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After dying a good certain amount of times, one of the NPC's in my playthrough got infected with Dragonrot and I got a 'Rot Essence' item.

What is Dragonrot, and what are its consequences and thresholds?

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Polygon has a guide about Dragonrot and Rot Essence up that, from my own experiences with the game, appears accurate (except that it claims Dragonrot is caused specifically by resurrections, which I'm not sure is correct - I've seen some players saying they built up Dragonrot by dying even though they didn't resurrect). It's fairly long, but the basic points covered are as follows:

Dragonrot is an affliction that has a chance to strike NPCs around you whenever you die. The more often you die, the higher chance for an NPC to take sick. (As a note, I'm not certain what the exact threshold is - I don't believe the formula for that is known yet.)

Dragonrot has two main effects-

  1. If an NPC has Dragonrot, you can't progress any quests of theirs you might have active until you've cured them.
  2. You get a rot essence in your inventory, which lowers your chances of receiving Unseen Aid (which allows you to retain your resources after dying). The maximum chance for Unseen Aid is 30%, and it goes down for each rot essence you're holding.

Each rot essence item can be examined in your key items menu, and will have the name of the affected NPC in the item name - this allows you to know which NPCs are currently affected.

In order to cure Dragonrot, you'll want to find an NPC named Emma and progress her questline - she'll eventually give you an item that can be used at a Sculptor's Idol to cure every afflicted NPC. However, any future resurrections you do will hold the same chance to re-sicken them, and the cure item is very rare; deciding when to use a cure and when to hold back is one of the challenges of the game.

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    I can confirm that dragonrot is caused by dying, not resurrections. I did not use any resurrections to test this and I still got dragonrot 'cause I am a fifthly casual and I died a lot. – Sardathrion Mar 26 at 9:24
  • ⚠SPOILERS How to avoid Dragonrot spread SPOILERS ⚠ – Sardathrion Mar 26 at 9:25

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