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Shadow Sickness // Shadow Life

A magical disease born from contact with the Sea of Shadows, shadow sickness is a highly feared disease for a majority of the residents of Skovasil, while worshiped as a blessing to a small majority, most notably the wayangs that natively dwell near the Sea of Shadows.    In native Skov, shadow sickness is referred to as Pettikin (when referring to it as a sickness) or Khevkin (when referring it as a blessing)

Transmission & Vectors

Shadow Sickness can be spread one of two ways: Either through long-term exposure to the water of the Sea of Shadows, or alternatively through contact with bodily fluids of those already infect. One can also be born with the disease, which bypass the normally traumatizing infectious stage, but such instances are rare, as it seems more often than not the bleaching stage of the disease sterilizes the infected.

Causes

While the exact cause is unknown, most believe that the tainted water of the Sea of Shadows stems from the imprisoned titan of shadows Phob, and thus the disease is spawned of her dark essence mixing into the water. Others, such as the wayangs, believe that the disease is a direct blessing from their goddess Wouhaus, designed to make the wayang more in her image.

Symptoms

For one newly infected with shadow sickness, the first symptoms are an intense feeling of nausea, followed by small dark spots slowly appearing over ones body.

Treatment

There is no cure for shadow sickness once in the late stages, beyond extremally powerful magic, but if caught early enough, spells like remove disease can help combat it. However, the disease seems to be particuallar strong against sources of divine magic, and thus if a spell such as remove disease is cast from a relatively weak spellcaster, the attempt can even cause the disease to worsen. Keeping the afflicted in a well lit area, especially with magical lighting, seems to delay the onset of the disease, as well as help the host fight it off, but such places are exceedingly rare in Skovasil. This leaves many to believe that travelling to Usoram, the realm of light, can also cure them of the disease, but the hurdle of the dangers and travel time of such a journey rules it out as an option for all but the most wealthy or desperate.

Prognosis

Once the initial dark spots of the infection begin to slowly grow larger, the disease evolves into its next stage. Various colored fluid begins to pour out of the infected's orifices, and the infected begins to hallucinate things that they are afraid of, then begins to sweat colored fluid, bleaching all the color out of their skin. After the bleaching is complete, the dark spots grow rapidly, until the infecteds entire body is the color of pure shadow. While this process is only fatal to those with weak constitutions, such as children, the mental trauma of the experience often leaves permanent damage   The hallucinating period differs for Wayangs, as instead of hallucinating fears, they instead see many strange and incomprehensible visions, some of which can cause madness and death.

Sequela

While the infection and subsequent bleaching process takes a horrendous toll, the aftereffects of the disease are relatively tame, and some can even be considered beneficial. Due to their now shadowy appearance, the afflicted's facial expressions cannot be read, and thus find it much easier to deceive, although most lament the inability to show their emotions to their friends and loved ones. Their stealth capabilities also improve, especially if they remain in Skovasil, as their bodies blend perfectly in the night, and if they can remain still, can even avoid the perceptions of those with darkvision. They also gain a slight increase to their ability to see in the dark, and find themselves able to more easily access shadow-based magic. The more negative long-term effects include mental trauma from the hallucinations of the bleaching stage, as well as a mild allergy to natural sunlight. They become much weaker to any light-based magic, and their new shadowy skin burns much more quickly and intensely when exposed to fire.

Affected Groups

Shadow sickness can afflict any living (or unliving) creature, asides from the nightshades who dwell naturally in the depths of the Sea of Shadow. It is particularly deadly to children, as well as inflicting an incredibly painful death on an Edaan that happens to become infected. The disease counteracts their inner light, causing them to slowly to become snuffed out, becoming helpless as their form shrivels up and dies.

Hosts & Carriers

Nearly all the natural aquatic fauna in the Sea of Shadows are born with the disease, and thus can spread it by being consumed.

Prevention

Simply remaining away from the Sea of Shadows and those infected with the disease can prevent shadow sickness, as well as delay disease and similar magic with enough magical might packed into it can stop it from spreading

Epidemiology

Shadow sickness is often spread in communities through malicious infected wayangs, who use illusion magic to hide their shadowy state before entering a village and spreading it through contact, as well as from the activates of the cultists of Titan Phob. While many travel to the Sea of Shadows in search of ancient treasure and dark power, those that become infected usually never return to their homelands, and often even form villages of infected survivors on its coastland. Some non-wayangs even purposefully infect themselves in the effort to gain the long-term benefits of the disease, although most view such acts as extreme foolishness.

Cultural Reception

For most of Skovasil, shadow sickness is seen as a horrifying disease, one born of titan worship, and thus those infected with the disease are shunned or even killed. Some seek out snake oil cures, while others hide themselves in the wilderness, either alone or with other afflicted.   Unlike the other races, wayangs believe that the shadow sickness is a blessing from Wouhas known as the Khevkin, and thus actively seek out its infection, baptizing their babies in the waters of the Sea of Shadows, and having  one of their rites of passage to become an important adult in Wayang society is for a young wayang to survive the process of shadowfication. The rare wayangs naturally born with the disease are highly venerated, and are able to quickly rise up the ranks of Wayang nobility. The Uri-Umb shadow giants also venerate shadow sickness as a gift from titan Phob

Shadow Sickness   Caused by prolonged contact with the Sea of Shadows, or by ingesting bodily fluids of an infected creature, Shadow Sickness slowly causes the afflicted's body to take on the form of living shadow   Type: Disease; contact or ingested; see above; Save: Fortitude DC 20; Frequency: 1/day for 1 day per size category (5 days for a typical medium-sized creature; Effect: 1d4 CON damage (day 1 and 2), 1d4 CON damage and 1d6 WIS damage (on subsequent days). On day 3+, the creature violently hallucinates, as if under the insanity spell, but if they roll the "attack nearest creature", they instead become panicked, fleeing in a random direction as fast as possible, even if that is direction is into immediate danger. If a creatures' WIS ever reaches 0 from this Wisdom damage, they gain a permanent phobia, as the lesser madness. If the creature survives the process, they gain the Shadowfyd template (see below)   If disease healing magic from a divine source is cast on the afflicted creature, the caster must make a DC 20 caster level check, or the disease immediately progresses to its next stage instead of being healed.   Staying in areas of natural bright light, (or powerful magical ones, such as the daylight spell), delays the onset of the increased damage and the hallucinations until the final day.  
Shadowfyd Creature Template   This creature appears to be made out of pure darkness, as if it was an animate, outlined shadow.   Creating a Shadowfyd Creature: "Shadowfyd Creature" is both and acquired and an inherited template that can be applied to any creature that goes through the Shadow Sickness affliction, referred to hereafter as the base creature. A shadowfyd retains all the base creature's statistics and abilities except as noted here.   CR: Same as base creature +0   Alignment: Any   Type: Type remains unchanged   Senses: If the base creature had darkvision, increase its darkvision by 10 feet. If the base creature didn't have low-light vision, it gains low-light vision.   Faceless: The base creature's facial features can no longer be seen. The base creature gains a +8 racial bonus on Bluff checks to lie, an equal penalty on Bluff checks to send Secret Messages, and increases the DCs of Sense Motive checks made against them by 5.    Shadow Affinity: The base creature gains a +1 circumstance bonus to their caster level and to the DCs of any spells they cast with the darkness or shadow descriptors.   Shadow Body: The base creature gains a non-magical shadowfade effect. This effect only extends to the base creatures body, not their gear, so special clothing must be specially crafted to take full effect of the ability, unless the base creature forgoes clothing and gear altogether. Against creatures without darkvision, the base creatures body grants them a +8 racial bonus on Stealth checks made in darkness or dim-lighting. However, when attempting Stealth checks in areas brighter than dim light, their unique appearance causes them to stand out, turning this bonus into a penalty. The base creature gains a -10 penalty on Disguise checks, save to disguise themselves as other Shadowfyd creatures.   Sunlight Sensitivity: The base creature rolls twice and takes the lower result on all saves against spells with the light descriptor, take double damage from spells that deal damage with the light descriptor, and have vulnerability to fire. The base creature gains a mild allergy to sunlight; while not enough to cause damage simply from being in sunlight (or other areas of bright light), it brings discomfort and imparts a -1 penalty on concentration checks.
Type
Magical
Origin
Magical
Cycle
Chronic, Acquired & Congenital
Rarity
Rare

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