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June 21, 2013, 9:38 pm

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Plague of Plagues


The Black Death... oh how quaint.
A few plagues to add variety to the lives and deaths of your heroes.

1) Witch Plague

Cultivated inside of the decapitated skull of a Fey creature, a slime composed of Hag feces, twenty-four herbs and spices, and the testicles of a Satyr must ferment and putrefy for three full moons. This pale green paste can then be lightly brushed onto any surface where it will remain a threat until the sun rises three times. Only those who are witches or have ancestors who were witches are affected by this illness, but once infected the body becomes a living vessel for the disease. Each pore of the body secretes more of the deadly ooze onto everything touched.

The symptoms are a fever that causes the body to sweat a brown paste, blindness as the eyes ooze the stuff, vomiting and diarrhea filled with the same stuff, and finally the stomach and intestines bursting inside causing death by the seventh day.

There is no known cure, and the body will be so ravaged by the illness that raising the dead becomes practically impossible.

2) The God Plague

The Cult of Shadows "bought the God Plague from their twisted and vile gods, first by raping a thousand virgins; these young girls were then tortured and mutilated in body and mind, but kept alive; those that became pregnant carried their babes almost to term when the cultists forced them to cut their own bellies open and rip the children from inside, and then throw the crying babies into a sacrificial fire. Half of the cultists fed upon the putrefying flesh of the mothers and the smoke of the burning flesh, then they dove willingly into a pit of spikes and their blood was gathered, fermented, and became the disease called the God Plague.

The disease which began as a sickly sweet smell in the sweat was incurable. First the smell came, then the burning, itching that drove people to rip their own skin off, the pox that burst blood and pus, eyes drying out in their sockets, then the madness, and finally, blessedly, death. It spread like fire in a straw pile, smoldering and inevitable. People in the first villages to face it tried to flee, to move away from the sick, but everywhere they went the plague followed them, claiming everyone that sheltered them. Priests of every other god tried to cure it only to die trying, their efforts not as powerfully sacrificial as the Cult of Shadows. Powerful wizards Calypso knew tried, wizards he knew could even grant wishes powerful enough to alter the fabric of reality, but they failed. Once contracted, the plague had all of the force of the gods of shadows and the tortured souls of everyone that died for it." (From "Lich Scroll")

When the disease first appeared there was no cure for it, but in its second appearance a young thief snuck into the Second Temple of Shadows and stole a crystal chalice that the Shadow Cultists drank wine from. For a time the thief became rich by curing others with his special cup. Then a humble apothecary discovered that any dark wine drunk from a crystal chalice cured the disease.

3) Wench Fire

At first believed to be caused by excessive "wenching," hence the name, Wench Fire is actually a disease carried by lice. It will often flare up in a village or city, spreading to the men who either come into contact with the lice or a female who has contacted the lice.

This disease can only be contracted by males. Its first symptoms are much like the flu, but within a day all bodily hair dies and falls out. This hair loss is permanent even if the disease is cured or runs its course. Following the hair loss there is a day or two of extreme fever which will leave the male infertile and usually causes some mild retardation or lowering of intelligence. When the fever breaks, the sick will be overwhelmed with a mad craving for vast quantities of water. This madness will last for another twenty to thirty hours and if not restrained, the sick will either drink until they burst and die or drown.

Though there is no cure, the effects can be reduced by keeping the body chilled during the fever (preventing the impotence and retardation), and then restraining the sick from all water during the water madness. Once the water madness end, the plague has run its course and ends.

4) Lightening Plague

During extreme thunderstorms there is sometimes such an extreme abundance of micro-elementals that everyone within the storm will be exposed to Lightening Plague. The first signs of this plague are rapid static discharges from the sick and a glowing in the eyes that can be seen in the dark. The chance of exposure can be practically eliminated simply by placing an iron nail or even iron toothpick in the mouth.

Once exposed, the sick will begin painfully discharging arcs of lightening from every orifice of the body. This usually lasts for only an hour, but nearly always is fatal. Those very few who survive go blind but also gain a natural affinity for lightening, even gaining the power to willfully create bolts of lightening shooting from their fingers or balls of lightening which they can hurl.

5) Zombie Plague

The plague carried by most zombies is, perhaps, the most terrifying of all plagues. Once infected, death is inevitable (though it can be slowed by days, even years by drinking holy water or staying drunk on Dwarfen Fire Whisky.) The infected within hours of being infected will begin to lose his or her mind rapidly (dropping a point of intelligence each hour) until the mind is reduced to an undead thing of pure hunger and survival. Once this happens, the sick seek to spread the disease and devour the living, particularly the brains. They are then an undead creature.

The infected, even after becoming undead, can regain moments of clarity, recalling bits from their own former lives, by eating several brains. For those few seconds they almost become living again. Many have tried to use this as a path to finding a cure, but all attempts have failed.

6) Wilder Plague

No one who has come into contact with this plague has avoided its effects. It is spread through a virus in water that is exposed to rains, usually following very intense storms. The first signs of it are a desperate need to remove all clothing. Within a day the sick will lose all powers of communication. Four days later they will be reduced to a wild frenzied creature driven by only the most base desires and needs.

This plague can be prevented by boiling water after such storms for at least two days, or purifying the water drank, or simply not drinking water. It can also be cured by flushing the body with extremely strong drink for three full days (though this can cause problems of its own.)

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Comments ( 5 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Moonlake
June 23, 2013, 21:07
Out of this bunch, I like no 4 and 6 the most. The rest (except for no. 3) seems a bit too dark and nasty for me but overall this is still a sub with solid content and good write-up.
Voted Dossta
June 24, 2013, 16:01
Of these, I feel that Wench Fire is the one that sounds the most credible. You give it a clear means of transmission (the fleas), a very specific progression for the illness to follow, and a few steps that can be taken to mitigate the damage. The rest of these have some issues with believability. 4 and 6, for example, seem like they would be too common or too unavoidable (everyone exposed to fresh water after an intense storm?), and the first two rely a bit too heavily on magic -- both for origin and transmission. I'd probably tone them both down a little and concentrate on the actual "disease" aspects. I'm not going to comment on the Zombie plague, other than to say that you probably don't need to include it since it's already so well known (unless you can come up with an interesting mutation or variation, of course).

Overall, however, this piece was well-written and clear. I enjoyed your descriptions, and liked how several of these plagues would leave permanent signs/alterations if a person manages to survive -- makes for a colorful NPC backstory, at the very least! Looking forward to reading more of your work.
June 24, 2013, 16:26
Thank you. I will revisit this if I have time later this week.
Voted valadaar
March 4, 2014, 13:18
Interesting ideas here, though some seem too forcefully awful in their genesis. The God Plague to me is over the top to the point of eye-rolling.

Voted Murometz
March 4, 2014, 13:20
Like Dossta, I like Wench Fire best as well.

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