I am preparing a game with Call of Cthulhu mechanics using S.T.A.L.K.E.R (the game based on the book Roadside Picnic) as a setting. The game's main locale is an unnatural area that is surrounded by the military. The idea is that it is hard to go inside and outside the area each time.

However players have had diverse ideas on how to circumvent that. One of them sacrificed many ability points to have a better credit rating - more money - to get a small submarine. He reasons it would help getting him into the zone without much trouble.

I do not want to say 'No' to him buying the submarine. What can I do to make sure his idea will not ruin the whole 'No-go area'?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Why this question is closed? I see here many questions concerning problems with Players which goes under 'on hold, opinion based description', tips or 'what should I do' and they are not closed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thamiar
    May 22, 2018 at 9:35
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a reasonable question, of broad enough interest to other people (I've had this question myself before) and clearly-stated. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe
    May 24, 2018 at 4:11

2 Answers 2


Rivers: Like Roads, But Water.

Unless your map of the Exclusion Zone goes way further out than the real-life Exclusion Zone, the points of entry by water are probably going to be limited to the Pripyat and maybe Dneiper rivers, though there's a dam on that last one.

And given that rivers have long been a major human means of transport, only recently (historically speaking) usurped by roads and rails, the military's probably at least going to be monitoring them, the same way it would any road in.

Granted, it's easier to go unnoticed in a sub underwater than a truck on the roads, but we're talking like 10-15 feet of water, not untold fathoms deep. What your player has purchased is not as much an absolute sneak pass as it is an advantage in running the blockade. As long as you tell them that up front and they're cool with it, there's nothing wrong with them having one.


Let him buy it! A submarine gives the party power (which they like) and helps them get in trouble (which generates more story).

The submarine is powerful.

They've invested their precious ability points into buying a submarine, so let it be worthwhile. Let them go places they couldn't go before. Tempt them with strange things underwater they wouldn't have known about otherwise. Let the purchase of the submarine feel like a success for the party. Let them have fun using it. Ask them what they've named the submarine.

The submarine has limitations.

So they buy a small submarine, then...what? Do they have to get it trucked to the lake they want to travel on? How much does it cost to move a submarine by truck? Who else is going to notice them moving it?

Once they have it in one body of water, they might have trouble getting it to a different body of water. This lake doesn't connect to that lake, but both would be a useful place for a submarine.

And how expensive is this thing to operate?

The submarine will get them in trouble.

If people can buy submarines this easily, the military will definitely be on the lookout for them. The first time they use it to get into a no-go zone, they might not get captured, but they might get noticed. The next time they try it, they'll be up against a prepared adversary.

Submarines also can fail in ways other vehicles can't. If a surface ship starts to sink, you can abandon it in rowboats. If a submarine sinks, you're likely to be trapped in a metal tube being crushed by water. Don't spring this kind of danger on them without warning, but let them make tradeoffs, deciding when it's time to invest in repairing a leak and when they have something more urgent to do.


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