Create Extreme Environments In 3 Steps

Create Extreme Environments In 3 Steps


It’s pretty chilly here right now. But good news: it’s warmer than it was yesterday! Haha.

So I took the screenshot above on my phone while thinking we should add extreme environmental conditions into our adventures more often to take gameplay to 11.

Creating extreme conditions is not difficult in our games because we have magic, technology, different worlds, and even different physics. Today, I’ll brain dump some ideas on how we might do this.

Where Can We Incorporate Extreme Conditions?

We need not focus only on making things uncomfortable during encounters. There are several other ways we can integrate them:

d6 Extreme Condition Use Ideas

  1. Character Backgrounds. I was born the day it hit 175 degrees.
  2. Plot Hooks. With this warm spring, the ancient ice dam is about to melt!
  3. Feature Locations. Inside a tippy iceberg.
  4. Monster Design. The Wind Whorl, often captured by sailors, can exhale hurricane level winds.
  5. World Design. The Kingdom sits 10,000 feet above sea level.
  6. Encounter Scaling. Torrential rains make ranged attacks nearly impossible.

How Can We Affect Gameplay With Extreme Conditions?

With chaos, magic, and alternate physics, we can create any environment we want. Using Earth as a guide though, we can break things up into four simple categories, like a stat block:

  1. Temperature: Heat and cold. Use Kelvin for inspiration.
  2. Precipitation: Type is based on temperature (boiling rain, snow…).
  3. Air Movement: From breeze to hurricane.
  4. Pressure: Think vacuum of space, crushing oceans, and mountain sickness.

Regardless of extreme condition brought into play, you can define its effects simply using those four attributes.

Further, you can apply this to any environment:

  • On land
  • Underground, caves, caverns
  • At altitude
  • In space
  • Under water
  • The plane of ash

Next time you prep, try adding an extreme environment. This will get your players solving new problems and grappling with novel situations.

Cool?