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Can we please get rid of the ability to taste a disease?


Skills & Feats


Seriously, there's already a DC for tasting spoiled food. Does anyone really know what polio (say) tastes like? Where did that idea come from?


Its making me hungry. Stop it.

Do we need this skill? Taste disease? Justify this before making it permanent....please.


I suppose since tasting poisons (many of which are harmless when ingested) to identify them is completely valid and well established in various media, disease are a close follow. They are both harmful conditions generated by exterior factors which somehow penetrate the body's defenses, and often create noticable side effects.

That said, I think the idea of "tasting a disease" is so corner case, that the rules could just say "if this comes up, see Tasting Poisons for inspiration for DCs".


The Black Bard wrote:
I suppose since tasting poisons (many of which are harmless when ingested) to identify them is completely valid and well established in various media, disease are a close follow. They are both harmful conditions generated by exterior factors which somehow penetrate the body's defenses, and often create noticable side effects.

Seriously, which viruses have you ever tasted? (Note that there's a separate DC for spoiled food, so that doesn't count.)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Well, I don't know about smelling airborne things,or whatever, but diagnosing disease or smelling what disease people have.

I can smell when people are sick and identify a few common infections just from having children.

Dogs can smell certain kinds of cancer.

Taldor

hogarth wrote:
The Black Bard wrote:
I suppose since tasting poisons (many of which are harmless when ingested) to identify them is completely valid and well established in various media, disease are a close follow. They are both harmful conditions generated by exterior factors which somehow penetrate the body's defenses, and often create noticable side effects.
Seriously, which viruses have you ever tasted? (Note that there's a separate DC for spoiled food, so that doesn't count.)

Most viruses themselves do not have a discernable taste/order - none that I've heard of anyway. But when they start to attack certain organs - you can smell it when their function is impaired, especially anyone who has a liver or kidney problem.

Early doctors would smell the stool, urine, breath and skin of patients whose symptoms weren't obvious. But taste? Probably not.

Maybe it's just the dwarven medics who like to take a little nibble ;)


Mmm, I love me a box of Chewties. Contagiously delicious!


I am so happy to have entertained everyone. Actually, the smell desease skill is starting to grow on me. Really....have a taste.

I am just finding things wrong with the tinkering in the skill system. Am I the only one here?


Diseases do not have a smell, but by-products of bacterial infections as a result of disease usually do. When flesh decays, it isn't the flesh that smells bad, but rather the gases produced by the bacteria that begin eating the flesh after it has died that smells bad. Justifying the ability to taste disease (tasting actually being a subsidiary sense to smell) doesn't seem all that far-fetched.

Qadira RPG Superstar 2009 Top 8

Gum disease.
Fish Odor Syndrome.


hogarth wrote:
Seriously, there's already a DC for tasting spoiled food. Does anyone really know what polio (say) tastes like? Where did that idea come from?

I hear Salmonella tastes like chicken, LOL.

I agree that there shouldn't be DCs for tasting or smelling diseases.


sciencephile wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Seriously, there's already a DC for tasting spoiled food. Does anyone really know what polio (say) tastes like? Where did that idea come from?

I hear Salmonella tastes like chicken, LOL.

I agree that there shouldn't be DCs for tasting or smelling diseases.

As a sciencephile, surely you jest. There is significant scientific precedent for such things. On a trip to Belize I spoke with a doctor who was able to recognize numerous diseases simply by smelling the patient.


airwalkrr wrote:
Diseases do not have a smell, but by-products of bacterial infections as a result of disease usually do. When flesh decays, it isn't the flesh that smells bad, but rather the gases produced by the bacteria that begin eating the flesh after it has died that smells bad. Justifying the ability to taste disease (tasting actually being a subsidiary sense to smell) doesn't seem all that far-fetched.

Actually, I don't think so. If this were the case, why would medical autopsies be needed? Wouldn't the medical examiner just be able to smell a person to determine that the person died of a particular disease?

If a person has a disease and dies of some other circumstance (stabbed to death, let's say) and his body left out to decompose, is it the disease that makes him stink or is it the process of decomposition?

I'm not going to argue the point beyond this because I don't think it helps the game design - I just wanted to put some reasonable doubt into the argument that one can smell a disease. I think that in some VERY limited situations you can detect by smell. In most cases you could not and that is the common factor that you have to design a game around (unless you want to make it too complex to play).


I'm going to side with the OP on this one.

Even in a magical world, such as D&D/Golarion, the idea of tasting a disease is pushing things a bit far.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

On the plus side, I did laugh out loud when I read it.


Case in point: Diet Coke with Lemon tastes like cancer.


mwbeeler wrote:
Case in point: Diet Coke with Lemon tastes like cancer.

O.o?

LMAO


sciencephile wrote:
Actually, I don't think so. If this were the case, why would medical autopsies be needed? Wouldn't the medical examiner just be able to smell a person to determine that the person died of a particular disease?

You are right of course. I was playing devil's advocate because there is a legitimate ability to detect a disease by smell in a number of cases. However, you have done a very good job by pointing out it is not nearly so universal as to demand a mechanic in the rules.

Seriously, I side with those who opt for getting rid of it. It doesn't make much sense. We already have a Wisdom-based skill for determining if someone is diseased. It's called Heal.


airwalkrr wrote:
Mmm, I love me a box of Chewties. Contagiously delicious!

No! Don't you know where Chewties comes from?

FACT: Cooties eats Cancer for breakfast.
Cooties attaches to your skin, travels up through your body and suckles up to the brain squirrel.

Don't be another statistic!


I'm glad somebody got that joke. It's good to know I'm not the only one with a sick sense of humor.


airwalkrr wrote:
You are right of course. I was playing devil's advocate because there is a legitimate ability to detect a disease by smell in a number of cases. However, you have done a very good job by pointing out it is not nearly so universal as to demand a mechanic in the rules.

At any rate, Perception specifically allows you to taste "diseased food". It doesn't say anything about smelling a diseased person. Although I suppose you could put the diseased person between two slices of bread and call him a sandwich.


It is just a way to make disease detectable without a spell. The fact that taste is used is because the mechanic is already used for ingested poisons. Not necessarily realistic, but if you can accept the concept that diseased food may taste just a little off it is not entirely beyond plausible. Also, nowhere does it state that you identify the disease (or poison for that matter). You merely notice it's presence.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

hogarth wrote:
At any rate, Perception specifically allows you to taste "diseased food". It doesn't say anything about smelling a diseased person. Although I suppose you could put the diseased person between two slices of bread and call him a sandwich.

Two Cannibals are eating a clown. One looks at the other and says, "Does this taste funny to you?"


I agree that this is rather silly.
That sounds like a supernatural ability.

So does this mean eating a dire rat allows you to taste filth fever?

Or does it mean they can taste salmonella and the like?

It shouldn't be a skill. Certain classes like monks and samurai should be able to do it (rule of cool) but not your average joe.

Andoran

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I am somehow going to find a way to blame Richard Pett for this.

Very minor, non-plot related, RotRL spoiler below.

Spoiler:
In RotRL #2 there is a pair a dead diseased rats, and it gives the DC of resisting the disease if they are handled, then it notes that should a character eat them the DC is higher. I remember thinking at the time 'If they are so disgusting that its enough to make you sick from just touching it, who would eat those?'. Now it all makes sense.

-Tarlane

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

Guys,

I can see where this is stemming from. This skill usage has nothing to do with determining what disease it is, but merely noting that something is not quite right in the food you are eating. If you have accidently tried bad food, trust me, it is pretty obvious. No where does it say anything about smelling a disease or licking someone to see if their diseased. I appreciate the humor, but lets not confuse the rules.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Andoran

Sounds like a Marilyn Manson song.
"Taste My Disease....Taste My Disease..."
bla bla bla,
whatever the hell else you want.


Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Guys,

I can see where this is stemming from. This skill usage has nothing to do with determining what disease it is, but merely noting that something is not quite right in the food you are eating. If you have accidently tried bad food, trust me, it is pretty obvious. No where does it say anything about smelling a disease or licking someone to see if their diseased. I appreciate the humor, but lets not confuse the rules.

Jason -- you already put in a separate and distinct DC for tasting spoiled food. So what is the "tasting diseased food" DC for?

I certainly agree that tasting spoiled milk is obvious. Tasting milk that someone with a cold sneezed on is out of my experience.

In the real world, knowing whether water is safe to drink by taste is difficult to impossible. E. coli and "beaver fever" don't have any discernable taste, as far as I know.

Paizo Employee Lead Designer

hogarth wrote:

Jason -- you already put in a separate and distinct DC for tasting spoiled food. So what is the "tasting diseased food" DC for?

I certainly agree that tasting spoiled milk is obvious. Tasting milk that someone with a cold sneezed on is out of my experience.

In the real world, knowing whether water is safe to drink by taste is difficult to impossible. E. coli and "beaver fever" don't have any discernable taste, as far as I know.

Well.. it is based off the Disease DC, so it needed a seperate line. As for some of the diseases you mention, one could assume that the DC is 20 or higher, meaning that you would not taste it unless you were specifically looking for it. It is not a perfect solution.

Thoughts?

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
Well.. it is based off the Disease DC, so it needed a seperate line. As for some of the diseases you mention, one could assume that the DC is 20 or higher, meaning that you would not taste it unless you were specifically looking for it.

If someone could name three real-world diseases transmitted by food/water that one could plausibly detect by taste (excluding spoiled food, since that's already covered), I'd probably cave in and agree with you.

Taldor

Hogarth, that's a bizarre request.

You want examples of diseases carried in food that have no effect on the food itself (thus spoiling it). What sort of disease do you imagine takes the time to ride on a fleshy host but doesn't eat it? That's kind of the point.

If it's infected dead flesh you'll buy the concept of a taste/smell check, but if it's living infected flesh you wont?


Selk wrote:
Hogarth, that's a bizarre request.

Tasting a virus/bacteria is a bizarre ability.

:)

Selk wrote:
You want examples of diseases carried in food that have no effect on the food itself (thus spoiling it)? What sort of disease do you imagine takes the time to ride on a fleshy host bot doesn't eat it? That's kind of the point.

I mentioned E. coli and "beaver fever", two diseases that are waterborne and tasteless. E. coli or the common cold could easily be transmitted by "unspoiled" food, I think.

Taldor

I assume any perception check is predicated by reasonably detectable phenomena. In the case of bacteria and viruses, it's the effects of these little buggers - not the bacteria themselves - that may be detected. If it's not detectable, because it hasn't proliferated or it doesn't have a secondary, observable effect, then I don't worry about a perception check.

For example: bread, cheese and beer have flavor because of bacterial processes, but I'm not about to deny that a character can taste it because they "can't taste bacteria".

It's not that taxing for a DM to decide when diseases do and do not smell/taste bad and to allow rolls (with racial bonuses) accordingly.

Is the rule written so loosely that stupid players will assume they can smell or taste the presence of anything that might do them harm?


Selk wrote:

It's not that taxing for a DM to decide when diseases do and do not smell/taste bad and to allow rolls (with racial bonuses) accordingly.

Is the rule written so loosely that stupid players will assume they can smell or taste the presence of anything that might do them harm?

I just think it's odd to add a rule for something that I don't think exists in real life (again, if someone can prove me wrong I'll shut up) and then say that the DM should use common sense when applying it.

Taldor

Hogarth, would you be more comfortable if it were smell check instead? I don't think we hear much of tasting diseases not because it's not possible, but because it's generally a bad idea. Not to get too graphic here, but you can indeed taste certain infections during...uh, intimate moments with your loved one.


Several diseases can be detected by smell/taste. Diabetes is the first to come to mind. That's how my gastroenterologist initially diagnosed me, actually, because when I gave the nurse a urine sample both she and the doctor detected a sharply sweet smell to it. They didn't taste it (thank God), but I'm pretty sure that if they had it would've tasted sweet too (which, BTW, is the way mideval doctors diagnosed diabetes). The ancient Greeks just used ants - if ants swarmed the urine, the patient was diabetic.


hogarth wrote:


Tasting a virus/bacteria is a bizarre ability.
:)

True, but you don't taste the virus/bacteria itself. You taste/smell the byproducts. Bacteria are known to produce some of most foul and distinctive odors in the world because of the gases they produce. Viruses don't have a taste themselves either, but the proteins that they are encoded for often radically alter a cell's biochemical environment, and this can sometimes cause an odor as an unusual byproduct like methane could be produced that the organism does not normally produce


Pneumonica wrote:
Several diseases can be detected by smell/taste. Diabetes is the first to come to mind. That's how my gastroenterologist initially diagnosed me, actually, because when I gave the nurse a urine sample both she and the doctor detected a sharply sweet smell to it.

I'm almost certain that neither you nor your whizz is a piece of "diseased food", though, which is what we're discussing.

:)


hogarth wrote:
Seriously, there's already a DC for tasting spoiled food. Does anyone really know what polio (say) tastes like? Where did that idea come from?

In certain ancient professions, I can see where where tasting a disease might come in handy. By then, however, it's probably too late.


Jason Bulmahn wrote:
hogarth wrote:

Jason -- you already put in a separate and distinct DC for tasting spoiled food. So what is the "tasting diseased food" DC for?

I certainly agree that tasting spoiled milk is obvious. Tasting milk that someone with a cold sneezed on is out of my experience.

In the real world, knowing whether water is safe to drink by taste is difficult to impossible. E. coli and "beaver fever" don't have any discernable taste, as far as I know.

Well.. it is based off the Disease DC, so it needed a seperate line. As for some of the diseases you mention, one could assume that the DC is 20 or higher, meaning that you would not taste it unless you were specifically looking for it. It is not a perfect solution.

Thoughts?

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

I guess my real question is to why we have to perceive a disease in food/drink at all. I admit that I have not read the entire alpha 3 rules yet but in the past you don't perceive being diseased when a creature diseases you (not instantly from a taste or smell or even a feel or spot). When you get diseased by creatures you generally don't know it until the incubation period has passed. Why would that be any different for food/drink?

With poisons it is more obvious because poisons are caustic, acidic, or otherwise detectable because of their bitterness, etc. (although there are some that aren't). Diseases however generally don't have a smell or taste (beyond a small few). So wouldn't it make more sense to know about the diseased food after we ingested it and the incubation period passed (therefore giving us symptoms)?


Pathfinder Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I have to agree that if the presence of a disease organism in the food hasn't actually spoiled the food in some way, it's unlikely to be detectable.

I remember when my grandmother tried to get me to drink spoiled milk because she didn't believe me at first when I said there was something wrong with it (I was only 4 or 5 at the time). I eventually cried and gagged with enough conviction that she checked and realized I was right. But I wasn't tasting the bacteria, I was tasting the acidic byproduct of their making a meal of the milk.

I can't think of any case where a naturally occuring disease organism could be detectable by taste in unspoiled food.

But this is D&D, so maybe a wonky magic disease would fit the bill.

Another possibility is if you have a substance in the food/water that is neither a pathogen nor magical, but the effects are written up as a disease instead of a poison.

And maybe an high level Rogue can taste the viruses in the stew after the cook sneezes in it. It's not likely to come up very often, but it's no more far-fetched than other extreme abilities in the game.

So I agree that you can both taste and smell spoilage in food, and you can often smell the effects of a disease on the patient. But tasting diseases probably won't come up that often.


hogarth wrote:
Seriously, there's already a DC for tasting spoiled food. Does anyone really know what polio (say) tastes like? Where did that idea come from?

I don't see why a person couldn't taste bacteria that release toxins, such as common enterotoxic viruses.

I know I can taste them in RL.

Polio? Probably not.


Kruelaid wrote:


I don't see why a person couldn't taste bacteria that release toxins, such as common enterotoxic viruses.

I know I can taste them in RL.

What do they taste like when they're not in spoiled food? Just curious.


hogarth wrote:
Kruelaid wrote:


I don't see why a person couldn't taste bacteria that release toxins, such as common enterotoxic viruses.

I know I can taste them in RL.

What do they taste like when they're not in spoiled food? Just curious.

The same. When the bacteria live they produce the toxins. I can taste them when they're in my stomach and I belch up some of their ichor, and when I vomit.

Again, I'm only talking about enterotoxic bacteria here.


hogarth wrote:
Kruelaid wrote:


I don't see why a person couldn't taste bacteria that release toxins, such as common enterotoxic viruses.

I know I can taste them in RL.

What do they taste like when they're not in spoiled food? Just curious.

When they are in the food, the food is spoiled.


tumbler wrote:
...Dogs can smell certain kinds of cancer.

And warts and a lot of other things.


Kruelaid wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Kruelaid wrote:


I don't see why a person couldn't taste bacteria that release toxins, such as common enterotoxic viruses.

I know I can taste them in RL.

What do they taste like when they're not in spoiled food? Just curious.
When they are in the food, the food is spoiled.

Again: I don't have a problem with the spoiled food DC of 5.

I'm wondering about tasting (not smelling) diseases in food that isn't spoiled, something there's a specific DC for.

Most responses so far have fallen into one of two categories that doesn't address my central point:
-"Yes, you can smell a disease." [we're talking about tasting food, not smelling something]
-"Yes, you can taste diseases in spoiled food." [we're not talking about spoiled food; that has a separate DC]

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