Insults, Injuries, and Defects

Michael O. Varhola

Two books that I have been heavily involved with, to include editing, laying out, designing, publishing, and promoting, are Dr. Eric Lis'  Insults & Injuries: A Role-Playing Game Sourcebook for Medical Maladies  and my and William T. Thrasher's  The Jester Dragon's Guide to Defects . Both of these books are stat'ed for the OGL/d20 game systems but, beyond that, they are very different books in terms of their tone and content. It is indicative of my level of involvement with them, however, that I have noted any number of possible crossovers between them. 

One crossover occurred to me when I was discussing "Chapter 4: The Chest" of Lis' book with with and asked him how a DM was supposed to determine whether a creature afflicted with asthma had the mild, moderate, or severe form of the illness. He indicated that the intent was not that a player character would have it but rather that it was something that could be applied to NPCs and that what severity it should be was completely at the discretion of the DM and could not reasonably be determined in any other way. 

The Jester Dragon's Guide to Defects , however, suggests a means by which DM's or even players could insert this malady into the game. For those not yet familiar with them, Skirmisher's Defects are, essentially, "anti-Feats" that can be plugged into characters much the way Feats would, and for which offsetting bonus Feats can be granted when these disadvantages are taken willingly. And, in fact, the desire to reflect the three broad classes of asthma can be neatly accomplished with a chain of interrelated Defects, demonstrating the utility of this compelling mechanic, as follows: 

Defect: Asthma, Mild [General]
A character with this disorder suffers from symptoms that might include chronic cough, shortness of breath when exercising, and a tight feeling in the chest, especially when around dust, animals, smoke, or other triggers. 
     Detriment:  When exposed to a trigger, a character with Mild Asthma must make a Fortitude saving throw. Failure means the creature suffers an acute attack, during which the creature suffers an additional -2 penalty to Constitution for 1d10 minutes in mild asthma, -4 for 1d4 hours in moderate asthma, and -6 for 2d20 hours in severe asthma. The creature is considered to be Sickened during this time. DC for the save is 5 if there is one asthma trigger, 10 if there are two, 15 if there are three, and 20 if there are four or more. 
 
Defect: Asthma, Moderate [General]
A character with this disorder suffers from symptoms that might include chronic cough, shortness of breath when exercising, and a “tight” feeling in the chest, especially when exposed to triggers like dust, stress, or animal hair. 
      Prerequisite: Mild Asthma. 
     Detriment:  When exposed to a trigger, a character with Moderate Asthma must make a Fortitude saving throw. Failure means the creature suffers an acute attack, during which the creature suffers an additional -2 penalty to Constitution for 1d10 minutes in mild asthma, -4 for 1d4 hours in moderate asthma, and -6 for 2d20 hours in severe asthma. The