Underwater Encounters and Areas

In my slow march towards an underwater zine, I’ve been reviewing preexisting underwater adventure content from other sources. One recent source I looked at was WOTC’s Ghosts of Saltmarsh, which isn’t focused on underwater exploration but has a few maps in the appendix.

Unfortunately, they’re just side-treks, and there’s not much detail to running underwater adventures. So I’m wondering what people are looking for in underwater adventures, and how to take full advantage of he environment.

What kinds of encounters are you looking for in such adventures? What sorts of locations?


I would suggest looking at the 1e AD&D Manual of the Planes for the Plane of Water, as it will delineate the spells and requisites for operating underwater. That is one source I know that has all those topics in one place.

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Probably something exactly like The Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper, by Ben Laurence!

It can be found in this zine: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/151451/From-the-Vats?affiliate_id=1892600

And reviewed: https://tenfootpole.org/ironspike/?p=3828

And on Ben’s blog too: http://maziriansgarden.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-submerged-spire-of-sarpedon-shaper.html

Great aquatic dungeon.

(There’s also the first thing I ever published, The Tower of the Weretoads - which is semi-submerged: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/133726/The-Towers-of-the-Weretoads if you are still in the research phase and interested!)

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I haven’t been following this until now, so sorry if this is a day late and dollar short, but you might also look at the old TSR module “The War Rafts of Kron” (not, apparently, much of a role model among modules, but it does involve significant underwater content). And doesn’t one of the original Saltmarsh trilogy modules go underwater?

This is really only meant to reflect my own quirky particular preferences, but an underwater adventure (as opposed to an entire underwater campaign with aquatic characters) should probably feel very alien; both mysteriously beautiful and also deeply threatening and unsettling. And presumably limited by a very ticking clock of air supply. Having the ability to breathe, swim, and navigate in the depths should be pretty hard-won, in my opinion; having a quick hop to the sea-floor feel easy or uncomplicated just robs it all of the tone I’d be looking for. On the other hand, of course, solving that logistical puzzle is essential for letting any underwater adventure happen at all! So there’s a bit of a conundrum, I suppose. Cheers.


Still very much in the research phase (with regard to the design of such adventures, not so much the mechanics) and still very much interested!

That approach is actually what I’m going for! Even though I do intend to build materials for full underwater campaigns, the sense of an alien landscape, the constant resource drain and fatigue brings across the mood I’m looking for. Less like a typical dungeon adventure, more like Veins of the Earth.