Black Plague street scene (1300s)
Original Source http://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/Contexts/Fighting-Infection/Sci-Media/Images/Black-Plague-street-scene-1300s
Pathogens are diseases in Red Ash that can be a part of a power or an event that can happen in game. At any rate it is something that should be used to add more depth and drama to an adventure setting and bring to bare questions of a characters heroic, or foolish nature. What should one do if confronted with the knowledge that the animal they just fought was infected with rabies? And you are very far away from any medical aid. Do you continue? Turn back? What if they did not know anything about rabies? These are topics that are worthy of discovery even in a game setting but are often times over looked.
Becoming infected in Red Ash requires a few steps and is not automatic. First you must have a source infection. Poor sanitation and hygiene are natural sources for infections, but so are animals. The first part to becoming infected by the Red Ash rules is to fail the infection rate roll. If a pathogen has a 40% infection rate then roll percentages and score under to be exposed to it. Next you make you first savings roll of the saves (usually health +1d20) verse the pathogens difficulty (plus any modifiers). If you fail the savings throw you have become infected and now simply wait the gestation period with no ill effects. After the gestation period is over you automatically enter the 1st stage of the disease (listed in the symptoms) and suffer from one or more of the effects listed.
The diseases have an advancement time and during the onset of symptoms to the end of the advancement time more and more symptoms can appear within a given stage. The advancement time is a timer of when a person must make a new savings throw to determine if they advance to the next stage or stay at the current one. To determine if you advance to the next stage of a disease you must make another savings roll but now can include medical aid if you have found any. Depending on the level of the care will affect how much impact they can bring to bear on a disease. So for example being treated by a field medic will not be as big of an impact as one would get for being in an ICU with 24 hour monitoring by specialist. Provided you can make your saving throws you will stay within the same stage until the pathogens life time expires. If you fail your savings throws you will advance to the next stage and apply that stages symptoms to you.
When you have a death roll stage you will have reach the apex of the disease and must now roll percentages again but this time to see if you live or die. As with the first percentage roll you need to beat the number listed. So if a disease is listed with a 90% lethality rate then you have a 10% chance to survive the roll, good luck with that. As with making your savings throw medical attention can make it much easier.
Recovery can happen at the end of the last stage of can take a few weeks to months of recovery. Some diseases will also leave their mark on those they touch in the form of physical marks like in smallpox, or even deformities, blindness, amputations or worse.
While you are infected other around you run a risk to become infected themselves. This is dependent on the method of transmission, the contamination area and the knowledge of those that are exposed to you. Anyone caught in the contaminated area and engages in the transmission type (eating food for diseases that are transmitted that way) must make their own Infection roll and if they fail, the disease has no spread to another person.
When a disease has run its course it can still be active outside of its original host contaminating an area over its residual life value.
In truth disease is a burden we all share in life and should never ignore. The diseases listed in Red Ash are all real and anyone could catch if not for modern society and science. While they are real the ones presented here are modified for a GAME SETTING and the information found here should never be used in any real life situation. So if you are faced with any of these or any other disease, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!