Just because a character survives combat does not mean he walks away unscarred and untouched. Even a skilled fighter might expect to suffer a few cuts and injuries in a battle. While these minor injuries aren’t enough to impede a hardy warrior, they still carry a risk of infection—the wound suppurating with pus and corruption like Arizak’s rotting and crippled leg. The more wounds and injuries a character suffers in a single battle (especially those wounds grievous enough to cripple him or knock him unconscious) the greater the risk that those wounds will become infected if not cleaned and treated by a healer.

Risking Infection

Any character who takes more than a minor amount of hit point damage in a single combat encounter runs a risk of lingering injury. If a character loses a number of hit points in a single encounter equal to his massive damage threshold or higher, he is at risk of infection (even if those hit points were lost from several small attacks rather than one powerful one). If a character is at risk of infection, he must make a DC 15 Fortitude save. There are a number of conditions that can increase the DC of this Fortitude save, all of which stack.

Infection Modifiers
Condition (DC Modifier)

  • Character was reduced to negative hit points (Increase the DC by the number of negative hit points the character was reduced to before stabilizing)
  • Character failed a massive damage save and was reduced to –1 hp (+2)
  • Character suffered a severe injury (+5)

If the save succeeds, the character’s wounds are not exposed to infection. If it fails, his wounds become infected, but this is not immediately apparent. The GM should record the final save DC of the failed check to use later.

Effects of Infection
Infected wounds are hot, dry and painful; they swell up, ooze pus and mucus, and slowly corrupt the healthy flesh around them. Infections have following characteristics:

DC: The same as the DC of the Fortitude save made to avoid getting infected in the first place.
Onset: One day.
Damage: 1d4 Constitution. In addition, every time the character takes damage he must make another Fortitude save or take 1 point of Constitution drain.

Depending on the circumstances, the GM may rule the infection affects a different ability, such as Strength (debilitating weakness) or Wisdom (fever). If so, the infection still causes 1 point of Constitution drain on a failed follow-up save.

Character must make two successful Fortitude saves in a row to throw off the infection.

Multiple Infections

It’s possible that some unlucky characters may develop two separate infections, due to fighting and being injured while already infected (perhaps unknowingly). If this occurs, the separate infections are combined. The DC of the combined infection is equal to the higher DC of the separate infections (as determined above) + 1. Combined infections deal 1d4+1 points of ability damage, but still only deal 1 point of ability drain. (If combining infections that deal different types of ability damage, alternate damage types each time damage is dealt.) The combined infection is treated as one case of infection for treatment. Any time the character develops another infection, the DC of the infection is raised to the higher of the two DCs +1, while the ability damage increases by +1 again.

Treating infections

While it’s a simple matter to clean and dress wounds immediately after a battle in order to avoid infection, it’s a lot harder to treat and cure an infected wound after the infection has set in. A healer can make a DC 15 Heal check within the first day of the infection’s incubation (before the character risks taking ability damage) to treat and clean the wounds. This takes 10 minutes, and if the check succeeds, the infection is thrown off before it takes hold. A character with an infected wound can only be the subject of one such Heal check during this initial incubation period. In addition, a character with an infected wound who receives magical healing in the initial 24 hours of incubation throws off the infection. If the infection takes hold, a healer can attend to the character just as if she was treating a disease.

Magic can also be used to treat infections. Cure disease-like effects will cleanse infection from a patient, while restoration-like effects can restore any ability drain. These are not very common spells, however, and most sufferers must be content with herbs, leeches, and soothing words to pull them through their ordeal.


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