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Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting
 
$39.95 $19.95
Average Rating:4.6 / 5
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Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting
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Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting
Publisher: Alluria Publishing
by Nicholas B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/25/2012 15:08:32
This book is a steal at the current price, though I admit the price used to be higher and that kept me from checking it out. Now that I have it, I intend to buy the print edition. Very short but here's the pros and cons of the book:

Pros: a fantastic resource for an undersea campaign environment and very comprehensive at that; gorgeous illustrations, the nicest 3PP Pathfinder book I have yet seen; full of useful and interesting content; provides three dimensional rules for undersea combat.

Cons: Very specific to undersea adventuring, so of limited use if that's not your thing; the undersea combat rules look a bit complex.

Overall ratings:

Style and Presentation A+
Content: A+ for what it sets out to do; a C if you are looking to mine for ideas in on undersea campaigns.
General Value: A+

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting
Publisher: Alluria Publishing
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/15/2012 05:43:45
This massive full-color campaign is 290 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of index, 1 page inside back cover and 1 page back cover, leaving a staggering 279 pages of content for this campaign setting, but what exactly are in for?

What if the world saw an age of peace above the waves, an era of enlightenment overseen by a powerful nation? What if said force of goodness and equilibrium suddenly vanished and the surface-dwellers, in their despair and ignorance initiated a cataclysm that sees most of the world flooded, leaving only sparse patches of land unsubmerged? What if the surface-dwellers went extinct and yet, the world would continue spinning? The action and eternal war between good and evil would continue, but beneath the waves. These are the Cerulean Seas, a world flooded and in the grip of tidal waves, where new races have claimed dominance after vanquishing the dreaded sahuagin and this book follows an ambitious goal - Not only do the people from Alluria Publishing try to offer you an original setting, but also provide all the necessary rules for all instances of underwater adventuring.

Let's see whether they've succeeded in that endeavor, shall we? There's a lot to consider, believe me. Seeing I converted the monstrous arcana Sahuagin-trilogy from the 2nd edition days of old to 3.5 and ran the campaign, I do know that even if you prepare a LOT of magical items/spells etc., there are a LOT of additional concerns to address and this book is wasting no space and jumps in to introduce us to some of the peculiarities of underwater adventuring:

From an introduction to the different light zones, to mechanics to determine tides and even very extensive terrain information, we get a lot of cool new rules, favorite of which for me would be buoyancy -natural air bladders from races to items: The rules presented for buoyancy should be standard - they are elegant and easy to implement: Essentially buoyancy comes in positive and negative values, either dragging you down or pushing you upwards - including acceleration and drag. Str determines what you can carry until you fight against buoyancy. Combine that with water pressure and currents (which also get their easy and yet extensive rules) and we get a wholly unique experience: Seeing that until I read this, underwater combat felt mostly like flying underwater, this is just awesome - 3d exploration and combat that opens a whole array of new tactics and combat options. Combat will never be the same under the waves and even if you're only planning on having 1 or 2 adventures under the waves, this chapter (especially when combined with OD's Sunken Empires), is absolutely the best resource you can imagine. It also includes extensive information on underwater hazards ranging from poisons, whirlpools etc. A new condition replaces prone (disoriented) and thrown weapons are replaced with plunge weapons - be aware, though, that not a simple name-substitution has been made: E.g. the splash weapons work in some key-aspects different from their dryland-counterparts.
After this chapter on terrain and the basics, we are introduced to the new playable races, all of which come with their own natural buoyancy, information on their depth tolerance as well as the information on attributes. I'd usually sum up the racial modifiers etc., but in the interest of finishing this review this century, I'll just go on to give you a general overview. Generally, the races of the Cerulean Sea can be divided into three general categories: Anthromorphs (4 races), which include cool races like the crab-like Karkanaks and the crocodile-humanoid Sebek-Ka, the Feykith (4 races), which contain Sea-elves, Selkies and Viridian Naiads, the latter being plant-like in life-cycle and mentality. The final category is the Merfolk, which includes the mysterious and alien, deep-dwelling Nommo, the poison-spined Cindarians and the proud, mount-like Kai-Lios. 11 merfolk-halfbreeds are also provided along tables for age, height/length, buoyancy and depth-tolerance. I expected to get lame aquatic variants of regular races and instead found a plethora of well-written, balanced, cool races that ooze unique flavor and thus lend themselves to truly ingenious plots.

Chapter 3 deals with classes and how they work under water and some interesting components and rationalizations/modifications have been made to them: Alchemists for example have invented aqua gravis, a substance to make bombs and potions with and its discovery, manufacture and usage lends a whole new dimension/other was the items work to the whole class. Wait, Alchemist? Yep, Cerulean Seas comes with full-blown APG-support. While all classes get their respective treatment, the two new domains for the cleric (Flora and Steam, replacing Plant and Fire) as well as an one-page domains/deities-list deserve special mention, as do the 18 aquatic animal companions and the new eidolon evolutions. Conversion notes for e.g. Infernal bloodlines etc. are provided as well.
The chapter does not stop there, though: We get the new Kahuna-base-class, a druid-like ally of the spirits of the sea with neat spirit aspect powers of 8 different totems - mechanically one of the most interesting spirit shaman-like classes I've seen. Speaking of interesting - the 20-lvl Mariner base-class, focusing on supreme 3d-movement and agility makes for an interesting melee-choice and the substitute for the bard, the siren-class, also makes for a neat design, though the latter could have used more options to choose from with regards to her songs. The base-PrCs are also covered along 3 new PrCs - The Beach Comber, a ranger-like elite, the Glimmerkeeper, legendary rogues and possibly mutants fighting for the downtrodden and the Sea Witch, who is a rather evil and dark PrC for the siren - think Ursula from Ariel in mature and you'll get these nice fellows.

The next chapter deals with skills and feats - jumping from the waves, diving perception beneath the waves and coverage of existing feats help adapting them to the world beneath the waves. The chapter does not stop there, though: 45 new feats expand upon racial qualities (enhancing Cindarian spines and Karanak-claws for example) as well as dealing with the new environment, improving e.g. Air Bladder class. Surprisingly, I did not find a single feat that felt overpowered or useless - quite a feat! (Pardon the pun!)

The next chapter deals with underwater currency: Seeing that copper and silver tend to rust, the currency of the seas is based on shell, gold and pearls. Tarde and new goods like the aforementioned aqua gravis as well as alloys for weapons are covered. The new weapons cover both weaponized harnesses for awakened animals and a vast array of thrusting weapons - the tables alone cover 2 whole pages, ensuring that you don't have to arm all your characters/NPCs with piercing weapons. The aquatic armors are also interesting, including for example jellyfish armors as well as clamshell plates. 11 new ships are introduced for traveling on the waves (which seems to be a bit more secure than under the waves) and a huge array of conversions are provided for all the regular items and obsolete ones are mentioned as well. Kelp ropes e.g. replacing regular ones. Extensive lists including buoyancy information for these items have been provided for your convenience as well, as have buoyancy-control items that help you combat updraft. Have I mentioned the phosphorescent jelly-fish lanterns? This chapter, with all the small details and miniscule meticulously pieced together components makes underwater adventuring and societies that much more believable - excellent!

Chapter 6 deals with new magic as well as old one: After introducing some exceptions, we are introduced to a huge list of aquatic spell components, replacing drylander components - I love this list. While it seems to be a small and unnecessary component, I really consider going this extra-mile in detail and depth of coverage makes the approach stand out. APG-fans can rejoice, by the way: Undersea spell lists are provided for all the core and APG-classes and modifications to the spells have also been included in the lists. Over 100 spells are either entirely new or have been heavily modified to work beneath the waves and the two new casting base classes Kahuna and Siren also get their respective spell-lists. Surprisingly, the spells ranging from acidic red algae to black maelstroms are surprisingly well-crafted and none felt like overpowered or a story/game-breaker to me - indeed, some do expand the tactical options provided by 3d-fighting and currents - awesome! The new magic item-section comes with 2 armor and 4 weapon qualities as well as 1 new specific armor as well as 8 specific items, all of which (with one exception) come with their own high-quality artworks.

The 7th chapter deals with the Cerulean Seas campaign setting and can be considered a primer/gazetteer of the setting: This section contains racial histories, short NPC-write ups of famous NPCs as well as detailed information on the respective languages spoken beneath the waves. Religion is covered as well, but in a different way from what you'd expect: The council of nine, 9 deities seeking to absorb all other faiths, make for the mainstream religions and uphold the verdicts of "There shall be only 9" - but where there's persecution, there will also be cults, ranging from variations of the 9 teachings to more heretical positions. Two sanctioned cults per deity are included in the respective write-ups, lending further diversity to the pantheon. A vast array of short city-write-ups as well as a page chronicling current events provide ample hooks for the DM to craft adventures around.

Chapter 8 offers advice for Dming adventures under the sea and does a great job - extensive tbales to help you convert both items and creatures to the Cerulean Seas are provided along guidelines for buoyancy and then there's the battlemat-problem: If you've been stacking dice, this pdf has a page of depth-cubes you can print-out and use instead, providing more stability -quick and doesn't take too much time. If you're going for the recommended solution (after discussing some alternatives), we get actually some cool DIY-information: Tracker trees! Templates for the trees are provided both in full-color and B/w at the end of the pdf and the assembly instructions are comprehensive and easy and most importantly: Affordable, relatively easy to contruct and also a nice alternative if you're shooting for a solution for aerial combat as well.


No environment-focused book would be complete without a bestiary and thus, Alluria Publishing provides us with a smattering of new creatures in chapter 9: From Algoids (underwater shambling mounds) to degenerate merfolk, coral shephards (treant-like guardians of coral reefs) to a vast array of fishes, dinosaurs to 9 new kinds of deep-sea song dragons, we get a lot of cool critters. Have I mentioned the sound and steam elementals as well as 12 new familiar animals, creatures like dire lampreys to seacats and several species of sea-titans (e.g. with kraken-tentacles as lower parts of the torso) to original creatures like the mind-controlling, arcane static-producing mysterious slug-humanoids Slurgs and the awakened animal species of animals, the so-called trueforms? The creatures herein add a lot to a given campaign, even if it only skirts the water's surface. 4 simple templates also help you adjusting other creatures to the Cerulean Seas.
We also get appendices: Creatures by CR, a pronunciation guide, an index of tables, an art-index, 2 pages of char-sheet, 4 pages of card-stock minis,2 tracker tree templates, 1 page of depth cubes and 1 page-map of the Cerulean Seas. Finally, as I've mentioned in the beginning of this review, we get an index.

Conclusion:
Editing is very good - I noticed only about 10 glitches over 290 pages and all of them were minor hyphen- or punctuation errors. Formatting is top-notch and layout adheres to the two-column standard. The layout. Oh my god, it's beautiful. The slightly blue-tinged full-color pages are accentuated with gold and offer for a cool, unified look. The pdf comes with more than extensive bookmarks, greatly facilitating usage of the book and it should be noted, that size and art notwithstanding, the setting only takes up about 18 mbs, making it still a viable candidate for e-readers. Let me talk about the art: The artwork herein is GORGEOUS. I mean Paizo-level GORGEOUS. In fact, the interior artwork is probably at a level of quality I've rarely, if ever, seen before in a 3pp-book. In spite of having a lot of different artists creating these pieces, the book nevertheless maintains an unified look that is beyond what one would expect from most publications. Have I mentioned that a lot of weapons, ships etc. also get their artworks?

Let's get to the content: The attention to even the most miniscule detail and peculiarity is STAGGERING. Just about everything has been taken into consideration and lists like the spell-components and their underwater equivalents, the item conversions, the idea of aqua gravis etc. ensure that this pdf does not only provide a blue-tinged dryland equivalent of a setting, but rather an astonishing world that feels distinctively different. Underwater economics, travel etc. - all the aspects of underwater adventuring that had been handwaved at best until now have been covered in a consistent, intelligent and concise manner. Have I mentioned that the amount of letters f the respective alphabets are mentioned in the language write-ups? The sheer amount of fluffy details complementing the crunch is awesome. The new content is almost universally killer, ranging from the new races and their more unique representatives to the new classes. I didn't have a balance-concern with a single spell or feat. An then there's the setting-primer, which provides for a nice political landscape to spring upon your players. Proving that they know how to go above and beyond, the folks over at Alluria have also covered the 3d-combat an its representation with tracker trees to an extent that I did not expect to see. Conversion hellp for the GM ensures that this book will not be limited to single uses or just the material herein, but make it easy to expand the setting with more content. The buoyancy, deep pressure etc.-rules are plain awesome and the bestiary-section alone, with the resplendent artworks and huge variety enables you to genuinely portray an underwater world. Even if you choose to utterly ignore all setting-specific information, you'll still be left with over 200 pages of top-quality content that makes this book the ultimate resource on underwater adventuring - be it for an extensive period or just a couple of adventures. If you combine this book with e.g. OD's Sunken Empires, you'll be in for a fresh gaming environment that by its rules and premises alone evokes non-conventional tactics, environments and twists of tried and true tropes as well as opening whole new revenues for adventurers. I am rarely blown out of the water (bad pun, I know), but this epic tome managed not only to surprise me with all-around stellar quality, but also with its imaginative potential, its attention to details and the fresh approach to the world beneath the waves. If your campaign world has even one ocean, you need to have this. in fact, I maintain that this book belongs to the rare pdf that should grace just about any shelf of PFRPG-material, as it easily surpasses e.g. D&D 3.5's Sandstorm and Frostburn - it's that good.

If all books were like this, I could stop reviewing right now. If I could give this pdf 6 stars, I would. Seriously. The 20 bucks they charge for the pdf are a steal and while the pdf will extort a brutal drain on your printer, the downright beautiful end-result will be worth it as this is one of the instances where craft and art of deigning RPG-products go hand in hand. Seeing that I can't give this pdf 6 stars, I'll settle for my highest possible verdict of 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - this belongs to your shelf and I guarantee that you won't regret your purchase.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting
Publisher: Alluria Publishing
by Dark M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/30/2010 22:56:57
Cerulean Seas by Alluria Publishing

This product is 290 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, and ToC. (4 pages)

Chapter 1 – Undersea Basics (22 pages)
It starts with a IC introduction explaining what has happened and why 99% of the world is covered in water now. It moves onto a OOC explaining how and why the book was made, followed with advice on using it and common terms in the book. Next it gets into the environments of the sea. The different zones in the ocean, close to land, far from it. How deep one is from the surface, including how much light there is, the effects of the tides etc It gets very in depth and covers everything very well.

Next they get into buoyancy, it goes into great deal of the effects this has on characters and creatures under the sea. It also gets into drag effects of pulling a object or person along underwater. Followed by the effects of pressure has on living things. Next is current's riptides, and undertow, swimming speeds, terrain above water and at the bottom of the ocean. I don't know how realistic all of it is, but it is well written and seems like it would work very well and makes sense.

Next it gets into perils like poisons, diseases, blood in the water drawing sharks, water conditions like murk or whirlpools etc. It ends with a short section on undersea combat, with some differences. Like it being a 3D environment.

Chapter 2 – Undersea Races (20 pages)
This chapter details the undersea races one can play in a undersea campaign. They are all done in enough depth and detail to easily pick one up and start playing with them, giving you everything you need just like the main races in Pathfinder core rule book. The are broken up be species type and then by individual race. It finishes with a whole host of half bread combinations. Since many of them are egg laying races it is far easy to get cross breeding as any male can fertilize the eggs.
Anthromorphs
-Karkanaks
-Mogogols
-Pisceans
-Sebek-kas
Feykith
-Elves, Sea
-Naiads, Viridian
-Nixies, Deepwater
-Selkies, Lochgelly
Merfolk
-Cindarians
-Kai-lios
-Nommos
-Seafolk

Chapter 3 – Undersea Classes (34 pages)
At first it talks about how you can adapt the existing Pathfinder classes to use in the game, including the APG classes. Some are pretty minor changes some are a bit more complex. It also introduces two more domains, undersea Flora and Steam domains. It also has a table of 27 deities, domains weapons etc, more details in chapter 7. The druid has 18 new animal companion options. There is several new Eidolon evolutions to choose from. Plus 12 more familiars for the witch and wizard.

Next it introduces three new classes. They replace the niche of some of the existing classes in new and interesting ways. There is nothing stopping you from using both classes in the same game though.
Kahuna – replaces the Druid
Mariner – replaces the ranger
Siren – replaces the Bard

Next it gets into PrC's and which ones fit and what you need to change if anything and the ones that don't. It also includes three new PrC's as well.
Beach Comber – They go up on some of the little land left and spend time there.
Glimmerkeepers – Honestly to hard to explain but very cool.
SeaWitch – a PrC for the new Siren class.

Chapter 4 – Aquatic Skills and Feats (14 pages)
It starts off talking about all the skills that are different and how they are different. Next it moves onto existing feats that need to be tweaked and what they do now to fit. Next it introduces 45 new undersea flavored feats that all fit very well.

Chapter 5 – Money and Equipment (20 pages)
First it gets into the new money system, since most metals tarnish or rust underwater it makes sense. They use small shells, gold, pearls and such. Now on the shells they really should have made it clear they had to have stamps to make them valuable or people could just go kill the creatures and take their shells for money.

It follows this with a section on weapons, armor and undersea gears. There is simply way to much to list or even high light. They did a good job with the gear for the most part. Other than a few minor issues like Spiked Chain which honestly just would not work underwater. It even has a section on sailing ships. There is several new weapons, armor and a couple of dozen new gear items, not to mention many of the old stuff tweaked to fit the setting.

Chapter 6 – Magic of the Sea (34 pages)
It starts off talking about how spells will work differently underwater. It is followed by a table of aquatic material components in place of the existing ones. I thought that was very cool as some stuff just wouldn't exist underwater. Next it has a chart of spells and their new names, while not needed it was very cool and makes sense. I mean no one would call a fireball and fireball underwater, instead it is mageboil as it makes the water boil instead.

Next it details all the new spells and spells that have changed such as fireball to mageboil. I tried counting but I lost count. There is around a 120-130 spells, I am honestly unsure how many are new and how many are altered. At a glance I would say close to 50/50. It ends with 9 new magic items and a few new magic item properties.

Chapter 7 – The Cerulean Seas (25 pages)
This section gets into the campaign setting, it has the gods, cities, etc, it is a campaign gazetteer for the default setting of the book.

Chapter 8 – Mastering the Sea (10 pages)
This is the game master section of the book on how to run games underwater. It gets into greater detail of some of the previous stuff like buoyancy etc. About how to find depth tolerances for creatures, by what they are. The most interesting section is on 3D combat and how to make your own 3d combat mat to use with mini's if you like. It ends with a section on how the planes interact with the sea.

Chapter 9 – Cerulean Sea Bestiary (72 pages)
This chapter is just a monster bestiary for the setting but also a great one for anyone that ever wants to run a undersea adventure. There is 95 new monsters including new sound based dragons which all looked different and where really interesting. Many had more than one stat block like the dragons. There was also 5 new templates.

Appendices (6 pages)
There is a few Appendix in this section, monsters listed by CR, pronunciation guide, index of tables and index of art.

It ends with a OGL, 2 page character sheet, 4 cardboard mini's, hex sheets to make the 3D battle map with, a full page map, indepth index and back cover. (17 pages)

Closing thoughts. This is a very well written, very pretty book about undersea campaigns. The art work is mostly color and very good high quality art. The editing, layout and production values was top notch. Simply put if you ever wanted a book to help you run a undersea campaign THIS is the book to get. Even if you don't want to, this would be a great tool if you ever wanted to just run some adventures underwater.

Now the book is not perfect, there is a few minor issues where and there with it, like the spiked chain or the shells I mentioned. But most of them are pretty minor issues. My only real critic is honestly the price. I understand Alluria publishing is a small company and art is very expensive, after seeing the art in this book I am sure they spent a bundle on the art budget. But it is a bit high priced at 29.99 for a PDF. If that was the print price I would say fair price, for a PDF though? I felt a tad high. So whats my rating? Well just on the book it is easily a 5 star product, with the price I would say a 4.5 star. I know the price is a little high but I don't think you will be disappointed picking this up, if you find undersea adventures interesting at all.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting
Publisher: Alluria Publishing
by joshua e. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/29/2010 10:37:58
Shane O'Connors excellent review pretty much covers all the bases. Except for one. Where are my octopus-people? Thankfully the Cecaelia from Fell Beasts Vol. 2 can easily be used to fill this gap. Otherwise, two thumb up for this awesome book!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting
Publisher: Alluria Publishing
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/27/2010 11:56:14
Underwater adventuring has always been, insofar as Pathfinder is concerned, one of those ideas that seem great in theory but difficult in practice. After all, taking your adventuring party underwater means that everyone’s aware that one good dispel magic will take away whatever spells or magic items they’re using to keep breathing. Add in penalties for how melee and ranged attacks work, changes to spellcasting, and even the continual Swim checks to keep moving, and it’s not only a headache for everyone involved, but quite likely a TPK waiting to happen. And don’t even get me started on the logistics of fighting across three dimensions of movement.

And so, underwater adventuring was quietly pushed off to the side. Just enough rules were provided to make it theoretically possible, without anyone worrying about how practical it actually was. Few adventures were published that dealt with characters going into the waves, and those that were kept it to the shallow end of the pool, with dry land always being close by. Finding new paths under the sea seemed like it’d always be resigned the realm of pipe-dreams and a few die-hards, never to be accessible to the mainstream Pathfinder gamers.

All of that changed when Alluria Publishing released Cerulean Seas, a massive campaign setting-slash-sourcebook that not only takes Pathfinder underwater, but actually makes such a game doable. Let’s take a look at what the book offers so that you’ll know this isn’t just a fish story I’m telling you.

As a PDF file, Cerulean Seas hits all of the high-water marks. It has full, nested bookmarks (an absolute necessity in a book that’s nearly 300 pages long), and allows for copy-and-pasting without problems. And of course, the artwork – oh wow, the artwork! Alluria has always had a reputation for their lavish illustrations, and they certainly live up to it here. An entire team of interior artists have lovingly portrayed myriad aspects of the book’s material, from new races and monsters to new equipment, to spell effects, to a map of the Cerulean Seas area, and so much more, (almost) all of it in lush full color. Alluria is perhaps the only company that can compete with Paizo on an even footing for how gorgeous their books look.

Of course, this (and the subtle but ornate page borders) means that this book is far from printer-friendly. At the time of this writing, a print version of the book is still in the works, but isn’t yet available. If you want a hardcopy of Cerulean Seas, you might be better to wait for that, as this PDF would likely send your printer to Davy Jones’ Locker.

The book’s opening chapter dives right in, opening with framing fiction that defines the game world. The Cerulean Seas campaign setting used to be a normal game world, but had a great flood that covered the world with ninety-nine percent water. There’s more to it than this, of course, including a recently-won genocidal war against the sahuagin, the role the gods played in the great flood, and more, but this is the main thrust of the story, and sets the stage for this water world.

The chapter takes us through some basic terms and definitions before we start to get into the specifics of living under the sea. It’s here that the book might start to scare away some of the more casual-type gamers, because this chapter pulls no punches in what it presents. We’re given an introduction to how things like buoyancy, hydraulic pressure, ambient sunlight, and more work underwater. The first chapter is basically a primer for things to be aware of regarding life underwater, and how these translate into game terms. This is especially true for underwater combat, which has its own section here.

I’ll take a moment to say that while this section can be off-putting for how dry (ironically) its listing of various undersea features can be, as well as how complicated the rules for buoyancy and the accompany combat changes are, it’s worth persevering through. The book deals with this more in the Game Mastering section, but these are the changes that really make an undersea game feel different; and as with all parts of a complex table-top game, they’ll become more familiar (to the point of being second-nature) over time.

The second chapter returns to more familiar territory where PF sourcebooks are concerned, presenting twelve new undersea races (though one or two, such as sea elves or the mogogols, may seem familiar). Cleverly, these are sub-divided into three groups: the anthromorphs (who have humanoid bodies), the feykith (fey-related sea-dwellers), and merfolk (who are humanoid from the waist up, and fish from the waist down). Interestingly, the human-equivalent race is presented as the “seafolk,” a merfolk race. They not only have the human’s “floating” +2 ability bonus that can be applied everywhere, but are the only race to have various cross-breeds listed, with alternate racial traits presented.

Each race received a generous focus, listing not only their statistics but also plenty of flavor text regarding their society, alignment, possible names, etc. However, ardent Pathfinder fans may be somewhat disappointed that the expanded racial options from the Advanced Player’s Guide aren’t reproduced here. That is, there are no alternate racial features available (seafolk crossbreeds notwithstanding) nor are there alternate favored class options.

I’m of two minds about this, as it seems somewhat unfair that these have suddenly been assumed to be default necessities for third-party contributions to the Pathfinder RPG. At the same time, those bring a hefty level of customization to the table that are very helpful in making your character’s race be of greater importance. That said, twelve colorful new races here certainly make that notable in and of themselves. It’s also worth noting that the book doesn’t forget to bring us the various vital statistics for these races (one of those little things that are nevertheless important).

Subsequent to the races chapter is the chapter on classes, and it’s here where things get truly interesting. The book makes some generalized notes about changes to existing classes before dealing with how to alter each base class specifically for an undersea game. This part of the book does deal with the APG classes, so you alchemists and oracles and such can all breathe a sigh a relief.

The changes made in this regard are absolutes, rather than the optional class archetypes presented in the APG. Interestingly, a few classes are recommended to be discarded entirely in favor of three new base classes presented here. Bards are passed over in favor of sirens, druids are replaced with kahunas, and rangers are given the boot in favor of mariners.

These new classes do a great job presenting their own twist on the niche that their replaced classes fill. The Kahuna, for example, is a full-progression divine spellcaster, but selects a single animal spirit that, as she gains levels, is able to utilize greater and greater spirit powers to bolster herself and her allies (or alternately harm her enemies).

This chapter also deals with prestige classes, listing which ones from the Core Rulebook and APG are useable without any changes, which need some changes, and which aren’t available at all. There are also three new prestige classes presented here, the each comber (those who venture into the wilds of the remaining dry land), glimmerkeeper (fast-moving undersea hero), and sea witch (an aquatic necromancer).

Skills and feats are the subject of the fourth chapter. As with many things, the skills section offers a series of new interpretations of existing skills, though there are no new skills added (something I was grateful for, as adding new skills often feels contrived). The feats section got a similar examination for several existing feats, but here we’re given almost four-dozen new underwater feats as well.

The chapter on money and equipment was interesting for how much stayed the same, though quite a bit changed in appearance. Most precious metals have been replaced by things like shells or pearls, though the measurements of currency are largely the same. New equipment helps there be a greater selection of viable weapons and armor underwater, not to mention various items that are unique to undersea adventuring, such as holy sand to replace holy water. Oddly, ships are presented here also, reinforcing that some aquatic races still spend a lot of their time above the waves.

The magic chapter presents some very imaginative alterations to not only existing spells, but also existing material components and foci before it moves into new spells and magic items. Some of what’s here deals with the change from fire damage to boiling-water damage, while others present alternate ways of harnessing electrical spells, or various utility spells such as defeating undersea pressure, or even breathing air for characters who want to go top-side.

It’s at the seventh chapter of the book that we take a look at the Cerulean Seas campaign world. This chapter takes a surprisingly light tone with the campaign, presenting many different facets of it but not going too deep with any of them, letting you fill in a lot of the blanks to make the game world your own. It does cover the recent histories and major NPCs of all of the major races, presents a number of major cities, a brief overview of the spoken languages, and an overview of the world’s recent history. My favorite, however, was the presentation of the Cerulean Seas religions. The undersea races uniformly decided to prevent religious strife by allowing only nine deities to be worshipped, one for each alignment. However, in order to sweep everyone under this umbrella, there are various “cults” that worship different aspects of these deities (each deity has two cults presented, with their own alignments, domains, etc.). These cults may only operate with the blessing of the parent faith, and it was engrossing to read about how various races merged their native religions with that of a more dominant faith, often resulting in the major god literally consuming the smaller one as a consequence.

I don’t mind saying that chapter eight, the Game Mastering Chapter, was perhaps the most friendly and helpful such section I’ve ever read. It speaks frankly, and almost familiarly, about the problems with running an undersea game, and what to do about them. Remember those scary new rules from chapter one? It goes over what the most important are to get down pat and how to ease into them. We get general guidelines on converting other materials for an undersea game, whether in terms of buoyancy or pressure tolerance. But my favorite section here was the unabashed look at the problem of 3D combat.

The book outlines roughly a half-dozen options for what to do about this issue, ranging from buying commercial elevation trackers to ordering a pizza and using those little plastic things that keep the cheese off of the box to elevate your minis. But by far the most favored option it presents is the one where it walks you, step by step, through creating your own adjustable boards for elevation. These are basically a few square inches of hard foam boarding that are moved up and down a standing rod; add a half-dozen of them to your game table and you can easily simulate characters moving across every dimension. It’s a fun little project, and works great for any tabletop game that needs a 3D combat solution.

There’s also a fascinating section on the planar arrangement (or perhaps just the widespread belief in the arrangement) of this campaign world. After all, an undersea culture hardly believes in a plane of fire, especially one that stands equal to the plane of water! Likewise, the oceans of the outer planes are considered much more prominent than the dry areas of such realms.

The final full chapter of the book presents almost a hundred new monsters to help populate your undersea game. From aquatic familiars to a large selection of new giants and true dragons (which are given their own grouping, rather than being chromatic or metallic), there’s plenty here to round out an underwater bestiary. New selections of simple templates and guidelines on how the major creature types work underwater provide further options and guidelines.

The book closes out with a number of helpful aids, such as a consolidated list of undersea monsters from this book, the Pathfinder Bestiary, and Alluria’s other Pathfinder books. Add in a pronunciation guide, cardstock minis, a character sheet, and more, and there’s everything you’ll need to get started on your Cerulean Seas game right away.

And if you’re not already excited about using this book to run an underwater game after reading this review, then trust me: it’s more due to my descriptions lacking enough fidelity to the book’s accomplishments than anything else. Cerulean Seas not only looks at every aspect of running a game in an underwater world – from what it means to be submerged to the logistics of it at the game table – but presents holistic options and alterations for setting a Pathfinder game there. The new material is expansive and the campaign setting covers a wide range of topics while still leaving room for customization. And of course, the artwork is beautiful and prominent. This is easily one of the best Pathfinder books to come out of the third-party market, and the absolute best for the topic it covers.

Don’t be afraid to make your game better by taking it down where it’s wetter. Bring your characters to the Cerulean Seas; it’ll make a big splash amongst your gaming group.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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