When you’re a PC, fighting swarms is bad enough. But plague swarms…that’s when things get really nasty. Because plague swarms are manifestations of a deity’s wrath, sent in retribution for some slight. That means they're more powerful (even the humble rat plague swarm clocks in at CR 11) and mythic (8 ranks!) to boot. They multiply with alarming speed and reform until their destruction condition is met. Sometimes they have beneficial strategic or defensive attributes (individuals in a rat plague swarm share a hivemind; bat plague swarms are divinely protected). Worst of all, they all have a unique nasty attack. Rat plague swarms are diseased, spreading lycanthropy. Bat plague swarms cause bleed and negative level damage—which can birth vampires(!) that serve the swarm (not the other way around). And locust plague swarms? They just eat everything—including magic items—with what are effectively adamantine jaws.
So say your prayers and start researching destruction conditions…because once called, these magical beasts don't stop until an entire city is destroyed.
A ratfolk sage immolates himself in the central square of Newport, promising vengeance even as the flames take his body. The vengeance, when it arrives, is swift and deadly: a rat plague swarm. Adventures must not only defeat the foul skittering hivemind, but then solve the mystery of what Power sent it—for no one in Newport, including the small ratfolk community, understands what sin was committed against the sage or his faith.
Adventurers need to recover the body of Preston Melark, an oracle whose visions may hold the key to the defeat of the Minotaur Lord. But Melark fell in the defense of Tamar, the Living City, whose very stones (courtesy of a divine blessing and a strong conduit to the Positive Energy Plane) heal the wounded and birth new defenders into being. Now a vampire puppet of the plague bat swarm, Preston Melark’s undead corpse is caught in an unending cycle of death, coming every night to feed at the throats of the fresh soldiers born to the Living City that dawn.
It’s said that the Lur of Laram could knock down a city wall or rouse the Sleeping Celestials. And it may be just the thing to stop Daemon Tide. But some other player is at work, for when adventurers reach the city of Parsin, a locust plague swarm and its brood are already devouring everything in its path—including the ancient horn.
—Bestiary 5 192–193
Working on getting this regular update thing happening again. Please continue to bear with me.
I’m not finding stats for Bestiary 5’s plague swarms online yet, though Pathfinder Adventure Path #79: The Half-Dead City had several nonmythic swarms, including the plague locust swarm.
Wayfinder #14 went live on Monday, with fiction by yours truly—the first fantasy story I’ve ever published, and my first published work in ages. It’s a dash of ghost story and a pinch of noir. (The brutal word count restrictions inspired the staccato tone.) I hope you enjoy it!
Thanks to Tim and Paris for the acceptance email, the other contributors for submitting, the slushers and patient editors (especially Charlie and Matthew, who went through my piece line by line) for all their hard work, and Stephen Wood for the great illustration. Download it for free here.
Tuesday’s show turned out really nice. I wasn’t expecting anything special, aside from things being a bit more gravelly/fuzzy than usual, but I relistened to it and was just like, “Yeah. Nice.” Maybe you’ll dig it too. Stream or download it till Monday, 12/7, at midnight.