by Jacob

It’s the Little Things That Count: Weather

Normally, these articles feature things that are for adding flavor to the world. This article focuses more on something that simply adds realism to the world (and maybe a little bit of mechanical things to deal with). It CAN add flavor to the world, but I’ll be getting into that later.

Why Weather?

Weather in real life can have profound effects on the world and how we interact with it. A lot of rain can make it difficult to get around due to slipperiness or sticky mud. It also makes it feel colder. Hot dry days can cause dust to fill the air, making it difficult to breathe and see. Cold snowy weather can make a simple walk be extra exhausting. Or slippery. Or blinding.

You can simply try to set a mood with the weather, too. It may not really affect the players, but you can use it as minor foreshadowing (a gloomy dad foreshadowing that something sad is going to happen later) or showing how the general populace around them feels. It’s an artsy-fartsy thing, but it can be effective at getting your point across. Seriously, how many movie funerals happen on a dreary, rainy day?

Mechanics of Weather

You can have mechanical effects due to weather, too. Pretty much every effect I listed above can become something mechanical: slipperiness, difficulty seeing, slowing, choking. Use it to make combat encounters more interesting. But remember, nobody likes it when there’s no way to circumvent the situation; provide areas of relief or other ways to not be affected by it.

Out of combat, you can use the weather to motivate the characters to take certain actions, such as searching for shelter. Personally, I’m not that creative at non-combat situations, so you’d have to trust your own instincts

Weather as World Flavor

In the most basic cases, using weather to flavor the world has a little more to do with climate than with actual weather. In order to flavor your world with weather, you should know the kind of climate that the area is in. Going from there, you’ll want to figure out a few things the people there do to deal with the conditions. Then try to feature those things in your games in order to help your players see the uniqueness of that area of the world.

An additional something you can do once you know the general weather patterns of an area is to have it currently being contrary to it. A desert has been having an inconceivable amount of rain lately, for example. Think about the consequences of such things and what the players can do to help; they can help with all the things going wrong, or, if there’s a sinister intent behind the weather, the PCs can try and figure out the source and stop it.

That last idea is a behind-the-scenes problem that is present through a large part of the Wheel of Time series. At first, the Dark One is having winter last forever, but then the main characters strike a heavy blow, and the Dark One switches it to the other way, making the world dry up and stay warm into midwinter. Then they fix that. The whole weather thing wasn’t a problem presented up front, but it was persistent and omnipresent problem that some finally decided to do something about.


So, as you can see, weather can be used to enhance your game sessions, and I would highly recommend it. See you next time!

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