May 06

RPG Blog Carnival, Part 3: Niflheim Weather

 

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallThe April host for the travelling RPG Blog Carnival was Stephanie Bryant at Mortaine’s Blog. Here is my third contribution.

 

 

Stephanie chose the topic of weather in games, which has been a rewarding topic for me. Stephanie noted on her blog how the weather creates mood for a setting:

 

I was inspired by the old slogan “April Showers Bring May Flowers,” but also by the wonderful weather I get living in the American Southwest. Last night it rained, and the smell of rain on pavement (petrichlor) was downright magical as I drove through the neon-lit streets of my city. I imagine that smell is as magical in a cyber-futuristic world, where the world is filled with concrete. It’s a different smell than in the country, where it’s more green and organic– it’s not petrichlor anymore, but simply “rain.”

What does it do to the mood of an adventure if there’s rain gently falling on the characters? How tense do the players get when they’re facing down a dust storm?

 

To learn more see Stephanie’s blog.

 

 

Planar Weather

Inspired by April’s blog carnival, I considered the weather for our forthcoming Fortress of Crows campaign, based on the Plane of Air. Regular readers of Tales of a GM know we are currently creating characters for this game.

 

 

 

Niflheim Weather

This week I continue the theme of planar weather by looking at Niflheim. The Plane of Ice is another Planescape-style plane in my setting. The bulk of Niflheim is solid ice, with only the uppermost portion being hollow, with something akin to sky. Within the mass of ice twist many tunnels, often bored by native creatures. Therefore, most of the weather on Niflheim is what blows through the labyrinthine tunnels and caverns carved from the solid ice.

 

As a benchmark, the primary weather is a freezing cold wind carrying light snow. The main variations are the intensity of the cold, strength of the wind, and the nature of the snow or ice. The condition rune for Niflheim is Torment, which manifests as a howling wind. In some parts of the plane, this howling can drive travellers mad.

 

Working from this benchmark, I created the main Niflheim Weather Table:

 

 

d20NightMorningAfternoonEvening
1Faint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Cold Air, Gusting BreezeFaint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light Snow
2Faint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Cold Air, Gusting BreezeGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light SnowFaint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light Snow, Whispering Wind
3Faint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light Snow, Whispering WindGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Wind, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, HailFaint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Wind, Light Snow
4Faint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong BreezeGlowing Ice, Cold Air, Gusting BreezeGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Breeze, Light Snow, Whispering WindFaint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Wind, Hail
5Faint Glow, Freezing Cold, Light Breeze, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Wind, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Freezing Cold, Strong Wind, Snow
6Faint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, SnowGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting Wind, Snow & IceFaint Glow, Freezing Cold, Light Breeze, Light Snow
7Faint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting Howling WindGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting Wind, Ice CrystalsFaint Glow, Freezing Cold, Light Breeze, Light Snow
8Faint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, Ice CrystalsGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Howling Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, Snow
9Faint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, Ice CrystalsGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting Wind, Ice CrystalsGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Light SnowFaint Glow, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, Snow
10Faint Glow, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Strong Howling WindFaint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, Snow
11Faint Glow, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting Wind, Ice CrystalsGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, Snow
12Faint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Snow & IceGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Snow
13Faint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, Howling Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting WindGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Whispering Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Snow & Ice
14Faint Glow, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, Howling WindGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Whispering Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Freezing Cold, Gusting WindFaint Glow, Very Cold, Light Breeze, Howling Wind, Snow
15Faint Glow, Extreme Cold, Gusting Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Extreme Cold, Strong Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Very Strong Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Blizzard
16Faint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Wind, BlizzardGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, Ice CrystalsGlowing Ice, Extreme Cold, Strong Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Extreme Cold, Gusting Wind, Snow
17Faint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Breeze, Howling Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Maddening Wind, Light SnowGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Howling Wind, SnowFaint Glow, Extreme Cold, Strong Wind, Blizzard
18Faint Glow, Extreme Cold, Gusting Wind, Frozen Elemental CrystalsGlowing Ice, Extreme Cold, Strong Wind, Frozen Elemental CrystalsGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Strong Wind, Howling Wind, BlizzardFaint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Breeze, Howling Wind, Snow
19Faint Glow, Very Cold, Strong Breeze, Maddening Wind, SnowGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, Ice StormGlowing Ice, Very Cold, Gusting Wind, Whispering Wind, Ice StormFaint Glow, Extreme Cold, Gusting Wind, Frozen Elemental Crystals
20Re-roll and combine with a roll on the Hazard Table

 

 

Days on Niflheim

As happened last week, designing these tables produced the same new question: What is night like on Niflheim?

 

The tunnels which constitute the bulk of the Plane of Ice have no sun. However, the luminosity of the ice provides a very weak source of light. As ever, I want a natural marker for the passage of time, and the structure of day/night provides a useful tool.

 

The answer lies in the diffuse light from the ice. Deep in the tunnels of Niflheim, this weak light waxes and wanes, mimicking the standard day/night cycle. The darker part of the cycle is like the glow of starlight on snow. In contrast, the brightest time is akin to moonlight on a snow field. These variations in the light source are noted in the weather tables.

 

Weather Hazards

Extreme weather conditions are potentially lethal to unprepared travellers. This is especially true on the elemental planes, where the conditions are naturally more dangerous.

 

Niflheim is no exception. If a Weather Hazard is rolled on the Weather Table, then follow these steps:

  • Roll 1d10+9 on the Weather Table, to find the background weather for the day
  • Roll 1d4 to determine when the Weather Hazard begins (1 = Night, 2 = Morning, 3 = Afternoon, 4 = Evening)
  • Roll 1d4 to determine how many slots the Weather Hazard lasts
  • Roll on the Weather Hazard to determine the nature of the hazard
  • Apply any relevant themes, for season and location

 

 

d10HazardDescription
1Thin AirQuality of air declines, making breathing difficult
2Father of BlizzardsHybrid storm of snow, ice, extreme cold, elemental crystals and maddening winds
3Swarm of Lesser ElementalsHighly erratic snow and ice, as the swarm of ice elementals play and fight, unaware of travellers
4Greater ElementalThe ice storm is a powerful greater elemental, who carries all in its path
5Flash FreezeSudden extreme drop in temperature threatens to immediately freeze all life
6Hail StormBarrage of large balls of ice driven by strong wind
7Elemental HailAs Hail Storm, but with large balls of frozen random element
8Cyclonic WindRotating strong wind, of varying size
9Deafening WindWall of cruel sound leaves travellers deafened
10Screaming WindHigh-volume screams carried on the wind, severe threat to sanity

 

 

Seasonal Themes

My campaign draws inspiration from the great setting of Glorantha. Thus, I have five main seasons, plus the Sacred Time at the end of the year. The seasons were described in more detail in Part 1. Each season has an influence on the weather, as expressed in the Seasonal Theme listed below. It is for the GM to interpret the current weather through the lens of the current season. The seasons are:

 

  • Delve
    • Weather Theme:
      • Fast-growing Frost
      • Green-tinged Ice
      • Large Snowflakes
    • Hazards:
      • Parasitic Ice Crystals
      • Rock & Hail Storm
      • Territorial Elemental
  • Sun
    • Weather Theme:
      • Milder Temperatures
      • Brighter Glowing Ice
      • Sleet Showers
    • Hazards:
      • Blinding Ice
      • Fiery Hail
      • Flash Flooding
  • Storm
    • Weather Theme:
      • Increased Snowfall
      • Rumbling Thunder
      • Stronger Wind
    • Hazards:
      • Aggressive Elementals
      • Explosive Howls
      • Lightning Snow Storm
  • Frost
    • Weather Theme:
      • Ever-present Frost
      • Intense Cold
      • Thicker Snowfall
    • Hazards:
      • Cruel Elementals
      • Maddening Blizzard
      • Total Freeze
  • Dark
    • Weather Theme:
      • Darker Shades of Ice
      • Grey Snow
      • Reduced Light
    • Hazards:
      • Howling Nightmare Wind
      • Smothering Black Snow
      • Blinding Ice Storm
  • Sacred Time
    • Weather Theme:
      • Erratic Winds
      • Prophetic Whispers
      • Rainbow-couloured Ice
    • Hazards:
      • Questing Heroes
      • Random Portals
      • Travelling Gods

 

Quadrant Themes

As with all the planes in my setting, Niflheim is divided into four Quadrants, and four lesser Zones. Each area has a distinct character, which is reflected in the prevailing weather. The following themes also apply to the weather tables.

  • Upper
    • Weather Theme:
      • Cold Blue Sun
      • Milder temperature
      • Sparkling Ice
    • Hazards:
      • Avalanche of Snow and Ice
      • Dazzling Ice
      • Zealous Planars
  • Lower
    • Weather Theme:
      • Glowing Blue Ice
      • Increased Cold
      • Large Ice Crystals
    • Hazards:
      • Ice Storm of Frozen Elements
      • Hunting Planars
      • Total Freeze
  • Inner
    • Weather Theme:
      • Freezing Wind
      • Hardened Ice
      • Quieter Winds
    • Hazards:
      • Disorientating Silence
      • Flaying Ice Storm
      • Large Ice Elementals
  • Outer
    • Weather Theme:
      • Itching Snow
      • Louder Wind
      • Singing Ice
    • Hazards:
      • Cacophony of Wind
      • Cruel Elementals
      • Telepathic Howls

 

 

Zone Themes

  • Blood Cage
    • Weather Theme:
      • Blood Sleet
      • Red Snow
      • Reduced Cold
    • Hazards:
      • Flash Floods
      • Maddened Blood Elementals
      • Storm of Frozen Flesh
  • Moonward
    • Weather Theme:
      • Brighter Ice
      • Glowing Snowfall
      • Softly Singing Wind
    • Hazards:
      • Bright White Blizzard
      • Tormenting Moon Elementals
      • Wind Sings Soporifically
  • Waterward
    • Weather Theme:
      • Frequent Sleet
      • Milder Temperature
      • Soft Ice
    • Hazards:
      • Domineering Water Elementals
      • Flash Flooding
      • Sleet Storm
  • Stygian
    • Weather Theme:
      • Damp Winds
      • Melting Ice
      • Milder Temperature
    • Hazards:
      • Flash Flooding
      • Sluggish Water Elemental
      • Thick Fog

 

 

Themed Weather

As noted last week, this version of Planar Weather is mechanically simple, but places an increased burden on the GM. It is for the GM to interpret the results from the Weather Tables according to the current season and location.

 

Therefore, last week I included a pair of examples.

 

This article is already overly long, so I shall not include similar examples this week. Weather on the Plane of Ice follows the same broad principles as those illustrated for the Plane of Air.

 

 

Niflheim Weather QConclusion

It is a simple matter to apply the relevant themes to the Niflheim weather generated with a single roll. A light touch is the best option, as the GM gently weaves in the seasonal and location elements every day. I hope this second article exploring planar weather helps to illustrate further the underlying principles.

 

What would you add to these themes? How would you vary the intense cold? What do you think to the weather on Niflheim? Share your thoughts with your fellow GMs in the comments below.

 

 

Happy Gaming

Phil

 

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