Saturday, September 10, 2011

Symptoms & Side Effects

It's a new retroclone where you play hypochondriacs and pharmacists, haha.  Okay, not really.  I explored before the idea of how few effects we can put on characters based on mechanics.  I don't know why I didn't think about coming from it the other way-- start with effects we want and try to generate reasonable mechanics for them.  So that's the intent of this post.
Here is a pdf of 30 symptoms.  Some of these came up in reference to potions being mixed, some in drugs being used, and some are coming up in the disease rules I'm working on.  I think these 30 can go pretty far for us.  There are some other minor malevolent effects, but I'm not sure I could squeeze out 100 interesting symptoms.

I have some ideas for mechanics, but I thought I would give you a chance to try it out.  So, at the risk of seeming coy, what mechanical effects would you use in your game for all these symptoms?  You don't have to list them all in the comments, but if you're stumped or come up with something cool I'd love to hear about it.

Also, if you can think of other symptoms or side effects you would definitely want, I'd like to hear about them too.


  1. How about insomnia since that's a come side effect of meds? Edema (swelling, most commonly of the lower extremities) is also one that's included a lot. And you've got diarrhea, but no constipation.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "lumps," from a medical perspective. Would that be like beneath the skin (nodule would the medical term there, most likely), or on the skin (which could be things like pustules, papules, or nodules, depending on what they looked like).

    Another gruesome one is something like epidermal necrolysis where the whole top layer of skin begins to slough off.

    Anyway, that's probably more medical pedantry that you wanted!

    Mechanics wise, I'd have to think about it. The SRD actually has some decent mechanics that could be applied to some of these, but of course 3.5 is more complicated than a retroclone. A lot of them would just boil down to a minus on rolls maybe, with just cosmetic differences.

  2. I'm using this right now as a side effect of an infested forest:

    I've got nothing too clever, I think most of these make sense as ability score or behavioral penalties.

    Verification word: gringues, what a great name for a medieval disease.

    But it's great to have these all in one place.

  3. @Trey: Insomnia is a good one. Like depression, though, and constipation it seems like a symptom that takes some time to matter while something like a headache could affect your chance of survival immediately. And that makes me wonder: is this list really for diseases or instant magical effects. Aggh, the world is too complex to be simplified into clean categories.

    Lumps was just me trying to translate buboes into layman's terms. Edema I was going to cheat and lump it in with Tenderness, like it caused it. Thanks a bunch.

    @Roger: that's gross. But it makes me think you could have a whole other list of fantastic symptoms: scales covering skin, pig tails, horns, etc. Maybe after I try to lock these mundane ones a little more. Thanks.