It shouldn’t have happened. It did, but it shouldn’t have.
Was it dark magic? A mutation?
Barkblight (Various sizes, Undead, Mindless, Animated) [inspired by The Sharing Knife book series and the Michael Holmes engineered soil bacteria study]
It’s strangely enchanting to watch the grass spread the disease. When vines unravel and slither like snakes until they find a new bark covered victim it’s repulsive. When the converted bark falls from a diseased tree like shingles in a hurricane, writhing and shredding themselves and spreading the horror, it’s like peering into the eye of a storm. But the grass… it bends and sways, seeking neighboring grass to infect. Untended fields of overgrowth ripple, blades desiccating to a wheat-like palor in a slow wave, like watching seasons pass in moments. Crabgrass awkwardly shivers, like a series of ever smaller hands resting palm-within-palm, boney fingers waving frantically. Ferns curl and uncurl impotently, gradually gaining a crackling sound as they dry, eventually shredding themselves and drifting with the winds. A billion tiny edged blades of grass of every variety, serrating desperately into their unconverted neighbors to spread the necrotic disease.
Rivers stop it. Roads slow it down. Hallowed ground somehow survives. It’s strange to see a country graveyard in lands destroyed by Barkblight – rectangular patches of calm, green grass commemorated by headstones amidst a nightmare of crisp, tan, dry, aggressive flora.
Fire. It’s impossible to keep it in control, but it’s the only thing that has proven effective so far. The cure may be worse than the disease, as fire will often crown, leaping over obstacles that will stop the blight. Hopefully someone will discover a better way.
Each individual plant with Barkblight acts of it’s own undead accord. They target uninfected flora. Desperate Barkblighted plants may begin attempting to kill animals (and people) to get at the micro ecology within them.
* To spread the Blight
Rot : It only takes a single acorn, skyborn piece of grass, or shard of bark to land within one’s pack before Adventurers learn not to bring plant-based food into the Blight. The dawning awareness that a major portion of one’s pack has come to life, seeking to spread corruption, tends to leave a mark on the memory.
Desperate Dining : When you eat ‘food’ touched by the corruption of the Blight, roll + CON.
On a 10+ choose one. On a 7-9, choose two.
* Take the SICK, WEAK, or SHAKY debility. (You may choose this option more than once as long as you do not already have all three debilities)
* Fall into a deep, unwaking, restless sleep for several hours.
* Your gut flora takes a hit – gain a permanent allergy of the GM’s choosing.
On a miss the ‘food’ destroys your gut flora entirely. Food of any kind no longer holds any nutritional value for you.
-> Dark Wizard Galadus puts out a huge bounty for the capture of a live ent. He’s certainly up to no good. The guy’s a moustachioed monologue machine of malevolent machinations.
-> Ent captured, research begins.
-> Blight is born, quickly gets out of hand.
-> County decimated. Then fiefdom. Then kingdom. Then continent.
-> Survivors eventually drive Blight back, using fire and trenches. Starvation for the vast, vast majority of surface dwellers is a certainty. Flora variation takes a huge hit too, with only those plants represented on holy grounds or re-imported from overseas represented.