Tuesday, 5 November 2019
Mud and Floods
I spent all weekend hiking in the countryside. This being England, and this being November, this meant rain and mud. Lots of it. There is a certain point in the English autumn at which there is almost daily rain. The earth gets completely saturated, but the temperature no longer gets much higher than 6 or 7 degrees and the standing water does not evaporate. This turns the entire country outside of towns and cities into a gigantic bog of mud and swamp-like quasi-lakes of brown water.
It makes you realise why there was a campaign season in the good old days. Sure, you had to get the harvest in and armies were extremely hard to supply between October and March. But getting from place to place on foot is also just a gigantic pain in the arse. Better to just stay at home and wait for spring.
I did some hikes that I have done before and worked out that I was on average travelling at half my usual pace just because I was constantly having to pick my way around impromptu bodies of water where once there was grass. This also meant that I spent most of my time looking at the ground rather than the world around me, because I was more or less constantly picking my way from one patch of firm ground to another - like stepping stones.
We tend to think about the weather and terrain as basically being a matter of movement rates when we remember them at all. Just as relevant, if not more so, is I think the surprise roll. When the weather is bad you have to concentrate. If there had been a gang of goblins out there on the hunt, I would have been a sitting duck. That's not even to mention footprints and the ease of tracking.
Two rule suggestions, then:
1) During heavy rain, in random encounters intelligent creatures (including PCs) are automatically surprised unless they have prepared for rain or their nature suggests otherwise (Trolls, for instance, are unlikely to be concerned by mud)
2) Tracking during heavy rain and the following day is automatically successful