Dresden Files & Fairy Tales – Adventure Tips For Urban Fantasy Games — RPT#647
From: Christopher Sniezak
I love stories about wizard private eyes, iron druid book shop owners, succubus baristas, and null cleaners. I love modern fantasy or what is also known as Urban Fantasy. To get an Urban Fantasy game, just add fantasy into a modern setting, especially a large city. But sometimes it’s hard coming up with adventure ideas for this genre. Today’s article will fix that for you.
The first and most important thing I’ve learned from running these kinds of games is to make sure you are aware of the juxtaposition of the modern world versus the fantasy one. To get this right, first pick a fantasy element and then a modern element.
Then, figure how the elements work together and interact. What would trailer trash elves look like? How can a troll live under a bridge in modern day? Why would a queen of fairy come to a private eye?
When you can answer those questions, you’ll be able to help your players participate in your shared experience. Once you’ve trained that skill, it’s then just understanding a bunch of urban fantasy ideas in their basic forms and using them in the modern setting.
Oh, by the way. Trailer trash elves would live in a trailer park. Since they’re trailer trash most people wouldn’t look twice, which means the elves don’t have to use too much magic to stay hidden. Also, the matriarch of these trailer trash elves, who’s a two pack a day little old lady elf in a bathrobe, has the heart tree growing right up through the middle of her trailer, which is their place of power and worship.
The elf wise woman isn’t above being a little mercenary, since this world has forced her into this living situation. I’ll let you answer the troll bridge and fairy queen private eye questions yourself as part of learning this skill.
Next, I’ll cover a few of my favorite tropes in Urban Fantasy. These are the most common story and setting tropes in the genre, and I’ll show you how you can use them in your games.
This is what you get when you mix Film Noir with fantasy elements. Fantastic Noir works well in a game where your PCs look for work as private contractors and clients come to them. In this case, clients are people like queens of fairy, vampires, werewolves, whatever supernatural or folklore creature you want. The problems can also be some kind of mix between human and supernatural.
For example, an ogre comes into the P.I.’s office and says, “I think my wife is cheating on me with my friend George. He’s a troll who hangs out around the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d like you to find out if it’s true or not.”
As per the formula you:
- Pick a supernatural person, place, problem, concept, or thing
- Pick an Urban one
- Figure out how to mix them together
This gives you a story hook, NPC, and campaign frame. It’s your Legos for game creation.
If you’ve heard of the Vampire RPG from White Wolf then you’re familiar with this trope:
The magical world chooses to hide their existence from the mortal one.
Using this in a game means you need to set up some sort of rules for how the magical world hides themselves and what they’re willing to do to keep their world hidden.
I suggest you keep it to around two to four laws. These laws are either accompanied by some group that enforces them, some magical consequence, or both. For example the world has vampires and vampires must follow these laws:
- You may feed on humans.
- You may kill humans as long as you dispose of the bodies. Missing person reports are ok, but bloodless bodies are not.
- You may never be seen or identified as a vampire or bring attention to yourself, especially by human law enforcement.
Failure to uphold any of these laws will result in the elders of the city removing your head from your body by hand.
Alternate Landmark History
This takes some landmark from history we’re all familiar with – Stonehenge, The Washington Monument, The Pyramids – and uses it in a mystical way.
Add locations you find interesting and have them be plot points or places of power.
To implement this:
- Pick a location
- Give it a reason for it to be magically important.
For example, Stonehenge is the only place in the world you can use the spell you’ve learned to open a portal to the land of Faerie.
The wizarding school trope is more of a setting or campaign frame. You have a school where characters attend. You provide them magic or choices of magic for the characters to learn. You also provide obstacles and challenges for them to deal with as a terrible secret or conspiracy threatens them, their classmates, the school, or any combination of those.
To build this do the following:
- Pick a kind of magic or just magic in general for the school to teach.
- Choose the level of school it is. (High School, College, Graduate, Grammar.)
- Build up the progression of choices for the magic the PCs will learn.
- Pick 1-3 difficulties the PCs will need to deal with that are related to the school. (Bullies, Classes, Teachers.)
- Decide what the terrible secret or conspiracy is.
- Choose who or what the secret or conspiracy threatens and how it does it.
You can apply steps 4 to 6 fractally to build scenarios ideas or campaign concepts.
For example, your game is set at a college of rune magic. Each scenario allows the characters to learn more rune magic. For school difficulties there is a student of a higher year who decides one of the characters needs to be taught their place, and a teacher who is so extreme that students get hurt and one was even rumored to have died in class. While the semester goes on a trickster spirit torments the students into harming themselves.
Problem of the Week
When we’re talking about Urban Fantasy, the trope with the most common application is monster of the week. But shows like Warehouse 13 and The Librarians have also done magic item of the week, hence, problem of the week. This works well as a game or campaign frame because there’s a formula you can use, just fill in the blanks. Once you get pretty good at filling in the blanks you can start throwing twists at your players to keep them from getting complacent.
Here’s the Problem of the Week formula:
- Pick a problem of the week.
- Decide how you’re going to show the PCs the problem.
- Give them their first clue and provide their first complication.
- The action they take from the first clue leads to the second clue.
- The first complication rears its head or the problem causes the PCs a complication.
- The PCs figure out exactly what the problem is and you provide another complication.
- The PCs deal with the problem and all the complications.
Time for an example of how to build this and how it might play out.
Let’s say we have Johnn and Large. They’re game advice columnists by day, but at night they hunt monsters. Time for the problem of the week. This time we have a skinchanger who can change into anyone just by touching them, but they need to shed their skin to do so, which is painful and time consuming. They also hate the human race and love killing human beings, making them serial killers.
Now to introduce the problem to the PCs.
Johnn and Large get a call from their contact Phil about a series of strange ritualistic murders happening in Buffalo NY to go with a spike of demonic energy also coming from the city. Johnn and Large come to Buffalo and use their fake FBI IDs to get access to the crime scene. That’s when the real FBI show up and cause the first complication.
Johnn and Large dodge the real FBI and track a trail of what looks to be shed skin, muscle, and teeth, to a sewer. This is the first clue leading to the second clue.
They descend into the sewer and are attacked by some guy. They shoot the guy half a dozen times, but he runs off after clocking Johnn pretty good. This is the problem causing the PCs another complication.
After the fight in the sewers, and with a little research, Johnn and Large realize their dealing with a skinchanger. Skinchangers can only be killed with a cold iron dagger, and since it touched them both they understand it might be wearing one of their faces. That’s when Large’s face turns up on the TV at their hotel room, wanted for murdering an FBI agent.
The PCs have figured out what their dealing with but now have another complication, or even two to deal with. Johnn and Large, now knowing what the creature is, have a plan to lure the creature to them with a spell. They’re also going to have the FBI agents, who they dodged earlier, show up. Johnn and Large want to see the creature as the they kill it, hoping to use the strangeness of the situation, and the double of Large or Johnn if it decided to switch faces, to help clear them. Not the best plan but it’s worth a try.
Aside from the couple of choice points I put above, there are many ways you can alter the basic structure to suit your needs. The most important parts of the structure are:
- The problem
- An idea for how it is dealt with
- Giving the PCs enough information so they can act when it comes to dealing with the problem and the complications
Mad Libs & Lists For Generating Urban Fantasy Scenarios
Here are seven lists of elements you can use to build your Urban Fantasy games. I’ve also included a number of Mad Lib adventure scripts you can use to inspire your own scenarios. I would also encourage you to create your own Mad Libs and use these lists to help you when you get stuck.
Urban + Fantasy + Action + Organization
|1||Banker||Medium||Kill||The Wizard’s Council|
|2||Gang Banger||Mage||Madden||A Vampire Court|
|3||Minimart Clerk||Alchemist||Scare||Werewolf Pack|
|4||Club Owner||Troll||Intimidate||Local Law Enforcement|
|5||Army Surplus Store Owner||Fey||Drain||The CIA|
|6||Cab Driver||Goblin||Force||A Fairy Court|
|7||Artist||Werewolf||Poison||The Unseelie Court|
|8||Police Officer||Vampire||Frame||The Drug Dealing Ring|
|12||Lawyer||Oracle||Turn to the (Organization)’s side||A Union|
|13||Doctor||Dragon||Ensorcel||A Cabal of Necromancers|
|14||Plumber||Ogre||Torture the soul of||A Paramilitary Force|
|16||Herbalist||Revenant||Protect from the (Organization)||The Mexican Cartel|
|18||Crime Scene Cleaner||Elf||Steal (Thing) from||The Yakuza|
|19||Librarian||Dwarf||Return (Thing) to||MI6|
|20||Mortician||Eldritch Horror||Roll twice and do both||The Magical Collection Agency|
Place + End Game + Thing
|1||Cemetery||Gain Power||The Magic Sword|
|2||Church||Get Revenge||A Book|
|3||Club||Gain Freedom||A Magic Timepiece|
|4||Stadium||Sow Chaos||The Magic Mirror|
|5||Festival||Resurrect the (Fantasy or Urban)||A Possessed Painting|
|6||Apartment Complex||Save a Loved One||A Magic Shotgun|
|7||Suburban Neighborhood||Send a Message||An Anathema|
|8||Dance Hall||Obtain (Thing)||The Pendant of Power|
|9||Factory||Become Wealthy||Account Numbers|
|10||Warehouse||Find the Truth About (Thing, Fantasy, Urban, Urban Fantasy Organization, or Location)||A True Name|
|11||Restaurant||Disappear||An Archive of Information About (Fantasy, Urban, Urban Fantasy, Organization, or Location)|
|12||Steel Mill||Leave Their Mark||A Treasure Map|
|13||Gym||Put (Urban, Organization, or Fantasy) In Their Debt||A Roll of Film|
|14||Library||Teach (Urban, Organization, or Fantasy) Lesson||An Idol|
|15||Government Building||Stay Hidden||A Carpenter’s Cup|
|16||Five Star Hotel||Turn (Urban, Organization, or Fantasy) to Their Cause||A Bronze Spear|
|17||Banquet Hall||Maintain Their Place in (Organization)||An Ancient Shroud|
|18||Local Bar||Gain the Love of (Fantasy, Urban, or Urban Fantasy)||Magic Words|
|19||Police Station||Feel Pleasure||That Car|
|20||Harbor||Fulfill Their Purpose||The Black Diamond|
A client asks the PCs to help them with a situation at the (location) that is being plagued by strange occurrences. These occurrences are the result of a (Fantasy). How the PCs deal with it is up to them.
The (Fantasy) wants to find out who their sibling is so they need to go to the (Place) and speak with the (Fantasy). Once they learn their sibling’s name they’ll (Action) them so they can (End Game).
The (Urban) has learned the true nature of their friend the (Urban) (Fantasy) and have posted it to their Facebook page. Since then their friend has gone missing and they’re being followed by the (organization) who will disappear them unless the PCs help them.
Proof of Love
The (Fantasy) (Urban) is in love with an (Urban) but they won’t be allowed to get married until the (Urban Fantasy from before) gets the (Thing) for their parents to prove their devotion. The (Thing) is being held by the (Organization). The (Fantasy) (Urban) is friends with one of the PCs and asks for their help.
The Last Ritual
The (Urban) (Fantasy) wishes to (End Game). To do so they must, bring (Thing) to the (Place) and give it to the (Fantasy), who tells them to (Action) the (Urban), and then (Action) the (Fantasy). Then, and only then, can they perform the rite at the (Place).
Here’s a short list of some source material you can mine for Urban Fantasy ideas.
- Dresden Files (Kitchen Sink Urban Fantasy)
- Iron Druid Chronicles (Kitchen Sink Urban Fantasy from a different perspective)
- Monster Hunter International (Humans vs. Monsters)
- Georgina Kincaid Series (Supernatural Romance)
- The Grimnoir Chronicles (Alt History)
- Anything by Charles De Lint (One of the original Urban Fantasy writers)
- A Lot of Neil Gaiman (Get a look at the genre from a variety of different perspectives that are well executed)
- Anita Blake Series (Twilight but probably not as offensive to our gamer sensibilities though it gets kind of shark jumping after book 5)
- The Word and The Void series by Terry Brooks (To me this is classic good vs. evil in a modern setting)
- The Harry Potter series (The young adult perspective)
- Night Watch (Great for an Eastern World perspective on the genre)
TV & Film
- Buffy & Angel (They make fun of the tropes so you can see them)
- Lost Girl (How Magical societies function)
- Once Upon a Time (How to turn known properties on their heads and create new stories)
- Penny Dreadful (Historical interpersonal storytelling)
- Supernatural Seasons 1-3 (The Monster of the Week show)
- Warehouse 13 (Magic Item of the Week)
- The Librarians (How to do a short form campaign, also a great campaign frame)
Brief Word From Johnn
Phandelver #10 – Torm’s Disfavour
What happens when the God of Justice has it in for you? It begins with lightning and ends in Oh Snap! We played the next chapter of the campaign Friday night, and Torm got a small Chuckle of Justice at the expense of the self-named Murder Hobos.
It started with the group preparing for an early morning departure to Cragmaw Castle to rescue the kidnapped Rockseeker brothers. Equipment was purchased, extra treasure was buried, good byes were said. Luther serenaded the crowd at the Stonehill Inn with some rousing songs, attracting a crazy miner who thinks he’s a werewolf and howls at the moon. He’s now Luther’s #1 fan and a bit of a stalker.
The Stone Circle
In the morning the party leaves, trudging through the wilderness following instructions from Quelline the druid. Late that day the Murder Hobos spot a ring of stones and small shrine in the distance. They approach warily while heavy rains turn the ground to mud. Suddenly, an ankheg bursts up through the ground and attacks. It’s a tough kill, but the party is victorious. Then four more of the terrible creatures surface!
The bugs fight fiercely, using their burrowing powers to attack repeatedly from underneath. The party leans into the battle and whittles away the creatures. Spells, swords, and barbarian rage propel the Hobos to victory. However, they are not allowed to rest. The ground undulates once more, and then the Mother Ankheg erupts through the mud and rock. She is huge and nearly decapitates Roscoe. Drawing upon all their reserves, the party clobbers the creature until it’s forced to flee, taking the last of her eggs and burrowing deep into the earth.
The group decides to find a safe place to camp and rests. Luther finds curious sigils on the stones in the circle. Six the wizard helps him read the sylvan glyphs and they learn this site was some kind of Fey portal. Though the circle and portal appear long ruined, the glyphs hold tantalizing hints about its possible re-use.
Next day the group heads on. The owl familiar on overwatch spies orc slavers on the horizon. The group gets a closer look and sees 20 of the foul creatures and two dozen slaves in tow. The slavers travel in a single line towards Phandalin.
This immediately catches Kriv the barbarian’s attention. His mother was taken by orc slavers. And when back in town two nights ago, Kriv met a shady guy who said he could hook Kriv up with some slaves. “I knows a guy.”
The orc slavers here in the wilderness must be the ones Kriv’s contact spoke of.
The Hobos concoct a plan to murder the orcs and free the slaves. Everyone gets into their ambush positions. Just as the orcs and slaves trundle by and the PCs are about to unleash magical fury, a lightning bolt descends from the heavens, followed by a massive boom. The bolt hits a tree right in front of the PCs, and the orcs easily spot the ambush. The PCs scream “Torm!” and shake their fists at the sky.
A nasty fight ensues. The orc leader heads the charge. Javelins sail through the air. Great axes meet steel swords. Bursts of magical energy scar the land. After a brutal fight, all orcs are dead, but so are two slaves. Two orcs are left alive for questioning, but Kriv thinks Roscoe is leaving his guy alive and ends one orc’s life, and Roscoe thinks Kriv is leaving his guy alive and ends the other orc’s life. No interrogations for Malcor this day.
Back to Civilization
During the ankheg attack, Venomfang (the green dragon encountered weeks ago) made an appearance. It’s been tracking the PCs and sometimes drops a chlorine bomb on them and flies away, happy to harass and weaken the party. Worried the creature might be drawn by the lightning and orc battle, the Hobos hustle back to Phandalin with the freed slaves.
In town, the party takes the slaves to the Blue Diamond families, who usher the poor people in and give food and clothes. The next day, Belenos will offer the slaves help in establishing themselves in the area, but the people have taken a kind offer from the Blue Diamond to join the merchants and help build a life with them in Phandalin.
We end the session there. Castle Cragmaw still awaits the PCs, and so does The Spider, who is beefing up defenses and his plans now the Murder Hobos have strong-armed themselves into the region as players.
This session felt like it ran better than the last. We started with a brief recap of the plot, which helped us all reorient after several weeks of off-script mayhem. While I’m running a sandboxy campaign, the PCs still have a job of rescuing kidnapped dwarves to do.
I’m finding the campaign premise is also crystalizing, and we chatted briefly about that. This campaign is Deadwood meets The Black Company. There’s still one more ingredient I want in that razor, something plot propelling. I’ll let you know when I’ve figured it out.
I also explained to the group my plan for the campaign is a series of dungeons, ruins, and exploration sites with Phandalin as a home base, all wrapped in a plot arc. I wanted to make sure the players were cool with that, and also it was a courtesy to help guide PC level-up choices.
An interesting trend in the group is a desire for perfect information. The group uses the wizard’s owl familiar, contacts, investigation, knowledge skills, and spying to get detailed answers to inform planning. This often generates great roleplaying, but it means tracking more information to keep stories straight. So I need to put more planning time into this area for the campaign, as sometimes my ad hoc answers come up thin.
We play again in two weeks!
Last Day To Enter Mythic Gods Contest
Last week’s issue had a great formula for making deities for your campaign.
The formula was specifically aimed at interactive deities – agents of change in your world to trigger adventures and encounters. Gods that stay on their plane and keep to themselves are boring! They make your life as GM tougher too, because it’s just more stuff to memorize instead of game pieces you get to play and interact with.
So John Large and I came up with a deity design template to make gods meaningful and adventure-full in your games.
Along with the template we kicked off a contest that ends today. There have been 25 entries so far, which is awesome. It also means if you enter, chances of winning are very good. Like, 25% chance of critting good.
To enter the contest, create a Mythic God using the template explained in John’s Mythic God Generator from RPT#646. If you didn’t get that issue, email me back right away and I’ll forward it along.
Each god you create and enter gives you +1 chance of winning. I’ll roll dice to determine winners, so each entry increases your chances.
Winners receive a Roleplaying Tips product of their choice:
- NPC Essentials
- Faster Combat Guide & Course
- 3 Line NPCs
- Holiday Essentials
- 200 Story-Exploding Character Hooks
- Campaign Seeds
Contest entry deadline is March 2.
If you have any questions, just holler. And may my dice roll for you!
6 Interesting Hazards
From: Jesse C. Cohoon
Adventuring is a dangerous occupation. Not only are there deadly monsters to overcome, there are traps that can cost the characters time and energy to negotiate. Hazards are another danger intrinsic to adventuring. They are location-based threats natural to the area.
Here are six hazard types and ideas on how you can use them in your games.
A tornado can take a straw and drive it through a telephone pole. Its destructive power is able to tear apart buildings, shatter glass, and uproot trees as if it’s nothing. If a tornado does that to inanimate objects, think about the danger it poses to a living person if they were picked up with it? Remember though, not every encounter need end in a character’s untimely death. Think “Wizard of Oz.”
Are naturally occurring or man-made features that funnel winds. Depending on the direction the wind is going through such a tunnel, sounds or scents might travel further or cause them to be whisked away. In such tunnels, projectiles might be more difficult to aim. If a fire were to break out in such a location, it would spread faster, fanned by the winds.
In Cold Weather
Wind chill is a measurement of heat loss a body experiences when exposed to the wind. The colder the wind chills, the more dangerous they are because the layer of heat our bodies produce to protect the skin from cold is blown away, thus taking away our natural defense to the cold.
In an era where there are no flashlights, a torch is a handy way of lighting the character’s path…unless they hit one of these pockets of gasses that will explode with nothing more than a spark. If other adventurers had come through this area carrying torches there should be telltale scorch marks on the walls and ceiling.
Low Air Pressure
Too low is dangerous because a certain amount is needed to breathe, which is why it becomes harder to breathe in the mountain tops. Too little air pressure and you can’t breathe or you slowly suffocate to death.
While nice in the shower and steam rooms, hot water vapor can be dangerous if the characters do not expect it. There will be steam around water boilers, steam driven engines, forced-steam heating, and steam driven power suits and golems, for example. Steam not only burns, it also obscures vision. Keep in mind other liquids can heat to the steam point as well. If the DM has a mad scientist’s kit as part of the scenery, some chemical concoction in a flask on a Bunsen burner might become overheated and turn to steam.
Creeks, lakes, and rivers overflow their banks, or dams break causing flooding. The rapidly rising waters dislodge trees, entire buildings, and even vehicles, sweeping away unfortunate victims. In modern times, an additional hazard is downed power lines that will provide anyone entering the water unprotected a shocking experience. Note in addition to overland flooding that underground passages, ships, and other vehicles are subject to this hazard as well.
There could be places where the currents normally flow a certain way, but due to weather conditions, magic, or an act of the gods, they have changed course. Other reasons for currents could be whirlpools, large-scale animal migrations, or the appearance of a new island. This may be problematic because the characters may have only signed up, as in Gilligan’s case, for a “3 hour tour” and it ends up being a lot longer.
In addition to being shipwrecked, there’s the hazards of getting lost, running into storms, and waterborne monsters that have been forced in the character’s way by the currents. This can also explain why some cultures might not have lost contact with one another because the water wouldn’t allow for trade in an era before steam ships.
White Water Rapids
occur when a river’s slope creates turbulence and air is trapped in the water. These are dangerous because they bash and batter watercraft into rocks, and cause characters to be thrown from the boat, drenching them, and drowning the unwary or unprepared.
In abandoned temples of evil and sacrifice where undead gather, sometimes giant spiders will take up residence. In time these webs, even when abandoned by the spiders which nested on them, will drain those that come too close to them. They may even animate and attack the characters.
Sometimes the spider has excess poison and instead of wasting it, it incorporates the poison into its webs to make them extra deadly for its prey. Because of how spiders catch their prey with their webs, the poison is always a contact one. Characters might notice an unusual smell or see the webs are slick or have beads of “dew” on them when there should be no dew. Alchemists will pay handsomely for these, if properly collected.
Elemental Force Webs
Belong to spiders from the elemental planes, have survived encounters with an elemental plane, or ingest something of it.
- Fire Webs are glowing strands of fire suspended in a web pattern. The level of heat felt from it is the same as a blast furnace. Getting through them without burning is tough.
- Ice Webs look like jagged connected icicles. Cold enough to cause damage if handled without gloves, if broken up they doesn’t pose much danger.
- Lightning Webs flash in and out of existence at random. One moment there’s a space and the next ZAP! they appear. If it’s not been activated for awhile, characters might smell a faint odor, or even feel an increased charge in the air. More recent flashes might be evidenced by an odor of ozone, a flash of light, or a rumbling of thunder.
- Ooze Webs are sticky, stretchy things that always snap back into shape, but are susceptible to flame and alcohol. A clever character could figure out how to use them as a trap by having projectiles stuck in the web and the web pulled taught. When released, the web causes the projectiles to fly out and damage anything in its path.
- Earth (Metal) Spider Webs: Sometimes spiders will ingest metal (in raw form or from weapons and other sources) and this will strengthen their web to the point that it becomes difficult to cut through. Even cutting it isn’t safe, as metal protruding from the web can cut those trying to slash at it. In addition to this, when it does get cut it can damage anything in its path as it springs loose.
There are roots and vines everywhere that can trip the unwary. Add unlevel ground, poisonous plants, impassable crowded bushes, brambles, and trees, and there is a disaster waiting to happen.
Might contain half-fallen support beams, collapsing walls, building bricks or stones, bones, discarded clothing, broken furniture, and more. Such locations might be overgrown, abandoned because of a disaster or places where monsters have taken up residence. “The Last of Us” video game has a few good scenes which explore this. Stealth in such places becomes a problem because the debris on the floor makes noise as anything moves over it.
Can occur when there’s water, ice, grease, marbles, or any other slippery substance is on the ground the characters are walking on. Normally these types of hazards are a minor inconvenience like losing a turn or having to move more slowly, but couple them with a sharp drop-off such as a cliff or an open sided bridge, and that can cause disaster for the thus characters exposed.
Are problematic because it can cause buildings to collapse and whatever is therein to break. Even being on open ground doesn’t make something immune as it can still lose balance due to the shifting ground.
Can bury characters under tons of rock or snow. If not rescued quickly, such a situation could become fatal.
Damp, uneven floors and walls, bat guano, stalactites and stalagmites, sudden drops, and falling rocks are why caving is unsafe.
Whether man made from improper mining, unstable caves, leaky sewer pipes, or the digging from animals or monsters, these hazards swallow buildings whole, cause road problems, and even down trees. These can strike without warning, but other times there may have been a depression there for years no one thought twice about.
In addition to the flowing lava, there’s poisonous gasses, rocks flung out with the force of an explosion, and red-hot ash and steam to contend with. As the lava cools, it might look safe to walk on, but the crust could only be a few millimeters thick, dropping anything unfortunate on it into the molten rock.
Is a worrisome hazard because, if the characters not expecting it and rationing their water, the characters can face dehydration. Add heat into the equation and they can be quickly facing heat exhaustion or sunstroke.
Is a cold but not quite frozen substance half frozen water and half ice. If trudged through can exhaust, slow, and numb characters. If they go through it without waterproof, warm footwear, treat them as if they had exposed skin to severe cold.
Reduces visibility, making aiming at anything difficult. Some fog can get so thick characters can’t see the hand in front of their own faces. On unstable ground or ground that changes elevation quickly, it can mean characters stumbling around in it may be in for a fall.