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The sauna made me feel like a dragon hunter!

When we think about obstacles in ttrpgs we usually turn towards monsters and traps, perhaps even a locked door. Or if we are a bit more advanced, we put a stuck door in the dungeon, that should shake things up!

As a GM for over 25 years I’m always looking for new and fun obstacles to throw at my players. I love a good goblin clan and stuck door, don’t get me wrong, but novelty is fun. Last week when I was in a steam sauna in a spa I got a feeling that it would be a cool environment for an rpg adventure. The steam was thick and made it hard to see, and the heat made me weary, it started to sound like the perfect obstacle!

How to add heat and steam as obstacles

Sooner or later most adventurers end up in a volcanic cave on the hunt for a red dragon or some other evil being. But we rarely give these steaming hot caves the love they deserve. Most often they are just a cave like any other, but if you’ve ever been in a steam sauna you can imagine how horrible it would be to explore a massive cave system full of hot steam!

So the next time your PCs are set to travel to a volcano, or maybe a mysterious island with hot springs, make sure to add a cave system full of hot steam, and give them ample warning that exploring it won’t be pleasant.

Mechanics for Adventurous

  • For every 30 minutes (three dungeon turns) the PCs stay in the steamy hot cave they must make a STR test, if they fail they get a heat stroke and have Disadvantage on all tests until they get out of the steam and rest for at least 10 minutes (one dungeon turn).
    • A heat stroked PC can spend one Supply to drowse themselves in water and cool down.
  • If a heat stroked PC stays in the steam for another 30 minutes and fails the next test STR test, he takes 3 damage, ignoring armor.

To give the party the opportunity to get out of the steam, the cave system should have exists leading to ledges hanging from the cliff side or to some other “safe” space. A ledge close to a bottomless chasm is a dangerous place to rest for sure, but better than perishing in the heat.

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