Monday, January 6, 2014

C-C-C-Cold! Have you ever played in a winter/Frostfell campaign?

So it's like -20 degrees fahrenheit outside the house I'm staying at and the wind chill is between -40 and -55 degrees. The wind itself has been constant since yesterday, blowing snow across roads, reducing visibility. And there's frost on the inside of some of the window sills.

If you want to have a taste of what's it like inside G2: The Glacier Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl, then by all means comes travel to the Midwest before things start warming up tomorrow.

All of this has gotten me to realize that I've never run a campaign featuring extreme cold. The closed I came was about three years ago, when the PCs had to ascend a mountain. The brought along warm clothes--and they weren't even going to the top. That took care of that.

I've been skimming through various rules for characters enduring cold weather in the AD&D Wilderness Survival Guide and the 3.5e Frostburn. It seems like the rules are more complicated than the need to be.

I'd just see the rules as guidelines and use DM fiat. If you don't bundle up--including extremities--you're going to take some damage.

Yet how else do you quantify being in extreme cold?

Since I've never run a campaign featuring the extreme cold I'm facing here in the midwest, I'll just say it's best that your characters should just stay home and wait until it warms up.


  1. 22 below when I started work this morning. Not counting the windchill. And that's in the metropolitan heat island. I grew up north of here where thermometers go to die; running a campaign with omni-present bone chilling cold would be too close to reality to make a good fantasy setting. But from my actual experience - no warm clothing means automatic damage. And the damage can't heal until you are somewhere that you can stay warm. If you have warm clothing, then you get a saving throw to avoid the damage. It's too easy to make a mistake, say by taking a glove off to manipulate something small, and expose yourself to frostbite. Also, say goodbye to dexterity based skills, abilities and feats when you're bundled up, all those layers restrict your range of motion.

  2. I do recall having a campaign that went all wintry-I think ending it was one of the objectives. Yet i don't recall any special rules other than DM fiat. Growing up in Minnesota, a snow day just meant playing football and whatnot outside for hours at a time (not that we didn't appreciate the hot chocolate and marshmallows when we went in) a winter campaign didn't seem all that special for characters who were used to it. We just figured the Ranger (there was always a ranger, wasn't there) handled things and kept everyone safe.


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