So, the weather tables in Zeb Cook’s Golden Voyages box set are a little too indirect for my taste. They’re based on rolling on the tables in the second edition Dungeon Master Guide, also by Zeb Cook – there’s one table for spring/fall, one for summer, and one for winter.
But you also consult another table in the first of the Golden Voyages booklets, based on yesterday’s weather, and get both a numerical modifier to the die roll as well as a sort of replacement patch, like “Replace ‘Becalmed’ with ‘Light breeze’ if there were ‘Strong Winds’ yesterday”.
This method doesn’t seem to be very thought through – for example, Becalmed has you switch out all Hurricane results to Storm, but also gives a -2 to the roll, so you can never even roll Hurricane directly after a Becalmed day, so there’s no need for that word switch to be there.
The DMG also adds a one-in-three chance of strong winds putting you off course, and Golden Voyages adds a one-in-six chance for fog, when not summer.
I wasn’t too keen on looking in two separate books using one table’s result to patch the other table’s result so I wanted to consolidate it to one table (per season). You could’ve made a two-dimensional table similar to Welsh Piper’s Atlas Hex Primary Terrain Type table but I went with a state machine diagram. Thinking it’ll look like a board game almost.
You put a game pawn on today’s weather, and then roll 2d6 the next morning to see where to move it. For example, in Winter, if it’s Strong winds, and you roll a 5, the winds calm down a bit to Favorable winds. The big gray digit is the multiplier for the sailing speed (yes, it’s in the book that Strong Winds and Storm both have 3).
Adverse winds are weird – even if the winds are favorable or strong, if it’s adverse, your sailing modifier is just ½, but in the right direction (sailing against the wind).
If there’s Storm, Gale, or Hurricane but adverse winds, instead you drift (½ your movement) in the wrong direction. Your vessel also needs to make a seaworthiness check, and in a Hurricane it’s at -45% (or -9 if using d20). Of course, if the winds aren’t adverse and your ship manages to survive the seaworthiness checks, you’ll get to where you want quickly, with sailing movement multipliers as high as three, four or five.
It’s otherwise exactly isomorphic to the original tables and their probabilities and numbers. Same chances of same weather as using the 2e tables, for what that’s worth. It seems to me that they’re favoring strong winds and storms too much, and it’s weird that gale is stronger than storm in this system. Gales are 7-9 on Earth’s Beaufort scale, where storms are 10-11. But, we’re on Toril now, baby!
And, how do seasons even work in the Crowded Seas of Golden Voyages? It explicitly says that there’s no fog in summer, so there’s obviously some sorta seasons. I guess it uses the system straight up, with the year divided in four, and the Zakharan calendar from the back of Land of Fate.
To figure out the starting weather, roll as if it were Favorable Winds yesterday. That doesn’t mean that that necessarily was the weather, it’s just that that point in the state machine happens to match up with the starting position from the books’ tables.
You can also make custom cards or custom dice but I went with this. I like the idea of everyone at the table being aware of the weather and its trends. After all, it can be life or death for the travellers on the ship.