"Yes, all these elements are realistic. Yes, it's harder to start a fire in certain climates. Yes, food might spoil or humidity might affect you... but the book struck me as nothing more than a hindrance to the player characters. I could find absolutely nothing in the book that did not bog the DM down with tedious administrative duties related to the local climate, and saddle the players with a bunch of additional penalties for things."In Ryan's defense, he is crapping all over a pretty bad book, the Wilderness Survival Guide, which heartily deserves to be crapped on. It was one of those last ill-conceived, slapped-together volumes churned out by the dying TSR in the '80s. I remember finding a copy at the time and staring open mouthed at how much absolute nothing there was in the book.
But I am just sick to death of the pouting and whining about having to administrate details in a game, or requiring players to do more than spit words and throw dice. This kindergarten logic that says that players just want to have fun, and that any sort of book-keeping - or god forbid, hindrance - is by definition non-fun, just makes me want to ... want to ...
(noises of things being thrown about a room, leading to something that sounds vaguely like a computer being used to smash a fish bowl, then softer sounds of fish being pounded into a carpet using a damaged keypad ...)
Okay, I feel better now.
I think the key word from the weakened moment above would be 'kindergarten' ... as in, we are all adults, we know how to write words, add and subtract - I would hope - and it would be rather pleasant if we could play a game that goes a bit beyond Pooh & Eeyore Find The Honey Tree, consisting of die rolls, and the biggest hindrance being that players have to lose a turn. I grant that the Wilderness Guide did a crummy job of it, because the techniques suggested to roll said hindrances had the convenience of monkey farts on tap, but it IS possible to do a better job, to reduce the DM's record keeping and STILL make life hard for a party.
Would you care to know the value in making a party's life miserable beyond belief? Ending the misery. That's it. Because we all want a party to be goddamn fucking overjoyed when the battle is over and when the day is won. It isn't enough that we've reached the end. We want to feel like we've been through hell, and that we're now at peace. Hindrances, and then the absence of hindrances, are how a DM gets a party to feel that.
It is the old head-beating-the-wall joke. And now it feels SO good that we've stopped.
Only attitudes like the one promoted above by Ryan are making the wall so fucking soft that it's like the wall is made of puffy marshmallows. Oh, the campaign's over? I hadn't noticed.