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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    As I was writing a backstory for a character in a FR campaign, I was trying to come up with a way to kill off his wife from natural causes. I thought to myself, what about cancer?

    But the problem with cancer? Clerics. Those pesky magic healers are everywhere--there's no way cancer would last with magic users.

    Or would it?

    I'm taking a page from evolutionary biology and proposing that diseases in a magic campaign setting would develop resistance to magic.

    If you understand drug resistance, this should make sense. Let's say that all creatures have some potential for magic, it's in their genes (just look at multiclassig adventurers!)

    So now you have bacteria, viruses, cancer cells with magic. Not much, and not every one of them, but in a population of a million cells, one of them is a caster.

    And so you get sick, and you head to your local cleric. Well, guess what, he's only a low-level caster. And his cure disease spell doesn't meet the caster level check for all the bacterial cells. What's more, he introduces a selective pressure by killing all but the sorcerer bacteria, favoring their proliferation. Well, now the sorcerer bacteria, not having to compete, divides and proliferates. And one of them has a mutation that allows it to level up.

    And so on, and so on.

    Pretty soon you have freaking gestalt ultimate magus wizard bacteria running amok in the Forgotten Realms, curable only by Epic Wizards with Epic Cure Disease spells.

    Scary, no?


    Edit to clarify: I used hyperbole to illustrate my point; I don't really expect bacteria or cancer cells to start taking class levels. I would expect them to develop SR, though, becoming resistant to certain spells cast by certain caster levels.
    Last edited by Barbarian MD; 2009-11-04 at 01:31 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Only if they had a hivemind. Otherwise, I think the lower limit on spellcasting due to ability scores might be a problem. You might have more issues if the individual buffs you had also effected the cells - say, your Owl's Wisdom and Owl's Insight together have granted the Druid cells enough Wisdom to cast spells.
    The name is "tonberrian", even when it begins a sentence. It's magic, I ain't gotta 'splain why.

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    I like the basic idea. You can even "invent" illnesses or conditions that resist such standys as IHS.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Makes a lot of sense, actually. If everyone in the country's getting a Cure Disease every time they're feeling under the weather, then it shouldn't take long before you start getting magic-resistant strains. Kind of like the story with penicillin.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Bacteria don't have an INT of 3 or greater, so they don't normally gain class levels, and unless there's a hivemind colony of about 20 kg or so of the stuff, there's probably not enough there to even count as having HD. On top of that, there's no way a bacterium has higher CHA or WIS than the average human.

    However, it might have SR instead...
    Last edited by Mando Knight; 2009-11-04 at 12:44 PM.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by Mando Knight View Post
    Bacteria don't have an INT of 3 or greater, so they don't normally gain class levels, and unless there's a hivemind colony of about 20 kg or so of the stuff, there's probably not enough there to even count as having HD. On top of that, there's no way a bacterium has higher CHA or WIS than the average human.
    I wouldn't think of it as them being a caster, I'd just think of it as the bacteria being resistant to whatever whammy a healing spell uses to wipe out disease. As cure-disease spells become universal, the resistant strains thrive, and the others die off.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    This I like, living things evolving in response to the presence/effects of magic. Interesting idea. But...

    Its pretty easy to imagine a family that could not scrape together the required gold to pay for a Remove Disease spell. Level three spell, cast by a minimum fifth level cleric. Cost of about 150GP. Or more gold than your average peasant will ever see in their lifetime.

    What is interesting here, is that Remove Disease notes that, as it has an "instaneous" duration, the spell doesn't provide ongoing immunity. In the case of a plague or the like, you could get treated with the spell, only to be immediately reinfected (by the very soiled bed linens you are laying on) and your body has generated no natural (or un-natural) antibodies, so you get just as sick all over again. Hope you have a lot of gold!
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    I wouldn't think of it as them being a caster, I'd just think of it as the bacteria being resistant to whatever whammy a healing spell uses to wipe out disease. As cure-disease spells become universal, the resistant strains thrive, and the others die off.
    He was talking about bacteria with caster levels. I'd say it's more likely that it's bacteria with SR, since Remove Disease states that it can be blocked by it.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    It really depends. Granted that Faerun is very high-magic, but using the rules for spellcasting costs, it's roughly 4 years' wages for a common person to have remove disease cast.

    On the reverse, there's really no reason anything but the smallest of churches shouldn't/wouldn't have an auto-resetting remove disease trap (cost is 7500gp).

    I'd say spell-resistance disease would work, though a cancer cell or whatever being a caster seems a little much.
    Last edited by lsfreak; 2009-11-04 at 01:14 PM.
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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    I used caster levels as hyperbole to illustrate my point, but Saph (and others) have hit my thesis right on the nose. It would develop an ever increasing SR.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Of course, this posits that evolution, or natural selection, is at play in the D&D realm... which erupts into a whole other discussion about why the wizard gene hasn't completely dominated the entire world a long time ago. :)

    I think it makes for an interesting campaign idea though. As the "virus" spreads and spreads, toppling more and more areas, and starting to act almost as though it is intelligent, the party would naturally be looking for teh directing mind behind this curse, some fell necromancer or something, while all the time its the disease itself that is the culprit. That smacks of epic awesome game play.
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    Quote Originally Posted by theos911 View Post
    Fighter: I can kill a guy in one turn.
    Cleric: I can kill a guy in half a turn.
    Wizard: I can kill a guy before my turn!
    Bard: I can get 12 idiots to go kill guys for me
    Quote Originally Posted by grarrrg View Post
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    And a hilarious quest goal:

    Step 1) Become epic wizard
    Step 2) Create Epic Cure Disease spell
    Step 3) ???
    Step 4) Profit

    Now, it was all hyperbole before, but can you imagine a virus with caster levels?

    Transmission:
    Contaminated Water -> Airborne -> Teleport

    A doctor is coming, you say? Finger of death.
    You want to see a doctor, you say? Charm person.

    Although, on the flip side, once a virus can cast "create food and drink", there's not much point in infecting people.
    Last edited by Barbarian MD; 2009-11-04 at 01:46 PM.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Alternatively, for evil:

    1) Become a Lich Artificer
    2) Cross Iron Golems with Bacteria for magic immune diseases
    3) ???
    4) Laugh like a maniac.
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    This is actually something I wished they had done more of in 3e... a lot of the "absolute defenses/cures" could have been handled well with opposed level checks. Shield's protection against Magic Missiles? Even if Azuth is throwing the missiles, and my rogue is using a 1st level scroll of magic missile? Level check. Globes of Invulnerability? Level check. Cure Disease? Level check.
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    I also support the simple mechanic of requiring CL checks to overcome it, like mummy rot. Technically all the resistant illnesses require a powerful remove curse, but it is easy to extend it remove disease. Perhaps magic mononucleosis could do the same to resist remove fatigue. Definitely a way to stretch out the threat of illness, at least for a little while.

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    Chimera

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Clever name.
    However, if you want to keep this close to it's real life counterpart it would only have heightened SR to certain spells. Methicillin resistant staph arerus is resistant to almost everything except vancomycin and flagyl. So a magic equivilant should still have treatable with higher level spells, like no SR or very little.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Zombie cancer!

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    I'll add zombie cancer to my list of "planar diseases" tomorrow. I guess you can pick it up in Hades or something.
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Pathfinder did something similar. It does allow for disease actually being nasty, especially strains with tough DCs.

    Remove Disease
    Remove disease can cure all diseases from which the subject is suffering. You must make a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) against the DC of each disease affecting the target. Success means that the disease is cured. The spell also kills some hazards and parasites, including green slime and others.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Zombie cancer was from http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/455919


    But off topic from the subject,

    You can house rule that the disease must be known by the caster in order to cast cure disease, it can be the first case in which the cause/how the person is dieing is not know.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    One problem: divine magic is the direct intervention of a god or god-like entity. In order for a virus (or bacterium) to evolve into a resistant strain, some of the existing viruses or bacteria would have to ALREADY be resistant.

    And I can't think of a good reason for why a small percentage of either would be resistant to direct divine intervention.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by Vox Clamantis View Post
    And I can't think of a good reason for why a small percentage of either would be resistant to direct divine intervention.
    Why would some microorganisms be resistant to long-term exposure to a rare chemical oxidizer? Oops, cyanobacteria are photosynthesizing and pumping that deadly compound into the atmosphere?! Oh my, whatever are we going to do? Keep breathing easy (specifically, that deadly deadly oxygen), like we have for 2.4 billion years.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    So, what would the magic resistant spells do against things like Dispel Magic and Disjunction?
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Mud View Post
    So, what would the magic resistant spells do against things like Dispel Magic and Disjunction?
    Spells are neither living organisms nor have the ability to mutate.
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by Vox Clamantis View Post
    One problem: divine magic is the direct intervention of a god or god-like entity. In order for a virus (or bacterium) to evolve into a resistant strain, some of the existing viruses or bacteria would have to ALREADY be resistant.
    Let us assume, for a moment, that science works in D&D; this is by no means assured, but let's assume that disease is usually caused by microscopic organisms and pseudo-organisms, that reproduce by invading cells and using their material to build copies of themselves... much like bacteria and virii do in the real world. We're going to assume that the passage of traits works on a genetic basis, and that both mutation and evolution function normally.

    Well, first of all, we know that resistance to divine power is possible; a creature with SR resists divine magic just as well as arcane. We also know that it is heritable, as many creatures with SR pass that SR on to their offspring. It is thus possible that a mutation would result in magic resistant strains of viruses... since SR can come from genetics, then it is possible for SR to appear spontaneously in a species through mutation.

    Would this be an advantageous mutation, however? Well, virii without SR would instantly fall to Remove Disease, whereas virii with SR might survive. That's an evolutionary advantage, assuming it isn't saddled with a crippling disadvantage (e.g. the virus is now so potent it instantly kills its host, robbing the virus of the opportunity to breed and spread). Since Remove Disease did not kill the virii with SR, they along are left to breed and spread. The person quickly becomes sick again, and this time, Remove Disease does not work. The sickness spreads through ordinary vectors.

    This works so long as you assume that diseases are contracted and spread in the usual fashion and that traits are heritable.
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    You know, that'd be an ace way for a Ur-Priest to get people to ditch gods.
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by chiasaur11 View Post
    You know, that'd be an ace way for a Ur-Priest to get people to ditch gods.
    Only if he has a better way of curing it.
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by mhvaughan View Post
    As I was writing a backstory for a character in a FR campaign, I was trying to come up with a way to kill off his wife from natural causes. I thought to myself, what about cancer?

    But the problem with cancer? Clerics. Those pesky magic healers are everywhere--there's no way cancer would last with magic users.

    Or would it?

    I'm taking a page from evolutionary biology and proposing that diseases in a magic campaign setting would develop resistance to magic.

    If you understand drug resistance, this should make sense. Let's say that all creatures have some potential for magic, it's in their genes (just look at multiclassig adventurers!)

    So now you have bacteria, viruses, cancer cells with magic. Not much, and not every one of them, but in a population of a million cells, one of them is a caster.

    And so you get sick, and you head to your local cleric. Well, guess what, he's only a low-level caster. And his cure disease spell doesn't meet the caster level check for all the bacterial cells. What's more, he introduces a selective pressure by killing all but the sorcerer bacteria, favoring their proliferation. Well, now the sorcerer bacteria, not having to compete, divides and proliferates. And one of them has a mutation that allows it to level up.

    And so on, and so on.

    Pretty soon you have freaking gestalt ultimate magus wizard bacteria running amok in the Forgotten Realms, curable only by Epic Wizards with Epic Cure Disease spells.

    Scary, no?


    Edit to clarify: I used hyperbole to illustrate my point; I don't really expect bacteria or cancer cells to start taking class levels. I would expect them to develop SR, though, becoming resistant to certain spells cast by certain caster levels.
    In the Faerun setting many people die to diseases there simply are not enough clerics to cure everyone.
    you only have a problem if you or your wife/family etc where important (nobles/rich merchants etc) at that time because then chances would be high to get a cleric to cure your wife otherwise just go with the died from whatever disease you want ;)

    you could also go with an antimagic disease (disease manufactured by some evil wizard that has a antimagic field (very small) emminating from virus/bacteria.
    (Yes this would be kind of stolen from the Cormyr Saga was it I guess? they had some antimagic poisen there)
    Last edited by Emmerask; 2009-11-04 at 09:40 PM.

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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Colour me unconvinced, but there is nothing to support the idea that diseases in D&D work in any similar way to "our" diseases. It's impossible to create an "anti-Osmium" bomb, because there is no such thing as Osmium in D&D, there are four elements (fire, earth, air, water) instead, of which everything else is made (and there is nothing to support the existence of any form of antimatter, either). The diseases most likely get caused by "bad air", "miasma" or lack of humoral balance in the ill person's body. Once you start fiddling with RL science, the last shreds of whatever made D&D setting credible in any way just disappear.

    There would be nothing wrong, on the other hand, with designing an item, or spell, with increased caster level (for the purpose of making the disease more difficult to dispel), or with inherent resistance to attempts to cure or dispel it.
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    Default Re: MRSA:Magic Resistant Staphylococcus aureus

    Quote Originally Posted by MickJay View Post
    Colour me unconvinced, but there is nothing to support the idea that diseases in D&D work in any similar way to "our" diseases. It's impossible to create an "anti-Osmium" bomb, because there is no such thing as Osmium in D&D, there are four elements (fire, earth, air, water) instead, of which everything else is made (and there is nothing to support the existence of any form of antimatter, either).
    I disagree. The SRD spells it out:

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Material Plane

    The Material Plane tends to be the most Earthlike of all planes and operates under the same set of natural laws that our own real world does. This is the default plane for most adventures.
    Last edited by Epinephrine; 2009-11-05 at 07:22 AM.

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