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My revised cold-weather rules

machineelf

Explorer
I have been planning to run some cold-weather sessions in the brutal Sword Coast north during winter and eventually in the Great Glacier. The simple cold-weather rules in 5th edition weren't doing it for me. A while back I posted a thread here where I detailed my cold-weather home-brew rules. I based them on some 2nd edition rules found in the Great Glacier module.
(original post)

In the end, I found them too complicated and not in the spirit of 5th edition. So here are my revised cold-weather rules for my 5th edition game.



A constitution saving throw is made every two hours if below 30 degrees. A failure incurs 1 level of cold-weather exhaustion. Multiple failures are cumulative.

ColdnessCon Saving Throw DC
Cold (30 to 0)10
Very cold (-1 to -30)15
Intensly cold (-31 and below)20

Protection

Cold-weather gear: +10 to ST. (50 gp)

Extreme cold-weather gear: +15 to ST. (100 gp); Thickness of this gear gives disadvantage on physical skill checks and attacks. Walking speed is reduced by 10 feet.

Wetness: Being wet increases the saving throw DC by 10 and removes benefit of any cold-weather gear.

Camping: Setting up a camp with tents and a fire protects you from the cold.


Warming Up

Staying by a fire for 1 hour removes 1 level of cold-weather exhaustion.
 
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Syntallah

First Post
If you are going to feature weather as a major element in the story, I would expand upon that a bit.

I always make a little weather 'ticket' that I hang on the outside of my DM Screen for the players to see, one for each day. It has the high day time temp, the low night time temp, and a general condition (e.g. partly cloudy, mostly sunny, etc); again for day and night. I use an Excel sheet that I can populate a week at a time, then print it out.

With the above in mind, recommend making your saving throws more incremental:

30 - 25 DC 10
24 - 19 DC 11
18 - 13 DC 12
and so on...

After a few rounds of saving throws under their belts, hopefully the players will pay attention to that weather ticket, and get a sense of what the day is going to be like... Can even give the Ranger / Druid / Nature Cleric a chance to shine: "Crap, Renzil, looks like it's going to be a bad one today, better bundle up good."
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Fahrenheit! I keep forgetting that is a thing and was really confused by your numbers for a minute there. This seems like pretty straight forward and easy to use system.
 

dave2008

Legend
I like this idea, but I feel the bonus for protection seems high. With the right gear the DC for Intense cold is only 5, which is almost an auto save. For two hours in that type of intense cold it seems a little easy. Otherwise I like the simplicity.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I like this idea, but I feel the bonus for protection seems high. With the right gear the DC for Intense cold is only 5, which is almost an auto save. For two hours in that type of intense cold it seems a little easy. Otherwise I like the simplicity.
People have gone to and lived in extremely cold climates with what we would consider "primitive" gear. Just about any temperature that someone should experience can be survivable.

I think this kid could survive just about anything. ;)
kid in snowsuit.jpg

However, I would also add in additional gear or at least survival checks for shelter at night or during storms. It's one thing to be bundled up and moving. If you have food you can (probably) survive buy it's another thing to survive the night. A simple camp fire and tent may not cut it at some point you need to pile snow up around your tent or make an igloo-type structure.
 

dave2008

Legend
-31+ degrees F is pretty brutal. Even more so since that includes -50 and -100, etc. There are temperatures at which even the Inuit will not go out in.

That being said, I don't disagree, I just think the check should be more difficult at the extreme end. That being said, PCs are not normal people and maybe the DC makes sense in that regard. So a run of the mill person (CON 10) probably couldn't make it more than 6-8hrs, even with the best gear. That doesn't seem unreasonable now that I think about it more.
 

machineelf

Explorer
I like this idea, but I feel the bonus for protection seems high. With the right gear the DC for Intense cold is only 5, which is almost an auto save. For two hours in that type of intense cold it seems a little easy. Otherwise I like the simplicity.
Thanks. My thinking is that a person with a "normal" con of 10 has a decent chance of getting over-cold during a day of travel even with extreme cold-weather gear. They do have to make 4 checks in a day of travel, so that brings it to a 20% chance of getting a level of cold exhaustion (I think, if my math's right.) Usually they will be fine, but they have to take on the disadvantages on their physical abilities, including attacks, for wearing that heavy gear. That might not be a problem for a caster, however.

On the other hand, a barbarian with a high con score may be able to get by with regular cold-weather gear and still endure the extreme cold.

I wanted a system that wasn't too harsh but did make players have to think about their options. I may still tweak with the numbers and DCs, but I think I'm happy with the framework of these rules. And yeah, I was going for a balance of simplicity with meaningfulness.
 


the_redbeard

Explorer
I like it. I like the encumbrance for the cold weather gear. I think the way to make the DCs work is to keep them as they are, but increment them as the exposure is increased without warmth, maybe without sustenance (keeping up body heat requires calories.) Perhaps every 2 hours the DC goes up by 2?
 

Gardens & Goblins

First Post
I like 'em. I'd remove or adjust the Disadvantage from physical attacks on the Extreme Cold Weather gear, mind (I assume this means both ranged and melee).

The speed reduction is enough to make it something to weigh pros/cons for faster and/or nimble characters - and I'd hope folks would be able to design something that allows the wearer enough where-withal to coordinate attacks. Perhaps with training - Medium Proficiency or higher negates the Disadvantage to physical attacks?

Or simply make it, '-10ft speed. Disadvantage on Dexterity saves & checks'. I'd even throw in a 1D6 reduction from falling damage, if there's meant to be that many layers/much padding! :D
 

machineelf

Explorer
I could easily add a feat called "prepared for cold" or something that says, "wearing extreme cold-weather gear does not impose disadvantage on physical skill checks or attacks, and does not reduce walking speed, and constitution score increases by 1."

I will eventually play test it, and see if the disadvantage is too severe. If so, I might make it a -2 to physical skill checks and attacks. But overall, casters don't have to worry much about disadvantage to physical skills and attacks, and a lot of fighter types will have a fairly good con modifier, so they may just choose to wear cold-weather gear, but not the extreme cold-weather gear, and either be fine, or risk a small chance of getting some cold-weather exhaustion momentarily until they can warm up. Overall I think I like it, but again, I'll see how it works in actual game-play.
 
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Gardens & Goblins

First Post
I could easily add a feat called "prepared for cold" or something that says, "wearing extreme cold-weather gear does not impose disadvantage on physical skill checks or attacks, and does not reduce walking speed, and constitution score increases by 1."

I will eventually play test it, and see if the disadvantage is too severe. If so, I might make it a -2 to physical skill checks and attacks. But overall, casters don't have to worry much about disadvantage to physical skills and attacks, and a lot of fighter types will have a fairly good con modifier, so they may just choose to wear cold-weather gear, but not the extreme cold-weather gear, and either be fine, or risk a small chance of getting some cold-weather exhaustion momentarily until they can warm up. Overall I think I like it, but again, I'll see how it works in actual game-play.
Sure - and good testing! I would assume the penalty attacks also applies to spell attacks? Also, would casting a spell in such gear be problematic. If this stuff is bulky/heavy enough to stop folks swinging clubs and blades, might it not impose a similar (if not they same) penalty as armour for an untrained user?

Thinking about it further, might it grant an AC bonus, akin to Hide Armour or the like?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Sure - and good testing! I would assume the penalty attacks also applies to spell attacks? Also, would casting a spell in such gear be problematic. If this stuff is bulky/heavy enough to stop folks swinging clubs and blades, might it not impose a similar (if not they same) penalty as armour for an untrained user?

Thinking about it further, might it grant an AC bonus, akin to Hide Armour or the like?
Maybe you should have to do some kind of check to see if you can cast a spell with somatic components, or even verbal components (your face is going to be covered after all)? Failure means the spell doesn't work but it's spell slot is not lost.

You can remove some clothing temporarily but in extreme conditions frostbite can start affecting you in seconds.

Whatever you do you want there to be a cost, but the cost shouldn't be so high as to nerf a character which is a tough balance. The rules should add flavor to the world, a real penalty for being in extreme climates without being too annoying.
 


My only thought is that the saving throw every 2 hours works at the warmer ranges, but at -31 (-35 C) exposure damage should be much faster.

I would make the saves every 5 minutes at thst range, but also allow cold weather gear to stretch it back out to the 2 hkur range
 

The Old Crow

Explorer
But overall, casters don't have to worry much about disadvantage to physical skills and attacks
I would think both somatic and material components would both pose a challenge. There should be a check for spellcasters. It shouldn't be more than the penalty fighting types will suffer from disadvantage. I guess the best thing to do is calculate how much more fighting types will miss, and make the DC to avoid spell failure produce a similar number of fizzles.
 

machineelf

Explorer
I like weather rules, and always found that spells like the 3.5 Endure Elements trivialized them.

Such a spell no longer exists in 5e, am I correct?
I'm not sure, but I will tell you that my players discovered that the cantrip prestidigitation can warm clothes. So as they walked in cold weather, they wizard just constantly warmed clothes all the time. I think the way I handled that was to say the warmth wouldn't last long so the wizard could only warm one person's clothes at a time effectively, that it only gave a small bonus to cold weather resistance, and that the wizard would have to be focused on that all the time during travel, so she/he couldn't focus on any other travel-related task.

But those players, man, they will think of everything.

Edit: But in case you haven't looked at it, at the moment the only cold weather rules in 5th edition is that if you wear cold-weather gear (however you define that) the players are immune to cold weather. That's about it. It definitely seemed to be a part of 5th edition that they tacked on without a lot of thought and perhaps meant to get around to refining the rules, but never have so far. That's why I am interested in making solid, good rules in my own home campaign that strike a nice balance between meaningfulness without too much complexity.
 
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