While filling out all the school forms for my son, I began wondering about allergies and asthma. You don’t really see these in fantasy settings. I’ve yet to read about an orc that is terrified of bees because of an allergy. Any character that is gasping for air is usually doing so because they are out of shape or been running for a very long time. It never seems to be asthma. Many people live with these problems, which makes it weird that they never show up in fantasy worlds.
Maybe I’m overthinking this and these are quirks that don’t really come into play or simply can’t exist. I mean, you have magic that could cure it and when was the last time an elf chowed down on PB&J. There may be a character who sneezes, says they have hay fever, and that’s all you hear about it. I guess the allergies make it too easy for a villain to take out a hero or vice versa. Imagine Smaug being taken out by Bilbo Baggins flinging a handful of almonds into his mouth. On second thought, I would love to see that happen just for the comedy.
So, what if you want to include allergies, asthma, and similar ailments that we deal with in the real world?
- Make sure it has a role with the character. Like phobias, an allergy should come into play over the course of an adventure. Not so much getting sick, but at least being faced with it and having to avoid it. For example, a warrior is allergic to cats and finds himself battling a monster that is part lion. Have them sneeze or get itchy eyes as an added difficulty.
- Be clear as to why such a thing cannot be cured completely by magic. People will question why diseases still exist when you have magical healers, so you can imagine a similar issue here. My reasoning would be that these are genetic issues that a person is born with instead of an acquired sickness. So the cure would have to go deeper and alter the target.
- Try to create a potion, device, or something that a character with asthma can use during an attack. It’s been described to me as slowly suffocating while having a panic attack. You should have this come across as well as giving a way for a character to end the event without searching for a priest.
- Consider if a character with these issues would go adventuring or set off on a quest in the first place. This could push such things to secondary characters, which might be a cop out. Still, a person with asthma or allergies would take them into account when they decide on their future.
That’s really all I have for this, but my mind is still toying with the subject. Do you have any suggestions for including these in fantasy?