By David Kuijt
To most of us the deep oceans are a mystery. What strange worlds may yet lurk under the depths? If only we could travel to that alien universe that lurks a few fathoms below the storm-tossed surface we traverse so blithely. What wonders might we discover?
What terrors might we awake?
Home Topography: Deepwater Ocean
Terrain: Kelp Forests, Sulphur vents, craggy coral reefs, and similar
Stronghold:Underground City or Cave
The Sahuagin are the fiercest and most warlike underwater race. Normal Sahuagin are humanoid in shape, slightly more than man-sized, scaled, armed with stabbing spears and vicious carnivore teeth. The rulers of their race are six-armed and much larger than their minions; their warskills are extensive.
Human legend tells of mermaids, underwater women with fish tails who are curious of sailors, sometimes tempting them to their doom. This tells us a lot about sailors, especially after they have been at sea with bad food for a very long time. It tells us almost nothing about the Merfolk
The Mer are not of human stature, and they do not have fish tails. Standing on the ocean floor they are half again the height of a human warrior. Their skin is blue. They are very fierce, and fight with long tridents.
The rules for phalanx element types are here. If you do not choose to use the Phalanx rules, treat the Merfolk as of type Spear, or perhaps Hero.
Bullywugs are of approximately human stature, but much stockier, with heavy muscles. They fight primarily with spears, and are allies of the Kuo-Toa.
Bullywugs are amphibious, and can breathe air. They are favored as allies of various swamp-dwelling forces. They are not fast moving, neither underwater nor above. Their shape is not streamlined and they do not have good flippers or fins, so they are slow underwater. In air they are heavy-bodied and squat, and they must contend with their own mass and muscle.
Sahuagin are the warrior race of the deep. Slashing and smashing weapons do not work well against the resistance of water, so stabbing weapons like the short spear of the Sahuagin are favored. The Sahuagin wear no armor. They get some protection from their scaly skin, and are unwilling to reduce their speed and maneuverability underwater.
As can be seen from their nasty sharp teeth and wide mouths, the Sahuagin are carnivorous. Like many carnivorous races, the Sahuagin eat their foes.
The Sahuagin worship sharks, and their underdeep cities are full of them. Nothing amuses the Sahuagin more than when these wandering sharks eat some emissary of a foreign power.
Giant sharks are one of the favorite wartools of the Sahuagin Barons. They are not as fast as many pure swimmers, tending to cruise or lope where others sprint, they are very effective in attacking massed foot.
In the deepest waters float fast-moving monsters who are little more than teeth and fins. In their native habitat they employ bioluminescence to lure smaller fish to their doom. The Sahuagin have domesticated them, and favor them as pets, admiring their irascable nature and their nasty sharp teeth. In warfare the Sahuagin use them as fast scouts.
Second most powerful race of the Depths is the Kuo-Toa. Like their cousins, the Bullywugs, Kuo-Toa can live in fresh water, and are amphibious. They are found in the ocean depths, allied to the Sahuagin, in marshes and swamps on land, often allied to Lizardmen, and in the great cave complexes of the Underdark.
The Kuo-Toa are inimical to man, which to them includes all mammalian humanoids, even Elves and Dwarves. They are not particularly well-designed for war, however. They attempt to make up for their lack of combat ability with numbers.
Some few Kuo-Toa have magical ability. These Priests of the Kuo-Toa favor human sacrifice, and their artifacts and techniques have led some scholars of the Unseen University to postulate an ancient connection to ancient Lizardman and Yuan-Ti civilizations. Regardless of the ongoing historical debate, the Kuo-Toa Priests are very effective at countermagic, and the normally flaccid Kuo-Toa fighters become much more motivated and fierce when defending one of their Priests.
Underwater magic is very different from that used above the waves. On solid ground Wizards discuss the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) and discuss which is most useful for what task. Such discussion is ludicrous in the ocean depths, where fire is quenched, air impossible, and earth is crushed under tons of water.
Water Elementals form one of the most powerful aspects of the armies of the Despots of the Depths. They are virtually unstoppable. They cannot be killed, but they are not truly invulnerable -- at their center floats a magical focus that keeps them localized. Destroy this focus and they dissipate.
The armies of the Deep have only one thought for airbreathing mammals -- they makes good eatin'!
As for allies, the Kuo-Toa have a tangled web of alliances that sometimes brings them to fight alongside the Drow of the Underdark, although as often they find themselves fighting against them. The Kuo-Toa, and to a lesser extent Sahuagin, often ally themselves with their cold-blooded airbreather kin, the Lizardmen.
All the figures shown are D&D prepainted plastic miniatures save two. The Abyssal Predators are figures taken from Dreamblade, a discontinued chess-like game with collectible miniatures. The Giant Shark is a vinyl figure by Schleich. Their figures are extremely well painted, and fairly reasonable (the shark cost $5 or so). They aren't in any particular scale, but for monsters and the like they work very well. They also do dinosaurs.
Bases are made of a sandwich of lexan (bottom), plastruct "stormy water" blue sheet plastic (top) and Goop (commercially available rubbery glue, the peanut butter in the middle). Bubbles in the peanutbutter layer are inevitable but don't detract from the base's appearance. Give the Goop a long time to dry (several days if you can), as it dries in the presence of air, and the lexan bottom and plastruct blue plastic are impervious to air.
The finished base can be cut with a sharp handsaw intended for wood, although you need to be a very good woodworker to get the edges square and clean with a handsaw. The lexan is too thick to cut with utility knives, and the plastruct sheet tends to chip if you do it that way. I used a plastic-cutting blade in my tablesaw, but that is a rare tool in most shops. The bases sure end up looking fine, though.
Page created December 8, 2008.
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