Underwater Spellcasting
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  1. #1
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    Underwater Spellcasting

    What are the rules, if any, regarding underwater spellcasting? I have looked through the books and couldn't find anything on the subject. Am I just missing something?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    -TC

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    Not in the core books. I don't know if the Saltmarsh book has them. A few years ago I had created my own, with how spells would work if cast underwater, and any changes that would happen from said environment.

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    I have Ghosts of Saltmarsh and there is plenty of info about swimming speed and underwater hazards, but nothing on spellcasting.
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    Can you breath underwater? Then you can use verbal components. Can you move your hands/arms? Then somatic is is taken care of. Can you have a pouch of components or a focus? Then you are good to go.

    Are you worried about how a fireball or lightning bolt is affected underwater? Well, do you worry about a fighter swinging a sword or a ranger shooting an arrow underwater? Make similar changes to spells. Remember, you don't want to "punish" a character or a class because of something they can not control.

    But, it would be nice to have some simple underwater rules (like their are for weapons).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordEntrails View Post
    Can you breath underwater? Then you can use verbal components. Can you move your hands/arms? Then somatic is is taken care of. Can you have a pouch of components or a focus? Then you are good to go.

    Are you worried about how a fireball or lightning bolt is affected underwater? Well, do you worry about a fighter swinging a sword or a ranger shooting an arrow underwater? Make similar changes to spells. Remember, you don't want to "punish" a character or a class because of something they can not control.

    But, it would be nice to have some simple underwater rules (like their are for weapons).
    I don't think changing the way spells work is punishing, because some spells don't work well, and other work better. So it sort of evens out
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    Sorry for the large images, but if you wanted to use them, feel free. The are from an adventure I did called Lost City of Ssrall Mak. Of course not every spell is listed, because this is a few years old when only the PHB was out, and these were the only spells available that would have been affected. IF this helps get you off a starting point, great!

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Talcoram Cyndar View Post
    What are the rules, if any, regarding underwater spellcasting? I have looked through the books and couldn't find anything on the subject. Am I just missing something?
    You're missing the 1e DMG. Seriously, though, if they have water breathing, verbal components should be OK, if you don't pay much attention to material components, continue not to - if you do, well, a lot of them, like IDK, "a pinch of dust" might be problematic when immersed.

    A simple rule of thumb might be fire spells do 1/2 damage (a fire based cantrip might just fail, it's just a cantrip afterall) and create regions of superheated water or bubbles of steam that rise rapidly to the surface, lightning spells become spheres centered on the targeted point. Cold spells have reduced area but create ice flows or slush that, again, rises to the surface...spells that produce gas produce bubbles of gas that... yeah, rise rapidly to the surface. ::shrug::

    Alternately, you can have spells 'adapt' so they remain functionally the same, but fit the environment. So a spell that conjures a cloud of gas produces it dissolved in the water, working about the same if you have gills, one that produces a cloud of obscuring smoke produces a cloud of obscuring ink, squid-style, a fireball creates a ball of boiling water that rapidly dissipates doing the usual amount of 'fire' (scalding) damage, a Gust of Wind (is that even still around?) creates a sudden current, etc...

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Sacrosanct View Post
    I don't think changing the way spells work is punishing, because some spells don't work well, and other work better. So it sort of evens out
    Not necessarily within the known-spell list of a given character.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brashnir2 View Post
    Not necessarily within the known-spell list of a given character.
    Any spellcaster worth his or her salt, when knowing they will spend a large amount of time underwater, should make plans. I mean, these are genius level intelligences here. They could probably figure out what would happen and make adjustments.

    I'd much prefer that, then to completely ignore how reasonable conditions would work just to cater to a PC. They are adventurers. Not everything goes their way, and the world hosts many challenges. Not all of them contained in a stat block for them to kill.

  10. #10
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    I should have expanded upon my thoughts.

    Changes to the way spells work is fine (and can add to the fun). But, they need to be communicated IRL to the player in a timely manner (not necessarily before the first water adventure, depending). And they need to be thought through so that a roughly equivalent set of changes are made to all the character classes. Not that every character or class has to be exactly equal, but so that all characters are still fun to play.
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