Posion, Disease, Insanity

Poisons commonly encountered in OSRIC-compatible games include animal venoms (such as snake and spider bites), vegetable toxins (often used to coat poison needles or similar devices on traps), and essentially magical poisons such as clouds of poisonous gas. Generally, when a player character ingests or inhales the poison, or it otherwise enters his or her bloodstream, he or she must roll a saving throw against poison (sometimes with a modifier—up to +2 for a relatively weak toxin such as that of a Large Spider, down to -4 for a particularly lethal one). If the saving throw is failed, the character dies.

In practice death from such cases is not instantaneous, although the character is typically incapacitated immediately. There is time for slow poison or neutralise poison to be cast on the character, if this is done reasonably soon (say, within about 15 minutes depending on the strength of the venom or toxin involved).

If the character dies as a result of poison, the poison must somehow be flushed from his or her bloodstream before any kind of raise dead or resurrection can succeed.

The general rule is that characters cannot employ poisons as" easily as monsters. Venom taken from a creature's poison glands will, for game purposes, typically begin to lose effectiveness immediately and have become completely denatured within a few hours. Some characters—often assassins—may learn how to create vegetable-based toxins that can last longer if kept in the correct way, but lethal toxins will still need to be handled with great care. The GM should determine whether any given activity involving the poison runs a risk of the handler receiving a tiny cut, scratch or nick (requiring an immediate poison save). Certain good aligned character classes, such as paladins, may not use poison and will object to their companions using it.

Finally, some creatures—particularly powerful ones such as dragons—are so large, and their body chemistries are so different, that poisons will not normally work against them.

The principle is that poisons in the hands of player characters change the balance of the game in undesirable ways, so players should be discouraged from using them.

Diseases in OSRIC-compatible games often come from monsters, such as mummies or giant rats, in which case the chance of disease and its effects are described in the relevant creature text. There are a few other instances where disease may be contracted that are explained here.

First, plagues (such as the mediæval bubonic plague or Black Death) may occasionally spread across the countryside. A character who comes into contact with plague will need to save against poison to avoid succumbing him- or herself. If the character saves, any future saving throws against the same disease will be made at +4. If he or she fails, then after an incubation period of 2d8 days, he or she will suffer a penalty of -1d6 on all characteristics and against all die rolls for the course of the disease, which lasts a further 2d8 days. If either of the dice show an "8" then the character dies at the end of this period, otherwise he or she recovers at the rate of 1 point less each day until cured. Further saving throws against the same disease will be made at +4.

Second, certain wounds can become infected. This applies where the GM feels it appropriate, but generally where a character with an open wound engages in high-risk activity such as exploring a sewer, a saving throw versus poison should be required, or else the character will become infected. The effects of infection in game terms are the same as plague, except that the onset time is measured in hours rather than days.

Insanity is possible as a result of certain spells or monster attacks. A character who becomes insane will receive an insanity from the table below. The kind of insanity may be decided by the GM or rolled randomly.

47-54Homicidal Mania
81-86Pathological Liar
98-00Suicidal Mania

Homicidal Mania: The character has an insatiable urge to kill. The victim must be of the same race as the insane character and normally (75%) of the opposite gender. The must kill at least once a week until cured.

Kleptomania: The character has an insatiable urge to steal. The character will take any opportunity to pocket a gem, coin or small magic item. If the stolen objects are taken away from the character, there is a 50% chance that he or she will become violent.

Manic-Depressive: During the manic phase (which lasts 2d6 days), the character will become very excited about something—virtually anything will do. The character will select a goal (which may be a very inappropriate one) and focus totally on achieving it. Then there is an intermediary phase, which lasts 2d6 days, and a depressive phase, in which the character will always assume that there is no chance of success. A depressive character will want to remain indoors in a place of safety, and in bed if possible. The depressive phase lasts 2d6 days, followed by which there is another 2d6-day intermediary phase before the cycle begins again.

Megalomania: The character will believe that he or she is the best—at everything. He or she will demand to be leader of the party, will issue peremptory orders to other party members, and there is a 50% chance that the megalomaniac will become violent if these are not obeyed. Any suggestion that he or she is not the leader and/or nor the best-qualified person for any particular job will always result in violence from the megalomaniac.

Paranoia: Paranoia is very dangerous in adventuring situations. The paranoid will believe that "they" are out to get him or her, and will suspect anyone and everyone of working for "them"—particularly party members. The paranoid will generally disobey orders and ignore suggestions on the assumption that they are intended to cause the character harm. Eventually the character will flee his or her group or normal social circle.

Pathological Liar: The pathological liar is concerned with deception, not necessarily untruth. Thus, he or she is capable of telling the truth, but will only normally do so if he or she will not be believed. Otherwise, the insane character must respond to all questions with lies.

Phobia: The character suffers from a strong and completely irrational fear of some substance, creature, or situation.

Schizophrenia: The character's personality splits into 1d3 separate personalities, each of which may have a different alignment or even class. Typically the personalities are not aware of each other.

Suicidal Mania: The character is driven to self-harm. He or she may never flee from combat or any kind of dangerous situation. Faced with a pit or chasm, the insane character must jump over it; faced with a chest, he or she must open it; faced with an enemy, he or she must fight it, etc.