An often-overlooked part of worldbuilding is the weather and how it influences your players and NPCs. While beginning DMs should not stress too much about it, more seasoned DMs or DMs who want to add some unexpected elements to the game can get plenty of inspiration from the weather and the effects it brings.
In this blog, we are going to discuss the effects certain weather can have on your characters and what monsters might appear more often.
Weather table for 5e and effects on characters
The following table gives you a suggestion on what (extreme) weather you can add to your world and what effect it would have. I would suggest rolling a d20 to determine the weather three days beforehand. That way, the change does not come out of nowhere and feels more realistic.
|d20 Roll||Weather||Effect on Characters|
|1||Torrential rains with loud thunder and lightning||Characters without proper clothing risk hypothermia and have reduced visibility. Those wearing metal in open plains might be struck by lightning.|
|2||Heavy rain and fog||Characters may become disoriented and have trouble finding their way and communicating. Ranged weapons have a disadvantage.|
|3||Sudden hailstorm||Characters risk being hit by large hailstones the size of goblin skulls. These large blocks of ice can cause some damage or knock them prone.|
|4||Steady drizzle lasting days||Going out in this weather without proper protection risks hypothermia and reduced visibility. Starting fires is much harder and dry shelter is scarce.|
|5||Light rain to sudden downpour||One may be caught off guard, ranged weapons have a disadvantage.|
|6||Overcast with occasional flashes of sunlight||Hidden enemies are harder to spot and certain traps (e.g. a pit with leaf cover) have a higher chance of going unnoticed.|
|7||Extremely heavy fog||It can be difficult to spot traps or enemies. Everything beyond a few feet is heavily obscured.|
|8||Summer weather with occasional heavy winds||Strong gusts of wind can cause characters and NPCs to lose their footing and balance.|
|9||Warm and humid||Drink often or risk dehydration or heat exhaustion. Wearing heavy armor might give disadvantage due to the heat.|
|10||Cool and breezy with occasional rain||Changing weather conditions can make it hard to plan for the day ahead.|
|11||Chance of scattered showers||Unexpected and random rain or thunderstorms can pop up any moment. It is hard to light fires or use ranged weapons.|
|12||Heatwave||Some characters and NPCs risk dehydration or heat exhaustion|
|13||Mostly sunny with a gentle breeze, perfect weather for a picnic||Characters may feel relaxed or at ease, but they should still remain alert for any hidden dangers.|
|14||Clear and cold||Hypothermia is possible if characters are not wearing don’t have proper protection, weapons are easier to be struck out of gloveless hands.|
|15||Sunny with a high risk of sunburn||It can be difficult to spot obscured traps, enemies or obstacles.|
|16||Dry with a chance of sandstorms||Sandstorms can reduce visibility and make it difficult to breathe. Dehydration occurs in characters that do not consume enough water.|
|17||Extreme cold and possible blizzard conditions||Hypothermia and severe frostbite are possible. Reduced movement speed and sight in a blizzard. Make sure you have the best cold weather gear.|
|18||Wet snowfall and icy slush||The ice makes it harder to move and to maintain balance.|
|19||Freezing rain||Both NPCs and characters risk slipping or falling.|
|20||Severe thunderstorm with hail, and chance of tornadoes||Lightning strikes, hail damage, and strong winds plague the landscape. Tornadoes pose an extreme danger. Ranged weapons have a disadvantage. It is hard to spot enemies. Flying creatures might be blown of course.|
Weather in DnD and monster spawns ideas
The monster spawn tables can also be used to hand out monster hunting quests and make them easier to find for your players. For example, if you have an adventurer’s guild with a quest notice board that includes monster slaying, they would be wise to pick a job regarding collecting Basilisk remains when the sun is out, as that is when they are hunting for prey. If they try to find some in cold weather, odds are they are not going to find anything to fight.
To make things easy and less random, I have curated a list of just four monsters for four different weather scenarios. These are just suggestions, so if you want to add more or change it up a bit, feel free to do so.
More common monsters in rainy weather:
Here are a couple of monsters that you can add to the mix when your players are exploring and it starts raining heavily.
|1||Froghemoth||Froghemoth are giant amphibians that are attracted to wet environments. These froghemoths emerge from shallow lakes and swamps to stalk unexpecting prey.|
|2||Aboleth||Ancient aquatic creatures that are typically found in deep, dark waters. When disturbed from habitats or forced to hunt elsewhere for food, they might pop up on the coast during heavy rains.|
|3||Gibbering Mouther||The Gibbering Mouther is a lesser known monster that is found in damp, dark places such as caves. Gibbering mouthers are drawn out of their holes to hunt when they hear running water and the rain.|
|4||Chuul||Chuul look like huge lobsters and hide out in shallow water and near the coast. When food is scarce and rain and mud covers the land, they might venture outside their usual hunting grounds.|
More common monsters in sunny weather
These monsters might be found outside their usual habitat or in greater numbers when the weather is sunny and clouds do not obscure the direct sunlight.
|1||Basilisk||A fearsome creature that can turn what it games upon into stone. These cold blooded monsters enjoy hunting in the blistering sun.|
|2||Peryton||The Peryton is a majestic creature that is often found in hilly or mountain regions or open plains. They enjoy rolling their feathers into dry dust in the high sun.|
|3||Giant Wasp||Don´t like wasp? Well you are going to hate these! These aggressive flying insects are attracted to bright colors and hunt open planes for food.|
|4||Fire Elemental||Are you dealing with a heatwave? Fire Elementals might be popping up or get an advantage against certain foes.|
More common monsters in windy weather
This isn´t your average summer breeze. When the wind gets rough and you might be blown off balance due to sudden gusts, there might be other danger lurking. If you need more inspiration, we have a great write up on artic encounters to consider
|1||Air Elemental||The Air Elemental is made entirely of air and roams open, windy areas. However, when there are heavy winds they might just feel right at home where you do not expect them.|
|2||Harpy||The Harpy is a Winged creatures with the body of a bird and the head of a woman. Strong winds might blow them of course or give them the confidence to attack parties that rely on the accuracy of their ranger against threats from above.|
|3||Roc||The Roc is a massive bird of prey that is often found windy areas. It might be stalking prey that has a difficulty keeping their balance and is distracted by the gusts of wind.|
|4||Kenku||Kenku are known for mimicry and thievery. They operate best in urban areas with high buildings.|
More common monsters in cold weather
If a prolonged blizzard accompanied by extremly cold temperatures falls down upon your party, you might find yourself not just shivering from cold but from fear as well. Here are 4 cold weather monsters you might encounter.
|1||Yeti||The Yeti is an ape-like creature that has made cold environments its home. When the cold lasts and snow covers the land, they might expand their hunting grounds to small remote human settlements.|
|2||Frost Giant||The Frost Giant massive humanoid creature that is well adapted to life in cold climates. When driven away from their habitats, they might roam too far into human territory.|
|3||Remorhaz||The Remorhaz is one of the rare giant, insect-like creatures that enjoy the cold. They are often found in frozen tundras or arctic regions. In blizard-like conditions, they are a fearsome foe that you might not expect.|
|4||Ice Elemental||A defensive but potent foe to fight in the cold is the Ice Elemental. When the temperature goes down significantly and a layer of ice and snow covers the land, these might be lurking just below the snow.|
Weather table and monster spawns final thoughts
As a final tip, do not go overboard with adding weather and related effects to your campaigns. It works best a change of pace or to add a small unexpected twist to a battle that would otherwise be trivial.
In our experience, weather done right adds a very nice extra layer of immersion into your world. It should be used as a way to flavor your games and not to boggle down the flow.
We hope these tables and suggestions will help you out in your next adventures and while world building!