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Diseases and Illnesses

Sickness ravages Jaern like it would any other world. This page is primarily intended as a GM’s tool to create threatening and compelling diseases for their campaigns, and also features a list of common diseases that may strike both player characters and actors.

Creating a Disease

There are several dimensions by which diseases may be defined, and when writing a disease it is in the best interest of bookkeeping that you include information on all of them.


Where does your disease come from? A disease may fall into one or more of these taxons.

  • Pathogenic: Caused and carried by miniscule creatures invisible to the naked eye. (These include bacteria, viruses, fungal spores, etc.) All Pathogenic diseases are communicable.
  • Heritable: These are the result of the body betraying itself. Their origin lies in some malfunction of a bodily system, and the disease may manifest at birth or later in life. All Heritable diseases are non-communicable.
  • Parasitic: These diseases may or may not appear similar to Pathogenic ones on the surface, but are the fault of larger, visible creatures that latch on to the body and drain its resources. Nearly all Parasitic diseases are communicable.
  • Arcane: Usually created by malicious mages or alchemists, these illnesses are magical in origin. They often, but not always, attack the magical potential in their victims. Arcane diseases may or may not be communicable; note which it is when writing up an Arcane disease.


There are two main ways diseases may manifest, and the same disease may manifest in both ways in different patients.

  • Acute: The disease strikes hard and fast. Once it is treated, it is over, but without treatment severe stages may be reached rapidly.
  • Chronic: The disease is slow and steady, and is often something the afflicted must live with for long periods of time. While not as severe, chronic disease is often harder to treat.


There are a few different mechanisms for diseases to spread. Note that in most cases, more severe or even lethal diseases do not spread as efficiently. If a disease is non-communicable, it has no transmission method.

  • Airborne: High efficiency. Spread through droplets or particles in the air, often coughed or sneezed out by infected persons.
  • Filth: High efficiency. Spread via infected waste entering food or water supplies. Most dangerous in areas where proper hygiene is not kept.
  • Surface Contact: Medium efficiency. Spread by touching a surface where infected particles sit. Diseases spread this way can stay dangerous for a long time on surfaces.
  • Zoonotic: Medium efficiency. Spread by an animal intermediary. This may include bites from insects or larger animals, and the animal may or may not be affected by the disease itself.
  • Direct Contact: Low efficiency. Spread by directly touching an infected person. There may or may not be wounds or sores where pathogens or parasites are in high concentration.
  • Bloodborne: Low efficiency. Spread by infected blood entering the bloodstream of a healthy creature.
  • Magical: Variable efficiency. Spread by various methods that are not physical in nature.

Symptoms and Severity

A disease is meaningless if it does nothing to those it infects. Following are some guidelines for the meat of your disease: the symptoms, and how these symptoms may progress over time.

Most diseases require checks against HEA to resist their effects, though an illness of Arcane origin or one that attacks the mind or magic might instead check against WIL or PWR. Some diseases may deal damage directly, disable the infected body, or apply long-lasting negative status effects. When a disease advances severity, the patient always gets a chance to remake the resist check and prevent advancement of the disease.

Scale of Severity

There are three major stages that most diseases go through. If a disease has both acute and chronic forms, two separate symptom blurbs for the effects may be warranted. Progression through the stages of severity varies from disease to disease, and is not always constant; ex. an illness may take a long time to become moderate, but then become severe very quickly after that. Acute diseases do not progress through the three stages of severity, as they are always fast and Severe.

  • Mild: The patient has managed the illness well, or has just caught it. Mild forms of diseases are never lethal, and rarely disabling. Mild forms of disease may even be near asymptomatic.
  • Moderate: The disease is noticeably worse. The moderate stage of illness is usually when most people begin to seek outside help and treatment. Usually, those in a moderate disease stage can still do everyday tasks, though they are noticeably sick.
  • Severe: Depending on the disease, the patient may be bedridden, disabled, or dying. Those with a severe form of disease are unmistakably sick, and may be met with wariness by many communities.

Symptoms from stages stack; for example, if a patient is in the Severe stage, they are suffering from the symptoms of all three stages at once (if the symptoms of the three stages are not direct scales of each other).

Treating a Disease

There are many ways to treat diseases, including nonmagical to magical means. For example, a Treat Disease spell (Isis, Mending 4) can immediately cure Pathogenic, Heritable, and Parasitic diseases, and greatly assuage Arcane diseases.

The Science: Herbology and Medicine skills may also be used to treat diseases. Below are the standard checks to cure each stage of disease progression.

Herbology Medicine Severity
2d6 2d6 Mild, Nonmagical
3d6 3d6 Moderate, Nonmagical
4d6 4d6 Severe, Nonmagical
3d6 3d6 Mild, Arcane
3d6 4d6 Moderate, Arcane
4d6 5d6 Severe, Arcane

Casting Treat Disease or succeeding at a treatment skill check by 5 or more cures the disease completely. Otherwise, the disease severity reduces by one rank. Some diseases cannot be treated via standard means, or the standard checks may be harder; in these cases, treatment methods are specified case-by-case.

Example Diseases


  • Origin: Pathogenic
  • Transmission: Surface Contact
  • Manifestation: Chronic
  • Resist Check: 3d6 vs HEA

Originally observed in elven communities, this disease greatly reduces the body’s ability to heal itself. It is not fatal, but the severely afflicted are often homebound or even bedridden for fear of sustaining wounds they cannot ever heal.

Symptoms: Mild- The patient may only heal their HEA/5 DP after a rest. Moderate- The patient can no longer gain DP after a rest. Severe- The patient can no longer gain DP by any means.

  • Treatment: Standard


  • Origin: Arcane
  • Transmission: Bloodborne
  • Manifestation: Both
  • Resist Check: 4d6 vs PWR

This lethal disease only affects those with some form of magical power, and is rumored to have been created by mages centuries ago in a war between two lost kingdoms both advanced in the arcane arts.

Acute Symptoms: Immediately drains 3 points of PWR, lasting until the disease is cured. Each hour, the patient loses 20% of their maximum units, starting from the unit pool that is greatest. When they have no units left, another resist check is made or else 3 more points of PWR is drained. This cycle continues until PWR falls below 2, at which point the patient dies.

Chronic Symptoms: Mild- The patient gains 2 ranks of INF PWR. Moderate- The patient cannot cast spells or activate psionics above rank 6, and all of their unit pools are reduced by half. Severe- The patient cannot gain units naturally, and their PWR stat is drained by 1 per week until the disease is no longer severe. If PWR falls below 2, the patient dies.

  • Treatment: Use Terisium or certain rituals to create an area completely devoid of magic. After a few hours, the disease will die out. The acute form can be halted temporarily with a successful resist check.


  • Origin: Parasitic
  • Transmission: Zoonotic
  • Manifestation: Acute
  • Resist Check: 4d6 vs HEA/WIL - The Resist Charm ability grants 1 die off.

This parasite is feared in the wilds of Jaern, as it spreads through seemingly docile or tame animals. A sudden, simple bite can transmit a worm which makes its way to the brain over the course of several days. At this point, it takes over and reduces the mind of the patient to a violent, frenzied state, and the life cycle begins again.

Symptoms: The patient must make the resist check or move towards the nearest person or animal and immediately make a bite attack with their CMOD + 4. While in a frenzied state, they cannot speak or cast spells. The disease is transmitted if this bite breaks skin. The check is remade every 2 hours; if the frenzied state lasts more than 8 hours, the patient collapses of exhaustion and immediately loses half of their max DP. This symptom cycle begins again after the exhausted patient rests for 8 hours.

  • Treatment: Standard + 2d6


  • Origin: Pathogenic
  • Transmission: Direct Contact, Filth
  • Manifestation: Chronic
  • Resist Check: 3d6 vs HEA for contraction, 4d6 vs HEA for progression

This fungal ailment causes layers of skin to peel off faster than they can regrow, eventually stripping parts of the body down to muscle and causing heavy bleeding and pain. Patients often wrap affected sections of the body in oil cloth to prevent this bleeding.

Symptoms: Mild- All incoming Edged, Piercing, and Blunt damage deals an extra d4 of pain damage to the patient. Moderate- The patient is in constant pain, and cannot use the affected area of the body without taking 2d12 pain damage. Severe- The patient has the Bleeding status effect until the disease is no longer severe.

  • Treatment: Standard


  • Origin: Heritable
  • Manifestation: Chronic
  • Resist Check: 4d6 vs HEA

This inherited ailment is most common amongst peoples who have naturally occurring supernatural abilities, such as Elementals, Spheniscines, and Kleemudor Purebloods. It is considered a simultaneous gift and curse, as it increases magic power in exchange for an incredibly weak physical body.

Symptoms: Mild- Gain 1 rank of EXCP PWR, 1 rank of INF HEA, and 1 rank of INF STR. Moderate- Max DP is reduced by ⅓, and all unit pools are increased by ⅓. Severe- Speed is halved and all move DVs drop by 2, and all spells require 2 fewer units to cast (cannot drop below 1).

  • Treatment: Disease-curing magical effect required.


  • Origin: Arcane
  • Transmission: Airborne
  • Manifestation: Acute
  • Resist Check: 5d6 vs HEA/PWR, 6d6 for elves

All elves know this disease well, as it ravaged their communities centuries ago on Torandor. The sickness is extremely lethal, taking a perfectly healthy individual to their deathbed within days. The rare ones who survive, additionally, are left without souls, drained of magical power and exhausted. This plague has been eradicated, with no presence on Jaern or Cahyali.

Symptoms: Make the resistance check against HEA. If failed, the patient immediately falls sick and loses DP equal to their max DP at the end of each day for three days. While sick in this way, they cannot move or attack. This cycle repeats after three days. If the disease is cured, the creature gains the Soulless creature ability.

  • Treatment: Disease-curing magical effect required. Patient can re-make the resist check.

Minstrels’ Madness

  • Origin: Arcane
  • Transmission: Magical (Memetic)
  • Manifestation: Chronic
  • Resist Check: 3d6 vs WIL - The Resist Charm ability grants 1 die off.

This magical illness of mysterious origin manifests initially as an earworm- a tune that one cannot get out of their head. It spreads by instilling a compulsion to hum, as hearing the tune spreads it to others.

Symptoms: Mild- Patient hums the tune almost constantly, wearing out the voice and reducing it to a whisper. Moderate- Insomnia sets in. After 3 days of moderate illness, the exhausted patient suffers a -4 to all resist checks and attack rolls. Severe- Intense paranoia occurs. All spellcasting becomes impossible, as the tune is the only thing in the brain. After 1 week of severe illness, the patient becomes catatonic, doing nothing but hum the tune under their breath.

  • Treatment: Standard + 3d6 or any magical effect that clears mind control.

Bloating Death

  • Origin: Pathogenic
  • Transmission: Airborne, Filth
  • Manifestation: Both
  • Resist Check: 4d6 vs HEA

This plague takes the form of a swarm of miasma, which is in fact a cloud of these surprisingly large and mobile pathogens. The miasma cloud is subject to being dispersed by gusts of created wind. While a patient stands inside the swarm, they are automatically subjected to the acute form of the disease. After exiting, they must make the resist check or contract the chronic form.

Acute Symptoms: Lose 10% of max DP per round. After 3 rounds spent inside, the Bleeding condition is applied and the resist check becomes one die harder.

Chronic Symptoms: Mild- Flu and cold-like symptoms manifest, and the patient begins coughing and sneezing uncontrollably. Moderate- Patient begins to bloat and feels constantly nauseous. Cannot benefit from any food, drink, or potion consumed. Severe- Bloating becomes worse, and any movement more than base 5’ inflicts 1d10 pain damage per 5' moved. After 1 week of severe illness, the patient begins to projectile vomit and explodes into a new cloud of miasma minutes later.

  • Treatment: Standard + 2d6


  • Origin: Parasitic, Arcane
  • Transmission: Bloodborne
  • Manifestation: Chronic
  • Resist Check: 4d6 vs HEA

This disease is a liquid parasite, created from blood magic experiments gone wrong. It makes its home in the blood, feeding on the blood’s components and stripping the body of its natural defenses. Eventually the patient’s blood becomes mostly parasite, viscous and dark.

Symptoms: Mild- Stamina reduces. All Athletics and Acrobatics checks are 1 die harder, and base speed reduces by 10’. Moderate- The parasite begins to consume white blood cells. Gain 1 rank of the Prone to Disease creature ability. Severe- Gain another rank of the Prone to Disease creature ability. Speed is further reduced by 10’, and all move DVs are reduced by 2.

  • Treatment: Standard + 1d6
lore/diseases.txt · Last modified: 2024/04/07 20:10 by quiddlesticks