Saturday, 28 January 2012

Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Today’s Google Doodle wildly exaggerates the size of the world's largest snowflake.

Granted, a snowflake fifteen inches across is still pretty big, but rather less so than one fifteen feet across.

(An expansion of a previous post.)

Strange weather can pop up across various genres, particularly when a magical or sufficiently advanced power can influence it. Fantasy has weather control turn up pretty often (maybe because it’s such a common fantasy in the UK), horror is full of dark and stormy nights, broad-strokes SF gives entire planets weather systems.

The Flash fights the Weather Wizard, one of the classic you-should-really-just-patent-that technological supervillains, Storm leads the X-Men, the Mummy controls sandstorms, Ming the Merciless started hitting us with Hot Hail, Weather Control is an important job in Mega-City One, and the Doctor once made it snow with the TARDIS just to make a point.

And PCs can do it too!

Weird things raining from the sky are among the standard Fortean events, so always pack an umbrella for an Unknown Armies game in case of frogs. And watch what you’re saying about the gods while wearing copper armour in the rain.

Even without something strange behind it, bad weather can change an adventure. Compare the sunny glorious Agincourt in Olivier’s Henry V to Branagh’s muddy horror. Running away from the battle of Hoth could mean dying from exposure, and if the Rebels hadn’t escaped when the power went down the Empire wouldn’t need to round them up.

And that’s before you get your killer snowmen.

So who is threatening the town with killer snowmen? (Probably a stretch for Sunnydale, but I wrote a short story for Cambridge in The Watch House. And it’s been done in Doctor Who fiction as well as a couple of terrible horror movies. And I’ve used these beauties before too.) Clearly there’s something magical or sufficiently advanced going on, and if people are under attack it behoves the heroes to deal with it. You can knock their blocks off, melt them and refreeze them (which might stop them, slow them or make them more dangerous), take their coal eyes out, but they keep coming, and if there’s enough snow around they can build their reinforcements, so you have to find how to really stop them. And soon.

Or maybe, just to be equally weird but less action-y, a nice living snowman turns up instead. Does he need your help? Do you need his?

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