Questions about Weather Watcher

Split from this old thread: - stormy

I’m unclear on this. Forgive me if it seems to already be well explained. When I start a game, I describe the weather. (My understanding is that this would not be a time for Weather Watcher?) Then stuff happens and I had already planned that weather would be one of the obstacles. So when I start describing a snow storm this is not the time for Weather Watcher either? At least, it will not change the current weather they must overcome. When the book says “if he is successful he gets to determine the weather for the next leg of the journey”, does that mean as soon as this current obstacle (weather or otherwise) is accomplished. Or does it mean when this mission is over? Because in another couple of paragraphs the book says “the predicted weather takes hold at the start of the next session”. That would seem to indicate to me that it is not as powerful as the books indicates. The player can only set the weather for the next mission. And then, if the GM has decided there will be a weather obstacle, then regardless of what they set as the weather for the next game, the GM is bound to change it at some point. To me it doesn’t seem very powerful. Can you tell me what I’ve missed or illustrate the power? Thank you :slight_smile:

The player tests weather watcher to determine the weather at the start of the next session. Yes the GM can change it at the next failed test with a twist, but not before.

[I broke up your text to provide clarity for a few topics within the Weather Watcher skill.]

  1. when a GM begins a session, it is a best practice to decide upon and describe the current weather. Sometimes a PC mouse has an Instinct related to weather which a GM might trigger and/or allow a player to attempt a Weather Watcher test. The test may determine a shift in weather immediately or later in the session at a Weather Twist (I’d say discretion is in the hands of the GM when the predicted weather takes over). See examples below.

  2. while the patrol manages the assigned mission and related obstacles, the GM presents a Weather Obstacle in which (a) the current weather now presents a serious issue, or (b) a change of weather presents a serious issue. In rare cases, the GM may allow the patrol to overcome this obstacle via Weather Watcher test to determine when the weather will pass–success indicates the weather changes, but failure means it all gets worse! However, more often the patrol must face the symptoms of the weather rather than the weather itself. See examples below.

  3. the players may determine the skill is powerful if the GM is often using the weather as an obstacle or twist. If the weather is rarely used, the players might not think of it as a powerful influence to predict and declare changes in weather. See examples below.

  4. I’ll give some examples, and here are two final observations: players may need to be prompted from time to time about their skills to remind them to use the more creative opportunities; the influence over weather does not give influence over how the weather generates obstacles–the rule book hints at this in the Skills chapter.

  • PC Guardmouse has Instinct: Check Weather Each Morning and Night; GM opens session describing the mission and current setting, then proceeds, “The bright rays of sunrise glint over a rocky horizon …”; PC Guardmouse interjects, “I’ll be checking the weather for today now that morning light is waking us.” GM may allow Weather Watcher test to establish current weather. (Instinct trigger)

  • GM narrates patrol making good distance along a known trail under light rain; after several days trekking, the patrol finds a growing pond which would normally be lower. Patrol still must reach destination and will need a boat to cross and/or alternate route around the new pond. (Weather caused Wilderness Obstacle)

  • PC attempts finding good harvest for the patrol to feed luxuriously; coward dice indicate the fields have been starved by summer drought and have less than half expected grain; locals believe they must ration to ensure the seed is planted for next year rather than eaten now. (Weather caused Mice Twist)

  • PCs spend weeks building in early frost; each mouse must attempt Health test to avoid becoming Sick. (Weather Obstacle or Weather Twist)

  • PCs move from Darkwater where there was light rain, which was critical for water cisterns, to find a maelstrom of heavy rain and lightning across the water to Port Sumac. (Weather Obstacle becomes worse Weather Twist)

  • PC predicts Unseasonable Warmth in late Autumn as Player Turn concludes early Autumn session; GM opens late Autumn session describing the bevy of crickets and flies which were stirred in the warmth and have begun to afflict final harvesting before Morten Harvest festival. (Weather caused Animal Obstacle)

There could be many more examples, but I’m already jumping into the thread necromancy. I’ll stop.

Thank you very much for your help. Could you clarify a few things?

  1. Beginning of game - GM states weather. A player thinks to test Weather Watcher (or is encouraged by the GM to do so.) If they succeed, they determine the weather for the NEXT session? As in, next week when we sit down to play again? OR they are able to immediately change the current weather the GM just described, maybe from cold and drizzly to pleasantly cool and sunny? OR they succeed and want to change it, but the GM says not yet, and EVENTUALLY brings in the predicted weather they request (so they had hoped to change the weather, but have to wait. But it wouldn’t really present as a TWIST then, would it? The GM would just at some point say, “The sun has come out and the weather is pleasant just as PC predicted.” ? OR are all 3 options? I can clearly see that if they fail the GM might impose a weather twist they have no control over. It’s the success I’m trying to wrap my mind around.

  2. So, in previous games, I let my players tell ME how they would overcome an obstacle, but I’m getting the idea now that I (the GM) am supposed to tell them what it will take to overcome the obstacle. So, I would simply not suggest Weather Watcher. Besides, they are not overcoming the weather, they are really overcoming whatever obstacle the weather has created, such as a blinding snowstorm has created a need for shelter. Use Scout. Is this right? And if someone says, wait! I want to try weather watcher. They are really just getting information about the weather, not overcoming the obstacle, unless I choose to lessen the impact for them due to a success? As per the examples, if they are literally facing the weather as an obstacle, they are probably testing health? And the Darkwater rain example sounds like a description of weather becoming worse, but ultimately is either leading to testing health to survive the rain without getting sick or some obstacle like a river or boat sinking?

  3. Power of WW: So, let’s say I set the weather as a pleasant spring day. But, determine that at the outset there will be a weather obstacle of a sudden rainstorm. If, between narrating the pleasant day and the travel and just before I say, “Suddenly you see rain clouds!” someone should pipe up and want to test Weather Watcher. And if they succeed, would I just not ever mention that there was going to be a rainstorm? And on the fly plan another obstacle? Or would I give them information about the upcoming storm? But, if they succeed, don’t they have the privilege of determining the weather? Or, is the result of a success still my discretion and I can choose to give them information about the upcoming storm so that they can find shelter quickly OR I can toss the storm idea without them knowing (or tell them so that they know they just narrowly escaped.)

I hope I have not been tiresome. I find this site so very helpful in planning!!! Thank you to all who come on here to help out :slight_smile:

  1. I feel it is GM’s discretion. If the player makes a test, I’d find a time to make the change of weather fairly quick. If there is an established Weather Obstacle in my mind as GM, I’ll keep that; the predicted weather comes into play afterward. If I’ve actually got no weather specifically in mind, the weather can change right away, and I’ll think of how/if that weather influences the region for a future mission. If the WW test is during the Player Turn, then the predicted weather takes hold at the next GM Turn.

Honestly all 3 are solid options, but I’d place the judgement on a GM’s role. If the player has a success, try to get that success into the narrative sooner rather than later.

  1. I agree that players should suggest a plan to overcome an obstacle and describe what they are doing to succeed. That’s a good habit for both GM and Player. Also, when designing an obstacle, I try to consider possible actions to overcome. When players seem stumped, I’ll make suggestions. If players are thinking waaaaay outside the box, I’ll refocus the table chatter. You’ve got good examples here, so I’ll respond to each.

The blinding snowstorm is a good choice for a simple test: your patrol needs shelter–its the best decision–so Ob 4 Survivalist test (building shelter, for the patrol, in harsh weather) is needed. It is fine for the GM to flatly state the required actions. A player might interject, ‘I bet this storm won’t last–let’s push through,’ which is a good reason to allow a WW test (WW vs Season). The result could be Everything Gets Worse twist or Success w/ Conditions in case the dice fail; the result could be, ‘Yep, this storm won’t last, so the patrol can push through with some grit and gumption,’ in case the dice succeed.

Often facing the weather is a Health or Will test to avoid Conditions such as Tired, Angry, Sick.

The Darkwater example was a bit more built up in my head, so I’ll return and explain more of my train of thought. Starting out, the patrol arrives in Darkwater at a bad time–the bay is scummed over with algae and duckweed, so no one wants to drink the water. Locals need fresh rainwater to fill the cisterns. This is a Weather Obstacle. The patrol suggests, “We should check upcoming weather to determine if this is a drought and famine or just a few dry days.” Upon the coward dice, GM allows Twist: Everything Gets Worse. GM narrates, a light rain begins to fall in Darkwater which will help provide fresh water, so the patrol feels confident and moves oversea to Pt Sumac where they find a heavy storm causing panic and havoc–the patrol needs to respond to the distress! [GM could have chosen, ‘yep, deepening drought lowers the bay and mice throughout the region are suffering without fresh water while a heat wave oppresses.’ That’s not my train of thought for the moment.]

Also, I agree, the trouble in Pt Sumac could be losing boats in the storm, rivers which reshape the waterways, or eroding shorelines. [The best portions of weather and wilderness events is the changing landscape/seascape!]

  1. This is a bit more of GM discretion. First, if a player pipes up wanting to make a test, I’ll determine, “Say Yes, Say No, or Roll Dice.” If there has been no obstacle yet described, and the PC mouse hasn’t got a weather-related Instinct, I’m likely to, Say Yes. Such as, ‘Yes, you alert the patrol that you’ll need a few hours to review the weather and make predictions for the day; you tell the patrol they are in for a heavy storm upcoming.’ If the intended obstacle is time-sensitive, I’m likely to, Say No. Such as, ‘The patrol is already underway, so you can’t convince anyone to stop for a few hours while you sniff, waggle fingers, and try to figure the upcoming weather.’ If the intended obstacle is a Weather Obstacle, I’m likely to, Roll Dice (on my schedule). Such as, “Let me describe the scene, then your patrol can discuss if a weather watcher prediction is the best course of action–it will take some time after all.”

I would not destroy a mission design on-the-fly. I find it is not a terrible challenge to adapt as long as I’ve made some preparations. If I’ve planned a Weather Obstacle, the sudden WW test cannot negate the obstacle, but might ensure the afterward is already decided upon. If I’ve only planned the weather to be a symptom of another obstacle–like the harvesting example–I’m more willing for a WW test to alter the existing weather. It doesn’t retroactively change what the weather has been or had been, it only predicts upcoming weather. This easily means that a weather event still leaves a mark, but the patrol might not experience the worst of the weather event; the patrol simply gets to see the outcome of a weather event.

Yet, again, your examples are each a solid choice. In fact, I want to highlight one: tell the patrol what risk they’ve averted/narrowly escaped. Such as, 'The patrol was coming into Dawnrock where they appear to have preparations for a heavy seastorm; when the patrol tells the locals about their predictions for weather–as seen from another vantage point–they realize what a catastrophe has been averted; the town hardly had the best preparations. Now the patrol should have a chat about how to improve these preparations in future." That still maintains some of the feeling of danger about weather, but shifts the obstacle from fixing failed bulwarks into improving insufficient bulwarks! Still a worthy service.

Now, I kinda want to note one more of my habits about WW tests. In the GM Turn, a WW test generally won’t outright determine the weather, but will probably provide a strong indication of the weather pattern–particularly if the patrol is trekking where weather might be different at point A than at point B. In the Player Turn, a WW test generally will outright determine the weather for the next session.

The reason for this habit is that in the GM Turn, I’m only going to provide a handful of tests. I try to stick with 2 Obstacles (simple, complex, or conflict) and 2 Twists. Sometimes, I’ll run from Twist to Twist to Twist, etc.; however, I don’t want to overrun a GM turn with stage time. Regardless, the patrol will have a mission to work toward, so they can’t be wasteful of these tests on Circles, Resources, WW, Instructor, and crafty skills; the patrol will mostly be tested on actions, dialogue, and endurance/attitude. In contrast, the Player Turn belongs to the players, so I’ll help players create the scenes they want to showcase–which might include shopping, meeting and socializing, recovery, learning and/or teaching, practicing, etc… While these are not always as active and purpose-driven, these are player-driven and narrative which fits the spirit of the Player Turn.

Thank you!

I seriously do not understand something about Weather Watcher.

Say it’s the Player’s Turn, and the patrol is trying to escape some weasels. I test Weather Watcher, succeed, and declare that the weather will be mild and misty to help hide our escape.

Fine, fine. The GM will give us a bonus or something when we start trying to make tests to get away, I assume (or the Weather Watcher test itself might be sufficient to let us get away). That’s all good.

But say it’s the Player’s Turn, and we’re about to set off. I test WW, succeed, and declare that the weather will be mild and cool to make travel easier.

What difference does that make?

There will always be a certain number of obstacles and conflicts in each GM’s Turn. If I manage to prevent the GM from sticking us with a rainstorm, they’ll stick us with a predator instead. The numbers stay the same. The risk to the patrol stays roughly the same. Even the story stays relatively identical—rain or raccoon, they’re both blocking the same goal. I just…don’t understand why I would bother spending a check to predict the weather when obstacles are so fluid. Why would I bother trying to negate a specific type of challenge when all challenges are ultimately abstractions?

well, I think you make a valid point in this question. The obstacles are fairly fluid, so a GM could re-cast a weather obstacle as an animal obstacle.

I’ll offer some responses, but I’m only one GM. Another GM may promptly interpret the scenes differently.

Player Turn! and the PCs are under pursuit by weasels! If a player is ready for a check, and requests, “I’ve got to insist on predicting the upcoming weather before we dash away from danger–it could alter the situation completely!” then I’m going to offer a Weather Watcher test and consider how it would alter the circumstances–just as the player says. It’s the Player Turn.

On the other hand: If a player is ready for a check, and requests, “We’ve got to dash away from the hunting paths of these weasels–it’s simply too dangerous for us to try an ambush,” while another player interjects, “Hey, can I predict the upcoming weather? That could alter the scene,” then I’ll offer the Nature (mouse: escaping) test or (more likely) offer a Pathfinder test and encourage the Weather Watcher as a Helper. It really could alter the scene, but that alone doesn’t dictate it is a test-worthy suggestion.

Still another angle: If a player says, “Fafnir wants to get across the Territories, but I insist we pause to predict the upcoming weather; I’ll take a check for that before he takes a check for Pathfinder,” then I’ll allow them the Weather Watcher test prior to having a fellow player take a Pathfinder test. It’s the Player Turn; they call the shots. Although, I might offer, “You could be a Weather Watcher Helper for his Pathfinder, and use your check for something else.”

Last angle: The Player Turn is ending, the final check goes to, “We’ll be headed out across the Territories at the start of our next mission, so I’m going to predict the upcoming weather for the next GM Turn,” and I’m going to allow a Weather Watcher test to determine the starting weather of the next GM Turn–that’s simply following the rules as written.

In every Weather Watcher test case, I feel that what makes a difference is player authorship (or player authority). It is a space in which the player may say, “I’ve got a tool by which the rules allow me to declare something about this scene and the GM must honor that declaration as true.” Yes, there might be coward dice. Also, the GM might use the weather to twist his own machinations.

However, I counter that the numbers don’t stay the same and the test doesn’t stay the same. In a patrol where the group generally doesn’t have skills for bad weather, having one good weather watcher to protect against bad conditions might be MVP! Having that chance to rewrite the case of bad weather may be just what a player wants from having invested in that skill.

Also, having additional tests in that skill is the best method to see the return on investment as well as place additional investment.

The last comment to consider is that coward dice on Weather Watcher as well as carelessness in selecting seasonable weather may lead to complications of drought, famine, disputes, and more. If a player has already caused something, it might be: the only thing to right such a wrong is to attempt the test again and declare weather which will serve the mouse settlements. In this way, it’s a tool for correcting mistakes and protecting against unforeseen failures.

Some players will feel empowered by the Weather Watcher tool, while others will be engaged with other tools. I’ve found some players really love Instructor to teach their patrol mates, some really love Armorer to make weapons for patrol mates, some really love Persuader/Deceiver to convince their patrol mates, some really love Healer to assist their patrol mates, and some love Weather Watcher to gain authorship in the scenery.

I do think your point is valid that the obstacles are abstractions, and that avoidance of one type of challenge will probably only lead to a different type of challenge (as opposed to perhaps removing an obstacle from the session); however, that may be just the goal of a player who invests in and uses Weather Watcher.

Aside: If a player uses a WW test at the end of a Player Turn to declare the upcoming GM Turn weather, I’ll use it. If instead, they have an instinct that allows them to use WW approximately as the patrol gets started on a GM Turn (after hearing the mission and setting Goals), I’ll let them negate a planned obstacle once-in-a-blue-moon. Sometimes having the right skill, gear, wise, or plan is worthy of being rewarded as a protection against difficulty or conflict.

To be clear, I did not mean that the patrol was immediately pursued by weasels. It was more a, “they’re less than a day away and we don’t want to be tracked down” scenario.

However, I counter that the numbers don’t stay the same and the test doesn’t stay the same. In a patrol where the group generally doesn’t have skills for bad weather, having one good weather watcher to protect against bad conditions might be MVP! Having that chance to rewrite the case of bad weather may be just what a player wants from having invested in that skill.
I see your point, but weather can offer any number of different skill tests, so I’m not sure it’s possible to have a patrol lacking skills “for bad weather”.