My party is fighting at sea and we have encountered creatures who don't surface but damage the ship. I've been thinking but don't know how to fight these creatures.

  • \$\begingroup\$ what kind of creatures? Do they have tentacles, like a kraaken? \$\endgroup\$
    – OddCore
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 16:12
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ What level is your group? The answers could change pretty significantly based on the tier. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pat Ludwig
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Did the DM plan this as a combat encounter or is it a skill challenge involving travel? Or something else? \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 16:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to the very good answers provided, remember that spears, arrows, and harpoons work well for attacking near-surface sea cretures. Also, dependin on setting, you might have gunpowder or another explosive that could be set off in the water a bit away from the ship. That could drive it away even if it wasn't injured. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


You should be able to strike them from distance. Because the water is not blocking terrain (unless it is iced) it does not block line of effectDDI.

If you can't see them because of turbid water, you could dive and probably fight an uneven battle where you should make Athletics and Endurance checks in order to swim and hold breath. It is also possible that your Dungeon Master especially designed or leveraged a particular skill challenge for this event.

Depending on your party composition and selection of powers you may have some Summoning or Conjuration spell/prayer/invocation/discipline that could bring you a swimming proxy.

Teleportation powers could move seaborne creatures on board in order to be easily filleted by your melee specialists... if their weight doesn't cause the vessel to sink.

@Ananisapta suggest the use of figurines of wondrous power. Three of them have a swim speed.

  • Opal Carp (6th level, swim 8) could carry a Small-sized rider and give him the ability to breathe water.
  • Pearl Sea Horse (9th level, swim 10) could carry a Medium-size rider, but doesn't confer any water-breathing ability.
  • Jade Sea Snake (10th level, swim 10) could carry up to 6 creatures, but doesn't confer any water-breathing ability.

The Make WholeDDI level 1 ritual and Temporary Fix level 1 martial practice allow you to repair an object that fits in a 10x10x10ft. cube. You could ask to your DM if he allows them to repair a breach in the hull that fits in the same cube. The major drawback is that both the ritual and the practice require 10 minutes to be completed.

If the ship can manage the additional load without sinking, a power that creates blocking terrain can be used to stop or delay the water from entering the breach. These powers last until the end of the encounter (or up to 5 minutes, as usual) and some of them must be maintained each round.

  • Bulwark of Stone (Devout Warpriest 12, Dragon Magazine 392)
  • Illusory Shelter (Battleweaver 12, Heroes of Shadow)
  • Reshape Battlefield (Battleweaver 20, Heroes of Shadow)
  • Wall of Earth (Ranger 16, Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms)
  • Wall of Force (Wizard 22, Arcane Power, Heroes of the Fallen Lands, Neverwinter Campagin Setting)
  • Wall of the World (Druid 22, Heroes of the Feywild)

The Greater Stonewall Shield (a level 14 or 24 item) can create a permanent but fragile wall of 3-5 cubes.

The Water BreathingDDI level 8 ritual allows up to 8 creatures to breath water for a variable time between one hour and a whole day (depending upon the ritualist's skill check). Again, it takes 10 minutes to be performed.

The WaterbornDDI level 14 ritual (Forgotten Realms Player's Guide) does the same for a longer period of time, grants a swim speed and immunity to the pressure and cold of the ocean's depths.

Among the items, the Elixir of Water BreathingDDI (125 gp, from Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium) allows the imbiber to breath water for 1 hour. The Cap of Water BreathingDDI (5000 gp, Adventurer's Vault) does the same as a continuous effect upon the wearer.

As @Ananisapta suggests, the following rituals may be proactively cast on the ship in order to enhance its durability.

  • Bolster Object (6th level) permanently increases the hit points of an object. DM fiat is required in order to decide which size of the hull could be affected by a single casing.
  • Ironwood (6th level) permanently augment by 5 the DC for breaking a wood object and provides damage resistance 10. It affects only objects up to a certain size (a DC 40 Nature check is required to transmute a Gargantuan object with a single casting). DM fiat required to decide if multiple casting on diverse sections of the hull is possible.
  • Enhance Vessel (10th level) augment a vehicle's speed and defenses by 2 for 24 hours.
  • \$\begingroup\$ Aren't there "repair spells" and/or waterbreathing potions/spells in DD4e? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 21:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mikalichov added as extension to the answer. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 13:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ErikBurigo The Bolster Object, Ironwood and Enhance Vessel rituals would be worthwhile to soup up the ship's defenses with, but due to the casting time only before it was actually attacked. The Opal Carp, Pearl Seahorse and Jade Sea Snake figures give a swim speed and water-breathing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ananisapta
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 6:30

I'll take a different approach from @ErikBurigo's excellent answer and address the "oh crap" issue of being attacked at sea with no preparation (rituals, potions) whatsoever.

We're under attack right now. What to do?

Note: Many of these options depend largely on the niceness of your GM

  • Push powers: Any burst or blast power with a push component could be used on the sails to give the ship a sudden burst of speed to outrun the creatures.
  • Crowd Control: Simply daze, stun, immobilize, restrain, and slow your enemies long enough for the ship to escape.
  • Teleport powers: Use a power that allows you to teleport enemies onto the ship so they can be fought outside of their natural environment, then pile on the immobilizes (etc) to keep them there.
  • Fire! Break vials of oil and spread them across the surface of the water then ignite them with fire powers, hopefully deterring any natural creature. Obviously try not to set the ship on fire.
  • Pull powers: Pull the creatures to the surface to be able to better hit them with ranged attacks or readied melee attacks (depending on the size of your vessel). Works well with Fire!
  • Distraction: If the attackers are animalistic in nature, an overboard offering of meat or fish might give them an easier meal than your ship.

And if all else fails, jump in! Fighting in water isn't preferable, but neither is it impossible. You might expend more resources but an aquatic setting probably isn't enough to turn a level-appropriate encounter into a TPK.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, but be careful with anything that provides too much of a push with your "push power". It could destroy the sails instead of giving you a burst if you aren't careful. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 16:24

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