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Friday’s 4e Freebie: Weather Generators

If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute!   ~ (Michigan) Proverb

I’m sure that there are folks in other states besides Michigan that use that phrase, but honestly, I’d never heard it used as much or with such Schadenfreude as I have since I moved up here about ten years ago.  By the way, if you’re not familiar with the German word I just used, it means literally “taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others”, which is an apt word to use, when you consider how much fun it is, if you’re the DM anyway, to use random Weather Generators in your campaign. 

Nothing quite elicits groans of dismay as fast as making Player-Characters deal with the adverse climate conditions.  Some DMs tend to ignore the great potential of using weather as  a challenge to Characters, but it can be as dangerous as any dragon! 

One of my earliest experiences with the power of weather in D&D was when I gaming with some college students at the local university.  I was still a high school student, back then and the third or fourth adventure we faced as low level characters was finding ourselves forced to flee a terrible army of orcs and goblins, which had destroyed the town we used as homebase.  Sent by the remaining elders of the town to seek assistance against the evil horde from a nearby hermit-wizard , our Characters climbed up into the mountains  in the dead of winter, and nearly all died from exposure and starvation.  A couple good lessons came out of that experience – Never underestimate the power of the weather to challenge the heroes, and never let an alpine backpacker from Canada be you DM!  

So here is Friday’s 4e Freebie taking a look at how to add some meteorological mayhem into your game, free of charge!

Ok, who left the Dragonborn out in the rain?

I’ve loved using random Weather Generators ever since one came out back in Dragon Magazine #68.  I don’t have that one around anymore, but I’m almost certain that the article was called “Weathering the Storms”.  Armed with this article in hand, and after a whole lot of dice rolling, you could generate weather systems in any part of the World of Greyhawk Campaign setting, modified by all sorts of factors like latitude, elevation above sea level, and terrain conditions.  Chunks of that Dragon Magazine article found their way into a later version of the Greyhawk Campaign Setting boxed set and the Dungeoneers’ Survival Guide.

It was a great article, but an awful lot of work to generate even a week of weather, which could be made useless in seconds if your Players decided their Characters wanted a radical change of scenery and teleported to halfway across the continent.

Thankfully, there are some amazingly good programmers out there that have offered to code, free of charge, some Weather Generators that will work with almost any campaign setting. 

Generator #1: Wheel of Time and Forgotten Realms Weather Generator by Antti Lusila

This generator I started using about couple years ago and is part of a larger RPG fansite by a gamer from Finnland named Antti Lusila.  It’s a web-based random generator that can generate weather for not only the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, but the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time world as well.  It also has the feature that allows custom input of world data, so if you are using a homebrew or third-party setting, you can still make some meteorological events. 

The Weather Generator also displays phases of the moon, wind direction and speed, and type of precipitation.  Overall it’s a good generator, but I sometimes found the output a bit cumbersome to copy and paste into a word doc to print.  It was definitely easier to use once I started DM’ing from my laptop!

Generator #2Scroll of Weather Forecasting by Tomi

I’ve never used this particular generator much, mainly because I haven’t been running a Greyhawk Campaign in over ten years, but it comes highly recommended from the fansites.  It has a really nifty look, and I am pretty sure is using at its heart that random generator from Dragon Magazine and the Greyhawk Campaign Boxed Setting

The output includes a week’s worth of forecast, temperature highs and lows, precipitation, and phases of Oerth’s two moons.  It also details the duration of the precipitation event which is a nice bonus.  It also is a web-based generator, but it looks like the code is available for download from a link on the page, so you can run it on a laptop without internet connection.

Generator #3RPG Weather Generator by bobcat_grad

I think I definitely saved the best for last. This is the Weather Generator that I am currently using in my two 4e campaigns, and rather than being web-based, it is actually a nice little stand alone app.  I found it on the EN World boards, and it is generically designed so as to be capable of being used with any world setting.

It can take up to a minute  to churn out a week of weather, but it has lots of great details.  Besides generating the day’s high and low temperatures and the precipitation, it actually generates 3 seperate forecasts per day: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening/Night.  Each forecast details any precipitation, the cloud cover, the wind speed and gust speed, and allows for that variation in daily weather that, in the real world, cna have us planning a picnic in the morning only to have it ruined by an afternoon thundershower.

At first it may seem limited, as by design, it is only takes into account four climatic zones: Arctic, Continental, Temperate, and Equatorial.   But its versatility for use with any world setting, and its ability to operate with no internet connection, in case you need to generate weather on-the-fly, makes this Weather Generator my favorite one to use of the three.

So don’t be afraid to cast a raincloud over your adventurers now and then by using one of these great, and most importantly FREE Weather Generators.  Your Players may not thank you for it, but at least the Barbarian in your campaign might get all that gore rinsed off now and then.

So until next blog, I wish you Happy Gaming!

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


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