How many Blights could a Blightchuck chuck if a Blightchuck could chuck Blights?
The Blight Boogie
In the deepest swamps, in the most crooked of forests, the Blight roam and the Blight kill. There are actually three different kinds of Blight, and those are the Needle, Vine, and Twig Blight. They are so similar in many ways that I decided to do an article about all of them. You would never really just use one in an encounter.
The origins of the Blight are deep and dark. Long ago, a vampire named Gulthias was slain by a vampire hunter. The hunter stabbed his heart deep with a wooden stake, like you do, and the stake absorbed the blood of Gulthias. Long after, the stake, now discarded in the forest, grew into a dark and sinister tree that began to corrupt and spread its blight across the forest. From this, came the Blight.
Long-dead bushes grew into humanoid shambling masses. These were the Twig Blight. Vines hanging from trees grouped together and slid and slithered all along the branches to form the Vine Blight. Finally, thorny bramble and flowers tied and twisted and knotted themselves together to form the human-like silhouette of the Needle Blight!
I chose these vile things because the Blight are easily some of my favorite evil monsters to use. They have no remorse, they have no emotion. They’re just designed to corrupt. They also scare the hell out of early level adventurers, making them fear for their young lives!
The Blight make for some of the easiest foreshadowing in the game. Describe the forest as thorny, with vines hanging down, and with twiggy dead bushes all around, and you’ve got yourself plenty of fuel. These characters, once attacked, won’t know where the hell these things are coming from, and once they notice that they’re completely camouflaged when hidden, they’ll be paranoid! Another thing you can do is have parts of the woods that actually look like people or like humanoid parts: “The dried twiglike hands grasping out of the bush just barely brush against your legs as you pass, ripping into your light clothing.” That’s creepy, and it makes the characters worried that anything they pass by will spring out and slay them!
A few encounter types that work the best for these fairly fragile foes are ones with the element of surprise. Most likely when the players are taking a short rest, to make them realize this place they are in is dangerous! A Vine Blight grabs the spellcaster from behind while at the same time, a few Needle Blights fire missiles at the healer, and then the Twig Blights rush in to distract the melee party members. It won’t kill your players, probably, but it will leave them far more terrified then they were before.
Another good encounter style would be to have the Blight mixed in with other evil plant creatures, like the Shambling Mound or an evil Dryad. Perhaps some dark and doom-loving Druid haunts these hollows? Perhaps there is some evil owl wizard who flies through the trees and brings shadows and rot with him on the winds?
While there isn’t much to loot or take off the Blight, there is something to be said about using the Blight’s wood to build or create things. While at first, the wood will just look dark and sad, it will over time begin to corrupt the materials around it. Metals will rust and cry tears of soiled rain. Cloths and fibers will fade and sag, and dark and horrible moths will spawn nearby and eat from them.
If you wish to give small amounts of loot to the players, have them find little trinkets left behind by other dead travelers, like locket, a signet ring, or a children’s toy. You can really up the ante if you have a Vine Blight wrapped around a magical sword, perhaps gaining power from it!
As for the senses, focus on touch and sound for the Blight. They make no noise at all due to being so connected to the dark and dreary forest, and this can be eerie as the players watch these blind plant people slowly crawl out of the brush to find them, without so much as a rustling leaf or a creaking branch.
The Twig Blights feel like rough and dry firewood, with flaky bark and a solid but hollow structure. They’re easy to break with your bare hands, but you’re going to get scratched and cut up if you try it.
The Needle Blights are covered all over with thick and fat points of thorn. They will shred clothing and leather, and most importantly, flesh! You feel them opening your skin, like a zipper running up the arm, separating everything nice and neat.
The Vine Blights are made of the plant fibers of a thousand different forms, and are all wrapped around a thick core of solid vine. As they unwind and wrap around you, you feel their cold and wet fibers roughly grip your limbs and constrict your ribs.
If for whatever reason your player would taste a Blight, make it seem to them like the most rotten and soggy of woods and plants. Leaves that soil your mouth for hours, with black and slimy sludge. Your tongue will never be the same.
So all in all, I think it’s pretty damn clear that I absolutely love the style of the Blight! They give so much fuel for creepy and horrible forest adventures that will most likely end with fire and ash. You can really bring a bit of fear into the decisions of your players, and perhaps even haunt them long after if they decide to bring any part home!
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back with another Sense of Immersion every Tuesday! Be sure to submit your own with E-Mail or Twitter!
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Image Sources: Wizards of the Coast
Roll on the table to see just what area the Blight are hiding in!
1: A dozen Vine Blights at the bottom of a lake. They are made up of algae and weeds.
2: A pair of Needle Blight step out of a tall rose bush.
3: A trio of Twig Blights that roll along the arid wasteland, acting as large tumbleweeds.
4: Beautiful hedge art has all its leaves fall away to reveal several Needle Blights.
5: A solid vine hanging from a tree wraps itself together to reveal a Vine Blight.
6: A pair of Vine Blights sit at the bottom of a lake, slowly turning the fresh water murky.
7: A wooden sculpture of modern art is corrupted. 2d6 Twig Blights spring out.
8: Four Needle Blights are trapped beneath tar pits, attacking all who join them.
9: Twenty of each Blight are wrapped together into a massive horrible wreath surrounding a small village. Nobody is sure why they are there.
10: A series of winery barrels recently sprouted thorns and broke apart, revealing six wet, drunk Needle Blights.