Tetanus (MayGetRenamedLater)

Trigger Warning - Body Horror, Suffocation, and other Medical-Related Content

Otherwise primarily known as "Lockjaw," Tetanus is a disease where the subject's muscles will tighten until the subject cannot move after developing bone-breaking convulsions. The subject has increasing difficulty breathing, eating, and performing self-care until the end when their bones have broken and caused internal bleeding, they have suffocated, or drowned from failing to physically eat or drink safely.

Ironjaws, the ever-present companions of the Mine Guardians, are named for biting their foes and prey with their large jaws. The older an Ironjaw is, the more rusted their fangs are. A bite from an Iron Beast will almost always develop this disease unless immediately cleaned with alcohol and bandaged, and even then, the patient may still develop tetanus. Other than battlefield wounds, antagonizing an Ironjaw is the most common way of acquring the "Ironjaw's Curse."

Unfortunately, unless magically or divinely treated, there is no cure. However, treatments have been recently found and have been successful in extending one's life until they can be cured via magic or divine skill. If there is no one available to cure the disease, most patients are given pain-relieving medications to ease the end.

Chronic, Acquired
Affected Species
Alternative Names
The Defeated's Revenge
Ironjaw's Curse


Lockjaw, once contracted and symptomatic, is mostly untreatable without magical or divine means. Nearly all medically-skilled, battlefield-trained, and/or metalworking mages and clerics learn to cure tetanus, though the spasms may be ill-timed and make the spells difficult to cast.

Controversial Treatments

Muscle relaxants, generally like the highly regulated sleeping draught, have helped in treating the symptoms if a mage or cleric is unavailable to cure the patient of the disease, though some of the side-effects may cause other issues. More than one healer had been arrested for distributing sleeping potions beyond the regularly recorded rates after nearby battles have brought in wounded in need of treatment and the draught being the easiest to make treatment until cured or the patient is able to travel for a cure.


The earliest documented cases indicate the disease was already known of and familiar to those treating the patients. It had the nickname of "The Defeated's Revenge" as many deaths after a battle were caused by this disease, as if the defeated dead were trying to force their wounded enemy's soul out and causing the spasms to worsen until death.

The disease is mostly associated with wounds and has been known of since before written history though nonmagical treatments had been slow to develop. The recent discovery of potions such as the Sleeping Draught helping to relax the otherwise sudden muscle tightening has allowed for an improved quality of life, or at least extended chance of the patient receiving treatment.

Bad Death Warning -
Nurse Retelling of a Patient He Had Lost
"Every time he took a breath, it was a victory, until he exhaled and it was gone too quick. I can still see the panic in his eyes, but I'm and was too helpless to do anything. We tried to hold his mouth open, and were rewarded with broken fingers. His back bowed too far until it finally relaxed, and then it snapped again until bones were breaking. There was little else to do except give him sleeping draught. It would be best if he were lost Dream Chasing than here, in that pain. I only hope I gave enough to help bring some peace."

Cover image: by MedicAlert UK


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13 Jul, 2021 02:19

Yikes, that's a grisly way to go!

13 Jul, 2021 03:15

I know right?! And IRL, rust isn't actually hiw you get it, rusty nails are just the easiest way to contract the bacteria. Though it is heavily associated with wounds and stuff.   I knew it was awful, and learned it caused bone-breaking spasms if untreated.   Super yikes!

Lyraine, Consumer of Lore, She/Her, primary project: Corive
13 Jul, 2021 05:51

Yeah, untreated tetanus is nasty. Good article on it!

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
13 Jul, 2021 06:17

Yeah, TIL (well, your Yesterday, as I'm going to bed now) just how nasty it is, and most of the treatments are incredibly modern with anti-bacterial treatment after basically just cleaning the wound, so I was like "Well [bleep], this is literally a 'Only Magic Cure' while the closest thing to a not-magic cure is basically a postponement." But I've got it, it makes a lot of sense, and IRL can be scarier than fiction.   I'll be adding more about the Ironjaws over time, but I think this fits the "condition feared by most" when I was like "And this is just edge-lining on my hard nyopes about breathing."   (I broke my page with my original comment, so had to delete it and I don't recall where all the BBCode I was using went)

Lyraine, Consumer of Lore, She/Her, primary project: Corive