3e SRD:Disease

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This material is published under the OGL 1.0a.


When a character is injured by a contaminated attack, touches an item smeared with diseased matter, or consumes disease-tainted food or drink, he must make an immediate Fortitude saving throw. If he succeeds, the disease has no effect—his immune system fought off the infection. If he fails, he takes damage after an incubation period. Once per day afterward he must make a successful Fortitude saving throw to avoid repeated damage. Two successful saving throws in a row indicate that he has fought off the disease and recovers, taking no more damage.

You can roll these Fortitude saving throws for the player so that he doesn’t know whether the disease has taken hold.

Disease Descriptions[edit]

Diseases have various symptoms and are spread through a number of vectors. The characteristics of several typical diseases are summarized on Table: Diseases.


Diseases whose names are printed in italic in the table are supernatural in nature. The others are extraordinary.


The disease’s method of delivery—ingested, inhaled, via injury, or contact. Keep in mind that some injury diseases may be transmitted by as small an injury as a flea bite and that most inhaled diseases can also be ingested (and vice versa).


The DC for the saving throws to prevent infection (if the character has been infected), to prevent each instance of repeated damage, and to recover from the disease.

Incubation Period[edit]

The time before damage begins.


The temporary ability damage the character takes after incubation and each day afterward.

Psionic Disease[edit]

As with any disease, a psionic character who is injured or attacked by a creature carrying a disease or parasite, or who otherwise comes in contact with contaminated material, must make an immediate Fortitude save. On a success, the disease fails to affect the character. On a failure, the character takes damage (or suffers the specified effect) after an incubation period. Once per day afterward, the afflicted character must make a successful Fortitude save to avoid repeating the damage. Two successful saving throws in a row indicate he or she has fought off the disease.

Types of Diseases[edit]

Typical diseases include the following:

Blinding Sickness[edit]

Spread in tainted water.

Cackle Fever[edit]

Symptoms include high fever, disorientation, and frequent bouts of hideous laughter. Also known as “the shrieks.”

Cascade Flu[edit]

A psionic cascade is a loss of control over psionic faculties. Following the incubation period, every time the afflicted character manifests a power, he or she must make a Concentration check (DC 16). On a failed check, a psionic cascade is triggered. The power operates normally, but during the following round, without the character’s volition, two additional powers he or she knows manifest randomly, debiting their power cost from the character’s reserve. During the third round, three additional powers manifest, and so on, until all the psionic character’s power points are drained. Powers activated by the cascade target randomly. Roll d%: On a 01–50 result, the power affects the character, and 51–00 indicates that the power targets other creatures in the vicinity (powers with personal and touch range always affect only the psionic character). Psionic creatures (who manifest their powers freely) cascade until all the powers they know have manifested at least twice.

Cerebral Parasites[edit]

Cerebral parasites are tiny organisms, undetectable to normal sight. An afflicted character may not even know he or she carries the parasites—until the character discovers he or she has fewer power points at his or her disposal than expected. Psionic creatures with cerebral parasites are limited to using each of their known powers only once per day (instead of freely manifesting them).

Demon Fever[edit]

Night hags spread it. Can cause permanent ability drain.

Devil Chills[edit]

Barbazu and pit fiends spread it. It takes three, not two, successful saves in a row to recover from devil chills.

Filth Fever[edit]

Dire rats and otyughs spread it. Those injured while in filthy surroundings might also catch it.


Feels like your brain is burning. Causes stupor.

Mummy Rot[edit]

Spread by mummies. Successful saving throws do not allow the character to recover (though they do prevent damage normally).

Red Ache[edit]

Skin turns red, bloated, and warm to the touch.

The Shakes[edit]

Causes involuntary twitches, tremors, and fits.

Slimy Doom[edit]

Victim turns into infectious goo from the inside out. Can cause permanent ability drain.

Table: Diseases
Disease Infection DC Incubation Damage
Blinding sickness Ingested 16 1d3 days 1d4 Str††
Cackle fever Inhaled 16 1 day 1d6 Wis
Cascade Flu Spread by brain moles, other vermin (injury) 13 1 day psionic cascade
Cerebral Parasites Spread by contact with infected psionic creatures (contact) 15 1d4 days drains 1d8 power points
Demon fever Injury 18 1 day 1d6 Con**
Devil chills Injury 14 1d4 days 1d4 Str
Filth fever Injury 12 1d3 days 1d3 Dex, 1d3 Con
Mindfire Inhaled 12 1 day 1d4 Int
Mummy rot* Contact 20 1 day 1d6 Con
Red ache Injury 15 1d3 days 1d6 Str
Shakes Contact 13 1 day 1d8 Dex
Slimy doom Contact 14 1 day 1d4 Con**

*Successful saves do not allow the character to recover. Only magical healing can save the character.
**When damaged, character must succeed at another saving throw or 1 point of temporary damage is permanent drain instead.
†The victim must make three successful Fortitude saving throws in a row to recover from devil chills.
††Each time the victim takes 2 or more damage from the disease, he must make another Fortitude save or be permanently blinded.

Healing Diseases[edit]

Use of the Heal skill can help a diseased character. Every time the diseased character makes a saving throw against disease effects, the healer makes a check. The diseased character can use the healer’s result in place of his saving throw if the Heal result is higher. The diseased character must be in the healer’s care and must spend most of each day resting.

Characters recover points lost to ability score damage at a rate of 1 per day per ability damaged, and this rule applies even while a disease is in progress. That means that a character with a minor disease might be able to withstand it without accumulating any damage.

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