While I might not be the biggest fan of all of the prestige classes and feats and characters options and whatnot in 3e (and by extension in pathfinder), there are a good few options from that period of DnD's history that I am absolutely enamored with. I've never actually played 3e or 3.5e for any lengthy period of time, but I've ended up accruing a not insignificant number of 3e books over my years of interest in the hobby, mostly monster books (by far my favorite kind of RPG books and also my introduction to tabletop gaming, before I even knew what tabletop gaming was). One of the most interesting ones that wasn't a monster book, however, was the Book of Vile Darkness, the only Dungeons and Dragons book to be released with a parental advisory sticker on it warning about adult themes.
Adult themes like... demons and killing things and being eeeevil. Ignore the self confident parental advisory sticker, the Book of Vile Darkness was just over the top edgy saturday morning cartoon goth evil stuff. And I LOVE THAT. I love that aesthetic so so much more than if the book was actually serious adult content. So hey, here is one of my favorite prestige classes from the book, written up for Old School Essentials! (considered making a GLOG version but realized I'm not familiar enough with the GLOG to do that). It's a spooky time of year so why not have a bit of a spooky class. Oh, also I did attempt this once before on my old blog, but that one was written for 5e and hopefully this one will be better. I might do the same thing with some other character options from that period of DnD that I like... which isn't a huge amount, but there are a few!
The Cancer Mage
A class for use with Old School Essentials (or any similar ruleset)
Requirements: Minimum CON 9, Must be Neutral or Chaotic in alignment
Prime Requisite: CON and INT
Hit Dice: 1d4
Maximum Level: 14
Armor: Leather only, no shields
A cancer mage with at least 13 in one prime requisite gains a +5% bonus to experience. If both CON and INT are 16 or higher, the brineman gets a +10% bonus.
Not going to write out all of the OSE rules for magic here, just suffice to say that they can cast spells like magic-users, can use magical items, etc. However, they can only start casting spells at second level, and cannot do magical research.
When attacking an unaware opponent from behind, a cancer mage receives a +4 bonus to-hit and doubles any damage dealt.
Beginning at level two, a large tumor endowed with intelligence grows on the cancer mage. They have a personality distinct from the mage, but the two share all ability scores and saves. The cancerous companion is able to see in all directions around the mage out to a radius of 30 feet, and will alert the cancer mage of any danger they see. At level four, mind-affecting spells (such as charms, illusions, etc.) have a 50% chance of only affecting the companion. At level six, the radius that the cancerous companion can see out to is expanded to 60 feet. At level nine, the cancerous companion is able to cast a spell that the cancer mage just cast at no spell slot cost for the cancer mage, once per day.
The touch of the cancer mage spreads disease. Whenever the cancer mage touches a living animal (spirits, demons, constructs, undead, plants, and fungi are not affected), the creature must make a saving throw vs. poison or contract a random disease that the cancer mage is currently carrying. Beginning at level five, the cancer mage is able to select which disease a target is infected with.
The cancer mage is host to every disease that they have come in contact with. They begin play carrying only one disease, randomly chosen from the table below. Any disease they come in contact with over the course of the game should also be kept track of. Although the cancer mage visibly shows symptoms of these plagues, they are not able to die from them.
1. Bubonic Plague
2. Chicken Pox
3. Dancing Plague
(These diseases can easily be switched out for more setting-appropriate ones, I just wanted to use some ones from real life so as to not rely on any setting-specific things)
Cancer mages can use the following skills, with the chances of success shown below:
Hide in Shadows (HS) (Begin at 10% chance of success, increase by 5% each level)
Move Silently (MS) (Begin at 15% chance of success, increase by 5% each level)
After 11th Level
A cancer mage is able to establish a secretive coven to initiate others into the close relationship with disease that so defines the mages. They attract 1d10 level one cancer mages, thieves, and magic-users, who will learn spells and techniques from them.
Cancer Mage Character Progression
XP to Level 2: 2,600
Fighting Advancement: as Magic-User
Saving Throws at Level 1:
Breath Attacks: 16
Spell Advancement: as Cleric
Also, since this is considerably pared down from the original 3e cancer mage, I chose to turn some of the class features that the class originally had into spells, so here are those!
Children of the Night
Duration: 4 turns
The caster calls forth a number of small creatures from the dark recesses surrounding them. The creatures summoned follow the caster's mental commands, but do not follow the commands of any others. The creatures that can be called forth include:
3d6 cave locusts
2d4 killer bees
2d6 giant black widows
2d6 pit vipers
3d6 giant rats
2d4 robber flies
3d6 spitting cobras
1d6 giant toads
Duration: 1 day
Range: 5 miles
The caster endows a disease that they host in their body with intelligence. They must sacrifice a point of intelligence when casting the spell. They are able to communicate telepathically with the disease while it is within the spell's range, and the disease will inform them of what their host experiences. If any other person(s) are infected with the disease, the caster is able to receive information from all such hosts.
Duration: 3 turns
Range: The caster or a creature touched
The target of the spell is covered by crawling insects for the duration of the spell's effect. This grants them a +4 bonus to their armor class, and the ability to climb on walls and ceilings. This armor class bonus is, however, negated by any attack which would hit a large part of the subject's surface area i.e. a large hammer strike, as the insects crawl out of the way to defend themselves from the damage.
|Can you believe people are making halloween masks of covid?? A little insensitive if you ask me, even if I do love these horrible slimy goblin lookin critters|
Duration: two weeks (can be cancelled at any time)
Range: The caster
The caster transforms into a microbial disease, and is able to infect anyone that comes in contact with them. Any items that the caster has on their person does not transform with them. Any living animal (this does not affect spirits, demons, constructs, the undead, plants, or fungi) that comes in contact with the caster while they are in disease form must make a save vs. poison or contract the caster. After an initial incubation period of 24 hours, the caster in disease form begins dealing 1d3 damage to the host's CON per day. If CON reaches 0, the host dies. Each day that the caster is in disease form, they can roll 1d20, hoping to roll higher than the host's current CON score. If this roll succeeds, then the caster takes control of the host for the remaining duration of the spell. Any living animal that comes within 5 feet of the host contracts the caster as well, but the caster is only able to control one host at a time.