Diseases of Arth.


Herewith are the rules used for dealing with sickness and diseasein the Gothick empire games. Rather than listing the effects of a whole host of different diseases, they have simply been divided into 5 general classes - Fevers, Gripes, Fits, Consumptions and Murrains - which match the medical descriptions used by sophisticated healers on Arth. Fevers cover all those diseases which have no obvious roots, but whose symptoms include aches and pains, and dizziness as well as real fevers. Gripes are all those diseases which are centred about the stomach - pains as well as vomiting and diahorrea. Fits cover all diseases that cause convulsions, prostration or unconciousness. Consumptions are those diseases that afflict the lungs - coughing, aching or even shortness of breath. Finally, murrains are the most obvious of diseases, having some obvious external symptoms - spots, sores and so forth.

While the rules are a little bit complex, there is a handy Disease Planner further down the page to help you calculate the effect of illnesses.

Non-lifethreatening diseases such as colds, or various minor aches and pains can be just roleplayed - they are not the concern here and can be invoked as a small penalty for foolish behaviour - outdoor travel in cold weather, long periods in unhealthy climes etc. The diseases considered here are more than just passing irritations and their effects are usually chronic - (roll a d6 : on a 1-4 the disease is chronic otherwise it is acute). Even a mild disesae can become fatal if it is not treated.

From the onset of a chronic disease, the player loses a random number of points off each afflicted attribute each day until the full number of points lost is reached and stays that way until the disease starts to wane.

However, with an acute disease, the patient suffers "attacks" - which strike at random over the period of illness - roll a d6 for the number of days until the next attack - the effect lasts d6 hours before recovery. In this case, all points are lost at once (or at least over the course of a few minutes).

In either case, the duration ofthe illness and the points loss are detailed below.

Effect of

Affect : Lose points from any/all of :

Base Duration



1-3 weeks



1-3 weeks



1-6 weeks



2-12 weeks



1-3 weeks

Mild diseases cause 1d6 loss of points at a rate of 1d3 points per day. Serious diseases can either cause 2d6 loss of points or have doubled base duration. Points are lost at a rate of d3 per day. Lethal diseases can either cause 4d6 loss of points, have doubled base duration or both. Points are lost at a rate of d6 per day from lethal diseases. If any characteristic is reduced to zero, the excess points are lost from BOD, which is the only way that diseases become fatal. 

Getting Sick

Diseases are contracted at the GM's whim, but usually when the characters have been exposed to bad conditions (slums, swamps, long shipboard journeys) or injury with fouled objects (daggers pulled from rotting corpses, leech bites and the like). If the PC is exposed, a CON roll is made. If the PC fails the roll, a disease is contracted. If the CON roll is failed by more than 3, a serious disease is the result, if by more than 6, a lethal disease. Modifiers can be added as appropriate, and the disease should be chosen for appropriateness - fevers and gripes in the tropics, consumptions in the winter seem reasonable.

Getting Better

When a player reaches the recovery date, the GM should make a second (secret) CON roll. If this is successful, the disease is cured. If it is failed, the player progresses to the next level of severity, so that they can get progressively sicker, if the disease is not cured. Since the penalties are cumulative, anyone who fails many CON rolls with a serious or lethal disease will eventually die. Of course, most players will not be content with letting nature take its course. Diseases can be alleviated by a successful Medicine or Herbalist skill rolls (Paramedic or Healing tend to deal with injury rather than disease, and so should be at a -3 if they are used), which will reduce the time of illness and the symptoms by 10-60% (d6x10). Magical or Techno healing can instantly cure the disease - either temporarily (by the application of Aid or Suppress - since diseases can be treated as an attack), or permanently (by Dispel or by extending the duration of these powers until the disease has run its course). Once the patient recovers, the symptoms (ie points lost) will come back at the normal healing rate (points in REC per month, double rate if well-cared for and resting)


Other Effects

Diseases may have other permanent effects - blindness, paralysation, loss of attributes etc. These can be invoked, in cases where a characteristic has been reduced to zero by some disease. Alternatively, a physical limitation can be awarded.



Ralf the Unsteady and his companion, Durleg the Durable have spent 3 weeks trekking across the Kharghaz steppes in the dead of winter. After 2 weeks, the GM decides that this is too stupid for mere words and afflicts them both with a disease roll at -2 for their lack of shelter. Ralf, with a CON of 10, rolls a 16 and contracts a serious consumption. The GM rolls a d3, gets a 2 and Ralf loses points off two attributes - END and REC, in this case. For a serious disease, Ralf loses 2d6 points off each affected attribute at a rate of d3 points per day. The GM rolls for 7 and 9 points for END and REC (this is more REC than Ralf has, so he is going to get very sick). He rolls a 2 on a d3, so Ralf loses points at the rate of 2 a day until he has lost the total rolled.

Thus on the first day Ralf develops a racking cough and loses 2 points - one off each attribute. After 5 days, his REC is reduced to 0, so any effort that causes him to use END or STUN, reduces his total - he cannot recover those points until he is well again. At this point, he is reduced to moving very slowly, so as to conserve END and has to throw away much of his gear, since it costs him END for the STR to lift the whole load. Durleg has a CON of 18, and rolls a 14 and gets a mild fever. The GM decides (on a dice roll of 5) that this is acute - Durleg loses 3, 2 and 5 from STR, DEX and INT (chosen randomly) respectively, whenever he has an attack. The GM tells him he gets double vision and a mild headache whenever this happens.

Finally, the two travellers reach an isolated steading. Durleg decides Ralf is too sick to travel and leaves him there and goes in search of a healer. The GM rolled a 2 for the duration of Durleg's illness so a week later the GM makes a CON roll and gets a 6 so his illness clears up. Ralf's illness had a duration of only 3 weeks, so a little while before Durleg's return with the healer, the GM makes his recovery roll, and gets a 13 - which is a failure. The GM thus rolls another round of disease and Ralf gets sicker, losing another 2d6 off each affected attribute. A further random roll shows that END, REC and DEX are all affected. Ralf is in a really bad way now having lost 10 points from END, 12 points from REC and 7 points from DEX. Since he has a REC of only 5, the remaining 7 points lost from REC come off his BOD. Fortunately, the healer arrives, makes a skill roll, and sees that Ralf is very sick. Scorning herbs, he instead compounds a magical healing potion (adventurers can afford to pay, after all) which is 6d6 Aid - lasts one season, (+2), potion (OAF, -1), it takes him a day to make (-31/2), has four charges (-1) and only raises values to their original level (-1/2) for an investment of 13 points from his spell pool. He rolls his dice for the 4 uses and gets 21, 20, 19 and 23. Ralf has lost 5 active points of END, 10 points of REC, 21 points of DEX and 14 points of BOD, so all his values are magically restored. Since all symptoms were removed, and the effects last a season, the disease can be assumed to have been completely cleared. If some more points had been lost and some symptoms remained, the disease would be lessened, but still in effect, so a recovery roll would still be required and the disease could once again worsen.

Playing Diseases

The easiest way to deal with disease is to make all the rolls at the time a player fails their initial CON roll - select or randomly roll one of the diseases, roll to see how many and which attributes (for each of these rolls, just use a d6 - ignore a score higher than the number of variables) are affected - then roll the rate of loss of points and the duration. The secret recovery roll should be made later, since circumstances modify the roll and may alter the outcome. In effect, these diseases are like powers in Hero Games - these are the effects, the special effects are up to the GM.


Character has the age disadvantage


Exposure to person with infectious disease


Environment is filthy (swamp, slum, overcrowded sige or ship)


Weather is bad (extremely humid/very cold)

-1 to -3

Lack of shelter


Poor food or general health


Precautions taken (cleaning, etc)

+1 to +3

Good environment (clean, cared for etc)


Medical or Herbalist skills used

Complementary to CON roll

Survival skills (in appropriate environment)

Complementary to CON roll

Disease Planner


Notable Diseases

In addition to the generic illnesses outlined above, there are especially nasty diseases - the Plagues. These include :

  • The Bone Death - a wasting disease that gains its name from the skeletal appearance of its victims. Symptoms are a serious chronic fever combined with a lethal (but acute) gripe. Those who contract this disease start by sweating, then become dizzy, are unable to digest or keep down food, and often die. The disease is very rapid, with a base duration of 1 week.
  • The Scarlet Plague - a lethal murrain combined with serious fits. Victims easily injure themselves - any bruise, no matter how small, becomes a spreading red weal under the skin. As the disease spreads to the brain, the victims become subject to fits - fainting, headaches and convulsions (during which further injuries are often sustained). It has a base duration of 1-2 weeks.
  • Red Spot - named for the sign which sufferers leave in their hankerchief, it is a lethal consumption, but unlike most of these diseases, it has a base duration of only 1-2 weeks. It is extremely contagious (-3 on the initial CON Roll). Victims have a vicious, uncontrollable cough.
  • Cotton Tongue - a fungal infection that consumes its victims internally. One of the first signs is a fuzzy white growth on the tongue - hence the name. Continual thirst is also one of the earliest symptoms. It is a lethal Fever, but the base duration is 1-6 weeks.
  • Black Scab - A serious murrain - it is not very contagious (+2 on CON Roll to contract) - but is very hard to shake off once infected - (-2 on recovery roll). Base duration is 2-12 weeks.