This entry is part 1 in the series Hazards of Combat
Fire hazard - show players pics of real flames for best effect

Fire hazard - show players pics of real flames for best effect

Throw hazards into your combats to make fights more interesting, regardless of game systm or genre. Dungeons and Dragons, for example, has always promoted dungeon masters using traps and difficult terrain, though in the latest edition there seems to be more urgency for doing this.

To start this series off, I’d like to provide a working definition of what a hazard is. The word hazard can be a loaded keyword for your game, so it’s best not to make any assumptions about what we’re talking about.

A hazard is a combat element, other than the PCs and their foes, that brings danger, risk, or difficulty to the fight. Examples might be quicksand, a witch’s boiling cauldron, or acid rain.

A hazard can be harmful or just add an element of risk. It doesn’t have to injure, for example, like a lava pool could. A hazard might simply be deep snow that slows movement and makes combatants less nimble.

It’s important when designing hazards or dropping them into your games that there be some added gameplay value. The mountains 10 miles away might be dangerous to climbers, but they are not going to have an impact on the current combat, so they’re not a good hazard to add. :)

For hazards to be interesting to the game, I’d extend the definition to make hazards a challenge or exploitable tactic that adds complications, twists, or additional resource depletion to combat.

Some games put traps into a separate category. My definition will include traps as a type of hazard. This won’t affect your game’s rules, hopefully, but by including traps in the upcoming tips and advice about hazards I think your devilish devices and deterrents will make combats more interesting.

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