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Diseases in the Iconic Adventuring System


A plague ravages the kingdom, setting the adventurers on a quest to find a cure. An adventurer emerges from an ancient tomb, unopened for centuries, and soon suffers from a wasting illness. A warlock offends some dark power and contracts a strange affliction that spreads whenever he casts spells.

          A simple outbreak might amount to little more than a small drain on party resources, curable by a casting of lesser restoration. A more complicated outbreak can form the basis of one or more adventures as characters search for a cure, stop the spread of the disease, and deal with the consequences.

Diseases can affect any creature; a given illness might or might not pass from one kind of creature to another. A plague might only affect constructs or undead or sweep through a halfling village but leave other kinships untouched. What matters is the story you want to tell.


Disease Traits

The following describes the effects of the disease and how characters can cure it, if at all, or otherwise overcome it, such as their immune system fighting off the infection.

 

Disease Rank

Each disease has a rank, representing escalating physical debilitations, such as exhaustion, pain, and discomfort, or temporary impairments like tremors, blurred vision, and difficulty communicating. All of which are nonexistent until symptoms appear.

           After the incubation period, the tasks infected characters perform gain resistance equal to the rank of the disease.

 

Incubation Period

An incubation period is the initial stage after exposure to a disease but before the infected character develops outward signs of illness or symptoms. During this time, characters may, without knowing, spread the infection if communicable.         

The length of the incubation period is at the discretion of the Game Master. The range indicates a recommended period before characters begin suffering from the disease.

 

Recovering From a Disease

When the incubation period ends and symptoms begin to appear, the character makes an Attribute Test, often a Willpower (Endurance) Test, once after a long rest. Upon success, the rank of the disease decreases by one step. Otherwise, if the test fails, the rank increases by one step, and if its rank is higher than their Health Aptitude Score, the character also suffers its effects.

           At the discretion of the Game Master, characters trained in Endurance reduce the disease rank one step upon being infected. Once the disease rank is 0, the infliction no longer infects the character.

 

Difficulty Rank

Most diseases also have a difficulty rating, indicating the task required to develop a cure or treatment for the disease. The task often involves searching and preparing reagents, brewing or concocting elixirs, and offering comfort and aid to the inflicted. The task may also require training in a particular skill, such as Herbalism or Medicine, or training in a kit or set of tools. Upon success, reduce the rank of the disease by one step.

Once attempted, characters can no longer make further attempts until the inflicted has had a long rest. If a disease does not have a difficulty rating, there is no known cure, and it must run its course, for better or worse.


Disease Effects

If an infected adventurer overexerts, the character suffers the indicated effects. These effects are in addition to any other effects from overexertion.

At the discretion of the Game Master, diseases, if left untreated, such as influenza or dysentery, might increase the effects, adding further trauma, complications, or both.

 

Minor Trauma

If fatigue loss from a disease results in overexertion, the character suffers minor trauma, gaining a stress card and placing it into their fatigue pile.

 

Moderate Trauma

If fatigue loss from a disease results in overexertion, the character suffers moderate trauma, gaining a wound card and placing it into their fatigue pile.

 

Serious Trauma

If fatigue loss from a disease results in overexertion, the character suffers serious trauma, replenishing a wound card and placing it at the bottom of their character deck.

 

Severe Trauma

If fatigue loss from a disease results in overexertion, the character suffers severe trauma, retrieving a wound card and placing it into their hand.

 

Critical Trauma

If fatigue loss from a disease results in overexertion, the character suffers severe trauma, retrieving a number of wound cards equal to the disease rank and placing them into their hand.


Sample Diseases

The following diseases illustrate how to implement each into the campaign. The Game Master can alter the difficulties, tests, incubation times, symptoms, and other disease traits to suit the setting.


Bubonic Plague

The bubonic plague causes swollen, painful lymph nodes called buboes. It brings on fever, chills, and weakness. Infected individuals develop dark, discolored skin that turns black in severe cases.

 

Bubonic Plague Traits

Bubonic Plague has the following traits:

         

  • Disease Rank. 6

  • Incubation. 2-8 days

  • Test. Willpower (Endurance)

  • Difficulty. Heroic (5/4)

 

Bubonic Plague Effects

When overexerting, the character suffers severe trauma.

 

Cackle Fever

This maddening contagion brings feverish fits of delirious, uncontrolled laughter. First, leave victims weakened as if briefly possessed, occasionally inappropriate outbursts disrupting ritual casting and tense situations.

 

Cackle Fever Traits

Cackle fever has the following traits:

 

  • Disease Rank. 2

  • Incubation. 1 day

  • Test. Willpower (Endurance)

  • Difficulty. Moderate (0/2)

 

Cackle Fever Effects

When overexerting, the character gains the Charm (Uncontrollable Laughter) complication for a number of rounds equal to the disease rank.

 

The Iconic Adventuring System: Core Rules features more diseases, including details on how to perform tasks and tests. 

 

 

 

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