Unlike later games in the series, diseases in Daggerfall are more than a mere annoyance. They mean serious business and could spell a permanent end to your adventures if left untreated. Diseases will sap your attributes to nothing and even kill you in a matter of days if you don't manage to get cured.
So good news everyone! Starting with latest Live Builds you can become infected with diseases in Daggerfall Unity thanks to dirty creatures like bats, rats, and mummies.
Diseases actually began development a while back. Most of the research and back-end framework was built out by two rockstar contributors you should already be familiar with: Allofich and Hazelnut. Diseases have just been waiting for me to implement effect system to handle their payload and support their curing by spell effects. This is another great example of a successful collaborative effort for Daggerfall Unity.
Rather than roll out a dry article about implementation details, I've decided to use the Visual Diary format to tell a bit of a story and show all the different parts of the disease system in the context of normal play. I've decided to create a fictional day in the life of your average character to show how he might catch a disease and find his way to a cure. This is also great opportunity to show just how far gameplay has come, as everything that follows is something that could play out in Daggerfall Unity right now.
Part One : The Mummy
It's just one of those days. Your bank loan is due and your room at the Pig and Cat is almost up. You need some gold like yesterday to fuel the expensive tavern and ship-travel lifestyle you've become accustomed to. You're about to be homeless and legally wanted in Gothway Garden of Daggerfall. So what's a flat broke adventure to do?
You decide to visit Tristyn Hawkton of the Mages Guild to see if there's any work available. It turns out he's just delighted to see you and crazy for some wrappings from a very specific mummy called Maruag. Would you mind popping over to the Ruins of Wicksmith Court to get them for him? He's paying 1359 gold pieces for your trouble.
That should be enough to pay back your bank loan and a buy several months at the Pig and Cat, so you accept the quest and make your way on horseback to the Ruins of Wicksmith Court to look for that mummy and nick some of the poor thing's bandages.
Not much left of this place, is there? Just a few crumbled building and an entrance to some below-ground hellscape. You wonder if these places would still be ruins if they didn't insist on building on top of labyrinths filled to the brim with monsters. Maybe the property tax is lower or something?
After a few hours of searching dead-ends, you finally encounter the mummy Maruag itself. Looks like some other adventurer has taken the time to put it in a cage. Maybe they needed wrappings too?
You try reaching for a loose end from Maruag's wrapping. Live and let live right, the poor thing is already trapped in a cage. But Maruag is less than impressed and claws at your arm, drawing blood. You think: "right, you're done mate!" and cut down Maruag with that overpriced Daedric Dagger you took out a huge bank loan for a while back. On its double-dead corpse you find another 900 pieces of gold (score!) and the wrappings Tristyn Hawkton is looking for.
With all the gold you've made on this run, plus the reward, you'll finally be out of debt with the bank and have a roof over your head for a long while. You rest up and use your Medical skill to treat that scratch Maruag gave you earlier, then head back to Gothway Garden.
What you don't know yet is that Maruag's parting shot at you from his last moments of undeath have left you with a nasty surprise lurking in your bloodstream.
Part Two : The Homeward Journey
You look at your map to plan your journey home, and this is where you get your first sign of trouble. Suddenly the game is warning you something isn't right.
As a seasoned adventurer, you know this means you've caught a disease. Probably from that mummy scratch. You think it over for a minute and determine that you feel healthy right now.
You know from experience that diseases have a short incubation period. You probably won't feel bad until tomorrow sometime. The Ruins of Wicksmith Court is about a day from Gothway Garden, so travel should not be too risky. If you were several days from the nearest town with a temple, things might be different. But it's already late in the afternoon after spending so many hours in that dungeon, so you decide to get a move on and make your way back to Gothway Garden as quickly as possible by travelling recklessly.
You arrive shortly after midnight, and you're already starting to feel unwell. Looking at those sores forming on your arm, you know that you've caught the Red Death, a horrible disease that will be fatal if left untreated. You're already feeling quite drained. Thankfully you made to town without wasting any time!
Part Three : A Temple Cure
The quickest way to heal is by visiting the local temple if one is available. Fortunately Gothway Garden has a Resolution of Z'en on the north-east side. You make your way through the sleeping town in darkness, accompanied only by the sound of crickets.
A temple healer is on duty at all hours, and she offers to cure your Red Death for the low price of 317 gold pieces. You pay the fee and are healed in short order.
Part 4 : Curing By Spellcraft
On the other hand, you might decide you don't want any dealings with a temple that's only going to take more of your hard-earned gold. You have some skill in Restoration... well, kind of. Maybe instead you can heal your own disease and save yourself some gold. You're already a member of the Mages Guild after all. The first problem is that you travelled to town as quickly as possible and the Mages Guild is currently closed. At least you can rent your room at the Pig and Cat for another 30 days and try to create yourself a cure in the morning.
Later that morning, you visit the Mages Guild again and head straight for the spell maker to create a Cure Disease spell. Here you strike another problem. You're more of a Daedric Dagger kind of person, so you've been a bit tardy in your magical studies. You only have 6% skill in Restoration and 120 spell points to work with. Thankfully that Red Death isn't draining your Intelligence attribute or a temple might be the only option for now. You create a Cure Disease spell with the best chance of success you can for under 120 spell points.
You put together a Cure Disease spell that gives you a 1% chance of success plus 9% for every 2 levels gained. You're currently level 12, so you have a 1+9*(12/2)=55% chance of success. That's a better than half chance of success. Unfortunately it costs 408 gold pieces, which is more than the temple was offering. But at least now you can cure your own diseases whenever you need to. Anyway, who cares about stupid numbers? Let's cast this thing!
A crackle of fierce magical energy erupts from your hands and flows around your body. You feel the healing energies seep into your... wait, "spell effect failed"?
A better than half chance of success still means you have about a half chance of failure as well. And now you've blown your whole magicka reserves casting that one spell. Oh well, at least you're not that sick - yet. Not to be defeated, you return to the Pig and Cat to recover your magicka reserves to rest and try again. But first you give Tristyn Hawkton have his stupid mummy wrappings on the way out.
After several hours of rest and a second attempt, you finally clear yourself of that disease.
Part 4 : Epilogue
With some gold in hand, you visit the local Bank of Daggerfall and pay back that loan for the Daedric Dagger. Despite everything you've been through, you still managed to come out even stronger in the end. Maybe now it's time to continue with the Emperor's quest.