Underwater Combat

Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

So, while playing a Pathfinder Society game, our party was involved with some underwater combat, and a few things came up. We were playing tier 3-4, and were of mixed but appropriate levels. We normally steamroll any and all PFS scenarios, but this one particular encounter was INSANELY hard for us.

Setup: We were in small boats, with 5 characters and an animal companion. We were attacked by sahuagin who approached from the water and then rocked our boats.

On page 432 of the PFRPG it states:

"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 Ref lex 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. Magical effects are unaffected except for those that require attack rolls (which are treated like any other effects) and fire effects."

So, basically what happens is that the entire party, if we are attacking from the boats are completely unable to hit the sahuagin because they have a +8 to their AC except for extreme lucky rolls. If we get into the water, because of rough water conditions, we need to make a DC 15 swim check in order to stay afloat/move.

We double checked the rules and they are unchanged from 3.5. In addition, if any underwater target is completely submerged, even under ONE INCH of water, they have total cover.

Basically, as far as we can tell, these rules seem very unreasonable. By the logic of the RAW, it is nearly impossible to spear a fish on the surface of the water (AC 27 +4 size, +8 cover, +3 dex). And if it's under 1 inch of water, it's IMPOSSIBLE to hit it. How do people spearfish? Seriously? How is it that if I say, throw a harpoon from the boat to hit a sahuagin it gets a +8 to AC, but if I jump in the water to poke it, I only get a -2 to attack? This seems just silly.

Has anyone else experienced these ridiculous problems with underwater combat?

Sovereign Court

I know of the encounter you are talking about and yeah it is rough. The following are general tactics not specific spoilers but for those that want to figure their own tactics out dont click

First off most characters know if they are going to fight on or over the water to tie off to the boat. Safety tip number one. Second Magic Missile and Summon animal/monster. Third our DM said the creatures could not rock the boats without exposing themselves. That allows at least one or two people to ready actions for when they attempt their attack. Fourth - we call it the Leroy Jenkins option or nuclear option. Everybody except the arcane casters dives in and just goes for it. Other good spells Animate Rope, Blindness, Fear, Bull Strength and then Grapple, Spiritual Weapon, Enlarge Person and grapple

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