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Weather in the Wilderness

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 165
While many of the physical dangers a group faces in the wilds vary significantly based on the nature of the terrain they explore, the weather can pose an array of challenges within a single region. When the weather is calm or good, it can make even the most unpleasant of terrains less grueling, but when the weather turns bad, even gently rolling hills, idyllic woodlands, and pastoral plains can become death traps.

While you can simply decide what the weather’s up to at any point in your campaign—and indeed you should always feel free to have it start raining, thundering, or gusting with wind when the story is enhanced by dramatic shifts in the weather—you can also use the following system to generate weather for your game.

In keeping with Pathfinder’s primary goal of providing a shared game experience first and foremost, this system for generating weather is narrative-based rather than a fully scientific simulation. While this system takes into account generalities such as climate, elevation, and season, its primary focus allows you to set the norms for weather in a particular area of your choice, using a number of broad categories based on general climate and favored terrain categories. You can then add weather details and events outside that norm, from mere hassles to catastrophes, either randomly generating those weather events or picking and choosing ones that support your campaign’s greater narrative. This makes it easier for PCs whose classes enhance their skills in certain terrain types to better thwart environmental dangers that are created or provoked by such terrains’ weather.

Extreme Temperatures

Temperatures of 40° F and lower or 90° F or higher are hazardous, growing more dangerous the more extreme they become. Without the benefit of endure elements or some other form of protection, characters exposed to temperatures beyond these ranges run the risk of taking damage and suffering other effects. The effects of cold dangers and heat dangers are in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.

Weather Baseline

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 165
When determining weather for a region in your campaign, your first step is to establish the weather baseline for the region. The weather baseline is influenced by the region’s climate (this sets the baseline temperature), elevation (this provides the baseline precipitation intensity), and season (this affects the temperature and dictates the baseline precipitation frequency).

Temperature Variations and Precipitation

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 166
Once you have established weather baselines for a region and adjust them to match the elevation and season, the next step is to breathe life into the weather by determining the temperature’s variation from the adjusted baseline and the daily precipitation. With this system, you can build out weather patterns and events as far as you want into the future. If the PCs will be in a region for some time, it’s a good idea to plan out the weather’s variations and events at least a week in advance so if a character tries to use Survival to predict the weather, you’ll have information to work with. On the other hand, if you know the PCs are going to be in a region for only a few days, planning our a full week of weather isn’t necessary. And of course, you can randomly generate weather on a dayby- day basis if you’re comfortable with the possibility of an unexpected turn complicating the game’s other events.

Weather Details

Source Ultimate Wilderness pg. 169
While temperature and precipitation are important aspects of weather, other details can add further danger and drama. Powerful winds can complicate weather, cloud cover can obscure vision, and special, often destructive weather events can cause incredible mayhem and widespread devastation.