A disease which has been detected in frontier regions, which creates a wasting disease targeting the mind and flesh of it’s victims. Due to the nature of the disease, early cases have been mistaken for a reappearance of the undead. Victims are, rather, subjects of an extremely degenerative disease which results in the rapid decay of the dermis and certain brain tissue, but otherwise improves the constitution of those suffering at an extraordinary rate, allowing them to survive in spite of the loss of the primary protections of their mortal counterparts.
Those suffering from the Miasma gain an extraordinary improvement of their constitution, aside from the immediate damage to their flesh and minds. Catalogues of notes from scientists and combat reports indicate mostly that they are very difficult to kill, continuing to survive after the loss of their limbs, and requiring fire or a severance of the nervous system to completely disable. Damage to tissues in the heart does not appear to slow them, and they do not appear to need to eat or breathe.
All known species can suffer from the disease, including most beasts; mammal and reptile specimens have been recovered, though insects appear to be immune, and avians do not survive the disease, instead perishing within 24 hours. Mammalian and reptilian species who come into contact with the serum of an afflicted creature will start to feel feverish, and the disease will fully take hold over a period of 24-48 hours.
A great deal of effort has been placed on research for a cure. Known treatments include the amputation and cauterization of affected regions within 2 hours of contact. Success varies, and it is unclear at this time how quickly the disease becomes irreversible, though it seems to take some time to enter the bloodstream, possibly being rejected initially by the body’s natural defenses.
Afflicted beings often seem to wander aimlessly, becoming excited only in close proximity to anything with a heartbeat. As they age, they seem to lose this tendency, becoming less mobile but regaining some of their mental capacity. Field studies of disease victims in captive have revealed very strange results; damaged brain tissue seems to be actively regenerating and re-writing it’s own DNA, which has lead to theories that those suffering from the Miasma can live in excess of a century, perhaps longer, and around the 100-year mark their body adapts to their condition and reroutes certain processes, re-enabling a semblance of intelligence and communication. Though there have been no successful attempts to carry on meaningful discourse with an afflicted creature, there are many accounts from natural philosophers and linguistic professionals indicating that the range and syntax of their guttural sounds may indeed be a primitive and visceral form of communication. It is theorized that they are able to communicate among themselves in this way, and religious activists have suggested they may even have the capacity to worship a deity, though who this would be remains speculative, as no known deities, cults, or Sanctums practice guttural intonations of this sort.
Those who have regained their intelligence pursue humanoids with greater fervor and vigor, utilizing their tireless muscles and endurant bodies to great effect, overcoming normal limitations of speed and strength to become true terrors to an unprotected victim. Theories on why the afflicted become excited around humanoid targets run a large range, some postulating that the beings’ awareness of their disease leads them to seek out healthy individuals in a futile effort to replace their damaged selves. There are no records of any attempt to actually transplant the organs of a mortal donor to an afflicted victim, to reverse the condition at an advanced stage. Other theories suggest that the beasts feel hunger, despite lacking a biological need to consume food for nutrients, and that mortal flesh is the most appealing (much as humans prefer a good steak, dwarves their stout ales, and elvenkind the mana of their fields and forests.)
An Order has assembled, prepared to fight the spread of this disease and prevent it from overtaking mortal realms. Their symbol is a crest of interlocking “U”-shaped symbols, pointing outward, and is used to mark areas which have been cleansed and are under quarantine pending an investigation by their leading experts. Citizens are explicitly warned to avoid contact with areas known to be contaminated by the Miasma, and respect quarantine areas without question. This has lead to some common speculation about whether or not the Miasma is a natural disease, or the result of failed government experiments.