View Full Version : Underwater Dungeons

Hefty Lefty
2006-12-13, 08:32 PM
Hey everybody. I'm a virgin at DMing. I haven't ever done it before, but I'm planning the basic dungeons and encounters I'd like my party to go into. At first I had the idea of having them go into dungeons each centering around a certain element (water, fire, blah, blah, blah). But then I decided that is way too overdone, but that's besides the point. Basically, I've decided that the PCs will eventually have to retrieve something from a sunken ship. That's really all I have now. I'm working with only the three core books here. My main problem is how they will breathe underwater and survive the water pressure. I'm open to any and all suggestions, including monsters, traps, whatever you guys have to offer. Thanks in advance.

Grey Knight
2006-12-13, 11:22 PM
A useful spell is water breathing (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/waterBreathing.htm) (Cleric 3, Druid 3, Sorceror/Wizard 3, Water Domain 3), which lasts for 2 hours per level. Or, if your party is high-level enough to conceivably afford it, you could make them a magic item for water-breathing on a more continuous basis. (there're some standard ones; the Necklace of Adaptation (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#necklaceofAdaptation) at 9000 gp, the Pearl of the Sirines (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#pearloftheSirines) at 15300 gp, and the Helm of Underwater Action (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#helmofUnderwaterAction) 57000 gp. All of differing properties, obviously, but they share the ability to let you function underwater)

You can even get an NPC out of the magic item idea. Coup-de-grace-meself Dibbler, with his special water-breathing amulets, guaranteed not to fail at twenty fathoms and subject you to a horrible gurgling death or your money back! :smallwink:

Polymorphing is another possibility you might look into; the spell could be cast by an NPC caster if you are still at too low a level, possibly at the behest of a king or noble sending you on the quest if the caster's bill is too high.

If you're not using a solution that works by creating an air bubble around them, any casters in the party may want to look into doing something to protect their potions from diluting and scrolls/spellbooks from getting ruined.

2006-12-14, 12:47 AM
Get a copy of Stormwrack. Itís a fantastic book for underwater or near water areas. In fact itís in my top five books every DM should own.

2006-12-14, 12:59 AM
And while you're at it, don't even THINK of making complex puzzles based around raising and lowering the water levels to get keys. That's punishable only by death.

2006-12-14, 08:26 AM
You shouldn't worry about water-preasure. It isn't in the spirit of D&D. A good number of ships get sunk on reefs and in other relatively shallow areas anyway.

I have an idea for a trap: a multi-target dispel that only targets water-breathing effects. For most solutions to the how to breath question this will scare the party for four rounds and then wear off, but for spells or single use items it can really do some harm. Similar effect from an anti-magic zone.

2006-12-14, 02:34 PM
I don't recall if this is actually in the spell description, but we went through an underwater dungeon, and explained the pressure thing by saying that it makes your lungs able to extract oxygen from the water, much like the amniotic breather used in "The Abyss" which keeps a character from having problems with the pressure. There is a problem with spells with verbal components since human vocal cords aren't designed to make any noice with liquid passing over them. Of course your DM may not care about that.

2006-12-14, 07:34 PM
Baldur's Gate 2 had an innovative solution for one of it's latter dungeons, consisting of a 'Breath Potion'. Since it was only required in the inventory, it might have been a glitch, or simply a potion containing a breath.

Potion of Breath
Effect: A potion of Breath lasts for 8 hours from it's initial use, and does not interfere with breathing, or speech. One potion contains three doses.
Cost: Purchase: 10,000gp Brew: 5,000gp, Water Breathing/Scroll of Water Breathing, DC 22 Brew Potion Check.

I'm not a fan of polymorph, since we have a house rule involving a d12 roll to determine final form.

2006-12-14, 07:59 PM
If you've never DM'd before I would really advise you play or convert an existing module. You will have enough to do with making sure your players are happy - you won't want to worry that every 'i' is crossed and every 't' dotted.

The best results I've seen have been, at first, alternating module then original adventure. Do that for a while and you will understand not just the game but how the adventures are written.


Hefty Lefty
2006-12-14, 09:49 PM
Wow thanks for the insight everyone. Grey Knight, I was laready planning on having maybe some kind of Aquatic Elf NPC guide them through, so maybe he could give them the magic item as well. 'Void, it's kind of funny, in my first dungeon-based-on-water design, that kind of puzzle was exactly what the entire dungeon revolved around. But the I realized two things: 1, That is only fun in Zelda-esque video games, not in DnD, and 2, that wouldn't make any sense on a sunken ship. Thanks Triaxx for the potion, though I may modify it so they have to close their mouths anyway, to make it unique from any other dungeon. Lastly, sigurd, while I've never DMed before, my group is pretty expirienced, and one member often DMs with dungeon crawls and premade adventures, and most people take them as a joke, which aggrivates him. I'm trying to make something really good to show I can do it, you know?

2006-12-15, 12:13 PM
You Go, Hefty Lefty!

Show those scoffers who's boss!

2006-12-16, 07:45 PM
A pressure pill suppository.
Special thanks to Futurama.

2006-12-18, 04:12 PM
I'm going to jump on into the pool of saying "You might want to consider toning things down a bit rule-wise if it's your first DM experience". I'm not going to say you wouldn't be good at it. But if I was playing with a relatively new DM, I would enjoy running in a less-than-overly-complex dungeon. If you want to do something with a water theme, just make the dungeon mostly land-based but many encounters that will be easier for characters with a decent swim skill.

Maybe one of the rooms could be an abandoned giant lake that some sort of pirate used as a hideout (with requesite passage into the ocean beyond) where the PC's could see a sunken ship. They could *try* to explore it, but it would be very underwater and very unexplorable on a single breath. Then, it can be used as a plot hook later, when you're more experienced and can run a session with largely different rules (of course it all depends on how different you want the rules to be, but Stormwrack is a good resource if you can get the chance to read it).

Hefty Lefty
2006-12-18, 04:15 PM
Okay, thanks. That's a good idea, using it as a plot hook for later: when they are more expirienced, but more importantly, when I'm more expirienced.

2006-12-18, 04:31 PM
two words, Gnomish Submersible. . .

2006-12-18, 05:29 PM
I did a element themed dungeon once. Instead of completely filling the water themed part of the dungeon, I had my PCs sloshing their way through partially flooded areas with the water level varying from ankle deep to chest deep. This reduced their movement rates and made it extremely diffacult to move silently. The deeper areas messed up their attack and dodge rolls too.

Torpedo Ted
2006-12-18, 06:46 PM
Hmmm... one way you could do it, would be to make the ship half under, half over water. That would make for an excitingly urgent dungeon, although it could end in a horribly watery failure. My other idea is this: meh let the P.C.'s find a way to do it. D&D is about making your PC's think outside the box. you could give them a hand here and there, AKA a conveniently placed tip. I know I wouldnt want to play a dungeon where you take the whole excitement of underwaterness out by letting them breathe underwater. Who know's what they'll think of? Maybe they'll get the townsfolk to pull the ship out of the river, or have a spellcaster surround their head with a bubble of air. Just don't make it too boring, or too easy, because as I said before, D&D is about working together and achieving the unimaginable. ... .... ....... WOW that was stupid

2006-12-18, 07:08 PM
one thing never mentioned (what i would do). Is LOAN the Item from a friend or king that way you arent giving them an extra few thousand GP

Kevka Palazzo
2006-12-18, 07:26 PM
You could always do the...uh....*ahem* *coughcoughEberroncoughcough* sumbarine thing. There's a module where the PCs get sent to Xen'drik via submarine. I got eaten by the dire shark that attacks when that happened. :smallannoyed:

2006-12-19, 11:18 AM
Something else to recall is that water conducts electricity, so electrical traps should do more damage than usual. I turn it around for PC spells, but give them a 1d4 backblast as well.

Hefty Lefty
2006-12-19, 04:55 PM
Hey, great ideas everyone, especially the only chest-deep water and the electrical traps. This should help a lot. Ted, letting the PCs do what they want to do is what I want to do, as any DM should, but I'm asking for specifics(like the potions and books others have brought up), you know? If they do run into town asking a wizard to encase their head in a bubble, what would the duration of the spell be and how much would it cost them?, that's what I'm looking for. Thanks everyone, I've got a lot of work to do in redesigning this dungeon, but if anyone else has any other ideas, I'd love to here them.