Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Discussion: Using The Seasons And Weather In Your Game

With the leaves turning and the nights getting colder, my thoughts are focused on the changing of the seasons. And here at RPG Blog 2’s Friday Discussion, that’s the topic of the day.

How do the seasons or weather play a part in your game?
Do you have weather-based challenges? Do you largely ignore the impact of weather upon travel, or do you integrate it into your games?

Respond in the comments, if so inclined. I’m curious to see where everyone is at with this one. Have a great weekend!


Alex Schroeder said...

No weather based challenges. But one campaign had a storm mage and I made him the weather man. He got to roll a d10 every morning to see what the weather was like and was supposed to get spells allowing him to modify the result eventually.

Swordgleam said...

In my current game, the seasons are a huge deal. Part of the first big arc was that winter was coming, and the village wasn't going to be able to gather enough wood to make it through. The PCs had to go get a generator (it's a post-apocalyptic world) so that the town could survive. Everywhere the party went, the strong autumn winds knocked them around, and they tried not to be caught out in the open after dark.

When our next session starts, we'll have fast-forwarded a couple months and be in the middle of winter. I'll be interested to see how they handle being the only non-snowbound intelligent life, and the new dangers that winter brings.

Chgowiz said...

Zach - short answer is YES! I made a post about it - do you mind if I share the link?

Jason Richards said...

Most of my recent gaming has been in more high-tech settings, so honestly it hasn't mattered much. In the new game I'm planning it will be a HUGE factor.

1d30 said...

Jason: The nice thing about high-tech settings is they're a lot like high-magic settings. So while living in a temperate climate with a lot of magic or tech is easy, people tend to seek adventure in harsher climates because they can survive them.

Examples: Antarctica, bottom of the ocean, Everest, Earth's Luna, Saturn's Titan, the edge of a black hole.

Doesn't mean survival is easy. People seem to push out to the point where survival is possible.

Zachary The First said...

@Chgowiz: Of course! All relevant links are always welcome! Please do!

@1d30: Good point.

Chgowiz said...

My post on using weather/seasons

Emperor said...

I find very little do my games actually incorporate anything of the weather or environment. It seems like every major battle takes place on a clear day, and the only thing that matters are the placement of a few trees, and maybe one strategic hill.

Of course, being a Soldier in real life, I can tell you that, this is the optimum condition. Not having to deal with waterlogged boots, mudslides, or anything interesting.

But most of the time, you want the campaign to be epic...and not lagged by the fact "Oh I fail the balance check and slip down the hill. Crap."

Ill admit though that would add more obstacle to the game. So maybe I should introduce it. In one of the products my company produced, we incorporate the environment into the magic system. Its essentialy a spell point system, where you get a minor amount of hourly recharge, modified by the environment. Of course, Druids are more effected.

We on the prduction team took this a step further and added "Arcane Terrain" which is simply an overlapping terrain set, that is, the vast majority of the time, invisible and unnoticed. So we incorporated the concept of ley lines of differing strengths, and nexus of arcane power. We described these as having an affect on the land, and even communities that grew up near them.

Naturally, the intersection of two ley lines created a nexus more powerful than any individual line. And cities might pop up where lines and rivers met. And god forbid a nexus come close to where a trade route or river...or both. Needless to say, these natural routes of commerce, energy, and resource would make for some powerful societies.

Look for the Emperor's Arcane on my website if your interested.

Emperor said...

Oi...and while Im advertising on your board, would you mind contacting me? Id be interested in talking to you about reviewing one of my products whose official launch date is tommorrow. (10th Oct)

Sedallia: Land of Sails is the project, about a mercantile elven empire. We plan for a few more supplements and an adult-oriented eComic set in the same. If interested, email me at:

Zzarchov said...

weather and seasons are usually pretty important in my games. Rain has a big impact on the use of early firearms (big when in meso-america), and in some of the feudal games I've run, winter is an important "non-adventuering" season when players learn new skills, and do major (indoor) works.

DNAphil said...

I use to be really bad about weather and seasons in my games. I had several campaigns that were continuous spring that were sunny with a light breeze.

To make sure that I pay attention to it now, I have put a line in my adventure template that I use, for Date and Weather. This way, for each scene I write, I make sure I address both what time of the year it is, as well as what the weather is.

I will also use that weather to create modifiers in my game. If it is snowing hard, then there may be distance modifiers and such.

Once for Iron Heroes, I made a storm at sea, into an encounter of its own, as the characters had to work to keep the ship together and on course.

Andreas Davour said...

My post about weather.

In short, I think weather rules are great, and wouldn't imagine wilderness gaming without it. Makes for interesting coincidences when you are lucky, or something of a challenge.

Hmm. I wonder if there will be a link down below now?

Norman Harman said...

It don't rain in the megadungeon, except of course on the garden sublevel. ;)

Unless weather is the point (a pirating in the stormy northern seas, trekking across the glacier, and the like) I mostly ignore it. It's just an interesting enough challenge to me when I could be subjecting players to laser toting froglocks.

Seasons on the other hand I make a point to describe and create minor issues. I feel it's a huge boon to immersion to experience the passage of years via seasons.

For my sandbox I'll have seasonal weather chart and make the players role on it.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

For spur-of-the-moment, randomly generated weather conditions, you might be interested in the Eposic Weather Generator. Java 1.1 or higher required.

Emperor said...

A random weather generator is interesting.

Avatar said...

Congrats Zach, very interesting subject. There are lots of instructive posts above.

I used to be a DM who abuse this feature. In a certain campaign, the characters were in an extremely cold enviroment, and I was roling HT (gurps) tests to see if they would taste the symptons of hypothermia.
The effects, I still remember, are reduced coordination, inability to problem solve (I put lots of DX and IQ penalty) and severe shivering and shuddering.
This got worst than beat giants and monsters, because they had to seek for shelters and to avoid got wet. They had a lot of interesting ideas...

Other idea was very simple, I did it to made an specific character remove all pieces of his armour using the heat, giving him a bit of dehydration. He got very frustrated (or I should use the word upset, ehehehe) with this.

Strong hugs!

Kim said...

This sounds really great that weather and season are in the game.I like this.I was just looking for this topic for a while.Thank you for posting this.