).

-Setting? Age of Sale/Enlightened period where underwater creatures are expanding as fast as humans on the surface or antediluvian earth where men thought the world was flat and feared the ocean (here be serpents)?

-Giant crabs. All things are better with giant crabs.

awa
2009-12-16, 07:08 PM
storm wrack has several aquatic races and if i recall correctly one was just underwater humans

awa
2009-12-16, 07:12 PM
artillery would be limited becuase as a swimming race fortification would have limited use, just swim over them, and most traditional artillery would not function underwater. but jars of poison that are heavier then water could work. Just get above the underwater city and unleash it.

Shademan
2009-12-16, 07:15 PM
-Weredolphins :smallsmile:


And I got my group of specialized rangers ready to fight your evil hordes of dolphins!:smallannoyed:
YALLALALALALLALAALLAAAA!
ahem...

Gamerlord
2009-12-16, 07:17 PM
-Giant crabs. All things are better with giant crabs.

Ebberon has the carcass crab, giant crab made out of, you guessed it, dead bodies.

JeminiZero
2009-12-16, 08:08 PM
-Weredolphins :smallsmile:


Minor Nitpick: Dolphins are in fact mammals, not fish. They can hold their breath for a long time, but they can't actually breath underwater outright.

Perhaps use Manta Rays, they are (for the most part) gentle filter feeders.



-A LA +0 template for people who go through a magical transformation to become amphibious.

-A LA +0 aquan race close to humans (Sea Half-elves?)


Look up Stormwrack. I believe there is a racial variant of human adapted ot the sea, which lose the feat and skills, but gain water breath and swim speed.

FoE
2009-12-16, 09:47 PM
Giant crabs. All things are better with giant crabs.

But only if they have a weak point that you can attack for massive damage.

Were I doing an underwater campaign, my Big Bad would have to be Dagon, who was ancient when the Abyss was young. Dagon is really under-used.

The Tygre
2009-12-16, 11:23 PM
All of you seem to be forgetting one all-encompassing detail;

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

See now where we have been forced to live for a thousand years! But soon we shall rule the land again and mankind will be gone!

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

Crab people are too small and weak to take over mankind by force, and so we came up with the perfect plan!

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

We shall make you into Crab People! Take them!

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

CRAAAB-PEOPLE

FoE
2009-12-16, 11:40 PM
If I'm going to start cribbing from South Park for campaigns, I'd sooner use the giant guinea pigs. :smalltongue:

Giggling Ghast
2009-12-17, 12:01 AM
If I'm going to start cribbing from South Park for campaigns, I'd sooner use the giant guinea pigs. :smalltongue:

What, like this?

http://www.headinjurytheater.com/images/d&d%20beasts%20giant%20space%20hamster.jpg

Oh yeah, that Spelljammer. Great setting, that one.

*Rolls eyes*

awa
2009-12-17, 12:08 AM
that's a hamster, a space hamster

Giggling Ghast
2009-12-17, 12:16 AM
that's a hamster, a space hamster

Sadly, there is no giant guinea pig in Dungeons and Dragons. That was the closest reference I could find.