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I'm planning a campaign featuring large quantities of infected zombies (OG p.217) and the prospective players are trying to work out how to avoid zombie plague.

The DMG says the following about disease (p.49):

Monster Attacks: Make a saving throw at the end of the encounter. If the saving throw fails, you are infected.

Can a power which grants a save (e.g. Divine Aid) be used either during or after the combat to help avoid infection?

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No, you can't use in-combat saving throws to respond to disease exposure.

In combat, the saving throws you're granted specifically are only used on effects that have a "save ends" condition (or "save ends both/all").(1) Those are the saving throws you're granted at end of turn, and the saving throws granted by other effects.

Disease exposure isn't an effect with a "save ends", so your in-combat saving throws don't get to be used on it. Instead, it's just an exceptional circumstance that says to roll a single saving throw at the end of combat — and then you get the disease, or you don't.

Even if you could do this, it's almost always going to be a bad idea, since you've got very little to gain from rushing it. Disease exposure doesn't do anything in and of itself.(2) Sooner or later, you'll make a check and be diseased or not. But until you do, you're guaranteed to be 100% disease-free and totally fit for combat. You could rush to that disease check sooner, and maybe you'd get some peace of mind that you won't be diseased — but you've got a slightly below 50% chance of immediately contracting a disease mid-combat. That's probably going to be pretty bad for you, and you'd almost always be better off waiting until after combat to risk contracting a disease.


(1): from RC p218, "Saving throws", the "When" section: ‘An effect that a save can end includes one of the following notations: "save ends," "save ends both," or "save ends all." (later in the same section...) Sometimes a power or other game feature allows a character to make a saving throw immediately against an effect that a save can end.’

(2): I'm not aware of any monsters that care if you're merely exposed, but my monster knowledge in 4e is not encyclopedic.

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