Weather and storytelling
April showers bring May flowers, and that's why April is Weather month! All month long we'll be looking at the nuisances of weather, and to kick things off let's look at weather and mood.
Weather has a powerful impact on our emotions. Everyone can relate to waking up to a warm sunny day and feeling a little bit better, or having a nice rainy day as the perfect backdrop for a warm drink and a good book. We've all had our plans changed by a sudden storm or a beautiful day. Likewise weather can play an integral part of a scene and make it far more memorable. What was the weather like when Gaston fought the Beast? How about when Spiderman kissed Mary Jane upside down? When The Bride and O-ren IshiI had their showdown?
My advice is to make sure the players always have a sense of the weather. This should be part of setting any scene even if indoors so the players have a feeling of the world. This also helps re-enforce and remind players what the seasons is like and the environment of the area around them. Describing day after day of bright sun and heat is fitting for a desert environment, and when it finally rains a savage downpour of needle like stinging rain it will make the scene that much more memorable.
Another useful tool for conveying emotion is the change of weather. When the storm breaks, when the sky turns dark, when the snowfall warms into rainfall, when rain becomes hail. These moments of transition are often used to highlight a turning point or a transition.
Weather can also influence the story as a plot point. The players may have to delay a trip across a desert or body of water due to a bad storm or sudden earthquake. Another good option is to give the players a choice. If time is a major factor you could give them the choice between crossing the desert in a wild sandstorm, or waiting a few days for it to pass.
Once you get into the habit of describing the weather it will eventually become second nature, a regular part of setting your scene and before long your players will know to ask all on their own if you forget!