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Monday, June 8, 2009

Grim Monday: Malicious Infection

Today's Grim Monday is all about diseases. Not the fatal sort, I wrote about those a while back. No, today's diseases are of the troublesome, debilitating, but not deadly variety.
Diseases can add an interesting element to a campaign. They can spread, causing problems beyond a simple affliction. Those infected are often shunned or worse. Seeking the cure, assuming a magical treatment is not readily available, can be an adventure in and of itself. Here are three troublesome afflictions ready to infect your party.
Withering Plague
This affliction is spread by physical contact (Poor chance of spreading), usually from goblin races, who are often carriers, but unaffected by the disease. The victim takes on the appearance of advanced age, graying hair, wrinkles, age spots, and a somewhat withered, stooped appearance. They also suffer from an Average penalty to strength tests. If treated within a month of the first onset the visible symptoms disappear completely within a few weeks. Treatment applied after this period leaves the victim with some permanent changes to their appearance (typically age spots and graying hair).
The Withering Plague is believed by some to be a symptom of vampirism. Victims are often treated as outcasts, and sometimes attacked and slain, their remains burned and scattered. Of course strangers already afflicted with the disease will simply appear to be... old.
Nightmare Nails
This strange disease causes rapid growth of finger and toe nails and, to a lesser extent, hair, in the victim. Those affected also crave meat and other high-protein foods to supply their body's accelerated keratin production. The nails and hair of those afflicted grow an inch or more per day. This growth causes shooting pain in the affected areas, causing the victim to suffer an Average penalty to all tests involving manual dexterity. The disease is carried by a variety of biting insects, and can be spread via bodily fluids.
The visible signs of this disease can be controlled in the short term, but over the longer term (more than a few weeks), the disease will have more permanent effects. Nails and hair become thicker and denser, eventually resembling claws and spikes more than nails and hair. Once cured normal growth patterns resume within six months.
Crazy Eye
This affliction of the nervous system is contracted from consumption of poorly prepared fresh water fish. The disease disrupts the victim's vision, causing their eyes to move in a disconcerting independent fashion, which gives the disease its common name. The victim suffers a Great penalty to any test requiring vision, and has a terrible time focusing their gaze. Reading is nearly impossible, and even walking becomes a challenge.
If Crazy Eye is left untreated for more than six weeks the effects become permanent. Those afflicted are often thought to be possessed by demons or devils and treated accordingly.
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