Thoughts on water mechanics

Ruins of Azlant

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I'm looking to get a new AP to run and considering a few options[this being one of them], my concern with this AP is that you're going to be underwater a decent amount of time. What's been people's experience with AP's underwater gameplay/overall gameplay?

Sczarni Order of the Amber Die

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Mista Moore wrote:
I'm looking to get a new AP to run and considering a few options[this being one of them], my concern with this AP is that you're going to be underwater a decent amount of time. What's been people's experience with AP's underwater gameplay/overall gameplay?

Hey Mista, we're currently half way through Ruins of Azlant and there are definitely a lot of things to consider for underwater encounters. For starters, it's important that you have a good way of managing depth for 3D combat. (See our method here from the Paizo Blog.) However, if you don't have anything like that to use those you could keep track of depth along with the initiative of each combatant, or have each player track their own individually. Visually, things can get tricky when you have several characters/monsters occupying the same square at different depths, which opens up a lot more ways for flanking and makes it more complicated to withdraw if things go badly, but as long as you have some method of making that clear for everyone to see you’ll be fine.

As far as underwater rules go, definitely keep Aquatic Adventures handy, especially when it comes to buoyancy, which has come into play many times for us already. The buoyancy spell was created prior to the states of buoyancy rules, but we played it as "swiftly rising" when we were underwater. The secondary benefit of water walk is even more useful for surfacing quickly in a bind, so players might want to utilize that as well. As far as current and running water are concerned, we haven't had to deal with that too much as of yet - although we expect to very soon - and the globe of tranquil water spell Ezren recently learned should help with that. Also at higher levels, freedom of movement is a must. Just be very careful if your group relies heavily on spells/magic items to function underwater, because a single dispel magic has the potential to turn the tide against you.

Communication underwater was also be an issue for us in the beginning, so those of us who already didn't speak it spent a rank in Linguistics and learned the Aquan language to mitigate that. Although it doesn’t say specifically that it works that way, it’s safe to say that since the language is predominantly spoken by aquatic creatures that it functions underwater.

You should also take steps to track breathing, unless you can breathe underwater, either naturally or with spells/magic items. Even with the Aquatic Spell metamagic feat, spellcasting still takes a lot of effort so casters with average Constitution scores may find themselves making a break for the surface a lot quicker with the new rules.

Fortunately, our group has found a significant amount of magic items placed throughout Ruins of Azlant to really help the PCs with underwater exploration and survival, plus there are probably a few more that we missed along the way, so we've been very grateful for those since most of those items have been too expensive for us to purchase.

Our GM mentioned there were also a few options built in to this AP where you could downplay the underwater rules if your group didn’t want to focus so much on that aspect of the game. But if you do use them, I hope this has been helpful, and if you have any more questions feel free to ask us any time!

Thanks for the amount of info. I'll take a look at the link to see how you guys managed 3-D combat

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Underwater games can be quite interesting. I haven't played through Ruins yet (we only had session zero this week), but I did play in the Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting a while back. It's a purely underwater setting, which came out before Aquatic Adventures so they went all out creating the rules for it.
It has some interesting ideas for underwater combat, the best way to represent the 3D environment, as mentioned in the book, requires a bit of crafting. I started on it, but never actually got around to doing it. We just went with Theatre of the Mind with occasional help from a 2D map to get an idea for some distances.

Anyway, going from memory:

You need a few long but not too thick dowels, some wood, some clothespins (The kind that has two pieces and a spring keeping them together), some poster board, felt pen, ruler, a box cutter, and some wood glue.

The poster board and wood are cut into 4 inch squares, with a hole in the middle to fit the dowel. The wood, of course, forms the base. The poster board has the 1 inch grid on top while a clothespin is glued to the underside such that it can be clipped to the dowel.

Now you can just slide the squares up and down on the dowels to represent height/depth. One of those soft flexible tape measures (usually used for fabric/sewing) is recommended to measure the various diagonal distances. You can also mark the dowels at intervals to make positioning easier.

(The lack of tools to make the wood bases is in large part responsible for my failure to complete this project myself.)

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