Thursday, March 13, 2014

Whether the weather can be weathered

I'm a big believer in making the weather a bigger part of roleplaying games.  This is probably because I've always adored natural disasters - not to live through, obviously - but the theory of them.  The same way people can adore the idea of world wars or medieval pre-medicine worlds without actually, truly, wanting to live with the repercussions of it. Some games actually give you information on how to fling bad weather at your players. They may describe the penalties of fogs, hail, thunderstorms and even hurricanes. Generally though that's about as far as they'll go. While Pathfinder and 3rd Edition D&D (can't comment on 4E) have some reasonable chunks of text dedicated to such matters, they still don't really capture all those little bits and pieces which make dangerous weather feel more real. Any form of storm, after all, which has rough enough winds could knock down a branch which could become either a driving hazard (especially when lodged in a windscreen) or a plain old hitpoint remover (especially when putting an egg on your head). Naturally game books, who are generally desperate to use space as judiciously as possible, doesn't go on to list all of those little details. So how do you find them? And what do you do with them? Oftentimes, once you know those little details you can think up ways of using them. How many ideas could you generate from falling branches alone? I'd recommend doing a bit of research when you're planning to throw some bad weather as your player characters, if you haven't faced it yourself. At the very least, it can lead to some interesting reading. Even a quick Google can you find you some interesting facts, like this article on how volcanoes can affect people. If you're planning on making an area that is natural disaster prone, such as a trade route through a Valley of Geysers or a section of the countryside that is a fantasy world equivalent of Tornado Alley, then it's doubly important to do your research. People can build up all kinds of superstitions and valid protections against natural disasters, so it's worth thinking about how you can integrate those into your fictional world. Even just talking about this topic makes me want to run a short campaign that straddles some sort of major natural disaster.


  1. I'm just kicking off a homebrew hexcrawl with my players and weather and like you, natural disasters are definitely things I want to incorporate into it. I've definitely got more research to do though.

    1. Nobody expects hail, etc. to be an issue when doing a hexcrawl but it certainly adds interest when it does. Good luck to you!