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The Whale (possible spoilers)


Skull & Shackles


hey everyone, just wondering how you plan to treat riptide cove? It seems to me almost as if the players are going to be entirely under water for the most part of this section, does anyone feel this might be a bit frustrating? I have really never ran a portion of a book involving complete submereged combat, maybe just need some direction? Any tips?


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While the section seems to be written with the assumption that the fight will take place during high tide, PCs with enough time can easily just wait until low tide. Personally, I'd probably risk it even if I didn't think I had time. Fighting creatures with swim speeds without a swim speed is almost certainly a recipe for disaster.

The said, the few times I've done it, underwater combat isn't that bad. Read up on the rules ahead of time so you know when to ask for swim checks and how weapons will be impacted, as well as the memorizing the specific differences Riptide Cove brings in. Depth can be handled on a regular battle map with marks or counters to determine depth, or with a couple of mats each representing another 5' of depth. Either system can make it difficult to visualize the 3D environment for some people, and an actual 3D representation like stacked mats or a computer model are ideal, but also a lot more difficult to set up and work with.

I'd say the biggest thing, though, is to try not getting bogged down with the rules details. Have a flashcard of info and, if something comes up that you don't know how to handle, just make something up. Environmental rules can be vague, spread out, and at times just crazy (by the rules, it is impossible to spear fish). Flow will probably be helped by just going for it (providing your group is okay with that, of course).


You can spear fish. Piercing weapons are unaffected on attack at face value. Thrown weapons rapidly become inaccurate (-2 per 5 feet) so you can spear a fish, if it's withing say 15 feet of the surface. It is of course harder than hitting something.

The big things to remember:

attack is -2 and damage is 1/2 for slashing and bludgeoning. Piercing fine. ranged attacks are -2 to attack per 5 feet.

DC 10 swim to move in calm water, and move at 1/4 your speed. 1/2 your speed as a full action. Fail you don't move.

Make the swim check EVERY round, because if you fail by 5 you go underwater. So it's DC 5 to tread.

Armor check penalties apply to swim checks.

DCs are harder if the water is rougher.

Concentration checks while swimming: DC of the water plus spell level. So level 1 spell in calm water, DC 11. 3rd level in stormy water, DC 23.

You can speak (sort of) while underwater, but if you can't breathe I always rule it's akin in difficulty to being deaf (20% failure).

fire does half damage and turns to steam.

You can hold your breath for 2 x your con score.

Probably want to announce these rules to your players, to make sure they are aware of them. It will affect their approach.


Sekret_One wrote:
You can spear fish. Piercing weapons are unaffected on attack at face value. Thrown weapons rapidly become inaccurate (-2 per 5 feet) so you can spear a fish, if it's withing say 15 feet of the surface. It is of course harder than hitting something.

Nice summary of the rest of the rules, but you are wrong on thrown weapons.

Quote:
Ranged Attacks Underwater: Thrown weapons are ineffective underwater, even when launched from land.
Quote:
Attacks from Land: Characters swimming, floating, or treading water on the surface, or wading in water at least chest deep, have improved cover (+8 bonus to AC, +4 bonus on Reflex saves) from opponents on land. Land-bound opponents who have freedom of movement effects ignore this cover when making melee attacks against targets in the water. A completely submerged creature has total cover against opponents on land unless those opponents have freedom of movement effects.

Unless a fisherman has freedom of movement, he can't spear a fish. Even if he does, he can't do it by throwing the spear. This actually comes up quite a bit in this scenario, since even at low tide the cove has plenty of fairly deep water for the Grindylow to hide in. Hope nobody thought harpoons would be useful.


Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:
Unless a fisherman has freedom of movement, he can't spear a fish. Even if he does, he can't do it by throwing the spear. This actually comes up quite a bit in this scenario, since even at low tide the cove has plenty of fairly deep water for the Grindylow to hide in. Hope nobody thought harpoons would be useful.

To be honest, that's a rule I find odd. I'm personally going to make it possible to hit creatures below water with stabbing weapons (including stabbing reach weapons) from above water, so long as the below-water target can be reached by the weapon.

I'm also adding a special quality to harpoons that lets you throw them from above water at underwater targets. It'll still suffer the -2 to hit per 5 ft. of water, but not the concealment.


Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:


Nice summary of the rest of the rules, but you are wrong on thrown weapons.

Crap. You're right. Apparently I reflexively editted it to make sense.

With my magical GM powers, I will continue as I have been: -2 attack per 5 feet plus, plus the regular penalties for thrown weapon increments. Tie in the penalties that can accrue for the damage types, and the lot makes more sense.

I really can't go RAW when you can't throw harpoons at fish, and submerging yourself in water renders you immune from a hill giant chucking man sized rocks at you.


Sekret_One wrote:
Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:


Nice summary of the rest of the rules, but you are wrong on thrown weapons.

Crap. You're right. Apparently I reflexively editted it to make sense.

With my magical GM powers, I will continue as I have been: -2 attack per 5 feet plus, plus the regular penalties for thrown weapon increments. Tie in the penalties that can accrue for the damage types, and the lot makes more sense.

I really can't go RAW when you can't throw harpoons at fish, and submerging yourself in water renders you immune from a hill giant chucking man sized rocks at you.

"With his mighty strength, the giant hefts a boulder the size of a house into the air. With a grunt, he hurls the massive rock, which comes crashing down on top of you and... Does absolutely nothing because you were 5 ft. beneath the surface of the pond."

Yeah, seems kinda silly doesn't it? :P


Just some IRL evidence about weapons going through water:

http://www.backwaterbowfishing.com/files/bowfishing_faq.htm (question 20)

"20. How deep can you shoot?

Probably 5-6 feet is about max with average bowfishing setups, some people will use stainless arrows for deeper shots, but you will lose a lot of fish at greater depths."

A thrown harpoon I would expect to be less effective than a modern compound bow and composite arrow. This isn't even taking into account an armored opponent, just a soft-scaled fish. Ever been to a test-fire range for firearms? All it takes is a 8' tunnel of water to slow down a bullet enough to be ineffective against a relatively thin (ie: not armor grade) sheet.

Also, NB that several questions discuss aiming - because of the refraction of light across a changed medium, objects aren't directly where you see them. It takes a good amount of practice to 'aim' into water.

After looking at RL effectiveness of shooting into water - I'd say that the PF/3.5 rules capture it pretty well. I may make a caveat that allows for thrown weapons into the first square of water (which would put a swimming, submerged humanoid target generally ~1ft from the surface), but it definitely wouldn't have any impact past that.


mege wrote:
A thrown harpoon I would expect to be less effective than a modern compound bow and composite arrow. This isn't even taking into account an armored opponent, just a soft-scaled fish. Ever been to a test-fire range for firearms? All it takes is a 8' tunnel of water to slow down a bullet enough to be ineffective against a relatively thin (ie: not armor grade) sheet.

The problem is, we aren't talking about 8' of water. Being submerged in 1/4" of water makes an enemy completely immune to attack, be it spear, bow, or gun. It doesn't matter if it is an armored knight, a fish, or a particularly soft bowl of pudding, it is utterly impossible to hit if you are standing on dry land.

mege wrote:
Also, NB that several questions discuss aiming - because of the refraction of light across a changed medium, objects aren't directly where you see them. It takes a good amount of practice to 'aim' into water.

Displaced by refraction of light? Sounds an awful lot like something that should be covered by concealment, not total cover. With concealment you still have a chance to hit, and could practice (take Blind-Fight or Improved Precise Shot) to get better at it. Modelling it with total cover, a level 20 Fighter who trained for nothing but fishing still wouldn't be able to do anything from the land.

mege wrote:
After looking at RL effectiveness of shooting into water - I'd say that the PF/3.5 rules capture it pretty well. I may make a caveat that allows for thrown weapons into the first square of water (which would put a swimming, submerged humanoid target generally ~1ft from the surface), but it definitely wouldn't have any impact past that.

You might want to add something that allows melee attacks into the water. Otherwise you will have the interesting situation where it is utterly impossible to spear a fish from land, unless you let go of the spear while you are doing it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

i just ran this encounter this weekend and it's a chaotic fight to say the least. My players were fighting above the water and below the water at times. I think it's safe to say if they never see another tentacle again they'll be giddy. the biggest word of warning I'd have is that the for us was all over the place. Unfortunately depth is something the map doesn't cover as well and we improvised fighting near the bottom of the water on more than one occasion.

With that said, it was a lot of fun. Our halfling druid got swallowed and was casting inside the Whale's mouth to kill it.


But remember, the PF characters are incredible. A decent level monk can fist fight a lion, something pretty well out of the realm of human ability. Characters can jump, without the aid of magic, 30 feet. And there's plenty more examples if you went looking.

While I very much agree that the rules emulate reality, it doesn't really hold up when you add in the fantastic. A higher level character that can solo trolls should really be able to spear fish, and a hill giant chucking man size rocks should get some kind of result as well.

Maybe for into or through water, your range increment drops to 5 feet, and you take a -2 penalty to damage (as well as to hit) per increment. That way stuff can travel a little bit, thrown weapons innately have a shorter maximum distance (since they have less range increments), and weapons like guns, throwing axes and the like are still less effective because of having damage types other than piercing ( -2 hit/ 1/2 damage).

Probably have a caveat that unless stated otherwise, you can't fire/throw/shoot when already submerged in water.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I houseruled a -2 per increment for the party gunslinger.


If in doubt, kill the rules and look at reality^^

Simply treat anything in the upper 5' of water as "partially submerged", hence not breaking the "thrown weapons are inneffective" ruling... Came up for us with the "cooking mate hunting turtles" occurence onboard the "Wormwood". Water is not deep enough to significantly slow the weapon.
Sometimes game-designers do simply not think far enough, because a situation is exotic.

Nevermind, I am wondering how Poseidon or any Merfolk is going to hurl his trident at an opponent...

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