The rules say "Extreme cold (below –20° F) deals 1d6 points of lethal
Ok, this may sound like a far-fetched theory, but bear with me. Maybe, and just maybe, rules aren't 100% representation of the real world?
But I've had more than five minutes, completely naked -30c degrees, (which is-22F) and no damage has occurred.
I call bullocks. As to a demonstration why, look at this clip from BBC Nature
Also the 30-30-30 rule, Exposed flesh in -30F air with a 30 MPH wind will freeze solid in 30 seconds.
Remember your body is made of 80 percent water. If the water in your cells freezes, your cells rupture.
Toadkiller Dog wrote:
Actually, that's plausible, the human body is incredibly resilient, there is a man from Finland named Timo Kaukonen, who can withstand temperatures above 110 degrees Celsius, for extended periods of time, despite primarily consisting of water, in fact, everyone participating in the sauna competition is capable of handling that temperature.
Humans are ostensibly the semi-trailer truck of the natural world, being rather large, power, with loads of endurance, and durability. Also boasting the ability to operate well in nearly any (land-based, for the truck) environment imaginable.
They just represent the point in the game where players start to take damage if no steps are taken. But the game provides several ways to deal with it. My favorite is Endure Elements which lasts for 24 hours and gives protection from -50 to 140F, as first level spells go I thing that is the best bang for buck.
But I've had more than five minutes, completely naked -30c degrees, (which is-22F) and no damage has occurred. I have also worked with below 20f 4 hours whit my cold weather outfit and again no damage has occurred.
I've lived in a climate where 20 below was considered a warm, sunny day suitable for outdoor activities. The college frat boys didn't even haze their pledges with streaking missions until it was at least 40 below F.
I've never heard of anyone going more than 20-30 seconds before ducking back into warmth at those temperatures, but a few minutes may be doable at a 'relatively' balmy 20 below.
Still, I think the book rules are close enough to reality to serve. 20 below is no big deal once acclimated to the climate and wearing modern cold-weather gear (even if it's just things we wouldn't think of as 'cold weather gear' like modern thick socks, waterproof boots/gloves, and thermal underwear).. especially if you have a nice heated house to go into once you're done braving the cold. Adventurers in d20/Pathfinder are going to have neither.
I've experienced -20F for an extended period while being fairly exposed and I'm still dealing with some minor consequences 15 years later. I was a cross-country skier in high school and participated in a race when it was -20F. I was outside for probably 2 hours, to this day when I get a bad cough, I sound like a 60 year old man who's been smoking all his life, even though I never have. I suspect I have a small amount of scar tissue in my lungs from that day.
The human body is well suited to withstand some cold temperatures, I'd say around +10F at the low end. People can actually run barefoot in mild snow conditions, the body pumping extra blood to their feet because running barefoot engages more muscles in the foot. Since you're running, the blood is warmer than usual which helps maintain temperature in your feet.
The rest of his body is covered though, so really the only part his body needs to work to keep warm is his feet.
-20 is survivable, with clothing for periods of time. I think the damage per minute might be a little high, but I'd probably only adjust it to every 5 or 10 minutes.
I have often worked outdoors with temperatures ranging from -2° to -10° C, covered with sports-like winter outfit (topographer), and I can assure everyone that after 8 hours of lugging around heavy-duty equipment, standing still for accurate measurements, and stuff like that, you feel exhausted.
I also have experienced frozen and split lips and very light but quite painful freezing to the hands (knuckles), when I took off mittens to manipulate those blasted small trims for longish lapses of time.
Frost damage? Hell yeah.
I'd take "extreme cold" over a sword hitting me any time.
Minus 20F is -28C. In otherwords...a bad bad day. The coldest I've ever experienced is -35C in Sankt Petersburg Russia. This level of cold actually freezes exposed skin in minutes. You can hear the moisture in your breath crack as you walk thorugh it. Glasses can't be worn, because as soon as you enter a heated area they freeze solid. WORST of all, your phlegm freezes. Your nose freezes, with slaty icicles. Your scarf freezes over your mouth, and you have to place a glove OVER it to melt the ice and breath again. You collapse into a snowbank and die. In moscow a few men, drunk, went outside for a cigareete break...and died of hyptothermia in the half hour it took for the guests to know they left. bare skin at -20C it FATAL!
You know, there are people who survived lightnings (more than once), falls from thousands of feet, mortal-poisons, and many more deadly situations. So it's perfectly plausible that one person survived with no damage in extreme cold.
Assuming you're an Expert 3 with a Con of 12, max HP at level 1 and favored class bonus, that's 19 HP. If you have a Fort save of +4, you could probably shrug off a few of the saves to nonlethal. Let's say 3. The rest of the time you take 3.5 dmg/minute or (HP=19+Con 12=31/3.5) you last 12 minutes in that level of cold before dying outright.
I still seriously doubt your claims however.
I lived in Iowa for a while. While that's not all that spectacular, Iowa has two things in this respect. 1) They have "typical" cold winters (i.e. negative average temps during winter months). 2) Flat land and lots of it meaning wind chills there are awful. One time a teacher asked about the coldest winter I experienced. I told him -75 with wind chill. He he didn't believe me and called another teacher who lived in Iowa to confirm my story. While the other teacher couldn't remember that specific instance he did recall a day where the high was -50. My teacher suddenly found my answer quite plausible. At those temps the water covering your eye freezes in just a couple minutes, clothing be damned. Also that day all schools were closed. There wasn't even that hold out school and the ticker on the news channel took several minutes to loop. I could see fear on my grandmothers face when I asked if I could go out to play. Cold weather is serious business, yo.
Whether or not I believe you (and I don't), it is entirely possible that as a level 1 commoner with a 10 Constitution, you have 6 hit points. You could easily have take 1 point of damage each minute. That would leave you with a single hit point and no worry about having permanent damage. As for the non-lethal damage, it is possible that you succeeded on those saves as well. So it is still possible that the rules mimic reality better than you think.
After watching shows like Ice Road Truckers and Deadliest Catch, I find it hard to believe that someone just laid out in the extreme cold entirely naked and didn't have any issues.
IMO the 5 minutes was probably an exaggeration, but not necessarily much of one. A few minutes of exposure to those kinds of temperatures needn't leave permanent damage, although that certainly is in the realm of possibility.
The temporary pain one feels with that intense exposure however, is very real but also can be rather manageable and even percieved as invigorating. There's quite a few polar bear clubs that deliberately go swimming in their skimpy little euro-speedos (as near to naked as makes no difference) through the icewater. Certainly they don't stay in long, but they'll go a few minutes and all share in how tough they are in taking the cold :D
Personally, the most miserable the cold ever made me was also at a 'mere' 20 below zero Farhenheit, but I had my car break down and I had to walk a couple miles whilst fully clothed but still woefully under-dressed for the occasion (regular tube socks, no hat, no gloves, etc). I'd say I certainly arrived at the nearest gas station with a good bit of nonlethal damage accumulated. But no frostbite or permanent constitution damage from what must have been a half an hour or so of exposure w/o proper protective gear.
Damage per minute is probably a bit much for 'realism', but it works for game play reasons. It's simpler to just batch time together by groups of 1 minute, rather than groups of 5 minutes or 10 minutes. It also heightens the excitement by upping the danger. A GM could always alter the increments for damage/checks, if he feels so inclined.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but they swim in water, which is by definition above the freezing point. Not 50 degrees farenheit below the freezing point. I can imagine being in a walk-in freezer naked for a handful of minutes before really being damaged. I'm doubting they get that low anyway. But that's with no windchill as well. I'd still probably come out completely numb from head to toe and potentially the beginnings of hypothermia.
A body loses heat a lot faster in a liquid medium than air.
But does a body lose heat AND become damaged quicker in above freezing water than by air (and wind) 50 degrees below freezing?
My personal experiences with naked skin being exposed to frigid air and being dunked in frigid water include:
Once, trying a polar bear dip. It was salt water, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the water were a degree or two below 32F. I was in, paralyzed with shock for a few seconds, before scrambling up a ladder to escape to warmth and never tried it again.
Never did do that frat boy streaking prank, although I have several friends who've told me about how THEY felt when they did it, at much lower temperatures than the OP was referencing (this was done at SEVENTY degrees below freezing).
I have personally however been sufficiently acclimated to a cold climate that I'd routinely do calisthenics at degrees below freezing wearing tee shirt and shorts. Granted, it's not completely naked, and being quite active helps keep you warm. And of course, it's not 20 below. I've even been in sandals, shorts, and polo shirt for well over an hour at temperature barely above freezing before feeling cold and going inside. (long enough to play a complete game of settlers of catan :)
So, given those first and second hand experiences, if I were forced to chose between being dunked in 32 degree water, or stand naked in -20 degree air, I'll take the air every time.
Personally I've swam in water for almost an hour in temperatures of about 1-2 Degrees Celsius twice, once drunk, once sober. It was damn freezing, and getting out into the cold snowy air was terrible, but I'd much rather swim in near-freezing water than be in the wind any day.
Edit; I should add that this was with only shorts on, so no protective gear of any sort like a wetsuit.
And I'd choose the opposite. While not nearly the polar bear plunge, my cousin Seth and I used to swim in Lake Michigan in March or April when the water couldn't have been warmer than like 40-45. Hours at a time. Yeah it was FREAKING COLD and we came out numb and shivering, but it's spring break dangit!
Having spent a month in Yakutsk (March). I can say with some certainty that sitting outside in -30 naked for 5 minutes is not something any human-being would want to do. At that temperature breathing becomes as chore, with a slight breeze spit will freeze the second it hits your lips, the moisture on your breath will freeze as it leaves your mouth and mucus will solidify in your nose. It is not a pretty sight.
I never tried to endure extreme colds in water or outside but a few facts:
Water in rapid movement or very salty can be way colder than "below freezing" and still be liquid. The body heat will form a heat barrier around you and thus moving water or air is worse than still water/air.
Also national geographic once tested a soldier (some navy seal guy) in cold water, how long he could endure.
Environmental damage is just something that doesn't work well with the hit point system.
You can look at the opposite end from extreme cold for a good example..
you 'only' take 10d6 damage for being buried in lava? Really? It's not automatic, instant death but 10d6 instead? An utterly unprotected character is taking on average 35 points of damage per round.. But it's written that way not only because the hit point system just is what it is, but also to give a benchmark for protective magics like endure/resist elements to measure against.
I've houseruled in the past that environmental damage like exposure/immersion in cold/acid/fire/falling etc does a flat percentage of your hitpoints per round, rather than being resolved as an attack would be by a die roll that doesn't scale to your total hd/hp. It's just too much of a suspension of disbelief for a mid-to-high level character 'only' take 1d6 damage per round for being on fire. If you're on fire, your first and only goal should be the immediate end of that fire.. not waiting around until the accumulated d6 damage rolls become a nuisance! :D
Water transfers energy something like 20 times more efficiently than air.
Ie. 1C Water kills you 20 times faster than 1C air.
When you get out of the water, you're covered in water. Evaporating water creates a cooling effect (that's why your body sweats on hot days, to cool off by evaporating water on your skin), so if there's a windchill, say -5C, you're suddenly covered in -10C temperature (just kind of estimating, I don't know the formula for how much energy is transferred by evaporating water) but it's 20 times worse than air, because it's water.
I like to go swimming in cold water here in Minnesota, but because I like to go for long swims (1+ miles) I can't go once the water is below 50 degrees. Once I'm out of the water I usually go running, not because I need more exercise, but because my core temperature is actually low enough to cause problems if I don't start working it back up. Also, parts of my anatomy don't just shrink, they seem to try to hide inside my body.
A lot of misinformation in this thread. Where I live, it'll get -35 degrees C and below for a few weeks most winters. You can go mail your letters (~10 min), go to the grocery store (~15 min), etc, in t-shirt and jeans without danger. Of course you'll want to sit in front of the fire for half an hour after that, but it's by no means lethal to be in that kind of weather in normal indoor clothing for an hour or so.
-20 F is 53 degrees below the freezing point of water. As others have said, with a slight breeze you'll be experiencing hypothermia within minutes, assuming no clothes. I've wandered outside, in just jeans and a t-shirt, in about 5 degree above weather, for about 1 minute (just long enough to get the mail) and came back with all of my exposed flesh feeling completely numb.
You can walk around in that in a t shirt and sweatpants at -20 no problem. We had a few record breaking cold nights in the adirondacks and i decided to walk around to see what it felt like. I'm one of those freaks that really doesn't like to put on a jacket in winter, and i was fine.
The human body may be water but its self heating water. Your body produces its own heat , and will shiver to produce even more than usual. So long as you can burn calories for more heat you can keep from freezing
Furthermore one of the prime uses of body fat is as insulation. Fat keeps the heat in, so will fur (if you have it...) So if you have a little.. ahem.. extra insulation, you can last far far longer than normal.
We had one class exercise running around in the woods in 3 feet of snow. I was in a t shirt. Someone looked at their boyscout manual, looks at me, and says "According to this you died 3 hours ago"
I live in finland where temperature can drop to very cold. The record is over -50C. When I was naked outdoors, I did it coming straight out of a sauna and went right back in after. It´s actualy quite normal here to come out of the sauna and roll around in snow before going back in. Some people even dig holes in the ice and go swimming. On the day in question it was not windy so that made it easier. You might think that people coming out of a sauna might be wet but you are actualy very dry since it´s so hot in.
The rules say that every other 1 lvl commoner (which is most people in d&d)dies after 1 minute exposure. So how about eskimos? I´m pretty sure they did not have goretex 500 years ago and they managed to live even further north.
In wintery conditions you can survive if you know how. When I was in the finnish defense forces we practised winter survival. We dug a hole in the snow and slept there over night with no heat sources other than our body heat. (Ok, we had sleeping bags). It was -15C outside and +4C inside. None died.
But also in here if you pass out in the snow you will die because your body cannot heat itself.
I'm a pretty normal guy from finland (with no extra insulation :)), whose players would laugh at these rules, when I'm running my winter campaign. In here school children go do outside sports in -20C. So it feels a bit stupid to say that your characters are already taking damage.
Oh yeah? I went swimming at - 10 Kelvin!
What bunch of freaks are you playing with?
I mean, if they laugh at unrealistic cold weather rules, what about all the other rules that aren't totally realistic? Letting people like that play these rules is a form of torture or even murder, because they will laugh themselves to death. Literally.
And I'm not even talking about the rules for elves and wizards and other stuff that doesn't exist. There's all kinds of rules that are about things that live in reality but that aren't realistic, because those game designers are, well, game designers. They're not scientists in dozens of fields. Sure, you don't have to be a scientist for each of these things. But even the limited research required to get right numbers instead of good enough approximations will often be not really worth the time. Having scientifically accurate numbers for everything will not really add to the game.
Just look at this thread. You have many different, conflicting pieces of "evidence", including anecdotal evidence, and some stuff that is probably made up. Apparently it's not that easy just to come up with the right numbers.
And another very important thing:
Being acclimated/adapted will help. Everyone knows that. I'm sure everyone has a story like this: You meet someone from a much warmer climate. You are both wearing T-shirts and shorts because you would sweat too much - but the visitor is shivering. He's cold. Or the other way around: Someone from a much colder climate. He's sweating his arse off, and you think it's actually a mild day. There's scientific data to back this up.
Being prepared helps, too. Those Eskimos people keep talking about have not only adapted biological to the cold, they know how to protect themselves. They know that when it gets cold enough, a slightly thicker pullover under your usual jacket simply won't cut it.
There's also some survival techniques that will help. This is closely related to the preparedness thing, though.
So if your average adventurer/person accustomed to temperate climate goes out into extreme cold, you apply the numbers. But if we're talking about an acclimated, adapted and/or prepared individual, you modify things.
It's just that a system that correctly simulates all these things (especially the biological aspects) would take ten times the space in the book as the current stuff does. Maybe more.
I guess they didn't want to waste precious pages on a system most people wouldn't bother with, anyway. Like in so many other instances that collectively make it possible for a human being to carry the core rules all at once without encumbrance or broken backs. ;-P
This is obviously a LIE... Frostbite at -22F starts on bare skin within a minute and can freeze within 5 minutes... If you are going to post arguing rules, please be honest... If you don't like the rulings, no reason to lie and say you stood naked in -22F and nothing happened, instead, just say you dont like the rule and change them
The OP is certainly possible. I've had the unfortunate experience of jumping into icy water myself. For cold water rescue training, we cut holes in the ice and had to jump in. To say it was uncomfortable doesn't even come close, but I tolerated it longer than I thought I would have. Some people are just better at handling cold, of course. There's a man who is really, really good at it, in fact: Go to the video here. Although he may be the most cold-resistant man in the world, it shows what some people are capable of.
Extreme cold is one of those things that is more dangerous than it appears because those suffering from it are often unaware of the severity of the problem.
Other examples are being incapacitated by drugs (including alcohol), and just plain incompetence.
I was born in Alaska, and I still currently live in Alaska, and in fact, I've only left Alaska for 10 days out of my entire life (and went to Minnesota with -10 degree weather, it was so warm for that week and a half, le sigh). 5 minutes outside at -20 while naked is completely possible.
Maybe it's because people that live near or in the Arctic Circle have the Rugged Northerner feat, but I would regularly walk down to the local gas station at -30 F in nothing more than a light jacket, t-shirt, jeans and shoes. The gas station is a 20 minute walk from my house, and I'm not one to dilly-dally at the store, so I'm exposed to the 'extreme cold' for 40 minutes with maybe a 5 minute break of warmth. According to the rules, I have to make a DC 15, 16, 17, and 18 check to avoid nonlethal damage from the cold. I've never had frostbite nor have I had hypothermia, so that means I've made every check my entire life long. I also did this at a time in my life when I had -4 to my Con, and I'm fairly certain I'm not some tank when it comes to my con score either.
When you average things out, and apply the rules, I should be dead. Yet I'm not. And yes, I'm using severe cold instead of extreme because I apparently have the Rugged Northerner Feat, yet I'm positive I don't meet the prereqs.
In fact, I'm fairly certain, that if one were to apply the Cold weather rules to the game, everyone who lives in a Cold weather environment, would be dead. Once it gets to -20 degrees, you take 1d6 damage every minute unless you have magic to protect you, or shelter. My father worked on the North Slope for 15 years, and, let me tell you, -20 F is warm compared to what they can get. Alaska currently holds the USA coldest temperature recorded at -79.8 F (rounded to -80) which is almost 2 degrees less than the lowest temperature recorded in North America at -81.4 F.
I'm fairly confident when I say I know what the cold is like, and I know that being naked outside at -20 is possible.
Science T.V. shows and books will tell me that this is not true, but many Science books, shows and other things are also very misleading or wrong. I remember laughing with my friends when we read a science book in class that was published in 2005 that said the entire region of Alaska is covered in tundra, and that tundra is mostly barren land with little to no foliage other than grass.
According to the most recent book at the time (which was written based off accredited scientific research, I'm sure), trees do not grow outside my window. Odd, because those things outside must be an illusion then. I wonder how I managed to climb the illusions as a child? I guess that time my truck slid off the road and hit the three, it never really happened. I must say, that's a pretty powerful illusion considering that failing the will save causes the mechanic to fail it to, and fix the (illusionary) damage on my truck and I have to pay for damage that was never really there. I wonder what really broke my cousins arm as a child? Hmm.. a conundrum.
I can only conclude that the rules as presented, do not accurately reflect reality. And I'm O.K. with that. Otherwise, I never cast a Fireball, I don't really have magical armor, Trolls aren't real, I've never slain a dragon...
Anyway, I think that's going to be my 2 degrees on this thread.
Concur with Tels and KaeYoss.
Anecdotal #2: Was stationed at a mild winter area (~25-32F avg temps). Typical winter gear. 2-week orders to -20F (not including windchill) location, no additional gear "required". I froze my butt. Upon return, I was roasting in the 28F temps. I shed the coats, long johns and went to short sleeves with light gloves for a couple of weeks until I acclimated to current temps. And, no I did not suffer from frostbite, hyperthermia or even get goosebumps despite my peers attempts to assign me as much outside work as possible. It was still 40 degrees warmer comparatively speaking.
Two weeks was enough to adjust fortitude, cold weather tolerance.
So no lies but perhaps outside your experience does not make it untrue.
Pathfinder is not realistic.
Stop the presses!
For your home games, feel free to adjust the threshold temperatures to make sense for your game. Or pretend that they use a different temperature scale. F stands for Fitzwizzle, the famous gnome physicist, who went on to invent a nonmagical means of measuring a person's fire resistance, then got tragically incinerated during a field experiment in the Elemental Plane of Fire.
Ahh. That explains everything. Thank you for pointing out the error of my ways and my inflexible muggle thinking. Excuse me while I bear homage to the indomitable Fitzwizzle.
Regarding the realism of environmental damage, please keep in mind that 1d6 lethal damage per round is approximately the same DPR as an angry housecat.
you 'only' take 10d6 damage for being buried in lava? Really? It's not automatic, instant death but 10d6 instead? An utterly unprotected character is taking on average 35 points of damage per round..
Sorry to derail the thread, but I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate HATE this reaction. It is completely and utterly ridiculous.
"Only" 10d6 damage IS INSTANT DEATH for 99.999999999 percent of the Earth's population. Name a single human being in the entire world that can survive 35 points of damage and you've got yourself a superhero.
Just because a 20th-level D&D character can survive a hazard does NOT mean the hazard is unrealistic. If anything, the 20th-level D&D character is what's unrealistic.