Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
The Lost Art of Hydromancy:by Geoff Gander
Special thanks to Shawn Stanley
"In ancient days, before the destruction of Old Alphatia and the turmoil that arose in its wake, there were four Great Schools of the One True Art - Pyromancy, the mastery of fire magicks; Aeromancy, the mastery of the air; Geomancy, the command of the very earth herself; and Hydromancy, the control of the vast seas and rivers that gird the world. The first two are well known to practitioners of the magical arts today, the third much less so, but it is the fourth art, the art of Hydromancy, that is lost to us."
- excerpt from The Elemental Arts, author unknown, published c. AC 929
Most Mystarans are familiar with magic that is based on the elements of fire and air - fireball and fly are prominent examples. Among the Alphatians, these two forms of elemental magic form the basis of much of their society and history, from the ancient feud between the Followers of Air and Fire, to the ongoing rivalry between Glantri and Alphatia to this day.
Few Mystarans, however, know about the magical school of hydromancy. Practiced on Old Alphatia, the most powerful hydromancers controlled the planet's oceanic currents, creating flows that were more conducive to sea-borne trade and travel, and influencing weather patterns such that the worst sea disasters - such as typhoons and hurricanes - were unknown in later days. As the control of water tended to be less glamorous than that of air or fire, and it required more intense and prolonged study, fewer Alphatians were attracted to this school, and hydromancy was practiced by few wizards of note.
During the great battles between the Followers of Air and their mortal enemies, the Followers of the Flame, which ultimately resulted in the destruction of Old Alphatia, the Followers of Water (as the school of hydromancy was known) remained neutral, and instead sought to protect their chosen element from the ravages of war. Eventually, a handful of hydromancers were swayed to support the Followers of Air (water tending to oppose fire in the elemental sense), and they used the destructive powers of the sea to wipe out a number of coastal cities held by their pyromancer foes. This act pushed the Followers of the Flame over the edge, and they declared war on the hydromancers, too. Thus, the seas boiled, thousands more perished, and ultimately Old Alphatia was destroyed. It was thought that hydromancy was lost along with the old home world - a belief that many hydromancers have encouraged over the centuries.
Those hydromancers who exist today are a reclusive lot. Knowing that they are the sole keepers of a school of magic thought to be lost, they are very selective as to who they will admit into their circle, and how much knowledge they will share with them. Practitioners of this art seldom congregate in the larger cities of Alphatia, preferring to gather in the northern coastal regions of the continent, as well as in a handful of ports in Bellissaria and Skothar - generally places where they may practice their craft undisturbed by the locals. In all cases, hydromancers prefer to live near the open sea, as opposed to rivers and lakes. In their view, the latter have either been subdued by humanity, or are too small to exert much of an influence over the other elements.
One large group of hydromancers is known to exist in the kingdom of Frisland, in the rugged western coastal foothills of the Kerothar Mountains. Here, the sea currents are particularly strong, and the land is sparsely inhabited, allowing them to work their magics uninterrupted near a powerful source of their chosen element. Although some live in the various towns and villages themselves (almost always on or near the shore), most of them, being aristocrats, live on their private estates and have little to do with the outside world. Hydromancers who do live amongst other spellcasters and mundaners are often given a wide berth if even the slightest inkling of their talents is known - it is not wise to trifle with someone who might be able to call upon the power of the sea for their own purposes, after all.
Hydromancy spells are much like those available to "normal" spellcasters. What separates them from conventional spells is that, as hydromancy is a secret craft, and its spells are jealously guarded by its practitioners, it would be extremely difficult for an outsider to obtain them. Hydromancers will not tolerate any sharing of secrets with the uninitiated. Those who break this explicit rule - whether they are hydromancers or outsiders - are hunted down and eliminated.
The chart below provides a guide to determining level and circle equivalencies:
Level of Spellcaster Circle Attainable Equivalent Spell Level of Circle 5 1 1 10 2 2 15 3 4 20 4 6 25 5 8
Although hydromancers have access to spells that are either unknown to most Mystaran spellcasters, or are considered lost, they are subject to one major limitation - they may not cast any spells that produce fire. Magic-users who become hydromancers must forego such spells permanently if they have them in their spell books or scrolls, or committed to memory; if they do not, they may not advance further as hydromancers, their hydromancy spells will not function, and they will risk ostracism from their fellow practitioners.
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: 6 turns.
Effect: Makes the caster immune to water-based attacks.
When cast, this spell makes the caster immune to water-based attacks for its duration - including attacks made by creatures native to the Elemental Plane of Water, and spells that are reliant upon water, such as ice storm. One side effect of this spell, however, is that the caster becomes especially vulnerable to fire-based attacks (including those made by denizens of the Elemental Plane of Fire), such that all relevant saving throws automatically fail, and full damage is taken (i.e., instead of taking 6d6 damage from a fireball spell, a hydromancer under the effects of aquatic immunity would take 36 points of damage).
Duration: 1 turn/level of caster.
Effect: Temporarily changes the flow of water within 60' of the caster.
This spell changes the flows of rivers and streams within 60' of the hydromancer, allowing him or her to be carried upstream, or in any other lateral direction. For the duration of the spell, the caster may change the water's flow once per turn if desired, in order to travel in the desired direction. The area of effect moves with the hydromancer, thus allowing him or her (and any companions if they are in a boat or similar vessel) to be carried by the flow - potentially over considerable distances. The speed of the altered flow is identical to the river's regular flow downstream.
Effect: Fires a bolt of water at a target.
With this spell the caster selects a target, and condenses a bolt of water from the moisture in the air, which automatically hits the target. The damage of the waterbolt depends on the level of moisture in the air. In dry climates (such as deserts and badlands), waterbolts do 1d4+1 points of damage; in regions with normal moisture levels (such as forests and plains), they do 1d6+2 points of damage; in regions with high moisture levels (jungles, swamps), they do 1d8+3 damage. If cast underwater, waterbolts inflict 1d10+4 damage.
When cast in a coastal region, treat it as having one level of moisture greater than would otherwise be the case, such that coastal regions near deserts would be considered as having normal moisture levels, and similar regions near plains or forests should be treated as having high levels of moisture. Coastal regions in areas already considered to have high moisture cannot be enhanced in this way for casting purposes. Hydromancers may initially fire only one waterbolt per casting, but an extra one may be fired every three levels once the 10th level has been attained.
Assume Aqueous Form
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: 6 turns.
Effect: Transforms the caster's body into water.
This spell allows the hydromancer to turn his or her body, as well as any possessions carried, into water. While in aqueous form, the caster may maintain his or her original shape, or simply collapse into a pool of water. While in this liquid form, the hydromancer may flow at speeds of up to 120' (40'), and travel in any direction along any surface (including up a wall) except a ceiling. If the hydromancer opts to retain his or her original shape, their original movement rate remains as it was before the casting, although he or she may change shape as often as desired while the spell is in effect - this act takes one round to accomplish. Regardless of whether the caster's original shape is maintained, he or she may seep through the narrowest of cracks in 1d10 rounds; likewise, portcullises, gratings, and similar structures pose no obstacles. While in aqueous form, the hydromancer can blend seamlessly with bodies of water, and use them for concealment or for travel - his or her substance does not break apart while doing so.
While in this altered state, the hydromancer retains his or her hit points, but armour class is reduced to 9. Non-magical and silvered weapons will do no damage to the caster while the spell is in effect, and fire-based attacks do full damage. If the hydromancer is subjected to freezing, he or she will be unharmed, but will be unable to move until the spell expires. If the hydromancer is boiled instead, he or she will suffer 1d8 points of damage per round of boiling. While the spell is in effect, the hydromancer is unable to speak, pick up objects, or cast spells while in aqueous form, but otherwise can see and hear normally. If in humanoid aqueous form, the caster may use hand gestures to communicate.
If an opponent tries to separate or remove part of the hydromancer's body while they are in aqueous form, the caster may make a saving throw vs. Polymorph to resist. If the saving throw fails, the hydromancer has been separated into at least two pieces. The separated pieces are still under the caster's control, and he or she may rejoin them, but each separated piece requires 1d4 rounds to do so. If the caster is in more than one piece when the spell expires, the DM must decide what percentage of the caster's body has been separated, and apply that percentage in terms of damage to the caster's hit point total. For example, if an opponent manages to scoop up 10% of the caster's watery body, and the spell expires, the victim loses 10% of his or her hit points. If more than 25% of the caster's body, in total, has been removed in this manner, the DM may rule - in addition to sustaining damage - that the caster has a chance of temporarily losing his or her sanity, due to the traumatic experience. As a guide, suggested Horror Ratings for such an occurrence are listed below:
Percentage of Body Separated Suggested Horror Rating 25-35% 4 36-45% 6 46-55% 8 (roll saving throw vs. Death Ray for survival - DM's discretion) 56% or more 10 (roll saving throw vs. Death Ray at -4 for survival - DM's discretion)
The table presented above relies on the rules presented in Insanity, Horror, and the Outer Beings in Mystara; if the DM does not wish to use those rules, he or she may develop their own. In the last two cases, at the DM's discretion, the hydromancer must make a saving throw vs. Death Ray to survive the sudden loss of so much of his or her body. If such a saving throw fails, the caster dies immediately, although he or she could be resurrected provided his or her body is repaired beforehand.
Effect: Removes water from a target.
This spell evaporates all water from any single target within range. If cast on pools of water, wells, or rivers, water levels will be reduced considerably, and in the case of small pools, they can be dried out completely. If cast on organic matter, this spell will extract most, if not all, or the moisture in the target. This means that fruits will dry out, plants will wilt, and living creatures will suffer from acute dehydration instantly. In the latter case, the victim will take 1d8 damage for every three levels possessed by the caster (rounding down), up to a maximum damage of 12d8 at 36th level. This damage may be halved with a successful saving throw vs. Death Ray. Creatures killed in this manner are reduced to mummified husks.
Dehydrate is a reversible spell; the opposite version - rehydrate - condenses moisture out of the air, and infuses it into a target. Thus, small depressions in the ground, or containers, may be filled with water, and creatures suffering from dehydration may be healed of any damage resulting from dehydration - up to three days of dehydration (3d8 hit points, or 1d8 hit points per day) may be remedied in this manner. Foodstuffs and other products that have been dried out may be restored in this manner, as well. If cast on a healthy creature, rehydrate will flood their body with additional fluids. If this happens, the victim must make a Constitution check each round, with a cumulative +1 penalty added during the second and subsequent rounds, or drown as per the rules presented in the Rules Cyclopaedia.
Duration: 6 turns.
Effect: Creates a wall of water up to 200' away.
With this spell, the caster may create a solid wall of water, up to 200' away, whose size and strength varies according to the amount of water readily available within 200' of the caster. If there is no source of water nearby, a wall may be created out of the moisture in the air - even in arid or desert conditions. The table below provides some guidelines for determining the size and durability of the waterwall (note that, for the sake of improved playability, precise measurements of the amount of water available have been left for the DM to determine):
Amount of Water Available
Maximum Wall Dimensions
None; air moisture only
10' x 10' x 1' (100 cubic feet)
15' x 15' x 2' (450 cubic feet)
Small lake/medium river
30' x 30' x 5' (4,500 cubic feet)
Medium lake/wide river
50' x 50' x 10' (25,000 cubic feet)
100' x 100' x 20' (200,000 cubic feet)
200' x 200' x 30' (1.2 million cubic feet)
Note that the hydromancer's waterwall may be of any shape, width, thickness, or height within the parameters set by the table above; no matter what the dimensions happen to be, the waterwall's hit point total is determined by the water source. For example, a hydromancer drawing upon an ocean may create a waterwall measuring only 10' x 10' x 1', yet it will still have 1,200 hit points. Waterwalls of all sizes are considered to have an AC of 9 for combat purposes, and are impervious to water-based attacks. Attacks made with fire, or by fire-based creatures, do maximum damage.
Effect: Creates flowsteel, or allows the caster to shape it.
This spell allows the hydromancer to create an elemental substance known as flowsteel, which is pale turquoise in colour and is slightly translucent. This material weighs little (a piece of flowsteel has one-quarter of the weight of a similarly-sized piece of steel), does not rust or evaporate, yet has a rock-like solidity. By concentration, the hydromancer can mould an existing piece of flowsteel into any shape desired, and then will it to retain that form indefinitely. Due to its elemental composition, flowsteel is highly susceptible to fire-based damage - items made from this substance take double damage from magical and natural fires, and will automatically fail saving throws when they apply. Armour crafted from flowsteel will disintegrate if exposed to intense heat for a prolonged period (or if they are bathed in a red dragon's fiery breath), but weapons made from the substance will inflict maximum damage on creatures native to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Treat flowsteel weapons as being equivalent to +2 weapons for the purpose of hitting special monsters.
The duration of this spell is special. If the hydromancer wishes to create a piece of flowsteel, a single casting will create a quantity of 10 cn. instantly, which will remain in existence until destroyed. Subsequent castings will allow the hydromancer to create larger quantities. When enough flowsteel has been created for the hydromancer's purposes, he or she merely has to touch the substance and cast the spell once more, in order to shape it. As long as the caster concentrates, he or she is free to work with the flowsteel by mentally willing the material to assume the desired shape, which must be pictured clearly in his or her mind. Any significant disturbance (i.e., being attacked, touched, or spoken to) will ruin the caster's concentration. Once the flowsteel has been shaped to the caster's wishes, it will remain that way until it is destroyed, or until the spell is cast on it again. Items made from flowsteel are quite rare, and often cost three or four times as much as equivalent items made from regular metals.
Effect: Causes a phase change in water from solid to vapour.
This spell causes a volume of ice up to 150' cubed to change from ice into water vapour. The shape of ice that undergoes sublimation may be as complicated or simple as the caster desires. The reverse of this spell, sublimation, changes water vapour into ice up to a volume of 150' cubed. Regardless of which effect is desired, the resulting water phase will begin to naturally change back if the conditions are right. For example if the caster makes ice in a tropical region this ice will start to melt, likewise in polar regions if ice is turned to water vapour it may start to condense as water or undergo natural sublimation into ice depending on climatic conditions, and if water vapour is turned into ice in polar regions it too could readily undergo natural sublimation back to water vapour if the climatic conditions were correct.
It should also be noted for the vapour to solid version of the spell that enough water vapour must be present to perform the spell; therefore in a desert region there may not be enough water vapour present to form very much ice at all. In temperate regions the change from vapour to solid can be used to create an effective barrier for an amount of time, whilst in polar regions the barrier becomes more permanent. In polar regions the change from solid to vapour is of obvious use for clearing a way for boats to travel or even for clearing obstacles in overland travel.
Effect: Creates a tidal wave from any body of water within range.
This spell allows the hydromancer to create a tidal wave from any body of water within range, and command it to strike at a target within a radius determined by the amount of water available. The caster directs the spell at a specific location in the water to create the wave's origin point. The size and strength of the wave depends on the size of the body of water nearby - the table below provides some guidelines:
Amount of Water Available Area of Effect Damage
5' radius around target area
Small lake/medium river
10' radius around target area
Medium lake/wide river
20' radius around target area
40' radius around target area
80' radius around target area
As shown in the table, the larger the source of water, the more damage the tidal wave will inflict, the farther it can reach, and therefore the more creatures it can affect, due to the larger area of effect. If this spell is cast near an ocean, the wave can strike targets as far away as 80' from the water, in a swath 80' wide. All creatures hit by the tidal wave may save vs. Dragon Breath to take half damage. What constitutes a small lake versus a medium-sized one, however, is up to the DM to decide.
Duration: 1 turn.
Effect: Turns a body of water into a temporary dimensional portal.
This spell allows the hydromancer to turn any body of water within range into a temporary dimensional portal, through which he or she (as well as any companions) may travel to another location on the planet via the Elemental Plane of Water. Although the spell's duration is listed as being one turn, this refers to the total amount of "real time" that elapses between entering one portal, and emerging from a different one somewhere else. The journey through the Plane of Water takes 1d12 hours in terms of "relative time", as the hydromancer must locate another useable portal through which he or she can re-enter the Prime Plane. During this period, the hydromancer and his or her companions will be subject to random planar encounters, and before undertaking the journey they must ensure they will not drown. Although this spell allows the hydromancer to journey to almost any point on the Prime Plane, the main restriction is that the destination must in or near a source of water.
Range: 1 mile
Effect: Calms a storm.
This spell allows the hydromancer to calm any sea-borne storm currently underway, which will abate in 2d6 rounds after casting. The resulting calm conditions will remain until a new storm front moves into the area, on unless a storm is magically summoned. Any damage inflicted by the storm before calm storm was cast is not repaired. The reversed form of this spell, summon storm, allows the hydromancer to bring a sea-borne storm, such as a hurricane, into being within 2d6 rounds, at a distance of up to one mile. Once summoned, the storm may not be controlled (the effects of the storm should be determined by the DM), and will last for 1d6 hours. In all respects the storm will be identical to a naturally occurring storm, except that the hydromancer is immune to its effects. Summon storm may only be cast on or near an ocean.
Range: 0' (caster only)
Duration: Permanent until willed otherwise.
Effect: Allows the caster to assume the form of any non-magical sea creature.
This spell allows the hydromancer to assume the form of any mundane sea creature, such as fish, octopi, jellyfish, crustaceans, or sea worms. The only condition for the transformation is that the form assumed must be wholly aquatic (i.e., it must be of a creature that cannot survive on land or breathe in the open air) - giant varieties of the form chosen are permissible - and that the form cannot be of a magical creature. When the hydromancer transforms, all of his or her possessions and clothing are absorbed into the new form, and while under the effects of the spell, the caster may not use any of his or her items, but spellcasting is permitted. The hydromancer may remain in this altered form for as long as he or she wishes; changing back is accomplished purely by will, but if this is done, the spell must be re-cast in order to assume another form.
While the spell is in effect, the hydromancer possesses the Hit Dice, abilities, and limitations of the new form. If he or she takes damage in the aquatic form, and then changes back, the player must calculate the percentage of hit points lost, and apply the figure to the current hit point total of the hydromancer in his or her normal form. For example, a hydromancer has 40 hit points, and then changes into a giant sturgeon with 100 hit points. He then takes 30 points of damage while in that form (which constitutes 30% of the hit point total), and then changes back. The player would then reduce the hydromancer's hit point total by 30%, such that the character now has 28 hit points.