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Yora
2014-02-19, 06:03 AM
When great plagues show up in history, reports always say that they changed everything and caused massive devastation. It's something different than an orc horde, zombie apocalypse, or demon invasion, but something that I've never really seen in either RPGs or fantasy fiction in general. One big thing about it is that there is no big bad to slay, which then magically makes the entire invading army disappear, so it's something that requires a little bit more thought.
But I think it could still be very interesting and also something quite fresh. Occasionally you see magical diseases in adventures, but these are usually dealt with by once again finding the evil priest who caused them and killing him.

But lets say there's a completely ordinary plague that on average kills 50% of the population. Sometimes less, sometimes much more. What could you do with it as the background situation for a campaign?

Magic Healing
Many fantasy RPGs have spells that could cure diseases including plague. But let's say there is one priest for every 100 people and out of these, maybe 1 out of 5 is able to cast the spell at all. Even if he can cast the spell 10 times per day, that's still just 2% of the population that can get the spell every day. With infection rates of 70 to 80%, that's not going to make a big dent. Especially if recieving a magical healing does not create immunity to the disease and does not prevent re-infection. The priests could protect themselves and the political leadership, but deaths would still be massive.
However, I think things get even more interesting if the plague can get anyone and nobody can be safe. When kings and noblemen die, as well as their families, the whole situation gets a whole nother level of complexity. If magic healing exist, it could be changed from 100% effictiveness to merely giving the person a greater chance to survive the disease naturally.

Economy
The economical impact of plague is often mentioned as being very significant. With 50% of the labor force lost, tax income also gets cut by half. However, this does not seem to mean that government expenses also get reduced by the same amount. Does anyone know more about this?

HighWater
2014-02-19, 06:17 AM
Just a short reply on the economy-side:

Massive plagues tend to increase the wealth of the surviving populace post-plague:
- Material possessions (such as gold) tend to not die from the plague, so are redistributed amongst a smaller group,
- Farmland has varying quality, if many people die, only a smaller amount of land needs to be worked, this is not 50% people die = 50% less land to work ==> The second percentage is (considerably) higher than the first, because only the most fertile land will be cultivated. This leads to a higher crop output per working farmer,

The people that suffer most from the plague:
- Those who die (duh),
- Those whose power and wealth comes from controlling others directly (nobles),
- Merchants, if the trade routes get shut down,

The people that profit most from the plague:
- Merchants (if the trade routes stay open),
- Artisants and other non-farmers --> the prices of food tend to go down if farms have a higher yield per acre (which they will because the average farm has better fields now).

Beware though, these effects are Post-Plague. During the plague, all kind of crazy economic disturbances can occur. Prices can be sky high one day, and massively deflated the other. A city going into lockdown will have food- and other shortages (driving up prices), while a merchant looking to skip town (towns and cities are the most dangerous places to be during a plague) will dump his goods for very low prices, etc.

Good luck!

aberratio ictus
2014-02-19, 06:21 AM
Heh. I might not be able to answer your mechanical questions really, but I once had a very well done Plague Campaign.

This particular plague had a 100% mortality rate, and being infected meant long weeks of suffering before one was allowed to die. It essentially wiped out the sentient population of the whole world, and the only ones who survived were Paladins, due to the immunity to disease-thing (though even that began to fail as the campaign drew to a close).

The whole group consisted of paladins (who still were surprisingly diverse both in personality and in their role) and a single, good-aligned undead in disguise.
First, they tried to find a cure, then, when they finally stood alone in a bleak, dead wasteland populated with brainless undead and abberations, it actually became the first and only campaign I played in where good characters actively tried to bring about the apocalypse in order to let the world restart itself.
It was pretty awesome.

Rhynn
2014-02-19, 06:28 AM
Economy
The economical impact of plague is often mentioned as being very significant. With 50% of the labor force lost, tax income also gets cut by half. However, this does not seem to mean that government expenses also get reduced by the same amount. Does anyone know more about this?

Well, "government expenses" mostly amounted to arming yourself and your household knights (or samurai, or whatever the elite warriors who don't work fields are called in your culture) and hiring mercenaries - it's not like medieval governments generally ran any kind of social programs. You'll be building fewer fortifications and bridges, I suppose. If half the mercenaries die, too, you're not going to be paying nearly as many of them... and with all those knights and the like dead, there's going to be a surplus of arms and armor for a while.

LokiRagnarok
2014-02-19, 07:09 AM
If you want to make it really dark, you could present moral conundrums to your characters.

There is someone rounding up the diseased in an old hospital, looking to burn it down once most of them are in there. They genuinely believe they are doing good, because they are preventing spread of the disease.

Do the diseased become "second-class citizens"? Is it okay to steal from them ("they are going to be dead anyway")? Is it okay to take an uninfected child or pet from them by force, even if everybody involved wants it to stay?

I also recommend the movie The Seventh Seal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seventh_Seal) as a movie that plays in a post-plague-wasteland, basically. (You won't regret watching it either way - it's where the "playing chess with Death" trope comes from ;))

Berenger
2014-02-19, 07:51 AM
@Yora, have you read (not watched, the movie has approximately 5% faithfulness to the book) The Physician / Der Medicus? It may be the Worst Epic Fail Ever at depicting the era it claims to depict, but im sure it will still offer nice ideas for a plague-related fantasy RPG.

The "party" in the subplot I refer to consists of one physician and several students from a hospital in that capital that (get) volunteer(ed) to investigate a deadly epidemic in another city. Complications include:

- travelling to the other city whose surroundings are no longer patrolled by the guard

- encourage the NPCs so they don't defect (or, worse, defect with your medical supplies)

- overcoming their own fear and resisting the offer of a wealthy merchant to abandon their suicide mission and be guests in his country house (it's a "trap": the merchant himself escaped from the city and carries the plague in himself - he and those who stayed are found dead next spring)

- arriving in the city: locating what is left of government and city guard and convincing them to help you (aka spend resources, work hard and risk infection while doing so)

- actually starting to investigate the plague: checking the historical accounts in the book they got when they left the hospital, comparing those accounts with the actual symptoms etc., experimenting on possible cures (including the classic PC logic: "Kill the pestilential bubos WITH FIRE!" - "No, ACID!" - "No, you fools, COLD!" - "The solution must be PIERCING DAMAGE, retards..." *grabs lancet* "...I'll prove!")

- various personal drama aka party interaction (especially when one gets infected)

- noticing that the city guards don't follow your orders as intended (e.g. dumping the corpses in a ravine instead of collecting wood and burning them) and setting this straight


I think this could be reworked into a viable adventure plot. Combat against bandits on the road / desperate looters in the city / an uncooperative city guard captain refusing to help could be thrown in easily. Also, lots and lots of moral conundrums as LokiRagnarok pointed out.

Blightedmarsh
2014-02-19, 08:06 AM
You could say that some creatures are immune or resistant and some are particularly vulnerable to the plague.

You could also say that only some clerics have the power to heal the plague. The clerics of neutral gods are powerless to stop it and the clerics of good gods only make it worse.

Slipperychicken
2014-02-19, 09:13 PM
You could also say that only some clerics have the power to heal the plague. The clerics of neutral gods are powerless to stop it and the clerics of good gods only make it worse.

I think it would be more sensible and frightening if the plague spread faster than clerics could heal it. Now you've got huge lines of sick people crowding every church which can cast Remove Disease, items of disease removal cost ~10 more due to demand, and potentially riots when a church shuts its doors. It also gives a rationale for rich/important people to survive it.

Don't forget you can also have rats, bugs, and other animals carrying the plague. Even if you could cast remove disease on every person, that doesn't help much if the rats will re-infect them again.

Berenger
2014-02-20, 05:11 AM
For more Grimdark: add racial hatred.

"It all started in the tannery district where the filthy halfling scum dwells. Burn them." - "No, it's a punishment from the gods for the frivolous ways of life of those high elven patricians. Put them to the sword!" - "Clearly, this threat comes from the outside. Get those goblinoid well-poisoners and hang 'em higher!"

Blightedmarsh
2014-02-20, 08:47 AM
Its the humans; they are obviously cursed and we must rid ourselves of them before they corrupt us too.

HighWater
2014-02-20, 08:54 AM
It's the adventurerers, bringing back old, forgotten and powerful diseases from the tombs they raid, as well as their poor bodily hygiene and questionable ethics!

DigoDragon
2014-02-20, 09:20 AM
There will be those who will capitalize on the fear of the populous, creating mobs of desparate folks to follow them to whatever ends the person has in mind (overthrowing a local ruler, starting their own religion, robbing the wealth of a certain area for themselves, etc). That's a fun trope I like to play around with.

Rhynn
2014-02-20, 09:20 AM
It's the adventurerers, bringing back old, forgotten and powerful diseases from the tombs they raid, as well as their poor bodily hygiene and questionable ethics!

In the Finnish RPG Praedor, the Eastern Lands were ravaged - and still suffer from the after-effects and smaller recurrences - by a plague, supposedly brought by adventurers from the ruins of the far east. Any obvious (or apparent, or suspected) adventurers travelling in the East who can't defend themselves* are likely to be strung up or burnt at the stake by villagers.

* Not as easy as in D&D, since Praedor has a more plausible combat system and level of power.

Morty
2014-02-20, 09:26 AM
I think another answer to reconciling healing magic and a plague-centered plot is to say that healing magic only cures symptoms, but not the cause. Sure, a priest, magician or whoever else can go around and heal people, but it won't stop them from catching it again. And in any reasonable setting, there's only so much magic juice those healers will have. Its still a patchwork job, of course, and it's always better not to have magic that can cure any disease with a snap.

Rhynn
2014-02-20, 09:44 AM
In Artesia: Adventures in the Known World, plagues are a standard "global event": they're found in the Lifepath Tables (under "Great Adventures," a bit ironically), repeatedly show up on the "recent history by region" table, and are present on the "monthly events" table given for the kingdom of Ered Dania.

Usually, when plagues happen in the Middle Kingdoms (dominated by the patriarchal solar religion, and specifically the denomination that forbids sacrifice and worship of other deities, and casts the priestesses of the Mother Goddess as profane witches), witches are blamed and promptly persecuted. That includes not only the actual priestesses of the Mother Goddess and the rare actual "witches" or occultists (who are probably more likely to engineer these persecutions than suffer of them), but all women with magical knowledge or too much "suspicious" learning, like herbalists, midwives, healers, wise-women, etc.

I've long wanted to run a Black Death (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death_%28film%29) style adventure in A:AKW where the PCs are sent to investigate reports of a village untouched by the current plague and suspicions of witchcraft there. They'd have to figure out or decide whether there's actual witchcraft going on, and whether they actually should deal out any kind of punishment (especially if whatever is going on actually is efficacious against the plague).

The Warhammer FRP version of the plot would, naturally, end up involving Chaos cultists, mutants in tunnels under the village, and probably manifest possession by a demon of Nurgle - but all preferrably only turning up after the PCs have already gone completely Heart of Darkness on some apparently-innocent villagers. :smallbiggrin:

The_Werebear
2014-02-20, 10:35 AM
One other thing to consider in the post plague - Demographic and societal collapse. For a while, people are going to be dying faster than new births and immigration can replace them. Whole districts might be abandoned wastelands after the plague clears them out, with no authority willing to risk reinfection (or have the numbers) to reclaim it. These abandoned places become hives to thieves, squatters, and outcasts who have nowhere else to go.

One city may become several smaller towns, walled in on themselves and separated by lawless, largely abandoned sections of city. Travel between the "safe" segments might be more dangerous than travel outside the city.

ElenionAncalima
2014-02-20, 11:31 AM
I would imagine tensions between the rich and poor would come into play. The rich could easily afford to pay for spellcasting or even magical items that would make them more resilient. Whereas, the poor would be at the mercy of charitable casters, who are spread far too thin to help everyone.

This could lead to potential policy problems, where the rich aren't willing to pay for and organize proper precautions, because they aren't feeling the immediate effects.

Slipperychicken
2014-02-20, 03:28 PM
It's the adventurerers, bringing back old, forgotten and powerful diseases from the tombs they raid, as well as their poor bodily hygiene and questionable ethics!

It's the magicians! They have upturned the laws of nature and their folly has brought this plague upon us!

It's the heretics! Those mad cultists have wrought this plague to serve their dark gods!

It's the deviants! Their abominable practices have angered the gods themselves, whose wrath now manifests as a plague. We must destroy them to placate the gods' fury!

Judgement day is come! That day of exceeding bitterness and holy wrath is here! All who perish are sinners in the eyes of the gods! Only the pure shall be spared!

Fortinbro
2014-02-20, 03:43 PM
I think a good point of reference for this would be the Magic the Gathering novel "The Thran." Things to consider:

1.) In The Thran, the plague in question was not only immune to magic but made worse by it. Something like that would completely shock a system in a high fantasy setting.

2.) Something like Yawgmoth could make an excellent villain. You have a healer who heals those useful to him and lets the others die. He is embraced as a savior and tries to take control of society.

3.) Having a "Gix" in the story would also make sense. Perhaps there is a group of people who are infected and their deaths are slow enough that they live for years. This group is neglected, starving, exiled and resents the healthy and rich. Eventually they revolt against them and try to steal their resources or bring the others down with them.

Socksy
2014-02-20, 04:53 PM
I'd suggest banning the Lich ritual, Cancer Mage and Grim Psion classes, and undead starting templates right from the start if you want the characters to be affected by the plague at all...

Consider: Can your plague affect animals? Magical beasts? Outsiders? Aberrations? Dragons?
Has it reached the Underdark? The civilisations in the clouds? The inside of the planet (If you have a hollow campaign world)? Other planes? Which ones?
If magic doesn't affect it/makes things worse, what about Psionics/Chakra/whatever other systems you use?

Now, is it transmitted in the air? Consider that one Ioun stone, or the bottle of air.
Transmitted in the water? The other Ioun stone, the ring of sustenance, Purify Food And Water.
A parasite? Immunity to disease may not function against it. Again, foiled by Purify Food And Water and some good hygiene.

Does it have effects other than CON and maybe CHA damage or drain? Penalties to Move Silently/Stealth from a hacking cough, penalties to Gather Information and Diplomacy? How many saves do they have to make? What happens if you fail?

If you want 50-75% of the population to catch the plague, the fortitude save should be DC11-16. If you want it to actually have a chance against mid-level PCs, perhaps it feeds off of the magic in their gear to get stronger?

Hope it helped!

CoffeeIncluded
2014-02-20, 05:07 PM
You could also have con artists! People shilling magical items saying they'll provide a boost to saving throws or make you immune to disease or whatever. Of course, they're all baloney.

Also, if it's a common-source epidemic, expect the players to engage in basic epidemiology. Look up John Snow and the London cholera epidemic!

Yora
2014-02-21, 06:26 AM
The Warhammer FRP version of the plot would, naturally, end up involving Chaos cultists, mutants in tunnels under the village, and probably manifest possession by a demon of Nurgle
Doomsday Cults! Why didn't anyone think of this before? :smallbiggrin:
Great idea. Some might even go to extreme length to transform themselves into creatures immune to the plague, like vampires, wights, or werewolves. May not actually help, but still something some people might consider. Others would take up worship of gods of disease and poison, in the hope that they will be spared if they serve them.

but all preferrably only turning up after the PCs have already gone completely Heart of Darkness on some apparently-innocent villagers. :smallbiggrin:
That's also a great idea. There might be all kinds of strange societies left in otherwise depopulated regions.

Rhynn
2014-02-21, 06:43 AM
Doomsday Cults! Why didn't anyone think of this before? :smallbiggrin:
Great idea. Some might even go to extreme length to transform themselves into creatures immune to the plague, like vampires, wights, or werewolves. May not actually help, but still something some people might consider. Others would take up worship of gods of disease and poison, in the hope that they will be spared if they serve them.

The lore around Nurgle actually paints him as a sort of twisted "god of mercy" - propitiatory worship of Nurgle is supposed to keep you from catching diseases. It probably doesn't work long-term, at least without horrible side-effects (turning you into a mutant or getting you possessed by a demon). Many people might consider such transformations worth it - better to live as a demon than die of disease, right? (Of course, they don't know that once the demon takes over, there's nothing left of their own mind or soul, except maybe some scraps of memory the demon can access...)

One of the Mathias Thulmann novels (either Witch Finder or Witch Killer) actually involves a city in the grip of disease; it's actually got multiple slightly unrelated threads, with the Skaven and a non-religious Chaos heretic on one side and a terrified ruler with an over-ambitious Wizard on the other. (Let's just say that using Warhammer magic to fight disease isn't necessarily a great idea.)

Glorantha (of RuneQuest and HeroQuest) has a similar but more extensive set-up: Malia, the Goddess of Disease, is a Chaos Goddess worshipped propitiatorily by the desperate and the foolish. When plagues strike, the people often feel that their usual healing deities (like Chalana Arroy) have failed them, and instead beg the mercy of the Mistress of Disease. This usually results not in being cured, but in becoming immune to the deleterious effects of disease (usually, game-mechanics wise, one specific disease): the worshippers of Malia are still carriers!

Long-term, the worship makes Malia stronger (meaning more diseases, at least regionally), and exposes the communities to other manifestations of Chaos. It's worth noting that plagues and diseases are usually spread by disease spirits, who must be exorcised by priests or (better) shamans. A single spirit can infect an entire city, because once they possess a victim, the disease spreads normally; the spirit can attack victim after victim to speed the spread and infect even those who are physically safe (quarantined, etc.).

Doomsday cults in general, regardless of the effect of such worship, are a great idea. Europe went a bit weird, culturally, in the wake of the Black Death, with death motifs like the danse macabre all over art... it's no wonder, either, given that 50% or more of the people in many areas died. That would be bound to change how the survivors look at the world. The sheer desperation and nihilism brought on by the effects of a plague is going to drive people into anything that will comfort them, and dark or demonic cults are frequently designed to appeal to exactly that mindset.

Volumes 18-20 of the manga Berserk are definitely relevant, too. Desperation, disease, nihilism, devil-worship...

SiuiS
2014-02-21, 07:05 AM
Never works. I've had DMs try to make "magic players" to get around the spell capacity to heal, but wands, circles and doorways of either cure disease or constitution boost make it too easy for any legitimate plague to be handled with any worry. I mean, remember; a third level commoner could potentially summon a monster from the summon monster 3 spell as divine intervention. There's got to be a way that solves this. Even moreso if the high pope is ninth level.

In other games, mechanics for plague:disease seem lackluster. It's generally something GMs try to inflict on players rather than a backdrop. That never works.

Talos
2014-02-21, 09:23 AM
I have tried to run a game close to what he is talking about. I used FR talona. in my scenario i had Talona higher level priestess and priest create a specific artifact that create this plague i called talona rot. it was a magical plague. first it took great power to make the item some many divine artifacts were destroyed from other gods in the creation of this one singular item. now in the case of clerics and healing all of them could extend the life of victims but only Gods with Healing in the portfolio could actually cure the rot. my players were only in act one i.e hearing rumors about the rot. hearing rumors of how clergy were being killed in wicked ways. churches were being attacked and burned.

wish we could have finished it but my group broke up.

ReaderAt2046
2014-02-21, 10:22 PM
A couple of thoughts on this issue:

First, I would highly suggest you look up the "Corrupted Blood" incident. The short version: A while back, World of Warcraft rolled out a new dungeon for very high-level characters featuring the boss Hakkar the Soulflayer. Hakkar's signature attack was Corrupted Blood, a DoT debuff that dealt moderate damage and lasted a while. However, just to make things more interesting, the curse would also infect anyone in close proximity to an infected character. This was just a moderate problem for the high-level characters the dungeon was written for, but then someone discovered that if a familiar was banished after being infected, but before dying, it would freeze the infection until the familiar was resummoned, even if that resummoning was outside its dungeon. By the time anyone realized that Corrupted Blood had escaped the dungeon, huge swathes of WoW were infected, and what was only a nuisance for high-level characters killed lower-level characters in seconds. Within a few days, the great cities of WoW were charnel pits, and entire servers had been killed off. Blizzard quickly re-coded the curse so it couldn't exist outside the dungeon, but the legend had been born.

2. Playing off the point about Fortitude saves above, an interesting plot could be had by having a plague with heavy damage, but a lowish Fort save. The 99% of the world that are level 1 NPCs are dying in droves, but by virtue of their awesomeness, the PCs are all but immune. Now they have to deal with the world falling apart around them, with the entire understructure of society collapsing into barbarism while they watch, untouched by the invisible killer.

sktarq
2014-02-21, 10:44 PM
Also it may be worth hunting up the old Ursule: Tears of Blood project. It was set in the aftermath of the plague. There was much thinking of effects and social change.

DigoDragon
2014-02-22, 06:33 PM
Never works.

Though playing the angle that the plague feeds off magic is a nice way to make the disease scary for the PCs. I once peanut galleried an adventure where the disease fed off positive energy spells. Virtually anything that magically healed people in some way. Made worse in that the infection caused nasty bloating and boils to form on its victims. After a certain point, the body just... burst into a messy wet splash of infection.

It started when the king was assassinated by switching his wedding ring wit a Ring of Regeneration. :smalleek:
Blew up right in the center of a court meeting.

The Oni
2014-02-23, 02:40 PM
By combining many of the wonderful suggestions in this thread, I think that a high-damage, low-Fort-save, magic-eating plague could very well be your perfect storm here. It's the wizardly and common-people types who are most at danger here due to their low Fort saves, and any attempt to cure the stuff with arcane or divine magic is going to make it worse. So apart from the people who might be able to magically cure it (and the common redshirts) dying like animals at a much higher rate than your typical adventurer-types, you have a good chance of a peasant mob turning against the clergy or the magical elite.

You might even end up with a situation like Left 4 Dead, where the PCs (if they are in fact nonmagical types) are carrying the plague, but are strong enough to fight it off for the most part, meanwhile infecting everyone else typhoid-mary style.

SiuiS
2014-02-23, 04:17 PM
Though playing the angle that the plague feeds off magic is a nice way to make the disease scary for the PCs. I once peanut galleried an adventure where the disease fed off positive energy spells. Virtually anything that magically healed people in some way. Made worse in that the infection caused nasty bloating and boils to form on its victims. After a certain point, the body just... burst into a messy wet splash of infection.

It started when the king was assassinated by switching his wedding ring wit a Ring of Regeneration. :smalleek:
Blew up right in the center of a court meeting.

That's rather clever. It highlights the Darth Bobcat a correlary, that there are no bad ideas, only bad execution. Certainly, this whole thread just screams "your DMs have been terrible newbies" rather than "Plague Is Bad".


By combining many of the wonderful suggestions in this thread, I think that a high-damage, low-Fort-save, magic-eating plague could very well be your perfect storm here. It's the wizardly and common-people types who are most at danger here due to their low Fort saves, and any attempt to cure the stuff with arcane or divine magic is going to make it worse. So apart from the people who might be able to magically cure it (and the common redshirts) dying like animals at a much higher rate than your typical adventurer-types, you have a good chance of a peasant mob turning against the clergy or the magical elite.

You might even end up with a situation like Left 4 Dead, where the PCs (if they are in fact nonmagical types) are carrying the plague, but are strong enough to fight it off for the most part, meanwhile infecting everyone else typhoid-mary style.

That would be hard to do, unless it was so virulent it did damage even on a successful save? Like, 1 a day? Otherwise standard D&D rules, you recover after two successful saves no more carrier.

What else can we do in a specifically D&D sense? You can boost the DC? You can make the infection travel through different vectors?

Ghouls. A single, divinely (demonically?) inspired ghoul, with enhanced stats and feats for A) much higher native DC on ghoul fever, and B) violated damage on its special ability (might actually only work if ghoul fever is inflicted with the Contagion spell...), so the damage is minimal but hard to save against... And permanent. Separate instances of contagion slowly, permanently inflicting mystically grievous wounds, the kind that never heal, that seep with unknown ichors and terrible, hellish smells.

A weapon which inflicts disease could benefit (albeit through convolution) from the assassin's weapon spell, making the damage permanent until the curse is removed... 99% of players will go to a hallowed area and start throwing around spells expecting violation to be the cause (bonus points if it is also violated!).

You have a disease that's painful, but easy to shuck, but always crippling. Always. From the smallest palsy tremor to full blown destruction of the CNS, the con and Cha damage is permanent until cured in a hallowed area while being cleansed of curse. Throw in the BoVD rules for lasting taint of evil, and those who seek refuge will unknowingly destroy the sanctity of the grounds with their aura of soul-rained malaise.

A world where everyone is slowly dying. Where the dead, bogey at their plight, continue to thrash and fight despite being dead, now outraged against and hating all life. Those few with the fortitude to resist and wherewithal to help stand baffled as throngs of lepers throw themselves against the gates of Pelor's temples, and bystanders aghast witness the clerics weep as they want to help but know that opening the gates would destroy the hallowed ground, snuffing out the Healing Sun's light even further.

The Oni
2014-02-23, 04:49 PM
^ This is all a very good point.

How about THIS one then: not only does the plague "eat" healing magic, but it infects healing magic as well. A infected (but asymptomatic) cleric channeling energy or casting heal spells on an uninfected target will spread the disease to the target, with interest, since it's feeding off the channel even as it rides on it; the disease will be supercharged when it hits the target. The plague can also linger for weeks in any restoration-type potion.

I mean obviously, a disease with properties like this would imply some high-tier diabolical nastiness, surely a disease unleashed or conceived by a dark power or a sinister cabal rather than formed naturally. But that just gives better foreshadowing for the BBEG, if one such villain is to exist in your campaign.

The alternative is of course to have the BBEG arise organically *from* the plague. Maybe in the form of a well-meaning but dangerously extreme organization dedicated to purging the plague, with fire and steel. (While meanwhile the initial cause of the plague was a horribly, horribly botched arcane experiment or the blood of a dying angel or some such phlebotinum.)

ReaderAt2046
2014-02-23, 05:10 PM
^ This is all a very good point.

How about THIS one then: not only does the plague "eat" healing magic, but it infects healing magic as well. A infected (but asymptomatic) cleric channeling energy or casting heal spells on an uninfected target will spread the disease to the target, with interest, since it's feeding off the channel even as it rides on it; the disease will be supercharged when it hits the target. The plague can also linger for weeks in any restoration-type potion.

I mean obviously, a disease with properties like this would imply some high-tier diabolical nastiness, surely a disease unleashed or conceived by a dark power or a sinister cabal rather than formed naturally. But that just gives better foreshadowing for the BBEG, if one such villain is to exist in your campaign.

The alternative is of course to have the BBEG arise organically *from* the plague. Maybe in the form of a well-meaning but dangerously extreme organization dedicated to purging the plague, with fire and steel. (While meanwhile the initial cause of the plague was a horribly, horribly botched arcane experiment or the blood of a dying angel or some such phlebotinum.)

Or also the other way around: Any casting of healing magic on a victim infects the caster. Suddenly you have clerics being forced to deny their services to the infected lest they themselves become diseased.

Also, there's an interesting series called the Healer Trilogy, with the backstory as follows: Once upon a time, all the people of the Fifteen Realms respected and loved healers. Able to take other's wounds and afflictions on themselves, and gifted with natural healing tenfold that of a normal human, the healers were a force for good and life. But then the plague came. Noone knew where it had come from or why it spared some, but this was known: If you contracted the plague, you would suffer a slow and agonizing death, guaranteed. Naturally, the healers attempted to cure the plague, only to discover that even their phenomenal healing was no match for this plague. A healer could cure one person of the disease, but then that healer would die. And so the order went out that healers were no longer to attempt to cure the plague. On this news, the riots began. Healers were blamed for everything that went wrong, lynched and hunted until only one remained.

Lord of Shadows
2014-02-23, 05:55 PM
The Tears of Blood Campaign Setting was an attempt at such a world. It was being developed right here at the Playground by a dedicated group of people, but never quite got finished. I have combined the material that was mostly finished as best I could and it is available here (http://tears-of-blood.weebly.com/). (see also signature below) A few of the original posters still seem to be around.
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SiuiS
2014-02-23, 07:11 PM
^ This is all a very good point.

How about THIS one then: not only does the plague "eat" healing magic, but it infects healing magic as well. A infected (but asymptomatic) cleric channeling energy or casting heal spells on an uninfected target will spread the disease to the target, with interest, since it's feeding off the channel even as it rides on it; the disease will be supercharged when it hits the target. The plague can also linger for weeks in any restoration-type potion.

I mean obviously, a disease with properties like this would imply some high-tier diabolical nastiness, surely a disease unleashed or conceived by a dark power or a sinister cabal rather than formed naturally. But that just gives better foreshadowing for the BBEG, if one such villain is to exist in your campaign.

The alternative is of course to have the BBEG arise organically *from* the plague. Maybe in the form of a well-meaning but dangerously extreme organization dedicated to purging the plague, with fire and steel. (While meanwhile the initial cause of the plague was a horribly, horribly botched arcane experiment or the blood of a dying angel or some such phlebotinum.)

Ah, man. It's like metaphysical cancer. :smalleek:

Blightedmarsh
2014-02-24, 12:32 AM
Also remember that plagues evolve quickly. We have antibiotic resistant bacteria in our world after less than 100 years of us using the stuff. Imagine how they would adapt to combat a magical setting. Wizards may be GOD but nature will still eat you alive without the help of human or inhuman agencies.

SiuiS
2014-02-24, 01:33 AM
I don't know about that one. Our diseases mutate because minuscule amounts survive. A god removes the illness from a person entirely? Not applicable.

Blightedmarsh
2014-02-24, 09:56 AM
And if a single random mutation allows a god to miss one microbe in one infected person?

Once is enough. A survival advantage like that would spread quickly. As fast as bacteria can reproduce in fact; no doubt helped by the fact that all of its competitors have been mightily smitten.

The_Werebear
2014-02-24, 11:00 AM
I don't know about that one. Our diseases mutate because minuscule amounts survive. A god removes the illness from a person entirely? Not applicable.


And if a single random mutation allows a god to miss one microbe in one infected person?

Once is enough. A survival advantage like that would spread quickly. As fast as bacteria can reproduce in fact; no doubt helped by the fact that all of its competitors have been mightily smitten.

That's not even counting Cancer Mages and fiends developing diseases to get around the cure-alls.

DigoDragon
2014-02-24, 11:51 AM
I don't know about that one. Our diseases mutate because minuscule amounts survive. A god removes the illness from a person entirely? Not applicable.

If the setting has a god of disease, then such a thing might escalate divine intervention on both sides. :smallbiggrin:

"Stop curing my subjects!"
"Stop sickening mine!"
"You started it!"
"Nuh-uh!"