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Offline Colin-ICE

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Natural disasters in your game
« on: August 10, 2017, 02:06:51 AM »
To what extent do you use natural disasters in your game?

I've done a few 'there's been an earthquake...' and similar but never had players live through a natural disaster and have to react to it and roleplay their way out of danger.

Anyone got any ideas or tips?

Offline Dunadan

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Re: Natural disasters in your game
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2017, 06:23:44 PM »
Many years ago I used a plague. Borrowed the idea from a Dragon Magazine I think.

The campaign had run it's course and was winding down. So I introduced a plague. 67% fatality rate... I wanted it to be REALLY bad! One of the PC' succumbed (he wanted to leave the game anyway). 2 out of every 3 people died, including most of the NPC's/henchman (many who had been with the party for years). All of the carefully crated relationships the PC's had created with the important NPC's died (along with the important NPC's!).

Several kingdoms collapsed.  Rule of law ceased. Gave rise to complete lawlessness across nearly all regions.

Eventually the PC's worked with a religious order (their seclusion made them 90% unaffected) to reestablish a new government (run by the Church who took the opportunity to establish a theocracy).

Reinvigorated the campaign... mainly by destroying everything that they had become familiar with...

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Offline Jengada

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Re: Natural disasters in your game
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2017, 07:21:53 PM »
I've had floods, fires, storms, disease outbreaks, and earthquakes. The floods and earthquakes were off-screen, things that affected the societies directly, but the players only indirectly. The storms and fires, I've used very directly to drive characters's actions. One player was shipwrecked by a storm, losing her mentor in the process. Another was thrown from his horse in a heavy storm, and left to travel on foot. Another player had to flee a running prairie fire, swimming a river to escape it. The disease outbreak set context, but the players learned there was a region to avoid.

I try to make sure the player has a reasonable chance to survive the disaster. The shipwreck required a number of swim rolls, but I only did it because I knew swimming was the character's forte. For the disease outbreak, they had a choice and forewarning. They opted to avoid, but could easily have taken precautions and cut right through the region. And for the prairie fire, he was on horseback, and smelled smoke and saw fleeing wildlife far enough in advance that he could get to the river. (His character was local, so I granted some knowledge of survival options.)

Offline munchy

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Re: Natural disasters in your game
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2017, 01:22:31 PM »
We had a volcano erupt on us once. It was partly our fault because the had been an evil wizard's lair below ... the usual story. So, we had to evacuate a nearby village. It was quite stressfull and interesting as situation and had some unusual use of magic in it, e.g. several flying disc as a shield to stop the hot ash to drop on the people or to divert the lava from catching up with the slow ones.
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Offline Peter R

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Re: Natural disasters in your game
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2017, 11:04:19 AM »
I have run an adventure where a small fire in the temple district of a town has grown out of control. The players were given hints that something was happening on the street and slowly the cottoned on the the rising sense of urgency. From people heading towards the fire to help fight it to people running away from it as it grew out of control. At the city gates an idiot of a captain refused to open the gates to allow people to flee and then himself became fearful of the growing mob.

The adventure started with the players in the tavern and I just let events unfold until they realised something was happening. Once they chose to act I picked out their story so a party that chose to flee would have encountered to mob at the gates, one that headed towards the fire would have met those fighting it, the injured and may have become surrounded and cut off as the fire leaped from street to street.
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Offline Frabby

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Re: Natural disasters in your game
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2017, 03:55:35 PM »
I recall only one instance where a major natural desaster was at the core of an adventure. It tied into a larger campaign where a malevolent cult religion was sweeping the region. Basically the characters had to find out that the cult had subverted a deserted local temple and used its powers to conjure up an earthquake that would destroy a large dam. The objective was to prepare the city for the imminent catastrophe (which couldn't be stopped but might have been delayed for a day or so if the players had tried, which they didn't), and then as chaos broke loose it was a brief tactical game to evacuate the ruined and flooded city.

On a smaller scale, we've had two (I think) instances where the party was sealed in underground by a cave-in. One of these was quite dramatic. A bad combination of overinquisitiveness, overblown ego, stupidity and bad luck caused the mine shaft exit to collapse and even the GM wasn't prepared for things going so bad. The party was trapped in a relatively small portion of the cave.
The situation saw good roleplaying including early attempts to lynch the character responsible before we realized that we needed to all work together to get out of this alive, good ideas on behalf of the party, and overall a gaming night or two spent in terror of darkness and suffocation until we literally dug through with good rolls, clever use of magic, and a benevolent GM.

The one desaster I never dared use as a GM is fire, because it spreads so fast that the roleplaying becomes more of a boardgame-style race to fight the fire or escape.

 

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