Chemical Warfare Agents

by Robert William Crawford (rcthree@umich.edu

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 chemical warfare agents, this is in no ways meant to be anything close to an in-depth or factual account of real-world chemical 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 chemical weapons, go either here or here to search for the information you need.

General Notes:

Chemical agents are a non-specific means of incapacitating or killing an enemy's forces or support mechanism. The benefits of chemical agents are:
  1. They can be even more devastating under ideal conditions than even a nuclear weapon.
  2. They leave equipment and facilities unharmed.
  3. They affect a wide variety of targets.
  4. They are cheap to produce and disperse.
  5. They breakdown after a relatively short period of time.
As great as this makes them sound there are several drawbacks to the use of these weapons:
  1. Troops must wear protective clothing due to non-specificity of agents.
  2. Treatment requires personnel specially trained to deal with poisoning symptoms (all medics not trained to deal with chemical agents are at -10% to treat victims).
  3. The dispersal is affected by wind and weather.
  4. Civilians are the group most at risk (military units tend to be spread out enough to reduce threat).
  5. Under certain conditions, agents may remain active for longer than expected.
  6. Expensive decontamination procedures needed to ensure safety of troops in field (can't stay in armor for ever).
Magic and psionics are effective treatments against chemical agents, eliminating the chance of fatality. If the GM allows it, these treatments may also negate the chance of permanent damage due to nerve gas poisoning.

As a rule most living things are affected by chemical agents. Livestock, wildlife, birds, and even insects (nerve gas only) are all affected. Other creatures that could be affected are all humanoid D-bees, giants (+4 to save), and minor MDC monsters (gargoyles, brodkil, and others with minor powers and limited healing). The creatures that can be affected is up to the GM (as a general rule, I assign a bonus to save of +2 to +6 depending on the size and MDC of a creature). Beings that are never affected are Undead, greater supernatural beings, alien intelligences, robots, demons, and non-carbon based life forms.

Notes on terms:

Method of dispersal: weapons that are capable of carrying that particular agent.
Area of effect: radius of effect of the respective weapons.
Persistence: length of time that the agents are active in the environment.
Protection: minimum equipment required for immunity to agent(no save needed).
Treatment: effects of care and/or antidotes for specific agents.
LD50: amount of agent required to kill 50% of exposed population.

I. Lethal Agents

A. Lung Irritants

Phosgene(carbonyl chloride, COCl2): Colorless gas with a slight smell of mown hay. Symptoms of poisoning develop after 1D6 hours.
Saving Throw Type: Lethal poison (+2 bonus).
Successful Save: Dose is sublethal. The victim suffers -4 to P.E. for 2D4 weeks due to lung damage (professional medical care reduces time by 50%).
Failed Save: Dose is lethal. Symptoms include breathlessness, coughing, vomiting, chest pains, thirst, and a sense of suffocation for 1D4 hours after onset (may be helped by professional medical care; allow another save, and the victim is unable to take action). If no aid is received by the end of this period, the victim goes into convulsions, foams at the mouth, lapses into a coma, and dies.
Method of Dispersal: mortars, rockets, artillery, or bombs.
Area of Effect: 50 ft (15.2 m), 50 ft (15.2 m), 100 ft (30.5 m), or 200 ft (61.0 m).
Persistence: 5D6 minutes.
Protection: Gas mask or better.
Treatment: Professional medical care (successful roll) will reduce injury and allow save vs. death. No effective chemotherapy.
LD50: ~3200 mg min / m3.

B. Blood Gases

Hydrogen Cyanide(HCN) / Cyanogen Chloride(ClCN): Colorless liquid or gas with a slight almond smell. Onset of poisoning symptoms is immediate (1D6 minutes).
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison (+2 bonus for HCN, +4 bonus for ClCN).
Successful Save: Dose is sublethal. Victim suffers penalties of -5 to P.E., -2 to P.S., and -25% to SPD for 1D4 weeks (professional medical care reduces the time by -50%).
Failed Save: Dose is lethal. Symptoms include immediate feeling of warmth, flushed skin, nausea, headaches, vomiting, and respiratory distress. After 1D10 minutes, the victim suffers from unconsciousness, convulsions, and eventual death!
Dispersal: bombs or missiles.
Area of Effect: 100 ft (30.5 m).
Persistence: 5D6 minutes.
Protection: Gas mask or better.
Treatment: Application of nitrites and thiosulfates allows another save at +6.
LD50: 5000 mg min / m3 (HCN) or 11,000 mg min / m3 (ClCN).

C. Vesicants

Mustard Gas(bis[2-chloroethyl] sulfide): Amber, oily liquid with a pungent odor. Symptom onset occurs 1D6 hrs. after exposure.
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison.
Successful Save: Dose is sublethal. Severe skin burns do 2D4 S.D.C. The victim suffers penalties of - 2 to P.P., -20% to physical skills, and there is a 10% chance of blindness for 2D4 weeks (Note: after initial damage from burns victim does not recover S.D.C. or HP at the normal rate! Hit Point loss remains for the duration of effect unless magically or psionically healed). Professional medical care reduces duration of penalties by -50%.
Failed Save: Dose is lethal! Symptoms include blurred vision, bloody nose, sneezing, coughing, and tearing of the eyes. 4D4 hours later, symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and hacking cough. By the end of 24 hours, symptoms include severe blistering (-50% to all physical abilities and skills). After 24+2D10 hours, symptoms become extreme, breathing is difficult and no actions are possible! Death occurs 1D6 days after the first day.
Dispersal: Spray tanks.
Area of Effect: 50x500 ft (15.2x152 m) area per pass.
Persistence: 3D6 minutes (lethal) to 2D4 days (skin affecting).
Protection: gas mask (lethal effects only) or environmental armor (no effects).
Treatment: Professional medical treatment (successful roll) before the end of 48 hours allows another save at +2. No effective chemotherapy.
LD50: 1500 mg min/ m3.

D. Nerve Agents

1) G Agents (dialkylphosphoramidocyanidic acids, Tabun [GA], Sarin [GB], Soman [GD]): Colorless, odorless liquid or vapor(highly volatile). Symptom onset occurs 2D6 minutes (inhaled) or 1D6x10 minutes (skin contact) after exposure.
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison (-3 penalty).
Successful Save: Dose is sublethal. Symptoms include severe muscle spasms, respiratory distress, and temporary partial paralysis. Victim suffers penalties of -3 to strike, parry and dodge, -25% to all physical abilities, and -20% to skills. Penalties last until treated! If no treatment is received after 24 hours roll vs. lethal poison again (-3 penalty). Repeat for each day without treatment. See the following table for chance of permanent effects.
Failed Save: Paralysis and death occur within 3D6 minutes of the onset of symptoms!
Dispersal: Artillery, bombs, or spray tanks.
Area of Effect: 50 ft (15.2 m), 100 ft (30.5 m), or 50x500 ft (15.2x152 m) area per pass.
Persistence: 1D4 hours.
Protection: Environmental armor or better.
Treatment: Atropines and oximes allow another save (no modifier). A failed save means no change, a successful save moves victim to the next better category. Note: there is still a chance of permanent effects and victim is completely incapacitated for 1D6 hours for each injection.
LD50: 100 mg min / m3 (inhaled) or 1500 mg / man (skin).

2) V Agents (ROCH3P(O)SCH2CH2NR'R" [R, R', R" denote alkyl groups], VE, VM, VX): Colorless, odorless liquid or vapor (highly volatile). Symptom onset occurs 1D10 minutes (inhaled) or 5d6 minutes (skin contact) after exposure.
Saving Throw Type: Lethal Poison (-8 penalty).
Successful Save: Dose is sublethal. Symptoms include severe muscle spasms, respiratory distress, and temporary partial paralysis. Victim suffers penalties of -50% to all physical abilities, -6 to strike, parry and dodge, and -40% to skill rolls. Penalties last until treated! If no treatment is received after 24 hours roll vs. lethal poison again (-3 penalty). Repeat for each day without treatment. See the following table for chance of permanent effects.
Failed Save: Victim suffers convulsions and death 2D6 minutes after exposure.
Dispersal: Artillery, bombs, or spray tanks.
Area of Effect: 50 ft (15.2 m), 100 ft (30.5 m), or 50x 500 ft (15.2 x 152 m) area per pass.
Persistence: 3D6 days.
Protection: Environmental armor or better.
Treatment: same as G-agents
LD50: 5 mg min/ m3(inhaled) or 6 mg/man(skin)

Permanent Effects Table:
G-Agents: 5% chance of permanent effect, +5% per additional exposure (cumulative).
V-Agents: 15% chance of permanent effect, +5% per additional exposure.
If affected roll on following table:
1D100Permanent Effect
01-20Minimal Brain Damage (-1 IQ)
21-40Minimal Peripheral Nerve (-1 PP)
41-60Minimal Paralysis (legs: -1 PE, -25% spd, arms: -1 PS, -1 PP)
61-80Minimal Respiratory Damage (-1 PE)
81-85Major Respiratory Damage (-2 PE, -1 PS, -3 spd)
86-90Major Paralysis (legs: -2 PE, -50% spd, -2 dodge; arms: -2 PS, -2 PP, -20% skill)
91-95Major Peripheral Nerve (-2 PP, -1 PS, -3 spd)
96-00Major Brain Damage (-3 IQ, -1 MA)
Notes on Nerve Agents:
Nerve agents are an extremely toxic poison originally developed from insecticides (organophosphates mostly). The agents work mainly by inhibiting the production of cholinesterase at synaptic junctions (nerve to nerve and/or nerve to muscle) which also leads to a buildup of acetylcholine in affected areas. Although there is a treatment for nerve agent poisoning, the possibility of permanent damage still exists. This is due to the following reasons:

  1. The inability of atropine to reactivate inhibited cholinesterase (it only prevents further damage).
  2. Inability of reactivators to penetrate blood-brain barrier.
  3. Rapid chemical change in inhibited cholinesterase prevents reactivation by treatment.
Also note that atropine is highly toxic at effective doses! Autoinjectors or military medic training is required to prevent poisoning (-20% on other medics and people with the First Aid skill).

II. Incapacitating Agents

A. Psycochemicals

BZ(classified, 3-quinuclidinol(?)) - white crystalline solid or fine aerosol
Saving Throw Type: Nonlethal poison (-3 penalty).
Successful Save: No effect.
Failed Save: Onset of symptoms occurs 1D6x10 minutes after exposure. Times start at onset of symptoms:

Dispersal: Bombs, spray tanks, or sabotage.
Area of Effect: 100 ft (30.5 m), 50x500 ft (15.2x152 m) area per pass, or contaminated water.
Persistence: 1D4 hours.
Protection: Environmental armor or better.
Treatment: Physostigmine reduces stage I and II durations by 75%. Atropine may be used but only reduces effect by 25% (both drugs incapacitate victim for duration of effect).
Effective Dose: 100 mg min/ m3.