Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Into the Deep, or How to Hunt Magic Whales in Fantasy Land

So I wrote some posts on sailing. Now you get a post on sailing and hunting magic whales for profit and fun and adventure.

The Ecology of the Psári 

Psári (the Greek word for fish) are the great leviathans of the shallow seas of Ánemos. Indeed they are the foundation of all sea life according to the merefolk, when you can convince them to talk about serious matters for a little while. The merefolk also call them the fish that never stops growing and the dicks of the sea, but we don't listen to merefolk too carefully.

They are born small, lithe and silver in broods of hundreds born out of their mothers secret egg den. When this young they flit around the reefs in schools of thousands eating plankton and algae, and many other fish eat the Psári at this stage and few survive to adolescence.

Once they are large enough the Psári leave the reefs for the deeper waters of the channels between islands and reef shelves. This is where they begin to be the hunters, eating fish that once hunted them. At this point they are long and their tails are powerful, their silver flesh has given way to stony scales of grey.

They look kind of like this

As adults the Psári are massive, more than eighty feet long, and the undisputed kings of the islands. They have lost their speed in favor for massive strength, and many lesser fish follow behind the adult Psári in hopes of cleaning off their algae crusted scales or getting a morsel of some unfortunate prey the Psári have killed.

At this size the Psári  are too large to support themselves through purely carnivorous activities, their diets begin to shift towards their infant food of plankton and algae. This change in diet is accompanied by a change in the structure of their teeth, becoming proto-baleen, capable of both filtering plankton and rending meat.

Example of proto-baleen teeth in leopard seals

Hunting Psári

Its like this, but the fish is bigger and you boat is worse and its really hot.
Okay, so your PCs are convinced that they want to go on a Psári hunt and earn some cash. If they are low level they wont have a boat, so they will have to sign on with a Psári hunting boat (they are called Psaróvarka). The PCs will have to haggle for thier lays of the profit at the end of the voyage, the captain would get something like 1/17th, the firstmate 1/22nd, a harpooner 1/75th, a smith 1/100th, and a crewman 1/140th. Martial characters should be able to convince the captain and first mate of their ability with a harpoon relatively easily, though magical or skillful characters might have a tougher time proving their worth.

Psaróvarka take a while, like a a few weeks to a few months. So its probably best to present the voyage as a montage of sorts, with the hunt being the main piece of action. When the PCs are traveling on their own their is also a chance that they will encounter a pod of Psári, as per my random sea encounter table, at which point they can choose to try for a kill. (Incidentally, Psári also sometimes hunt ships when especially hungry, or in heat, or hurt, or defending a kill, or...)

Unlike ship-ship naval combat Psári hunting takes place at the standard rate and scale, because the hunters are in row boats with harpoons. Treat harpoons like javelins, but when they hit they have lines attached to tow the boat along as the Psári bleeds and fights. Every round make a strength check for the Psári to see if it can snap the lines, getting harder the more lines there are.

Adolescent Psári: Huge beast, unaligned
AC: 14 (silver scales)
HP: 115(10d12+50)
Speed: swim 50 feet
Ability Scores: STR 23, DEX 14, CON 21, INT 3, WIS 10, CHA 8
Saves: STR: +6, DEX +2, CON +8, WIS +3
Perception: +3, Passive 13
Multiattack: The Adolescent Psári makes two attacks, one bite and one tail smash.
Bite: +8 to hit, 5ft reach, one target, 2d10+6 piercing damage.
Tail smash: +8 to hit, 10ft reach, one target and ship, 3d12+6 bludgeoning damage

Adult Psári: Gargantum beast, unaligned
AC: 16 (scales of stone)
HP: 216(16d12+112)
Speed: swim 30 feet
Ability Scores: STR 27, DEX 8, CON 24, INT 6, WIS 12, CHA 8
Saves: STR: +9, DEX -1, CON +12, WIS +6
Perception: +6, Passive 16
Bite: +13 to hit, 10ft reach, one target, 4d12+8 piercing damage.
Tail smash: +13 to hit, 20ft reach, one target and ship, 10d6+8 bludgeoning damage

Selling Psári

Everyone in Ánemos is at least mostly pescetarian, and Psári is the biggest and best fish to catch. There is a vibrant trade of their parts, and most cities will have a fish market near the docks selling Psári parts. Even smaller settlements will get together and buy a few tons of Psári carcass annually to feed them through the year.

Fish Market!
Not only is their meat and blubber used for cooking and heating, but their bones have wonderful flexibility and strength and they are used in many tools and weapons. Their scales are strong and do not rust in the salty spray of the ocean, leading many to make pieces of armor out of them. Their massive hearts are the most valuable of all, prized for their use in rituals and alchemy.

Goods and Prices:
Sell Price/Ton
% of Body Weight
Psári Meat
40 drachma
Psári Bone
80 drachma
Psári Blubber
120 drachma
Psári Scales
200  drachma
Psári Heart
1,000 drachma
Size Chart:

Length (feet)
Weight (tons)
Age (years)

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