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Old 09-21-2021, 09:30 PM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Harlem, New York
Default undersea arabian nights

At every new plot point I've wise advice from ye forumites. I have a new one - Arabian Nights undersea adventuring, while our heroes dive off not-Morocco's shores to seek the Sea King's Blessing. Anything I should know?

I've been browsing around in the threads and it seems like there's some very useful information on underwater combat. Key modifiers that seem to change the flavor are penalties with long-reach weapons, massive shortening of ranged weapon ranges - and in particular, more hits given active defense penalties, but also reduced damage. Many other details also that I'll try to apply, but am I getting the high-level intent?

But I'd also like to ask about the Arabian Nights-ness of undersea adventuring. Any books or passages I should be reading in preparation? It's been a while since I read the Nights themselves but I'm not remembering much of what the undersea realms actually looked like - more fantastic inhabitants washed up or fished out and granting fabulous prizes to those who released them. I do have the Z-Man Games box set but would prefer not to cheat and look ahead at the undersea stories they have prepared! And any other tips on how to make the setting feel properly fabulous and opulent? Or how much straight Dungeon Fantasy you can get away with in the wandering monsters before our heroes enter the Sea King's palace?

Thoughts on any or all of these topics very much appreciated as always.
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Old 09-21-2021, 10:22 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

This sounds awesome! My first GURPS3e campaign was based around the Arabian Nights (loosely). Lasted more than ten years.

My first thought is to not get too caught up in realistic undersea rules. I would go with relatively simple and cinematic.

You can get away with lots of DF here. Some monsters might need to be reskinned or refluffed to fit, but the basic mechanics should work well. Shipwrecks, pearls, puzzles… it’s a rich milieu.

I recall being inspired by the story “Jullanar of the Sea.” I’m sure you can find it online. I think she was part of an undersea race.

I’d love to hear about how this plays out for you!
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Old 09-21-2021, 11:07 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Kenmore, WA (north of Seattle)
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

According to myth, or maybe just poetry, Alexander the great has a diving bell. I believe there are some Persian artworks and/or poems that mention it. Could be good for an adventure seed or inspiration.
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Old 09-22-2021, 01:53 AM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

You do know about the supplement GURPS Arabian Nights, yes? It's for 3/e, so the mechanics would need some adjustments, but it's excellent for story ideas.
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Old 09-22-2021, 02:08 AM   #5
Phil Masters
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: U.K.
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

There is at least one undersea adventure in the original Arabian Nights, though as I recall, like a lot of fantasy underwater adventures, itís basically (1) have magic cast on you that lets you breathe water (and walk and talk and seeÖ), (2) go have adventures in an undersea realm that looks a lot like the surface world. Though it turns out that the undersea realm is vast, populous, and wealthy, because everything is always more opulent in those stories. Still, you have the precedent.

I did a chapter on underwater adventuring in GURPS Atlantis, but that was 3e and the subject has been more extensively (and probably better) covered in 4e sources since. Pyramid 3/26 is one place to start looking.
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Old 09-22-2021, 04:53 AM   #6
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: UK
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

There's also this, not from the original Arabian Nights but from European sequels in the same style:

Domdaniel is a fictional cavernous hall at the bottom of the ocean where evil magicians, spirits, and gnomes meet.

Domdaniel was first mentioned in the continued story of the Arabian Nights by Dom Chaves and Cazotte (1788-1793). It was described as being located in the sea near Tunis. In this hall, the ruler Zatanai held his court, which included the magician Maugraby and his students.

Robert Southey later used Domdaniel in his multi-volume oriental poem Thalaba the Destroyer (1797). The hero of Southey's story, Thalaba, is the son of Hodeirah and the last surviving member of his family. It had been prophesied that the spirits of the Domdaniel were destined to be destroyed by a member of that family, so they sought to put an end to it.

One of the magicians named by Southey as dwelling in Domdaniel was Abdaldar. He was selected by lot to hunt down Thalaba and slay him. But the youth Thalaba accomplishes the destruction of the magicians in the final volume of the poem despite their efforts to kill him and his surviving family.
I haven't read either of these, but there might be something useful there, you could check. Even if Domdaniel isn't itself full of water, and it might be, there might be something about them getting there. A search suggests that they're both available online.
Looking for online text-based game at a UK-feasible time, anything considered, Roll20 preferred.
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Old 09-22-2021, 06:00 PM   #7
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Harlem, New York
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

Those are excellent, many thanks - will try Domdaniel and Jullanar in particular. I do have G:AN too - canít remember if thereís ocean-specific opulence in there but I like the opulence it has already. And pearls, puzzles, shipwrecks and diving bells for when the DF potions of water-breathing run out all sound like the way to go!
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Old 09-22-2021, 08:01 PM   #8
Alden Loveshade
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Hmm, looks like Earth, circa CE 2020+
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

Please forgive the shameless self-promotion, but GURPS Fantasy Folk: Elves (which should be out VERY soon) has a new rule or two dealing with things underwater, and complies a few others you won't find in the Basic Set.

And an excellent resource is
GURPS Fantasy Folk: Elves My first GURPS supplement
Online interview of myself and one of my GURPS Fantasy Folk: Elves characters
Exchange Students (fantasy/horror/science fiction anthology including my story set in my GURPS galaxy)
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Old 09-23-2021, 10:13 AM   #9
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

Another story from the Nights that might be of interest is Abdullah the Fisherman and Abdullah the Merman. In this story, the first Abdullah befriends a merman and visits his undersea kingdom (using a magical ointment to move through the water unharmed). It includes references to a gigantic man-eating fish (it can swallow an elephant in a single bite), fish that can carve caves from the rocks that the merfolk then use for homes, and plenty of intriguing cultural details.
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Old 09-25-2021, 04:50 PM   #10
Join Date: Sep 2008
Default Re: undersea arabian nights

I'll make a pitch here form my beloved Al-Qadim. It's D&D 2E Arabian Adventures. If you have access to them, the Secrets of the Lamp and A Dozen & One Adventures can be mined. The first details the genie societies of the elemental planes while the second has some underwater adventures in it.
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