Rolemaster Diseases

Last week I visited a church built shortly before the plague of the 17th century hit Switzerland. This got me thinking about rolemaster diseases. What I have below is a house rule I have not yet had the chance to play or test. It has just been rolling around in my head for the best part of a week,

I apologise for having missed my last two posts , Friday and Monday, but as you can now guess I have been traveling. I spend most of my time in Switzerland but also went into the black forest region of Germany for my ‘Grimm Sword‘ project. But enough excuses, here is my idea about disease.

The current rules base the severity on the level of resistance roll failure. Fail by 01-25 and you get a mild form of the disease, 26-50 is moderate, 51-100 is serious and 101+ is extreme and normally terminal.

My House Rule

Recently I had a cold or similar virus, it seemed to rush though a day of headaches, a day of sore throat, a day of aching joints and then weeks of a running nose. There were days when I felt almost well again but then at least a week were I was too ill to go running. The point is that my health was not linear. I had ups and downs.

It doesn’t add much complexity, and none to the players side, to modify diseases slightly so they get three additional parameters.

  • Minimum severity
  • Maximum severity
  • Time period

  A ‘touch’ of Rabies

The minimum severity would specify that if the resistance roll is failed then rather than possibly just being mild (fail by 01-25) the minimum effect can be controlled. The idea is that it would stop someone just having a touch of Rabies but they will be fine tomorrow.

The maximum severity just specifies the maximum starting severity. I put this in place because of the nature of open ended rolls. The school I went to as a teen ager had 1200 pupils. Baring in mind that 1 in 20 rolls are open ended down and one in 400 are double open ended downwards you don’t want the common cold killing 3 students on average every time a virus went around the school. Put simply not every disease is fatal.

The final parameter is Time period. So a 24hr virus would have a time period of 1 day. Every day you get to roll a new resistance roll. If you make it you get one severity less ill and if you fail you get one severity worse.

Other diseases may have much longer time periods so you are saving every two or three days. This means that people can recover, have relapses, worsen and die and so on.

It makes sense that if the sufferer has lots of rest and food then they will get a plus to their resistance roll. Those that are physically active get a penalty. Characters may well choose to battle on though a minor illness. If they start to get worse and the penalties and symptoms are getting worse then they may think again.

Players quest

Every GM at some point has a players quest where they have to find some ingredient for a cure. Now the longer that quest takes to complete the worse the consequences are going to be.

What I think the real benefit is when the characters have the disease and the potential for them to get worse over time. I am going to apply the penalties they suffer from the condition, as specified in Character Law, to the future resistance rolls. So without help all but the strongest characters are more likely to slowly get worse, not better. All I need now is a magical disease that will infect those smug elves!

The only elves in my games right now are an elf and a half elf in my face to face game. I will not be able to test this is play until the spring. There is a definite plot in here somewhere!

11 Replies to “Rolemaster Diseases”

  1. I have been thinking about magically enhanced diseases (in fact, I’ve got a post on them that I haven’t published yet). I’ve also been playing around with spell ideas in Pathfinder to make them worse, harder to cure or change how they are caught. I think any disease that has been magically tampered with would probably have a decent chance of overcoming natural immunity.

      1. There is an Evil Cleric Disease list and an Evil Mentalist Mind Disease list that inflict diseases as far as I know. Something like this:
        Level Spell Name
        1 Chills
        2 Grey Visions
        3 Smelling Loss
        4 Hearing Loss
        5 Tongue Rot
        6 Asthma
        7 Leprosy
        8 Minor Allergy
        9 Root Rot
        10 Hemophilia
        11 Malaria
        12 Withering Hand
        13 Epilepsy
        14 Pneumonia
        15 Major Allergy
        16 Carrier I
        17 Elephantiasis
        19 Carrier II
        20 Leukemia
        25 Carrier III
        30 Rabies
        50 Plague

          1. There is no limit on how many spells a list can have at each level. So you do not need to replace one with another but run them alongside the existing spells on the list.

  2. The disease list is pretty bad in SL. It’s basically just a list of known diseases and conditions without much regard to game playability or severity. I started rewriting it for BASiL and really struggled to see an orderly progression that fit one disease into each level.

    I don’t see it as a dedicated list but merged with “Curses”. Just my 2 cents

    1. Yes, I was not impressed but I did like the way that allergy was higher level than leprosy. Obviously written by a hay fever sufferer.

      1. My ideas for disease related spells basically revolve around tinkering with existing diseases.

        Change vector – changes how a disease is transmitted.

        Add vector – adds another method of transmission.

        Resistance to cures – makes a disease harder to cure.

        Increase contagiousness – makes it easier to catch.

        Increase mortality rate – makes it more lethal.

        Increase virulence – increases the effect and requires more saves to cure.

        Enhance germ – not quite sure; I seem to have neglected to write notes for that one! Could be a broad spectrum of additions.

        1. I would be inclined to see if you can make them HARP scalable spells and then turn them into a RM spell list. That gives you a double use for your work.

          Looking at your suggestions it makes me think of the illusionist spells. With Illusion and Phantasm you can add additional sense or increase the radius/size of illusions by spending options. Your Enhance Germ spell could work along similar lines so Enhance Germ III would allow you to apply up to 3 of the above effects to a disease, Enhance Germ V would allow 5 options to be added and so on.

          You are most of the way there to an Infection Ways list.

          1. I don’t actually have HARP, so I don’t know how it works. It’s something I may get at some point. It would actually be a triple use for the work – these are Pathfinder spells I’m working on.

            I had thought that it was a good way towards a list, although I haven’t actually written a complete one myself as yet.

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