A deadly plague is spreading through the Flanaess, and the player characters are going from major population center to population center, city to city, chasing a pandemic to try to find a cure. It starts in the Bandit Kingdoms, and the population of Rockroost is suffering. The mysterious disease appears similar to the devastating and much-feared “Red Death” plague that ravaged the Flanaess eighty years earlier.
The Rockroost Plague starts with feelings of lassitude, dull pain in the joints, swollen lymph nodes, and a throbbing headache. Within hours the victim shows a mild fever. Then strange red blotches, or edemas, appear, and the headache becomes a crippling, trip-hammer pounding. At the onset, the character suffers 1 point strength, dexterity, and constitution, and all three scores continue to drop until all three have been diminished by 5 points. Within a 1-3 days (number of hours equal to character’s constitution score multiplied by 4), the victim becomes incapable of concentration and unable to move without assistance. Then the character loses 4 points wisdom, 3 points intelligence, and movement is reduced to 3″. Scores continue to drop as the disease progresses until one score reaches zero at which point the character dies. There is no known cure. Even spells and clerical healing cannot arrest the progress of the disease.
There are only guesses as to its nature and manner of transmission. Judging by its rapid spread, it must be contagious. But how is it passed on? It’s obviously airborne and respiratory, but it apparently can also be picked up off surfaces.
Nobody knows the origin of the Rockroost Disease, but during an investigation of a wizard’s tower, the players will discover the arcane lab of a magic user who was doing experiments on giant bats imported from Rel Mord. Apparently the wizard was looking for a cure to the plague, and he believed the answer was in the bats. According to local rumors “these bats were blamed (perhaps incorrectly) for the spread of the original Red Death.” In the module, one of the bats escapes and spreads the plague with it out to the Flanaess.
In The Fate of Istus (WG8), the plague is only a tool that Istus uses to mess with character classes, testing their virtues and qualities, as she screws with the world. Don’t look for any mercy from Istus. That’s just not her thing. But she doesn’t have the final say in things. May God grant you a plus 5 on all your saving throws.