So you’ve fought your way through the hordes of the mummy king, lopped the head from his rotting undead neck, and looted the great treasury beneath his pyramid. Now, laden with heaps of gold, you emerge from the dungeon, only to remember that a hundred miles of desert separate you from the nearest market.
Sometimes it’s not the monsters that make a location memorable, but the environment. Even the weakest monsters can become challenging when the players are trying not to drown and fight them at the same time. A singular ninja might be no match for a team of trained guards, but when he uses the darkness to strike and disappear, they will have a much harder time catching him. Fighting the BBEG is one thing, but fighting him near a 500 ft cliff while an avalanche threatens to push you over is a very good argument for putting off the final confrontation.
Now, you’ll have the tools to make all these things possible. The environmental hazard preview includes rules on suffocation and starvation, falling to your doom, a list of environmental factors for magical or exotic locations, and rules for handling the wide variety of “big things that push you around” that nature has on tap.
The environmental rules also make use of the new [Energy drained] condition, which is a replacement for the role that negative levels and ability damage used to play. It is our opinion that referring to a single scaling source of penalties is a lot easier than changing half of your sheet every time a necromancer gives you a high five.