Deep within the jungles of Vestitas, a Nurgle cultist breeds both plagues and the insects to carry them. He hasn’t had a whole lot of success so far. The plague has only temporary effects on humans but kills its carriers stone-dead within a few days. Still he continues his work to create a superbug that shall spread across the continent.
Summary: A Nurgle cultist in the jungle has been using Chaos sorcery to breed and command swarms of disease-bearing insects, arming them with some of Nurgle’s most hideous infections and preparing to unleash them on the entire planet.
Discovery: The Nurgle cultist’s hut is built into a dead jungle tree. The initial structure is built between two trees, a plain old hut elevated above the ground, but a walkway now encircles the trunk itself to provide access to rooms cared within the rotting wood as the tree has died under the infestation of a million insects. A random encounter roll of 10 in this hex will cause an encounter with a bug swarm, and after the encounter players can roll Survival to try and determine the source of the bugs. The difficulty is Hellish(-60) at first, but goes up by +20 for each additional encounter up to a maximum of Routine(+20). Players are much more likely to spot the hut rather than track the bugs back to it, but it’s not impossible.
Exploration: Though a solid twelve meters tall, the Nurgle cultist’s home tree only has room for about one room per level. The first floor is still three meters above the ground with no climbable branches nearby, and thus requires either the rope ladder be tossed down, a pretty good Athletics check to jump up and grab the doorway, or else the aid of a grapple and line or similar. The wood within is clearly rotted and decayed, but filled with the unholy vigour of Nurgle, and will not give under anything short of a chimera or similar heavy duty vehicle (not that it’s at all clear how or why you would attempt to lift a chimera into a treehouse).
The bottom floor is a shrine to Nurgle and a nest for a swarm of Nurgle flies. The cultist comes here to commune with his master and to introduce new strains of virulence to the swarm, before it outgrows the tree and moves on to seek a new home, taking the new plagues with it and making room for their young, who shall receive yet another plague in their place. Eventually, the Nurgle cultist will discover the perfect blend of disease to make a swarm that can live long enough to reach civilization while still carrying something potent enough to debilitate human-size victims. In any case, the insects inflict a plague whenever they deal damage (but not if armour and/or Toughness absorbs all their damage). The victim must make a Challenging(-10) Toughness check, and if they fail, they lose 1d5 from one of Strength, Agility, Toughness, Weapon Skill, or Ballistic Skill, chosen randomly (use a d5 to determine which).
The victim is now infected with Nurgle Fly Plague. They are still vulnerable to characteristic loss from future attacks, but must additionally roll another Toughness check at the same difficulty every 24 hours, and take more characteristic damage to a random characteristic on a failure. If the character is receiving medical care for their disease, they can use the doctor’s Medicae check or their Toughness check for the day’s check against the plague, whichever is higher. The disease lasts until a successful check is made. This characteristic damage is permanent until the plague is cured, at which point it recovers at the usual rate. A character who has been cured of Nurgle Fly Plague cannot be affected by it due to insect attacks, but can be affected by it if they imbibe or are immersed in the diseased soups the Nurgle cultist brews to spread the disease.
The plague affects worshipers of Nurgle differently. They are affected automatically and do not get to make a Toughness save to prevent the effects of the disease. Their Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill cannot be affected, but their Fellowship and Willpower can be instead. If Strength, Toughness, or Willpower is affected, the Nurgle worshiper gains 1d5 points in the characteristic, but they still lose 1d5 when they roll Agility or Fellowship. After being affected once, a Nurgle worshiper cannot be affected again by any means.
On the next floor up from the Nurgle shrine is the cultist’s workshop. There are pots, pans, and jars full of various oozing, pus-filled plague stews, here, which the cultist mixes with honey to encourage the insects to feed upon them and then takes them down to the shrine below. Several of the insects crawl about up here as well, but not enough to make a swarm. Anyone who imbibes the filth is immediately affected by Nurgle Fly Plague. They must make a Toughness check to resist it immediately, and if they weren’t already infected, they are now.
On the third floor is a kitchen where the Nurgle cultist makes his actual food. Rotting carcasses of various jungle wildlife lie strewn about, including a wolf/centipede hybrid from the hag coven in hex 04.03. On the fourth floor is a dungeon where the Nurgle cultist keeps captive human test subjects. None are currently living. Finally, outside the fourth floor is the hut where the Nurgle cultist sleeps.
Confrontation: The cultist may be in any of these rooms. He keeps no consistent schedule and moves about the tree regularly. He may even be away hunting for food leaving the treehouse entirely unoccupied for up to 1d5 days when the characters arrive, in which case they might pass on entirely. When confronted, the Nurgle cultist will summon his bug swarm if it’s still alive and fight to the death to protect his life’s work.
The Nurgle cultist has a content personality and a starting Disposition of 35, with a +10 bonus to anyone who willingly imbibes his soup. Any attempt to get him to abandon his work takes a -40 penalty. Even if successful, he only ceases for 1d10 days before making another Disposition check (even if the characters are nowhere near him). If it succeeds, he feels the need to resume his work despite agreeing not to. He can be persuaded to change course with a regular Disposition check, though. For example, instead of breeding insect swarms, he could be persuaded to infiltrate a village or town and dump his plague soup directly into their water supply, or to move his insect breeding operation into the sewers beneath a city so that the bugs don’t have to live with the plague inside them for as long in order to infect large numbers of people, and perhaps an urban population density of full-sized hosts will live long enough to spread it much farther.
Rewards: The Nurgle cultist’s supply of Nurgle Fly Plague soup is large enough for 10d10 doses of sufficient size and potency to afflict a roughly human-size target. Additionally, if the Nurgle cultist is befriended, he will continue producing more of it indefinitely (and indeed, it will be quite difficult to convince him to stop).
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