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In the Curse of Strahd adventure, the sidebar about Amber Temple's temperature (p. 181) says:

Extreme Cold

The Amber Temple is a cold, dark place carved out of the snowy slope of Mount Ghakis. The temperature throughout the complex is -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius). Characters who don't have heat sources, cold weather gear, or magic to protect them are subject to the effects of extreme cold, as described in the "Weather" section in chapter 5, "Adventure Environments," of the Dungeon Master's Guide. If Kasimir Velikov (see chapter 5, area N9a) is with the party, his ring of warmth protects him from the effects of the extreme cold.

It specifically mentions "heat sources", and I was wondering what counts as a heat source for the purposes of not succumbing to the cold of Amber Temple.

Is a torch good enough? Or are we talking more like a campfire (say, the sort that someone might make during a long rest)? I imagine Curse of Strahd itself doesn't expand much more on this, but there might be some generic rules in the DMG or similar that I haven't managed to find with regards to temperature?

I ask because there will be at least one party member who won't have any (relevant) magic items, cold resistance or cold weather gear by the time they enter Amber Temple, and I'd like to know what counts as a heat source so I (as the DM) know when to ask for or waive the need for saving throws vs. exhaustion.


For reference, the "Extreme Cold" (Dungeon Master's Guide, p. 110) section:

Whenever the temperature is at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, a creature exposed to the cold must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw at the end of each hour or gain one level of exhaustion. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, as do creatures wearing cold weather gear (thick coats, gloves, and the like) and creatures naturally adapted to cold climates.

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“Extreme cold” is extremely cold

The temperature in the Amber Temple is what you get in North America, Scandinavia, or Siberia a few times a year.

There are no cities anywhere in the world where the average winter nighttime temperature is that cold although those temperatures are reached on occasion. So you need to be thinking of the coldest places on Earth on some of the coldest nights of the year.

You are going to need more than a torch. Within the abstractions of D&D a torch is more a source of light than of heat. You need to be thinking in terms of a decent sized fire for a considerable period.

However, by the time the characters get there they should have magical options to resist the cold or create cold weather clothing.

Of course, the people in the first room have cold weather clothes or else they’d be dead. My players just killed them and took their stuff.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hitting -10 on a winter night is not that weird at all. I mean, Chicago gets that cold regularly-- albeit only for a dozen or less nights a year, typically-- and the very source you link gives plenty of cities where the average winter nighttime temperature is a lot colder than that-- e.g. Oymyakon with an average winter temperature of below -40, and that's including the day. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jan 8 at 11:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ "A few times a year" in Siberia is more like -70 degrees Fahrenheit, for reference. -10 is more like a really bad night in the US midwest during winter, or record lows in Berlin. In other words, extreme but not that extreme temperatures in coldish 'normal' places or normal temperatures in extreme places. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Jan 8 at 11:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Honestly this doesn't answer the question at all. "more than a torch" isn't really an answer. Also, the OP said at least one PC would not be prepared for the cold. \$\endgroup\$ – Eternallord66 Jan 8 at 14:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil and you go out in it without winter clothing for hours? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jan 8 at 19:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I currently live in Juneau, Alaska, and I spent a number of years in the arctic desert that is Fairbanks. I'm not gonna tell you how many people don't dress for the weather (I met a man three days ago walking through 3 in. of snow in his bare feet and shorts) but it's enough to posit that some forms of insanity will keep you warm. \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog Jan 9 at 7:44
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The rules don't say

This is the sort of situation where you, as the DM, are expected to make up a ruling. We can tell you what sort of ruling we would make at our tables, but we can't give you a Definitive Answer.

At my table, I would rule that a torch (or any larger portable fire) is not enough of a heat source to stay warm. If a character tried to stay warm using a torch, some parts of that character would be uncomfortably hot or burning, while other parts of a character would still be too cold. To stay warm, a character would need to have a decent-sized fire which could warm up an area.

(Note that there are zero IRL incidents of people going out in cold weather and holding a torch to warm them up. The fact that nobody does it in real life should be a strong clue that it doesn't work.)

If my group was in a cold area such as this, I would expect them to (1) have winter clothing such as a heavy winter coat, (2) leave the area and go find a town and buy a heavy winter coat, (3) run through the area quickly and leave within an hour, or (4) make use of magic, such as periodically ritual-casting leomund's tiny hut to warm up.

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