Would a Dolphin Save my Character?


Rules Questions


I have an upcomming scenario and the title suggests we'll be on the water (Quest for Perfection 2: On Hostile Waters). My character hasn't put any ranks into Swim, so I am worried that if she falls in, she might not survive. I thought I'd come up with a solution; summon 1d3 Dolphins with Summon Monster 2 and have them rescue me. However, I realized that the spell says they attack on my turn, but if I can communicate with them, I can direct them to not attack, attack specific enemies, or do other actions. 'Save from drowning' likely falls into the latter category. Dolphins don't have a language section in their stats, and I'm not a druid. I know some dolphins can understand humans, but is it possible to communicate with them? Or even better, would they act as their fluff text says and try to rescue me on their own?

Of course this is all assuming I'm able to get the spell of while flailing in the water. Are there any other ways to save me? I should mention that this is CORE, so air crystals aren't available.


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Probably call for a handle animal check.

Or give the dolphins a linguistics check.

Bonuses if you in any way resemble a beach ball.


Also prepare speak with animals? I'm not real up to snuff on what is on what's spell list but it is a thought. Sorry I'm not very much help. :(

EDIT: maybe UMD a scroll if it isn't on your list? Maybe if your GM allows it, have someone who can use a scroll of speak with animal tell them to save you. Your GM would likely have to make a ruling on whether one of the "other" actions they can perform is take an order from one of your allies.


Unfortunately I don`t think you can talk to them since their not listed as understanding common like some monsters are. Is your character a bard, cleric, sorcerer or wizard? Because Speak with Animals is on the bard spell list. Short of that I think you would be left with a handle animal check though I`m not even sure if all GMs would agree with that assessment. If you`re that worried about it I think you should probably talk to your GM about it before the game because other than Speak with Animals I imagine the table variation would probably be pretty wide over a number of factors that you`ve outline in this scenario.


You would need a handle animal check. I think the DC to make an animal do a trick you do it does not know is 20 or 25. You can try to command them to swim by you and then go closer to the shore or boat. When they come by try to grab ahold of them. Just remember the 2nd idea involves GM fiat, and he tell you to roll a dex check or some other rule. I would mention the 2nd idea before the game starts.

Grand Lodge

Touch of the Sea is also out, in Core.
No potion sponges.

Best advice: Stay away from the edge? ;)

Hard to tell what spells to look through, since we know you are a caster, but not a Druid. For Core, that still leaves Cleric, Bard, Wizard and Sorcerer, and you are at least 3rd level, given SM2 being mentioned above.

Sorc/Wiz:
Floating Disc, maybe.
Animate Rope, possibly
Alter Self to something humanoid that has a swim speed is probably your best bet
Levitate should work, but might cause other issues
Rope Trick - very much like Levitate, in that both would leave you not moving while the boat still is travelling
Spider Climb, if you can grab onto the boat fast.

Bestiary 1:
(Aquatic): aboleth, chuul, crab swarm, dire shark, dragon turtle, giant crab, giant leech, giant moray eel, giant octopus, giant squid, kraken, leech swarm, merfolk, octopus, sahuagin, sea hag, sea serpent, shark, shoggoth, skum, squid
Humanoid: boggard, bugbear, cloud giant, cyclops, dark creeper, dark stalker, derro, drow, drow noble, duergar, ettin, fire giant, frost giant, gnoll, goblin, hill giant, hobgoblin, kobold, lizardfolk, merfolk, ogre, orc, stone giant, storm giant, svirfneblin, tengu, troglodyte, troll, wererat, werewolf

Merfolk are humanoids, so legal targets for Alter Self, and Aquatic, with a swim speed, You won't get the full 50' swim, but Alter Self gives you a 30' swim speed.

Edit: Alter Self is a second level Bard spell, too. Looks like it might be worth burning a spells known slot for, actually, if you aren't pure support.

Cleric is a lot harder, you are limited to Bull's Strength to give a +2 to your Swim check, and likely have an ACP to start with. :(


Best way to not drown is not to hit the water. What level is levitate?

Shadow Lodge

2nd spell level


Lord Foul II wrote:
2nd spell level

Great! So levitate and a nice rope tied to the boat should be a good safety harness.


.........you are using summon monster II- you can summon a water elemental.

I know, it is only one creature, but it has slightly more strength, it is faster in water, it may have actual hands to carry you if it has a humanoid form, and it is at least minimally intelligent. I think you could pantomime what you need to do.

Better than trying an untrained skill under duress. Also, having a scroll or wand of tongues seems more useful than something like speak with animals (unless you routinely plan to bribe the local squirrels with nuts for info)


lemeres wrote:

.........you are using summon monster II- you can summon a water elemental.

I know, it is only one creature, but it has slightly more strength, it is faster in water, it may have actual hands to carry you if it has a humanoid form, and it is at least minimally intelligent. I think you could pantomime what you need to do.

Better than trying an untrained skill under duress. Also, having a scroll or wand of tongues seems more useful than something like speak with animals (unless you routinely plan to bribe the local squirrels with nuts for info)

If the GM is going strictly by the rules he would need Auquan, which of course tongues would allow.


wraithstrike wrote:
If the GM is going strictly by the rules he would need Auquan, which of course tongues would allow.

And in general, having points in linguistics is fantastic if you can use summon monster.

Admittedly, as far as elemental languages go, I would more go for Auran and Terran (since flight and earth glide have a lot of uses, like scouting- that allows you to get accurate info) But you know what? Having an air elemental fly about and get you a rope to pull you to shore seems like a good idea too.


Fighter1/Cleric3 with a caster level of 4. She does have a rank in linguistics, but the languages she knows won't be helpful. Taldane, Elven, Shadowtongue, Varisian.
I did consider the elemental, but dismissed the idea since it is a small creature and actually knows a language that I don't speak.

Scarab Sages

I was going to suggest monkeyfish, but then I saw this is core.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:

Probably call for a handle animal check.

Or give the dolphins a linguistics check.

Bonuses if you in any way resemble a beach ball.

All of a sudden I had this image of a school of dolphins playing keep away with a bloatmage under the effects of feather fall...


Never noticed PF dolphins only have 2 in intelligence. They should at least get 4s.


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No, a dolphin would not save your character. Dolphins only care about themselves.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Wand of monkey fish. 2 PP or 750 gold.


Celestial dolphins are actually celestial sharks in masks. True dolphins are patented by Asmodeus.

Sovereign Court

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If I'm the GM and you tried this those dolphins would save you from drowning, no questions asked, no handle animal checks, it would just work.

There's lots of stories out there of dolphins saving drowning swimmers (and I don't think they had a chance to make handle animal checks or tried to use a common language).

I tend to reward players for coming up with creative solutions.

Grand Lodge

How about a potion of fly? 2 PP or 750 gp

Or an elixir of swimming? 250 gp

A ring of swimming is probably more than you would want to spend, though. 2,500 gp


I did buy a pair of Elixers of Swimming, though I ended up not needing them. The only time I went in the water was to retrieve my thrown dagger, though I came up with a couple magic goodies instead on my first dive. My Summon Monster 2 that I kept prepared just in case was actually about to make a wolf for the final encounter to avenge our crit-killed from full health monk, but the druid's fireball took care of half the enemies and the others dropped before I could finish casting. I made 3 dolphins instead as a victory celebration.

I'm considering a potion or two of water walk for the future as additional back up...And maybe some ranks in profession sailor.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Are we basing this off real dolphins?

If so, you're screwed.

Dolphins are straight up murdering rapists.


Dolphins play with persons in the water. Sometimes they push them towards the shore and everyone goes "the dolphins saved them". Sometimes they push them away from shore. Those usually drown unable to tell that the dolphins killed them.
But who can blame them? Humans are their worst enemies and still they don't KOS us.

@OP Glad to hear you found a way. I had given my last seafaring pc the prehensile whip trait. 15ft are usually enough to reach the railing from the waterline.


blackbloodtroll wrote:

Are we basing this off real dolphins?

If so, you're screwed.

Dolphins are straight up murdering rapists.

Time to change them to Chaotic Evil.

But why do people claim that dolphins have helped out then?

Perhaps there are cases of benevolent ones swimming around as well?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

We like the idea of them being happy helpful creatures.

Blame Sea World and hippies.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
blackbloodtroll wrote:

We like the idea of them being happy helpful creatures.

Blame Sea World and hippies.

You're welcome! By the way thank Jerry Garcia for making us hippies look so darn smart, plush, non threatening and adorable :-)


Remember that dolphins like people can be saints or villains or anywhere in between. Consider the reverse. A dolphin is stranded on land and a human walks by. Does the human help the dolphin get to water? Does the human kick the dolphin while it's down? Does the human look the other way and pretend he didn't see it? It depends on the human.

But also remember that the Summon spells assume the summoned creatures have a somewhat helpful attitude towards the caster.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

Are we basing this off real dolphins?

If so, you're screwed.

Dolphins are straight up murdering rapists.

Time to change them to Chaotic Evil.

But why do people claim that dolphins have helped out then?

Perhaps there are cases of benevolent ones swimming around as well?

I don't think you can apply human morality on them, they are wild animals, and they may kill or save a human not because it is right, or wrong, but because at what ever level of sentience they have they chose to.


Galnörag wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

Are we basing this off real dolphins?

If so, you're screwed.

Dolphins are straight up murdering rapists.

Time to change them to Chaotic Evil.

But why do people claim that dolphins have helped out then?

Perhaps there are cases of benevolent ones swimming around as well?

I don't think you can apply human morality on them, they are wild animals, and they may kill or save a human not because it is right, or wrong, but because at what ever level of sentience they have they chose to.

The choice to do right or wrong given the opportunity is the definition of morality.


To the original question - you are not going to drown, unless you have dumped Con and alienated all your party members. In which case, well, it was going to happen eventually anyway.

Even with the minimum possible PFS Con of 5, that's 10 rounds for your friends to finish the fight and fish you out. Of course, it is a bit of a risk, but a minor one. Casting spells under water has its own difficulties, and using potions and scrolls under water isn't a sure thing either. Now, you might sink to the bottom and be left behind if your ship is moving... so tie yourself to the ship and you're good.

Silver Crusade

You might struggle to cast a summon monster spell after you hit the water. Verbal, somatic and divine focus components and a one round casting time. Probably going to need a swim check to stay afloat and a concentration check to complete casting. I think elixirs are your best bet (plus the potions of water walking maybe).

Scarab Sages

You can absolutely command summoned monsters to do things other than fight. Can the monster in question do it? As summoner, you can tell them to do it. Bear in mind, these are extraplanar animals (Celestial, Fiendish, Resolute, or Entropic, depending), so they're treated as smarter than an earthly specimen (of course, real dolphins are so smart that scientists have recently declared they deserve to be considered full-fledged people, and might rescue a drowning human without needing to be instructed to do so).


I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
As summoner, you can tell them to do it if you can communicate to them.

Fixed that for you.


Galnörag wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

Are we basing this off real dolphins?

If so, you're screwed.

Dolphins are straight up murdering rapists.

Time to change them to Chaotic Evil.

But why do people claim that dolphins have helped out then?

Perhaps there are cases of benevolent ones swimming around as well?

I don't think you can apply human morality on them, they are wild animals, and they may kill or save a human not because it is right, or wrong, but because at what ever level of sentience they have they chose to.

Recent science indicates that dolphins are at a significantly higher level of intelligence than previously believed and are capable of sentient thought. We know this because sometimes dolphins will do things just to be jerks.

Liberty's Edge

Quadstriker wrote:
There's lots of stories out there of dolphins saving drowning swimmers.

That's only because the stories where the humans are pulled out to see don't have any survivors to talk about their experience...

EDIT: Too much! I just read the above link and he closed with the same statement as I made. I have no original ideas anymore.

Sovereign Court

A dolphin would save you... so they get the pleasure of killing you themselves!

http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/14p70/


*IF* you can manage to cast the spell, doesn't it let you choose where they appear? Surely you could just make them appear next to you and you just grab hold?

Liberty's Edge

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
You can absolutely command summoned monsters to do things other than fight. Can the monster in question do it? As summoner, you can tell them to do it.

Sorry, but this is only true if you can communicate with the dolphins (ie speak with animals). The spell specifically says the following:

If you can communicate with the creature, you can direct it not to attack, to attack particular enemies, or to perform other actions as you command.

Summoned animals are not domesticated or trained in any way, so Handle Animal is also not a skill that can be used.

I'm Hiding In Your Closet wrote:
Bear in mind, these are extraplanar animals (Celestial, Fiendish, Resolute, or Entropic, depending), so they're treated as smarter than an earthly specimen

Creatures summoned by Nature's Ally are not extraplaner and while creatures summoned by Summon Monster may gain the Celestial or Fiendish template, that template does not give them an intelligence boost. In the context of being able to direct a summoned creature, these templates have no bearing either way.

For most casters, summoning spells are very straight-forward. You cast the spell and the creature attacks the nearest foe automatically. If you do not have the ability to communicate with the creature, you can't influence it after the spell is cast.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

If you could breathe underwater, where would you go?

If you had friends underwater, who would you know?

Come along, sing along, swim along too... YEAH


With none of 'your opponents' that the dolphins are spell-compelled (comspelled?) to attack, summoned dolphins might very well act based on their alignment (which matches yours, remember). If you're a drowning CE sorcerer or something, that almost certainly won't help, but the idea of some Good-aligned planar dolphins letting their boss drown while they do nothing has worrying implications.

This is very GM-discretion territory, though.


Icyshadow wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:

Are we basing this off real dolphins?

If so, you're screwed.

Dolphins are straight up murdering rapists.

Time to change them to Chaotic Evil.

But why do people claim that dolphins have helped out then?

Perhaps there are cases of benevolent ones swimming around as well?

Well, look at it this way—plenty of humans we regard as "great" were monstrous if you were, say, black, or Amerindian, or gay, or Japanese (no, I'm not talking about that, let's not go there). And that's just within the US! Dolphins might occasionally be legitimately kind to humans while still treating their own species like s%!@.

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