Flying and Underwater Combat in DnD
Crit Academy is joined by Gabe Kleinert, host of Inter-Party Conflict. Together we discuss tips on how to get the most out of three-dimensional combat in the air and under the sea.
Tracking movement can be done in a variety of ways, from stacking mini's on dice, utilizing the dice value to represent height above or below. We give details on our favorite forms such as fuzzy feet or range bands.
Underwater combat brings with it much more than just three-dimensional battle, potential alterations to magical effects. Does the flame appear of wall of flame per the spell or does it flash boil the water and its height goes all the way to the surface? We discuss these thoughts and ideas in this episode.
Unearthed Tips and Tricks! (We give you new and creative content for you to bring with you on your next adventure)
Paladin of Poseidon: Make a Paladin who views the sea as their god's domain. Have them smite foes with a Trident, and whenever they cast Find Steed (since the spell allows a DM to assign other animals than the ones listed) they are able to summon a dolphin or a small shark.
Monster Variant: Living Tornado
Alright, I had an idea on how to spruce up the tarrasque one: Call it a "Living Tornado". By all appearances, it's a giant column of destructive wind that destroys everything it touches. If players get too close, it'll slice and batter them with its gale-force winds (or objects caught in the twister), and it has no problem with grabbing a PC and pulling them inside (using its Swallow ability). The magic that animates the tornado is ancient and powerful, so it's able to reflect or nullify most spells and weapons by its sheer power and intensity (Reflective Carapace and immunity to non-magical weapons). And if a player sees this thing whipping across the countryside destroying everything in its wake, you know it's going to run away scared (Frightful Presence).
Shark Tug-of-War: The players go to investigate a sunken ship or other underwater location. While looking around, they are attacked by not one- but TWO sharks, each one intent on biting and grappling the same target. Whichever one "beats" the other takes the bitten prey and swims off with it, stranding that player from the rest of the party in a hostile environment. (This actually doesn't work as well as I thought it would, since it doesn't look like sharks have Improved Grab or Swallow in 5e- but this is based on an actual encounter where my character, Ichi, got grappled by two sharks. One of them swallowed him and swam away, but due to a series of VERY lucky rolls he managed to climb his way out and get to safety. From that day, he hated going in the water, for obvious reasons.)
Bottle of the Four Winds:
This ceramic urn is engraved with ancient depictions of the gods of the air and the sea, and putting your ear to the side of the urn allows you to hear a rhythmic thrumming sound from within. It was created to hold the elemental forces of the four winds, and it is kept closed by a thick wooden stopper. A person holding the bottle can ever-so-slightly unseal the stopper, but doing so allows a tiny bit of the winds' power to escape, possibly with catastrophic results.
The Bottle of the Four Winds has 12 charges, and regains 1d12 charges each day at dawn. By slightly unstoppering the bottle (one charge), the holder may let a steady stream of air to escape, which can be used to propel a sailing ship of any size for up to one hour per charge spent in this manner. By unstoppering it a little bit more (two charges), the holder may create the effect of a Wind Wall spell, and letting out even more air (three charges) can create the effect of a Control Winds spell.
However, releasing the winds is dangerous. If the stopper is ever completely removed, or if the last charge is used up, the four winds escape. If this occurs on land, the resulting catastrophe functions similar to a Storm of Vengeance spell (controlled by the DM), and if it occurs while on water, then the ship and all of its passengers are propelled to a random location (treat the effect as a Teleport spell cast to a False Destination, except the end result is always in a body of water). Once this occurs, the Bottle of the Four Winds becomes nonmagical.
Dungeon Master Tip:
Use verticality in your encounters: This could mean use flying enemies, but it could also mean to give your encounters environmental locations that are above or below the players. Maybe have an encounter take place in a city thoroughfare where bridges and walkways pass above and below the thoroughfare, or in a valley where ledges above let players or enemies drop rocks to below, or maybe a magical area with MC Escher-esque physics where characters can walk on walls and defy gravity.
Pack your bags:
Buy and use adventuring gear in case of inclement weather. Do you have blankets? Tents? Waterproof socks? These sorts of things don't come into the mechanics very often, but if you're the player who always has supplies for every situation, then the DM will be more inclined to spice things up with snow, or rain, or heavy winds, and so on. And then, since you'll probably be the only player with gear for the occasion, you'll look even more awesome in everyone else's eyes (or you can refuse to help out unless they give you a bigger share of the treasure!).
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