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Underwater Combat and Kineticists


Rules Questions


Scenario: Three hypothetical kineticists are each 60 ft. underwater and have Water Breathing.

Kineticist Alpha is a telekineticist and uses Telekinetic Blast to deal piercing physical damage to a creature 30 ft. away. They then try to use Greater Self Telekinesis to attempt to move underwater.

Kineticist Beta is an aerokineticist and uses Electric Blast to deal electricity energy damage to a creature 30 ft. away. They then try to use Wings of Air to attempt to fly as per the Fly spell underwater.

Kineticist Gamma is a hydrokineticist and uses Water Blast to deal bludgeoning physical damage to a creature 30 ft. away.

Q1: Do ranged kineticist blasts suffer -2 on attack rolls for every 5 ft. of water they pass through?

Q2: Does this penalty, if any, differ between physical or energy blasts?

Q3: Does Water Blast suffer -2 on attack rolls and deal half damage on hit due to being bludgeoning?

Q4: Can a telekineticist use Greater Self Telekinesis underwater to move? Is there any Fly or Swim check associated with this movement?

Q5: Can an aerokineticist use Wings of Air underwater to move? Is there any Fly or Swim check associated with this movement?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Pretty sure it's been said by developers that you can't fly underwater. That's called swimming, and is covered by the rules for swimming, not flying.


Under 'Attacks from Land' there's this sentence: 'Magical effects are unaffected except for those that require attack rolls (which are treated like any other effects) and fire effects.'

Which implies that magical effects do take the -2/5' attack penalty, and that the combat adjustments underwater table applies too. Energy magical effects can ignore the latter because they aren't mentioned there but not the former.

RAW it looks like a water blast is a terrible idea underwater. Sane GMs may take pity on a hydrokineticist who assumed otherwise.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It IS quite stupid that a hydrokineticist is at their weakest when fighting while surrounded on all sides by water...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
technarken wrote:
It IS quite stupid that a hydrokineticist is at their weakest when fighting while surrounded on all sides by water...

RAW perhaps, but I don't think this is intended. Game developers have been quite clear that kineticists can both conjure up new matter AND manipulate existing matter. If the hydrokinetist is manipulating the existing water around himself and his target to blast his enemy, I just can't see him taking penalties for it.

Hard to say the water is interfering with your attack when it's the water you're attacking with!


I ran into this issue a while ago when i was setting up my Undine Hydrokineticist (i took an alternate trait to become amphibious/aquatic).

Technically there is no mechanic to allow any creature, including fish, to get around the underwater combat rules (sans magic). I once tried to argue that having the aquatic subtype would do it but its not actually a property of that subtype and so i was shot down.

Here is the only thing said on the subject:

GameMastery Guide pg. 214 wrote:

The rules presented in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook for underwater combat apply to creatures not native to this dangerous environment, such as most PCs. For extended aquatic adventures or for particularly deep explorations, PCs will doubtless need to use magic to continue their adventures. Water breathing is of obvious use, while endure elements can help with temperature. Pressure damage can be avoided entirely with effects such as freedom of movement. Polymorph spells are perhaps the most useful in water, though, if the form assumed is aquatic in nature.

Natural Adaptation: Any creature that has the aquatic subtype can breathe water easily and is unaffected by water temperature extremes that are found in that creature’s typical environment. Aquatic creatures and creatures with the hold breath ability are much more resistant to pressure damage; they do not suffer damage from pressure unless they are moved instantaneously from one depth to another in the blink of an eye (in which case they adapt to the pressure change after successfully making five successive Fortitude saves against the pressure effects).

Because "The rules presented in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook for underwater combat apply to creatures not native to this dangerous environment" is not actually the same as saying "creatures with the aquatic subtype" any creature with the aquatic subtype who deals bludgeoning or slashing damage will still take the -2 to attacks (creatures like Aboleths, Ahuizotl, Merrow, Sahuagin, and Scrag Trolls).

I am pretty pedantic usually but this one is too stupid for me, i house rule it to be equivalent at every opportunity. However this does seem to be RAW so here you go.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I believe that Mark Seifter commented on a plan to add a line to Hydrokineticist's water blast about ignoring underwater penalties, since they should be the best at it.


I would imagine most GMs would readily declare a hydrokineticists blast works just fine. An official response would be cool for PFS, but I guess its a pretty niche topic.

@Ridiculon:

Underwater Combat wrote:
Land-based creatures can have considerable difficulty when fighting in water. Water affects a creature's attack rolls, damage, and movement. In some cases a creature's opponents might get a bonus on attacks. The effects are summarized on Table: Combat Adjustments Underwater. They apply whenever a character is swimming, walking in chest-deep water, or walking along the bottom of a body of water.

My take has always been that aquatic creatures are not land-based to begin with and as such the table doesn't apply. It is ambigious regarding player characters because the rules tend to assume average members of the core races to describe stuff, but I'd still say the first sentence should be enough to exclude an aquatic undine from the penalties.


technarken wrote:
It IS quite stupid that a hydrokineticist is at their weakest when fighting while surrounded on all sides by water...

The hydrokineticist creates water inside a field of water. There should be reduced capabilities. It's the opposite of stupid actually.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Except they don't have to create water inside of water, they can just use the existing water. This is fully supported by all the developers who have anything to do with the kineticists.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

From the newly released Aquatic Adventures:

Attacks that deal bludgeoning damage by pushing water, such as a kineticist’s water blast, also take no penalty and deal full damage underwater.

:D


Aye, I've been awaiting this release with interest, since the underwater combat rules were so sparse. Time to get reading!


Ravingdork wrote:

From the newly released Aquatic Adventures:

Attacks that deal bludgeoning damage by pushing water, such as a kineticist’s water blast, also take no penalty and deal full damage underwater.

:D

Hmm. Can a telekineticist use water as his object for his attacks?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Melkiador wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

From the newly released Aquatic Adventures:

Attacks that deal bludgeoning damage by pushing water, such as a kineticist’s water blast, also take no penalty and deal full damage underwater.

:D

Hmm. Can a telekineticist use water as his object for his attacks?

I would certainly allow it in my games. They can throw rocks. Why not water too?


Basis Telekinesis explicitly allows you to shape out of aether a container to transports liquids, so I don't see why you couldn't make an aether cone filled with water and hit people with it.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
Melkiador wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

From the newly released Aquatic Adventures:

Attacks that deal bludgeoning damage by pushing water, such as a kineticist’s water blast, also take no penalty and deal full damage underwater.

:D

Hmm. Can a telekineticist use water as his object for his attacks?
I would certainly allow it in my games. They can throw rocks. Why not water too?

That's an interesting thought, particularly since I'm considering playing through an upcoming underwater PFS scenario with my Telekineticist.

This brings up something that I've seen touched on but I haven't seen it explored. A telekineticist uses his kinetic blast to throw objects at people. It's a ranged attack clearly, but do you use the range and direction of attack based on the TK himself or from the object that is being thrown? This has implications for cover. I have always assumed the former, and it's the way I've always played it for the sake of simplicity. But it can change how cover is calculated if you use the position of the object. I think that's what the Snake infusion is for.

The above question also has implications specific to underwater combat. If I can throw an object (or a mass of water) at someone from a square adjacent to them do I only take a -2 penalty even though I'm 30 feet away? Or am I taking the entire -12, no matter what I throw? Or if I'm throwing a mass of water, do I not take penalties at all, just like a hydrokineticist?

I think I'd be taking -12 no matter what, but I could be persuaded otherwise.

Either way I'll have to talk to the GM about it and see how he's going to run it, and that may impact who I bring to the game.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

I'd allow a sphere of water to be the item hurled, but since it's entirely encased in ether strands, it wouldn't get the no penalty underwater that a water blast enjoys.

Paizo Employee Designer

Imbicatus wrote:
I'd allow a sphere of water to be the item hurled, but since it's entirely encased in ether strands, it wouldn't get the no penalty underwater that a water blast enjoys.

I was slightly leaning towards Imbicatus's thoughts. On the other hand, you can just bring a lot of little piercing items to at least avoid some of the penalties.


That actually makes me wonder- A telekineticist can use, say, a straight pin wrapped in aether as ammunition, and yet:

Quote:
kinetic blasts always deal full damage to swarms of any size

So if I'm using a tiny pin to hurt people with (because they're small, inexpensive, can be concealed on your clothes, and will avoid underwater penalties) how am I able to damage swarms with it? Do I just zip that thing back and forth a lot or is actually the aether that's doing the damage and it just needs something to anchor to, or do I charge the item with aether and it then explodes a la Gambit and playing cards?


PossibleCabbage wrote:

That actually makes me wonder- A telekineticist can use, say, a straight pin wrapped in aether as ammunition, and yet:

Quote:
kinetic blasts always deal full damage to swarms of any size
So if I'm using a tiny pin to hurt people with (because they're small, inexpensive, can be concealed on your clothes, and will avoid underwater penalties) how am I able to damage swarms with it? Do I just zip that thing back and forth a lot or is actually the aether that's doing the damage and it just needs something to anchor to, or do I charge the item with aether and it then explodes a la Gambit and playing cards?

I would guess the latter, since the object takes full blast damage.


Imbicatus wrote:
I'd allow a sphere of water to be the item hurled, but since it's entirely encased in ether strands, it wouldn't get the no penalty underwater that a water blast enjoys.

In aether or not, it's still pushing water inside as required for dealing damage underwater.

I'm more curious about tk blast being used on objects right next to the target. It doesn't feel like that should suffer range penalties, since the blast doesn't actually originate from you.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

That actually makes me wonder- A telekineticist can use, say, a straight pin wrapped in aether as ammunition, and yet:

Quote:
kinetic blasts always deal full damage to swarms of any size
So if I'm using a tiny pin to hurt people with (because they're small, inexpensive, can be concealed on your clothes, and will avoid underwater penalties) how am I able to damage swarms with it? Do I just zip that thing back and forth a lot or is actually the aether that's doing the damage and it just needs something to anchor to, or do I charge the item with aether and it then explodes a la Gambit and playing cards?

I think it's the aetheric energy that does the damage, rather than the object it's anchored to. I would assume that the pin would simply be the delivery system.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm of the same mind as GTW. It's the aether that's doing the damage. Whether or not those strands of aether are effected by water is something the developers will have to decide upon.


Ravingdork wrote:
I'm of the same mind as GTW. It's the aether that's doing the damage. Whether or not those strands of aether are effected by water is something the developers will have to decide upon.

Didn't you even read what Mark said? If the strands are anchored to a piercing object, you to ignore the penalties, otherwise, you don't.


I don't think it's ever specified that you have to use a piercing object to do piercing damage. I always assumed the choice of slashing, piercing or bludgeoning had to do with the shape of the strands of aether.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah, I think Melkiador has it right. The damage type is based on user choice, not the object in question.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

I agree with Melkiador - there is a way to use the object instead of aether - the blast says so - but you just do normal throwing damage (using your con modifier instead of strength if strength would apply) and you take non-weapon proficiency and it does improvised weapon damage unless it's a weapon you have proficiency in.

So you *can* throw a bunch of daggers like this - but it's not even close to optimal - I think it has applications if you want to pierce DR or use an enchanted weapon for a specific type of foe.


Everyone says "the second part of telekinetic blast is for piercing DR and such" but how much better are you honestly likely to do with your 1d8 cold iron longsword versus your 1.5(4d6 + 4 + ConMod) empowered TK blast at level 7?

I guess that's a thing you could do effectively at very low levels?


This is likely irrelevant given Mark's comments as well as the quoted entry in Aquatic Adventures, but I hadn't blinked at the idea that a hydrokineticist would be weaker when engaged in combat 100% underwater...

I was just at the beach yesterday (bear with me). When you are standing up, waist deep in the ocean, and a wave crashes down on you- the impact is far greater than if you were to duck fully underwater. The same wave is passing you at the same speed and with the same volume of water. GRanted, even when submerged fully, the wave may still push you just as far (bull rush), but it doesn't hurt you when it rushes past, in the same wayit does when you are mostly out of the water.

That said - I do agree that there should be no attack penalties for the "ranged", as the kineticist can just manipulate the water right there around the target, and not need to push water that is beside him, through all of the intermediate liquid. additionally, the -2 penalty per 5' is supposed to apply to "ranged weapons" other than "thrown weapons" Is a kinetic blast even actually considered a "ranged weapon"?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:

Everyone says "the second part of telekinetic blast is for piercing DR and such" but how much better are you honestly likely to do with your 1d8 cold iron longsword versus your 1.5(4d6 + 4 + ConMod) empowered TK blast at level 7?

I guess that's a thing you could do effectively at very low levels?

Well - assuming that telekinetic blast is your second element and you aren't overcoming DR... then assume a DR 15 you might be better off slinging the +5 acid burst greatsword of whatever bane ...

I mean I gotta be honest anytime I try to justify it - I end up having to really twist to find a situation it'd be useful. I would kill for some kind of talent/utility that took the size of your object into account - I mean it's not everyday you can find 3 ton boulders to toss - when you do they should do more damage :)


PossibleCabbage wrote:

Everyone says "the second part of telekinetic blast is for piercing DR and such" but how much better are you honestly likely to do with your 1d8 cold iron longsword versus your 1.5(4d6 + 4 + ConMod) empowered TK blast at level 7?

I guess that's a thing you could do effectively at very low levels?

Replace that d8 sword with a colossal cold iron butchers axe and ask the question. The ability doesn't care if it's a human sized weapon or not.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Butchering axes deals 3d6 damage at medium size.

That means that...

3d6 > 4d6 > 6d6 > 8d6 >

...12d6 damage at colossal size.

Now, who are you going to have make it for you? And more importantly, how much will it cost?

Paizo Employee Designer

Don't forget this part from telekinetic blast, which could be difficult for big weapons:

Quote:
if the object is a weapon, you must be proficient with it and able to wield it with one hand

If you don't meet that requirement, you deal generic improvised weapon damage instead of the weapon's specific damage.

The loose strands option is usually not going to be better than a normal telekinetic blast past level 5 or so; it's one reason why the initial telekinetic blast didn't even allow it, but the playtesters found some corner cases where it was better and convinced me to add it as an option.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Well, if you get you hands on a +1 flaming frost shock acid merciful holy human bane weapon it might be worth using loose strands at higher levels.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber Subscriber

If you use it with a vicious weapon - would it still do damage to you?

Honestly if you could iterative with it - I could see it having a niche.


Mark Seifter wrote:
Don't forget this part from telekinetic blast, which could be difficult for big weapons:
Quote:
if the object is a weapon, you must be proficient with it and able to wield it with one hand

If you don't meet that requirement, you deal generic improvised weapon damage instead of the weapon's specific damage.

The loose strands option is usually not going to be better than a normal telekinetic blast past level 5 or so; it's one reason why the initial telekinetic blast didn't even allow it, but the playtesters found some corner cases where it was better and convinced me to add it as an option.

Ah, I forgot the one handed part: though I'm not exactly sure why it needs to be there. At best it seems competitive so I can't figure out why it's relegated to corner cases... Size, though, is easy enough up to huge. [need some out of class help to get past huge].

Ravingdork wrote:
Now, who are you going to have make it for you? And more importantly, how much will it cost?

LOL You 'borrow' one from a colossal creature! That's the way I've always don't it when I needed weapons to toss with telekinesis.

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