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Mastikator
2014-10-14, 08:22 AM
In a high fantasy D&D game a PC being worried about their wounds being infected from their last battle seems out of the question, but in a zombie horror survival game it seems almost a given that a zombie bite is a potential death sentence even if you get safely away.

On a sliding scale of grittyness (between those two extremes), at what level is having to deal with wound infections appropriate?

Braininthejar2
2014-10-14, 08:41 AM
Somewhere around The Witcher I guess. Definitely in stuff like Game of Thrones

Cazero
2014-10-14, 08:59 AM
Check whether your ruleset have rules for it. If it does, it's probably supposed to be handled ingame (I have no doubt zombie games do it). If it doesn't, regular damage are probably handwaved to cover it (as D&D might be doing, who knows).

Jay R
2014-10-14, 09:30 AM
It's not about grittiness. If it's only a tool for removing hit points for awhile, it's just annoying. If it has a clear purpose - making them turn aside to find the apothecary who also has the Potion of Dragon Control they need, or making one kind of monster more threatening by giving it consequences that last beyond the CLW spell, then go ahead and use it.

Melzentir
2014-10-14, 09:34 AM
Appropriate? It all depends on whether or not the DM thinks it would contribute to the players' experience in an entertaining way. Note that I use the word entertaining, not fun. Stories that make us cry are not fun but often still held in high regard and given much praise. Hence the popularity of Dwarf Fortress.

Samuel Sturm
2014-10-14, 09:36 AM
I'm imagining a dungeon crawl where they're having to deal with the results of SCIENCE! Also a good chance to inflict them with the mutations table, Far Realms feats, and refluffed Totemists.

Mark Hall
2014-10-14, 03:37 PM
In a high fantasy D&D game a PC being worried about their wounds being infected from their last battle seems out of the question, but in a zombie horror survival game it seems almost a given that a zombie bite is a potential death sentence even if you get safely away.

On a sliding scale of grittyness (between those two extremes), at what level is having to deal with wound infections appropriate?

On a 1-7, with 1 being "dung and dirt" and 7 being "light and polish", I'd put it at a 3... the kind of thing that encourages you to think about the consequences of fighting beyond simple wounds, but not necessarily all the way down in the dumps (though it's going to show up there, as well).

Personally, I've always liked the 1e DMG take on it.

Fire Lord Pi
2014-10-14, 05:34 PM
I would put dealing with wounds at around a 5 on the scale of 1-7 (7 is the grittiest grit). Infection is truly horrible if you have a nack for flavour. And without a Cure Disease and only pre-modern medicine, watching a friend waste away is scary, very much producing urgency if you are on a quest for a cure/doctor.

My belief is that realism is of the utmost importance, so I use disease liberally.

VoxRationis
2014-10-14, 05:51 PM
Despite my tendency towards realism in my games, I use disease sparingly—mostly when the threat of infection is especially bad (when fighting enemies with poor hygiene, for instance, or when fighting in disease-bearing environments).

Vitruviansquid
2014-10-14, 06:25 PM
It's not about the grittiness of the game.

It's about whether you want a player to be hamstrung in your next fight or big event, or totally excluded from it. I'd usually be hesitant to use or implement wound infection mechanics because it's inherently anti-fun to be sick and unable to participate in the game for awhile, but sometimes it's a sacrifice you'd want to make for a stronger atmosphere (like if you're running a survival based game), or for some resource management mechanics (your group has a limited amount of medicine, and negating wound infections costs medicine), or some other mechanic you care about.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-14, 07:48 PM
I think it has more to do with the idea of how common combat is, and the approach the setting has to it. If enemies and important characters, even the big bads, can be taken out by unlucky strikes, infections, or other mishaps, then yes. Combat is cruel, uncaring and can lay low even the greatest of people, and you must exercise caution before going into it because anyone can die.

If it is more heroic fantasy, then it seems out of place, hampering melee characters who then must track down cures all of the dang time. I could easily see curing this become oddly mundane and boring unless handled well. Only time I'd throw it in here is if there are some minions, an army or a fort the characters can utilize and a lot of characters invested into healing.

Slipperychicken
2014-10-14, 08:20 PM
I think this depends greatly on a game's pacing. It would be perfectly reasonable in a game like Pendragon, where fights are generally months or years apart, between which all kinds of misfortunes can potentially kill or cripple the PCs, moving the game to the PCs' progeny.

Similarly, it depends on whether the game rules already account for normal diseases. It's unfair to saddle some characters with wound-borne illnesses, but not include other maladies.

It also depends on how brutal the rules are for infections. If they can be avoided by just quickly treating the wounds, or if you can just sleep off an infection with proper medical care, it's not such a big deal. Similarly, if infections don't usually impact performance or result in fatality, it doesn't seem like a huge handicap in the first place.

It's also not a big deal if the game setting has magic to deal with it. Like if your standard cure-wounds spell also took care of infections.

Erik Vale
2014-10-14, 09:12 PM
In a high magic world where presdigitation and magical healing abounds [if you're rich/adventurers], it rates a not-relevent except when the game rules say so or I think it would make for good plot. Of course, this is also the sort of setting where people fight to the death a lot.

For the rest of the time, well... Now you know why the greatest killer in battle is disease... And no, it's not just because they keep running away.

Gnome Alone
2014-10-14, 09:24 PM
Personally, I've always liked the 1e DMG take on it.

Does that involve, like, rolling percentage dice on a random table to determine whether you have magic sentient gangrene or if there are interdinensional portals growing in your stumps and so forth?

Mr Beer
2014-10-15, 12:32 AM
It's something I would consider Harsh Realism in a game with frequent combat, so I do consider this a matter of 'grittiness'.

PersonMan
2014-10-15, 01:12 AM
Also important is the type of game - are the players going to be up against a group of enemies who keep coming back? Or are wound infection mechanics only usable for the enemy because by the time it would matter for the enemy, they're dead anyways?

Mark Hall
2014-10-15, 09:53 AM
Does that involve, like, rolling percentage dice on a random table to determine whether you have magic sentient gangrene or if there are interdinensional portals growing in your stumps and so forth?

Rolling percentages? Yes. However, it's based on things like health, cleanliness, diet, etc., and gives you a chance to develop a variety of generalized diseases (i.e. you might get acute respiratory or chronic gastrointestinal diseases, rather than tuberculosis or tapeworms).

TheCountAlucard
2014-10-15, 10:01 AM
Exalted's got rules for wound infections. The Exalted themselves are heavily resistant to these sorts of things, but mortals in the setting are as susceptible to it as anyone; the presence of cholera and infected wounds cut a stark contrast to the wire-fighting demigods.

Alejandro
2014-10-15, 10:03 AM
Just remember, the bigger a part of the game you make something, the more your players will either want to use it, or defend against it. So, I would expect to deal with players trying to use, essentially, biological warfare on their enemies. Kill just a few goblins, fling their corpses into the goblin fort, hope to start spreading an epidemic? Do I get XP if I kill half the thieves' guild with smallpox?

Slipperychicken
2014-10-15, 10:37 AM
Just remember, the bigger a part of the game you make something, the more your players will either want to use it, or defend against it. So, I would expect to deal with players trying to use, essentially, biological warfare on their enemies. Kill just a few goblins, fling their corpses into the goblin fort, hope to start spreading an epidemic? Do I get XP if I kill half the thieves' guild with smallpox?

It actually was a historical strategy to smear dirt or feces on arrowheads to increase the risk of infecting the enemies' wounds. British bowmen, for example, would sometimes stick their arrows in dirt for that exact purpose, and the Viet Cong would often smear feces or other toxic substances on their spiked-pit traps to infect enemy soldiers' wounds.

WarKitty
2014-10-15, 05:36 PM
Probably also depends on the setting. So this could be really interesting in, say, a WoD game. In a first world country infections are most likely not going to be the long sentence that they would be otherwise. But it does make for quite an interesting hospital trip.

Tengu_temp
2014-10-15, 05:55 PM
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has rules for wound infections. Therefore, I'd say it's the level of grittiness when they should be considered. Higher than it, they mostly serve as a plot thing.

Do note that WFRP is not as gritty as the grimdarkness of WH40K. And Warhammer Fantasy Battle is even less gritty than WFRP, being only somewhat darker than your average epic heroic fantasy.

Gnome Alone
2014-10-15, 09:55 PM
Rolling percentages? Yes. However, it's based on things like health, cleanliness, diet, etc., and gives you a chance to develop a variety of generalized diseases (i.e. you might get acute respiratory or chronic gastrointestinal diseases, rather than tuberculosis or tapeworms).

That sounds cool. I figured it was either super granular like that, or out of nowhere like the things I thought of; such is my conception of 1e D&D.

KillianHawkeye
2014-10-15, 10:01 PM
In a high fantasy D&D game a PC being worried about their wounds being infected from their last battle seems out of the question, but in a zombie horror survival game it seems almost a given that a zombie bite is a potential death sentence even if you get safely away.

I would say this depends heavily on the circumstances.

Zombism isn't normally transmitted as a disease via cuts or bites in D&D, but that's a really popular "pop culture" version in movies and things so it's not too far out of left field if you want to add that. If so, then come up with the rules for it (i.e., Fortitude saves to contract the illness when bit by a zombie or whatever).

For more pedestrian infections, if you want to be really gritty you can have a rule that any injury that isn't treated with first aid or healing magic has a chance to become infected. The chance would be pretty low in a relatively clean environment, but if you're sleeping in caves, trapped in a dungeon, or slogging through sewers then chances are any open wounds you have will get an infection. This should probably be something relatively mild, like Filth Fever, but you can make it something worse that (if left untreated for too long) can require amputation if the disease is not magically cured.

Again, this really depends on the environment. If the characters are somewhere filthy or rampant with disease, open wounds will probably become diseased as well.

Nagash
2014-10-15, 10:33 PM
I use infected wounds as a possibility in pathfinder games. I like the PF desease rules quite a bit and its a good reason for players to actually take the heal skill and buy medicine or have skills to let the characters make medicine rather then relying on CLW wands.

Also I think theres a sort of ingame logic for it. The cure disease spell exists, and it is significantly higher level then CLW. Which to me implies you cant just swap out CLW for infections, diseases and such. It doesnt come up everytime but I will point out that characters need to use the heal skill to make sure things are clean and the wound is recovering okay periodically.

Cazero
2014-10-16, 02:25 AM
Also I think theres a sort of ingame logic for it. The cure disease spell exists, and it is significantly higher level then CLW. Which to me implies you cant just swap out CLW for infections, diseases and such. It doesnt come up everytime but I will point out that characters need to use the heal skill to make sure things are clean and the wound is recovering okay periodically.

While it is true that the cure disease spell is of a much higher level, it is also mostly intended to cure potent disease, more often than not transmitted supernaturally (like the mummy rot (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/undead/mummy)), not common wounds infections. In that sense, I would rule that the cure wounds spells are more than enough to prevent common wounds from infecting.

zilvar
2014-10-16, 07:37 AM
Wound infections are appropriate if it advances the story narrative in some fashion. Or you're in a highly simulationist game (which is technically the same thing, since that part of the simulation advances that narrative).

Firest Kathon
2014-10-16, 09:47 AM
Check whether your ruleset have rules for it. If it does, it's probably supposed to be handled ingame (I have no doubt zombie games do it). If it doesn't, regular damage are probably handwaved to cover it (as D&D might be doing, who knows).


Zombism isn't normally transmitted as a disease via cuts or bites in D&D, but that's a really popular "pop culture" version in movies and things so it's not too far out of left field if you want to add that. If so, then come up with the rules for it (i.e., Fortitude saves to contract the illness when bit by a zombie or whatever).

In D&D3.X/Pathfinder, wounds usually do not get infected. If they can, it is a disease special ability on the attack (see e.g. the Apocalypse Zombie (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/undead/zombie/zombie-apocalypse)) and usually a magical disease.

Mastikator
2014-10-19, 10:49 AM
Wound infections are appropriate if it advances the story narrative in some fashion. Or you're in a highly simulationist game (which is technically the same thing, since that part of the simulation advances that narrative).

But isn't simulationism a part of creating immersion?

Jay R
2014-10-19, 08:41 PM
But isn't simulationism a part of creating immersion?

Not automatically. If we had to simulate every flower in the forest, the effort would distract from the immersion, overwhelming it.

Mastikator
2014-10-20, 02:13 AM
Not automatically. If we had to simulate every flower in the forest, the effort would distract from the immersion, overwhelming it.

Yeah but "Flowers" aren't a consequence of player actions, wound infections are. If you're out camping IRL and you fall and land and cut your hand on a sharp rock you'll need to clean the wound or it might get infected. That's just a fact about being outdoors and suffering injury. It's a fact that directly relates to your actions. I don't see what flowers in a forest have to do with immersion.

Deaxsa
2014-10-20, 11:34 AM
While it is true that the cure disease spell is of a much higher level, it is also mostly intended to cure potent disease, more often than not transmitted supernaturally (like the mummy rot (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/undead/mummy)), not common wounds infections. In that sense, I would rule that the cure wounds spells are more than enough to prevent common wounds from infecting.

Really? I would just figure that heal checks would allow for additional saves, and lesser restoration would be used for the damage. But, obviously this advice is system-dependent.

RPGuru1331
2014-10-21, 02:41 AM
If you're not simulating a world where germ theory is true, and make no bones about it: It isn't, in DnD, you don't need to act like it is.

zilvar
2014-10-21, 08:33 AM
But isn't simulationism a part of creating immersion?
That depends entirely on game and group. Simulationist games would be an immersion-breaker, under any circumstances, for a minimum of 3/4 of the people I currently game with. The last few might enjoy it, but that would depend on the strength of the game and narrative (and, I highly suspect both would enjoy it more as part of a simulation computer game rather than an RPG).

That's my group and friends. YMMV, of course.

For my group, light-hearted narrative creates immersion. Pictures create immersion. LEGO models and Hirst Arts plaster casts and old Transformers toys and horrible impressions create immersion. So that's what we play with. I wouldn't ever consider applying an infection to a player unless I thought it would advance the narrative in some fashion, and then limiting it only to what moves the game and the players (something like Frodo's stab wound..you know? It's not an infection, but causes some similar problems and moves the game in a similar fashion).

If you and yours are more into simulation, then germ theory (as another poster labeled it) can, possibly, advance the narrative and should be considered. My answer therefor doesn't change. It is always based on a group-centric view.

Mark Hall
2014-10-22, 07:04 AM
If you're not simulating a world where germ theory is true, and make no bones about it: It isn't, in DnD, you don't need to act like it is.

I don't see why germ theory doesn't work in D&D, and tend to be of the school that "The less you change, the more the game seems real."

HighWater
2014-10-22, 08:40 AM
I don't see why germ theory doesn't work in D&D, and tend to be of the school that "The less you change, the more the game seems real."

True, be aware though that Germ Theory itself is "horribly anachronistic". If your DnD takes place in "the Dark Ages, but with MAGIC", the actual cause of infections should be unknown and counter-measures taking to prevent it should be hit and miss.

Could I interest anyone in a non-sanitised leech to cure pretty much any ailment?... :smallbiggrin:

Anyhow, because we are born in our current age and are pretty sure that Germ Theory is right, it can be immersion breaking to apply (historical or biological) realism, depending on the group and their perception of the fantasy world, etc...

Or for short: YMMV.

As for advise to the OP: try to keep the mechanic fresh and see if there's a way that already less-favored classes (such as the melee classes in DnD 3.5) don't take a disproportionate beating. Try to avoid letting MAGIC be the solution. It'd be awesome to add another game-mechanic that lets the mundane contribute to group survival...

Mark Hall
2014-10-22, 09:59 AM
True, be aware though that Germ Theory itself is "horribly anachronistic". If your DnD takes place in "the Dark Ages, but with MAGIC", the actual cause of infections should be unknown and counter-measures taking to prevent it should be hit and miss.


Oh, sure, knowledge of germ theory is anachronistic in a Dark Ages plus Magic setting, but that awareness doesn't affect whether or not germ theory is true (unless you're playing Ars Magica... then I'll humor you... ba-dum-tish)

Jay R
2014-10-22, 04:23 PM
Yeah but "Flowers" aren't a consequence of player actions, wound infections are. If you're out camping IRL and you fall and land and cut your hand on a sharp rock you'll need to clean the wound or it might get infected. That's just a fact about being outdoors and suffering injury. It's a fact that directly relates to your actions. I don't see what flowers in a forest have to do with immersion.

Red herring duly noted.

If you feel the need to make a trip roll for each rock in the forest, then the sheer number of dice being rolled will kill immersion. Therefore, no, improved accuracy in simulation is not inherently pro-immersion.

In simulation classes, we teach that a simulation should be as complex as necessary to model the behavior of interest, but no more complicated.

Honest Tiefling
2014-10-23, 12:09 AM
They might have the misama theory instead of the germ theory, but I imagine a lot of societies have the idea of not rubbing poo or dead people into wounds.

Mastikator
2014-10-23, 01:41 AM
Red herring duly noted.

If you feel the need to make a trip roll for each rock in the forest, then the sheer number of dice being rolled will kill immersion. Therefore, no, improved accuracy in simulation is not inherently pro-immersion.

In simulation classes, we teach that a simulation should be as complex as necessary to model the behavior of interest, but no more complicated.

1. If you're climbing through a ravine made of slippery and sharp rocks, then you would probably have to make at least one roll to see how it goes. Slipping and falling on a regular camping trip would rather be the result of a critical failure (or fumbling roll) of a survival type check. A single roll for setting up camp in a game where survival is a part of the actual game is appropriate.

2. "Making a trip roll for each rock in the forest" why are you posting this? Nobody ever suggests anything remotely like that and it's also not comparable to wound infections from combat and it's not found on the sliding scale of grittyness or simulationism. You duly noted the red herring and then you did a red herring again. Why you do this?

edit-


They might have the misama theory instead of the germ theory, but I imagine a lot of societies have the idea of not rubbing poo or dead people into wounds.

Rubbing dirt into a wound to make it heal faster, using leeches and bloodletting to cure infections, feeding through the anus are terribad medical practices that actually commonly happened for very long times historically, not including them in a medieval fantasy setting is just plain anachronism.
A game might have a skill called "Medicine", and a badly failed roll might mean that you make the wound worse by using these terribad procedures, instead of something that might actually work, like cleaning the wound with water or alcohol or even fire.

Kami2awa
2014-10-31, 08:20 AM
Germ theory cannot be true in D&D... imagine the "to hit" penalties on creatures quite that tiny! White blood cells could never hit them to allow phagocytosis and everyone would be dead from disease.

Seriously, though, its an interesting idea that scientific ideas from our world just don't work in the D&D world. It could well be that a wizard flying too high will bang his head on the crystal dome that holds up the stars, or that everything is made of just four elements in different combinations (plus one mysterious and plot-relevant element, of course). This would be why no one ever makes gunpowder or gets an infected wound... it simply doesn't work.

Palegreenpants
2014-10-31, 08:46 AM
In my 5e group, we use a custom wound system alongside the HP system. To put it simply, wounds are applied by critical hits from certain weapons. A wounded creature must have its wound treated within a certain amout of time to avoid infection.

It's a simple system, and with the hanging threat of disease and infection, my players have always made sure to treat their wounds.

Fire Lord Pi
2014-10-31, 08:56 AM
Obviously, nobody knows about the advances of Modern Science, but I attempt to incorporate as much science into d&d as possible. When it comes to magic I say, "it has it's own set of physical laws that I don't understand", but all other science is reall as usual.

For example, the spell Cure Disease makes foreign cells, viruses, and parasites disappear. It will also remove tumours. But it because cancer is a mutation to your own cells DNA, it will remove the tumour, but not all of the cells. It can offer some temporary relief in removing symptoms, but often the cancer will return and repeated use if Cure Disease can be damaging, as the persons body is diminished by the spell scooping out internal chunks.

Additionally, although viruses are eliminated, already infected cells, or cells with "dormant" viruses (like in HIV) are not eliminated, as they are part of the persons body. So some infections cannot be cured by Cure Disease.

Other physics tricks, like the lightspeed marble that can created by a vacuum and a couple portals, are also possible with magic.

Slipperychicken
2014-10-31, 11:39 AM
Yeah but "Flowers" aren't a consequence of player actions

Not until you've played Gregor Mendel, human botanist-cleric of Pelor.

Mark Hall
2014-11-01, 08:01 AM
Germ theory cannot be true in D&D... imagine the "to hit" penalties on creatures quite that tiny! White blood cells could never hit them to allow phagocytosis and everyone would be dead from disease.

In 3.x, at least, you forget that small things also get a to-hit bonus, so your white blood cells get a commensurate bonus to hit, in addition to the favored enemy bonus they accrue over time against things they've fought.

Everyone's got a little band of rangers in them. ;-)

Knaight
2014-11-02, 08:19 PM
But isn't simulationism a part of creating immersion?

Given that games which aren't even slightly simulationist still manage to be immersive (e.g. Now Playing), it clearly isn't necessary. It's a method which can work for some people in some situations, but it can also cause problems past a certain point. For instance, a very major part of immersion is pacing - if the pacing gets too slow, immersion is compromised, which can mean simply not specifying details. At the game mechanic level, that often means not tracking the things, because the accounting gets distracting.

This makes wound infections in particular largely a factor of two things. One is the applicability of them to the contents of the game in question. They're largely inappropriate for some subgenres of fantasy, some adventure subgenres, etc. The other is the amount of total tracking that is preferred by the group doing the playing - if everyone favors a lighter rules system, or a faster paced game with less explicitly stated detail, or any number of other things that warrant reducing the amount kept track of, wound infections may not make the cut.