Besides all the dangers that characters face in combat, there’s all kinds of natural hazards that characters may face during their adventures. Rules for dealing with some of the more commonly encountered ones are included here.
Whether it’s from a failed climbing skill check, being pushed off a cliff or fighting at the edge of a deep chasm, falling from a height and hitting the ground is a very common danger characters face. The amount of damage inflicted by a fall depends on the weight of the character and on the distance fallen, up to a point. The base damage value for a fall is equal to the character’s weight value plus the distance value of the fall. If the distance value is greater than 14, use 14 instead of the actual distance value. This is because 14 is the speed value of terminal velocity, and it’s actually the character’s velocity that determines the damage, not the distance they fall. With Torg’s value system, falling distance and velocity work out to have the same value up to terminal velocity, so we don’t have to calculate how fast a character is falling; we only need to know how far he falls. The gamemaster generates a bonus number and adds it to the base damage value. The bonus has a minimum of +1. If a character is wearing armor it will only provide a maximum protection of +2 against falling damage regardless of its actual armor value. (There is one exception: “kinetic armor” will provide its full armor value. See Chapter Thirteen for more information.) Characters with the acrobatics skill may attempt to reduce the amount of damage they take from a fall. See the skill description in Chapter Three for the details.
Fire is a natural consequence of many of the things characters might do during an adventure - explosions can set things ablaze, spilled oil get ignited, mages throwing fireball spells, rescuing people from burning buildings, and so on. Damage values for fire-based attacks, such as fireball spells are the damage value of the attack itself. Damage from fire is treated like any other attack, the only thing special about it is that it can set things ablaze and continue to do damage even after the attack is completed. Determining whether or not something catches fire is usually a judgment call by the gamemaster. A good rule of thumb is to only worry about it when the object is something that should almost certainly ignite (paper, pitch, oil, etc.) or when a fire would add to the dramatic tension of the scene. Damage values for natural, normal fires are based mostly on the size of the conflagration, the bigger the fire the more damage it can do because it can affect more of a character at once. If a character is unable to move away from a source of flame, such as being tied to a stake in the middle of a bonfire, the damage value should be bumped up somewhat to account for the unavoidable and prolonged exposure to the fire. Conversely, the damage value could be bumped down if the intensity of a large fire varies from one location to another. For example, in a burning building there might be areas close to but free from flames that characters can duck into and run between, avoiding the worst of the fire. For a small fire, something about the size of a campfire, the damage value would be about large bonfire might have a damage value around large, out of control fire like a burning building or a blazing gasoline slick might have a damage value around huge, blazing inferno like a forest fire might inflict a damage value of 22 on anything unfortunate enough to be caught in it. If the character itself catches fire (or its clothes catch fire), start with a damage value around 12 and adjust up or down depending on how much of the character is covered in flames, and for how long. Smoke inhalation is another danger of fires, though usually only large ones. In most cases the damage from breathing smoke and toxic fumes can be assumed to be part of the damage values given above. But in cases where a character might be protected from heat, such as with a fire protection spell, but not from the smoke, the gamemaster may wish to determine a separate damage value for smoke inhalation.
When a character fails a swimming skill check or has otherwise been placed in a situation where they’re cut off from breathable air (such as being tied to an anchor and thrown overboard by a villain), there’s the danger of drowning. If the character is taken by surprise and doesn’t have an opportunity to take a deep breath, the drowning rules take effect immediately or within a few rounds if the character has the opportunity to hold whatever breath he has before going under. Characters who have the opportunity to take a deep breath are able to hold it for a time value determined by making a speed push on their Hold Breath value. Shock damage from this push is ignored. Characters with themeditation skill who are able to enter a meditative trance may add their skill adds in meditation to the time value determined by the push, extending the amount of time their air supply will last for them.
If a character can reach breathable air before their time limit expires, they never actually drown and don’t take any damage. Gamemasters may wish to modify the amount of time a character can hold their breath based on the amount of physical exertion the character makes (using up his oxygen supply faster) or because of unusual circumstances (such as being punched in the gut by an enemy so that the character accidentally lets some of his air out.) When a character reaches the end of her time limit, she can’t hold it any longer and involuntarily tries to take a breath, inhaling water instead. She begins to drown.
The amount of time it takes a drowning character to die is generally six minutes, though the gamemaster may want to allow it to take longer depending on the situation. There are cases of people being successfully revived after 45 minutes of submersion in icy-cold waters! In general though, the drowning character will take one wound level of damage every one and a half minutes after passing out, reaching four wounds and death after six minutes. While underwater and holding their breath, any other actions a character takes are made at a +2 penalty to the difficulty number. Characters that begin to drown usually panic, making it very difficult for them to do anything to save themselves. Game masters may wish to allow drowning characters to make a willpower check to control their fear but the difficulty should be very high, a Very Hard task at least. Characters who have taken damage from drowning that are rescued before death occurs can be treated with the first aid skill. The difficulty is determined normally by the amount of wound damage, increased by +2 for unconscious victims since their lungs need to be cleared of water before they can start breathing again. While their lungs are still full of water they are considered to be drowning and will continue to take damage, possibly even dying.
The weather can cause all kinds of problems for characters. Some types may inflict damage, such as a blast of lightning or a pounding of hailstones, while other conditions like fog or snow may just make life more difficult. For weather effects that don’t cause damage, game masters can use the Difficulty Number Scale to determine appropriate penalties for any actions characters might take that would be affected by the weather. Rain, fog and snow can all affect how far a character can see, strong winds can make ranged weapons difficult to use and increase or decrease movement rates, slick surfaces might make travel treacherous and so on. Bad weather can cause damage in a number of different ways; hail, lightning, blowing sand, tornadoes and so on. Lightning can have damage values ranging from 16 to 25 while the various types
of wind-based damage values can range from a mild sandstorm at 13 to tornado or hurricane force winds that hit with damage values as high as 22.