Few words are more disturbing to a spellcaster than “blight magic.” This source of magic refers to power tapped directly from the Elemental Chaos – magic that has not filtered through one or more of the Five Founts. Blight energy is raw chaos, tainted with countless dangerous or unpredictable elements. Any mortal coming into contact with or controlling blight magic does so at grave risk to mind, body, and soul.
As part of their training, wizards receive conditioning to avoid using blight magic. Warlocks, although they focus their spells through a pact, still draw arcane magic that has been filtered one way or another. The most chaotic sorcerer, an individual with inborn magical talent, instinctively pulls his magic through one or more of the Five Founts. Even peasant hedge mages and inexperienced witches know not to call upon Blight magic, no matter how dire the situation or need.
For a spellcaster to use Blight magic demands special (and forbidden) knowledge; drawing on the Blight is something that almost never happens by accident. The first time a caster uses Blight magic, it often surprises him how powerful the source is, and how easy it is to manipulate. After a time or two, however, everything changes. At this point, the Blight reveals a sinister aspect that continues to evade understanding or explanation by even the wisest of sages.
Once a caster understands the power inherent in the Blight, if he wishes to continue using the magic and enjoying that power, he must willingly surrender his mind, body, and soul to the Blight. In addition, he is often required to offer a sacrifice as part of his commitment.
Because Blight magic is banned, outlawed, and forbidden in virtually ever realm across Stormfell, there has been almost no accepted study of the process. The only available accounts come from users and victims of the Blight, many of whom represent unreliable (i.e., insane) sources. Thus, only those who use Blight magic truly know what is involved or required, or why.
Most accounts by former users of the Blight describe a surreal realization that the Blight is, in some way, sentient. At the start, an individual may use Blight without cost or harm. Once that individual actively chooses to pursue the Blighted Path, however, the magic demands commitment. By that time, most people have become addicted to the power, and they are all but powerless to accept the new conditions.
No mortal can explain how or why the Blight is sentient. Is it a single entity, or a collection of them? Does it possess a semblance of rationality, or is the Blight truly insane? What does it need, and what does it seek? Finally, does any being – god or primordial – exercise control over the Blight, or does it represent an independent thing? We may never know the true answers to any of these questions, but this serves only to encourage endless speculation.
When a person surrenders to the Blight, they first lose a measure of sanity. They lose touch with their loved ones and friends. Common symptoms include paranoia, megalomania, suspicion, and seething rage. Embracing the Blight also brings physical changes, although these vary from one person to the next. Magical tattoos, scars, burn marks, change in eye or skin color, change in voice, and similar alterations have all been reported. The last thing to undergo the transformation is the one that no one can see – a person’s soul dwindles as the Blight devours it. With each spell cast, the Blight Mage loses touch with reality and with his innate humanity. Ultimately, most Blight Mages go insane and destroy themselves (and everything around them), or simply disappear or die in horrible, spectacular ways.
As mentioned, continued use of the Blight also calls for great sacrifice. The Blight demands a different sacrifice from every individual, inevitably asking for that which is most important or meaningful to the wielder. This might include, but not be limited to, one’s spouse, children, parents, friends, social standing, physical appearance, wealth, or status. Anyone who would call upon the Blight can have no other greater love; the Blight consumes everything, and it demands everything.
Given the costs and pain involved, why is Blight magic so alluring? Simply put, it is easily the most powerful form of magic available to a mortal creature. No other form of magic can match the Blight for sheer power. In many ways, the Blight allows its wielders to achieve heights of power beyond mortal limits. In the end, however, the final payment comes due, leaving the magic-user insane, soulless, or dead.
Some evidence suggests that followers of the Chained God cast Blight magic. Given Tharizdun’s dominion over insanity, this is not difficult to believe. If true, this would make Tharizdun’s priests and cultists among the most powerful and dangerous of any.
Many creatures call upon Blight magic with less deleterious effects. Demons, for example, regularly use Blight magic in one form or another, but without fear or concern for their souls (since they have none). The primordials, before their defeat in the Dawn War, used what is essentially now known as Blight magic to help form creation.
The Perils of Blight Magic
You may notice there are no rules or game mechanics for characters to use Blight magic. There are no rules or rituals described for how Blight magic works or what costs it entails. This is a deliberate omission.
The default assumption is that Blight magic remains entirely the purview of insane cultists, evil sorcerers, and villains – in other words, NPCs and monsters only.
Because of the sacrifices and dangers inherent in Blight magic, it is inherently a poor choice for a player character, and it is almost always a bad choice for a D&D campaign or adventure.
Throughout Stormfell, Blight magic represents a corrupting, evil influence. It is banned in virtually every kingdom and realm. Even some of the most evil wizards alive (or undead) steadfastly avoid Blight magic, and would never ally with someone who used such a dangerous source. A character foolish enough to use Blight magic would quickly turn his friends and allies in to staunch enemies. The authorities would hunt him down to the fullest possible extent. His only possible companions would be other insane practitioners of the Blight – not exactly a solid foundation for a character or an ongoing campaign.
As things stand, any contact the characters have with Blight magic should quickly convince them how evil, destructive, and ruinous it truly is. Characters will learn to distrust all things associated with the Blight, and they will also learn to deal harshly with anyone crazy enough to tap into such magic in the first place. Blight magic is bad news, and not something for characters.
Sorcerers & Blight Magic
In D&D, sorcerers acquire magical talent through a special element within their very blood or soul. There are, for example, sorcerers that practice dragon magic, storm magic, chaos magic, and cosmic magic.
Given that Blight magic is sometimes referred to as “chaos magic,” what does this mean for the sorcerer that practices chaos magic as defined by the D&D rules?
Despite the similarities in name, a “chaos magic” sorcerer still draws his magic from the Five Founts. He may refer to it as chaos magic (and perhaps earn some trouble for doing so in the wrong places), but from a rules standpoint he is not actually calling upon Blight Magic in any way.
From a role-playing standpoint, if your sorcerer casts chaos magic, perhaps he actually believes he is one of the Blighted, and thus doomed to insanity and death. That’s where the fun of player knowledge versus character knowledge comes into effect.