Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragonsplague explained: PSA, this Pawn illness can nuke and ruin your save

Dragonsplague in Dragon's Dogma 2
(Image credit: Capcom)

Capcom's new fantasy ARPG sequel Dragon's Dogma 2 has plenty of obscure mechanics and systems, but none are as mysterious — or as deadly — as Dragonsplague. This strange disease exclusively affects Pawns, and while its early symptoms are quite mild, they can and will spiral into a disastrous calamity if you fail to spot the signs and deal with any infected Pawns before the condition worsens.

The way Dragonsplague works is quite vague, but thankfully, the community has worked together to identify its telltale indicators and work out some effective ways you can address the sickness if you run into it in your party. Therefore, to both warn and assist my fellow Arisen, I've compiled all of that information in this guide. For a complete overview of everything you need to know (and believe me, you do) about Dragonsplague, read on.

Dragon's Dogma 2: What is Dragonsplague?

The red eyes effect looks rather subtle in some cases, though it's more pronounced in others. (Image credit: Ruba on YouTube)

Dragonsplague is a special type of illness that can only be contracted by Pawns, and true to its name, it can be caught by a party member while they're fighting a drake or a dragon. Additionally, hiring another player's Pawn that has the sickness in their world will cause them to have it in yours as well. It's also important to know that an infected Pawn can pass the sickness to other Pawns.

Notably, unlike other Dragon's Dogma 2 debilitations such as Blight, Dragonsplague cannot be cured with any known in-game consumable item. The disease also doesn't appear in the Status menu of your Pawns, which makes it unusually difficult to detect compared to other conditions (more on how to tell if a Pawn has it  in the next section). In case you're wondering, it's not observable while you're looking at Pawns in the Rift or in the wild before you hire them, either.

If players don't realize one of their Pawns has Dragonsplague, or ignores the presence of the disease for too long, afflicted Pawns will eventually transform into a shadowy dragon when the player rests at an inn. When this happens, they'll "nuke" the entire town or city the inn is at, killing all NPCs (here's an example of it happening). Note that this includes quest-givers and characters important to the story; according to player reports, it's entirely possible to cut yourself off from the main story quest at least temporarily as a result, forcing you to find your own way forward.

Unfortunately, because Dragonsplague calamity lies "dormant" once a Pawn has been infected long enough until you rest at an inn, there's no way to save scum your way out of the consequences since the inn rest triggers a new save as well as a new rest checkpoint. If you're on PC, though, you can use this save manager mod to circumvent that.

Dragon's Dogma 2: Dragonsplague signs

When you get a tutorial warning you about Dragonsplague for the first time, it means you just hired a Pawn with one or that your Main Pawn contracted it. You'll need to look for other signs after this happens, though. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Dragonsplague has the potential to ruin entire playthroughs, so understanding how to spot it is absolutely crucial. Luckily, there are several clear signs and symptoms of the disease that you can keep eyes and ears out for, all of which I'll go over here.

Firstly, getting the Dragonsplague tutorial explanation indicates that you just hired a Pawn with the sickness or that one of your Pawns has contracted it. Obviously, this will only pop up the first time it happens, but regardless, it's an easy way to learn of its presence in your party.

Note that Dragonsplague-afflicted Pawns will have subtle glowing red eyes that pulse every few seconds. Angling your camera to look at your Pawns' eyes closely can be tricky, but you can speak to them or tell them to "Wait!" to make it easier. Using Photo Mode helps, too, as does taking off their helmet if it's covering their face. Also, if you gave your Pawn natural red eyes, you should probably give them a different eye color by changing their appearance to prevent misunderstandings (this'll make Dragonsplague easier to spot, as a bonus).

Infected Pawns will also sometimes clutch their head in pain while they're idle, and some report them kneeling down and requiring a comforting pat from the player. Any time you're not moving around, watch your Pawns and see if any of them start performing one of these unique animations. The video in this Reddit post shows what this looks like clearly.

Afflicted Pawns will occasionally become unusually disobedient and say things like "I will act of my own accord." or "Don't tell me what to do!" when you give them orders with D-pad commands as well. Listen closely for instances of insubordination like this, and make sure you don't forget which Pawn spoke. 

Something to note is that they might say something like "Not right now!" if you give them an order while they're on a ladder, which does not seem to be an indicator of Dragonsplague (though I can't confirm this). After fighting a dragon, I heard my Main Pawn say this while he was climbing one in a cave dungeon, but his eyes weren't red and he wasn't holding his head while idling. 

Dragon's Dogma 2: How to cure Dragonsplague

The best way to cure your Main Pawn of Dragonsplague is to kill them or let them die, then bring them back at a Riftstone. (Image credit: Windows Central)

As I explained above, Dragonsplague isn't something you can cure with curatives or medicines. Instead, there are only three known ways to deal with the disease, with the method you choose determined by which Pawn(s) in your party is afflicted.

If a Pawn you hired has Dragonsplague, immediately dismiss them, throw them into deep water or off of high cliffs, or let them die in combat intentionally. This doesn't cure their Dragonsplague — that only occurs when the player who created them cures it in their world — but it does get them and their infection out of your party and your game.

If your Main Pawn has Dragonsplague, throw them into deep water, off of high cliffs, or allow them to die in combat to kill them, then bring them back at a Riftstone. They'll return to your service cured of the affliction, and while this solution is a bit cruel, I'm sure your Pawn would prefer it to blowing up a city.

Alternatively, your Main Pawn may also be cured if another player hires them and then they pass their Dragonsplague to one of their Pawns. However, it's unclear what specifically causes Pawns to spread the sickness to other party members, and overall, this method of dealing with it isn't reliable or consistent since someone might not hire them for a while.

Dragon's Dogma 2 Dragonsplague: How long until calamity?

Ignore Dragonsplague for too long, and the afflicted Pawn will transform into a horrible shadowy dragon and kill everyone in the town or city you're resting in. (Image credit: Ruba on YouTube)

The Dragon's Dogma 2 community hasn't figured out how long it takes for a case of Dragonsplague to reach a calamitous level exactly yet, but it's at least several in-game days (estimated to be around 4-5 right now). This gives you plenty of time to watch for signs and symptoms of the disease, and to take care of it before tragedy strikes.

With this in mind, I'd avoid trying to "skip time" by sleeping for several days in a row, especially if you recently fought a drake or a dragon or hired new Pawns. You'll likely need at least a little gameplay time to identify a Dragonsplague infection, which you won't get if you continuously hit the sack.

Dragon's Dogma 2: What to do after Dragonsplague calamity

Reviving NPCs with Wakestone items is currently the only confirmed way you can deal with the consequences of Dragonsplague calamity, but waiting for a week in-game may cause some characters to respawn, so be sure to try that. (Image credit: Windows Central)

So, what do you do if you failed to deal with a case of Dragonsplague before disaster occurred, or you only found out about how it works after a calamity? Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to save everyone that died, but there is a way you can, at least, mitigate the damage.

Firstly, there have been multiple reports (like this one) from calamity victims that waiting a week or two in-game will bring main story (possibly all) NPCs in affected towns or cities back to life. This seems like it could be some sort of glitch rather than an intended resolution for Dragonsplague tragedy, but regardless, it's worth trying before anything else.

There are also Wakestones — rare consumables that allow you to resurrect dead NPCs — that you can use to revive important characters like quest-givers. These are only available in limited quantities, though, and are only obtained whenever you have three Wakestone Shards in your inventory. Wakestones and Wakestone Shards are typically found in treasure chests or are given as quest rewards; five are available for $1 each on Dragon's Dogma 2's online store, too.

Note that you can also get a special kind of Eternal Wakestone by finding the Sphinx and completing various riddle puzzles. This special Wakestone isn't infinite use, but it will revive everybody in the settlement you're in. This essentially makes the item your one "get out of jail free card" to use if calamity strikes, so I wouldn't waste it elsewhere.

Stay vigilant, Arisen, lest calamity strike!

Dragonsplague is extremely dangerous, but now that you know where it comes from, how to spot cases of it, and how you can deal with it effectively, you shouldn't have too much trouble safeguarding your playthrough from one of its disastrous calamities. Just make sure you don't get too careless or forget about the disease, as you'll surely come to regret it.

Dragon's Dogma 2 is available now, and it's one of the best Xbox games and best PC games you can play in 2024 if you love action RPGs with deep, varied combat and rich fantasy worlds. Capcom's new title is playable on Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and PS5 for $69.99.

Dragon's Dogma 2

Dragon's Dogma 2

You are the Arisen, the one who holds the loyalty of Pawns and has an intertwined destiny with a powerful dragon. Work with your party to battle through tough enemies, explore distant locations, and grow stronger so you can take down your foes. 

PC — Buy at: GMG (Steam) | CDKeys (Steam) | Humble Bundle (Steam)

Xbox — Buy at: 
Amazon | Xbox

Dragon's Dogma 2 Deluxe Edition

Dragon's Dogma 2 Deluxe Edition

You'll gain additional add-ons along with the base game when purchasing the Deluxe Edition. Use your powers to take own large dragons with the help of your Pawn party members. 

PC — Buy at: GMG (Steam) | CDKeys (Steam) | Humble Bundle (Steam)

Xbox — Buy at: 
Amazon | Xbox

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.