Level Up (A5E) Let’s talk about Netherblight

xiphumor

Hero
T&T, pg. 163

“Being raised from the dead often has a deleterious effect upon a mortal’s soul. Netherblight is the term scholars use to describe this spiritual malady.

Whenever a dead humanoid is restored to life (via a raise dead spell, for example), roll 1d20. On a result greater than the creature’s level (or challenge rating), it may become afflicted with netherblight. The creature makes a DC 17 Charisma saving throw or it becomes infected.

Netherblight affects its victims in different ways. Whenever a creature infected with netherblight finishes a long rest, it makes a DC 17 Charisma saving throw. On a failure, it gains a randomly determined malady as per Table: Netherblight. If this would result in an effect the creature already suffers from, the victim’s malady does not worsen but it has disadvantage on its next saving throw against the disease.

Only powerful magic (such as a wish spell), a divine miracle, or the completion of a quest determined by the Narrator can cure a creature afflicted with netherblight.”

1The creature’s voice becomes flat and lifeless, and it has disadvantage on Deception and Persuasion checks made to influence living creatures.
2The creature’s zest for life fades, and it becomes unable to gain inspiration or benefit from Bardic Inspiration.
3The creature’s type changes to undead. At the Narrator’s discretion, mindless undead (such as skeletons or zombies) may ignore the creature’s presence.
4The gods themselves shun the creature. Whenever a spell or magical effect would restore the creature’s hit points, the creature regains only half the hit points it would have normally regained.
5The creature’s grip on life becomes tenuous and it has disadvantage on death saving throws.
6Death calls for the creature’s return. The creature gains the doomed condition, dying at a time determined by the Narrator. A spell of 7th-level or higher (such as resurrection) can remove the doomed condition but does not cure the disease.

#6 is what I’m interested in because of the world building implications. An commoner has a 75% chance of contracting the disease if returned to life, after which they die after about a week on average assuming the normal Doomed condition timeline.

Obviously, you can decide whether or not to use this in your game, but if you do, it significantly weakens resurrection magic.

Personally, I wish the contraction rate or DC changed with the level of the spell. Revivify becomes a lot less useful at early levels, and feels much more like using a defibrillator than doing something unholy.
 

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noodohs

Explorer
Same. One of the problems with O5e was that it was far too easy to bring people back to life with no consequences, so players might be more reckless in combat knowing that they could just be brought back if things went wrong. On the one hand, it encourages riskier options, which is neat, but on the other, it's not terribly realistic (yes, I know it's fantasy and doesn't have to be realistic). If it's so easy to bring people back, why doesn't everyone just do it all the time? Netherblight makes it clear that you are violating the natural order and that there are consequences for doing that, especially if you do it a lot.

Also worth mentioning that if we assume an average commoner lives on 1 GP per day expenses, even revivify is prohibitively expensive (since you need a 300 GP diamond), so they're not really going to have to worry about contracting netherblight if they can't afford to be brought back in the first place. And speaking of revivify, I've always thought of it like a defibrillator. It can only work within one minute, so that's basically the equivalent of CPR where any longer and you risk permanent brain damage. That's why actual resurrection is so expensive.
 

W'rkncacnter

Adventurer
i don't like the 6th effect much, honestly, just because it makes revivify kinda suck. you're very likely to get netherblight at lower levels (at 5th level it's about a 75% chance to be at risk to catch it and if your charisma save is a 0 it's then a 20% chance to succeed on the save - very bad odds), and then have a 1 in 6 chance for the game to basically just go "so yeah that revivify was pointless in the long term". and since you're at such a low level, you almost certainly don't have access to anything that can end the doomed condition unless the dm makes something up in response. even if you don't roll it immediately, you have a chance to every single long rest, which makes it a significant liability and any quest the dm comes up with to get it off you needs to be pretty fast. maybe making it a 1d4 in the case of revivify would be better (although honestly i think the 5th effect is perfectly fine)?

i do like making resurrection have consequences, i just think risking the doomed condition is incredibly overboard at low levels. also i'm not sure the 3rd effect is punishing enough. in fact, it suggests a benefit. i'd suggest either vulnerability to radiant or making healing magic damage you and necrotic damage heal you.
 

xiphumor

Hero
i don't like the 6th effect much, honestly, just because it makes revivify kinda suck. you're very likely to get netherblight at lower levels (at 5th level it's about a 75% chance to be at risk to catch it and if your charisma save is a 0 it's then a 20% chance to succeed on the save - very bad odds), and then have a 1 in 6 chance for the game to basically just go "so yeah that revivify was pointless in the long term". and since you're at such a low level, you almost certainly don't have access to anything that can end the doomed condition unless the dm makes something up in response. even if you don't roll it immediately, you have a chance to every single long rest, which makes it a significant liability and any quest the dm comes up with to get it off you needs to be pretty fast. maybe making it a 1d4 in the case of revivify would be better (although honestly i think the 5th effect is perfectly fine)?

i do like making resurrection have consequences, i just think risking the doomed condition is incredibly overboard at low levels. also i'm not sure the 3rd effect is punishing enough. in fact, it suggests a benefit. i'd suggest either vulnerability to radiant or making healing magic damage you and necrotic damage heal you.
You forget that most healing spells don't work on the undead. :)

But yeah, I mostly agree with you. Maybe switch 3 and 5 (seeing as 3 results in a worse version of 4) and have revivify be a 1d4 roll.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
To be fair, the average commoner--or even the average non-adventurer--is not going to be brought back from the dead.

You could also say that revivify doesn't count because the soul hasn't properly left the body yet, and you only roll on this table if the person has been raised or resurrected.
 


xiphumor

Hero
To be fair, the average commoner--or even the average non-adventurer--is not going to be brought back from the dead.

You could also say that revivify doesn't count because the soul hasn't properly left the body yet, and you only roll on this table if the person has been raised or resurrected.
But the average king might, or the average high priest, which begs the question as to why they aren’t.

I’m okay with that, although in my setting Revivify has its own, lesser cost.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
But the average king might, or the average high priest, which begs the question as to why they aren’t.

I’m okay with that, although in my setting Revivify has its own, lesser cost.
True. Of course, adventurers are a hardier lot than a even the mightiest NPC. It's probably best to assume that this roll is strictly for PCs and NPCs only get netherblight when it suits the Narrator.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
I like fail forward systems and emergent gameplay, which I think LU encourages.
Maybe it's not specified, but I think Netherblight should be seen as an example of the above: the character may be resurrected, but this takes a toll (not just monetary).
The fact that there's a personal toll helps explain why even very rich people may not be resurrected (or stay alive for long), which is good for worldbuilding and consistency.
The toll however does not have to be permanent: as a DM I'd create some quests that allow the character to cure the affliction, or at least some way to combat it.

For the last point in the list, the doomed condition, I would probably steal borrow ideas from Berserk (with monsters coming every night to take the soul of the creature that should be dead), or from Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (with an otherwordly creature, the Dahaka, relentlessly pursuing the PC to bring it back to the realms of the dead).
 

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