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Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting (PFRPG) PDF

***** (based on 7 ratings)

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Does your game lack depth? Under a lot of pressure to try something new? Creative springs running a bit dry? Then it is time to make a splash with the Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting and Undersea Sourcebook.

Aquatic adventure awaits in three dimensions with this unique underwater world. This tome is filled to the brim with useful material for any game: a dozen new races, a triad of new classes and prestige classes, scores of new feats and spells, solutions for 3D combat, ninety new monsters, cardstock minis and so much more! All beautifully color-illustrated by Alluria Publishing's talented design team. Take the plunge!

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Product Reviews (7)
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***** (based on 7 ratings)

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Excellent underwater content, oh, and there's a campaign setting too


This book is everything I never knew I needed to have to run an underwater adventure, and has made me interested in an all underwater campaign, something I never would have wanted to run without this book. While they required a little thinking to wrap my head around, the rules for buoyancy, drag, and pressure really add a lot to the feel of an underwater game.

The races come next, and offer a nice variety of exotic races to choose from as well as more familiar races like sea elves and seafolk. classes chapter, aside from including a few interesting new classes like the Kahuna and Siren, gives short conversion notes for the core and APG pathfinder classes that keep them relevent in an entirely underwater campaign.

Not to be overlooked in all the excellent rules is the fact that this book is called a Campaign Setting and does include some information about the Cerulean Seas. Small nuggets of campaign details are sprinkled through each section of the book, and a short 26 page section gives a little information on the history of the various races and a tiny amount of information on cities in the setting. This is probably the section of the book that could use the most expansion, and if my primary interest in the book was as a campaign setting I would probably disappointed with this section. As it is it's a nice little bonus add on to the rules and serves to give some flavor to the different races.

All in all this book provides everything you never knew you desperately wanted for underwater campaigns. If you have any interest in running an underseas campaign this book will be valuable to you. If you never thought you wanted to run an undersea campaign this might convert you like it did for me.


Other reviews have covered this in more detail than I could ever hope so I'll just give my general impressions.

This is one of those books you can live without. Until you want to have an all underwater campaign that is. Then this book isn't just necessary, I cant even think of an appropriate substitute. Not only does it give you some useable underwater rules but it gives you a butt-ton of races and other rules so you can do it. It even comes with some fluff so you don't have to make a setting from scratch. There are just so many tools and rules for this to not be useful. But only if you are running a game that is underwater more often than not, otherwise it's a large word count and a ton of rules that you'll never use. But that's the kind of product this is. I reviewed Companions of Firmament today and this is in the sam vein. Unfortunately I do not have a product that helps you play underground or on the sun but if you want to play in the sky you get that, if you want to play in the water you get this, so by being pretty much mandatory for an entire terrain that takes up a whole lot of space on a planet this book gets 5 stars.

No question. If you want to play underwater get this book. You need it.

Exactly what I've been looking for


The detailed reviews above cover the contents of this product in detail, so I won't go into them yet again. What I'll tell you is that as 35 year gamer with a degree in marine biology, running entirely submerged campaigns has been a dream. I've picked up every marine supplement I can find and Cerulean Seas is the clear winner. Followed by Azure Ice, Indigo Seas and Waves of Thought, this is a great series that deserves recognition.

The last word in gaming under the sea


Underwater adventuring has always been, insofar as Pathfinder is concerned, one of those ideas that seem great in theory but difficult in practice. After all, taking your adventuring party underwater means that everyone’s aware that one good dispel magic will take away whatever spells or magic items they’re using to keep breathing. Add in penalties for how melee and ranged attacks work, changes to spellcasting, and even the continual Swim checks to keep moving, and it’s not only a headache for everyone involved, but quite likely a TPK waiting to happen. And don’t even get me started on the logistics of fighting across three dimensions of movement.

And so, underwater adventuring was quietly pushed off to the side. Just enough rules were provided to make it theoretically possible, without anyone worrying about how practical it actually was. Few adventures were published that dealt with characters going into the waves, and those that were kept it to the shallow end of the pool, with dry land always being close by. Finding new paths under the sea seemed like it’d always be resigned the realm of pipe-dreams and a few die-hards, never to be accessible to the mainstream Pathfinder gamers.

All of that changed when Alluria Publishing released Cerulean Seas, a massive campaign setting-slash-sourcebook that not only takes Pathfinder underwater, but actually makes such a game doable. Let’s take a look at what the book offers so that you’ll know this isn’t just a fish story I’m telling you.

As a PDF file, Cerulean Seas hits all of the high-water marks. It has full, nested bookmarks (an absolute necessity in a book that’s nearly 300 pages long), and allows for copy-and-pasting without problems. And of course, the artwork – oh wow, the artwork! Alluria has always had a reputation for their lavish illustrations, and they certainly live up to it here. An entire team of interior artists have lovingly portrayed myriad aspects of the book’s material, from new races and monsters to new equipment, to spell effects, to a map of the Cerulean Seas area, and so much more, (almost) all of it in lush full color. Alluria is perhaps the only company that can compete with Paizo on an even footing for how gorgeous their books look.

Of course, this (and the subtle but ornate page borders) means that this book is far from printer-friendly. At the time of this writing, a print version of the book is still in the works, but isn’t yet available. If you want a hardcopy of Cerulean Seas, you might be better to wait for that, as this PDF would likely send your printer to Davy Jones’ Locker.

The book’s opening chapter dives right in, opening with framing fiction that defines the game world. The Cerulean Seas campaign setting used to be a normal game world, but had a great flood that covered the world with ninety-nine percent water. There’s more to it than this, of course, including a recently-won genocidal war against the sahuagin, the role the gods played in the great flood, and more, but this is the main thrust of the story, and sets the stage for this water world.

The chapter takes us through some basic terms and definitions before we start to get into the specifics of living under the sea. It’s here that the book might start to scare away some of the more casual-type gamers, because this chapter pulls no punches in what it presents. We’re given an introduction to how things like buoyancy, hydraulic pressure, ambient sunlight, and more work underwater. The first chapter is basically a primer for things to be aware of regarding life underwater, and how these translate into game terms. This is especially true for underwater combat, which has its own section here.

I’ll take a moment to say that while this section can be off-putting for how dry (ironically) its listing of various undersea features can be, as well as how complicated the rules for buoyancy and the accompany combat changes are, it’s worth persevering through. The book deals with this more in the Game Mastering section, but these are the changes that really make an undersea game feel different; and as with all parts of a complex table-top game, they’ll become more familiar (to the point of being second-nature) over time.

The second chapter returns to more familiar territory where PF sourcebooks are concerned, presenting twelve new undersea races (though one or two, such as sea elves or the mogogols, may seem familiar). Cleverly, these are sub-divided into three groups: the anthromorphs (who have humanoid bodies), the feykith (fey-related sea-dwellers), and merfolk (who are humanoid from the waist up, and fish from the waist down). Interestingly, the human-equivalent race is presented as the “seafolk,” a merfolk race. They not only have the human’s “floating” +2 ability bonus that can be applied everywhere, but are the only race to have various cross-breeds listed, with alternate racial traits presented.

Each race received a generous focus, listing not only their statistics but also plenty of flavor text regarding their society, alignment, possible names, etc. However, ardent Pathfinder fans may be somewhat disappointed that the expanded racial options from the Advanced Player’s Guide aren’t reproduced here. That is, there are no alternate racial features available (seafolk crossbreeds notwithstanding) nor are there alternate favored class options.

I’m of two minds about this, as it seems somewhat unfair that these have suddenly been assumed to be default necessities for third-party contributions to the Pathfinder RPG. At the same time, those bring a hefty level of customization to the table that are very helpful in making your character’s race be of greater importance. That said, twelve colorful new races here certainly make that notable in and of themselves. It’s also worth noting that the book doesn’t forget to bring us the various vital statistics for these races (one of those little things that are nevertheless important).

Subsequent to the races chapter is the chapter on classes, and it’s here where things get truly interesting. The book makes some generalized notes about changes to existing classes before dealing with how to alter each base class specifically for an undersea game. This part of the book does deal with the APG classes, so you alchemists and oracles and such can all breathe a sigh a relief.

The changes made in this regard are absolutes, rather than the optional class archetypes presented in the APG. Interestingly, a few classes are recommended to be discarded entirely in favor of three new base classes presented here. Bards are passed over in favor of sirens, druids are replaced with kahunas, and rangers are given the boot in favor of mariners.

These new classes do a great job presenting their own twist on the niche that their replaced classes fill. The Kahuna, for example, is a full-progression divine spellcaster, but selects a single animal spirit that, as she gains levels, is able to utilize greater and greater spirit powers to bolster herself and her allies (or alternately harm her enemies).

This chapter also deals with prestige classes, listing which ones from the Core Rulebook and APG are useable without any changes, which need some changes, and which aren’t available at all. There are also three new prestige classes presented here, the each comber (those who venture into the wilds of the remaining dry land), glimmerkeeper (fast-moving undersea hero), and sea witch (an aquatic necromancer).

Skills and feats are the subject of the fourth chapter. As with many things, the skills section offers a series of new interpretations of existing skills, though there are no new skills added (something I was grateful for, as adding new skills often feels contrived). The feats section got a similar examination for several existing feats, but here we’re given almost four-dozen new underwater feats as well.

The chapter on money and equipment was interesting for how much stayed the same, though quite a bit changed in appearance. Most precious metals have been replaced by things like shells or pearls, though the measurements of currency are largely the same. New equipment helps there be a greater selection of viable weapons and armor underwater, not to mention various items that are unique to undersea adventuring, such as holy sand to replace holy water. Oddly, ships are presented here also, reinforcing that some aquatic races still spend a lot of their time above the waves.

The magic chapter presents some very imaginative alterations to not only existing spells, but also existing material components and foci before it moves into new spells and magic items. Some of what’s here deals with the change from fire damage to boiling-water damage, while others present alternate ways of harnessing electrical spells, or various utility spells such as defeating undersea pressure, or even breathing air for characters who want to go top-side.

It’s at the seventh chapter of the book that we take a look at the Cerulean Seas campaign world. This chapter takes a surprisingly light tone with the campaign, presenting many different facets of it but not going too deep with any of them, letting you fill in a lot of the blanks to make the game world your own. It does cover the recent histories and major NPCs of all of the major races, presents a number of major cities, a brief overview of the spoken languages, and an overview of the world’s recent history. My favorite, however, was the presentation of the Cerulean Seas religions. The undersea races uniformly decided to prevent religious strife by allowing only nine deities to be worshipped, one for each alignment. However, in order to sweep everyone under this umbrella, there are various “cults” that worship different aspects of these deities (each deity has two cults presented, with their own alignments, domains, etc.). These cults may only operate with the blessing of the parent faith, and it was engrossing to read about how various races merged their native religions with that of a more dominant faith, often resulting in the major god literally consuming the smaller one as a consequence.

I don’t mind saying that chapter eight, the Game Mastering Chapter, was perhaps the most friendly and helpful such section I’ve ever read. It speaks frankly, and almost familiarly, about the problems with running an undersea game, and what to do about them. Remember those scary new rules from chapter one? It goes over what the most important are to get down pat and how to ease into them. We get general guidelines on converting other materials for an undersea game, whether in terms of buoyancy or pressure tolerance. But my favorite section here was the unabashed look at the problem of 3D combat.

The book outlines roughly a half-dozen options for what to do about this issue, ranging from buying commercial elevation trackers to ordering a pizza and using those little plastic things that keep the cheese off of the box to elevate your minis. But by far the most favored option it presents is the one where it walks you, step by step, through creating your own adjustable boards for elevation. These are basically a few square inches of hard foam boarding that are moved up and down a standing rod; add a half-dozen of them to your game table and you can easily simulate characters moving across every dimension. It’s a fun little project, and works great for any tabletop game that needs a 3D combat solution.

There’s also a fascinating section on the planar arrangement (or perhaps just the widespread belief in the arrangement) of this campaign world. After all, an undersea culture hardly believes in a plane of fire, especially one that stands equal to the plane of water! Likewise, the oceans of the outer planes are considered much more prominent than the dry areas of such realms.

The final full chapter of the book presents almost a hundred new monsters to help populate your undersea game. From aquatic familiars to a large selection of new giants and true dragons (which are given their own grouping, rather than being chromatic or metallic), there’s plenty here to round out an underwater bestiary. New selections of simple templates and guidelines on how the major creature types work underwater provide further options and guidelines.

The book closes out with a number of helpful aids, such as a consolidated list of undersea monsters from this book, the Pathfinder Bestiary, and Alluria’s other Pathfinder books. Add in a pronunciation guide, cardstock minis, a character sheet, and more, and there’s everything you’ll need to get started on your Cerulean Seas game right away.

And if you’re not already excited about using this book to run an underwater game after reading this review, then trust me: it’s more due to my descriptions lacking enough fidelity to the book’s accomplishments than anything else. Cerulean Seas not only looks at every aspect of running a game in an underwater world – from what it means to be submerged to the logistics of it at the game table – but presents holistic options and alterations for setting a Pathfinder game there. The new material is expansive and the campaign setting covers a wide range of topics while still leaving room for customization. And of course, the artwork is beautiful and prominent. This is easily one of the best Pathfinder books to come out of the third-party market, and the absolute best for the topic it covers.

Don’t be afraid to make your game better by taking it down where it’s wetter. Bring your characters to the Cerulean Seas; it’ll make a big splash amongst your gaming group.

Stellar resource for underwater adventuring and 3-dimensional combat


This massive full-color campaign is 290 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of index, 1 page inside back cover and 1 page back cover, leaving a staggering 279 pages of content for this campaign setting, but what exactly are in for?

What if the world saw an age of peace above the waves, an era of enlightenment overseen by a powerful nation? What if said force of goodness and equilibrium suddenly vanished and the surface-dwellers, in their despair and ignorance initiated a cataclysm that sees most of the world flooded, leaving only sparse patches of land unsubmerged? What if the surface-dwellers went extinct and yet, the world would continue spinning? The action and eternal war between good and evil would continue, but beneath the waves. These are the Cerulean Seas, a world flooded and in the grip of tidal waves, where new races have claimed dominance after vanquishing the dreaded sahuagin and this book follows an ambitious goal - Not only do the people from Alluria Publishing try to offer you an original setting, but also provide all the necessary rules for all instances of underwater adventuring.

Let's see whether they've succeeded in that endeavor, shall we? There's a lot to consider, believe me. Seeing I converted the monstrous arcana Sahuagin-trilogy from the 2nd edition days of old to 3.5 and ran the campaign, I do know that even if you prepare a LOT of magical items/spells etc., there are a LOT of additional concerns to address and this book is wasting no space and jumps in to introduce us to some of the peculiarities of underwater adventuring:

From an introduction to the different light zones, to mechanics to determine tides and even very extensive terrain information, we get a lot of cool new rules, favorite of which for me would be buoyancy -natural air bladders from races to items: The rules presented for buoyancy should be standard - they are elegant and easy to implement: Essentially buoyancy comes in positive and negative values, either dragging you down or pushing you upwards - including acceleration and drag. Str determines what you can carry until you fight against buoyancy. Combine that with water pressure and currents (which also get their easy and yet extensive rules) and we get a wholly unique experience: Seeing that until I read this, underwater combat felt mostly like flying underwater, this is just awesome - 3d exploration and combat that opens a whole array of new tactics and combat options. Combat will never be the same under the waves and even if you're only planning on having 1 or 2 adventures under the waves, this chapter (especially when combined with OD's Sunken Empires), is absolutely the best resource you can imagine. It also includes extensive information on underwater hazards ranging from poisons, whirlpools etc. A new condition replaces prone (disoriented) and thrown weapons are replaced with plunge weapons - be aware, though, that not a simple name-substitution has been made: E.g. the splash weapons work in some key-aspects different from their dryland-counterparts.
After this chapter on terrain and the basics, we are introduced to the new playable races, all of which come with their own natural buoyancy, information on their depth tolerance as well as the information on attributes. I'd usually sum up the racial modifiers etc., but in the interest of finishing this review this century, I'll just go on to give you a general overview. Generally, the races of the Cerulean Sea can be divided into three general categories: Anthromorphs (4 races), which include cool races like the crab-like Karkanaks and the crocodile-humanoid Sebek-Ka, the Feykith (4 races), which contain Sea-elves, Selkies and Viridian Naiads, the latter being plant-like in life-cycle and mentality. The final category is the Merfolk, which includes the mysterious and alien, deep-dwelling Nommo, the poison-spined Cindarians and the proud, mount-like Kai-Lios. 11 merfolk-halfbreeds are also provided along tables for age, height/length, buoyancy and depth-tolerance. I expected to get lame aquatic variants of regular races and instead found a plethora of well-written, balanced, cool races that ooze unique flavor and thus lend themselves to truly ingenious plots.

Chapter 3 deals with classes and how they work under water and some interesting components and rationalizations/modifications have been made to them: Alchemists for example have invented aqua gravis, a substance to make bombs and potions with and its discovery, manufacture and usage lends a whole new dimension/other was the items work to the whole class. Wait, Alchemist? Yep, Cerulean Seas comes with full-blown APG-support. While all classes get their respective treatment, the two new domains for the cleric (Flora and Steam, replacing Plant and Fire) as well as an one-page domains/deities-list deserve special mention, as do the 18 aquatic animal companions and the new eidolon evolutions. Conversion notes for e.g. Infernal bloodlines etc. are provided as well.
The chapter does not stop there, though: We get the new Kahuna-base-class, a druid-like ally of the spirits of the sea with neat spirit aspect powers of 8 different totems - mechanically one of the most interesting spirit shaman-like classes I've seen. Speaking of interesting - the 20-lvl Mariner base-class, focusing on supreme 3d-movement and agility makes for an interesting melee-choice and the substitute for the bard, the siren-class, also makes for a neat design, though the latter could have used more options to choose from with regards to her songs. The base-PrCs are also covered along 3 new PrCs - The Beach Comber, a ranger-like elite, the Glimmerkeeper, legendary rogues and possibly mutants fighting for the downtrodden and the Sea Witch, who is a rather evil and dark PrC for the siren - think Ursula from Ariel in mature and you'll get these nice fellows.

The next chapter deals with skills and feats - jumping from the waves, diving perception beneath the waves and coverage of existing feats help adapting them to the world beneath the waves. The chapter does not stop there, though: 45 new feats expand upon racial qualities (enhancing Cindarian spines and Karanak-claws for example) as well as dealing with the new environment, improving e.g. Air Bladder class. Surprisingly, I did not find a single feat that felt overpowered or useless - quite a feat! (Pardon the pun!)

The next chapter deals with underwater currency: Seeing that copper and silver tend to rust, the currency of the seas is based on shell, gold and pearls. Tarde and new goods like the aforementioned aqua gravis as well as alloys for weapons are covered. The new weapons cover both weaponized harnesses for awakened animals and a vast array of thrusting weapons - the tables alone cover 2 whole pages, ensuring that you don't have to arm all your characters/NPCs with piercing weapons. The aquatic armors are also interesting, including for example jellyfish armors as well as clamshell plates. 11 new ships are introduced for traveling on the waves (which seems to be a bit more secure than under the waves) and a huge array of conversions are provided for all the regular items and obsolete ones are mentioned as well. Kelp ropes e.g. replacing regular ones. Extensive lists including buoyancy information for these items have been provided for your convenience as well, as have buoyancy-control items that help you combat updraft. Have I mentioned the phosphorescent jelly-fish lanterns? This chapter, with all the small details and miniscule meticulously pieced together components makes underwater adventuring and societies that much more believable - excellent!

Part II of my review in the product discussion, post 70.

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