Easy Peasy Wracked with Diseasy

Illustration by Jon Kaufman

For the second edition of Blood & Treasure, I had a few goals in mind: 1) Better layout. 2) Incorporate errata and edit like crazy. 3) A little more gonzo, a little less standardized. 4) Streamline anything you can streamline.

That brings me to disease. The rules I used before were relatively easy, but I wasn’t really satisfied with them. I hit on this point in a post a while back, and developed a disease system that I published in NOD 28 that focuses on symptoms rather than on named diseases. For Blood & Treasure, I decided to use a simplified version of this. While somewhat random, it takes into account the monster or dungeon level delivering the disease, and hopefully sets up a race against time aspect that will add to rather than diminish the drama of an adventure.


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 save. If he succeeds, his immune system fights off the disease and he suffers no ill effect.

If he fails the saving throw, the TK rolls 1d6 and adds the Hit Dice of the monster that infected him, or the level of the dungeon on which he was infected. Consult the table below. The infected creature will suffer all of the effects on the table up to the number rolled. The effects start at the times indicated on the table.

For example, a character who is both fatigued and sickened with feel the effects of fatigue in one round, and the effects of being sickened in 1 turn.

If an ability score is indicated, roll 1d10 to determine which score is affected:

Each day, the creature can attempt a new Fortitude save against the disease. If the roll is a failure, he continues suffering the ill effects as indicated on the table. If he succeeds, those ill effects are reduced by one level. When the character suffers no further ill effects, the disease has run its course.

While the character is diseased, they do not benefit from natural healing, although magical healing works on them. A cure disease spell will, of course, completely eradicate the disease, ending all ill effects.

Of course, once “cure disease” shows up, it just doesn’t matter, which is why the system is short.


This brings up the other part of the game I might streamline. I say might, because I haven’t made the change yet.

Saving throws in the game currently use three categories – Fortitude, Reflex and Will. As categories, they make sense and players can generally figure out what save they should be making when a situation comes up.

A post over at Delta’s D&D Hotspot got me thinking of another way that is more “gamist”, but which I think might be an improvement.

Delta was showing how the OD&D fighter’s saving throws went in an order from easiest to hardest, with the easiest saves being the one’s against the most dire circumstances. I like this idea. Why should it be easiest to save vs. petrification? Because failing that save means your character is dead, unless you have a high enough level magic-user who can turn you back. It treats saving throws more as “get out of jail free” cards than as simulating something real. I know this will bug the heck out of some folks, but I like it. It keeps the game a game.

This got me thinking about using a single saving throw number for each level – so only one number on the sheet, which fits into streamlining – with a blanket +3 bonus against instant effects that are (almost) unalterable – things that really screw up your precious character like instant death, polymorph, paralysis, petrification and the like. The classes would then have their own little +1 to save vs. something – fighters vs. dragon breath, spellcasters vs. spells – that sort of thing.

If I’m honest … it also saves lots of room in the books and makes monsters a bit easier to run.

Again, I haven’t made this change yet, but I think I’m going to.

I’m like 90% certain I’m going to.


I think.

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