Impractical Applications: Weather-work

I talked a lot this week about weather. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always let weather come into play, but I’ve seen it have some effect as much as I’ve seen it fail.

Most of the weather I’ve worked with has been atmospheric weather—there more for scene-setting than anything. Battles on rooftops in the pouring rain, solo character wandering forlornly through a city where snow was the color of charcoal by the time it hit the ground, or had fallen a few days prior and was leaving crusts on the road, clear nights with full moons to take advantage of the light effect, that sort of thing. I blame SoCal for that; I spent far too long with weather that didn’t really matter.

Sometimes I’ve managed to do better. There was one time where I smacked my main group with a huge blizzard—I mean, come on, what else do you do with a group that can handle just about any foe they face and is running around the middle of nowhere somewhere in that area that even the map portrays as all white? It’s the closest I’ve come in a while to defeating them, too—only one or two really came prepared.

One of the better pieces of weather-work I’ve seen wasn’t mine, but part of a play-by-post I was in. This was another Exalted game, pretty low-key, rather goofy, and recently given to one of the players to run by a GM who had lost some combination of interest and motivation (probably because he’d only been running due to nobody else wanting to to begin with, but I digress). We were outside a city’s gates, which were at the moment being assaulted by what appeared to be a mud elemental—it was nighttime, it was raining, the ground was pretty much nothing but mud the moment one stepped off the road, and I’m still not sure what we were using as a light source to begin with. How we handled it varied. The critter was, well, in its element; we had someone who was doing weapon-on-a-chain tricks under the surface of the water; my character was pretending to be simultaneously off her rocker and extremely lucky (which meant a lot of getting her feet stuck and tripping in just such a way as to be narrowly missed by its claw-things, while trying to see if the thing could be negotiated with/land an effect that required a minute-long spoken ritual, without making it look like that was what she was doing); and everyone else was pretty much flailing for ideas or metaphysically useful suggestions or whatever fit with their respective schticks. The weather was our enemy (we may not have taken dice penalties, but we definitely described being inconvenienced), our ally, our source of inspiration, and our set of constraints, and the end result was pretty nifty.

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