Questions for underwater adventure

Homebrew and House Rules

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

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I've never run an entire adventure that was underwater before so to throw something different at the players, that's just what I'm gonna do.

This brings up a question or two though:

1. In the underwater section of Environments it says that weapons do half damage underwater. Does this half include all bonus damage or just base dice damage? I lean toward all damage due to the difficulty of attempting to swing something like a mace underwater, but the wording (to me, maybe I skipped something) is unclear. This would make piercing weapons top dog underwater, which I believe is the intent.

2. I looked at the terrains and hazards for underwater (in stormwrack), but other than Open Ocean I didn't see much that the characters would encounter in a giant underground lake (no beach, no corral reef,etc). I have thought of some rifts and fast flowing currents that could suck characters in, but other than that I need some good ideas for interesting terrain, any help would be great.


You can invent all sorts of odd underwater plants that can act as natural hazards.

And I'd say you half weapon and strength damage, but not precision or magic damage.

So a sneak attack with a longsword would get half damage on the D8, half the strength, but all the sneak attack dice unmitigated.

The Exchange

1- yes, all damage dealt with the weapon is halved including str, bonus, etc. although I don't believe elemental damage would be effected.

2- giant underground lakes are basically giant cave systems filled with water. For inspiration take a look at many different caves, perhaps some canyons that were formed by river movements, blue holes (google it for some cool images), and if you don't mind scaryish movies I would look at "The Cave" for some inspiration on underground/underwater caves and people dealing with them....not really a good accurate rendition but definitely usable in a fantasy RPG.
Hope that helps some....

The Exchange

Fleshgrinder wrote:

You can invent all sorts of odd underwater plants that can act as natural hazards.

And I'd say you half weapon and strength damage, but not precision or magic damage.

So a sneak attack with a longsword would get half damage on the D8, half the strength, but all the sneak attack dice unmitigated.

Sounds good too....

The Exchange

Just did a Yahoo! image search on underwater caves and take a look at all the yummy inspiration!

BTW, what do you intend to do with races to get them breathing underwater and such? I would love to hear more on how/what you are going to do to make an entire campaign ala aquatic because I would love to do so also.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Cool, those are very nice. I'm also now trying to find a copy of Sanctum at redbox, think that will probably have a few additional ideas.

I'm just running an adventure underwater, not a whole campaign, so unfortunately I cant help you there. I do hear that Cerulean Seas from Alluria is quite good though, it just goes a bit beyond the scope of what I'm looking for, rpgnow has the pdf for $10.

Also the characters are 13th and 14th level, they'll figure something out.

Don't forget you can always just take some mundane creature or trap and "reflavour" it for an underwater adventure.

Sure, maybe it's some sort of underwater weed known as "razorkelp", but it can act exactly as a mechanical blade trap, rules wise.


I ran several underwater encounters and found this product to be very helpful.

I used an adapted version of the level idea to simulate 3D combat and it worked out quite well. I limited it to 2 or 3 levels - enough to get the 3D feel without getting too complicated. I even made some stands out of spare plexiglass to "elevate" the creatures in upper levels on the battlemat. Everyone loved it.

You may want to convert/use some of the aquatic equipment from Stormwrack so any ranged combatants in the party aren't completely useless underwater.

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Here are some cool ideas:

Blue holes DEFINATELY. The imagery alone is incredible, and the idea that players will either have to walk around, swim over, or worse dive into such a forbidding darkness can be worked to great effect. The complete blackness of a deep blue hole would also provide justification for introducing abyssal (not as in Devils but what scientists call the deepest lightless oceans) type fish and creatures (things like angler fish and glowing jellies, things like that.

Here are video links that should inspire you:

(while the entire adventure doesn't/shouldn't have to be dark an abyssal -- making it a hinge-point or climax in the adventure will be cool. With pathfinders lovecraft-esque leanings, a lovecraftian abyssal lightless underwater zone is quite compelling.

Come up with some spurious or convincing reasons their magical or store-brought light is a bad idea, unless it is in a weak or muted form, and that will up the atmosphere. Add to the ecosystem some kind of prehistoric coelacanth (google it if you're not familiar) but put them on steroids. Basically fill the caves or the deep water with a small number of these apex predators that are attracted to NOTHING as much as light sources -- Make their CR too high to make the risk worth it and they'll either tone down their own light (give them info or let them discover a way to put the light inside a cage, film, or shutter that allows them to see SOME, but not as much as they'd like... if they do stuff that causes fireworks, they can expect to attract or stimulate those fish-monsters, so even if they're not going to show up instantly, they'll always be cautious. Telegraph to them that the adventure requires they DO NOT mess with those fish, or do so at their peril.

Once you have them in low light, introduce things that cut visibility -- think sargasso-sea type seaweed beds -- they can get entangled, and at the very least have their visibility cut... they can rise above the seaweed where permitted, but that will make them more visible to predators.

Include fluorescent lichen, glowing schools of fish, pulsating lantern-jellyfish -- They have light that is dim or evolved not to attract the nasty uber-fish (maybe the light is a specific color, like reddish/orange/yellow (in the actual deep ocean there are fish that light their way with red light, something about it being at longer end of the spectrum and particularly hard to pick up) This will enable you to spotlight certain areas by providing more light (and control light by explaining the light is coming from what particular organisms... the light could be as simple as fluorescent algae that free-flow with current or just hover around. By controlling the light you can lead them from one set-piece to the next, they will feel safest where they are able to see/fight, but you can always dangle another glowing location in the distance (and sometimes it's a trap, light an angler light in front of a gaping mouth. Perhaps the best sources of light are clouds of glowing jellies that are really really poisonous -- so you'll fight the best (consistent to-hit penalties that soften where you want them to be, either from harsh currents, or as I said, the low light issue with the alien environment and added pressure/weight from the water (which might get worse the deeper you go)

Remember that as it's own point -- Start the baseline with high penalties to do basic stuff the deeper and darker it gets. Then mitigate the negatives by discovering ways to counter them. (i.e., certain places have strong currents so that as long as you move in ONE direction, you get no penalty, or perhaps even bonuses (ever run with the wind at your back?) Turn around, and you're looking at CRUSHING negatives. There was game or story somewhere with lobster guys that were weak when the tide was low, but strong when the tide was high, as the tide bore the weight of their exoskeletons. This could also be a type of creature to add -- Even taking stock monsters and refacing them with these new traits or conditions could really spice things up, even if you have to fudge a little. Creatures like these could be a great way to dictate when/where the players go as well (say at night in an area the tides are very strong -- all signs and warnings (or a bad encounter) can tell you that the party should go exploring in the tide conditions that allow those lobster (or crawdad if they're closer to surface/shore) to fight well. Conversely, if they learn the time of day where those things are burdened and sluggish, that might be an obstacle or area puzzle in itself.

Some tunnels or open areas may have currents that run in both directions side by side, or one above the other, or in a swirl, or what have you. If you employ the whole bonus/malus for fighting with the current you can have exciting battles where the party is zipping back and forth or around and around, "dogfighting" with sea creatures, undersea humanoids, or rival diving parties. Flying or swim skills in the right amount could confer further bonuses, with perhaps by the end of the adventure some players missing their undersea powers. Never give them an edge over the creatures that live there though -- remember to keep them alien to the environment and on their toes.

Movement on a watery floor will kick up massive amounts of sand and silt -- so the faster the party moves, the more they cut their visibility, ESPECIALLY BEHIND THEM, which is where attackers in these environments like to come from. Creatures that move or strike quickly near the silt bed will likewise create cover for themselves (but will be adapted/used to it so it's just an advantage for them) -- even a school of small startled creatures or an uncaring large creature meandering above or past can destroy visibility, and in the case of currents or the wake of a large creature, characters can be whipped off course in the eddies. So picture this, a huge snake or whale or manatee thing goes cruising by... for a second or two everything seems normal, then a huge wall of kicked up silt blinds everyone and the whole party is scattered with the current. Does everyone have light? Is the lake/sea/cave-bed full of algae, seaweed, or craggy fingers of rock? Congrats, you've managed to separate everyone! Let the panic commence!

Just like light, you can use the strange environment to control temperature and even their level of aggression. In Hawaii there are places on the beach that are fed by both underground rivers, and geothermal activity -- creating places where the water is warm, but a few feet away the water can be quite cold coming up beneath your feet... add a little underwater lava or glowing cracks, and you have walls of cover/blinding bubbles, potentially poisonous gasses, and extreme heat. If the characters are using masks or lenses of some kind (or even a bubble) changes in temperature can cause the inside surface or vapor inside the "helmet" to fog up.

As for aggression, introduce to the ecosystem a very common/ubiquitous piranha type fish to this environment -- these fish might be unique to this ecosystem but they do VERY WELL here, so there are a lot of them. The fish are normally very docile, and the characters should get used to seeing a few of them everywhere... but the more blood in the water, either from their wounds, or the creatures they kill, will attract more and more of them. Smart players may use this as an advantage (try to bleed creatures so the piranha kill or drive them away) but more than anything even if the players are doing very well in combat, it will keep them restrained, because minute by minute, the bloodier the water, the more of these fish they'll see, and the more aggressive they become. (perhaps they prefer cold-blooded prey and in the first stages of swarming they only dart around and do a few points of damage -- but the fact remains, chained-underwater fireballs or bleeding everything in sight will cause a feeding frenzy -- warn the players that at that point having an open wound will likely and rapidly be fatal. This will also encourage players to heal even the smallest wounds, upsetting their balance and pacing for healing.

While we're at it, make the light-emanating algae very sensitive to positive clerical energy -- the "life" energy causes them to bloom, so reckless healing can bring the uber-fishes, or just more trouble... because the algae blooms basically look like flowering fireworks of light underwater, except they tend to linger. Perhaps some creatures are repelled by sudden light, but drawn to steady light. Mix it up. By the same account, Negative clerical energy will kill the algae, which could motivate your positive wielders to finally start using those "inflict" spells again... maybe the players can work light control to their advantage, or it will motivate dark clerics from casting too much less it darken the water (in the absence of strong currents) making their light strong enough by comparison to attract attention. Ie, "You didn't notice before, but the greenish hue to all the water is in part attributable to small concentrations of light-bearing algae flowing in the water... your negative energy is clearing a bubble (or trail) around your party, which is making your light stand out as a result... creatures may begin to take notice."

Sound should be big too. If you have a laptop or even your smartphone, you can cue up environmental water noises. Remind everyone there is normally no talking, so unless they have telepathy or some other fix they are going to be playing telephone with hand signals. Verbal components for spells might be an issue too.

Eels and Octopi have a habit of snaring unwary divers and holding them fast. This can be used to create drama in the chaos of battle, or make somebody regret not having a knife handy.

Think in 3 dimensions. Baddies should come from above and below as often as the sides. Characters that think and fight in 2 dimensions are going to have trouble -- exploit that.

CONTROL AIR. Don't allow them access to infinite breath under water spells -- have minerals present or high concentrations of light algae (remember the kind that bloom in response to cleric spells?) Have an "Anti-magic" effect when too many spells (especially arcane spells) are cast or in specific areas that make the easy means of sustained underwater breathing inefficient, or just damn scary in that they can suddenly get interrupted. Maybe rocky spires at the bottom of some areas are covered with the anti magical mineral (No, the players CAN'T take it with them or cultivate it elsewhere) so they have to stay close to the surface or in open water above the bottom, where they are more vulnerable to attack from all directions if they want to cast spells or magically breathe with impunity... but they'll want the cover of the lake/seabed. A million little critters in the ecosystem can't be wrong.

Consider chambers or areas covered with mollusks, snails, fish-eggs, whatever -- that move like a carpet all over the floor and walls. This could be disorienting. maybe certain creatures like these mollusks or plants have kaleidoscopic abilities, blinding or confusing characters, all sorts of stingy things paralyze their prey, and on earth we know that generally poisons designed to kill cold-blooded animals hundreds of times over are exponentially more lethal to warm blooded animals. The idea with floors covered with moving critters is that objects that drop (or are being searched for) are really hard to find in a carpet of slimy critters, especially if they might be confusing, or poisonous. Anytime a character is disarmed, be sure to consider the clouds of floating silt and the fact that it may become buried in mud or sand when it lands AS WELL as potentially travel in unsuspected directions with the current. hell, in certain places, dropping something should be equivalent to kissing it goodbye. Warn the party, locked gauntlet and recovery cords (and the problems they bring) will become popular.

Have a broad range of environments, and information relating to these environments should be paramount, with motive and reason to search for it provided by you. I have no idea as to the goal or the entities involved, but here are some ideas... One way to parse/feed information is perhaps this area was being researched by scholars/wizards/nobles/gnomes/whatever and They've been there longer (or brought or developed over time) research into the layout of the area, special threats (like the mega-coelacanth... megalacanth? or the piranhas, or the currents (maps of currents could be helpful, or tide schedules for areas, or characteristics of the algae, or things that repel certain plants or critters) -- maybe gnomes or wizards brought or developed superior devices or machines that will function like scuba tanks, or pressure suits, or current stabilizers, or mini-propellers, that make diving easier/safer/cooler -- but the devices need to be found (either by aquiring/taking them from the baddies/goodies/expensies who keep/give/sell them... maybe the devices are more easily acquired, but they are powered by something that is not effected by the anti-magic fields in the lake and undersea-cave environment... Whatever you decide it is, (a kind of spell component, gems, steampunk-esque batteries, there should never be enough of them. The players should always be scanning for signs of previous exploration, because when they find a sunken crate, or a rotting diver, or a rusting mask -- there is the possibility of finding more of whatever commodity lets them breathe, swim, fight, cast spells, whatever... better. I'd have the guys with the gear be long dead in my adventure because you don't want influential or rich characters kitting out -- you want the stuff to be special treats to aspire to find and only by the end of the adventure will they have all that they need -- Maybe have a zone which was an underwater dried-out habitat, magic or pumps or just natural phenomenon made an ideal place for a faction of previous aspirants to your adventure goal used, or where these scholars/gnomes/dwarves/whatever hid out and developed their equipment. So... as environments we've got:

The lakeshore/lakebed -- here you can have some adventuring on dry or semi-dry land, the party may glean hints or information on the shoreline about ideal dive-sites or the safest places to wade into the lake. Clams that slam like bear traps are a cool shore obstacle, as are ambush predators like alligators, cayman, and the like. Creatures that are docile unless disturbed could be a point of concern (hippo, aggressive manatee, etc) Perhaps here the players can learn about the previous explorers of this environment (if you are going with the scholar/gnome diver idea) or that another party or faction is planning (or already is) starting their own dive operation to achieve the objective first. Perhaps you can give them info/map of where a series of buoys are located which will set them on the right track (wandering aimlessly in the lake going to make progressing difficult or impossible for reasons I'll suggest) -- the buoys are easy to find if you know where to look, but just wandering around the shore you might only find one or two and only if you passed good perception checks, etc -- but that could also loop them into the idea that they should be looking for information, or particular sites to dive. Maybe even have one or two of the bouys reported as having sunk, or failed to inflate at the bottom of the lake, making finding them without the map hard or impossible. The various dive sites will have more clues/info/gear/points of interest that the party can use to advance the plot and get to the next area -- The bottom of the lakebed has a series of "Blue Holes" -- only one or two of which safely integrate into a complex underwater cave and tunnel network -- of the remaining holes (not too many but enough to make guessing foolish) a couple of them are just deep dark holes with nasty fish and critters in them (like the lobster guys, or prehistoric fishes, or giant worm things, or forests of anemone or urchin things, whatever -- maybe one of the holes actually has a reason to explore it (a wreck, a creature with a treasure horde) so if they happen upon that it's a bonus -- but a few of the Holes are "Spill-holes" -- Think of them as a kind of drain they have on dams that doesn't let ALL the water out, but keeps the water level from rising over the dam -- they are basically underwater waterfalls shunting all the water that underground rivers are feeding into the lake. For the players, they are basically a one-way ticket to hell -- (insane currents, whirlpool like drain action, and patches of anti magic are sure to drown the characters or lose them hopelessly beneath the earth. The point is, you don't want to GUESS which hole take you further -- perhaps you find enough old dive info to locate the right holes, perhaps you stage battles with rivals or critters that force enemies into the spillways and eliminate which ones are bad. But the bouy markers are a great idea to lead the players to only dive in certain spots where they might otherwise feel free to sweep hex-by-hex until they find the next place to go. The bouys closer to shore would have fields of reeds or extremely muddy ground as an environment, and you can introduce all kind of strange beasties there too (there are spiders that spin "diving bells" out of silk with which they drag large bubbles on their abdomens to both breathe while they hunt underwater, and to fill their underwater lairs with air so they can hide in relative safety. A set piece for this area could be a nest or community of such spiders -- picture a forest of reeds of blades of grass all serving as support structure for small and large networks of silken egg-chambers. Maybe some of the dead divers (or whatever info or objects you need in this first environment) have been taken by the spiders (either because they were on the corpses of stuff they found tasty, or they make alluring noises, or they're just damn shiny. Maybe nasty underwater/amphibious humanoids use these spiders as thralls or to make their houses, it's just a cool idea for a spot. For the marked (but uninflected bouy location, maybe you could encourage the party to spread out (or even split up) while they comb the lakebed in the general area for the bouy -- the person finding it can fix it (the balloon that inflates it is tangled, and simple to fix) once the bouy goes up perhaps those closest can see it, or anybody checking the surface periodically will see it marking the important location. Perhaps it marks a shallower/small network of dry caves which can serve as a base-camp for the party for the time they remain in this area and perhaps until an appropriate spot is found in the cave network to camp and sleep and re-memorize spells. Which leads to another interesting idea -- controlling rest. Exploring and collecting maps/info/clues can tell of numerous spots where the party can rest, store treasure (weight adds up and gets progressively hard to get to the surface -- perhaps one of the bouy sites has supplies including a couple of extra, heavy-duty bouys -- the party can not only use these to mark certain spots -- but if they are creative they can use them as a kind of "quick escape to the surface" (inflate and fly away!) or when they get into the tunnel network under the lake, these bouys are the only way to send heavy objects (like all the swag) back up to the surface... then there's the question of making sure rivals or opportunists don't steal it once it's dangling from a chain just under the surface, with a flag marking it's presence! Another cool critter for the shoreline could be snapping turtles, bottom feeding catfish (that hide and strike from buried mud holes) and there are species of flies who have larval stages that are waterborne -- some of which are quite aggressive in that stage even if the flies they become are docile. Giant Waterborne Fly-Pupae are sneaky, virtually transparent, and blend in perfectly with the glassy water's surface. Not a bad enemy, even if it's just a curiosity for one encounter... or perhaps go all out and an area of the shore is full of them, below the surface there are hordes of biting giant fly larvae, and the surface is full of the grown flies, hostile and noisy.

I've spoke at great length about the tunnel area, but I mention it here again as a part in the progression. The players can have numerous adventures and encounters winding through dead ends, deep grottos, and in certain places there might be bubbles of trapped air in some of the larger chambers -- perhaps fed by cracks up to the surface. You can lead the party to them by telling them of rays of natural light coming down into certain locations. One or two areas may lead to actual (relatively) dry tunnel areas, which will certainly be places to camp, but may also contain info/clues as to the next direction to look for to get beyond the tunnels and into the "Undersea" -- basically a huge underwater lake beneath the cave system (perhaps the party discovers that the cave system is actually naturally formed by gas or steam bubbles that percolated up from the lightless underwater lake-sea during periods of volcanic activity at the lake-bottom, or maybe that remains a mystery. If you are going with the idea that there is a rival party or team competing with the players, have an epic fight over the one ideal place to rest in the caves before the tunnels into the undersea. As I mentioned above if you wanted to include the special diving gear (or even if you don't) perhaps there is an item in this last dry cave that is needed to survive in the undersea -- maybe it's an orb that protects from the crushing pressure, of the insane and alternating extremes of deep cold and volcanic boiling... but if you need a climax for this area, have that dry camping area (it could be a single chamber where the bad guys make their camp) or a sunken city half-flooded that vanished beneath the earth in an earthquake. There could be a whole adventure in that area alone, to locate the device that allows access to the undersea, and there could be treasure and lovecraftian cthulu nasties... whatever. If you want to be really cruel, have the orb or whatever it is be some kind of natural thing they saw but didn't think much near the start of the caves, or if you really want to be a jerk, have it be broken into pieces, several of which the party has already seen as notable but seemingly unimportant features of previous setpeices, but they didn't bother to gather them. Ie, "The entrance to this passage is almost half-way occluded by some barnacle-covered black-steel object, it's jammed in place but it you might have seem similar bits of this thing at the bottom of the blue-hole into this area." you get the idea, it's probably a bad one though. Better to make it the prize for wrecking a tribe of underwater lizard-guys (who are Tough to beat if you don't fight them in the un-flooded part of the sunken city unless you've already learned how to fight with the tides) -- if you are really going large the final cave/sunken city can be it's very own area, but you have to pass the pit into the undersea to get there.

So the Undersea is the third (or fourth) environment, and like I explained the theme we're going with is "lightless ocean" -- "Abyssal" but not in the devil sense... at least not entirely. This is where you get WILD and WEIRD on them (The flash video above is a great jump-off point for the kind of weirdness you could put in this area) -- basically to make sure everyone stays together (getting lost in the infinite dark would mean certain death however long or short it took) the item that protects from the pressure, or is the only reliable source of light, or is the fizbin of fortune, you get the point... everyone has to stay within a 100 feet of THAT, or they're lost in the black and if they're lucky, the party MIGHT find them again, but probably not. The infinite dark is not a place to split up to cover more ground -- paradoxically you will be able to make it a cramped and claustrophobic area... Think "Space walk" -- every time a tether is slipped or a current or blow sends somebody flying, somebody, maybe everybody, will have to move the device/swim together/whatever to enact a rescue. Possible points of interest (besides the inspiration from the abyssal flash) could include:

1) An area that is just a HUGE top of a pulsating jellyfish. The players can walk along it like it was an island, and the relatively well-lit gloom of it's surface may make a decent initial base of operations (you can camp/meditate here -- perhaps a dome-like structure in the middle has airlock-like valves in it, with airtight chambers some large enough for one or two people to sleep in. (maybe just one so spell casters have to decide who gets to rememorize spells in what order rather than normally all camping and re-memoing at once. The island jelly moves constantly through the blackness, and might be a vehicle for the GM to introduce additional points of interest rather than compelling the party to explore what would seem to be endless darkness and certain death. Maybe the Jelly at once point catches some gigantic Gar or eel (we're talking multiple buses long), which upon closer inspection was caught by the Island Jelly that is dwarfed by it... because it has impossibly large bites taken out of it. The party may decide that this could be a whole other dimension, that Golarion could never support an ecosystem this huge and alien, and nobody know about it... perhaps it's a kind of world between worlds, the sea tainted by Elder forces and trans-dimensional horror. Anyway -- the jellyfish Stops drifting at a location where another setpeice/area can be seen from, glowing in the distance, or perhaps clumsily bumped up against. It could be an area (a temple, a structure of a particular shape, a vessel) that the party had already heard about in the previous areas, or was searching for all along -- I especially like the idea of a vessel -- a kind of sub or golem-like construct, or submersible mini-fort (whatever doesn't break your theme but we'll call it a sub and maybe it is) perhaps, that was able to access the undersea by way of the spillways perhaps without being destroyed (or perhaps if you don't want the players to repair it, or let them down at the end of their jury-rigging it when information is found that yes it got here by way of the spillway, but the design was not up to the task -- the crew were all killed and the vessel wrecked in the spillway itself, and it would never (even if they fixed it) allow them to escape in it -- but if you're generous, you might enable them to refurbish it -- perhaps it can be sea-worthy for a very brief time only -- it has some kind of powerful torpedo weapon also... perhaps it CAN be fixed, but it lacks something important that would have to be found. This could offer a side-quest where there might be an impossibly huge baddie, or a dark pyramid of evil that wishes to rise to the surface on a tide of molten lava and enslave human/elf/dwarf/whateverkind -- and they have a device (if it's a monster the device is sticking out of a wound from a previous battle with the sub (maybe it's a propeller part from an unexploded torpedo, or a power source tethered to a giant harpoon) -- in any case the big nasty black eyeless (or eye-covered) nightmare has to be stopped, and the best way to do it is to fix the sub, and in the brief time it will keep working (keep pumping flooding water out, won't explode, generates air, doesn't implode, etc) the sub can be used to kill the giant baddie -- maybe the baddie below a certain depth is attracted to the emanations of the undersea diving device... and it circles beneath it ominously and makes threatening passes at a certain distance, but the party knows it has to confront the thing to get further along.

The Sub Vessel could be a mini area in itself, perhaps haunted by ghosts or dimensionally warped aberration-transformed crew that are now violent, or perhaps just tortured and can be snuck past or bargained with, tricked, whatever. But they need to be dealt with. By the end of the vessel mission, the party should know that the vessel can be made temporarily sea-worthy, but only if a replacement part can be found or repaired. Perhaps the water surrounding the vessel (and inside the flooded chambers before the pumps are manually or magically restored to remove the floodwater) is a cloud of floating debris -- the hold for the vessel was smashed open, and the cloud of debris is full of floating garbage, wood, light metals, a mini-nightmare ecosystem living on the floating bodies and foodstuffs -- there could be treasure, and supplies in the 'cargo cloud' as well -- some of the crates may have spare parts to jury-rig the vessel as explained above... but in a particularly distinct box is a manifest, which lists that the part needed was in the hold, (but it's not in the cloud) -- perhaps the party will find it (and they might) but they won't find it here. A great way to end this part of the mission would be for the party to realize from the vessel's helm (now that they know they won't be piloting the vessel) that the "Island-Jelly" they found at the start of their terrifying undersea nightmare is moving away, Stranding them! -- the gar thing it was eating has now attracted all manner of little (or huge) nasties the party wants no part of -- perhaps a huge swarm-school of sharks, perhaps a giant reptilian arm, perhaps just something more mainstream from the bestiary... but that jelly is their ride -- The party should have a tense race back through part of the sub (perhaps leaving through the hole in the hold) and racing to grab onto or swim up to one of the dangling tentacles of the island jelly as it drifts up and away from the vessel. Perhaps play up the darkness of the undersea being all-consuming the farther the jelly gets away. Perhaps the characters can glance HUGE or swarming awful horrors almost just beyond their personal light... just let them know they're dead if they miss the train. As some people know, a jelly is safe to touch from above, but it is ridiculously dangerous from below, with it's hanging tentacles. The characters will have to mantle up the jelly's tentacles, avoiding harpoon-like stinging cells that drift all around them -- paralyzing them if they're hit and fail their saves. Meanwhile, Some of the creatures that were eating the gar (or perhaps the underside of the jelly just has it's own ecosystem of scavengers or parasite organisms that sustain themselves off of what the Island-jelly kills -- these guys are extremely hostile to the characters as they either represent swirling bits of food they are used to eating, or are perceived as unwelcome interlopers into the tentacle-forest where they hide in safety from other nasties. Basically have it be a struggle to travel up, perhaps the larger tentacles have Rings or disc-like structures where the party can stand and fight as they ascend... and if anybody gets paralyzed let there be a panicked rescue to dive back down before they disappear. Getting back onto the jelly allows the party to continue to float on to the next point of interest.

Perhaps it is another Island-Jelly (or similar organic floating plant or amoeba or animal of a type that would interest the party), floating in the darkness with a structure or structures on it (an area somehow of significance to the mission, or perhaps there is a last survivor or survivors of the diving expedition or rivals who have given up and found or built shanties here -- perhaps there are alien-esque deep humanoids who are willing to trade and shelter the players -- Masked masses of ink or tentacles that greet and bid farewell with the phrase "Give my regards to Katapesh" -- something funky like that -- besides, if the party has been looting they probably want to sell, buy and refurb by now, if they hadn't made a habit of it at the end of previous areas. Perhaps they have and sell the parts needed for the sub, and can explain how to get to the bottom of the undersea (past the giant beastie that seems attracted to the party or it's life support) -- maybe this is enough adventure to justify conditions being met to progress to the last environment, maybe right about now you think your players have had enough and will hang it up. But just in case, maybe the last area you're instructed to find beyond the fish beastie -- the only thing that can take you anywhere in the infinite blackness and have you expect to get anywhere (we've established by now that this is a quasi-dimension and the lightless sea may be infinite) is the Mythical Leviathan, one of the divine creatures of Lamashtu that, like the Terrasque, is prophesied to be waiting to be unleashed to devour the world. It might also be a groovy point at this juncture to have the rivals you might have been competing with or the last surviving dive scholars who you discover here, team up with the party, join forces, whatever. You don't have to go that route, but considering the party may be the only folks this deep with any hope left of leaving, they may at least get asked... failing that, perhaps you're asked to take documents of their adventure with you in the hopes you can get them back to the pathfinder society, but they've given up. You're basically tasked with finding the leviathan, and performing some kind of ritual or using an item on it.

The town in the undersea may sell, trade or give the devices necessary for the party to finally (surpringly) swim, move, and breathe at this depth as they might have expected to when all this began. Perhaps getting to leviathan is as simple as defending a spire below the city-structure, perhaps the party has to swim or mantle down through various floating debris/animals/environments -- a gigantic slowly plummeting bubble, an undead whale with a ghostly inn glowing on the floor of it's gaping mouth (populated by all manner of folks who died in the undersea, though the strange "haunt" of the inn keeps them from realizing this as a result of frequent short-term memory loops... usually by the time one of them realizes they're dead and the illusion of the never-ending party and carousing fades they quickly forget before they can do more than concern or scare a few other ghosts nearby... there is a risk of the party falling for the glamour of the haunt as well, the more they partake of the comforts of the surface, the more convinced they become. Finally, beneath one of these last few obstacles, they can see the leviathan swimming beneath them. I'm sure you can fill in the blanks, maybe there's a magical staircase, maybe there's a boss fight, maybe they have to swim for it -- if you've had an evil recurring character, perhaps HE has been ahead of the party the entire time, and he does his laughing monologue about how you're too late, and he's awakening leviathan for the glory of Lamashtu and haahhaahhahahah (it snaps him up and eats him) ... maybe there is a fight with him and his minions on the lip or the jaws of the beast, with the villain or his minions falling into the swirling wood-chipper of the leviathans jaws. Maybe I should have introduced the bad guy sooner. In any case, with the boss dead or the appropriate item/ritual fizbin performed on leviathan he defends to the bottom of the undersea... the volcanic floor.

Look up "Black smokers" and you can get ideas for the lightless, airless darkest bottom of our sea floor for ideas. Think NOTHING has eyes. Nothing needs them. Enormous dead creatures are constantly drifting to the bottom in various states of decay, like a graveyard of ships, but for skeletons and rotting carcasses. The sea boils with crabs and worms that eat the carrion, and magma glows from cracks in the earth. Pools of frozen methane run into intersecting paths of magma making storms of burning and boiling underwater gas. A living nightmare.

It's down there that the final location, item, objective is. It could be a city, or a pyramid, or just the base of a crater. The person starting this thread never suggested what it might be. Perhaps it's the first city of the Aboleth, but within it is the object of the parties desire, and perhaps some means to get home. (portal, the objective itself, deus ex machine, etc.) ...

...But does that give you any ideas? :D

Volcanic rift, Abyssal

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Well, thanks for the many many ideas there, vicon, the volcanic vents are something I hadnt considered at all, even though I was certainly aware of their existence.

I already had an abyssal type area in mind with things like angler fish and other oddities. Very dark indeed as a large subterranean sea would be.

I also came up with a few other areas I thought would be unique:

-Schools of fish being pursued by predators

-A feeding frenzy area around the corpse of a whale or something large

-An area of open water around a large fungus called a Seastar that produces vast amounts of luminescence to attract food

-A junkyard so to speak from all the refuse of the humanoid races (they live in a relatively confined area). This area would provide both food and shelter for many animals.

-An estuary (if you could call it that) where the freshwater "lake" contacts the saltwater "sea" and causes all kinds of dangerous currents.

Liberty's Edge

You might want to check out The Sunken Pyramid from Raging Swan when it comes out :)

Liberty's Edge

I thought do a little thread necromancy and pop in to let everyone know the Sunken Pyramid adventure from Raging Swan is now out! :)

Marc Radle wrote:
I thought do a little thread necromancy and pop in to let everyone know the Sunken Pyramid adventure from Raging Swan is now out! :)

Do you get paid by commission?

Liberty's Edge

Distant Scholar wrote:
Marc Radle wrote:
I thought do a little thread necromancy and pop in to let everyone know the Sunken Pyramid adventure from Raging Swan is now out! :)
Do you get paid by commission?

Hmmm ... I'm not sure I understand the question ...

A Nautilus, a squid with a shell, sees a light and thinks it's tasty fish. It arrives to see a party of big, scary, adventurers, and it releases the ink. The poor critter jets away while the GM ROTFL.

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