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© 1998-2001 Dru
Surviving Mother Nature
climate, terrain, disastersall of these affect the world around
us every day. People freeze to death, die of dehydration, are lost at
sea, are killed in an earthquake, are made homeless by a hurricane. Yet
how often does weather, terrain, or natural disaster figure in an RPG
adventure? Sure, you wouldn't want to use it all of the time. Heroes can't
wrestle down an earthquake; they can't imprison a tornado. But they can
survive one, or help others survive one, and sometimes that provides as
much an opportunity for heroism and roleplaying as would deafeating any
nefarious villain bent on world destruction.
Many worldbuilders are good at setting terrain, but have problems figuring
out weather patterns. Sure, we all know it's colder toward the poles and
warmer toward the equator, but other than that? The site What
Forces Affect Our Weather? will help worldbuilders figure out when
and where certain weather phenomona should occur. Those building Earthlike
worlds, or running games set on earth, may want to check out online and
Climate Maps, which provide tons of information about anything you'd
want to know about weather around the world. And if you want to work some
wild weather into your game, check out About's
list of links to Disasters and Hazards like avalanches, fires, glaciers,
hurricanes, storms, tornadoes, tsunamis and volcanos.
Survival. First, general survival guides are fun reading not only
for "Survivor" show fans and campers, but also for any GM who'd
like to bring some realism into a game. The Aviation
Survival Guide contains wonderful chapters on desert
weather survival, and sea
survival, as well as many other useful wilderness and disaster survival
Deserts. Running a desert game? I remember an AD&D game where our characters had to cast the spell "Purify Water" on our own urine so that we could drink it when our water ran out. Ick. In addition to the Aviation Survival guide mentioned above, Dusty Dan's Desert Survival page lists info on desert terrain, climate, and dangers, great reading for a GM. He also offers general desert and desert camping information. Frugal's desert page lists interesting factoids like how much water a person needs to survive, how long until a person dehydrates, and so forth.
Cold Weather. In another game, I nearly had a Deadlands character freeze to death in a snowstorm ... he never failed to pack warm clothes after that! To supplement the cold weather survival info in the Aviation Survival Guide, check out this illustrated article on how to build a snow cave. In addition, About offers a number of links to winter camping information. This article on hypothermia is also important when dealing with cold weather. Finally, Frugal offers a tip that the writers of The Empire Strikes Back must have read ... how to keep warm in a blood bath.
Sea Survival. There are more dangers in the open water than sharks and pirates. The Aviation Survival guide links to sea survival, but another article of interest concerns hypothermia and cold water survival, offering info about the "Rule of 50" and the "mammalian diving reflex." A "Titantic" reprise, anyone?
There's nothing more dangerous, arbitrary, and careless of human life than our own planet Earth. Weather can't be stared down; terrain can't be reasoned with. Laws won't control it and punishment won't affect it. Teach your players some respect for this powerful force ... run an adventure that pits them against the most perilous foe of all, Mother Nature!
originally written February 9, 2001