Dungeons & Dragons Online

When was a time your DM gave you a disease or madness and it was awesome?

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I recently started a dnd group at my local game store and am under the condition of a curse called “Forever DM” I’m still learning but am having a ton of fun making adventures and in my opinion a awesome story (even if the players aren’t following it because we play once every two weeks).

Anyways in the past I’ve DMed before, so this isn’t my first time in the seat. I’ve also watch both campaigns of critical role (more than once), I also watch xoxo to level three, dungeon dudes, runesmith, MrRhexx, Zee Bashew and so on. It would be a understatement to admit I’m slightly addicted and have zero control over my obsession.

In a previous campaign I played around with diseases. There was this ancient being that gained power by spreading this extremely deadly disease. My idea was that the players were doing to go into this city and immediately notice a terrible disease spreading throughout the city. Especially in the more poor district and less so in the wealthier districts.

The players investigated around the city and I figured between them coming into immediate contact with several of the people ridden with plague and with the water source that infected the city AND also failing their constitution saves that several of them failed.

It was a pathogen that was originally spread through the water and would infect if the water came in contact with a persons blood (even as much as a small cut on their foot) the poorest district was flooded which made it easy to spread.

Pretty much every single day once the players were infected they had to making a con save of a 10. If they failed the disease would spread in their blood slowly contaminating it. It was like a 7 step disease. It started off slow, like step one they noticed their fingertips turning to stone. Step 4 they bones and ligaments would lock up started to slow them down (15ft reduced speed). Step 7 they would turn to stone.

The idea was that depending on the persons blood type they would be affected by the disease in a different way.

The players were not concerned in the least for they had the cure all to diseases. A cleric. All they had to to is wait a day and cast lesser restoration. Which is something I had already considered.

However, I figured Lesser Restoration is a 2nd level spell. This ancient being that gains power from perfecting a plague that is designed to ruin a city has probably figured a way to get around Lesser Restorations power. I also didn’t make the disease instantly fatal. In fact it was quite the opposite.

Blah blah blah bottom line when the players found out they had this disease all they did was cast lesser restoration on it. Expecting it to be a cure all end all. They were NOT considered when I said mysteriously that the spell had zero effect. They (only the cleric) were (was) absolutely enraged at me. “The book says that it cures diseases!”.. “why would you let me take and cast this spell if you knew it would do nothing!!”.. “it’s kinda bull that at the beginning of the session and campaign you didn’t tell us the RULES of YOUR world and how simple spells don’t work the same.”…

Even though it was my campaign, my rules and even through the spell worked the same in every other situation this disease was just specially designed to be scary. I relented and decided that casting Lesser Restoration would stop the disease from spreading if they failed the save in the morning but not actually end the effect.

I thought this would be a happy medium….

It was not this just made them (him) more angry. “Now I have to spend a 2nd level spell slot (at level 7) maybe every day. And possibly several times a day if everyone fails.”

I stood my ground and let them (him) pout. I started to feel like I was losing control of the campaign and the rebellion on my rule called started to become an issue. My idea on the disease was that it was SUPPOSED to be a underlying threat. It was SUPPOSED to be this mysterious plague that was incurable and deadly with a known time limit. It was to be easy to contain and not be instantly deadly to the players but something that over time it would be a hindrance, inconvenience and eventually be a race of time to cure the disease.

Instead it was a power battle. The players stopped everything including higher priority threats to them to cure this disease. Once they knew they had it they literally stopped everything they were working on to cure this inconvenience.

I tried to steer them in a different direction. I talked with my one players separately telling him of my concerns and irritations. I was even as direct with my irritation with my party to straight up tell them that their characters feel fine and are able to notice that every day if they fail it just gets a little worse.

It was all for naught. It was derailing my campaign and I realized it would stop in its tracks if I didn’t change with the party. It wasn’t supposed to be revealed for awhile but the players who were infinitely concerned so I gave them hints and let them solve the mystery.

They fought the entity (at a lower challenge rating) and cured their disease. They had won but I felt defeated. Not because I wanted to railroad my players into HAVING to be infected. But because I had hopes and expectations that it would be a cool, new and interesting game mechanic and add a new dynamic that I’ve never seen in all my experience with DnD. It was quite the opposite and it left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

I still see potential to have diseases, plagues, madness or whatever to be a a cool, new and interesting game mechanic that would add a new dynamic that I’ve never seen in all my experience with DnD. However I CLEARLY failed and was wondering and hoping someone else has had a different experience? And maybe something I can learn from the experience itself? Or maybe just hear a cool story! Thanks for helping and if you decided to read my story tell me what you think I did wrong or right. Or if you think I’m an idiot or if you think it was really cool and I should try it again? THANKS!!

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