Avoiding Ninja Cholera


How can one prevent or reduce the likelihood of instant-death diseases?

In Oregon Trail II, some (most) diseases grant time and options for treatment. However, occasionally, a person will just suddenly die in an instant, going from perfect health to death. This is noted on the death screen as saying that they "died suddenly", and has been dubbed by fans as being "ninja'd". Cholera is considered the most notorious, as it can be cured fairly consistently with rest if given the opportunity, but is invariably fatal otherwise.

Are instant-death diseases considered to be different types of events than curable diseases? Or, are they simply larger magnitude versions of the same type of random event? Do diseases make some sort of check against a party member's stats which make the likelihood of immediate death more or less likely? Do the same factors which make disease recovery more likely also make it more likely to have the chance to recover?

Best Answer

On the off-chance the OP or anyone else sees this, I'm actually working on reverse engineering this game (thanks, quarantine) and can answer this for certain.

In the oregonii.dat file, every health problem has a flag determining whether it's possible to die instantly, and a separate variable for the chance of that happening if you get that problem (i.e., if you do contract the illness/get injured, do you get the normal set of choices, or do you just die?)

Those diseases and chances are:

  • Accidental gunshot, 20%
  • Animal bite, 10%
  • Animal mauling, 10%
  • Cholera, 20%
  • Drowning, 25%
  • Freezing, 10%
  • Internal injuries, 20%
  • Snakebite, 5%

If you die instantly, the death screen has a custom message. If you go into the oregonii.eng file, in the list of strings ("____ has cholera," etc.) for any given disease, it's the last one. (Incidentally, there are a couple of these messages that are definitely customized but seem unused, so maybe at one point there were other things you could die instantly from?)

As for how to avoid it, unless there's some other factor I haven't found -- medical skills don't seem to matter for this specific roll -- all you can do is edit the .dat in a hex editor. (Which means you can also do stuff like make a bad cold instantly fatal 100% of the time.)