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WFRP was first previewed in White Dwarf 82 (Oct 1986). It is interesting to note that at this stage the term "demon" is used rather than "daemon" (the latter word being standard by the time of 1988's Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness).
A few of the more common diseases encountered in the Old World are detailed here, together with their effects and the procedures for dealing with them in the game. The gamesmaster can create more diseases if desired, following the general pattern of these examples.
Black Plague: This disease is spread by rats; the organism that causes it infects fleas which feed on the rats, and the disease is passed on when these fleas bite people. Unfortunately, nobody in the Old World knows this. The opinion of medical science is that the disease is caused by 'unwholesome vapours' carried on the air, and the standard precaution is to hoist a side of beef up a flagpole and leave it there for two days, then take it down and bury it in a deep pit, together with the 'unwholesome vapours'. Not surprisingly, these measures do nothing to halt the spread of the plague, and it can decimate whole countries. Fortunately, the Black Plague is very rare; the last known outbreak anywhere in the Old World was almost a century ago.
A character explosed to the Black Plague must make a Disease test. If this is successful, the character is unaffected and further rolls against the same disease are made at +10%. If the roll is unsuccessful, the plague takes a hold on the character.
After an incubation period of 2D10 days, the Plague victims will begin to suffer from nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting, and will be completely unable to keep any food down. This has an understandably wearing effect on the constitution, and the character must make a test on each characteristic in turn every day (except Move, Wounds and Attacks), losing 1 point or 10% as appropriate for every failed test. If Strength and Toughness reach zero, the character dies.
The disease lasts for 2D10 days, after which surviving characters will begin to recover lost characteristic points at the rate of 1 point or 10% every two days of complete bed rest; attendance by a character skilled in medicine will reduce the recovery time as for wounds (see Medical Attention in the Combat Section). At the start of the recovery period, however, they must make two 50% Risk tests; if the first one is failed, the character loses D3 Strength permanently, and if the second test is failed, the character loses D3 Toughness permanently.
Red Pox: The red pox can only be transmitted by contact with someone who already has the disease. Character who have had contact with a carrier of the disease must make a Disease test with a modifier of -10%.
If the test is failed, the character will break out in red blotches D10 days later. The blotches last for 2D10 days, and during this period the character loses 1 point each from Strength and Toughness and D10% Will Power, as well as 3D10% Leadership, Cool and Fellowship. Once the disease has run its course, all characteristics will return to normal except for Fellowship, from which D10% will be lost permanently owing to scars left by the spots.
Tomb Rot: This disease is sometimes carried by mummies, zombies and other undead creatures - see the relevant entries in the Bestiary for precise details. Any character who is wounded by an undead creature carrying the disease must make a Disease test after the fight, with a -5% modifier for every Wound point lost fighting the creature.
If the test is failed, the character is infested with the rot, and must make a similar test every day or lose 1 point of Toughness and 10% each from Dexterity and Fellowship. Once the rot has set in, it can only be removed by the Cure Illness skill or by magical means. Characteristic points are lost permanently, and can only be regained by subsequent advance schemes.
Wound Infection: Some animals have a chance of carrying infection. Full details are given in the Bestiary. A character who is wounded by an attack which may cause infected wounds must make a Disease test with a -5% modifier for each Wound point lost fighting the creature.
If the test is failed, the wound is infected. The area struck becomes swollen and inflamed over a period of D4 hours, during which time the character loses 3D10% Dexterity. Wound points from an infected wound are recovered at only half the normal rate, although medical attention will shorten recovery times as normal. However, the character must make a successful Toughness test or lose one Wound point permanently; if 91-00 is rolled, one Wound point is lost from each wound caused by the attack.
The worship of the Chaos Gods is regarded with horror by most decent and civilised folk. This has tended to result in the foundation of secret temples and the use of makeshift sites such as forest clearings and ruins. Temples are never openly built to Chaos Gods.
Covens and secret societies are rooted out and destroyed by the authorities whenever possible, and worshippers find themselves persecuted or forced into exile. Many disappear into the woods, where they join the ever-growing number of wandering followers of Chaos.
The Religion & Belief chapter ends with a brief section that gives a scant paragraph each on three Gods of Chaos (Khorne, Nurgle, Malal; pictured together below) and three Gods of Law (Alluminas, Arianka, Solkan). More is promised in the Realms of Chaos supplement (which would of course later be published as two separate Realm of Chaos books).
Nurgle is lord of pestilence and decay, dedicated to spreading disease and corruption. Many of his followers carry an appalling disease known as Nurgle's Rot, degenerating until they are one with their god's ideal (see Disease).
The Bestiary contains an example of a daemon dedicated to Nurgle: the Mabrothrax (Plague Elemental). Beyond various generic daemon entries (Baalrûkh, Greater Demon, Lesser Demon, Demonic Servant), there is also the grim-reaper-styled Mardragg (Death Elemental) for Khorne, and the opposing Law-aligned Viydagg (Life Elemental).
Also known, incorrectly, as the Plague Elemental, the Mabrothrax is in fact a solitary Greater Demon. It is said that it is a servant of the Chaos god Nurgle, the Lord of Corruption (of whom more details will be found in the Realms of Chaos supplement), but little is known of its true nature. It can manifest itself as a foul, stinking wind, but it is most effective when it takes physical form. On those occasions when it appears in the material world, the Mabrothrax spreads disease and pestilence, wiping out whole populations.
The Mabrothrax attacks up to 10 times per round, in any direction irrespective of facing. Its attacks have a 100% chance of causing infected wounds. GMs who have a copy of the Realms of Chaos supplement may decide that the Mabrothrax causes Nurgle's Rot instead of infected wounds.
Physique: When in physical form, the Mabrothrax appears as a hunched, decaying humanoid figure which stands about 12 feet tall when fully erect. It has the appearance of a month-old corpse, and its skin is covered in festering boils. Bones and internal organs protrude in the places where its skin has rotted away.
Psychological Traits: The Mabrothrax causes terror in all living creatures, and fear in creatures which are immune to disease.
Special Rules: The Mabrothrax carries the Black Plague (see Disease) when in physical form, and any creature coming within 10 yards of it is exposed to the plague and must make the appropriate saving throws. Once per round it can cast Plague Wind - a spell which is similar in its effects to the level 4 Necromantic Magic spell Wind of Death, which requires every living creature within 2,400 yards downwind of the Mabrothrax to make a Toughness test. Failure indicates that the creature is instantly stricken with a rotting disease, losing 1 point or 10% from each characteristic each round until a successsful test against Toughness is made. When it takes the form of a fetid wind, it can move through solid objects in the same way as an Air Elemental. It is immune to non-magical attacks, and its attacks can wound creatures which are immune to non-magical weapons, unless they are also immune to disease.
The adventure included in the back of the rulebook, The Oldenhaller Contract, also includes the first description of Beasts of Nurgle. On p317, led by a fly-clouded albino Champion of Nurgle by the name of Jonas Whitespore, a set of six cultists attempt to summon a Beast of Nurgle.
These monstrous creatures are approximately 5 feet tall, conical and without legs. Their lower bodies are covered with suckers and ooze a sickly, foul smelling goo. They propel themselves along a three-feet wide trail of self-generated slime. A bundle of immensely powerful, ghastly white suckers is used to attack their victims.
They attack with D6 suckers per round of combat; armour isnot taken into account when determining damage. As well as normal damage, each sucker injects a paralysing poison. On each successful hit, the victim must make a Poison test or be paralysed. The beast, having paralysed a victim, will do nothing during the following round while it wraps the catch securely with its lasso-like tail. When a quiet hour or two is available the Beast will secrete digestive acids and gradually dissolve the helpless captive. Only the first opponent is ensnared, the rest will be paralysed but not carried off.
Anyone who chooses to cross the Beast's trail of noxious slime without making a Leap across it, has a 5% chance of slipping and receiving 1 Wound from the powerful acids and a 5% chance of infection with the Rot. The gamesmaster should keep track of where the Beast has moved, and where the trail is left.
Nurgle's Rot, or The Rot, is a strange disease. It seeks to turn its victim into one of Nurgle's Plague Bearing Demons. Unfortunately, the mortal form cannot take this tortuous metamorphosis, and must eventually perish under the strain. Only Champions and Beastmen of Nurgle are immune to its effects, serving only as carriers.
Victims gradually mutate until their characteristics are identical to those of a Plague Bearer, at the rate of 1 or 10 points (as appropriate for the affected characteristic) per month. Select the affected characteristic randomly each game month. The profile for a Plague Bearer is as follows:
As well as the characteristic changes, certain other physical changes take place, as follows:
|After 1 month||Skin turns pale yellow/brown|
|After 2 months||Green blotches appear|
|After 3 months||Skin begins to rot, attracting flies|
|After 4 months||A single horn begins to grow from the forehead|
|After 5 months||Horn fully grown, eyes begin to move together, nose atrophies|
|After 6 months||Eyes merge into single great eye, feet turn to three-clawed hooves|
|After 7 months||Face dissolves in a horror of melting flesh|
|After 8 months||The victim dies|
There is no known cure for this disease. It can only be contracted from a Beast of Nurgle.
The amount of coverage relating to Nurgle makes him the most-represented Chaos God in this, the first book to describe the Gods of Chaos.
|Warhammer Fantasy||Third Citadel Compendium; WFRP (1st ed); RoC: Slaves to Darkness; RoC: The Lost and the Damned; Beasts of Chaos|
|Man O' War||Plague Fleet|
|Mordheim||Empire in Flames|
|Warhammer 40,000||Warhammer 40,000 (1993); Codex: Chaos (1996); Codex: Chaos Space Marines (1999); Chapter Approved 2001; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2002); Codex: Eye of Terror; Chapter Approved 2004; Imperial Armour 5; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2007); Imperial Armour: Apocalypse (2007); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2008); Imperial Armour 6; Imperial Armour 7; Imperial Armour: Aeronautica; Codex: Chaos Space Marines (2012); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2013); Stronghold Assault; Codex: Imperial Knights (2014); Imperial Armour 13; Codex: Imperial Knights (2015); Codex: Chaos Daemons (2016); Codex: Traitor Legions; Dark Imperium; Index: Chaos|
|Epic||Adeptus Titanicus; Space Marine (1st ed); Codex Titanicus; Renegades; Titan Legions; Epic 40,000|
|White Dwarf||Oct 1988 (#106); Dec 1988 (#108); Jan 1989 (#109); May 1989 (#113); Jun 1989 (#114); Nov 1989 (#119); Jan 1990 (#121); Feb 1990 (#122); Apr 1990 (#124); May 1990 (#125); Dec 1990 (#132); Jan 2002 (#265)|
|Fantasy Flight Games|
|Dark Heresy||Shattered Hope; Dark Heresy (1st ed); Disciples of the Dark Gods; Creatures Anathema; Daemon Hunter; Dark Heresy (2nd ed); Game Master's Kit (2nd ed); Forgotten Gods; Enemies Within; Enemies Beyond|
|Rogue Trader||Rogue Trader; Citadel of Skulls; Battlefleet Koronus; Koronus Bestiary; Navis Primer; Stars of Inequity|
|Deathwatch||Mark of the Xenos; Achilus Assault; First Founding; Jericho Reach; Rising Tempest|
|Black Crusade||Black Crusade; Game Master's Kit; Hand of Corruption; Tome of Fate; Tome of Blood; Tome of Excess; Tome of Decay|
|Only War||Enemies of the Imperium|