Rootsickness Condition in Challaria | World Anvil


Describe a physical condition associated with old age in your world.

A common neurodegenerative disease in the central and western parts of northern Marivar it was long thought to be part of growing old until it was recognised that it was far more common in the areas where Sweetroot was a major source of food.
With better understanding of the condition and its prevention it has ceased to be a significant problem though in the areas reliant on the sweetroot the early stages are still frequently encountered in the elderly and seen as part and parcel of growing old.


A creeping paralysis of the limbs that develops slowly enough to be easily mistaken for encroaching old age, especially in those whose lifestyle requires hard labour. Initially more effort is required to move but the disease will progress to the point that the limbs are completely immobilised, flopping loosely and unable to be controlled.


The condition can be stabilised by avoiding Sweetroot products or ensuring that they are properly detoxified before consumption but the symptoms cannot be reliably reduced. Of itself it does not kill but a labourer who cannot labour is not looking at a prosperous future and condition frequently proceeds to the point where the sufferer is entirely dependent on others.


The disease has long been known to the inhabitants of the longer established Sweetroot growing areas and it is highly probably that long before the medical profession had formalised standing of its causes and prevention folklore had conveyed to the natives of these regions the habits required to minimise the chances of suffering, at least within the normal lifespan of the peasant farmers for whom the the root was a major staple food.   The The Great Famine which saw many crops fail for several consecutive years due to a plague of insect pests saw sweetroot come into use in many areas where it had only previously been used as animal fodder. By the time that normal agricultural practice had resumed the early stages of root sickness were clearly apparent in many of the population with a significant impact on the development of the empire in the following decades.   The great polymath Hieron Nollerute was the first to put significant effort into understanding the condition for he believed that a solution to the condition would end food scarcity in the empire. Following his work some processed Sweetroot products came into more general use, as did rootale as confidence in it’s safety became established.   The condition is now a known risk and seldom reaches life threatening levels though it remains an endemic hazard of life for the poor of the empire in areas without access to Green Clay though the recent spread of strains of sweetroot with lower toxin concentrations is also reducing the severity of many cases.
Tis right terrible to recall what it did to our dad - over five years his arms grew less and less useful and walking became fearful difficult. After six months bedridden he just gave up and died before the year was out.
— Arvo Langrother


No effective treatment is known to ameliorate this condition. Some have tried heavy doses of Green Clay given its properties as a prophylactic but despite some claims of success belief in the treatment is driven more by hope than by expectation.


Rootsickness was long thought to be a part of ageing, perhaps exacerbated by moral flaws, or other lifestyle factors until it became apparent that it was the result of the toxins naturally present in Sweetroot that built up over the years and gradually came to have a noticeable impact on the sufferer.


Now that the cause is understood it is clear that the best prevention is to avoid the Sweetroot and its products; next best is to ensure that they are properly detoxified by the processes outlined in the article. The fermented beverage rootale is generally regarded as universally safe as the fermentation process is effective and if producers have no incentive to cut the step that adds value to their product; clayed products are however more prone to adulteration due to the slow development of the condition. Knowledge of and confidence in one’s suppliers is vital.


Please Login in order to comment!