What happens to a person's body when they die? Hopefully, some Medical Doctor will try to revive it, but perhaps someone might instead turn it into meat, or maybe another person will slice off its butt and make it into a robot. But more pertinent to the subject at hand, when someone dies, their body will rot and decay. This page explains the process in detail and the ways you can prevent and mitigate its effects.
The Decomposition Process
There are four stages of decomposition, technically five if you count the stage where no decay has actually set in. At room temperature, it takes between four to ten minutes for a body to progress to the next stage of decomposition. Higher temperatures speed this up, lower ones slow it down, with decay taking the longest at 20 degrees Celsius and below. This is why the Morgue is kept sometimes kept slightly colder than normal and why corpses that have been tossed into Space (but not the Seafloor) are often found intact.
With each stage, the corpse's sprite changes to show more rotten flesh and eventually bone, and there is Examine text associated with each stage of decay.
- 0th: "[Name] is limp and unresponsive, a dull lifeless look in his/her/their eyes."
- 1st: "[Name] looks bloated and smells a bit rotten!"
- 2nd: "[Name]'s flesh is starting to rot away from his/her/their bones!
- 3rd: "[Name]'s flesh is almost completely rotten away, revealing parts of his/her/their skeleton!"
- 4th: "[Name]'s remains are completely skeletonized."
Beyond visual effects, the main mechanical effect of decomposition is that with each stage, the body will often release a cloud of miasma. Decomposition also makes revival more difficult. The cloner cannot scan bodies in the 1st stages of decay and beyond, unless it has a NecroScan upgrade. Strange reagent cannot revive decayed bodies at all!
Miasma is a highly visible purple vapor that has a 90% chance to be emitted each time a corpse decays into its next stage of decomposition (as opposed to completely randomly or every minute or so). The longer the corpse has been rotting, i.e. the later the stage of decomposition, the more miasma released. Miasma has no effect on the environment, but any humans (or humanoids) exposed to miasma sometimes may vomit or suffer TOX based on how long they were in contact with it. Corpses in morgue units, (closed) body bags, cryo cells, and welded containers such as lockers and crates do not emit miasma.
More precisely, while miasma is emitted as a "gas", it is really a smoke-powder cloud containing a miasma chemical rather than a true gas like plasma, so its effects can persist even after getting out of the cloud. Said chemical causes a "Miasma" status effect as long as its in your system, and the status effect causes different things depending on its current duration.
|1 - 5||1% chance to *shudder|
|5 - 10||0.2% chance to vomit, 0.05 TOX|
|10 - 40||0.5% chance to vomit, 0.20 TOX|
|40 - 70||1% chance to vomit, 0.45 TOX|
|70+||2% chance to vomit, 0.70 TOX|
Dealing with Decay
The best line of defense against decomposition is good corpse handling practices. If you see a dead body, take it to Medbay if you can, ASAP, so they can revive it. If you are a Medical Doctor or Roboticist, work quickly and avoid leaving bodies out in the open and exposed. While they do not prevent decay, body bags can be quite useful for transporting corpses; if you need help tracking which bodies are in which bags, use a hand labeler.
Corpses do not decay at all if they are inside a morgue unit or cryo cell. Note that, for the last, the cryo cell does not actually have to be on to prevent decay. Body bags do not prevent decay, though they do still prevent miasma (when closed) and are useful for transporting bodies around (naturally).
In addition, if a corpse has formaldehyde/embalming fluid in it, it will not decay. Since chemicals do not deplete inside dead bodies, you only need to give it formaldehyde once, and any amount will work, so you need not worry about dosage. Robusttec (aka anti-rot) implants automatically inject the chemical shortly after the implantee dies, and most Morgue areas, both those associated with Medbay and the Chapel, have bottles of embalming fluid (and syringes) around precisely for preventing rot.
Also, corpses that have been fried or grilled do not decay. Since you can't (normally) extract people from the fried/grilled shell, this is more so that people who commit suicide using the fryer/shill and die (worth specifying because it IS possible to survive the frying/grilling) don't somehow emit miasma through all the fried/grilled goodness.
Good corpse handling in general reduces miasma (in fact, that's what the mechanic is designed to promote), but there are some specific strategies that can be used to keep miasma in check.
Don't forget, corpses inside morgue units or cryo cells do not emit miasma. Same goes for bodies in body bags (closed ones, not open ones, obviously) or lockers and crates that have been welded shut but though they still decay.
Miasma is emitted as smoke-powder clouds. That means air scrubbers and vacuum cleaners can remove it, so Janitors and Engineers can be surprisingly helpful allies. Miasma is also a very distinct purple, meaning you can very easily spot miasma gas and stay away.
Again, miasma is a chemical, so wearing biosuits and other protective gear can reduce your exposure. Calomel and other purgatives can expel it out of your system faster, and there are chemicals that can heal the toxin damage it causes.
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