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Four medieval fantasy characters standing on a stone path

Image: Capcom / Kotaku

Since the launch of Dragon’s Dogma 2, Capcom’s friction-filled action RPG, players have been gripped by fear thanks to Dragonsplague. The in-game virus spreads between Pawns (NPC party members players can rent from each other online) and if not handled properly, can wipe out the population of entire in-game towns. What makes Dragonsplague especially tricky is that the game only warns you if a Pawn is infected through subtle changes in their actions. Though one item might be the key to spotting the virus early—rotten food.

Dragonsplague can’t infect food and make it rotten, but it’s become a signal amongst the Dragon’s Dogma 2 community that warns of the infectious disease. All Pawns are made by players and then sent off into the game’s online network where they can be rented by others. The idea was first broached in a Steam Community thread titled “Dragonsplague – How to Warn Other Players,” where users suggested rotten food be used as a universal sign that a Pawn has been infected, along with rating the Pawn with a heart or thumbs up.

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The gift giving menu hovered over rotten beast-steak

Image: Capcom / Kotaku

“You implicate that you were satisfied with the Pawn (hence, the heart or thumbs up) but something is wrong with it. (hence the rotten food.),” writes the user. Rotten food is pretty cheap and easy to come buy as you can find it in the world, or wait for any food you have to rot after a given amount of in-game time. If you hire an infected Pawn, dismissing them quickly will keep the rest of your party from being infected, but it won’t cure the infected Pawn. The only way to remove Dragonsplague from a Pawn completely is for their creator to kill (and then re-summon) them in their own game. This is why rotten food is an essential gift. It warns a player that their main Pawn is spreading the disease, and allows for the community to collectively quell the virus by encouraging players to rid their Pawns of Dragonsplague.

Of course, PC players have come up with another way to deal with Dragonsplague—remove it entirely. It’s no surprise that mods to let players opt out of the controversial feature have popped up. In addition to a mod that turns the virus off entirely, other players have taken a more measured approach. There is a mod to cure Pawns who are infected, and another that gives players an in-game counter measuring how infected a Pawn is. When a Pawn reaches level 10, they have terminal Dragonsplague.

The modding approach does have the risk of erasing the intended experience of the game, but for players who feel the feature is too stressful or unfair then the option is there. However the community approach is more elegant and embraces the game’s design, using the gifting system to encourage player cooperation.


So if you receive rotten food as a gift in Dragon’s Dogma 2, somebody might be trying to tell you something. Or they are just using your Pawn as their own personal trash can. But it still never hurts to check your Pawn for Dragonsplague.

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