Radiation Sickness

Radiation sickness is a serious matter and I wanted to address it after noticing it in a post. I have created 10 severities of exposure and detailed what happens during each.


First, there is no saving throw for radiation sickness (if your game has saving throws.) If you are exposed to radiation you will suffer the initial effects, and then get to save vs. death or however the GM sees fit to have the random chance of death fulfilled. Also, I am not going to go into cancer really. But, in every dose there is the possibility of cancer, with that possibility becoming greater with higher degrees of exposure. But very light doses of radiation only increase chances of developing cancer by 1 in 10,000 so I will skip adding that, only very severe cases of radiation poisoning will cause cancer, in these cases cancer is the least of their problems, facing such issues as destruction of bone marrow and liquefied internal organs.

To begin, exposure to radiation is serious and even very light doses will still have long term effects. I have created 10 severities; from almost minimal exposure to getting hit with a blast of cosmic radiation, which would kill you instantly. Each rank stacks with the rank before it. So someone that is exposed to Rank 3 will suffer the effects of Rank 2 and 1. The only effect that does not stack is the actual death percentage or damage over time.rnrn

Rank 1
Temporary Effect: Nausea

Permanent Effect: Possible beneficial resistance to cancer if exposed to this level several times.rnrnDamage over time: 1% of total HP once.

Rank 2
Temporary Effect: Chronic headache, Decrease in the capability to heal

Permanent Effect: None

Damage: 1% of total HP per day for 3 days.

Rank 3

Temporary Effect: Fatigue, vomiting and Infection

Permanent Effect: Chance of sterility in males and females

Damage over time: A character should receive something like 1% of their HP in damage per day for 10 days.

Rank 4

Temporary Effect: Infection (wounds become infected easily, penalty to poison saves, disease saves, and anything that deals with getting sick would be good here) caused by decrease in blood cells.

Permanent Effect: 10% chance of death after 30 days

Damage over time: A character should receive 1-3% of their HP in damage every day for 30 days.

Rank 5

Temporary Effect: Everything from the others but worse and after 1-6 days of exposure all hair falls out.

Permanent Effect: 35% chance of death after 30 days.

Damage over time: A character should receive anywhere from 1-4% of their HP in damage every day for 30 days.

Rank 6

Temporary Effect: Uncontrollable bleeding from mouth, under skin and in kidneys.

Permanent Effect: 50% chance of death after 30 days

Damage over time: A character should receive 3-5% of their total HP in damage every day for 30 days.

Rank 7

Temporary Effect: Massive Internal Bleeding and Infection (the character should have almost no save vs. disease or poisons of any type and any wound is likely to become infected.

Permanent Effect: 60% chance of death over 30 days, increase to 90% if character does not receive constant medical care and constant bed rest. If the character is out of bed rest at any point during an hour increase chance of death by 1%, during the rest period the character can take no actions other than constant rest.

Damage over time: A character should receive 4-8% of their total HP per day for 30 days.

Rank 8

Temporary Effect: None

Permanent Effects: Bone Marrow Destroyed, 99% chance of death over 14 days and character will need to go through marrow transplants, need constant bed rest, and very serious medical care.

Damage over Time: Character should take 10-20% of their total HP in damage every day for 14 days.

Rank 9

Temporary Effect: Delirium and Coma

Permanent Effects: Organs destroyed and total break down of the nervous system, 100% chance of death in hours

Damage over time: Character should take 50%-100% of total HP in damage per hour for 14 days.

Rank 10

Temporary Effect: None

Permanent Effect: Instant Death

? Hall of Honour (1 voters / 1 votes)

Hall of Honour

Cheka Man

? Responses (10)

Goto Author

I have an abbreviated version of this in [The Forge of Woe]. I'm going to link mine to this one!

Goto Author

A novel idea, but I would like to see some sort of guideline for exposure, just what seperates a level four dose from a level three dose? As for the comment that radiation exposure is very serious and even small doses will have long term effects is misleading. Everyday we are bombarded by radiation, the most obvious source being light from the sun. Less obvious sources include radiation from computer monitors, cell phones, microwaves, and the overlapping blankets of FM signals. This radiation for the most part is harmless. I guess my complaint here is the idea that 'RADIATION BAD'

Goto Author

Its a matter of what you call Radiation :) Technically you are correct - there are a lot of sources of radiation which are harmless. I'd say he's refering only to 'ionizing' radiation including the higher-level EMF (X-ray, Gamma) as well as Alpha, Beta and Cosmic rays.

For those types, I agree with him - they are all dangerous and accumulative.

Goto Author

Well, first off a person can get radiation sickness from a small dose over a long period of time developing into each rank slowly, even over a period of years.

The higher ranks like Rank 7+ usually would require an acute source of radiation and exposure.

Let's say that someone had a rock of uranium on a necklace. They might develop symptoms slowly, while someone with pure thorium that was buried with the gold in that chest might develop more acute symptoms in days. It is impossible to really say what rank you will achieve.

Imagine radiation is like a fire; small radiation sources might be akin to a small fire, the further away you are the safer you are. So if you are far away from a large source of radiation you would be safer than standing close to a small source of radiation. If there is matter between you and the fire, it also has less effect, especially concrete and lead. So, trying to create an actual exposure for each rank is difficult due to the complexities of radiation.

Goto Author

Still, some examples would have been nice.

Goto Author

Nicely done, and not too overly detailed that more casual players can't get their heads around it. Perhaps expanding it slightly to show the increased chance of mutations/deformities in birth for the lower level exposures would be good, but over it's an easy to use plug in for post apocalypse rp's.

Goto Author

Pretty much what others said, a good summary to base the effects of radiation, examples would be nice too.

But it could be also possible to define the effects in reverse - to base them on this listing. Say that the villain's most powerful attack, if it hits directly, has the effect of Rank 6, with the rank increasing in case of multiple hits, and decreasing with indirect hits. The same can be done with technological effects, etc., just add some dependency on range and the game rules are ready.

Goto Author

This works for me. I suppose there are other more detailed versions of this out there somewhere, but i haven't seen any, so me'likes.

And yes, some examples would be great! :)

Goto Author

Was this written before wikipedia and web MD?