Endless Blue – Kickstarter Day 12 – Combat on Elqua   Leave a comment

Combat Under Water

Conflict is inevitable beneath the waves of Elqua.  There, survival is difficult, with predators stalking the unwary and dangerous currents and under-pulls suddenly grabbing hold of the unwary.  Denizens of the water world have developed some interesting tricks to help them survive the dangers of underwater life.  Sky lancers take advantage from above by diving downward and spearing their prey; sweep sweep up from below to swallow their prey whole.  The races of the Fluid Nations have developed their own tactics for three-dimensional combat in a world where nothing falls.

The use of weaponry is limited.  Called ungues (singular, unguis), weapons must take the water surrounding them into account.  Swinging weapons like slings, maces, and swords lose effectiveness.  The weapons compact the water in front of them when swung, which causes resistance that reduces the speed and force the weapon impacts upon its victim.  Weapons that are thrust, like daggers, spears, and tridents are more effective, and it is because of this that the trident is the symbol of martial prowess in the Known World.  The variety of tridents and spears in the setting allows much neglected weapons from normal D20/Pathfinder games to find a new life.  The myriad halberds and pikes so often overlooked by players take on new usefulness in the ENDLESS BLUE.  Nets and man-catchers become viable for those that wish to take down their opponents alive.  Even simple punches are more viable than any kind of acrobatic martial art.  Most engagements follow a pattern of rushing in, landing a blow, then swimming far enough off to turn around and repeat the process.

The natural buoyancy of objects under water is a crucial tool in combat for surprise and survival.  Simply adjusting the buoyancy of its body, a creature can use the natural property of water to push an object upward at a rapid speed.  It is a common tactic used in escaping close combat, effectively lurching yourself up out of the reach of a foe.  It does not come without risk, as such sudden changes in pressure from low depths upward can cause a debilitating condition known as the pull.  As the pressure on all side from water eases during ascent, compacted gases in the bloodstream can form bubbles.  These bubbles can be lethal very quickly, and the only non-magical cure is to re-submerge to a depth where the gasses are again diffused and re-ascend at a much slower pace.  The longer the pull is allowed to affect the individual, the more internal damage it causes and the more likely death will result.

There is a similar effect for diving too deeply, colloquially known as the rapture of the deep.  This is the narcotic effect of those diffused gasses spreading throughout the blood, acting like a anesthetic.  While not directly lethal, it can impair the mental functions of an individual.  The resulting fuzzy thinking, much like intoxication, can lead to lethal mistakes.

Using either the pull or the rapture of the deep in combat against a foe is tricky, and usually takes the form of a bluff, feint, or taunt to enrage the attacker into pursuit either upward or downward.  The usefulness of this tactic is mitigated if the target has an adjustable buoyancy or is simply immune to either effect.  For those pisceans that are vulnerable, there is a magic item that can relieve either effect: a ring of buoyancy.  Its effects are limited, however, to alleviating either the pull or the rapture (player’s choice) should the wearer incur both penalties.

William James Cuffe

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