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Water

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 214
Water is both a great enabler and great destroyer of civilization. Life can’t exist without it. Trade and travel are made much easier by its presence. Yet water can also kill, from drowning on a personal level to floods and tsunamis on a mass scale. Terrestrial life is dependent on water but at the same time fears it, as evidenced by tales as old as the sea itself, of monsters and the hideous fates that await travelers who dare to sail out of sight of land. What better place to set an adventure than on a twisting river, upon the high seas, or deep in the briny world below?

Aquatic Adventures

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 214
An aquatic adventure can take place anywhere that water is the primary terrain feature. This includes marshlands, rivers, lakes, pools, oceans, the Plane of Water, and the like. Aquatic adventures don’t require the PCs to have the ability to breathe water, of course—the inclusion of water hazards for lower-level adventurers to navigate can add a nice bit of suspense and peril to an adventure.

Nautical Adventures

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 214
Water can also provide the setting for a different and unique game experience—the nautical adventure. In such a scenario, the effects and dangers of underwater adventuring are replaced by surface hazards as the PCs and their opponents use vehicles like ships and boats to navigate the terrain. For the most part, shipboard adventures can be resolved normally, with a combat taking place aboard a ship functioning almost identically to one that occurs on land. If the combat happens during a storm or in heavy seas, treat the ship’s deck as difficult terrain. Remember to take into account the effects on spellcasters’ concentration checks due to weather or the motion of the ship’s deck.

Fast-Play Ship Combat

Source GameMastery Guide pg. 214
When ships themselves become a part of a combat, things get more unusual. The following rules are not meant to accurately simulate all of the complexities of ship-to-ship combat, only to provide you with a quick and easy set of rules to resolve such situations when they inevitably arise in a nautical adventure, whether it be a battle between two ships or between a ship and a sea monster.

Preparation: Decide what type of ships are involved in the combat. Use a large, blank battle mat to represent the waters on which the battle occurs. A single square corresponds to 30 feet of distance. Represent each ship by placing markers that take up the appropriate number of squares (miniature toy ships make great markers and should be available at most hobby stores).

Starting Combat: When combat begins, allow the PCs (and important NPC allies) to roll initiative as normal— the ship itself moves and attacks on the captain’s initiative result. If any of the ships in the battle rely on sails to move, randomly determine what direction the wind is blowing by rolling 1d8 and following the guidelines for missed splash weapons .

Movement: On the captain’s initiative count, the ship can move its current speed in a single round as a move-equivalent action for the captain (or double its speed as a full-round action), as long as it has its minimum crew complement. The ship can increase or decrease its speed by 30 feet each round, up to its maximum speed. Alternatively, the captain can change direction (up to one side of a square at a time) as a standard action. A ship can only change direction at the start of a turn.

Attacks: Crew members in excess of the ship’s minimum crew requirement can be allocated to man siege engines. Rules for siege engines can be found here. Siege engines attack on the captain’s initiative count.

A ship can also attempt to ram a target if it has its minimum crew. To ram a target, the ship must move at least 30 feet and end with its bow in a square adjacent to the target. The ship’s captain then makes a Profession (sailor) check— if this check equals or exceeds the target’s AC, the ship hits its target, inflicting damage as indicated on the ship statistics table to the target, as well as minimum damage to the ramming ship. A ship outfitted with an actual ram siege engine inflicts an additional 3d6 points of damage to the target (the ramming vessel suffers no additional damage).

Table 7-49: Ship Statistics

<Raft910+015 feet01d611/4
<Rowboat920+230 feet02d6+611/3
<Keelboat860+430 feet*12d6+624/15+100
<Longship675+560 feet*14d6+18350/75+100
<Sailing ship6125+660 feet* (sails only)23d6+12320/50+100
<Warship2175+760 feet*33d6+12460/80+100
<Galley2200+890 feet*46d6+244200/250+100