Aquatic Campaigns
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  1. #1
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    Magsman (Lvl 14)

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    Aquatic Campaigns

    I am now compiling my notes for "Heirs of Turucambi", an undersea campaign that will begin in the near future.

    As the majority of the campaign will be set underwater, the game will draw heavily from supplements such as Stormwrack. Player characters must be able to swim (have a swim speed) and breathe underwater (aquatic or amphibious) without the use of magic. The campaign will begin at level 1-3, to account for characters with templates, monster races, and similar instances.

    "Heirs of Turucambi" is set in the Oljatt Sea of Oerth, the World of Greyhawk. Originally detailed in "Greyhawk Adventures" and later featured at wizards.com, Turucambi is one of the "Mysterious Places" of the region. Knowledge of the World of Greyhawk is not required, for participation in the campaign.

    Given my preferences, the campaign will draw from my interests in marine biology and my hobby of keeping saltwater aquariums, coupled with my fascination with various mythological creatures such as hags, dragons, and demons.

    Be aware that life underwater has its limitations; typical potions are all but impossible to imbibe, paper scrolls will quickly disintegrate, and typical metal items are subject to corrosion. Many typical spells may not suitable for underwater casting. Treasure may be similarly altered, as many undersea races value rare corals, pearls, and shells far more than coins and gemstones.

    Keep in mind that some of the best inspiration for an underwater campaign can come from the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, visiting your local aquarium or fish store, and perusing ocean-related materials in a bookstore.

    With that in mind, what are your preferences, for such an adventure? What would you expect to see, in an undersea game? What would make the campaign memorable, enjoyable, and enduring?

    ( edited to include links to Greyhawk Adventures ($4 PDF download at paizo.com) and Greyhawk Mysterious Places (02/2003 archive at wizards.com) )
    Last edited by Aeolius; Sunday, 26th November, 2006 at 05:28 PM.

  2. #2
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    The Great Druid (Lvl 17)

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    I see it as a high adventure under the sea: Lots of great 3-D places to explore. Savage currents, schools of fish, and plenty of coral reefs. I would want adventures around old wrecks, and ship graveyards. I think any game with interesting adventures and fun characters will be memorable, enjoyable, and enduring.

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    Places- aboleth cities on the abyssal plains, massive sea serpents that have villages on them, floating islands that are colonized on both sides, broken ruins near surface cities (the aquatics were driven away by the surface dwellers over shallow water mines).

    Things- a dump of the gods, sahuagin invasion platforms (mobile bases), floating reefs used to farm alchemically important slugs and shellfish, merrows with magitech.

  4. #4
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    Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)

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    Hi,

    Sounds like a great idea for a campaign! There are lots of undersea races that don't get used much: locathah, mermen, tritons et al. Also, aboleth, ixitxachitl, morkoths.... plus wrecked ships, coral cities, deep trenches full of weird ruins.

    There was a big d20 book called The Deep that might help although it had mixed reviews I think.

    Cheers


    Richard

  5. #5
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    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Giant shrimp are a must.

    Maybe there'd be some alternate item types to compensate for the lack of scrolls (glass tablets?). I imagine you'd also need to look at the available spells to see if they can be rebalanced. Fly is going to be less useful, and water-breathing should prolly be replaced with air-breathing

  6. #6
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    Gallant (Lvl 3)

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    Change the Swim skill so it works more like the 3.5 Jump skill. What you roll for your Swim skill check is how far you swim in feet as a move action (if you don't already have a swim speed.) -5 if your speed is 20' or lower.

    Also check the complete arcane for alternatives to potions and scrolls. For example, psionics has tatoos that works like potions, and stones that work like scrolls.

    I normally have fly propel you through water as it does through air, but at half speed.
    Last edited by Whimsical; Sunday, 26th November, 2006 at 10:40 PM.

  7. #7
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    Titan (Lvl 27)

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    Slife beat me here! Dire or otherwise oversized natural creatures- or as you must well know, even some of the normal ones- could definitely prove challenging. Sharks, octopi, mantis shrimp...even certain medusans and cone snails can threaten human life.

    Don't be afraid to use some of the sea's ambush predators...

    You might also want to check out these 2 threads: http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=179402 and http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=179508 .

    Scrolls & tomes would be replaced by carved stone or rune-covered seashells or coral chunks. Tattoos, as suggested above, would also be effective.

    Potions are harder to replace, but aquatic mages could prepare "dry rooms*" for mixing ingredients, but opt for more solid forms rather than potions that would disperse- cakes, gels, etc. OTOH, crafty alchemists and spellcasters could use the effects of brownian motion to their advantage. Instead of smoke bombs, squid-ink bombs would be the item for concealment. A potion, oil, or similar liquid could be reduced to a tarry state (using volcanic heat) that becomes an area effect attack when released into the water...and really smart races would figure out ways to deliver those at range- perhaps high-pressure water jets or chemical "rockets."

    Alchemists of the sea, if they discover the principles of electroplating (known in the RW for @ 4 thousand of years), could have a great time getting metals out of solution from the seawater.

    * in fact, dry rooms could be made to for the creation and use of all kinds of surface items, like ceramics, artificial glasses or smelted metals & alloys.

  8. #8
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    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    It's easy to rework magic items so that they function underwater. Remember that there's no reason a single-use spell-delivery item needs to be a fluid in a bottle that's drank by the user. It could just as easily by a box full of magical energy that's opened, or a tiny carved symbol that's snapped in half, or, hell, a bottle of fluid that's released into the water.

    "Scrolls" might actually make more sense if they were something that didn't even have writing on them (because I've never thought the whole business of them turning blank when used made a lot sense). They can just be small trinkets made of shell or bone or stone with a single spell suspended inside, ready to be released--or analyzed, decoded, and learned--by a spellcaster.

    ...Which brings up the topic of spell books. Maybe big kelp scrolls with text scratched into them? A book made out of shell would get pretty heavy at a one-page-per-spell-level rate, but maybe that's not so bad: Underwater, encumbrance rates might very logically be relaxed a bit.

    Weapons and armor and such are pretty simple. Where metal isn't available, there's still stone, fish and whale bone, crustacean carapace, mollusk shell, coral, and "scale mail" of the most literal kind. Whether or not these metal-substitutes are as good as steel mechanically is up to you. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it.

    Also: Believe it or not, you might want to go read Aquaman for inspiration. I am serious. Lately, the comic has had an odd, swords-and-sorcery-flavored reboot, and it actually looks a lot like an aquatic D&D campaign, these days.

  9. #9
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    Actually, you could even store potions in bladders...if they're made from edible creatures, you'd just eat the bladder whole to deliver the potion.

    The trick isn't so much potion delivery as potion creation.

    Another way around that (besides the dry rooms I mentioned above) is the good old wizard-created abomination! Imagine...mutant seaslugs or sea cucumbers bred to create potions...delivered by squeezing the critters so they jet the solution into your mouth...

  10. #10
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    Acolyte (Lvl 2)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dannyalcatraz
    Another way around that (besides the dry rooms I mentioned above) is the good old wizard-created abomination! Imagine...mutant seaslugs or sea cucumbers bred to create potions...delivered by squeezing the critters so they jet the solution into your mouth...
    That is a completely beautiful idea. And, hell, the "potion" doesn't even have to be a fluid. It could just be the creature itself, to be eaten whole. But really any inclusion of sea slugs or sea cucumbers would be a great idea, because they are awesome. There's more stuff--and more interesting stuff--in the ocean than fish.

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