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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Magic weather and climate

    I got this idea for a new setting in which the mortal realm and the supernatural realm both exist as part of the same environment, but occupying different regions. You can enter the realms of spirits and gods simply by walking there. Regions with weak magical forces are good for settlement and civilization because you have to worry a lot less about spirits in a foul mood, dead rising from their graves, and magical beasts roaming the land. But as a complication, these regions are not fixed and have no sharp borders. Things are mostly stable from year to year, but at the scale of centuries the regions of high and low magic grow, shrink, or move. New regions become safe for settling and travel while old ones become increasingly hostile and inhospitable. Trade routes become unsafe to use and cities have to be abandoned with the people moving to where it is safer.
    But sometimes the high magic regions are more volatile and erratic and can expand well into areas that are normally safe for durations of days, weeks, or even months. It can either be sudden and short, or gradually build up and last for a good while. It's basically natural disasters, but with a strong supernatural component.

    Now I am looking for ideas how such magical weather phenomenons could affect the regions within their areas. One idea I already have is supernaturally harsh winters. They are not just unnaturally cold and bring with them starving wolves, but also hordes of frost spirits like ice elementals and wendigos.
    Or a classic evil thunderstorm with incredible wind and full of magical flying beasts.
    It could also be completely unconnected to visible weather, like a sudden local zombie apocalpyse.

    Any more ideas for how such magical storms could manifest and how it would affect life and culture in the setting? I think it could actually be a pretty major and central element of the setting around which a lot of conflict and politics revolves.
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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Randuir's Avatar

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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    Right, so, first of all, I'd look at how your planned system would affect life itself. Not cultures or the like, just consider if it would have any interesting effects on how animals have evolved. For example, there might be several types of birds that have learned to sense such a storm coming, which in turn make them very useful to have around. I'm sure you can think of other interesting effects depending on what you've got planned exactly.

    Next, humans (which is the term I'll use to describe all sapient species here) have always sought to improve their lives and livelihood. This means that they'll use what they know about the storms to their advantage. If a storm re-awakens all dead bodies every couple of years, then burial is simply not a thing in the associated culture. Instead they'll burn the bodies and break the bones to ensure this won't affect them. Storms of nastiness will result in people building either underground, or in sheltered locations, while your examples of extreme winters would likely cause associated cultures to always be preparing for the worst, if they can't just move elsewhere.

    Another important thing to consider is the maximum period of time an area will remain safe. If this is too low, then large cities are unlikely to form, and there won't be much in the way of impressive architecture, as it's just not worth it to spend 60+ years to build a majestic cathedral if it won't be used for a couple of centuries afterwards. Building design would probably be very utilitarian, with little in the way of ornamentation.

    You should also consider that much magical research would be done in an effort to predict, harness and contain these effects. Consider why these efforts have failed, or how far along they are at the time of your campaign.

    Really, something like this should be considered at the very start of the world-building, and everything else should be build with this in mind, as the animals and people will have evolved and adapted to their circumstances. If you've come up with this cool idea later, than that's fine, but you might want to look at all the cultures and the like that you've planned, and ask yourself if it makes sense for a people that live a semi-nomadic lifestyle (nothing they build will last beyond a couple of generations), and for every kind of magic storm you should ask yourself how people and society would have adapted to its effects.

    To give an example from fiction: In The Stormlight Archive series there are these humongous storms that sweep across the land every few days. They have stripped most of the land bare of soil, leaving only the bedrock. Most animals from that world are some kind of shelled creature that can use its shell to seek cover against a storm. Most plant life resembles under-water fauna, capable of retracting into hard shells or burrows whenever a storm blows past. Humanity can only live in areas that are sheltered from this storm, and most people's lives are determined by the rhythms of the Storms.
    Last edited by Randuir; 2017-12-06 at 05:58 AM.
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    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    I like the analogy of climate. It usually is very reliable for very long stretches of time and when permanent change does come it happens over the course of a generation or two, or even longer. Only the oldest people will know that it actually used to be different and ways of life that had been established for generations gradually no longer suffice to keep everyone safe and fed.

    But to get a more dramatic effect, I would also introduce a third intermediate state between strong and weak magic. The borderlands are regions where magic is still or already present at moderate levels and people have adapted to living in such conditions. Namely plenty of seemingly superstitious rituals and tabus to keep a fragile truce with the spirits living nearby.
    Those regions would be the ones to get hit first and the hardest by magic surges while the great population centers are far away from the borders and rarely experience it at full force themselves. The borderlands would be home to old cities that are underpopulated and falling into disrepair and obscurity.

    One effect that occured to me is that magicians would actually prefer to conduct their studies either deep in the magical wilderness or at the least in eldritch hotspots close to civilization. The later would actually be highly contested as they are not nearly as remote.

    Also, magicians would rejoyce at every magic storm coming their way. Get all the apprentices to gather all the necessary resoures for the big rituals and get the magical forges fired up!

    Another thing is that the setting can have pretty large and sophisticated fey civilizations that are unfriendly to humans but wouldn't be expected to simply wipe them out. Just as humans really don't like going into strong magic regions, fey avoid weak magic regions since their powers would be much weaker.

    Which brings me to another really cool magic storm phenomenon. When strong magic pushes far into settled lands, it's the time of the Wild Hunt. Fey hunters comen on flying steeds to raid for slaves.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    How predictable are these storms? Would the same effect reoccur within an area?
    I'm a too tired to think of how people would adapt to them, but here's a few ideas of witchy weather.

    -Rainclouds that act like they are containers of water, spilling torrents of water rather than raindrops.
    -Showers of food or animals
    -Showers of blood or other body parts. Hair and fingernails are good.
    -Heavy thunderclouds hauled by some form of magical creature (pegasus, air elemental, cloud giant, etc). They struggle against the wind and seem to be trying to prevent the storm from breaking. If this happens, the haulers are obviously furious or upset and may either try to increase the pace or cut the cloud loose. The cloud may contain items or have a magical effect. Alternately, it may just be normal rainwater, snow or lightning.
    -Thick, dark, electrical mist that behaves like a thunderstorm at ground level. All rain and lightning falls up into the sky.
    -A rainbow cloud. Flowers bloom on all plant life that catches its glow.
    -Rains of potions.
    -Drifting embers from a clear sky.
    -A sandstorm that steals the memories of anybody caught in it.
    -A great mass of leaves blown in the wind. They stick to any living organism and painlessly grow into it.
    -The air is normal and fairly clear, but metal items dig their way out of the ground. They seem to be inanimate.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGirl

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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    I'd recommend cribbing from the Magic Goes Away (by Larry Niven) and Xanth (by Piers Anthony) series. The Magic Goes Away focuses pretty strongly on the relative value to society of magical power vs. stability, and the Xanth novels provide a great source for varied magical effects, and for how they might affect local flora and fauna.
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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate


    IN a homebrewed campaign a month or so ago I made a particular terrain effect that would probably work well for you. I called it the "Mystic's Fog".

    Mystic's Fog is a specialized mist that, when inhaled or otherwise consumed, creates unexpected magical effects. Some were flavor, some were absolutely game breaking. A few of my favorite effects are "You have a lizard on your head. You do not like the lizard. Its name is Steve. Only you can see Steve, and you must introduce him to everyone you meet." and "There is a goblin. And no, this is not a paranoid delusion, that WILL kill you. It is somewhere in the world RIGHT now and will find and kill you. Dead. No revival, you will die. It is coming to you and only you. This is not a joke, or any type of game this is an actual fact, a Goblin will kill you. (Note for the DM: This doesn't have to be a fact... it's more fun to give them goblinphobia...)" and lastly "You're sticky, Everything you touch sticks to you in some manner. You have half movement speed due to sticky feet. You cannot use ranged weapons not can you throw things. You can not be knocked prone unless you choose to be. If you fall prone you require a DC 10 STR check to stand back up. Any contact with ANY item sticks you to it. Touching People makes you grapple them due to the stickiness."

    The Mystic's Fog was insanely fun to play as some of the effects were absolutely crazy. I made players drunk when sober (ruining a dwarf's life) and turned a half-orc into a Gnome. I think this would qualify for a VERY strong magical area and a very fun session.

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    Jay R's Avatar

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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    Since it's magic, you can skip the weather and go straight to the effects. Last week there was a desert; this week it's a swamp. There's suddenly an new island in the middle of the lake. That tunnel you took through the mountain last month? There's lava flowing out of it.

    Consider the Old Forest in The Lord of the Rings, or the Forbidden Forest in Harry Potter.

    Two kids got lost and found a witch living in a gingerbread house. A princess ran away and was found by seven dwarves. There's a pleasure island where runaway boys are turned into donkeys.

    You have invented the DM's dream - the adventuring region where nothing has to be explained. Go wild.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    Fog is also a great way to visualize the presence of a strong magical influence creeping in.

    Another one that I feel like using is auroras. They are not caused by solar activity interacting with the magnetic field, but by the presence of strong ambient magic.
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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    I like odd weather since my setting is planar in nature. I've had things like life energy overflowing in a region, causing a waves of plants and body-horror style flesh quickly growing and then receding in pulses. I've also had things like a storm which was hungry and stole bits of memories out of the things it struck with lightning, and it would then have it's clouds and lighting resemble figures and moments from those memories. Clouds which draw rain up from the ground, leaving areas dehydrated and slowly turning the region into deserts. Or rain clouds which drew their water from an ancient spring which hadn't been interacted with for a thousand years, causing those who see through it's droplets see the ancient past instead of just refracting and distorting light. Though I also have rivers made of lightning trapped within a thin permeable film of an aurora.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Magic weather and climate

    Taking a page from the Dresden Files and Narnia series, you could have Summer Fae and Winter Fae actively battling it out in a corner of the world. Whoever gains ground in that corner impacts the climate of the whole area, which is why they're all fighting over there. The reason the story begins in a harsh winter is just because that's who has the upper hand at the moment.

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