Mold and its effects

Alright, since another thread was getting off-topic about this, I thought I’d just bring it up here. Suffice to say a case can be made for why the common cold and influenze viruses aren’t exactly prime candidates for a post-apocalyptic world. Yeah you can handle it with some handwavy sci-fi/magical mumbo jumbo, but I’d like to make a case for dropping communal illness in favor of something faaaar more prevalent in a world without people.


Mold is everywhere. And when mold colonies grow to significant size, the particles they give off can cause symptoms that range from inconvenient, to dangerous, and even deadly. The list of symptoms common with mold exposure is actually quite long and interesting:

Level 1 Exposure:
Itching Skin
Redness and skin irritation
Watery Eyes
Itching Eyes

Level 2 Exposure:
Constant Headaches
Nose Bleeds
Feelings of Constant Fatigue
Breathing Disorders
Coughing up Blood or Black looking Debris
Loss of Appetite
Weight Loss
Hair loss
Skin Rashes
Open Sores on the Skin
Memory Loss "Short Term"
Neurological & Nervous Disorders
Sexual Dysfunction
Swollen Glands in the Neck Area and under the Armpit
Sudden Asthma Attacks or Breathing Disorders
Ear Infections and Pain
Chronic Sinus Infections
Chronic Bronchitis
Pain in the Joints and Muscles

Level 3 Exposure:
Brain Damage
Memory Loss "Long term"
Bleeding Lungs

Many of these are either already a separate game mechanic that could be borrowed, and others would make interesting mechanics on their own. And that’s just aside from the basic cold-like symptoms that are already there.

There’s a few reasons why I think mold would make a better problem to focus on in terms of gameplay:

  1. The danger of sickness can be partitioned by area. A tool store would have relatively little danger while a house would be worse, and sewers would be really quite dangerous. Different kinds of molds are found in different places and in different quantities, allowing you to define different illnesses and symptom groups based on location.

  2. Environmental protection such as bandanas, dust masks, and filter masks could be used to mitigate and even eliminate risk of mold infection, giving the player an active way of combating the risk of mold infection.

  3. Because the way that infections get worse and get better is through exposure, spending large amounts of time in a mold-risk area increases the severity of the symptoms, and removing yourself from those locations reduces the severity. This means that living inside ready-made living like houses becomes moderately less attractive over the long term. This in turn encourages players to use crafting skills over the long term. It also means there will be an incentive (and a need, at times) to spend time outdoors in order to recover. It could be treated in a similar way to how Fallout games have handled radiation. Only the ticker would go down naturally over time.

  4. Because of the way mold affects the body, you can keep an invisible ‘count’ that increases as the character gradually spends too much time in moldy areas, and decreases as they spend time in fresh air. They won’t start noticing symptoms until they pass a threshold. And that count can keep going up, unlocking new symptoms as the fungal infection gets worse.

  5. There’s already plenty of focus on zombies. They attack you, they infect you with bites, and even cause the minor inconvenience of the common cold. I think the environment itself needs to play a bigger role as an obstacle. The period of time immediately following the breakdown of humanity would be a time of immense mold growth as molds take over leaky houses and consume all that food that’s not getting eaten. The mold won’t get to you right away, but over time, wandering through so many abandoned buildings left to rot, that’s gonna start to get to you. It’d be the kind of thing you’d feel like you could safely ignore until suddenly you’re sick. And the only way to get better is to give your body time to recover - away from mold. Or it’ll just get worse. So you might realize that safe little house you’ve been sleeping in might just be slowly killing you.

With the addition of Z levels coming, there will be moldy basements and attics to explore, and as structures in the world get more interesting, there will be parts of them that are less safe to investigate without at least a dust-mask. I dunno, I think think the range of symptoms, the fact that it adds an additional menacing quality to places that should be unpleasant, and the possibilities for variety and management make it far more interesting than ‘get cold > take dayquil.’

But it does have radiation like drawbacks. Story Time.

“Oh no, I sneeze/itching skin/watery eyes/itchy eyes/breathing diorders/fatigue/diarrhea/vomiting/etc/etc. I wonder what is happening to me.” Says Newcomer.
“I best just lie down and sleep, that solves a cold, it will solve this.” Says Newcomer.
Loss of Appetite/Weight Loss/Hair loss/Skin Rashes/Open Sores on the Skin/Memory Loss “Short Term”/Neurological & Nervous Disorders/Sexual Dysfunction/Swollen Glands in the Neck Area and under the Armpit/Sudden Asthma Attacks or Breathing Disorders/Ear Infections and Pain/Chronic Sinus Infections/Chronic Bronchitis/Pain in the Joints and Muscles

“It must be some sort of radiation in the area, I will eat these iodine tablets and move to the other side of the city.”
<<Keeps living on in the city without knowing that the city is what is killing them, slowly>>
“Oh noses. I died. I wonder what from.” Says Newcomer.
“But this is fun, the unknown, onward, another survivor”
<<Many survivors later the newcomer eventually rage quits because they die so mysteriously it is not fun anymore.

Mold fucking stinks, we could have a popup saying that is stinks to warn y’all’s.

Yep, pretty much what I was gonna say. Environmental text could tell you stuff about how bad the air is in a place. Also the text under the illness stuff could mention the mold.

Plus wouldn’t the goo infecting the water prevent mold from growing from it? I would slow mold growth but not stop it, just for a longer buffer. Plus we can have abandoned houses that have cool junk in them.

Its just that I see mold as a strange danger that will keep people out of the cities. It will not be the fun of owning the city, living in it, and simply enjoying the feeling of victory of zombies. It will just be like: “You kills the Z’s, now GTFO of the city”. There is nothing fun about that, no way to enjoy your victory with that kind of system.

Furthermore one NPCs are working and start taking over cities, they will need a way to not get infected.
IMHO it is just an overpowered/unfun sorta disease.

The problem is that if we would add all of the rl diseases , the characters would probably have 5 diseases at the same time.
I mean that characters should generally be more disease resistant and the mold should affect them only after a long time in the game so it’s not like you step one square in a house and have your brain dissolved because the air is just a black fog full with spores.
And the mold seems kind of a way the game might say “You’ve survived long and happy life , now for no reason lets make mushrooms grow out of your eyes”.

Why are virus’s not candadates for the cataclysm? why can’t the virus that turned people into zombies just be avian/swine/equine flu x7?

I’m pretty sure death by advanced mutated influenza is in the top ten ways humanity may die this century.

I also disagree that a store would be less likely to be houseing a virus then a house, a house might see the same 8 people over and over in a 1 month period, a store see’s countless 1000’s in a month, each one with an individual chance of not only being the nursing ground for a virus, but be the carrier of a completly unique virus for the area (Pig farmer from agentina popped into the local arkansas bookstore)

@Otaku I’m not against including ways to clean up a building and remove a mold threat. But also keep in mind that not all buildings will be dangerous to live in, and that it could take quite a while to develop symptoms - you need quite a bit of exposure. If you just ransack a house and develop a small count of exposure(much too little to develop symptoms), it might be a walk down the street to undo that count. It’s really wandering around in sewers/basements/really filthy places that would spike your count. Or living too long in a bad place.

I think you’re over-estimating the impact. You’d start to see symptoms roughly as often as you do with colds, it’s just that there would a) be some rhyme and reason to it, b) something the player could do to manage it and prevent it happening (with masks), and c) the player actually has to do something to fix the problem.

There’s really nothing stopping a person from living in a moldy house so long as they take a break once in a while to let their bodies recover.

@woflsipder I can’t respond to something which plainly ignores what the OP actually says. I’m not going to repeat myself. Suffice to say, I explicitly explained why the very thing you are saying is not something that would happen. Thanks though.

@Jimbo_Jamerson These are undead zombies. You kill them and they get right back up again later. They don’t bleed out, which means they don’t need blood, and their cells are necrotic, and necrotic cells cannot - I repeat, cannot host viruses. These aren’t 28 Days Later ‘Rage Virus’ or whatever zombies. In the game’s lore people were turned into zombies by some extradimensional goo. I don’t really know what that’s about, but there you go. There are arguments that can be made for why it might make sense for a virus to persist in an undead zombie, but that’s not what this thread is about.

As for stores… I am talking about mold. Mold has nothing to do with people. Mold grows where it can find material to consume and it has the right combination of light and moisture. Stores have big storefront windows that allow sun in and mold doesn’t particularly like the sun. Stores also - depending on the type - have less ‘stuff’ in them that mold might consume. Mold does not consume tile floors and metal tools. That is why I said a tool store. It does, however, consume carpets, food, books, clothing, and many kinds of furniture.

Also viruses can’t live outside the body for long. The ambient environment breaks them down - they can only survive and replicate inside a living host with living cells. That is medical reality. The apocalypse already happened, we are, according to the lore, already three days into it. There are few living people left to touch doorknobs etcetera. Any environmental viruses that were kicking around in stores or pretty much anywhere else have long since died. Bacteria is another matter, but the common cold and influenza are not born from bacteria. There’s a thread full of explanations about how viruses work and why they don’t make a lick of sense in the apocalypse unless you force an explanation. It’s the junkie diseases thread. If you want to talk about that stuff, read my posts there first because I am totally not ready to go through all of it a second time. =P

[quote=“Jimbo_Jamerson, post:8, topic:2265”]Why are virus’s not candadates for the cataclysm? why can’t the virus that turned people into zombies just be avian/swine/equine flu x7?

I also disagree that a store would be less likely to be houseing a virus then a house, a house might see the same 8 people over and over in a 1 month period, a store see’s countless 1000’s in a month, each one with an individual chance of not only being the nursing ground for a virus, but be the carrier of a completly unique virus for the area (Pig farmer from agentina popped into the local arkansas bookstore)[/quote]

IIRC the reason for the outbreak was a goo or goop (lab lore).

As for the store argument, you are both right and wrong. I mean in my hometown we have our local hardware store. But there are only a handful of regulars that go there, everybody else usually avoids it, or asks one of the regulars to buy something for them. So there are more people going in and out, but it is usually the same group of 20-ish people.

Also Jimbo, what is your stance on the mold argument? I am sorry but I am not good at picking up subtle messages in post.

@Hyena Grin
I hope that you are right with the impact, this could be vastly OP. Just a question. Lets say that you have next to death symptoms, say 1 day until death. If you go out and take a vacation in the wilderness, how long (average) would you think the cool down time would be?

Yeah, the point about virus/bacteria and the origins of Cataclysm zombie infector is heavily discussed in other threads, and like HG pointed out there is the Junkie Disease Thread has them, starts about on page 2 IIRC.

you ASSUME the cells are necrotic. there is no evidence either way. and either way, there would still be SOME live cells within the zombie capable of carrying a virus, a cell doesnt need a heart beat, a cell doesnt need lungs, a cell doesnt need an overbrain (normal human brain), it just needs nutrients and oxygen.

(Zombies around beehives have scar tissue, which only forms on LIVING ORGANISMS, dead bodies will not form scars)

therefore, the zombies cells are alive and according to you, perfectly capable of carring a virus (heck, maybe a human just wiped his nose on his sleeve before he became a zombie, or the body had to become infected with a virus to rise from the dead)

Swine flu.

oh yeah, totally cool on the mold idea i guess, but i am just defending influenza, i’ll bet it can hang around for three days on certain locations (Sneeze on an apple multiple times in the supermarket then a survivour finds this apple i have snotted all over and eats it) one extreme example, but considering how pissed on the main street is in my town, or how many sick people enter the doctors office (which is protected frm uv rays) 3 days is a very reasonable survival time for a virus (and with NPC’s on it’s not like humans stopped coughing on everything on day 0 of cataclysm)

not all mold is bad, take penicillin for example, which is commonly used as medicine as im sure everyone knows, they even put mold in certain cheeses, plus the effects of dangerous mold could take weeks to actually develop symptoms without certain medical disorders such as asthma etc.

dont forget though, when you start the game it’s only been going on for 3-5 days, takes a lot longer than that for seriously life threatening mold to grow (unless the fungaloids speed up the process)

[quote=“Jimbo_Jamerson, post:11, topic:2265”]you ASSUME the cells are necrotic. there is no evidence either way. and either way, there would still be SOME live cells within the zombie capable of carrying a virus, a cell doesnt need a heart beat, a cell doesnt need lungs, a cell doesnt need an overbrain (normal human brain), it just needs nutrients and oxygen.

(Zombies around beehives have scar tissue, which only forms on LIVING ORGANISMS, dead bodies will not form scars)[/quote]

He assumed the cells are necrotic because he has evidence.

As he said , the zombies can’t bleed out , therefore the heart is not beating which means no nutrients and oxygen for the cells.
Since the zombies were around for 3 days with oxygenless cells , they should be somewhat necrotic.
Scarred zombies might have been injured in the 1st day and healed by the midnight when the cells gave up and died.

The bit about timeline really good point, most areas wouldn’t be moldy from the get-go, it’d take time for them to get there (if you close the windows and doors of a modern house, you’re going to get mold growth pretty quick, they rely on AC and air circulation to avoid mold growth) Also refrigerators are going to be a horrific nightmare of warring mold and bacterial colonies in relatively short order. Ideally keeping your windows open, and running fans to circulate fans or similar would be sufficient to keep your house from developing these issues, only certain places would be severe danger zones.

Overall I think it’s a great idea, as with anything we want to let the player know about it, be able to avoid it, and otherwise mitigate it.
If an area is moldy, there would be a notification of some kind indicating air quality, something like a tag on the UI that ranges among “clear/stuffy/dank/clammy/choking” or some better tags :wink:
At severe levels there might be fields indicating the presence of mold that appear when you examine terrain or funiture, and if you walk across it it would create clouds of spores.
Breathing masks of various kinds would of course help (BTW, they help with the “cold” and “flu” too).
Various things would help cure or mitigate it, such as high health helping you fight it off faster, and perhaps misc medicines. Blood filters and blood monitoring would also be effective.

Re: cold/flu, what ever makes you think it’s an actual cold/flu as we know it? It’s a mysterious disease with cold/flu like symptoms. Actually it’d be interesting to have cold/flu exposure be based on proximity to zombie infested areas specifically. Another plus for wilderness living.

Regardless of whether the zombies are necroic or not, bacteria can definitely survive in necrotic environments.

didnt they say the goo caused the zombies?

@Jimbo, In the absence of a heart to pump blood, there is no way to get oxygen and nutrients to the cells. Someone made a case that the goo replaced the blood and is serving the same purpose of transporting blood and nutrients to cells. That’s fine, I don’t really care about that. Like I said, it’s sci-fi/magicky handwavy stuff. It’s speculation. Until the developers explicitly explain how this particular brand of zombification works, it’s anyone’s guess as to how anything works. It doesn’t matter whether zombies are necrotic or technically living. The default position is that viruses require a very particular environment in order to survive and reproduce and it’s more unlikely than it is likely that a virus could survive in a zombie that does not have blood pumping and may or may not be breathing. Unless you come up with some additional reason as to why it can. Which is fine, if you want to do that.

But that is not what this thread is about. This thread is not contingent on whether or not zombies can host a virus. This is about mold.

@Otaku Game balance is tricky. I’m as much in favor of a game being fun over being ‘realistic’ as anyone. You shouldn’t have to spend a week outdoors to solve a problem. But as a hypothetical example;

Increasing exposure:
0 Exposure - No problem
50 Exposure - No Problem
100 Exposure - Develop 1st tier symptom
200 Exposure - Develop additional 1st tier symptom
300 Exposure - Develop 2nd tier symptom
400 Exposure - Develop second 2nd tier symptom
500 Exposure - Develop 3rd tier symptom (cannot be fatal)
… at 600 and every 100 after you take random effects from the third tier, some of which will result in death after a short period.

Every 100 exposure would take about 8 hours of fresh air to get rid of. However you don’t undo the damage until 50 points lower than the symptom you received. So you get a symptom at 100 and it goes away at 50. If you get a second symptom at 200 you lose it at 150, and are fully healthy at 50. So if you were to get your first symptom and immediately spend 4 hours outdoors, it would go away. And you’d need to accumulate back up to 100 to get a symptom again.

If you’ve managed to get all the way up to 500 exposure then it would take 36 hours of fresh air to return to a healthy state (50 exposure). Though it can be more than 500.

As for how long it would take to accumulate exposure is another matter. It would depend on the kinds of places you spend time in and how long you spend there. Just looting houses wouldn’t be a big deal. Some houses would be clean and some would be mildly bad. If the house is marked as on the higher end of bad (for houses) then you might develop a symptom overnight by sleeping in it(100 exposure). Eight hours of sleep = eight hours of fresh air. A cleaner house wouldn’t affect you nearly as much and you might never develop symptoms at all because you naturally spend enough time outdoors to counter it. So unless you never left your house for days you’d have nothing to worry about.

It’s when you start walking around moldy grocery stores - and in particular sewers - that things spike. A few hours in a sewer without breathing protection could leave you with multiple symptoms that take substantially longer to recover from than a night in a moldy house.

@Kevin Granade, I really like the idea of certain tiles being ‘spore traps’ if you will. Ambient air levels are one thing, but having active dangers to avoid makes things a lot more interesting. And given the lore it’s possible that mold itself has been affected and mutated. After all, we already have the creepy fungal zombies. Their territory could be thick with mold that makes attacking them without masks dangerous. And they could give off clouds of spores when you kill them. Etc.

I just think there’s a lot of interesting gameplay potential with this kind of environmental threat.

Edit: Re: Aggressive treatment of fungal infections, there are oral anti-fungal medications which can be taken that will attack fungus in the body. They are quite toxic and not healthy (they can result in liver damage), but they could be found in pharmacies because they are often prescribed to fight foot fungus. I’d just tack on some unpleasant side-effects to make it less desirable unless you’re in a real bad way.

The ordinary method of fighting a fungal infection (in real life) is avoiding further exposure and avoiding foods that feed the fungus (sugars, starches, alcohols), but that’s not very interesting.

This sounds like its harming the lungs and whatnot.

So a simple filter mask would completely negate any effects, and a bandana would also. Put it simply, super mutant mold.

Yeah, I envision the various masks reducing the amount of exposure per tick by an amount related to (if not the same as) their environmental protection figure. And if a mask reduces that number to zero then basically there’s no exposure. I’d like to see damaged masks have reduced effectiveness though, if they don’t already.

Ideally you would need a gas-mask to safely travel in the most dangerous places without exposure. I like that because gas masks inherently have penalties associated with them. I also like the idea of having to have a gas mask to travel safely in sewers and moldy fungal landscapes, it adds something to me.