Thursday, August 20, 2015

Optional Rules for Illness in Honor+Intrigue

When people think of occult or eerie Paris their thoughts are likely to include the Sewers as seen in Phantom of the Opera or the Catacombs. For my Honor+Intrigue game I’d like to include such things, but in fact the catacombs that we think of today are an ossuary that contains the remains of approximately six million Parisians, transferred gradually between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries as graveyards were being closed because of the risk they posed to public health. The first of these was the cimetière des Innocents graveyard in 1786 in what is now the district of Les Halle. The remains were transferred to the passages created by the mining of stone used to construct the ever expanding and renovated city of Paris. So in the early 17th century the Paris catacombs did not exist as they do today.

The sewers of the Phantom were not built until later. Under the reign of Louis XIV, a large ring sewer was built on the right bank, and the Bièvre River was used as a sewer for the left bank of the Seine. Louis Pasteur himself lost three children to typhoid. Under Napoleon I, the first Parisian vaulted sewer network was built that was 30 km long. So the sewers of the Phantom also date to the 19th century.

But that’s not the whole story. Stone was quarried for Parisian buildings since the time of the Roman Lutetia. This created a multitude of abandoned passages that were then built over as the city  continued to expand outward in ring fashion, also built over was the original Roman necropolis, and the beginning of the Parisian sewer system dates back to the year 1370 when the first underground system was constructed under the "rue Montmartre". Therefore by linking sewers to abandoned quarries to aqueducts and with only a bit of historical license my campaign can include an extensive underground.

My players have only begun to touch on the outer edges of this underground network, so I won’t reveal additional details now. But when examining both the sewers and the cemeteries of Paris, one thing is clear—those locations were a repeated source of exposure to disease. Here’s the system from the Honor+Intrigue rules for illness.

End Result
First symptoms appear

*In the case of disease or serious illness, the frequency of Task Rolls would be based on the severity of the illness. One illness may kill within hours of the first symptoms while others take months. Some illnesses can be cured, while others cannot. Some diseases are deadly; some might permanently reduce a Quality; others allow a full recovery given time.

So I wanted to include that in my campaign. One thing I decided was that while a single exposure might not be too concerning, repeated exposure could become very dangerous. What I came up with was the idea of tallying the number of exposures accumulated for a character within a period of time and this would act as a modifier to might. Illnesses would start out as minor, but could increase in severity. This allows time for the character to complete some heroic action or to receive medical treatment before the worst effects take hold. 

Option 1: Exposed to Disease:

Tally the number of exposures accumulated for each character. Within 24 to 48 hours of exposure, roll to see if an illness is contracted.

Types or methods for exposure include bite, ingestion, or contact with contaminated water, corpses and their remains, filth covered items, giant slugs, leeches, puncture wounds, rats, refuse, and round worms. 

Roll (Might – Number of Exposures), failure means an illness has been contracted. Once contracted the illness starts out at Minor Severity (or Severe if the roll was a Calamitous Failure).

Severity of Illness
Modifier to Might
Repeat Roll
Effect of Illness
48 hours
-1 Composure
24 hours
-1 & Penalty Die
8 hours
-2 Composure
4 hours
-2 & Penalty Die
2 hours
1 hour
Severity also indicates how frequently a Might Roll must be repeated and with what modifier to check the progress of the disease. For disease progress, use the following result.

Adjusted Roll
Worsens 2 Steps
Worsens 1 Step
No Change
Improves 1 Step
Improves 2 Steps

Some may find tracking exposures and multiple rolls to be too much bookkeeping. In that case here is an alternative system that I adapted from the adventure, Island of the Forgotten Tomb for BASH Fantasy by Chris Rutowsky (page 23); adapted to Honor+Intrigue by Gaston’s Hat.

Option 2: Severity of Illness

Illness comes in four levels of debilitation: mild, serious, severe, and life-threatening.
  • Mild illness reduces a character's Lifeblood by 1 until s/he is cured. Also, all dice rolls are reduced by 1 until the character recovers. A mild illness typically lasts 2 days.
  • Serious illness reduces a character's Lifeblood by 3 until the character recovers. Also, all dice rolls are reduced by 2 until the character recovers. A Serious illness usually lasts 4 days.
  • Severe illness reduces a character's Lifeblood by 6 until the character recovers. Also, all dice rolls are reduced by 3 until the character recovers. Severe illnesses usually last 6 days.
  • Life-threatening illness reduces a character's Lifeblood by 10 until the character recovers (Essentially the only way the character is not bedridden is if their lifeblood is above average.) Also, all dice rolls are reduced by 4 until the character recovers. A life-threatening illness can last about 10 days.
Illnesses can be recovered from twice as fast with a successful Physician/Heal roll. The difficulty of the roll is +0/-1/-2/-4 for a mild/serious/severe/life-threatening illness.

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