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News in the world of Plagues and Afflictions

   
News in the world of Plagues and Afflictions

I've been poking around the Pathfinder book Horror Adventures lately, and been interested in the section on creating so-called "horrific diseases" - which contains a number of templates a GM can add to their sickness to really mess players up. I haven't really tried my hand at this before and didn't know how to build a disease in Pathfinder from the ground up, but I came up with something using the "Magic Resistant" template and my own touch.

I'd like to hear what you think, and if it seems useful feel free to make it a grisly part of your own campaigns.


Mageblight
Type Disease, contact; Save Fortitude, DC 14; Carrier Magical object;
Onset 1d6+1 days / 1d3 days if within 30 ft. of infected object for at least 24 consecutive hours after contact;
Frequency 1/day;
Effect 1d4 damage to int, wis, or cha (depending on which ability subject uses to cast spells. If the subject is not a spellcaster but can use spell-like abilities, the damage is then to their highest mental ability);
Cure 2 consecutive saves. Subject must spend a number of days 30 ft. away from infected object equal to the number of times they have suffered the disease's effects.
The disease is particularly difficult to remove with magic. It cannot be cured by Remove Disease, and other spells such as Heal require a succesful Caster Level Check with a -10 penalty (DC 14) to remove the disease;

Special Only living creatures capable of casting spells or utilizing spell-like abilities can contract Mageblight - even those normally immune to disease, though such creatures receive a +4 bonus on saves to resist the disease's effects.
Mageblight responds violently to attempts to heal it using magic. Whenever the diseased creature is subjected to a spell or ability that cures disease, it must succeed at a Fortitude save or suffer the disease's effect. This does not reset the disease's frequence, and succeeding on the check does not count towards the number of consecutive saves needed to be cured.

The object that acts as a carrier for Mageblight can be purged of disease by casting Remove Disease on the object itself (though the spell can usually only target creatures), but the caster must first dispel the affliction at range to avoid infection. This requires a dispel check DC 15 (Success makes the object safe to touch for 1 round).
Examining the object with Identify will reveal that something harmful or wrong is present in the object, though this will not specify the nature of the hazard.



I'd like your input on the nature and origin of this disease.
I'm thinking it might be a corruption or "erosion" of an item's enchantment, or maybe it was developed as a biological weapon to bring down an army's magical support and then spread into the environment.
In any case I imagine this as a hazard that will make characters mistrust any treasure they find, so it should propably only be used with utmost scarcity. It can target any character, NPC, or creature capable of magic - regardless of whether the magic is arcane, divine or psychic. Though it puts arcane casters like sorcerers and wizards at considerably higher risk since Fortitude saves are definitely not their strong suit.

Militarily, this sounds to me like something that would be used in a scorched earth defense against an invading army. Otherwise, as a weapon of terror against a civilian population.

Or if it is, as you suggested, a corruption of an item's enchantment, perhaps it would particularly affect items which are intended to boost ability scores, or to aid spellcasting in some other way (pearls of power, candles of invocation, etc) specific to a single (or single category of) event or source of corruption. A magical experiment gone catastrophically wrong, or an abomination from the Far Realms preparing the way for others of its kind by debilitating magical opposition.

I imagine a party finding an item infected with Mageblight. As you say, something for the party wizard to wield, like say a headband of intelligence.

When he starts to feel it, and they deduce rightly that the newest item they have found is likely the cause, they will assume it just means that the item is cursed. But no matter how many times they cast Remove Curse or Break Enchantment, nothing happens - and Remove Disease on the wizard only makes it worse.

It seems more like a bioweapon that is intentionally created. I would definitely see it in a king's hoard as a revenge against thievery. It might also only appear on holy items that are not supposed to be touched by people or things left in a crypt; pharaoh's curse and all. I am unclear about a few details.

1) can people who do not cast spells/use SLAs contract the disease? It says 'Only creatures capable of casting spells or utilizing spell-like abilities can contract the disease' but then mentions that they can. Who cannot be affected by the disease?

2) does the +4 bonus to saves apply only to those immune to disease or also those who don't cast spells/SLAs

The description seems contradictory at places. Does this disease still affect non-spellcasters, or are they immune to it, or are they merely carriers? I'd go with the last to make it really a terror weapon; members of a local mage guild start going mad/becoming drooling idiots and no one can figure out why. That guild is quarantined, but as soon as a merchant takes their cabbages from that city to another it starts a whole new outbreak.

Truth be told, it sounds like an annoying "gotcha!" gimmick mechanic to use on the PCs. The kind that makes the GM smugly state "well you didn't cast it on the item" when the players have tried curing it with regular means, especially since it's curable by means that normally isn't even in the rules (ie Remove Disease on an item despite that not even being a thing). Trying to cure it normally making it even worse is just icing on that particular cake of smug. As is being able to affect a creature immune to disease. What's the point of being immune to disease if you're not actually immune to diseases. Don't make it a disease if you don't want disease immune creatures immune to it.

At the very least you need some rules on how you can identify a carrier item of Mageblight.

It's a neat idea, don't get me wrong, but it's certainly something that may cause a lot of OOC rancor if not used properly.

I mean that only casters or users of spell-like abilities can contract it.

"It can otherwise affect all creatures with a con score - even those immune to disease, though such creatures receive a +4 bonus on saves to resist the disease's effects." is from the disease template's description, but I suppose I could have worded that more clearly.

If a living creature can wield magic in some form they can catch Mageblight, even if they are normally immune to diseases. Not, however, undeads and constructs who wield magic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Actana View Post
At the very least you need some rules on how you can identify a carrier item of Mageblight.
That's a fair point. Do you have an idea for how to identify it?

I imagine the disease being fairly rare and somewhat obscure, but something spellcasters know they need to be on the lookout for so that researching it proves a simple enough task once you know what to look for.
And finding out the means of cleansing the carrier, at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enkhoffer View Post
That's a fair point. Do you have an idea for how to identify it?

I imagine the disease being fairly rare and somewhat obscure, but something spellcasters know they need to be on the lookout for so that researching it proves a simple enough task once you know what to look for.
And finding out the means of cleansing the carrier, at least.
I'd probably say that an Identify spell is enough to notice that there's something in the item in addition to everything else but not precisely what it is, which could then be followed up with other avenues of investigation. No reason to keep it too difficult.





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