Disease - Malaria (slight hacks)

I’m preparing a campaign set in a penal colony in which the characters are all deported after being branded on their foreheads with hot irons.
I want the situation to feel very inhospitable.
The characters’ main task will be to dig ditches in order to drain the malaria-infested marshes that surround the colony.

How would you rule the presence of Yellow Fever? After reading the Anthology (p.26) I would consider the disease as both debilitating and degrading. Prisoners are quite likely to die from it.

In order to establish if the characters get the Yellow Fever once they arrive at the colony and get bitten by the mosquitos, I was thinking of making an Ob 3 Health test.

Incubation → from 7 to 30 days - based on a dof roll

ELEMENTS OF DISEASE
+2ob penalty on all all tests (except Health)
-6D Health Attribute

DISEASE TAX
-3D Health in the first 24 hours, another -3D the following week

HEALING
Successful treatment reduces the effects of the symptoms by one, plus margin of success. Malaria cannot be cured, so the symptoms return if treatment stops for more than a day or two.

After 24h from the onset of the symptoms
Healing tests: Apothecary, Herbalism, Midwifery Ob2; Child Rearing Ob3; Bloodletting Ob4.
If the tests fail, characters see additional +1Ob penalties on their Skills/Stats/Attributes and reduce Health by 1D.
If they succeed, the characters recover +1D Health and -1Ob penalty.

After 1 Week - Healing Tests
Healing tests: Apothecary, Herbalism, Midwifery Ob2; Child Rearing Ob3; Bloodletting Ob4.
If the tests fail, characters see additional +1Ob penalties on their Skills/Stats/Attributes and reduce Health by 1D.
If they succeed, the characters recover +1D Health and -1Ob penalty.

[IF NEEDED] After 1,2,4,8 Months - Recursive Healing Tests
Healing tests: Apothecary, Herbalism, Midwifery Ob2; Child Rearing Ob3; Bloodletting Ob4.
If the tests fail, characters see additional +1Ob penalties on their Skills/Stats/Attributes and reduce Health by 1D.
If they succeed, the characters recover +1D Health and -1Ob penalty.

RECOVERY +1D Health and -1 general Ob per week

DEATH - for each Health point below zero, I’ll reduce the Will cap by 1D. If it gets to zero, the character dies.

What do you think? Does it look balanced? I wonder if it would be deadly enough :thinking:

I don’t understand the time-structure for the treatment tests.

What’s the duration. For this disease?

No. I haven’t wrapped my head around the disease stuff entirely yet, but I believe this disease is not going to kill anyone directly.

Even with a B1 health, a victim is only going to have their Will stat max drop to 3. It’s gonna suck for some people, but some won’t even feel that starting out, and I don’t think anyone’s going to die.

There is no established duration. I’m trying to show that it can’t be cured and can make a comeback unless it is continously (and succesfuly) treated.

What if I established a -10 Health penalty? I would feel sorry if players saw their Will (or Forte) permanently capped at 2… but I guess that by spending some of their starting Persona and Fate they should pass the initial Health Test!

Malaria and yellow fever are two different diseases, although they would probably be conflated to some degree in premodern medicine. I don’t know enough about yellow fever to come up with a Disease for it just yet. Here’s how I would handle malaria:

Ague

In some parts of the world, there is a foul miasma that brings about a terrible fever. So terrible is this miasma that it remains within its victim, able to surge forth again without warning, even after they have escaped the sickness’s birthplace.

You and I know it as malaria, a complex blood parasite.

Symptoms Duration Curable? Contagious?
–1D Health per hour, +2 Ob 11 – Forte hours No No

Hypnozoites

The gamemaster may decide that this variety of ague is the kind that goes dormant in the body for months or years. This generally happens as the plasmodium parasite enters the hypnozoite stage of its lifecycle, proliferating in the host’s liver.

After an attack of such cruel ague, the victim gains the Dormant Ague trait.

Dormant Ague Dt. The character is host to the miasma, which bides its time in their liver. On any failed test encompassing at least a week of time (such as Resources maintenance) or failed steel test for injury, upon succumbing to another disease, or after the passage of seasons equal to their Health exponent, the character must make an Ob 3 Health test or experience another fit of ague.

Catching the Miasma

If a character in a malarious place has been out of doors frequently for a week or so, catching the disease is a possible failure consequence for any roll, especially if the character has been Working Carefully when there are no other timely concerns. Don’t start at incubation—characters in a premodern setting wouldn’t think in those terms—start at the very onset of the ague.

  • Kindly gamemasters may allow an Ob 3 Health test to resist initial infection. Locals and people who have caught the disease before get +1D to this test.

  • Even kinder gamemasters may allow an Ob 5 Forte test to ward off Dormant Ague at the end of the attack. Ignore the +2 Ob symptom for this test.

Ague in Play

  • Ague is not particularly deadly in the short term. An “average” character with B4 Forte and Health will face -3 in total stat cap reductions from an untreated attack. If you allow the suggested “saves,” they have a quarter chance of warding off the disease altogether, although if they do catch it, it’ll take something extra to avoid Dormant Ague. The real danger is in repeated attacks of the disease.

  • A character can catch the miasma even while recovering from the previous attack. Good time to beg their masters to let them rest indoors, where they’re unlikely to catch it.

  • Let players choose which of their stats are reduced for each point of overtax. Malaria has a broad effect on the body, from high fever causing brain damage to loss of blood causing renal failure, so any stat is appropriate.

  • If your using “saves,” Ob penalties for living in poor conditions, exhaustion, malnutrition and so on are all appropriate.

  • Make prophylaxis available. Even without knowing the cause of the disease, mosquitos are a pest, so repellents in the form of incense and balms abound. Medicines that lower the duration of the disease (minimum 6 hours) or strengthen one’s Health are possible. From early colonialism, herbal curatives such as cinchona or quina-quina tree bark were known and used to treat malaria; A regimen of tonics made of the stuff may allow Dormant Ague to be voted off.

  • Even if your particular flavor lacks Dormant Ague, a character may still develop ague even after leaving a malarious place. The gamemaster is free to declare that your character has an attack of ague after as much as three decades of loyal service at her majesty’s court. 'Tis a fickle disease, lying low in victim’s blood for as long as it wishes. However, if you survive the attack, it is the last you will suffer from it; It’s gone.

  • Mosquitos in non-malarious locations cannot spread malaria. The plasmodium don’t like their guts or something.

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This is truly amazing work, I’m so grateful!

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Duration is one of the elements of disease as described in the Anthology; seems this disease has the duration: Permanent.

If their Health is low enough starting out, that might kill someone, if they got no treatment.

I might model this disease by using Leprosy as a baseline, but permanent – So -1D Health per year for the rest of your life. Then also have Malaria “attacks” that are modeled on Stomach Flu – So -1D Health after 3 days, and +2 Ob for that 3 day period.

Some of those numbers might need to change my a -1D every season instead of every year, maybe -1D Health every day for the attack. I don’t know; I’m not overly familiar with Malaria.

I would use the Malaria attack as a consequence of failure for lifestyle maintenance tests and other Health or Forte tests when I felt it would be appropriate – for example.

I wouldn’t count on it. These characters have been tortured/enslaved, and live in squalor and filth. -2D. They are athletic and active. +1D. But they may have been severly wounded in the past – I’m looking at those brands and the circumsntaces that led to them – for another maybe -1D.

It’s quite likely these characters are going to start with B2 and B3 Health ratings.

Even with 2 Persona and a Fate point, I don’t like my chances. And when some of them do inevitably fail, who’s going to treat these poor, indentured criminals? How much is that going to cost?

Seems like a good motivation to avoid draining this marsh at all costs!

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Such useful advice (as usual) Gnosego! :pray:

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Aww, shucks. Thanks! :smiling_face:

It is some cool stuff!

A couple of edits:

  1. Recovery should happen over days instead of hours. If you like, you can change the disease duration to 1 day and let the Health tax be somewhere in 6D to 12D. Most malaria attacks amount to horrible alternating fever and chills followed by intense fatigue, so the higher end there represents when the malaria causes other complications by starving vital organs of blood. Malaria attacks come on suddenly, do their damage, and then end just as fast (6-10 hours is the textbook duration). Convalescing takes much longer.

  2. You can replace Dormant Ague with the following:

    Dormant Ague Dt. The character is host to the miasma, which bides its time in their liver. Whenever a good deal of time passes summarily in the game, as part of a test, during recovery or practice, while getting a job, etc. the character must pass an Ob 3 Health test or succumb to another attack of malaria.

    The effect is roughly the same. If you zoom out and say, “Alright, some time passes while you…,” or you make a test that represents something happening over a week or more, that’s when the character has to make a test.

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