I encountered Dragon’s Dogma 2’s Dragonsplague Patient Zero

A character with glowing red eyes in Dragon's Dogma 2.
(Image credit: Capcom)

The original Dragon’s Dogma was never a game without its own source of friction. It was obtuse, challenging, and strange. Food rotted in your pack, you had to shuffle items around your inventory to prevent becoming overburdened, the game became devastatingly more dangerous at night. But all of that pales in the form of Dragon's Dogma 2's greatest threat - Dragonsplague.

I first encountered the affliction while reviewing the game, before Dragon's Dogma 2 was even out, unaware of just how serious it would become on release. Other early players had taken to Reddit to whisper about a mystery illness that would wrest Pawns from your control, potentially resulting in the death of borrowed Pawns, or even valuable, quest-giving NPCs. I was surprised  - not because it was another inconvenience in an age of convenient games, but because of how fast it seemed to spread. You see, I had encountered the Dragonsplague's player-made Patient Zero. And unknowingly, I had participated in the disease's spread.

I ran up to the Riftstone, perhaps too eager to replace one of the Pawns who had fallen behind on levels due to my constant back and forth between Vernworth and Bakbattahl, and placed my hand upon it. And then she appeared — Lady Cheese. I had seen her in the Rift several times, a Pawn belonging to one 'BossFightDataBase'. I had avoided her due to her Vocation never aligning with my desired party composition, but this time was different. As Lady Cheese manifested in a plume of black smoke from the remains of a once-broken Riftstone an obtrusive pop-up appeared on my screen. It read in bold letters: Dragonsplague.

Pawning off Pawns

Dragon's Dogma 2

(Image credit: Capcom)

I panicked while reading the description, afraid that my own Pawn, Liam, had contracted something that would compromise not only myself but the Pawns that were now accompanying me. I hadn't yet accepted Lady Cheese as a potential party member, despite her repeated appearances in the Rift. In haste, I dismissed her and re-loaded my latest auto-save. The game plopped me back in front of the Riftstone, and out of curiosity I touched it again. Surely, Lady Cheese would not appear for a second time? And yet she did. But this time I didn't get the pop-up for Dragonsplague, which meant that the auto-save had already logged that I had come into contact with her. I would need to watch my Pawns carefully for any symptoms.

Hours passed, and nothing happened. Liam remained as helpful, and obedient as ever. Batsu, the invaluable Sorcerer I carried into the endgame with me, was also faring well and the same could be said of Zelda, our Mage. I messaged another early player, letting them know that I had discovered a new mechanic, warning them to avoid Lady Cheese, lest she give his Pawn the plague. But despite my best efforts, I was unable to stop the spread. 

Dragon's Dogma 2's auto-save system had already logged that I'd come into contact with Lady Cheese. While she remained the first player-made pawn to have the sickness, when my friend  summoned Liam into his world through the Rift, neither of us  had any idea that my Pawn was now a carrier. I woke up to the message, telling me that Liam was affected, confirming that I had failed to stop the spread. I had passed it on to my friend, who had potentially passed it on to others. 

Could I have prevented it? Perhaps. I could have hard loaded a save from an inn, erasing upwards of ten hours of gameplay, or even thrown my Pawn into a river. But Laim never showed a single sign of the Dragonsplague, at least not in my game. To make matters worse, a few days later I received another message: “Liam killed everyone in Rest Town.” My Pawn was still sick, running rampant in other games, murdering helpless NPCs with his greatsword like a rampaging fiend and potentially ruining major quests in the process.

Eventually I stopped receiving these messages from other games, which meant Liam had somehow gotten better - or had been stopped entirely. As far as I know, I had always been in the clear - Liam had passed Dragonsplague to another Pawn, which meant he was clean. It felt strange to encounter the first player-made Pawn to have it, but far stranger to think that I could have mitigated the spread if I had just chosen to load up an older save. Would that have stopped me from getting it? Probably not. The community has still found no reliable way to prevent the spread of Dragonsplague, and I doubt such a solution exists at all. But it’s interesting to see the part we’ve played in it all, and how this one mechanic, as invasive and destructive as it is, threatens to touch every last one of us.

If you're having trouble with the game, you can always check out our Dragon's Dogma 2 tips and tricks to master the world.

Kazuma Hashimoto
Freelance Writer

Kazuma Hashimoto is a freelance writer at GamesRadar+ that has worked within various pockets of the industry for upwards of six years. Nominated for New York Videogame Critics Circle’s Games Journalism Award in 2019, he strives to provide both thoughtful and critical pieces that take a deeper look into how games are made and the culture surrounding them. When he isn't writing, reviewing, or hosting interviews, he can be found on his Twitch channel (as a VTuber!) streaming a variety of games ranging from MMORPGs to Farming Sims. His other work can be found on websites like Polygon, IGN, and MMORPG.com.