In the worlds of roleplayers, things are constantly changing. One minute your character is enjoying a pleasant moment of quiet fishing on a lakeside, and the next minute you’re being assaulted by [insert any name and number of detestable monsters here]. Roleplayers know they must be on their best to deal with the ever-changing gaming conditions, from chance meetings of other roleplayers, surprise attacks like mentioned above, drunken bar room brawls, quests and missions, and on and on. Unless your character happens to an invalid, or cursed with agorophobia or something that keeps them indoors, then there is yet another item that is probably constantly changing that is also probably much overlooked: the elements.
Let’s talk about the weather, shall we? Thanks to the skill of game designers and programmers over the last ten years or so, weather effects in gaming worlds have seen an incredible amount of change and growth. I remember in the very early days of Everquest when going indoors and under cover in an attempt to get out of the rain just didn’t work. The rain would fall right through the tops of houses and buildings. Thankfully that is no longer the case, at least in the MMORPGs I play. Thankfully too is that snow, ash, dust, wind and more can be experienced in games today, all of which greatly compliment the world in the minds of us roleplayers.
Weather in game has a strong possibility of affecting your character and RP, very much like real world weather affects all in contact with it. To keep it simple, it’s easy to categorize what a roleplayer should be aware of with roleplaying in harmony with the weather into three headings – people, places, and things.
Climates, weather, seasons, all these things inflict great force on the varying races of people in the game world, causing them to adapt to their homeland elements in a variety of ways. Dwarves are known to be very comfortable living deep within high snow-capped mountains. Elves tend to hail from temperate forests. Trolls generally reside in lush humid jungles, while orcs dwell in barren dry lands. Look for inspiration from the real world, seek out fantasy books and movies, and even look at your own self to gain a better understanding of how races are able to live where they do. Then simply transfer that knowledge into RP for your character.
Aside from climate, geography is another matter to consider here, and is closely tied to how people handle weather. Races living near water may tend to be great swimmers, while mountain-dwelling races excel at climbing and rough terrain. Did your hunter live their younger years tracking beasts through swamps, snow, or deserts? So maybe they need assistance when attempting to track a prey though city streets? Elevations can also be considered when looking at temperatures, such as the differences in desert and jungle heat, or mountain top and deep valley cold.
What about when your character is out of his natural element? My troll voodoo priest was born in the desert lands his tribe now shares with the orcs, where he grew up learning how to live and thrive in a region far different than is normal for his race. Both jungle and desert are rather warm climates, which he is well adapted to. Cold climates are places that give him cause to be aware of his clothes and gear, which I roleplay by donning a thick long robe. Another character I play is a gnome, whose home sits in the mountains very near the home of the dwarves. Therefore, cold temperatures are of little bother to him, especially with the added RP fact of him being a fire mage. When in warmer regions, he has to make sure to ingest an abundance of water to help offset his fire magic internally, else he could overheat and spontaneously combust, a very bad thing to do. Bodies of water is another element he has to keep away from, even if they are frozen, because he emits an aura of heat that could possibly melt the ice beneath him, or cause one very nasty steam burn.
Clothes are a quick and easy way to RP with the weather. Packing common sense gear for use when traveling should be, well, common sense. The only thing I see which could hamper this RP style is the limited bag space our characters have in MMORPGs. Banks and houses do help with providing more storage space, but it does also tend to be a chore having to return there for a change of clothes for each new quest. Spells and enchantments are another very quick and easy way to handle climate control, with the added benefit of not taking up valuable inventory space. Tossing on a pair of solid boots with some kind of fire enchantment may be all your character needs to move through snowy regions, or donning a magical wide-brim hat for when it rains. It’s all in the imagination!
What other ways are there to RP in concert with weather? I welcome your thoughts and comments anytime, either in the Comments section here or at my email, RoleCraft at gmail dot com. Role on!