Game: Forbidden Arcana: Magical Diseases
Publisher: Ronin Arts
Review Dated: 22nd, October 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
Magical Diseases is one of Ronin Art‘s Forbidden Arcana series. I like the series. I try and keep my fantasy off the shiny plate mail and fireball throwing paths and move it to darker more gritty roads. The notion of dark and dangerous magic appeals to me.
The PDF points out that magical diseases are nothing new. That’s true enough. I’ve whisked up plenty myself, my favourite being for a non-d20 game where a psychic picked up an alien disease after using the Total Recall ability on it (and then spread it around with empathy). Other GMs will have other evil things to do to the players stories too. It’s harder to find GMs who are entirely happy with the magical diseases offered up by their core rules. In fact, many GMs are rather annoyed by those gaming systems that only care about disease and poisons if they’ll have an effect in the course of a combat. There’s clearly a niche for a lightweight, cheap but quality product like Forbidden Arcana: Magical Diseases.
Forbidden Arcana: Magical Diseases is a quality product. At the core of Ronin Arts are Philip J Reed and Christopher Shy and those two names are synonymous with quality. Although there’s none of Shy’s illustrations in this particular product we have… Larry Elmore instead!
Every Forbidden Arcana I’ve seen so far as been entirely Open Content (text only, not the images) and that’s another bonus. You’re not allowed to go distributing the PDF but if you’re writing your own campaign setting then you can add in these spells and then if you make the jump and go professional you’ll be able to keep them in provided you credit Ronin Arts. It also means I’m confidant I can get away with quoting entire diseases in the review!
Common Knowledge: Nilbogism is a disease that only affects goblins. Those goblins, called nilbogs, can only be killed with healing magic.
Uncommon Knowledge: Though it is extremely rare, Nilbogism can be spread to non-goblins. It’s a terrible sickness that’s difficult to overcome.
Infection: Injury. Anyone who is bitten or scratched by a nilbog – a twisted goblin infected by Nilbogism – has a 1% chance of catching this disease. If the result is positive a Fortitude check must be made. Those who have contracted Nilbogism who are not goblins cannot spread the disease.
Incubation Period: 2d4 days.
Damage: 1 Con and on the day Con damage is suffered the victim suffers the Damage Reversal (Ex) trait of nilbogs. When struck by any attack that would deal it damage, the victim actual gains hit points equal to the damage dealt. The victim can gain more than his maximum hit points but never more than twice his normal hit points. The victim can only be damaged through the use of curative magic. Curative damage deals damage equal to the amount it would normally heal.
I especially like the “Uncommon” and “Common” information. Knowledge is a key skill in most d20 games; let’s reward those characters with it. Besides, the two sets of information are plot twits just waiting to happen.
Magical Diseases is a 13-paged PDF, the magical diseases make up the most part of them, but the last 5 pages used for something else. To be honest, I’d rather have had all 13 pages of diseases. What’s the something else? A Disease Mage prestige class and accompanying spells. Whereas I’m sure many d20 gamers will dive straight at the prestige class and welcome it to their campaign world I find that it dilutes the PDF. The Forbidden Arcana series works best when the PDFs remain tightly on-topic and GMs can buy them cheaply as effective plug ins for the game.
Forbidden Arcana: Magical Diseases is a safe buy. If you want magical diseases or even just a curve ball to throw at cocky players – you’ll not be disappointed by this PDF. It’s inexpensive and effective.