SEASONS HELP KEEP A GAME challenging and real. Our ultimate goal as a DM is to give the players money, and take back more then what they have earned. We can use seasons to our advantage in arriving to this point, as all seasons have the potential to make the life of an adventurer miserable. We want them wanting to spend money on Inns, buying new clothing, repairing equipment, and taking better care of the things that they do have, in particular their armor. Most PC’s think that armor is nothing but clothing, to be warn for all hours of the day, in fact, these crazy bastards are no doubt sleeping in the stuff, AND YOU LET THEM!!
Not in my world! Weapons, if not taken care of, will also deteriorate, but lets stick with the wondrous world of weather! For this article we’ll be focusing exclusively on temperate climates, with a little bit of effort on your part, you can easily determine weather effects in more hostile environments.
Summer seems to always be the norm in campaigns that I have played. ALWAYS SUMMER!!! Why? Well, because it doesn’t rain all that much, and the weather has a habit to stay the same for long periods of time. There is a few obvious problems which most DM’s fail to recognize, IT IS UNGODLY HOT!!!
Throughout this article I’ll be focusing on a strange thing called Personal Temperature. This is the temperature that a character has to maintain else he will die. If a characters personal temp gets too high, then he’ll suffer exhaustion, heat stroke, or even death!
Lets talk about armor. All armor classed better then studded leather requires a padding, this padding gets hot and raises a PC’s personal temperature. If a character refuses to remove their armor, or wears improper clothing, then he won’t be able to heal damage normally, he will also suffer a -1 to both hit and damage, as well as lose all benefits from high STR scores. A overly hot character will have the same movement rating as someone who is 1 step more encumbered then he really is. These crunchy bits get worse the longer that a character does this. For reasons of ease, we’ll add penalties weekly. Of course to avoid all of this, then all he has to do is take off his armor and rest for a bit.
With an outdoor temperature above 100°F even leather armor can wear a character down, as can carrying to much stuff. In heat like that you will move slower. Proper clothing is something light, of course if one is spending the day in an open area walking, Sun Burn could also be a problem, how much damage that this causes is up to you, but it shouldn’t be more then 1 or 2 hit points lost . . . It is just sunburn, the goal is to annoy the PC and make them think about their environment then to actually kill them.
When rain does come, it can be a very intense thing. A summer storm can blow up into a lightning storm, and even a tornado. Coastal areas are susceptible to hurricanes. These CAN be lethal to everyone outside (or even inside) when severe weather picks up.
Food is a problem, animals are plentiful, but they aren’t as fat and nutritious as they are during the winter. Fruits are plentiful, but as far as meat goes, it will take twice the amount of hunting to acquire the food that can normally be obtained during the rest of the year. Water is a bit more scarce, it will still be available in most places where you would find it, however it is a dry season so most marshes and river overspill areas will be dried up by mid-summer.
The dry season also leads to another problem that can kill thousands, FIRE! A simple campfire, if not tended to by someone who is skilled with such things (None Weapon Proficiency: Fire-building) can easily rage out of control.
Fall is a pleasant time to adventure. The temperatures are more humane, Armor, while still requiring oiling and maintenance can be worn during the day, however at no time can you expect to be able to sleep in the stuff and still heal naturally or be able to acquire new spells.
It can get cold during the evening hours, so, as always, one needs to wear the proper clothing to keep their personal temperature up. Loincloth sporting barbarians or chicks running around in chain mail bikinis will get hypothermia if they don’t cover themselves up during the night, or put something on during late autumn.
Animals are fatter and plentiful, water can still be a problem as described in summertime, as can the risk for forest fire. Rain, Snow, and fog are the only weather phenomenon that you really have to deal with.
You’ve got to be tough to make it through this season. To do this you need warm clothing, and be diligent about keeping your stuff dry as possible.
There is a benefit to wintertime that can effect everyone. Cold-weather gear is extremely thick, this thickness will grant everybody who wears it at least the AC of 8, however if you want to be a ball breaker, you can demand that winter gear is too bulky, thus all bonuses for high DEX scores are nil and casting spells is impossible, but that is kind of mean.
If the temp is too cold, armor can freeze to exposed skin. Cold weather gear cannot go over bulky armor and still keep the body warm. Anything below freezing requires mild winter gear, but anything below 0°F requires some serious winter clothing. Folks who refuse will suffer no bonuses for DEX, or STR. One will also suffer -1 to hit and -2 to damage from the cold. Exposure will cost 1 hp lost per turn that you aren’t covered. Making saving throws will also be more difficult.
Staying outdoors during harsh winter weather is hard. Even if you have good protection, a character will still suffer a -1 penalty to all rolls unless some strenuous activity is accomplished before trying to perform a given task. During a fight, it will only take a few rounds before blood is circulating again and one attacks normally.
Blizzards, Hail, Fog, and in rare cases Lightning can also cause massive problems to adventurers trapped in the wilderness.
Spring is hell. The ground thaws into thick mud that pulls off boots and gets on everything. Rain and wind punish you almost daily. The weather would be warm if you could just keep dry, which is hard. Water is the biggest enemy during this season. Northern snowmelt causes the rivers to swell and blow their banks. The floodplains and marshes fill up, flash floods can happen at any time.
Hot days and freezing wet nights spoil almost any good mood. Like Autumn, one can get away with wearing your armor during daytime marches, however if the padding gets wet, this can lead to sever discomfort and irritation.
Animals also tend to be more aggressive during this season as they protect their young or their matting territory.
The trick is to mix things up. An adventure that takes us out into the wilderness should not just be a couple of random encounters, every trip should be an adventure in and of itself. Long distant jaunts into the unknown and often unexplored fringes of the world really do deserve more then being broken down into a couple of sentences about how hard the road was. MAKE IT HARD! It is a challenge, but if accomplished, then it will be appreciated by your players.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Time and Movement
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