This month, the RPG Blog Carnival rolls into Mortaine’s Blog. The topic of the month is “April Showers: Using Weather in RPGs.” I decided to brainstorm a few different ideas for unique weather events that could occur in your game setting. I had a fantasy setting in mind when I was developing them but they could be modified and used in many settings. Some of them area based off of actual events that occur, while others are simply twisted or downright made up weather events. Enjoy!
Also called polar lights, auroras normally occur in regions that are close to the magnetic poles of the planet. They are caused by electrically charged particles, solar winds, magnetic field lines and gas atoms all smashing together. But in a fantasy or sci-fi setting, they could pretty much occur anywhere you darn well please and for any reason.
One cool possibility for the use of auroras is the potential effect it could have on vision. Perhaps under an aurora, races with normal vision and dark vision both see the same. Due to the electrically charged particles in the air, there may be higher than normal static electricity which may cause electrical shorts. The gas atoms in the air may have an effect on spells or explosions.
One of the cool things about an aurora is that it could seem beautiful or ominous, depending on how it is described. There are a lot of ways a gamemaster could use it to augment an adventure that is taking place under the veil of an aurora in the sky.
Fog of Steam
Normally, fog is caused by the cooling air and an inability to hold water vapor. In the case of the fog of steam, it is caused by moisture in the air reacting from heat coming from the ground. It is not uncommon for this to happen in areas where the ground is unusually hot, like near volcanoes, lava flows or underground hot springs.
Unlike traditional fog which blankets an entire area, the fog of steam is large pockets of heated and condensed air. Kind of like clouds on the ground, individuals can navigate through them and avoid being scorched by their burning air. It is generally unknown why the fog of steam doesn’t rise into the air and disperse. Most think it is because of some unique chemical or element contained within the fog that is not normally present.
Anyone entering a pocket of the fog of steam will be burnt. The longer they stay inside the hot pocket of air, the worse they will be burnt. It can kill those who, for whatever reason, find themselves trapped inside a large pocket of the fog and unable to escape. Typically, the fog will travel through and disperse from an area within a relatively short amount of time.
When a regular tornado forms in the area where a fire is occurring, a fire tornado can ensue. The tornado swirls around containing debris within it picked up from the ground. It touches onto the area of the fire which sucks the fire up into the tornado and starts burning the debris inside of it.
This fire tornado continues through the area as a normal tornado would. Even if the fire on the ground is extinguished, the fire tornado will continue as long as the tornado is active and it is picking up debris from the ground. Burning embers and debris that manage to escape the cone of the fire tornado can even start additional fires nearby as it moves through the area.
The phenomenon of icicle rain forms under unique weather circumstances. Clouds at very high altitudes roll into an area. A light wind often starts to pick up and too many observers, it may appear as if it is about to rain. But then the temperature drops to an unusually cold level, making rain unlikely and snow a more likely occurrence. And then it happens…
Most people first notice taps on the ground of what appears to be hail. The sound of taps against rocks, wood, or any hard surfaces start to become apparent. Then the small balls of hail start to appear more as shards striking the ground. To anyone who has seen or heard about the phenomenon, they know now is the time to take cover. The shards turn into full-fledged icicles striking the ground damaging structures and injuring anyone not taking cover.
The event sweeps out of the area in the same way it came in. The icicles start becoming smaller shards which in turn change to small pellets of hail. Eventually the sky stops dropping cold pain onto the lands. The temperature starts to rise again, allowing most of the frozen moisture on the ground to melt. The clouds roll away and the area returns to normal leaving only the damage and destruction caused by the icicle rain.
Lightning Tempest (similar to Catatumbo Lightning)
Many have experienced the spectacle of thunder and lightning during a storm but few have seen a lightning tempest. A lightning tempest can best be described as a lightning storm multiplied by a factor of one hundred. It forms the same way a storm would. Clouds roll in, a little rain may fall, and the air may have a little more static charge than it normally would. Thunder rolls in and lightning begins to strike the area.
The single points of lightning quickly turn into multi-pointed barbs of electricity. Many of them begin striking the ground and it begins to occur with increasing frequency. Eventually, the sky lights up with a constant barrage of dozens, if not hundreds, of lightning strikes occurring in massive groups at the same time.
A lightning tempest is devastating to the area that it strikes. It starts fires, damages structures and plant-life, and wreaks havoc to the area. Lightning tempests are most common in barren wastelands as the damage they cause is too much for any area to endure if they happen with any frequency.
More Unique Weather Event Ideas
So there they are, five unique weather events ideas that you could use for your campaign setting. Like I stated at the beginning, I had a fantasy setting in mind when I developed most of these but I believe they could be used very easily in a sci-fi or other setting as well.
Which ones do you like the most (or least)? Do you have a really unique type of weather event you’ve used in your game setting? How did it go?