View Full Version : Underwater/3D Dungeons

2013-11-17, 12:19 AM
So, I've recently determined that I want to have my players go through a brief underwater adventure to fight Skum and an Aboleth. We're playing Pathfinder, though I suppose that doesn't matter much, and they're around level 5 (ranging from 4 to 6, I think).

The concept really interests me and it could be pretty fun and unique (compared to an average dungeon) if done right, but it seems quite tough, both to design and to run. The PCs have gotten reports that Skum in a large lake they've visited before have become crazed and are attacking surrounding settlements indiscriminately, with another piece of info that connects it to the overarching story, so it's a bit late to back out completely.

I'm thinking they'll have a small encounter with a Skum raiding party near the coast, then, since they already know they'll be going underwater and will hopefully prepare accordingly, swim down along the coastal wall to the bottom of the lake, where they'll find a large cave system functioning as the Skum city and the dungeon, with the Aboleth at the end.

I've already familiarized myself with the rules for underwater combat and adventuring, that's not the issue. Thing is, I want to make this more interesting than just swimming through a bunch of cavern rooms fighting Skum and whatever other aquatic monsters of that level I can find. I need ideas for how to take advantage of the 3D environment to make a unique and memorable dungeon. Also, tips on how to go about designing the dungeon itself - I usually just use graph paper, but that will probably not cut it - and how to translate that to gameplay. This will be a major challenge to me as a DM, but I'm hopeful that it'll turn out well. Or that it'll be a disaster, either way. Any stories of your own personal experiences with this kind of thing would be appreciated as well.

2013-11-17, 11:45 AM
A few thoughts:

You could use some of the dungeons from Zelda, Ocarina of Time for inspiration.

For helping with 3D, maybe build it like a diorama in a cardboard box.

Underwater currents/geothermal activity could be fun obstacles:

DM: You take xd6 scalding damage.

Player: What?

DM: And make a reflex save or be swept away by an undertow.

And it wouldn't be too hard to make an underwater version of an assassin vine. "The seaweed wraps around your ankle, pulling you into a deadly embrace."

2013-11-19, 03:33 PM
I ran a campaign that was set underwater years ago and one of the things that was fun to have different chambers that had trapped air inside of them and some where the water/air formed a vertical separation, instead of the expected horizontal one.

A lot of underwater creatures have very cunning camouflage and/or deadly poisons (though this is usually more true of ocean-dwellers instead of those in a lake, but... it's fantasy). A trap/monster that can temporarily take away a character's ability to breath underwater, assuming that they are using magical means to do so, would be really hazardous.