HI-TECH TOXINS AND STARBORNE PLAGUES – New Diseases and Poisons for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

NUMERIAN DISEASES AND POISONS

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In the course of preparing to run my own version of the Iron Gods adventure path, I came across the terrifying variety of high technology diseases and poisons in Paizo’s incredible Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars sourcebook. I really love the idea of player characters being exposed to exotic illnesses as they plumb the depths of millennia old starship ruins, particularly if those illnesses manifest as creepy symptoms (like circuitry-like traces spreading across a character’s scalp), and those diseases and poisons, once converted to 5E rules, will give me plenty of uniquely nasty hazards to throw at my players.

Since I will be using these hazards in my own campaign, I figured I would reproduce those rules here.

However, I won’t be reproducing any of the descriptive information found in the Numeria sourcebook relating to these diseases and hazards.

NUMERIAN DISEASES

Bluespit
When a creature comes into contact with an area or creature infected by bluespit, the creature must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become infected.

It takes 1d4 hours for bluespit’s symptoms to manifest in an infected creature. Symptoms include coughing up blue-tinged sputum. The infected creature suffers one level of exhaustion, and it regains only half the number of hit points from spending Hit Dice and no hit points from finishing a long rest.

At the end of each long rest, an infected creature must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the character gains one level of exhaustion. On a successful save, the character’s exhaustion level decreases by one level. If a successful saving throw reduces the infected creature’s level of exhaustion below 1, the creature recovers from the disease.

Coward’s Mark
A creature that is exposed to airborne spores or corpses of those killed by coward’s mark must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or become infected.

One week after becoming infected, round marks on the skin appear, and the character must make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw every time any other creature comes within 30 feet of the infected creature. If the infected creature fails this saving throw, it becomes frightened. It may repeat its saving throw at the end of each of its turns. Once it makes a successful saving throw against a specific approaching creature, it does not need to make another saving throw until it completes a long rest.

At the end of each long rest, the infected creature can make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, the DC for this save and the Wisdom saving throw drops by 1d6. When the saving throw DC reaches 0, the creature recovers from the disease. On a failure, the Wisdom saving throw DC increases by 1. When it reaches DC 20, the infected creature suffers the effects of long-term madness (found on pages 259-260 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide) and only feels safe in total solitude.

Final Rest
When a creature comes into contact with an area or creature infected by final rest, the creature must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or become infected.

It takes one week for final rest’s symptoms to manifest in an infected creature. Symptoms include lack of motivation and flatness of affect. The infected creature disadvantage on all Charisma ability checks.

At the end of each long rest, an infected creature must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the character gains one level of exhaustion. On a successful save, the character’s exhaustion level decreases by one level. If a successful saving throw reduces the infected creature’s level of exhaustion below 1, the creature recovers from the disease.

Fractal Etch
A creature that is exposed to an area or creature infected by fractal etch, or who is injected with fractal etch nanites, must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or become infected by this high technology disease.

One week after becoming infected, the creature makes a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or it takes 5 (1d10) necrotic damage and its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the target is cured of fractal etch. The infected creature dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0 and it cannot rise as an undead creature.

If, while infected, the creature is exposed to 10 or more points of lightning damage from a single effect, it makes a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a success, it is cured of fractal etch, and on a failure it is stunned until the end of its next turn.

Spells or other abilities that suppress or affect high technology effect fractal etch.

At the end of each long rest, the infected creature can make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, the DC for this save drops by 1d6. When the saving throw DC reaches 0, the creature recovers from fractal etch. On a failure, the target takes 5 (1d10) necrotic damage and its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken.

Shattermind
A creature that comes into physical contact with a creature infected by shattermind must succeed on a DC 14 Charisma saving throw or become infected.

Starting one day after becoming infected, the creature suffers disadvantage on Wisdom ability checks and saving throws.

At the end of each long rest, the infected creature can make a DC 14 Charisma saving throw. On a failure, the creature suffers the effects of long-term madness (found on pages 259-260 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide) until it completes a long rest. Once the infected creature succeeds on three saving throws, it is cured of shattermind.

The lesser restoration spell does not cure shattermind, it simply allows the infected creature to make another DC 14 Charisma saving throw, as if it had completed a long rest.

Soldier’s Peace
A creature that is bitten by a creature infected by soldier’s peace, or who is injected with soldier’s peace nanites, must succeed on a DC 14 Charisma saving throw or become infected by this high technology disease.

One day after becoming infected, once per round, the creature must succeed on a DC 14 Charisma saving throw the first time it attempts to attack or otherwise injure another creature. On a failure, the infected creature is incapacitated until the end of its next turn, then poisoned for another 1d4 rounds. On a success, the creature is merely poisoned until the end of its next turn.

Spells or other abilities that suppress or affect high technology effect soldier’s peace.

Soldier’s peace can only be cured by magical or high technology means.

Thought Crawlers
A creature that is bitten by a creature infected by thought crawlers, or who is injected with thought crawlers, must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or become infected by this disease.

One day after becoming infected, the infected creature become easily influenced and treats any request as though delivered with a suggestion spell. The infected creature can resist this with a successful DC 12 Wisdom saving throw.

At the end of each long rest, the infected creature can make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, the DC for this save drops by 1d6. When the saving throw DC reaches 0, the creature recovers from the disease. On a failure, the Wisdom saving throw DC increases by 1.

When the Wisdom save reaches DC 14, the infected creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw every time it is provoked or insulted. On a failure, the target must attack the provoking or insulting target for 1 round. If attacked, the target automatically responds, in kind (there is no saving throw to prevent this).

When the Wisdom save reaches DC 20, the infected creature must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw each round it is under stress (such as being in combat) or be poisoned until the end of its next turn.

NUMERIAN POISONS

Bloodbrush Extract (Inhaled)(150 gp per dose).
A creature subjected to this poison must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or suffer disadvantage on all Wisdom (Perception) ability checks for 2 hours. A creature may elect to fail this saving throw. However, for the duration, the poisoned creature also gains advantage on all Intelligence (Arcana) and Intelligence (Religion) checks.

Starspore (Ingested or Inhaled) (150 gp per dose).
A creature subjected to starspore must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or gain Vulnerability to thunder damage and disadvantage on Constitution saving throws for 1 hour. A creature may elect to fail this saving throw. However, for the duration, the poisoned creature gains blindsight with a range of 60 feet.

DUNGEON MUSERS’ NOTES

Each of these is based, in part, on one of the diseases or poisons found in the 5th Dungeon Master’s Guide. Overall, I wish there were more diseases in the DMG (wait, did that come out right?), if only to provide better guidance on how 5E diseases should be designed, but I believe that these new diseases are balanced against those found in the official 5E source.

RESOURCEFUL RESKINNING

Each of these diseases and poisons, including the high technology diseases, could easily be reskinned to be a non-technological hazard, particularly if you ignore the high technology aspects of Fractal Etch and Soldier’s Peace.

YOUR PLAYER CHARACTERS ARE LOOKING PALE

These Numerian threats more than double the number of diseases that a 5th Edition D&D DM has to throw at their players and, if nothing else, they should give the life domain clerics in their campaign something useful to do with their lesser restoration spell. Please enjoy them in good health (I made a Wisdom saving throw against making that joke, but failed…).

Until next time, I remain;

  • THE DUNGEON MUSER
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HI-TECH TOXINS AND STARBORNE PLAGUES – New Diseases and Poisons for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

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