[MUD-Dev] DESIGN: Lightning (was: Why do people like weatherin MMORPGs?)

Mike Rozak Mike at mxac.com.au
Thu Dec 23 22:32:24 CET 2004

Ola wrote:

> Any other ideas for how the concept "lightning" can be used?

My house was hit by lightning twice about three weeks ago, and once
about two months ago. The area where I live gets 10 strikes per year
per sq. km. The highest lightning densities are 30/year/kmsq. I know
people that have been hit by lighting (and lived). I suppose
lightning doesn't instill that sort of fear in me.

But, some (reality-based) thoughts about lightning:

  - When a lightning storm hits in the tropics the air temperature
  drops 10c in an hour, which is good, since lightning storms only
  happen when the temperature is 35c+. The winds here can reach 100
  kmph just before the storm front passes. (What do 100 kmph winds
  do to flying characters? Or those in ships?)

  - The composition of the rock affects the number of lighning
  strikes. Areas in Darwin that get 30 strikes per year have
  ironstone in the ground. I don't have ironstone. You could have
  areas that are more prone to lightning strike, and coincidentally
  have more minerals.

  - Native animals don't like lightning mostly because it comes with
  lots of rain and wind. This makes it difficult to hear predators,
  and difficult to see them. Plus, you're more likely to die from a
  falling tree than a lightning strike. Trees hit by lightning often
  explode, causing large bits of wood to fly up to 20m
  radius. Animals might also get spooked by the lightning... so much
  for your trusty steed.

  - If you are wearing metal armor you're safer because you're in a
  faraday cage. Even if you're carrying a pike, it's mostly wood and
  isn't as high as the neighboring trees.

  - Some resources that you could have appear after a storm: Water
  (to drink), flooding. In africa, wildebeasts follow the rains
  because that's where the grass grows. Therefore, rains brink grass
  and grass-eating animals, and the predatrors of grass-eating
  animals. Flash floods expose new minerals.

  - You can track a storm by the time between a flash and thunder,
  300m distance per second. If you want players to fear lightning,
  make sure to keep track where the lightning storm is. If
  characters see flashes and get thunder only a second later, they
  know they're in danger of being hit.

  - The sound of thunder changes depending upon the distance. 10+ km
  away is a rumble, 100m away is a loud bang.

Not-so-real effects:

  - If the PC gets struck by lighting, do some video effects as if
  they had a power surge on their computer. It's completely
  unrealistic, but the subconscious connection will be made.

  - Standing on top of a hill during a lightning storm while yelling
  "I'm invicible" is not a good idea.

  - If a PC has a low luck score, they're more likely to get hit by
  lightining... and the occasional falling meteorite.

  - Speaking of frankenstein: Getting struck by lightning might be a
  way to enchant magical items... but at the cost of your character
  potentially dying.

Mike Rozak
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