Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Question: Diseases

Disease is a minor threat in games.  It usually comes up when a character gets hit with a disease ridden creature and has to make a save. 

The question I pose is do you have multiple diseases in your campaign? 

Do you implement them in everyday situations where a population is suffering? 

And if you do have a cool disease, please share.

I've rarely used diseases in game.  With magic at hand Cure Disease spells (usually around 3rd level spell) and if you have the vaccine machine paladins running around, diseases get less dangerous.  But lately I've been collecting gaming diseases for various settings and situations.  Blood & Treasure has a nice handful of diseases.  But there is always room for more.

Friday folks.  That is a good thing.


  1. I written up a number of exotic infectious menaces/diseases on the blog, but I haven't used a lot in play. I have used plagues/epidemics as sort of a background or setting element. I wrote a post about the use of plagues in games, too.

  2. I made one a while back that you might like. You can find it at this link

  3. I think the biggest problem with diseases in tabletop games is that they're not really interesting. You catch a disease and then roll to see how much worse your character is going to be for a while. There's no real strategy or play or counter-play, and it doesn't add anything to the game- unless you go for the Lord of the Rings style supernatural disease, where the cure is rare, possibly requiring an individual healer (who lives a long ways away) and an uncommon herb or two. But that's really more of a genesis for a quest than an actual "drank the wrong water" real-world disease...

  4. Yes, and yes. Nyambe: African Adventures had a cool idea of allowing certain diseases to be resistant to magical healing, which I also stole. I once ran an adventure where the PCs were tasked to retrieve a holy relic from a nearby community, in order to parade it through the streets to fight a cholera epidemic.

  5. Might I point you to issue 2 of Underworld Lore, wherein you will find a d30 table of various disgusting Dungeon Funk?

    You can grab this table by itself in an earlier version here.

  6. You just had to ask this question, didn't you? Now Digital Orc is going to come out with some strange disease that causes spiders to burst forth from all-over-body boils, or something.

  7. You know, I never have. Mostly for the reasons Nick Wright outlines above. On the other hand, I'm inspired by the uses Trey and ravencrowking describe in terms of disease as a background element/quest starter. That's a cool idea indeed.

  8. Only as a plot device. I believe one member of Reddit said, "nothing says 'the GM hates you' like having to hike to a temple and sacrifice some of your hard-earned loot."

    * The well water is making people sick, but people keep drinking it because there's no water source within fifty miles. There's a known cave system down there, so the adventurers are forced to go see what's causing it before they run out of water and get sick themselves.
    * An NPC friend of the party succumbs to a horrible wasting disease. The party needs to find a unicorn, approach it on peaceable terms, and figure out what service it will demand as payment to heal their friend.
    * The Dark Overlord has released a plague upon the city, decimating its defenses. Nobody in the party got sick, but now they need to hire mercenaries who won't be afraid of a plague before the Dark Overlord's army arrives.
    * A member of the party has been infected by a parasite. It'll be fine for now, he'll only suffer vivid hallucinations while sleeping, but eventually it's going to burst out of him and leave a messy exit wound. The parasite can be healed by magic, but it's quite spell resistant and requires an herb which only grows in a certain nearby valley infested with monsters.

  9. I run a D&D 4e game. I've had them going through an old asylum, and given them ample warnings about infections, diseases, and curses as they make their way through. They've constantly decided to ignore the risks and plow ahead, poking at infected bodies, climbing through narrow passages lined with rusty nails, etc.
    So far, 3 of the 5 have contracted diseases. They are level 18, and I think I've used 1 disease in the previous levels. I just wanted to try it out the last few weeks and see what happened. The end stages of the 3 diseases are:
    - Death(Scarlet Plague)
    - Death and return as a zombie(Melting Fury)
    - Insanity and attacking your allies whenever you are injured(Demon Fever)

    I just got finished replying on this site

    before finding my way here. Apparently my group has no fear of any type of consequences. Some of them are willing to risk drowning, disease, and death because nothing bad could ever happen to them. One of the players decides to never touch anything else in the dungeon if someone else's character gets sick, regardless of if their character should know it or not. Everyone else just decides to roll with the punches and see if the disease or threat is interesting.