“Close the shutters, grotesquelet. I have it on good authority we’re in for a stormy night.”
“With pleasure, Oh Round One. Hail?”
“Don’t grovel. My dear friend Ragwort the Amaranth Wizard tells me he’s expecting toads.”
“Please, proffer him my congratulations master.”
“Don’t be impertinent, and get that cat oiled.”
For One Night Only are occasional articles within YWH to spice up a single evening’s play. They are quirky changes of direction enabling you to throw a distinct bouncer (or should that be ‘curve-ball’?) at your players to keep them on their toes.
The latest addition details obscure weather conditions likely to occasionally grace any fantasy table—storms. Our precipitation is, of course, more outré than standard. Fantasy weather can be strange, which makes a great way to threaten or indulge in moments of great import or in prophecies about to come to fruition.
Devotees of YWH may recall that such suggestions come with a few simple suggested rules and situations to throw into the mix for the occasional evening’s play. This article is no exception. Each suggestion comes with a short description of events, included to save you time, but of course, vary, expand, and ignore these as you feel.
Raining Toads or Frogs
“The boiling clouds have been hanging low for some time now. They’re almost touching your surroundings in places, as though they wish to rest on the earth and snooze—or perhaps devour. Suddenly, they burst, their bloated gray forms vomiting out something far worse than heaving rain. They are gorging out toads, great distended black and ochre toads. Many die as they hit the ground, their bodies bursting on impact, yet many live, and as the torrent continues, the ground is soon deep in slithering toads and their dead kin.”
Let’s start with the most obvious: such rain has been alleged over the centuries and is a good—if basic—twisted weather phenomenon to throw at your group. It’s an easy way to spice up your evening’s play with some relentless carnage outdoors. This could either directly or indirectly affect play: perhaps, events outside are mere fluff, the pounding bodies adding weight (quite literally) to momentous occurrences within temples, dungeons or other settings.
Those caught outside suffer the following potential effects: increase the DCs or risk as you wish to reflect just how bloated this storm becomes. All characters caught in the storm suffer similar effects as though obscured by fog, the rain obscures all sight beyond 15 feet, including darkvision. Creatures 15 feet away have concealment. All Perception checks are made at -4. Ranged weapon attacks are impossible beyond 15 feet. The ground quickly becomes coated with slime; it costs 2 squares of movement to enter such a slime and carcass-covered square.
Characters outdoors must make a Reflex save every minute or suffer 1d6 non-lethal damage. Concentration is not easy, and those casting spells outdoors must make Concentration checks (DC 10+1/level of spell).
The rain of amphibians is going to leave a carpet of horror in its wake, and you may decide that this affects movement further, perhaps requiring Acrobatics checks to remain standing or perform complex actions. In urban settings, creatures may begin to block vents or gather at gutters and threaten to cause minor structural damage: gutters may bloat and collapse, injuring those below. As drains become engorged with gore, these begin to block: perhaps, causing deeper gatherings of frogs and toads that must be swum through to access chases or places of interest in your adventure.
The Storm of Fishes
“There is a sudden palpable salt taint to the air as the engorged clouds hang over your heads. The clouds are suddenly alive with gulls and other birds, the creatures swooping through the steaming mass of mist as though feasting. Then you see why: the clouds are bloated with fish, tens of thousands of tiny black fish that begin to pour down upon you in a rain of brine and death.”
In many ways, the rain of fish—if you apply it simply as that—is very similar to the rainstorm above. If you wish, simply modify the description to fit the rules accordingly. However, this imagined storm is far greater than that. It is tearing the very harvest of the sea and hurling it on land, bringing with it fish from the deep, including those of great size. These larger fish are hurled from the clouds on a semi-regular basis; use them to shock players into understanding the gravity (pardon the pun) of the event taking place. The bigger creatures hurtle into the region the PCs are in: for simplicity, assign 1d4 for every scene the PCs pass through outdoors—perhaps, a courtyard or town square or dash across farmland. (It doesn’t really matter, the effect is what is important.) Assign the fish as missile weapons randomly targeting characters. To avoid the fish, a Reflex save (DC 12) is required. Characters struck by one take 1d6 damage. Consider increasing the save DC and damage in increments of 1, so the next dive up is d8 and so forth.
In depicting this fantasy storm, remember to make it epic: if you want a whale tossed onto a town square, have one. It’s great for drama, and in many ways, the more outlandish the event, the more memorable it will be. Bear in mind not to overuse the mechanic, though. Dodging a couple of storms of fish that have sharks and maybe the odd giant octopus tossed up is great, maybe even over the course of a short AP if it is not overused, but avoiding random effects by saving throws is not roleplaying. You’re after drama not fatigue. Use it to its greatest effect.
TO BE CONTINUED…