Underwater Combat and the Woefully Unprepared Party


Background: So I've recently started a one shot that has turned into a weekly game, because of this I've kinda been playing fast and loose and have missed a few things they they did that they shouldn't have but also missed some stuff my mobs could have done but didn't, I also opted not to TPK them last week, but it would've been really easy. Anyway started the party at 9th, they've all achieved 10th now. Started at 4 players and am now at 6. I'm very generous with my players, I give them full hitpoints every level and we're playing out of a large town so generally speaking if they need spellcasting services or new magic gear/items they have access to it and the money to purchase it. Now last week I killed their Orc Fighter (as opposed to the TPK) and in order to pay for his resurrection the Rogue agreed to recover some artifacts from a sunken temple of Gozreh, the Cleric hit him with a Geas-Quest to keep him honest. The rest of the party agreed to the terms but no one else was hit with the spell since the rogue did all the talking.

Problem: So herein lies the problem, the party had full knowledge that the temple was at the bottom of the ocean, or at least pretty deep. The party also had just recently gotten paid for providing information on a missing princess (8k a piece) and they had about 15-20k worth of party kitty to work with. Instead of buying anything to assist with underwater combat, nor even a boat to get out there they all opted to upgrade basic weapon and armor enchantments. The plan was to have the temple guarded by a menagerie of naturally lycanthropic sea creatures (twisted descendants of the clerics who sank with the temple some 400 years ago), I was also going to give said creatures a couple of class levels to bring the challenge rating on par with what the party should be fighting and because they are the protectors of a Temple to Gozreh and should have class levels for verisimilitude.

So: What do I do, the only player who stands a chance is going to be the druid, but as a lion shaman (and a relative newcomer to pathfinder) she's going to be hurting somewhat, the (meta-seasoned)Gunslinger didn't purchase and Dry Load ammunition, nor even a potion of air bubble, and as a party they only bought 4 potions of water breathing for the 6 of them. Near the end of last session I put them up against a lower level Black Dragon, who had his lair underwater, just to try to drive home the point that they lacked appropriate equipment, but they opted to lure out the dragon and then send the wildshaped druid in to rescue his loot, a tactic that won't work at the temple. The way I see it, if they try to go down there as is then some of them are definitely gonna die, but it's their own fault, and I already held back last time they went somewhere unprepared.

Any thoughts? I know I posted an ocean(wink wink nudge nudge) of text, but the game is tonight and I'm at a loss.


Lets them fail, you dont need to kill anyone but let them findout the hard way that they did not use their resorses well, and after they run, and if they dont make them with fear spells. Let someone that wants some artafacts form the temple is willing to give them potions of water breathing and rings of freadom of movement, you can make the rings only work in this area so they dont get a 40k magic item each. Then you can make this guy a bad guy later, say the items they got for him allow him to cast a rital.

The geas-quest prevents the rogue from handing over the artifacts to anyone but the head cleric from the city, though if the rogue dies then the party is free to do as they like and got a free resurrection and the wrath of a very popular church

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I also believe you should let them fail. Obviously this doesn't deserve a full TPK, but they were not really thinking ahead.

If you're feeling generous, give them a preliminary encounter that's also underwater, to illustrate that they don't have the facilities needed to operate in that environment. Then they can withdraw and go make proper preparations.

Then, if they ignore their clearly-demonstrated inability to function underwater and charge ahead anyway, you can slaughter them with a clear conscience.

While I enjoy exploiting the holes in a party's planning and am not above the occasional wipe when they are as obtuse as you've indicated... I think you'll get more mileage out of resolving the problem for them in a memorable and unpleasant way that has consequences of their own. Honestly I suspect they aren't planning carefully because they don't believe you'll really make them pay for it.

To this end I offer up an Aboleth slaver with Ability Focus (Mucus Cloud) as an interim encounter. An aboleth is absolutely no match for the party, but with its rather high end illusions it should easily be able to get in among them and one or more should fail the DC 22 Fortitude save to become a water breather. If two happen to fail the party's stash of water breathing potions is suddenly adequate. But of course the one's effected by the mucus can't retreat to shore (because they no longer breath air), which changes their tactical options. And somewhere in the fight there's a fair chance that the Slime will also come into play, putting them at a disadvantage in the temple battles. Plus there's the ick factor and the added expense/inconvenience of Remove Disease at the end of the day.

For the record I settled with afflicting two of the players with lycanthropy, weresharks to be specific, hope they stay near the coast.

That's a fine solution presuming you intend to run further material in the coastal area or intend to provide a means of curing the lycanthropy. Do you feel they learned a lesson here?

A level 10 druid should be able to cast Life Bubble on the entire party - what else is needed?

The level 10 druid opted not to, and air bubble only lasts min/lvl so while it would work to ease the gunslinger's plight during combat it's not a longterm solution. It's a sandbox game so as long as the party wants to stay near the coast they will, also assuming they succeed in the overall endeavor of artifact recovery the cleric who they will report back to should be able to remove the disease. If they fail I expect them all to become pirates and thus the whole campaign will move into the water.

Grand Lodge

2 options:

1) kill em

2) almost kill em. Wipe them out but don't kill them. Make them prisoners and have them lose all the stuff they wasted their money on. Then have a local adventurer party rescue them and make them pick one or two items from their stuff they can keep, but tell them the rescuers are keeping the rest for payment for their rescue.

Sovereign Court

nogoodscallywag wrote:

2) almost kill em. Wipe them out but don't kill them. Make them prisoners and have them lose all the stuff they wasted their money on. Then have a local adventurer party rescue them and make them pick one or two items from their stuff they can keep, but tell them the rescuers are keeping the rest for payment for their rescue.

This is worse than death in Pathfinder.

No, that will make them want to kill the living hell out of whoever took their stuff. Rule of RP: if you take their stuff, whoever took their stuff will die.

Kill zem, kill zem all ... if you can.

I know it's a weak way to do it, but what about having one of the clerics pull the party aside and ask something like, "So, how do you plan to survive underwater? Surely there are aquatic inhabitants that will attack on sight." Could even just have a bunch of fisher men heckle the PCs right before they go in, "You all aren't that bright are ya? You don't look prepared at all for fighting underwater." (Then have the fishermen list off some problems. Gun without dry load rounds (if he can see that), not all of them had a potion, etc...)

Like I said, using an NPC to drop a blatant hint isn't all that pretty, but it gives the party one last chance to realize that they're not really prepared for what comes ahead.

If you're not up to that, perhaps have weaker enemies ahead of the lycanthropic fish things that would allow the PCs to get beat up enough for them to realize to regroup and try it more intelligently.

Barring those things, let them plunge to their dooms.

Third Mind, you are very kind to the OP's players.

Your last line, however, brings a certain kind of joy.

The Exchange

Hey Yebng, how did the adventure work out? Did the players ever wise up, and how are they dealing with the lycanthropy issues?

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