When a character is injured by a contaminated attack, touches an item smeared with diseased matter, or consumes disease-tainted food or drink, he must make an immediate Fortitude saving throw. If he succeeds, the disease has no effect—his immune system fought off the infection. If he fails, he takes damage after an incubation period. Once per day afterward, he must make a successful Fortitude saving throw to avoid repeated damage. Two successful saving throws in a row indicate that he has fought off the disease and recovers, taking no more damage.
These Fortitude saving throws can be rolled secretly so that the player doesn’t know whether the disease has taken hold.
Diseases have various symptoms and are spread through a number of vectors. The characteristics of several typical diseases are summarized below.
Diseases whose names are printed in italic in the table are supernatural in nature. The others are extraordinary.
The disease’s method of delivery—ingested, inhaled, via injury, or contact. Keep in mind that some injury diseases may be transmitted by as small an injury as a flea bite and that most inhaled diseases can also be ingested (and vice versa).
The Difficulty Class for the Fortitude saving throws to prevent infection, or (if the character has been infected), to prevent each instance of repeated damage, and to recover from the disease.
The time before damage begins.
The ability damage the character takes after incubation and each day afterward.
|Blinding sickness||Ingested||16||1d3 days||1d4 Str1|
|Cackle fever||Inhaled||16||1 day||1d6 Wis|
|Demon fever||Injury||18||1 day||1d6 Con2|
|Devil chills3||Injury||14||1d4 days||1d4 Str|
|Filth fever||Injury||12||1d3 days||1d3 Dex, 1d3 Con|
|Mindfire||Inhaled||12||1 day||1d4 Int|
|Mummy rot4||Contact||20||1 day||1d6 Con|
|Red ache||Injury||15||1d3 days||1d6 Str|
|Shakes||Contact||13||1 day||1d8 Dex|
|Slimy doom||Contact||14||1 day||1d4 Con2|
1. Each time the victim takes 2 or more damage from the disease, he must make another Fortitude save or be permanently blinded.
2. When damaged, character must succeed on another saving throw or 1 point of damage is permanent drain instead.
3. The victim must make three successful Fortitude saving throws in a row to recover from devil chills.
4. Successful saves do not allow the character to recover. Only magical healing can save the character.
Types of Diseases
Typical diseases include the following:
Spread in tainted water.
Symptoms include high fever, disorientation, and frequent bouts of hideous laughter. Also known as “the shrieks.”
Night hags spread it. Can cause permanent ability drain.
Barbazu and pit fiends spread it. It takes three, not two, successful saves in a row to recover from devil chills.
Dire rats and otyughs spread it. Those injured while in filthy surroundings might also catch it.
Feels like your brain is burning. Causes stupor.
Spread by mummies. Successful saving throws do not allow the character to recover (though they do prevent damage normally).
Skin turns red, bloated, and warm to the touch.
Causes involuntary twitches, tremors, and fits.
Victim turns into infectious goo from the inside out. Can cause permanent ability drain.
Healing A Disease
Use of the Heal skill can help a diseased character. Every time a diseased character makes a saving throw against disease effects, the healer makes a check. The diseased character can use the healer’s result in place of his saving throw if the Heal check result is higher. The diseased character must be in the healer’s care and must have spent the previous 8 hours resting.
Characters recover points lost to ability score damage at a rate of 1 per day per ability damaged, and this rule applies even while a disease is in progress. That means that a character with a minor disease might be able to withstand it without accumulating any damage.