Bullet Points: 5 Magic Diseases (PFRPG) PDF

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Sometimes rules supplements read like the world-setting bible of frustrated novelists. While solid world- building is a useful skill, you don't always need four paragraphs of flavor text to tell you swords are cool, magic is power, shadows are scary, and orcs are savage. Sometimes a GM doesn't have time to slog through a page of history for every magic weapon. Sometimes all that's needed are a few cool ideas, with just enough information to use them in a game. Sometimes, all you need are bullet points.

Bullet Points are a line of very short, cheap PDFs each of which gives the bare bones of a set of related options. It may be five spells, six feats, eight magic weapon special abilities, or any other short set of related rules we can cram into about a page. Short and simple, these PDFs are for GMs and players who know how to integrate new ideas into their campaigns without any hand-holding, and just need fresh ideas and the rules to support them. No in-character fiction setting the game world. No charts and tables. No sidebars of explanations and optional rules. Just one sentence of explanation for the High Concept of the PDF, then bullet points.

High Concept: Five new magic diseases, designed to drive plots, spice up encounters, and remind players that they live in a world where the black death is not the worst fate you can suffer (and provide some magic diseases with DCs high enough to threaten characters in the upper levels of the game).

  • Ashenblood:This arcane disease slowly destroys the body of the victim as it turns them into a fire elemental.
  • Barrow Plague: Those suffering from this disease are especially susceptible to the effects of necromancy, while those who die from it return as corporeal undead.
  • Fury Fever: Victims of this disease are filled with rage, attacking anyone who is not a carrier.
  • Green Guts: Subjects of this disease vomit up strange green slime.
  • Spellblains:Anyone suffering from this disease find it harder to prepare their own spells or resist the spells of others.

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4.00/5 (based on 2 ratings)

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A good gaming novelty with some manageable problems

4/5

This is a review for 'Magical Diseases', a supplement by Rogue Genius Games for their Bullet Point subseries. I'm not a native speaker (I'm German), so I may have fumbled my language skill checks from time to time. Give me a note if I wrote something wrong and I'll try to make myself more clear.

Magical Diseases is 1 page long and offers 5 new plagues to make the life of your PCs more interesting.

I'll start my review with the not-perfect parts.
- Barrow Plague is something that can wipe out a whole region in a fantasy world without problems, and this is a bit too much for me. Sure, adventurers are getting toward the necessary magic to counter it quickly, but the poor villager has almost no chance. Save DC 21, 3 saves... they'll all die very soon. In addition, the injury-part is not described in detail. I assume when a victim of this plague dies and rises as undead he's able to transfer the plague while injuring the next victim, but I'm not sure. Also there won't be a former-villager zombie apokalypse, because the new undead have the victims HD-2. Again, I assume they stay dead with this, but I guess it is possible to change all HD 1 villagers into CR 1/3 skeletons, and those are big enough to enter the next village en masse if things get out of control. So there is a nice idea behind this plague, but use it wisely!
- Spellblaines could suck the game fun out of your spellcasters if things go bad. The DC of 16 is bad early on, and you can effectively take players out in low levels, since they won't be able to prepare or cast spells any more after a while. And its very easy to get this disease if you are using the optional arcane vector to distribute it. If your players are into this kind of damage though, the disease enhances roleplaying nicely, or you can give this disease to a spellcasting ally of the party, thus controlling what he can and can't do in support of the party. Again, roleplaying can be enhanced by 'fireball our enemies or they'll defeat us, but try not to infect them, for if they are spellcasters the disease is bound to get virulent...'
- Green Guts is very dangerous to the infected, and its also abuseable if the party discovers a method to use the green slime created for their own good. Also, the high save of 25 is bound to infect whole regions, and fast. while polluting the fields with slime for some longterm fun. Also you get transformed into a Gelationus Cube finally, which could make a raise dead or similar magic a bit problematic. The infection is transferred by unclear means, I guess you have to get in contact with the slime or the cube for it, but its not mentioned. That all said, it is a very iconic disease, but for the high level players. Make sure it doesn't spread outside the party.

On to the good things:
- Fury Fever is a nice one (seen through the masters eyes, of course), since you don't die of it, at least not directly. Since it attacks Con (and other things) its bound to lay the victims low sooner or later, and then they are helpless. Those affected by this disease don't attack others who are, but they will attack cured but unconscious people, and this could get out of hand if not supervised closely by the DM. That said, the plague is iconic and I will let it loose on my players and their environment of course. Roleplay-wise very few things beat a good group-fury of innocent people to keep your PCs occupied. Also, the incubation is so fast it really matters, possibly giving you a multi-staged combat in the same prepared battlefield when innocent bystanders get infected and involved.

And finally, the great ones:
- Ashenblood is very nice, since it lures the players to their doom willingly. Do as Endzeitgeist has suggested, send them someone with fire and then watch PC-powergaming enfold itself. There are also some nice ideas included how you can get someone infected with this hot beauty.

Thoughts about improving the material:
I like the concept of one page, one dollar for the bullet points, but some additional ideas and hooks about using the diseaese would have been icing on the cake. Some of the diseases scream 'adventure idea' loudly, but I'm sure there are many possibilities being overlooked on a casual or even a deep glance. Maybe next time a page for the ideas and another one for hooks? Double bullet time!

Conclusion:
The description of the diseases presented are short yet clear – so its meant to be, and thats a big thumbs up in my book. Endzeitgeist did mention missing cures for the diseases, but I guess the files have been updated since then, for they are inserted now.
The incubation times are all good and useable, from the very fast (mere minutes) to a few hours, only Barrow Disease has an incubation counted in days. Sometimes with diseases the PCs are long gone, the adventure is finished or whatever when the disease finally triggers, but thats rarely happening here, which I like.
All in all, if you keep an eyes on the dangers I talked about and the level of the party you are confronting with these diseases, they are very good and a new experience, something beyond monsters and traps. I give this supplement 4.5 stars, rounded down due to the dangers involved. With only one great score, one good and three on the fence I'd usually give a much lower rating, but I also want add that we need much more of these ideas for their novelty and gaming potential, and I think the problems are controllable by a careful DM.

Have fun!


An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

All right, you know the drill - 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page content, so let's take a look!

Soooo. magical diseases! YEAH! I'm a sucker for diseases, poisons, hazards, traps, curses and haunts as my poor players can attest, so let's dive in!

-Ashenblood: Contracted by magical fire, this disease damages your con-score, but for each point, you actually get fire resistance - to the point where you can temporarily gain the fire subtype! The downside is that upon death, you are incinerated and replaced by a fire elemental. But your players don't know that...hell, they might even keep diseased agents lying around when seeking to do battle against flame-using foes...

-Barrow Plague: This is also a transforming plague and will henceforth be added to the arsenal of each and every necromancer, lich and other undead mastermind I can find. Why? It not only damage con, it also imposes an additional penalty equal to the total of con-damage received to saves against necromancy, negative energy and level drain - and seeing how several of these are based on fort, that just adds insult to injury. Nice! Speaking of which: OF COURSE, you turn into an undead upon succumbing to this plague. What did you think?

-Fury Fever: This one deals int-damage and has an incubation of mere MINUTES. Worse, upon receiving a mere 4 points of int-damage, the target enters a mindless, barbarian-like frenzy, attacking everything larger than tiny and not infected. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have an appropriate representation of a rage-plague. Excellent!

-Green Guts Also highly virulent and with only an onset of mere minutes, this one nauseates the subject with a 10%-chance every minute, for up to 1d10 rounds. Now here's the cincher: Every time a victim is nauseated, it starts vomiting up green slime. Yes! Delicious, deadly, green slime. Oh, and the target is NOT immune against the vomited slime's effects. Hope your character has practiced projectile vomiting during his/her apprenticeship-days... Oh, and because its fun, having this for too long turns you into a gelatinous cube.

-Spellblains could be transmitetd optionally via the contact of diseased magical energies and is a bane for all casters, increasing the level of their spells for preparing or casting (for spontaneous casters) them, essentially crippling tehir spellcasting prowess - oh, and it gets worse, sicne the penalties are cumulative.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - apart from some minor improper capital letters, all is well. Layout adheres to SGG's old 3-column portrait-standard, which is somewhat cluttered and since then thankfully no more around in RGG's supplements. The pdf has no bookmarks and needs none at this length.

Owen K.C. Stephens delivers - 5 diseases, all killer, no filler - cool effects, iconic imagery, solid crunch - this is easily one of my favorite Bullet Points of all the time and 5 star + seal of approval material. And it lacks one important piece of information for every disease: Namely, how many consecutive saves are required to shake them off. Yes. None of the diseases come with the information on the cure-saves. That is a major blunder and the only reason I can't rate this otherwise superb supplement as 5 stars +seal of approval and instead have to penalize it down to 4. Still: A definite recommendation, folks - take a look: The fun concepts will prove to be infectious!

Endzeitgeist out.


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Reviewed first on Endzeitgeist.com, then submitetd to GMS magazine and Nerdtrek and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop. Cheers!


um a minor misprint of the updated version. says 6 diseases on the cover and the first paragraph

Scarab Sages Contributor

Apparently "typoid fever" is the 6th disease...


Reviewed. Have fun!


Thanks for the review!

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