It was -27 C when I came to work this morning (-17 F for those of you still living in the 19th century), the sort of morning where the stillness of the air only improves one's awareness of the skin tightening as the outer surface freezes. On a day like this, packed into three layers of clothing, hands in gloves and stuffed into pockets, snow crunching underneath and beneath the snow the thin sheen of ice left over from the warm day last week, so that one's feet might fly out at any moment, I find myself wondering about D&D games that always seem to take place in sunny California.
Admittedly, from time to time I have waxed on about the importance of weather and its influence on real life. In the game, of course, weather is an inconvenience. Weather gets in the way of fighting, of travelling, of getting safely back to town and so on. Who needs that, right? Generally, not players. And that's understandable. If I could have the real world go my way, it would never be freaking -27 on a day I had to go outside.
Not that -27 is particularly cold. I remember working outside in -45 ... which is pretty close to the same number in Fahrenheit. I'm Canadian, though. We're constructed differently. Takes more than 2 inches to shut the whole fucking city down (looking at you, Atlanta).
So yes, players would rather not put up with the weather. And since the weather is a hassle to construct, and a hassle to generate even if you have a generator, and the exact results of the weather are non-specific, it all seems like a lot of effort for not payback. It's not like the players are ever going to gain experience for dealing with the weather, so screw it. Let's concentrate on things that matter.
Maybe it's because I'm Canadian. Maybe it's because every winter I think, it must have been nuts having to deal with all this when people did not have central heating, insulated transport and modern winter clothing/boots. There must have been a bloody miserable four-month period in the lives of Europeans where one just did not get warm. Even by the fire, one could only warm one side at a time.
So the thought keeps coming back to me ... make the weather more important. Make is so damn important that one nice day, without wind or rain or dust storms, without lightning and thunder and spontaneous tornadoes, causes the party to go, "Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you."
My poor online party. They've just gone through a winter that took something like 14 months of real time on the blog to play, and only now it is plainly becoming summer (it's May in Paphlagonia for them). But I haven't heard anyone say yet, "Thank god that winter is over." (perhaps they're bitterly resenting my implementation of weather and they're too polite to say).
Most temperate cultures very definitely had celebrations for specifically this. The cold weather is gone. We can lie in the sun and be warm. No more late night trips out in the snow and the rain to pee. Hooray!
I want that response. I want a party to shout when the weather is warm. It just ... feels like that's how it should be.
I know, I know, I know ... I'm crazy. What I really want to do is make weather much more affecting of the game. Where certain temperatures mean rolls for colds and other maladies. Where players risk losing toes and therefore dexterity if caught out in winter. Where rainstorms reduce combat effectiveness. Where everyone's hit points are reduced 10% on overcast, miserable days, and only amount to their full capacity when it's sunny. That night produces a lower wisdom, and so does fog. Where the party awakes to find their metal tools and weapons covered in rime, or just stone cold, and virtually unusable in combat because the pommels are too damn cold. I want more and more of this shit, and I'm absolutely certain I'm the only one.
The worst part is that every idea I have about the weather is perfectly justifiable. We are none of us as effective on a spiritless, gray-clouded day as we are when the sun is shining and a fresh wind is blowing. It cannot be denied that this must have been TEN TIMES more meaningful to someone living in a world where a gray day was truly gray. If weather is an annoyance to us, what must it have been to cultures without all these distractions and proofs against it? Why shouldn't the temperature or the look of the day diminish one's capacity to face it?
Yes, okay, no one wants that. No one.