Blight (3.5e Condition)
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Blights are afflictions of a more wicked and horrific kind than mere diseases. They are infections not just of the body, but of the mind and soul as well. Always supernatural in nature, blights exhibit several common traits innate to diseases, poisons, and curses. Likewise, they can be delivered in a multitude of ways. No effect, whether spell, spell-like, supernatural, or extraordinary, can remove negative effects from blight while the blight is still active.
Stages of Blight
Every type of blight has an initial contraction stage, followed by four stages of severity. When a character is injured by a contaminated attack, comes into contact with blighted substance, or consumes blight-tainted food or drink, he must make an immediate Fortitude saving throw. For further purposes in this article, this is the initial saving throw. Even with a successful initial save, the character still contracts the blight, but it is dormant and in its initial stage. After the initial save, the character must persist making daily saving throws against the blight. Whenever a blighted character fails a Fortitude save against his blight, the stage of his blight increases and he contracts more serious and impeding effects.
The condition term for being afflicted by blight is blighted (as opposed to diseased).
Stage 0: Initial Contraction Stage
Whenever a character comes in contact with a blighted weapon or substance, he cannot avoid contracting the blight. A character that makes a successful initial Fortitude saving throw is blighted and enters the initial contraction stage, incurring its negative effects.
It is possible to recover from stage 0 blight (and only stage 0 blight) by succeeding at three consecutive Fortitude saving throws. Recovering from stage 0 blight removes all effects of the blight from the character's body. At this stage, a remove curse effect or a successful Heal check with a DC equal to the blight's save DC can still remove the blight. Curing stage 0 blight through the use of a Heal check requires magical medical tools or the assistance of at least one cure spell.
If a character fails his daily saving throw whilst in stage 0, his condition worsens to stage 1.
Stage 1: Affliction
If the character fails his initial Fortitude save, he immediately contracts the first stage of blight. In this stage, the true effects of that particular blight start taking hold.
If a character fails his daily saving throw whilst in stage 1, his condition worsens to stage 2.
Stage 2: Deterioration
During stage 2, the effects of the blight become more severe and start to seriously impede the character's capacity in the field.
Stage 2 Blight Effects: Character retains stage 1 blight effects and furthermore gets a 50% chance of losing every action he takes. He also suffers the specific blight's secondary effects during stage 2 (see Blight Descriptions).
If a character fails his daily saving throw whilst in stage 2, his condition worsens to stage 3.
Stage 3: Unconsciousness
During stage 3, the effects of the blight persist, and the character becomes virtually defenseless.
Stage 3 Blight Effects: Character retains stage 2 blight effects and becomes disabled. Even the slightest subsequent effort results in a near-comatose unconsciousness, leaving the afflicted character helpless.
If a character fails his daily saving throw whilst in stage 3, his condition worsens to stage 4.
Stage 4: Death
When reaching stage 4, the character dies. In some cases, something happens to the creature after death.
Living with Blight
A blighted character has a very difficult life. All forms of blight are ultimately deadly afflictions, and only the most intensive medical care can even hope to stem the deterioration of the victim. Although characters with stage 1 blight or higher can no longer recover normally from blight, not even with Heal checks from trained professionals, certain measures can be taken to help a person cope with blight, or live with it longer.
Rest: Good rest, and preferably bedrest, are required in order to cope with blight. At least 8 hours of complete rest per day at stage 1 blight, 16 hours of complete rest at stage 2, or constant bedrest at stage 3 are required. Any character that does not rest sufficiently while blighted incurs a −2 circumstance penalty to his next Fortitude saving throw.
Physical Strain: Worse than neglecting to rest properly is to engage in physically straining activities. In such occasions, the character triggers an immediate Fortitude saving throw against his blight. This extra saving throw has the same consequences for success or failure as his normal daily saving throw and does not exempt him from making his next daily saving throw on schedule. Penalties for neglecting to rest also apply to these extra saving throws. Extra saving throws due to physical strain can be provoked once per hour.
What constitutes a straining activity differs with the stage of the character's blight, as listed below.
- During Stage 0: Anything that causes the character to be exhausted.
- During Stage 1: Anything that causes the character to be fatigued, or taking total damage (either lethal or non-lethal) equal to more than half of the character's total hit points.
- During Stage 2: Anything that causes the character to be fatigued, or taking total damage (either lethal or non-lethal) equal to more than one quarter of the character's total hit points.
- During Stage 3: Anything that would cause a disabled character to lose a hit point (even if the character would not normally take damage for performing strenuous activities at 0 or fewer hit points), or taking any damage (either lethal or non-lethal).
Treatment: Medical attention can aid in stabilizing a contracted blight, although this is by no means a certainty. Treating a blighted character requires a healer's long-term proximity and one hour of intensive care spread over each day. A healer may make a DC 15 Heal check to grant the character a +2 competence bonus on his daily saving throw against his blight, but only if the character observes and abides by his daily rest requirements (see Rest above). For every 10 points by which the healer exceeds the check DC, the competence bonus from medical treatment increases by an additional +1.
Positive and Negative Energy: Positive energy is the most powerful inhibitor of the effects of blight, and can aid a character in stabilizing his condition. A character afflicted by blight gains a +3 sacred bonus to any saving throw against his blight while in the area of a consecrate effect, or when consuming one flask of holy water daily (+6 when doing this in an already sacred area). Likewise, any negative energy effect directly opposing these types of spells or effects grants a penalty of similar size to these saving throws. Only in a hallowed site where a death ward is in effect can the deteriorating effects of a blight be stopped completely. In such an area, a character is prevented from worsening the condition of his blight to the next stage, but still cannot recover from any stage other than stage 0 directly.
Cure: Despite the strength of their curse, most blights can be cured by sufficiently powerful mortal magic, but just spell power is not enough in most cases. A restoration effect triggers a Fortitude save against the blight's DC, upon success of which the stage of the blight improves by 1 (from 3 to 2, from 2 to 1, etc.). A greater restoration or stronger healing effect also allows such a save, upon success of which the blight is completely removed. These saves are made with the +3 sacred bonus granted by positive energy effects and do not worsen your condition if you fail them.
Antimagic: Because they are always supernatural, blights are affected by the presence of an antimagic field. In the area of such an effect, blights are prevented from being contracted. Even an antimagic field, however, cannot stop the effects of blight in an already infected character, nor can it prevent a character's blight from worsening.
Disease Immunity: Creatures that are immune to disease are just as susceptible to blight as others, but they are treated as having a +4 racial bonus to any Fortitude saving throw against blight. This bonus only applies when the immunity extends to magical diseases (a monk's purity of body class feature does not grant this bonus, but a paladin's divine health does).
Blights have various symptoms and are spread through a number of vectors. The characteristics of several typical blights are summarized on Table: Blights and defined below.
Infection: The blight’s method of delivery—ingested, inhaled, via injury, or contact. Keep in mind that some injury blights may be transmitted by as small an injury as a flea bite and that most inhaled blights can also be ingested (and vice versa).
Effects: Individual blight-dependent effects. These are divided into primary and secondary effects. Primary effects are suffered during stage 1, and secondary effects are accrued during stage 2. These effects usually consist of ability drain, either in one or multiple ability scores, but are often tempered by other negative effects. Primary and secondary effects are cumulative, unless noted otherwise.
Special: Anything unusual about a particular blight.
The associated DCs are for independent infections; if a certain blight is the result of a creature's special ability, use the save DC listed in that creature's statistics block.
As the Darkening sets in, the victim is overcome with a cloying, negative energy that wraps itself around the body, slowly depriving it of the ability to regenerate itself. A haggard expression besets the ghastly visage of someone that suffers from the Darkening, as the color slowly drains from their skin, leaving them destitute of life. Its name is derived from its most prominent effect, as experienced by the victim; the eyes slowly cease to function, darkening their perception until nothing but blackness remains, and they are oblivious to their own diminishing life.
The ill effects of the Darkening come from a horrible, exceedingly rare substance known as dread mist. Dread mist is an ectoplasmic fog that is completely saturated with negative energies. It manifests as a low-hanging cloud of wispy, jet black smoke that sucks the light from everything it touches, and darkens the area it contains as a deeper darkness spell does. Dread mist is rarely encountered, but it exists in places where the excess magical energies of extremely powerful necromantic rituals gather, as a grotesque necromantic pollution.
Infection: Contact (DC 19).
Primary Effects: The blight victim incurs a −6 penalty to his Strength score and no longer benefits from natural healing. The victim's eyesight deteriorates; any area of bright illumination is treated as shadowy illumination to the victim's eyes, and any shadowy illumination becomes effective darkness, limiting and darkening the victim's sight range. Even in the case of direct sunlight, the victim only perceives bright illumination up to 30 feet away, after which any bright illumination is treated as shadowy illumination.
Secondary Effects: The blight victim incurs a further −4 penalty to both his Strength and Dexterity scores (for a total penalty of −10 to Strength). The victim is blind and can no longer regain hit points from spells or spell-like abilities, but can still benefit from temporary hit points.
Special: An active death ward spell may prevent a creature from contracting the Darkening. Whenever a character protected with a death ward is exposed to dread mist in a way as to normally cause infection, make a DC 19 caster level check (using the caster level of the spellcaster that cast the ward). If successful, the creature protected by the ward is immune to the effects of dread mist exposure for one minute.
Soul burn is precisely what it sounds like — the victim's very soul is set on fire, slowly burning away until nothing remains. As the blight progresses, the victim's mind slips into a horrible nirvana, and her body begins to show physical signs of having been horribly burned, even if she hasn't been within a mile of a fire for months.
Soul burn is the consequence of being scorched by a fire bearing immense spiritual energy — usually a deity, or at least an extremely powerful divine spellcaster. In fact, it is very rare for soul burn to be inflicted by anything short of an epic spell, power, or ability. The deity/divine spellcaster responsible for the soul burn doesn't even have to be evil, though they often are — gods associated with fire have a tendency to inflict soul burn on their enemies without even meaning to do so (though the good ones tend to immediately remove the soul burn as soon as they notice what they've done, at least if they don't think the victim deserves it). It's not unheard of for soul burn to be inflicted by outrageously powerful undead beings, and rumor has it that the lich-queen of the githyanki makes extensive use of it to utterly destroy challengers to her throne.
Soul burn is more neutral than other blights, and any sacred bonuses from positive energy and profane penalties from negative energy made to saves against it are reduced by ⅓ (from ±3 to ±2, or from ±6 to ±4). However, exposure to fire effects and high temperatures can penalize saves against soul burn (−3), while exposure to cold effects and low temperatures provide bonuses (+3); these stack with the bonuses or penalties from positive and negative energy.
Infection: Injury (DC 35). Note that as soul burn is usually caused by magical effects like spells and supernatural abilities, the save DC of soul burn itself is typically more relevant to secondary saves than the initial save (which usually has a save DC defined by the ability and the creature using it).
Primary Effects: The blight victim incurs a −6 penalty to her Wisdom score, and half of all damage that she sustains is immediately converted to the next-worst type (nonlethal damage becomes lethal damage, lethal damage becomes vile damage, vile damage is doubled, ability damage becomes ability burn, ability burn becomes ability drain, ability drain is doubled). In addition, she takes a −3 penalty to Will saving throws.
Secondary Effects: The blight victim incurs a further −3 penalty to both her Wisdom and Charisma scores (for a total penalty of −9), as well as a −2 penalty to Intelligence. She also takes a −3 penalty to all saving throws (this does not stack with the Will penalty from the primary effects, but does stack with the penalties from being sickened), and all damage she sustains is immediately converted to the next-worst type (nonlethal damage becomes lethal damage, lethal damage becomes vile damage, vile damage is doubled, ability damage becomes ability burn, ability burn becomes ability drain, ability drain is doubled).
A character who dies from this blight is utterly consumed by spiritual flame, as if by a barghest's feast spell; even her soul hardly remains. Only a miracle, wish, or true resurrection spell can bring her back to life, and even these spells have a 50% chance to fail; if they do, the soul is gone, and the victim cannot be brought back to life by mortal magic.