Billowing hate is the name of both a natural phenomenon and an insidious biological warfare agent. Airborne fungal spores originating from the Distal tesseract (but without the weaknesses attendant to Distal polyps) float through the air in billowing, smoke-like, self-sustaining clouds, eroding the mental faculties of it's victims and causing them to enter a state of unreasoning, animalistic rage. The weaponized form of billowing hate was engineered from the natural phenomenon by cynical Manifold Conservation Society biologists to destroy enemies through infighting rather than direct assault.
Transmission & Vectors
Billowing hate encountered in both it's natural and weaponized forms manifests as a black, billowing cloud of "smoke" that purportedly smells like both soot and burning oil, making the cloud of microscopic spores easy to mistake for greasy diesel engine exhaust. The spores generally must be inhaled to take full effect, but scattered reports have been made of intoxicating exposures via contact with exposed mucous membranes without inhalation being required.
While the spores themselves are incapable of causing disease in humans (barring anaphylactic shock), the spores are coated in a substance that impairs frontal lobe function and causes spikes in adrenaline and cortisol production in most mammals, including humans.
The psychoactive nature of billowing hate causes victims to lose executive function and emotional restraint. Victims become easily agitated towards any excessive stimuli while also losing the ability to contain this aggression. With acute exposure, this cluster of symptoms eventually progresses to aggression towards any other creatures or machinery in the immediate vicinity, with a concomitant increase in violence and reckless behavior on the part of the victim. In this state, victims cannot generally be reasoned with.
Patients presenting with signs of billowing hate intoxication should be restrained and, if possible, sedated. Intravenous antitoxins are available for billowing hate, and should be administered as soon as possible to reduce the damage caused by the intoxicated patient. Billowing hate intoxication has a high co-morbidity with other injuries, and these should be treated immediately if life-threatening.
Most injuries and deaths caused by billowing hate intoxication come as a result of actions undertaken while under the influence of the toxin carried by the spores. Safety code violations, vandalism, arson, assault, battery, and even murder are commonly committed while the victim's inhibitions are compromised. In general, most victims of billowing hate cease their agent-induced aggressive behavior within 24 hours without need for treatment. Full recovery from the intellectually damaging effects of billowing hate intoxication, however, can require up to a week in severe cases. In extremely rare cases, intellectual deficits persist throughout the life of the victim, as the toxin carried by the spores induces lesions in the prefrontal cortex.
Individuals with normal guilt responses are often traumatized by what they had done and witnessed while under the influence of the spore-bound toxin, with divorce, suicide, and addiction rates each increased by roughly 10% in affected populations. While most legal systems in the Manifold will not prosecute an individual for actions taken under a confirmed bout of billowing hate intoxication, psychological, financial, legal, and relationship counseling may be required after the patient has recovered enough to hold coherent conversations.
Natural, environmental cases of billowing hate intoxication can be avoided by not wandering into areas known to hold billowing hate spores, avoiding visible black clouds, and using simple dust masks when traveling in at-risk regions. Weaponized variants, on the other hand, require industrial- or military-grade respirators to prevent. If exposed, an individual should remove contaminated clothing and rinse exposed skin and mucous membranes to reduce the toxin load absorbed.
Natural colonies of billowing hate fungi are rare and located only in quantity in the Distal Tesseract.
In 9990, while exploring Distal A cube with their Petalcap Vale counterparts, explorers hailing from the Manifold Conservation Society were told by their Verdial travelling companions that care should be taken not to trust any apparent "smoking holes" as signs of habitation, as these might actually be places where billowing hate spores were propagating. Ever eager to preserve unusual biological specimens, the MCS explorers took a sample of some billowing hate found during the expedition back to Bunker Primus, where defense scientists bred the spores to produce a more concentrated toxin. Once completed, news of the newly weaponized spores was "leaked" to travelers from Voxelia and the Free Faces League, along with an explicit understanding that the MCS was willing to use the spores to prevent intrusion by those powers into Bunker Primus.
Weaponized billowing hate, as a potential weapon of mass destruction, inspires much fear in industrialized nations not directly allied to the Manifold Conservation Society. On the rare occasions when billowing hate spore clouds wandered into civilian population centers - mostly in Verdial outposts in the Distal Tesseract - serious financial and social damage was done to the communities. Individuals who acted out in their intoxication are often shunned by their communities, forced to the margins of society in shame of what they had done by fellow citizens who did not yet understand the cause of these individuals' actions.
A wonderful condition and it would indeed make an excellent biological WMD. Causing your enemies to turn in violence against each other -- and them having to deal with the consequences. Wonderful article!
Adazuri: A shonen-inspired magitech fantasy world home-brewed for 5e.