Biological Warfare Agents

by Robert William Crawford (rcthree@umich.edu)

HTML Conversion by Green.Nova343

WARNING!!!

The information on this page is meant for use in Palladium Books' line of role-playing games ONLY! Although based on the real-world effects of the more common biological warfare agents, this is in no ways meant to be anything close to an in-depth or factual account of real-world biological weapons, nor is it meant to provide specific details on these agents (beyond the lethal concentrations or areas of effect). If you are looking for actual information on biological weapons, go either here or here to search for the information you need.

General Note:

Biological agents are fairly specific in nature. To be an effective weapon biologicals must meet certain criteria:
  1. The agents should be transmitted by a natural vector (arthropod mainly, endemic to the target area) or ideally airborne in nature.
  2. The agents should be capable of incapacitating (at the very least) or killing (at best) a large segment of the target population in a relatively short time.
  3. There should be no effective vaccines and/or treatments, or the vaccine/treatment's effectiveness is questionable.
  4. It should be self-limiting (you don't want a plague that takes out your own country).
  5. It should be capable of rapid dissemination.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect bio-weapon, for the following reasons:
  1. Disease agents that are selective for a target species (e.g. will affect humans) may not work against a closely related species (e.g. elves are unaffected; GM's choice).
  2. No matter how lethal a disease is, it is estimated that a minimum of 5% of the population will be unaffected (sorry no genocidal easy kills -- unless a cloned population).
  3. Many diseases have effective antibiotic therapy.
  4. Good health care and sanitation will prevent attacks from breaking out in an epidemic.
  5. Military units aren't as affected as civilian targets (dispersal of troops and good preventative care in military units).
As with chemical weapons, magic and psionics are an effective treatment for all biological agents. If the GM allows it these treatments may negate permanent effects of some diseases.

It is up to the GM to decide which life forms are affected by diseases. Unaffected life forms are the same as chemical weapons, plus full conversion borgs are unaffected by all diseases that do not affect the nervous system.

I. Biotoxins

Biotoxins are an intermediate between biological and chemical agents. Although they are used much like chemical agents, their source is biological.

1) Botulinal toxins (Clostridium botulinum): white, odorless crystal or aerosol.
Saving Throw Type: Lethal poison (-8 penalty).
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Onset of symptoms occurs 6Dd6 hours after exposure. Symptoms include weakness, dry skin, dilated pupils, and dizziness (-50% to P.S. and P.E., -3 to all combat rolls). 1D6 hours later, symptoms include paralysis and respiratory failure (artificial respiration required, no actions possible). 1D4 hours later, victim suffers cardiac arrest and death.
Dispersal: Bombs or spray tanks.
Area of Effect: 100 ft (30.5 m) or 50x500 ft (15.2x152 m) area per pass.
Persistence: 1D6 days.
Protection: Gas mask or better.
Treatment: Antiserum available (new save at +2). Immunization available (save at +6).
LD50: 0.02 mg min/ m3

2) Staphylococcal enterotoxins (Staphylococcus sp.): white, odorless crystal or aerosol.
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Onset of symptoms occurs 1D6 hours after exposure. Symptoms include extreme nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea (-50% to all physical abilities, -4 to all combat rolls, -20% to skill rolls). Recovery occurs after 24+2D4 hours.
Dispersal: Bombs or spray tanks.
Area of Effect: 100 ft (30.5 m) or 50x500 ft (15.2x152 m) area per pass.
Persistence: 4d6 weeks.
Protection: Gas mask or better.
Treatment: Antiserum (new save at +2). Immunization available (save at +6).

II. Viral Agents

1) Yellow Fever:
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease occurs within 1D6 days after exposure (bite). Symptoms include sudden fever, headaches, backaches, nausea and vomiting (-75% on all physical abilities, -4 on all combat rolls, -30% on skill rolls). 3D4 days after the onset of symptoms, the victim begins to suffer from bloody vomiting and jaundice, and has a 30% chance of dying (no actions possible). If nonfatal, recovery begins in 2D4 days. Penalties during the recovery period are as the initial symptoms.
Duration of Illness: 2D4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or mosquito vector.
Area of Effect: 50x500 ft (15.2x152 m) area per pass, or limited only by geography, weather and control measures.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: Immunization (save at +6). Professional medical care reduces duration by 50% and fatality rate to 5%.

2) Tick-borne Encephalitis:
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 2D6 days. Symptoms include headaches, respiratory distress, and fatigue (-50% on all physical abilities, -2 on all combat rolls, -10% on skills). 1D4 days later, symptoms include severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting (-75% on physical abilities, -4 on all combat, -40% on skills). 2D4 days later, roll another save. If successful, no fatality, disease continues for the duration (as previous, plus there is a 40% chance of permanent limb paralysis). If unsuccessful, symptoms will include drowsiness, neck pain, delirium, convulsions, partial or completed paralysis (30% chance of fatality, no actions possible, artificial respiration required, chance of permanent damage -- see above).
Duration: 2D4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or tick vector.
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the mosquito vector.
Protection: Gas mask, environmental armor.
Treatment: Immunization (save at +6). Professional medical care reduces duration by 50% and fatality rate to 5%.

3) Japanese Encephalitis:
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 2D6 days. Symptoms include headaches, respiratory distress, and fatigue (-50% on physical abilities, -2 on all combat rolls, -10% on skills). 1D4 days later, symptoms include severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting (-75% on physical abilities, -4 on all combat, -40% on skills). 2D4 days later, roll another save. If successful, no fatality, disease continues for the duration (as previous, plus there is a 20% chance of permanent mental impairment: -2 to I.Q. and M.E.). If unsuccessful, symptoms will include drowsiness, neck pain, delirium, and convulsions (30% chance of fatality, no actions possible, artificial respiration required, chance of permanent damage -- see above).
Duration: 2D4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or tick vector.
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the mosquito vector.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: Immunization (save at +6). Professional medical care reduces duration by 50% and fatality rate to 5%.

4) Dengue Fever:
Saving Throw Type: Lethal poison.
Successfule Save: No effect.
Failed: Disease onset occurs in 2D4 days. Symptoms include sudden fever, severe headaches, backaches, and severe muscle and joint pain (no actions possible; highly debilitating). 2D4 days after the onsetof symptoms, roll d100:
01-05 disease develops into hemorrhagic fever. Death occurs within 1D6 days (no actions possible; body is being liquefied by virus).
06-00 fever breaks and rapid recovery (-25% on all physical abilities, -2 on all combat rolls, -20% to skill rolls for 1D4 days). Duration: 4D4 days.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or mosquito vector.
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the mosquito vector.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: None. No suitable vaccine or chemotherapy.

5) Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis:
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 1D4 days. Symptoms include sudden headaches, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle and bone pain, and there is a 5% chance of developing encephalitis. Victim suffers -75% to all physical abilities, -4 to IQ if encephalitis occurs, -2 to all combat rolls, and -30% to skill rolls for the duration of illness)
Duration: 7+1D4 days.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or mosquitos.
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the mosquito vector.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: None. No suitable vaccine.

6) Chikungunga:
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 3D4 days. Symptoms include severe joint pains, fever, and spine pains (victim is completely immobilized for 1D6 days; no actions are possible). After this time there is a swift recovery (full actions for 2D4 days), followed by another, less severe, bout of fever (-2 to all combat rolls, -2 to P.S., P.E., and SPD). At the end of illness there is a 5% chance of permanent crippling of a limb (roll percentile:
arm: -2 to P.S. and P.P.
leg: -2 to P.P., -50% to SPD.
Duration: 1D6 days, 2D4 day remission, 1D6 days.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or mosquito.
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the mosquito vector.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: None. No suitable vaccine.

7) Rift Valley Fever:
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 1D4+2 days. Symptoms include sudden fever, nausea, vomiting, headaches, muscle pain and dizziness (-50% on all physical abilities, -3 on all combat rolls, -20% on skill rolls) for 1D4 days, followed by a 1D2 day remission and another 1D4 days of illness (same penalties as above).
Duration: 1D4 days, 1D2 day remission, 1D4 days.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or mosquito.
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the mosquito vector.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: None. No suitable vaccine.

8) Influenza:
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal Poison (-4 penalty).
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 1D4 days. Symptoms include fever, respiratory distress, headaches, nausea, and vomiting (-25% to all physical abilities, -2 to all combat rolls, -20% to skill rolls).
Duration: 2D6 days.
Dispersal: Spray tanks.
Area of Effect: Aiborne virus! Spreads rapidly if there are suitable hosts nearby. Roll a save each time upon entering a contaminated room or within 5 ft (1.5 m) of an infected victim.
Protection: Gas mask.
Treatment: None. Vaccine available (save at +6, must be renewed yearly).
Note on Influenza: The influenza virus is one of the most mutable viruses in existence. This is a likely candidate for developing more lethal strains. Use your imagination!

9) Small pox:
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison (-2 penalty).
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 1D6+6 days. Symptoms include fever, headaches, abdominal pain, and nausea. 2D6 hours after the onset of symptoms pox appear (-25% on all physical abilities, -2 on all combat, -20% to skill rolls). 30% chance of fatality (roll after the 1st day).
Duration: 2D6 days.
Dispersal: Spray tanks.
Area of Effect: Aiborne virus! Spreads rapidly if there are suitable hosts nearby. Roll a save each time upon entering a contaminated room or within 5 ft (1.5 m) of an infected victim.
Protection: Gas mask.
Treatment: No treatment. Vaccine available (save at +10).

III. Rickettsial Infection:

1) Typhus(Rickettsia prowaziki):
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 10+1D4 days. Symptoms by week:

Duration: 4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or lice.
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the lice vector.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: Antibiotics (keep victim at week 1 state and no fatality, duration unaffected). Vaccine available (save at +6).

2) Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever(Rickettsia rickettsi):
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 3D4 days. Symptoms include severe headaches, chills, fever, muscle and joint pain, and irritating rash. At the end of week 2, there is a 30% chance of fatality.
Duration: 2+1D4 weeks
Dispersal: Spray tanks or ticks
Area of effect: 50x500 ft 915.2x152 m) area per pass, or same limits as the tick vector.
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: Antibiotics (no chance of fatality, duration unaffected); Vaccine available (Save at +4).

3) Q Fever (Coxiella burnetti):
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 16+1D6 days. Symptoms include chills, fever, loss of appetite, fatigue and muscle and chest pain (-25% to P.S. and P.P., -75% to P.E., -2 to all combat rolls, -20% to skill rolls).
Duration: 1D4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks.
Area of Effect: Airborne infection! Same as influenza
Protection: Gas mask.
Treatment: Antibiotics can prevent disease if given prior to onset (no effect if taken after onset). No vaccine.

IV. Bacterial Infections:
1) Plague (Pasteurella pestis):
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs within 1D4+2 days (bubonic) or 1D4 days (pneumonic).
Bubonic plague: high fever, shock, confusion, painful swelling of lymph nodes, delirium, and coma (no activities possible. 50% chance of fatality, roll 2D4 days after onset).
Pneumonic plague: severe pneumonia (no actions possible! 95% chance of fatalilty, roll 1D6 days after onset).
Duration: 1D4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks (pneumonic) or fleas (bubonic)
Area of Effect: Aiborne virus! Spreads rapidly if there are suitable hosts nearby. Roll a save each time upon entering a contaminated room or within 5 ft (1.5 m) of an infected victim. Or by vector (bubonic).
Protection: Gas mask (aerosol) or Environmental armor (vector).
Treatment: Antibiotics given in the first 2 days will eliminate the chance of death (no effect on duration). Vaccine available (bubonic only, save at +6).

2) Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis):
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 2D6 days. Symptoms include skin infection (pustules and blood poisoning; -25% on all physical abilities, -2 on all combat rolls, -20% to skill rolls). 20% chance of fatalality (roll 2D6 days after onset). If inhaled or Ingested victim suffers toxaemia and blood poisoning (no actions possible, 80% chance of fatality -- roll 1d6 days after onset).
Duration: 1D4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks or sabotage of food supply.
Area of Effect: Aiborne virus! Spreads rapidly if there are suitable hosts nearby. Roll a save each time upon entering a contaminated room or within 5 ft (1.5 m) of an infected victim. Spores may remain viable for years!
Protection: Environmental armor or better.
Treatment: Antibiotics (skin contact -- no chance of fatalilty; lung contact -- reduce chance of fatality to 20%). Vaccine allows another save (+4 bonus).

3) Tularaemia (Pasturella tularensis):
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 1D10 days. Symptoms include fever, swelling of lymph glands, delirium, and coma (no activity possible! 50% chance of fatality, roll 1D4 days after onset).
Duration: 1D4 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray, or fleas, lice, or ticks.
Area of Effect: Aiborne virus! Spreads rapidly if there are suitable hosts nearby. Roll a save each time upon entering a contaminated room or within 5 ft (1.5 m) of an infected victim. Or as vector.
Protection: Gas mask or environmental armor.
Treatment: Antibiotics (no chance of fatality, duration reduced by one week [one week minimum]). Vaccine available (save at +6).

4) Brucellosis (Brucella spp.):
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Disease onset occurs in 1D4 days. Symptoms include chills, fever, headache, loss of appetite, depression, exhaustion, sweating, and aching joints (-50% on physical attributes, -4 on all combat rolls, and -20% on all skills). Unless treated with antibiotics, infection may spontaneously reoccur (roll another save each month until successful or treated).
Duration: 1D4+1 weeks.
Dispersal: Spray tanks.
Area of Effect: Aiborne virus! Spreads rapidly if there are suitable hosts nearby. Roll a save each time upon entering a contaminated room or within 5 ft (1.5 m) of an infected victim.
Protection: Gas mask or better.
Treatment: Antibiotics (no chance of reoccurance, duration is half). Vaccine available (save at +2, questionable effectiveness).

5) Typhoid Fever(Salmonella typhi):
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: No effect (special; see note below).
Failed Save: Onset of the disease occurs in 1D2 weeks. Symptoms include malaise, headache, and fever for 3D4 days (-50% to physical abilities, -3 to all combat rolls, -20% to all skills). Symptoms continue to progress towards prostration, abdominal distress, rash and high fever resulting in delirium for duration of illness (no actions possible! 10% chance of being fatal at this time)
Duration: 2-3 weeks (special; see note below).
Dispersal: Spray tanks or sabotage.
Area of Effect: Aiborne virus! Spreads rapidly if there are suitable hosts nearby. Roll a save each time upon entering a contaminated room or within 5 ft (1.5 m) of an infected victim. Or by consumption of contaminated food or water.
Protection: Gas mask or better.
Treatment: Antibiotics (no fatality, duration is half). Vaccine available (save at +2, questionable effectiveness, no change on carrier roll).
Special: Typhoid can be carried by an unaffected or affected individual for long periods of time (1D4 years to life!). During this time the carrier remains a source of infection to those around him or her(eg. Typhoid Mary). When exposed to the disease, those that successfully save and those recovering from the disease must then roll % dice:
01-05 person is a carrier, GM determines duration
06-00 no effect.

V. Fungal Infections:

Coccidioidomycosis(Coccidioides immitis):
Saving Throw Type: Lethal poison.
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Onset of the disease occurs in 1D10+10 days. Symptoms resemble influenza, with fever, chills, cough, pleural pain, headache and backache (no actions possible! 50% chance of being fatal at the end of the first week). If untreated there is a possibility of long term lung and nerve damage (01-10 lung damage: -2 to P.E.; 11-20 nerve damage: -2 to P.P., -5% to skills; 21-00 no effect).
Duration: 1D4+1 weeks, roll to save every other month or reoccurance.
Dispersal: Spray or infected soil.
Area of Effect: Standard; viable for years.
Protection: Gas mask or better.
Treatment: Antibiotics (no fatality, no permanent damage and duration is half). No vaccine available.