Sunday, May 22, 2022

d100 – Deadly Diseases & Alarming Ailments

Most Referee’s might be familiar with the dreaded Mummy Rot, or that pesky 1-in-20 chance of a disease-ridden Rat Bite. Odious Otyughs carry their own un-named strains, and even some of the various Moulds and Fungi that flourish within those dank Dungeons inflict a variety of debilitating respiratory effects.

So, this is a table about Generating Diseases, giving them Names for Settings that might benefit from less generic germs. As I was working on it, I decided that rather than fixate on the Effects, it would potentially be more useful to incorporate Rumors of Cures/Treatments that might be available for a given sickness. Obtaining this information might be the first step on the road to recovery. Much like how I prefer to manage Poisons, putting Death from this sort of misadventure on a Timer is more interesting to me than inventing brand-new mechanical penalties for each. This keeps the Body Horror down to a minimum in this table, but as a warning: some of it may still seep through in the names this creates.

That being said, I have covered Execrable Effects elsewhere. My Terrible Toxins & Vile Venoms serve as suitable symptoms (as could, potentially, some of the Magical Mishaps & Calamitous Curses). As always, it is up to the Referee to decide if these are merely speedbumps on the way to receive a Cleric’s coveted Cure Disease, or if more mundane management is needed via seeking a Rumored Remedy. I suppose one could mischeviously generate a few potential panaceas for each and allow them to choose which ones to pursue if you’d like to keep things a little more frightening and tense.

Poison seems to be the Saving Throw of Choice for most (though Mummies merely infect with a hit). An incubation period might be warranted for some (though this can sometimes make the affliction feel a bit arbitrary if it shows up too long after the point of infection), followed by that period of feeling a bit Under The Weather before the Malady begins to run its course in earnest. They needn’t all be Fatal of course, but if they’re Contagious that presents its own set of challenges.

I’ve also provided a perchance generator below as a Starting Point to see what horrible things these tables are capable of spitting out:

Table Talk: I believe the initial germ for this table took hold with a question from a discord user if I had such a table. I added it to the development list as it’s own little lonely tab and after populating a couple dozen cells with the first things that sprang to mind, quickly realized that given world events, the topic wasn’t really speaking to me for a more conventional “here’s a bunch of awful things to inflict upon your players” way. So I let it fester a bit in the background before I hit on the idea to make it more about the Cures than the Conditions. One can never have enough desperate Quests after all, and rather than being a “hard stop” to play, these might provide some sorely needed Hope.

These days I’m finding myself less drawn to that “nasty, brutish, short” crapsack simulation but one never knows when a horrible Plague or Epidemic might serve as an interesting Faction or Front in it’s own right bubbling up in the background. These occasionally crop up on my Domain Tables from time to time, and since I’m hoping to provide a bit more Referee Support for this rather neglected Tier of Play in the future, this will be handy down the road.

Reading a bit about Medieval Medicine and Folk Remedies led to a bevy of interesting words, so that got me excited about it again (I’m a sucker for those rarer words after all) and brought back fond memories of a campaign where we had a Paladin of the God of Disease (more properly termed The Vector) who travelled the land, spreading plagues and such as part of her Deity's bidding and sacred mission. A table like this would have been quite useful back then 😊.

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