View Full Version : Disease Plot Arch

2012-10-08, 08:49 AM
So one of my players is playing a [ChangelingParagon2/Evolutionist6]
Sheet here: http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheetview.php?sheetid=453625

His character has diseased claws and I want to make a sentient plague that is born from him as a secret plot-arch, any ideas?

I want to call it the phage as it's super generic, other than that I'm pretty open for someone taking a first swing at this one.

Big props to Draken for creating the class, as seen here. http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=240717

2012-10-08, 08:14 PM
Are you looking for a kind of "take over the host" plague, or a more complex sort of sentient disease, like one which becomes more intelligent the more people are infected (which would mean that it would be more beneficial for it to keep the infected alive)? I kind of like the second one better, because the first has been done to death.

2012-10-09, 05:28 AM
The more complex the better.

Also, I'd like the disease not to be apparent in source, the actions should be whats happening and the players should try and figure out what's causing it.

The first thought the players should have is probably psionic or magic in source, but the scope should be on an epic level naturally.

I think the disease should influence the host, but not directly control them, perhaps give the disease an ego score that grows depending on stage of the disease?

The campaign is going to feature the dreamscape heavily, and the character who is ground zero of this disease can damage people's souls, so that's something to work with...

Phage should go through several stages, which should increase it's ego score, it's mental stats, and a template it applies to the infected.
The template then evolves to become more prominent and has less requirements, such as crossing over to plants, animals, and insects, or creating effects that spread the disease or that spawn manifestations of it such as the disease mutating into a spore-like parasite.

2012-10-09, 08:22 AM
First thing I thought of was the cancer mages Cancerous Companion. Would you like me to flesh out a complete idea based off of this concept?

2012-10-09, 09:35 AM
All ideas are appreciated and will probably be used =]

So yes ;]

2012-10-09, 10:38 AM
Look up the Faceless base class by Realms of Chaos.

It is pretty much exactly what you are looking for.

2012-10-09, 01:37 PM
I'm not sure what exactly the source/major players for this are, but if you need people trying to spread it, you may wish to look at the Cancer Mage. Not generally considered strong, but some fun fluff.

Nitpick: It's "Plot Arc", not "Plot Arch"

2012-10-09, 04:06 PM
What will the goals of the disease be? Simply to spread? If so, how patient will it be?

In any case, here are my contributions to making this thing more of a challenge/threatening, in fact this is full on apocalyptic levels of threat if played to the hilt and include everything everybody (including me) are suggesting, and 8th level may not be high enough to play a major role in stopping it... then again, these plans could take two or three years to play out, in which time the PCs would have gained some levels. This could be a "I have not yet begun to fight"/"I have returned, stronger than ever" as the disease smartens up after its initial defeat (having infected a second pool of individuals or animals who made no big move, but were simply a fall-back position). In any case, here it goes:

Once the disease is smart enough (if it is a hive-mind), or always (if it isn't) it should have the option to NOT progress in any given individual, or even allow itself to return to an earlier stage (including "no symptoms"). This would allow it to lay low. Maybe heal check with a very high DC should allow it to be detected even in such cases*. Note that, as far as I know there is no such spell as Detect Disease in D&D.
*Maybe also requiring an alchemy check to be successful as well... you litterally would be talking about a blood-chemistry analysis in such a case, which would very much fit what a high-level alchemist should be able to do in most campaigns.

In any case, you should strongly consider giving it spell resistance against curative spells. Even a flat SR 10 would mean your Joe-Average 5th to 9th level cleric couldn't be SURE in an asymptomatic individual, which, if you go by the NPC populations in the DMG cuts the number of casters who CAN be sure to something like 1/4 (more complicated than that, but that is vaguely in the ball-park).

Actually, now that I think of it, the Black Death had a pneumonic form, and a different form. Giving the disease the choice of which of 4 different forms with radically different symptoms could really mix things up as far as the detective-work goes. Note that the mechanical effects don't NECESSARILY have to be different (Stormwind Fallacy as applied to diseases instead of characters). Dex loss, for example could be trembling, dizziness, or numbness. The disease could make the descision upon infecting an individual, or it could have the option to change its effects (including after a period of laying dormant).

Come to that, the differences in the symptoms of the black death MAY have been based on what vector the disease took to infect the specific individual. Intentional mutations to the vector (perhaps with air-born being a secret weapon it is holding in reserve, or balanced by a lower DC).

Remembering that weither it kills people or the controlled ones get killed by various groups the bodies may still be contagious.

Consider giving it fire resistance, meaning that if a body is burned on an ordinary bonfire it just becomes an inhaled vector, or at least an injested vector via any food, drink (including crops and water sources) it lands on. Kilns or a giant smithy-furnace would still do the job.

Shoot, make it able to crawl through cloth, and perhaps leather... suddenly the best availible gloves and masks DON'T provide any protection for disposing of the dead.

If using a hive-minded, (or at least cooperative to the point of kamakazi attacks) version:

In D&D most people forget about the animals. (Seriously, I have homebrew undead that I designed on the assumption that the most common target for them is going to be a COW, because it is an easy to acquire, large-size creature that nobody thinks twice about someone purchasing for slaughter, and very few people I have asked for feedback on the overall creatures have made the connection... over-the-top Evil necromancers use humanoids, SMART necromancers start with creatures that won't be missed.) Look up how transfer to animals and back to humans gives time for mutations to happen, resulting in last year's flu shot not helping much this year. I think such animal populations are called "reservours". Having it be able to make a decision to conciously hide out in animals to lay low if things go bad is a nasty twist. The other thing is, if the disease's intelligence isn't dependant on the hosts, you can have it infect the livestock in an isolated village while laying low, then start showing mild symptoms in the middle of winter (perhaps having first had a single cow carry a lantern into the largest grain-store in town and burn it down... IE a something that LOOKS like legend of how The Chicago Fire got started). The point being that they would have to pick between eating the meat anyway, and starvation. When the disease shows no symptoms (they might not even infect the humans the first time around) their would be a president for it being "harmless in humanoids".
Bonus points for it only even TRYING to proceed to worse symptoms in individuals who were treated with Heal checks, and going into "remission" after a while if no such attempts are made. It wouldn't want to tip its hand about the SR at such an early stage though.
The priorities would then be to spread (with mild symptoms) beyond the cattle in that area, and start moving into wild-life, and also infect an itinerant druid (or use Rich Burlew's Gleaner, which can be found from one of the sticky articles in the homebrew forum) or three and subtly influence him/her to travel even more widely while giving out "free advice/an interesting story" in every tavern along the way... talking about how the meat is safe to eat and all that.
Then, after it has become an epidemic among the livestock and wild-life, have a new generation of calves (and piglets, and etc) with DIFFERENT symptoms start attacking whatever targets it thinks most important as preparation for its big attack (at least in that area).
The big attack could be via shifting the vector to injury(or in medical terminology saliva-to-blood and/or blood-to-blood). The wolves and farm-dogs kill a few of the herbivores, and the claws and hooves get coated in the blood rendering them into vectors for the disease. Then all the livestock rising up in a single night, as wild animals stream into population centers.

2012-10-10, 04:35 AM
Very cool ideas, Draco.

Alright, a few things I've thought up:

The disease is a microscopic parasite that while in it's disease form measures about 100-140m (size of a fairyfly or a large single celled organism), it's capable of rapidly evolving and possesses shared evolutionary and language-based traits with it's source, AKA all of it's mutations AND all of it's temporary mutations such as with Azure or Anomalous abilities.

I was thinking of giving it the ability to crawl (like a mite) and then eventually fly (http://www.wereyouwondering.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/fairyfly.jpg) and lots of other cool stuff, but I think it would be really cool to have him as a player grow the disease and he grows himself even if he doesn't know or intend it. Seems more meaningful that way.

Base Traits SO FAR, PEACH, WIP:

Evolutionist Phage (Legendary Disease)
HP: 1
Size: (Upgrades to Diminutive)
Saves: (Use Evo's)
Abilities: Disease(Ex), Mutation(Ex), Consume(Ex)

Disease (Ex):
The phage is a disease and therefore has no STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS, CHA, BAB, MOVE, SIZE, AC, HD, or skill ranks/points.

For any stat it has a in, treat it like a 0 when improving it's stats. Improving the stat in any way grants it a score and modifier.

Phage becomes a creature if it's size increases, raising it to Diminutive size and changing it to a swarm subtype in addition to any other subtypes the host creature currently has and changing it's type to be animal, abberation, outsider, vermin, construct, ooze, elemental, fey, plant or undead types (whichever is currently closest to the host), this type change does not grant any abilities nor does it grant it an HD or change any of it's stats.

While the phage is in a non-creature state and infecting a host, it does not have the ability to use actions in or out of combat. Instead it uses un-used actions of it's host at the end of their turn, using their body except any action the phage withes to take is with it's own stats instead, with the exception of strength score which it may choose to borrow from it's host.

Any (Ex) or (Su) or mutation or feat the source creature attains when on the same plane as the Phage it also gets with the same optional variables, only phage that is currently infecting a creature counts as a creature for the purposes of utilizing these abilities outside of itself, and therefore is able to do so.
If phage does not meet physical requirements in the way of having none of something it does not qualify, if the ability requires a race or type phage can automatically qualify when it has a size.
If phage does not have the key mental stat of a mutation, Su, Ex or Feat then treat it's DC as 0 and cancel it's effect and replace it with a general static of magic or psionics.

If phage induces a disease in any way, the host must carry or suffer from this disease as well, being immune to phage also makes the host immune to it's granted disease.

If the key ability score for it's ability is based off it's HD use the source's HD -5.

Consume (Ex):
Phage slowly destroys any creature with 7 or less HD than it's source, dealing 1 charisma, dex and constitution damage per day as it devours the dermis, keratin, chitin and cartilage of the host.

Current Form, PEACH, WIP:

Sneaker's Mindfire Phage (Legendary Disease)
BAB +1
HP: 1
Size: (Upgrades to Diminutive)
Saves: (Use Evo's)
AC: +5 (+5NA)
Abilities: Disease(Ex), Mutation(Ex), Consume(Ex)

Mutation+ (Ex):

Sneak Attack 1d6
World Tongue (Does not qualify)
Size alteration (Does not qualify)
Monster Sage
Improve Unarmed Strike
Empathic Mind +2 dip, bluff, sensemotiv
+2 Claws (fingernails for host)
+1 Melee Dmg
Azure Form

Changeweave (One set of clothing/host or /swarm)
Minor Change Shape (Does not qualify)
Uncanny Resistance +9 Spell Resistance

Armor of the Outer Planes (Doesn't qualify unless it's diminutive+)

Naturally Invisible
Damage Reduction 3/magic
Aura of Menace
Rend (Does not qualify)
Disease (Mindfire)
Spiritual Wound
Fast Healing 1hp/r
Evolve Talent (Multiattack)
Dimension Door (standard action) 65' range (Once per 5 Rounds)
Claws + Damage (x3)
Disrupt Psionic
Detect Psionics
Telepathy 30'
Detect Thoughts 60' + Free Reading + Mental Resistance
Mind Blast
Evolve Racial Potential

2012-10-10, 02:49 PM
When does it gain mental ability scores?

2012-10-10, 03:02 PM
For an excellent published example, look up the comaghaz plague from West End Games' Torg series, specifically Space Gods. It's long out of print though.

2012-10-10, 10:14 PM
When does it gain mental ability scores?

I don't see any reason for it to have them, how about an advanced version of mindless?

Greater Mindlessness (Ex): When phage has no intelligence it has immunity to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects), when it has no charisma score it's immune to all hearing and language-based effects, when it has no wisdom it's immune to all sensory-based effects.

Otherwise, the source needs to improve his own mental scores to give it sentience.

2012-10-11, 12:09 AM
In your first post you specified a sentient disease. Which by D&D rules puts it at at least Charisma 1 and wisdom 1. That is what oozes get and they are the stupidest things in D&D basically.

Of course, for the sort of things I am am envisioning, you want something vaguely like Intelligence equal to the smartest creature in at least stage 4 (or whatever I picked the stage of the disease at random) or the cube-root of the number of victims (but this option is capped at 4 times the intelligence of the smartest single creature showing symptoms). You note I actually had it using STRATEGY. Of course, I also said that throwing everything that had been suggested in would make it too powerful to throw up against 8th level characters. Naturally dropping the fire-resistance and keeping the SR low or absent help a lot.

2012-10-11, 04:12 AM
Seems like the disease I've got it up to so far is alive, and technically is and is not a creature, but doesn't have any awareness nor wishes until it's activated.

The disease instead is more like a mirror of the player himself, he wishes his character be maliciously deadly in ability and so too is the disease. If he wished himself wiser, more intelligent, or more charismatic the disease would then too change.

He guides the destiny of his creations, and hell, making it more aware may be the only way to stop it.

Alternatively, in stage 2 or 3 it could gain a mental stat equal to each mental modifier, sitting at about 2int 2wis 2cha right now.

2012-10-11, 02:16 PM
Define "activated"?

There is something I am not quite getting about your statting. Maybe I don't own the right splat-books. What is a "Legendary Disease"? Why does it seem to have two forms when discussing size, and how does it switch between them and/or between "evolutionist" and "sneaker's mindfire"?

The following phrase seems grammatically garbled, and may be contributing to the confusion:

Any (Ex) or (Su) or mutation or feat the source creature attains when on the same plane as the Phage it also gets with the same optional variables,

2012-10-12, 12:27 AM
Oh yeah, garbled happens when I have marbles in the mouthes on my fingers.

Sneakers is the temp-name of my player, he doesn't have a real name so instead of calling him by Alias X he put sneakers down. Why it's mindfire is one of the mutations he has on his claws, giving Phage a disease application in itself, thus it's now Mindfire Phage-- and because Sneakers is the source of this Phage it's Sneaker's Mindfire Phage.

Legendary diseases are diseases of legend. Look out!

As for size and creature changes:

Phage becomes a creature if it's size increases, raising it to Diminutive size and changing it to a swarm subtype in addition to any other subtypes the host creature currently has and changing it's type to be animal, abberation, outsider, vermin, construct, ooze, elemental, fey, plant or undead types (whichever is currently closest to the host), this type change does not grant any abilities nor does it grant it an HD or change any of it's stats.
Perhaps it should make the wording more detailed to include that the effect ends if it drops down a size again. It gains a size if the size increase teratomorph is gained, not if enlarge person is cast nor due to his minor shape change that allows size change as it states it works only as enlarge person where as evolutionist is a flat size increase similar to a creature HD improvement.

Activated means it has gained sentience.

I'm re-doing the statblock for this in a bit and adding that it also gains attribute points gained on levelup, as he has upgrade mental stats with those.

2012-10-12, 08:22 PM
What causes it to become activated?

2012-10-13, 02:08 AM
Well, activation means surpassing the state of a normal disease, and becoming aware.

If that means it can express itself, is aware or can think I'd consider that activation, thus CHA, WIS and INT respectively.

Does that mean it's "sentient" if it has small amounts of one? Perhaps not... :smallsmile:

2012-10-13, 03:10 AM
That is the result of activation, not the cause. Is it some sort of plot-triggered event for the plague as a whole? Is it triggered by dropping an ability score of the host to 0? What?

2012-10-14, 04:41 AM
Oh I see, it's activated by the modification of the disease's ability scores via it's connection to the host.

The stages of the disease now are triggered upon levelups, as the disease scales with the user. Not sure exactly how to flesh the block out yet to not be overwhelming.