Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brainstorming Ideas for Disease Rules

In the real world, disease is a big deal. In literature, disease is a big deal. Disease is a cool thing to work with -- it has been imbued with supernatural import (the wrath of God, as it were), moral import (a sign of corruption), and horrific value. Whether it's the bubonic plague, the Red Death, or a zombie plague, disease is a trope that seems to have great value.

But from the appearance of disease rules in Supplement II: Blackmoor, disease rules in D&D have left me lukewarm, either with too much detail or seeming to focus on combat effect rather than feeling like illnesses. Now granted, rules for poison also suck (save or die? Ability damage?What about writing in agony? Slow lingering death? Seeming illness and weakness?), so this isn't much of a surprise.

So, since I am 1) working on a city campaign and 2) recently watched Black Death, I need to come up with some rules for disease that are interesting and simple (even though a cleric of 5th or 6th level or higher, depending on your flavor of rules, could easily cure the disease.) Anyone know of a simple way to put diseases in play (I admit, I am a mediocre rules designer at best)?

I may just wing it, writing up a narrative description of symptoms and some notes on how it may be communicated, then think of ways to use disease as a mystery or  puzzle to solve, and then happily avoid disease from then on.