Sunday, June 23, 2013

New Temperature Tables From Hell

Having written about the flood, let me bring the light to something else.

Every now and then I have an idea for a table or something that I loathe to bring out on the net, partly because of its density and partly because of the difficulty in the explanation.  This is one such case.

Let me start by saying that if you don't like it, don't use it.  Don't waste time explaining to me how its too involved or too much trouble or how math makes the gentle reader ill.  I know all that.  I'm also well aware of how difficult it will be to implement this, how much the players will probably hate it, etc., etc.  It absolutely flies in the face of all that is fantasy, where the cloak swirls incessantly because there is a set-fan just off screen that keeps it moving.  Yes, I know you're all heroes, I know you all sleep in your armor and that it is always southern California where your world takes place.

Nevertheless ...

Yes, most parties I expect want nothing to do with this.  And yet it addresses something that has bothered me for a long, long time ... how to express, in a practical manner, the effects of a change in weather upon party habits and expectations.
There are a number of nuances here to discuss, but first, let me admit that it is almost all invented material.  Some information was gleaned from the net, but for the most part everything on this table, and about this table, does not exist in any form I was able to find.  IF anyone out there would care to point me to a website that has PRACTICAL information on how many hours you can remain in armor at a temperature of 90 degrees, I'm certainly ready to read it.  On the other hand, if someone is only going to point me to another roleplaying game's rules, and how someone else pulled this information out of their ass, I'm not interested.  I want hard data.  Please send me hard data.
Lacking such data, however, I've decided to plunge forward anyway.  This is an adaptation of an earlier table I created about ten years ago for offline use, that simply failed to measure up.  I've never mentioned it; I always expected one day I would tackle it and put the refurbishment on the net ... no one was more surprised than I to find myself suddenly in the mood to do it starting last Thursday.
To begin, temperature is divided into orders of 10 degrees Fahrenheit.  I'm a Canadian, so I'm well used to the metric system, but divisions of 5 degrees Celsius seemed too small, and 6 degrees too much, so 10 degrees of Fahrenheit were 'just right.'  Frankly, it doesn't matter which I use.  The reality is that no person living in a pre-Enlightenment world would have any idea of 'degrees' at all ... thus my attempt to establish a description system for temperature.
In the past, I haven't had any arguments about it, since its based on my geographical experience ... it was funny to shoot it at the online players, who live all over, because of course they view 65 degrees very differently than I.  For anyone living in the deep south, 65 is anything but 'pleasant.'  But I have an answer to that.
On this table, 'cool' is a relative mid-point ... a nice working temperature, where naturally someone could wear armor and light clothing while travelling/working without much worry of overheating.  It is why construction work is best in the Spring/Fall.
However, it is based on the mean temperature of the individual character.  Because I operate a world based on the real Earth, I have mean temperature figures for everywhere.  So, if you were born and trained in a place where the mean temperature was about 53, like Seattle Washington, then this table would suit your character.  But if your mean temperature were 62, like Little Rock Arkansas, then the whole table would be misplaced up one level for you in particular.  For you, the 60s would be 'cool,' the 70s would be 'pleasant,' the 80s would be 'warm' and so on.
Thus, where a person is from is suddenly very important.   While one person in the party is quite comfortable, another is somewhat the worse for wear and a third, from way down south, is positively freezing.  Thus the descriptions for climate are relative.
So, the fighter from Little Rock can wear full banded armor for six hours in that same weather that only allows the fighter from Seattle to wear it for three.
How does the armor time work, exactly?
I see it as a simple roll.  I presume the character will want to wear their armor as much as possible, so when an encounter occurs, a d6 is rolled.  The number indicated as the maximum comfortable hours indicates the result or lower that must be obtained in order for that player to be in armor.
Yes, I know it takes time to get in and out of armor.  I have decided not to worry about that overmuch.  Perhaps with a little time I may fix some period of slowing movement rate per day based on whether or not the party is waiting for someone to get in or out of the plate mail.  For the time being, I'm prepared to consider it the time equivalent to hammerspace and let it slide.  See?  I can be about the fantasy.
If a player insists on wearing their armor all the time, regardless, they suffer damage.  Minimum damage across the board is 1 point ... even if 1/3 of a point is indicated.  For instance, the most damage you can take for wearing your armor in pleasant circumstances for the whole six hours is 1 point (I could have indicated that by a different table, but ... well, this retains a certain pattern in the amount of damage and saves on table size).
If a person chooses to wear their scale mail for six hours, when it is indicated by the weather that two is the maximum ('balmy'), then the total damage taken over those six hours is 4.  The reader might be surprised to learn that many players will refuse to take damage for any reason ... but if I had 80 hit points, and I felt it mattered enough, I'd just leave the armor on.
Some will ask if there's a difference for magical armor.  Personally, I would say no ... and since I'm the only one whose ever going to use this table in all the universe, then I guess that's the final word.
For the moment, let's leave off the column for clothing points.  That is addressed by a second table that is described further down.  Before that, we can move to general effects.
This is quite a tiresome thing to explain.  Basically, IF you're wearing enough clothing to protect yourself, then the green columns apply to you and you're not affected by any of the salmon columns.  However, if you're not wearing sufficient clothing, then it gets harder for you.  The salmon columns also address the issue of hypothermia and dehydration.  If you are damp or wet, then you're not wearing proper clothing; if you haven't taken in enough water, then it doesn't matter how you're dressed in the desert or jungle, you're still going to suffer the worst effects.
Right now, I don't have good numbers for how much you should drink at what temperatures, and I wanted to do more research; for the present, I'm going to hold off on including that column.
Some would say the effects are overly harsh, but personally I feel it should be possible for the environment to kill you if you're not dressed or if you haven't enough to drink.  Remember that these are damages taken over hours, and not days ... so that potentially, a very bad day could easily kill a first level character.
For the record, ability penalties are not cumulative.  However, they are rerolled and readjusted every six hours.  So, you may have periods of lucidity followed by the reverse.  Overall, the worst effects will be on combat and very much on spellcasting.  If you're less intelligence or less wise, you may not have all the spells you have, you may have spell failure and you may forget how to cast spells you've cast your whole life.  Such is the nature of a very dangerous environment.
Note the nature of some of those additional effects.  Where it says 'apart from combat' that was simply because I wanted players to be able to still fight - whatever other disabilities they have - for the sake of the GAME, not reality.  I could make the combat slowed too, but I think probably that would be going too far towards making the players unhappy.
Okay, that's probably not enough explanation, but clothing:
I'm sorry if this is more complicated than it needed to be.  I can tell this is a table I will be upgrading in the future, particularly after a few parties have ripped it to shreds.  I was trying to find the best language to use to describe some difficult aspects of this, but sadly I feel I failed all over the place.
The primary issue is that for some clothes to work, you have to be wearing other clothes first.  If you have no coat (overwear designation) then you're not going to get a lot of help from scarf, furry leather gauntlets, hat and muffler.  I can tell you from experience that is the case.  You simply have too much exposed skin to argue that you are getting 7 points of protection.  So, 'requirements to gain benefit' means that until you have this, you get no benefit from that.  IF you want your fur trimmed gloves to give you benefit, you had better be wearing a cloak, a jacket or a coat.
The second thing was trying to get across the idea that the material improved multiple types of clothing without having to write it all out again and make multiple entries.  I suppose that would have been clearer.  The idea is that fur with lining will triple the protection normally offered by gloves (not gauntlets) or overwear.
Thus, a full body coat made of wool will give you a protection of 3.  A leather full body coat, lined in wool or other heavy cloth, will give you a protection of 4 (see improvement/leather with lining).  And finally, a fur full body coat will give you 3x the protection of a wool coat (not a leather coat, fur IS leather), or 9 points.  Please note that the fur bonus to leather gauntlets is +1, not x3.
The idea is supposed to be that if you are wearing a full body coat made of fur (9), a scarf (1), a cap (3), fur gauntlets (4), a wool cloak (1), breeches (1), shirt (1), loin cloth (1) and hard boots (3) would give you a total protection of 24 ... the exact protection you need to survive a 'polar' climate as comfortably as possible - see that clothing column we skipped before.
At the same time, body oil, a cloth headgear like a turban, and loose fitting clothing will make you reasonably comfortable up to 'baking' heat.
For context, I see 'baking' as the temperature for those scenes in Lawrence of Arabia where they are at first journeying to find Prince Faisal.  It's not pleasant, but they can endure the circumstances well enough to travel each day.  However, where they plan to cross the Nefud, even the Arabs are like, "Screw that!" ... which would be the equivalent to 'scorching.'  In short, a temperature you can't fully dress for.
Naturally, there are magical alternatives.
Okay, to anyone of course, and to the party especially, are we prepared for the inclusion of these tables?


  1. In principle, I am, but I'm not sure how it will play out in practice. I worry about wasting even more time getting a handle on my clothing. (see our efforts to get a handle on feeding our horses -- it's not that it wasn't realistic for our characters, who had never had extended voyages, but at a certain point, we began going around in circles and lost any verisimilitude as well as fun) how would you feel about players treating our hirelings more a squires, delegating some of the responsibility of preparing (and accepting the consequences thereof?)

  2. Ah, verisimilitude.

    All things come with practice; you simply had never had to actually feed your horses, before. Never occurred to you.

    Of the hirelings, you don't need to be particularly watchful of them. Pay them, let them pick their own clothing, problems. I'll insert them where it counts. How much attention you pay to them is up to you.

    I'm used to playing with the kind of people who keep notes on the side while they play video games, so ... you can always simplify your life by showing a hireling the gate.

  3. Hmm, not quite what I was getting at. The versimillitude expressed in the table brings tension. The frustrating reality of interacting with the world through an imperfect portal destroys it. We need to be able to retain responsibility for the outcome, while giving up complete responsibility of the execution. with the livestock it's easy to see how that could work: "Mareo, please see to the horses." He either does agood job or he doesn't, and ifI remember, I can verify it in time.

    I guess I just realized how to express this more succinctly: I like the idea, I'm worried about its execution in the online format. I'm certain in your regular campaign I'd get the cues I'd need to adjust my behavior without bogging things down, online, I just don't know.

  4. Hello Gentle Writer,

    I have some fear that this table could seriously annoy some of my players, and add more complexity where they probably want less ...

    But damn, isn't it great ! I didn't know how to properly add the effects of heat and general climate, and here you come !

    And knowing that we play in a Turkey-like zone, with two locals, a greek-equivalent, and someone of nordic blood, I think they're in for a lot of fun ...

    Thanks !

  5. On a side note, a little question : have you thought of the option, for a player, to shift the "comfort zone" of her character by a rank ? Would it take a very long time, months, or some weeks ?

  6. I can see an argument for acclimatization.


    I guess that's my responsibility ... but I'll tell you, normally when I hear arguments from people that go like, "the table brings tension/interacting with the world through an imperfect portal destroys it" I just hear, "I don't want to do it."

    Everything about D&D, or any game, is imperfect. The other things don't destroy tension because you're used to them. Naturally, anything NEW offers difficulty and challenge. My world, however, and the rules in it, are not static. I like new rules, when they work ... if they don't work, I ditch them.

    But let me tell you, I don't give a damn for "verisimilitude" as an argument. It's up to you to suspend reality. I don't see how these tables in any way makes that harder.

    I do see them making the weather a seriously annoying thing. Since I'm in the middle of a natural disaster, caused by WEATHER, which no one at the moment is really 'managing,' and verisimilitude is right out the freaking window cause none of us here can quite get a mental handle on the reality of it, all I'm looking for is a taste of that.

    I have many times in my campaign described unpleasant weather situations. Now I have some rules to support my descriptions. Sounds like win win.

  7. It also occurs to me that all you really need is a clothing schedule, what clothing do I wear at what temperature grade? When it's chilly, do I wear my armor or no? And once that schedule is made, it is simply one more page in the character sheet, to be ignored most of the time EXCEPT when something is damaged, stolen or needed for lending to someone else ... or when some specific element requires that schedule being noted ... ie., I'm jumping the crevice, how much am I wearing again?

  8. Not hard data, I apologize but I've never read about this: I recall sitting in my breatsplate and greaves one early summer evening after a dlay of fighting in the 80's F, the temperature was dropping into the high 50's and I was starting to shake with chill, I was baffled my clothing was soaked almost as bad as it was earlier in the day but it wasn't sweat the moisture in the air was condensing on my armor and dripping onto my clothes. That was the worst the weather ever made me feel in my armor

  9. Not going to lie, I've already been gathering quite the wardrobe... I might not be ready for the hot season yet, but I have been gathering the fancy stuff. Then again, I don't have to deal with armor.

    Perhaps this could also be beneficial to the party as if we are in inclement weather banditry and the like might be less likely...

  10. Hi Alexis,

    for hard data I tried looking up military work schedules. This page is fantastic for hot weather:

    It has information on workrates, acclimatisation and working in NBC suits.

    For cold weather Canada has us covered, having a similar table:

    I think you have the effects sorted but maybe you will find these helpful as well.

    This document is also a goldmine for effects:




  11. Thank you jbeltman;

    Much of the table was based on a military document I found years ago, but couldn't relocate. I'll look that over.


    What you experienced was mild hypothermia. And it is nasty, doesn't need the temperature to be excessively low. You should have known to take your armor off, air it out, cool off yourself and then get redressed. If you had gotten dry, your body temperature wouldn't have lowered and you'd have been better off.

    There's always someone here in Alberta who dies every year because they don't realize they're safer naked in cold weather than in wet clothes.

  12. Ok last one.

    Similar to what I posted before but has some example clothing and how to adjust the table based on clothing level.

    There have been a few studies on temperature and sports. e.g.
    It has a nice little graph showing decrease in power based on dehydration.

    Handbook on clothing. I haven't looked at it much but there has to be something here!

    Study on new materials for new body armour. Has some nice graphs showing wear rates for different months. Modern again so maybe not so useful.



  13. Coming from a subtropical climate zone, I'm putting a heavy vote for acclimation. Why does Roger Federer train in Dubai? So he doesn't shrivel up and blow away on hotter courts. Acclimation is a vital part of any serious outdoor athlete. So too should the adventurer prepare before hiking into the Sahara or tundra.

    And now for some facts, taken from “Human Performance Physiology and Environmental Medicine at Terrestrial Extremes” by Pandolf, Sawka, Gonzalez. ISBN: 1-884125-02-6.

    -One can become acclimatized to heat and cold at the same time. Even with training bouts being on the same day in the different environments.

    -Most of the improvements in heart rate, core temp, skin temp, and sweat rate are acquired in just ONE week of heat exposure. Heart rate adaptations are seen in just 4-5 days! However, increases in sweating and feelings of “ease” in a hot environment can take up to one month to occur.

    -More is gained from a 100 minute bout of heat exposure exercise than one 50 minute bout, but adding bouts beyond 100 minutes of exposure does not quicken adaptation.

    -Heat exposure adaptations have been studied to disappear as quickly as one week if the subject is not re-placed in the heat, but may last as long as 3 weeks in some individuals.

  14. If that's true, Quincy, I wonder why it is that many tropical persons who come to live in Alberta continue to complain bitterly about the cold for YEARS. That must just be bullshit, huh? Or else your study is measuring something that doesn't actually apply here. Or possibly wouldn't apply to persons who did not have access to modern equipment/shelter/therapy.

  15. Your comment about magic armor got me thinking that one neat effect of having this table would be a whole new realm of magic items, or even mundane items "cleverly crafted," that afford heating/cooling properties. Yes, my chain mail is AC 5, just like your chain mail, but mine was made by the Beduins, and the wearer enjoys temperatures two ranks cooler. Or this Ring of Comfort, which does nothing except always make the wearer feel as if he is three ranks closer to "cool" temperature.

  16. It looks pretty brutal, but assuming the other side in any fight or encounter is likewise hindered I'm game to give it a shot. It seems every time you introduce a new rule I find myself re-evaluating the costs and benefits of my character's plate armor. ; )

    Couple questions, since characters roll for regional origin that will seem to determine how/ where you shift to a baseline of cool... will a character's racial origin also influence this? For instance, will fair-skinned, nordic people be more susceptible to sunburn? Will darker skin pigmentation with higher levels of
    melanin provide better protection from the sun? How do elves, dwarves, gnomes and orcs fit into this mix?

  17. I'm another vote for acclimation. Sure, the African who has lived in Alberta for years may complain when the temperature drops to 60... but I still think he'd bear it better than a cousin just off the plane from Africa.

  18. I'm fighting connection issues to get linked into work at this trying time, and so I am lagging on all other fronts.

    I'm going to keep the non-acclimatization rule ... at least for a three to six month period. I think what people are failing to recognize is that shifting from India to Norway in the present day means LOTS of time spent in controlled environments, regardless of the weather, both in the origin and destination countries.

    Whereas, there is NO climate control of any kind in medieval times, ever, not for five minutes, and so climatization is a far greater factor than for us.

    I don't plan to make any special rules for other races at this time. Most of them exist in very hot climes or very cold climes, so that will tend to produce the desired effect.

  19. I must have not been communicating very well, because you seemed to be saying the same thing I was trying to get across in your last reply to me. The only part I didn't want was spending too much time playing dress-up before each action, where it could take each character three posts to get dressed, so I'm glad you're ok with general readiness. I may forget to have Maximilian put on his boots or take off his mittens, but he certainly wouldn't, as long as I made sure to buy the boots.

    Now that the clothing table is up, I also have a question on that: should there also be limits imposed based on the clothing you're wearing? If you're bundled for "Cold" conditions, can you even wear a helmet? can you hold a sword in your fur mittens? (I feel like I've seen that scene in a movie) Or is that essentially what you were getting at with the temperature table? I.e. that the only armor you can wear with any comfort when the temperature is cold is ring mail or a hauberk.

    Andrej, you have nothing to worry about, you have that mace...

  20. Agreed Maximillian, if you own the boots, your character has put them on. I always presume that sort of thing (what sort of sadist wouldn't?).

    Your assumptions are correct - though for fantasy sake, sword held with fur gauntlet is fine with me. Helmet and hat, no, that's no good. And yes, that is essentially what I am getting at with the temperature table.

  21. On the subject of making players unhappy, how do you determine how far is too far?

    I've only been DMing for about a year, but I'd like to give these tables a shot. My campaign needs hard numbers to convince certain players they need to make a decision about wearing armour according to circumstances. For the most part I try to impress upon them that when they saunter into an unknown village in full battle gear with weapons drawn, villagers tend to flee in panic and alert the authorities; but this doesn't always drive the point home. Whatever I could say about the joys of role-playing and acting in character, I have players who, when their characters' armour is rain-soaked and mouldy to the point of being practically unwearable, say, 'I don't care; I'm not really wearing it.' Penalties to movement in soaked armour would make sense, as would attack penatlies, probably, in cases of extreme discomfort.

    Some players are willing to go along with the modifiers I've implemented so far (greater damage from falls according to encumbrance and armour type, penalties to THAC0 for foregoing food, etc.) but others really grumble about this sort of thing.

    If it wouldn't meet too much resistance, I'd like to find or create a table for proper hydration as well. Most PCs in my campaign carry along a regular wineskin and expect it to last for a day or more. Most of the time they can find a river nearby to refill it, but obviously this is impossible in a desert or swamp, and factors such as activity level, temperature and relative humidity should determine how far the wineskin goes before the effects of dehydration set in.

  22. About acclimation, I just wanted to add there seems to be great deal of variation among individuals in this respect (Constitution score type variable, maybe?). I know people who complain of differences of plus or minus 5ºC, while others can withstand 10ºC or more with no discomfort. The latter also tend to be the hardy, infection-and-tiredness-resistant types. And yes, I'm fully aware that anecdote does not equal research.

    And I also think the same as Butch. Just because you complain about the weather (psychological discomfort) doesn't mean your body isn't functioning perfectly well, and well adapted to your new surroundings.

  23. Given that sunshades help in the heat, do you plan to have windbreaks help against the cold?
    Or maybe some kind of general wind-chill factor could work better, with the wind speed either modifying the clothing points or perceived temperature. So, you'd have people from colder climates wanting to buy fans or hire punkawallahs with palm fronds during stiflingly calm conditions.

    I'm not sure what rules you have for intoxication in other situations, but alcohol could be used to help deal with the effects of cold. Perhaps if you've drunk enough then effect b (and maybe f) are ignored or have their effects reduced as vasodilation keeps your extremities warmer, but the loss of heat causes additional exposure damage, or causes the other effects of the next rank to occur. So you add another dilemma: stay sober, and risk dying when your sword drops from your frozen fingers, or drink, and risk dying later from hypothermia.

  24. Sorry to break this to you Thrawn ... but I thought everyone since 1960 knew this. The surest way to kill yourself in cold weather is to drink alcohol.



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