Swimming in B/X

Robert Fisher has kindly pointed out what I missed.  The following section appears in the Expert book, page X51:

SWIMMING: All characters may swim unless the DM decides otherwise.  Movement rate while swimming is 1/2 normal.  The DM will want to decide on the chance of a character drowning when swimming in rough water, swimming while carrying heavy or encumbering equipment or treasure, swimming while wearing heavy armor, or while fighting in the water.  The chance of drowning will be largely dependent on the circumstances.  For example, a fighter trying to swim in rough choppy seas while wearing plate armor and carrying 3000 cn of treasure might have a 99% chance of drowning.  The same fighter in leather armor and not carrying treasure might have only a 10% chance of drowning.  When fighting in the water or underwater, it should be harder to hit opponents, and damage done from successful attacks should be reduced.  Missile weapons will not normally work while fighting in the water.

Um, thanks Mr. Cook?  It’s so overwhelmingly hand-wavey, I almost wonder why he even bothered.  Yes, I agree, I will want to decide on the chance of a character drowning.  That’s why I’m reading this text.  Sigh.

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4 Comments

  1. “For example, a fighter trying to swim in rough choppy seas while wearing plate armor and carrying 3000 cn of treasure ….”

    Him can only carry 1600 coins at most. Cook & company didn’t pay attention to their typing.

  2. The Rules Cyclopedia says:

    All characters may swim unless the DM decides otherwise.

    A character’s movement rate while swimming is 1/5 his outdoor running speed. A character swimming underwater always measures his movement rate in feet.

    Under normal conditions a swimming character is in no danger of drowning. However, if the character is swimming while carrying heavy encumbrance or swimming in rough, dangerous conditions, he can drown.

    If a character is carrying more than 400cn encumbrance, sheer weight will drag him down.
    (Leather armour is 200cn, scale mail is 300cn, chain mail is 400cn. Shield is 100cn and a sword is 50cn.)

    The DM should decide on the chances of drowning in rough water, swimming while encumbered, or fighting while swimming.

    Then gives rules about drowning.

    John.

  3. Yeah, that sounds basically like a more verbose version of the B/X rules. A few extra details but still largely hand-waved. I agree that circumstances should be involved, and the DM should be encouraged to modify chances of survival in dangerous conditions, but I would think placid underground lakes are common enough in our dungeons that some base line chances of survival would be nice.

    Also, I simply don’t understand why leather gets such a pass. Sure, it’s probably not the death sentence a full suit of plate is, but neither should it be as easy as skinny dipping.

  4. I agree. I would also include their clothes in the encumbrance I think. I remember swimming classes when I was a kid where we were taught to take our clothes off in the water for survival, if you fall in with clothes on. Even soldiers take off their uniforms if they are able to.

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