Cyclopaedia 23: Underwater

Welcome to Cyclopaedia 23: UnderwaterCyclopaedia is a monthly article on the InnRoads Ministries website as part of the Getting Started series. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne captivated me from the moment my grandfather shared the book with me. Over the years I have reread the novel numerous times, and I also really enjoy the Disney movie based on the book. The depictions of the undersea world were fascinating because they were so alien. Since then I have really enjoyed reading Aquaman comics, The Abyss has become a favorite movie of mine while my wife really enjoys the Little Mermaid, and I am looking forward to the upcoming Aquaman movie to see how they depict an undersea world. But when my daughter mentioned she might be interested in running an underwater based D&D game, I knew I had to dive deep for this month’s Cyclopaedia.

If you have questions about this article or topics you would like me to consider researching for future Cyclopaedia articles, please leave a comment below.


From the earliest stories of mermaids in 1000 BC Assyria to the modern movies with Aquaman as king of Atlantis, we have been intrigued by what lies below the depths of these massive oceans that cover our planet Earth. Early seafaring explorers returned from voyages with tales of great sea monsters, sirens singing to them, and mermaids beckoning them to leap from the ship. Even in modern times, the vast depths of our oceans remain largely unexplored.

Jacques Cousteau and Robert Ballard exhilarated us with their undersea adventures, giving us a glimpse of the beauty and mysteries of the deep. Even with their scientific instruments and cameras, the images they bring to the surface remain alien and otherworldly to us. Not even the science of these expeditions can damper our fear and fascination with life beneath the water.

As air breathers, we have limited access to the undersea world. Fiction writers for centuries have imagined what life must be like to live underwater. How man might live there or what other creatures and civilizations might call the deep sunless waters home. From horror to romance, the denizens of the sea capture our attention.

With tales of mermaids, underwater civilizations, and monsters of the deep, we envision what the great depths must hide from us denizens of the dry land.

Common Elements of Undersea Stories

The Undersea genre has some common elements across fiction, cinema, and games.

  • Atlantis (See Cyclopaedia: Atlantis)
  • Giant Sea Creatures
  • Merfolk
  • Underwater Cities
  • Sea Monsters
  • Submarines
  • Sunken Ships
  • Tridents
  • War with those on dry land

Following are sources of information pertaining to Underwater to assist prospective game masters, game designers, writers, and storytellers in knowing where to start their research.



The Folklore of the Merfolk
By Waugh, Arthur
Source: Folklore, v71 n2 (19600601): 73-84

The Literary Underwater World.
By Yolen, Jane
Source: Language Arts, v57 n4 p403-12 Apr 1980

Medical aspects of undersea living.
By Workman, RD
Source: Journal of the Iowa Medical Society, 1967 Nov; 57(11): 1097-9

Undersea Habitation: The Perils and Promises of Sea Living
By Docksai, Rick
Source: The Futurist. 42, no. 5, (2008): 30



Above World
By Reese, Jenn

The Abyss
By Card, Orson Scott and Cameron, James

Aquaman – Comic
By DC Comics

Aquarius Mission
By Caidin, Martin

BioShock Rapture
By Shirley, John and Levine, Ken

Crisis on Conshelf Ten
By Hughes, Monica

The Dolphins of Pern
By McCaffrey, Anne

A Door Into Ocean
By Slonczewski, Joan

The Dragon Dreamer
By Burke, J.S.

The Dragon in the Sea
By Herbert, Frank

Fathom – Comic
By Image Comics

By Moore, Christopher

Howard Lovecraft and the Undersea Kingdom
By MacPherson, Dwight and Brown, Bruce

The Kraken Wakes
By Wyndman, John

The Little Mermaid
By Andersen, Christian Hans

Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus
By Asimove, Isaac

The Maracot Deep
By Doyle, Arthur Conan

Mermaids: The Myths, Legends, and Lore
By Alexander, Skye

Neptune Rising: Songs and Tales of the Undersea Folk
By Yolen, Jane and Wiesner, David

Ocean Outpost: The Future of Humans Living Underwater
By Seedhouse, Erik

By Steele, Allen

By Severance, Carol

The Scar
By Mieville, China

Sealab: America’s Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor
By Hellwarth, Ben

The Shadow over Innsmouth
By Lovecraft, H.P.

The Silent World – the Story of Undersea Discovery
By Cousteau, Jacques-Yves

By Crichton, Michael

By Watts, Peter

Startide Rising
By Brin, David

Sub-Mariner – Comic
By Marvel Comics

The Swarm
By Schätzing, Frank

The Threat From the Sea
By Odom, Mel

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
By Verne, Jules

By Morrison, Geoffrey

The Undersea Adventures of Capt’n Eli
By Piscopo, Jay

Undersea Colonies
By Chamberland, Dennis

Undersea Fleet
By Frederik, Pohl and Williamson, Jack

By Buckley, Michael

The Watch Below
By White, James

By Collins, Max Allan



Abyss – Tabletop Game
ABZÛ – Computer Game
AD&D GA1: The Murky Deep – RPG
AD&D of Ships and the Sea – RPG
AD&D The Sea Devils – RPG
AD&D Sea of Fallen Stars – RPG
AD&D U1-U2: Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, Danger at Dunwater, & The Final Enemy – RPG
AquaSphere – Tabletop Game
Atlanteon – Tabletop Game
Atlantis – Tabletop Game
Atlantis Underwater Tycoon – Video Game
BioShock/BioShock 2 – Computer Game
Blue Planet – RPG
Cerulean Seas – RPG
Deep Sea Adventure – Tabletop Game
Escape from Atlantis – Tabletop Game
Flow – Computer Game
GURPS Atlantis – RPG
Nautilus – Tabletop Game
Nemo’s War – Tabletop Game
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Aquatic Adventures – RPG
Polaris – RPG
Poseidon’s Kingdom – Tabletop Game
Red November – Tabletop Game
Reef Encounter – Tabletop Game
Rifts: Lemuria – RPG
Rifts: Underseas – RPG
SOMA – Computer Game
Subnautica – Computer Game
Traveller: The Undersea Environment – RPG
World of Darkness: Blood-Dimmed Tides – RPG



20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
The Abyss
Around the World Under the Sea
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Captain Nemo and the Underwater City
City Beneath the Sea
City in the Sea
Creature from the Black Lagoon
The Deep
Deep Star Six
Doctor Who – The Underwater Menace
Finding Dori
Finding Nemo
Hello Down There
The Little Mermaid
Marine Boy – Anime
Sealab 2020/2021 – Cartoon
SeaQuest DSV
Shark Tale
Stargate Atlantis
Stingray – TV
Surface – TV
Underwater City – Living Under The Sea
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea – TV and Movie
War-Gods of the Deep



Atlantis Adventures

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Georgia Aquarium



Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Jules’ Undersea Lodge at Key Largo Undersea Park

Poseidon Undersea Resorts

Shedd Aquarium

Subsix Dining

Woods Hole Oceanogrpahic Institute



Dr. Robert Ballard
William Beebe
William Bourne
David Bushnell
James Cameron
Jacques Cousteau
Leonardo da Vinci
Cornelis van Drebbel
Sylvia Earle
Guglielmo de Loreno
Matthew Maury
Jacques Piccard
Jules Verne

I hope you find these resources informative and inspiring for your adventures, storytelling, or game design.

Stay Creative!

T.R. Knight

( If you would like to save this list of resources as a convenient PDF for later reference, you can find that HERE )


He is a freelance editor, proofreader, and writer in the game industry. He is also a Husband and Caregiver to his wife Angie, Father of Twins Emily and Rachel, Foodie and Hobby Chef, and Director of Academic Technology/Associate CIO at Taylor University. You can learn more about T.R. at his blog

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  1. I loved your article, one of my favorite potential settings.Your readers should be aware of these resources as well
    Dungeons and Dragons (Basic) PC3 Sea People
    Dungeons and Dragons Stormwrack(3.5)
    AD&D 2e Modules Evil Tide, Night of the Shark, and Sea of Blood.
    The Slayers Guide to Sahuagin and the Slayers Guide to Kraken from Mongoose Publishing

    Thanks for writing it

  2. Thanks for those suggestions. I will keep those in mind if I go back and revise this post in the future.

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