- Die horribly.
- Never return.
- Barely make it back to civilization as a babbling husk of your former self.
Polar exploration is something of a last resort here. There are plenty of unexplored islands and a whole continent to your South. Anyone that tries to solve the mysteries of the world by sailing North deserves what they get.
From a 2012 post Chris wrote about the Polar Ocean.
If you decide to run the awesome detachment-and-boat focused mini-module, Into the Polar Ocean, you will inevitably run into lots of times where the daily rolls indicate that things get worse, somehow.
Now if things get worse once in some unforeseen way, or twice, a GM can probably improvise and roll with it. But when things get worse in 5 different categories at once, you need something that hurts the PCs without the classic 'Rocks fall, you all die.' Unless there were several tons of floating rocks levitating above the PCs' boats, in defiance of God's Will and all Natural Law.
If things can't get worse, they find a way.
- A deck collapses! Lose d6 days of rations.
- Another deck collapses! The weapons and gear of a detachment are rendered useless; their attacks are impaired.
- Taking on super-dense water! A battalion must bail it out or the boat will not be able to move.
- A few tons of granite appear above the ship. At least it's shady. If re-rolled, they fall, dealing d6 damage to the ship and anyone abovedeck.
- Low gravity! Ranged attacks are enhanced, melee attacks impaired, and if the ship hits waves the wrong way it'll be floating in the air. Can be subject to falling damage if gravity ratchets back up.
- The boats develop their own gravity! One can walk along the walls or the sides of the hull. If in close proximity to one another, the ships may ram into one another for d6 damage to each.
- One battalion sees the other as Agents of The Enemy, and will attack! Getting between the two to stop this brawl is a risky act.
- Darkness blots all but your peripheral vision. All attacks are impaired. There are good chances (50/50 or make a WIL save) to go in the direction you want to go in, otherwise you go the opposite direction.
- There's too much static screaming in your ears for any verbal communication. You can barely think.
- A shuddering, jumpy image of an Astral God's Human Form is on deck. d4 WIL damage if you have business up there. Battalions will need to be cajoled or beaten to get up there and work.
- The PCs appear to be Agents of the Enemy, and at least one battalion will hunt the ship for them today.
- A giant crab swims up to the ship and begins attacking it! This is entirely illusory, but a battalion may fire on it and damage the ship, or any neighboring ships. WIL save to get them to cease fire, if you can even tell this is an illusion.
- You and your crew need d4 Rations to get through today, as it seems to never end.
- 50/50 chance you do the opposite of your stated intentions, as you have fallen into the wrong timeline.
- Future-version of your ship sails by. d4 WIL damage, but each PC can reroll any one roll thanks to their (terrified, terrifying) advice. Touching your time-duplicate will do d6 damage; the applies to ships as well. Basically, Timecop rules. Remember Timecop?
- Accelerated entropy. Boat takes d6 dmg. If it is armored, armor can reduce damage, but is damaged in turn and will provide 1 fewer point of protection until repaired.
- Fast time! You may skip one level of dice-rolling (d4 can go straight to d8, or vice versa) because of the velocity you gain. Also age 2 years and 10 years go by in Bastion.
- Time loop! You start each day with this day's stats, in the same place, and must figure out a way to get out. After a day or two some Astral God vision should start giving clues about how to get out, feel free to make up more scenarios/ways out. WAYS OUT: a) everyone must be Good To One Another. Requires at least a WIL save, probably some extra rations burned up making bathtub gin. b) Break the Flying Hour Glass that suddenly started circling the ships. 8 hp 1 armor, d10 dmg (slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. literally slings and arrows.).
- Organic beings corrupted! Role on a mutations table.
- Boat becomes sentient, may or may not want to be a part of this foolishness. Does not want to die. 2d6 WIL.
- Water is a powerful intoxicant. Beer and rum doubly so. Battalions may become totally (and understandably) wasted, given how bad everything probably is.
- Wood grows. You have to hack through doors (d4 hp), the mast is twice as tall, rigging and sails must be improvised or cannibalized from other boats.
- Rations scurry about! A battalion must hunt for them today or you will lose d6 rations. If they hunt them, the scurrying parts of the rations will count as an extra ration, if you can choke that down or sufficiently disguise it.
- Gunpowder works too well! If firearms or cannons are used, they work once and then are rendered broken.
- All organic beings sparkle with electricity. Contact deals d6 dmg to both.
- All organic beings are incredibly fast today! You can run at super-speeds but it's a DEX save or slam into something for d8 damage. DEX save for any fine or delicate work.
- It seems to require more force to achieve the same acceleration. Battalions must be encouraged to get any work done, and an extra d4 rations will be consumed.
- So cold, icebergs form in jagged, submerged masses. The boats must be carefully piloted to avoid d6 damage.
- Light is slowed. Ranged attacks impossible, nothing is quite where it appears to be. Good luck driving the boat through any obstacles.
- Standing water boils, always. The water already inside your body is fine. No one can drink water, giving a disadvantage on any rolls requiring cerebral acts or endurance (disadvantage: roll twice, take the worse of the two rolls). If injured (STR damage), then the wound may expose blood and deal an extra d4 damage as it boils.