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Thoughts on the Plague in Glantriby Erik Waddell
Okay.. after further reflection on what I want to do with the plague in my Glantri campaign, and after reading some of the interesting ideas y'all have posted for me to see, I've written a few notes in Word to sum up my ideas..
The wasting sickness is a manifestation of Tybboch, god of pestilence and decay.
The cult does not build its own temples, but rather it 'infects' the places of worship of other immortals. Shrines and temples in the mountains of Glantri that have stood empty since the purge following the Light of Rad session are now being quietly taken over by followers of Tybboch. Clerics of 'the rotting god' prefer to operate on their own when possible, thus many of these re-dedicated shrines and temples harbour only a single priest - though this priest may have monstrous guardians.
Tybboch favours Green Dragons. The head priest of the renewed cult has tamed one of these beasts, and will employ it as a guardian at the main temple complex located in the caves near the [Keep on the Borderlands].
Once the plague has started to take hold of the Glantrian countryside, it will find its way below ground, carried back to the realm of the Shadow Elves. The wasting sickness will begin infecting these people, some of whom still remember the last time plague found its way from Glantri into the underdark. The Shadow Elves will send a small group to the surface, to see if anything can be done to prevent any further spreading of the disease. This group will eventually meet with the players. Initially the Shadow Elves will be angry at the surface races for allowing the plague to spread, but eventual understanding and mutual assistance is possible. After the plague is ended and the followers of Tybboch defeated, it is possible that the Shadow Elves might want to petition for a principality of their own in Glantri. However, given their devotion to the immortal Rafiel, the anti-clerical laws of Glantri would be an obstacle to any such petition.
While it is conceivable that the Council would consider allowing clerics to enter Glantri during the plague, there are also two good reasons why they would not do this: First of all, the plague has been cause by clerics - clerics of a chaotic/entropic god perhaps, but clerics none the less. Certainly that fact would not help to endear the Council to clerical magic. Second, just because the Council could decide to open its borders to foreign clerics, that doesn't mean that those clerics would have any interest in helping the people of Glantri. After all, so many clerics were burned at the stake after they were outlawed, that foreign churches may see the plague as Glantri reaping what it has sown - divine justice, if you will. Further, the Temples of Rad would certainly be appealing to Rad to help combat the plague. If the council were to pass a law allowing foreign clerics into the country, that would be tantamount to declaring the great Rad incapable of helping the people of Glantri in their time of need - in essence destroying the state religion. For these reasons, then, it seems unlikely that Glantrian law concerning clerical magic and the worship of immortals (other than Rad) would be changed, and thus the chances of the Shadow Elf devotion to Rafiel being accepted as rather slim.
Dwarves from Rockhome are partially supporting the cult of Tybboch, though perhaps they do not at first realise the scope of what they are doing. Sire Malachie has been receiving covert monetary support from Rockhome for the past few years - support that has been essential to his campaign for recognition of a new principality. The dwarves, in return, make Malachie help them in smuggling the first clerics of Tybboch across Glantri to the mountains on the northwestern border of Nouvelle Averoigne. Malachie only knows that the dwarves are attempting to stir up trouble in the region, and does not realise that the dwarven clerics follow the plague god. In fact, the Rockhome dwarves do not realise this either - the clerics have been impersonating followers of [dwarven god] for some time now. By the time Rockhome realises its mistake (they never intended to loose a plague on the people of Glantri) it is too late, and they keep silent so as not to reveal their shameful involvement in ! the tragedy. In fact, some of the more bitter and hate-filled Rockhome dwarves see nothing wrong with the plague, and enjoy seeing Glantri suffer. If the role Rockhome played in initiating the plague is ever revealed, Glantri might well declare war on Rockhome in an effort to exact revenge. This war could even degenerate into a large, multi-national conflict, depending on the reactions of other countries in the Known World.
Malachie, meanwhile, and his fellow lycanthropes in Nouvelle Averoigne are immune to the wasting sickness. As the plague worsens, he and his followers will be unaffected, while so many die around him. The clerics of Tybboch convince the werewolves that they are only immune because the rotting god favours werebeasts (lycanthropy being a form of disease). The clerics assert that this immunity is conditional on Malachie and his followers helping the clerics in their mission - perhaps by defending the hidden shrines. The truth is that werewolves will be immune to the wasting sickness no matter what, but Malachie and his followers won't know this right away. When they do uncover the truth, they might try and infect as many people as they can with lycanthropy, in order to save them from Tybboch's plague. When the plague is finally defeated, Sire Malachie and the werewolves may be able to convince the Council to make it legal to be a lycanthrope in Glantri, because of his efforts to ! save people - particularly if a prominent member of the Council was saved from the plague in this manner. Even someone who is deathly sick with the plague has a chance of being cured if infected with lycanthropy. The chance of such action being successful might depend on how close to being full the moon is when the plague victim is bitten by a werebeast. Of course, Malachie and his people might be the target of fear and hatred from the populace of Nouvelle Averoigne once they see that his dominion is largely untouched by the plague, while those outside his borders suffer so much. Also, whether or not Malachie can gain the principality he wants and the recognition for lycanthropes following the defeat of the plague could largely depend on whether or not evidence of his collaboration with Rockhome (where the plague clerics came from in the first place) is revealed to the council. If it does get out into the open, and war is declared against Rockhome, Malachie might find life in Glantri a lot rougher for him than it has been in the past. Whether this evidence reaches the light of day should be left in the players' hands.