In creating an adventure, there will be a major meterological event causing massive damage to the town's infrastructure. In the aftermath, there will be a pretty significant outbreak of at least one disease or plague. I've looked, but haven't found any statistics on plagues. I know Paladins are immune to normal disease, and some spells can cure disease, but nothing on actually getting infected, suffering from, or dying from any disease.

I have a rough idea on what it might do, but don't know if what I think will happen would be mild, significant, deadly, or TPK (besides the paladin).

Assuming the characters survive this (which I think will be somewhat difficult), do they get XP for surviving? How would I determine how much XP they should get for surviving? I figure some characters will get infected, and others may or may not get infected at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great question! \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ What neat idea, I'm going to use it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ace, steal away! I was planning on setting the tragedy in a city on an island. The sailors all saw that a major storm was on its way, bought up food/water and got the heck out of port. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pulsehead
    Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 20:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool, I have a halfling sea-city that has a base on an island. Been looking for something radical to kick off the campaign. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 3, 2010 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Heh, is this Second Darkness? I'm running that right now and the PCs are wandering about in the tsunami's aftermath even as we speak. I really should throw some disease in there, that's a good idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 2:08

2 Answers 2


Yes, for D&D 3.5 the Pathfinder Adventure Path "Curse of the Crimson Throne" deals with a plague in the city of Korvosa and they've published some various rules for diseases and plagues. Specifically, Seven Days to the Grave has an article entitled "Plague and Pestilence: Diseases of Fantasy and Reality", which besides having diseases and gear relevant to diseases has some treatment of larger scale plagues (outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics). Then they updated those rules to Pathfinder as part of the Affliction rules in general and added a lot of real-world tropical diseases in the recent Heart of the Jungle supplement.

And lucky for you, a lot of that has found its way into the Disease section of the Pathfinder SRD!

Here's how it works, I'll illustrate with my favorite sample disease, dysentery.


A broad family of intestinal afflictions caused by everything from bacteria to viruses to parasitic worms, dysentery is characterized by explosive and sometimes bloody diarrhea, leading to dehydration and occasionally death.

Type disease (parasite), contact or injury; Save Fortitude DC 16

Onset 1d3 days; Frequency 1/day

Effect 1d6 nonlethal damage and target is fatigued and staggered; Cure 2 consecutive saves

This means that when you're exposed you have to make a Fort save DC 16 or else you get the disease and it manifests symptoms in 1d3 days. You make a new save every day once it manifests and if you fail you take 1d6 nonlethal and are fatigued and staggered. You have to make 2 consecutive saves to get better; with this one it doesn't run its course otherwise.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Almost what I was looking for. Although I'm still trying to figure out the whole XP thing. The Pathfinder SRD has given me quite a few ideas (and the idea I was working may be a wee bit too deadly) \$\endgroup\$
    – Pulsehead
    Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 13:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You're right, there are no XP for the afflictions per se, that's probably because most are delivered by a critter which has a CR or a trap/hazard. Looks like you could probably use the trap/hazard CR generation rules to get at it. d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/traps Strangely they seem to prefer to not assign CRs to things that give diseases - like Tainted Water is "CR-" - but you can extrapolate from ones that deliver poisons simply enough. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 15:21

You are talking about a large event in role-playing terms. Instead of relying on rules, why not layout a general time line of how you see the outbreak progressing as a part of the storyline. This progression is entirely up to you so be creative. Where the rules come in, is in how the party reacts. Can they save themselves? Can they save others? maybe a few, some, none, or all?

I wouldn't award them XP until after the initial outbreak. Once the outbreak happens then they will need to role-play how they handle it and how they respond when others seek them out for aid. Curing themselves should be straight forward but the whole community, that is something else entirely. What about monsters , NPCs and villains? Do they take advantage of this? Are they also affected by the outbreak. How long does it last, what is it's progression track. What if you survive naturally are there scars, physical or mental handicaps?

For the general infected populace I would say give them a base level of health and a severity track and roll 2 simple checks daily for groups of them, say for every 50 people. Roll for severity progression and impact of the outbreak. Fail severity and some get worse, how many is based on how bad the roll is. Fail impact and some die, again the worse the fail the more who die, modify this by current severity of the outbreak. Success the same way. After sometime, you set how long, natural defenses of the people will resist the outbreak and it will begin getting better. Modify the progression rolls for this. Just keep it simple as it is more about the story than the mechanics on something this big.

Sounds like a cool campaign shaker-upper.


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