Radiation Sickness

Radiation can be naturally or artificially produced. All stars produce radiation in some variety, and planets closer to these stars typically suffer more severe effects than worlds farther away. Many starships and other pieces of technology incorporate radioactive parts and fuel cells that can flood an area with harmful radiation when ruptured or exposed. Ancient alien civilizations might leave behind powerful artifacts that emit harmful radiation. Whether the source of the radiation is natural or artificial, any character in an environment rich with radiation may suffer some negative effects for exposure.

When characters are exposed to radiation, they may be afflicted with radiation sickness. Radiation sickness functions exactly like exposure to any other disease, following the normal rules for diseases. The Fortitude save DC and the effects of radiation sickness vary with the dose of radiation to which a creature is exposed. Radiation exposure has five degrees: mild, low, moderate, high, and severe. To determine the degree of exposure, start with the type of exposure: either an irradiated area (such as the area near a nuclear explosion, after the fact, or a lab that has been flooded with radioactive gas), or a specific source of radiation (such as a lump of radioactive material). Then consult Table: Radiation Exposure to determine the degree of exposure based on the total time of exposure within a given 24-hour period (rounding up).

Table: Radiation Exposure
 ————————— Time of Exposure (Minimum) ————————
Situation1 round1 minute10 minutes1 hour1 day
Character in irradiated area:
Lightly irradiatedmildmildmildmildlow
Moderately irradiatedmildmildlowlowmoderate
Highly irradiatedlowlowmoderatemoderatehigh
Severely irradiatedmoderatemoderatehighhigsevere
Character exposed to radiation source:
Lightly radioactive materialsmildmildlowlowlow
Moderately radioactive materialslowlowmoderatemoderatemoderate
Highly radioactive materialsmoderatemoderatehighhighhigh
Severely radioactive materialshighhighsevereseveresevere

The degree of the exposure determines the severity of the radiation sickness, as indicated on Table: Radiation Sickness. At low levels, radiation sickness is a slow disease. Often, a sick character suffers no severe short-term effects. This is reflected in the fact that even with a failed Fortitude save, the character might not suffer any Constitution loss.

Table: Radiation Sickness
Degree of ExposureFortitude Save DCIncubation PeriodInitial and Secondary Damage
Mild121 day1d4–2 Con*
Low154d6 hours1d6–2< Con*
Moderate183d6 hours1d6–1 Con*
High212d6 hours1d6 Con
Severe241d6 hours2d6 Con
* Minimum damage 0 Con.

Treating Radiation Sickness

Radiation sickness is considered a treatable disease that can be cured using the “treat disease” aspect of the Treat Injury skill. Treating radiation sickness requires a medical kit. Advanced medicine (such as neutrad) and advanced technology (including nanites and cybernetic implants) can also eliminate radiation sickness or obviate its harmful effects.

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