Lately I’ve been putting a lot of effort into the weather algorithm for Mind Weave. Part of the reason is that it qualifies as a project for my probability class, but it’s also important for Mind Weave.
The main reason Mind Weave needs a weather algorithm is completeness. For the most part, no one minds if the Game Master just makes up the weather to be appropriate for the situation. This means that weather simply isn’t mentioned unless it is significant. If the GM says it starts raining just as you start tracking (or worse says it has been raining for an hour “or so”) then you immediately know tracking that guy down is a lost cause. If he says a thunder storm begins, then it usually signals something climactic is coming. The GM will almost never mention the weather if they don’t intend to use it.
A weather algorithm helps with this and a few other ancillary issues.
First, with a weather algorithm the weather is always there, whether or not the GM or player thinks about what it is. Players can check it whenever they want and are informed if it starts to rain. If the GM needs rain for some reason, he can lock it in down the line and have the probability manipulated to suit his needs without arousing much suspicion.
Second, the Natural Empathy ability allows players to see ahead what the weather is. The player should not need to ask whenever he wants to use that ability. A weather algorithm means the player can check ahead whenever he wants. It also means the GM doesn’t need to make weather decisions whenever the player wants to know, which often results in generic “sunny for the next 6 hours” answers.
Third, Tracking results are highly dependent on weather. If the tracked is two hours ahead, the GM must retroactively decide the weather and can basically control the outcome based on his desires. Not so with a weather algorithm. The GM can change the weather in the future, but not outside of the bounds of reality. He also can’t change the weather retroactively, it’s already there.
Fourth, Mind Weave weather magic influences the weather indirectly through base variables, not directly by changing the weather to the desired conditions. To support this, we need a weather algorithm that takes these base variables into account. We could write a Tome describing the effects of weather, but this will just be more balanced, fair, and realistic (and probably easier). It makes weather spells like cause rain less reliable, because who can tame the weather? Mind Weave magic is not that powerful.
Finally, and most importantly, it provides atmosphere for the game. Frequently in table tops we find the world is seasonless. The weather is always fair, except when it isn’t. The climate is always generic deciduous forest, endless desert, or freezing tundra. With a weather algorithm, weather automatically varies with season and climate. Weather patterns can take into account the edges in climate regions. The algorithm helps to create a very real atmosphere for the adventure.
Do you support the inclusion of a weather algorithm in Mind Weave? Do you see any problems with doing so? Can it add distractions that detract from the purpose of the game? Maybe it Any other reasons the algorithm would be nice to have? Let us know in the comments below.