Necromantic Fasciitis

Welcome to the latest in a series I'm calling "Real Medical Problems I Have Encountered, Interpreted as Fantasy Ailments" or RMPIHEIAFA (rumpy-HAY-fah). Each entry will cover a real-life medical condition I have encountered in the American health system, adapted to suit the world of your fantasy RPG campaign.

Necromantic fasciitis is a thankfully rare but troublingly serious condition. Infection typically follows a botched resurrection, although the patient may not show symptoms for several weeks.

In cases where a Raise Dead spell is performed by a cleric of insufficient experience, or the spell is interrupted at any point, the soul may not be fully reintegrated into the body. Any part not fully integrated is, for all intents and purposes, undead. In mild cases, this undeath may be confined to a small area, such as a finger, toe, or facial extremity. Affected areas do not give the appearance of dead flesh, so cases can go unnoticed for some period of time.

Symptoms of necromantic fasciitis begin with itching and muscle spasms of the affected area. Numbness is present in some cases, and wounds suffered in affected areas will neither bleed nor heal, either naturally or through magical means. Because the infection rests within the fascia, the thin sheath that connect and stabilize the muscles and organs, it will spread unchallenged throughout the body if not arrested quickly.

As the area of undeath expands, so too does the range of possible effects. Affected limbs may begin to take on a mind of their own. Hands will grasp and ungrasp at random, often dropping weapons and items intended for use. Legs may splay out in strange ways, ankles turn painfully, and joints swell. In the case of facial infection, grimacing, gurning, and twitching are most common.

What happens next should be familiar to anyone with sufficient experience in the necromantic arts. The undead have a natural hatred for the living that borders upon instinctual, and as more of the body is corrupted this hatred will manifest in every way it can find. Stories abound of veteran adventurers found dead in their tents, strangled by their own, still-flailing arm. Infected legs will throw their victim over cliffs or onto swords, infected tongues will sever and force their way down the victim's throat. At this stage, the victim is a tremendous danger both to themselves and those around them, and should be quarantined accordingly.

In death, the disease progresses unimpeded until the entire body is under its vicious control. Here is a true undead, under a new name: zombie. Now a full-blown carrier, the zombie is intensely contagious, and even so much as a scratch or bite is enough to spread necromantic fasciitis to a new host. The process begins again.

As mentioned before, treating necromantic fasciitis is difficult, as undead tissue naturally rejects any attempts at mundane or magical healing. The only known cure is amputation, liberally spaced from the area of infection and flawlessly executed. If there is even one square centimeter of corrupted tissue left upon the victim's personage, the risk of reinfection is high. Some success has been found with judicious use of anti-undead clerical magic, meant to stop, hold, or "turn" the hordes of the damned. However, evidence for this is scarce, and some suggest it may do more harm to future attempts to pacify the victim in the case that they build up a tolerance to the spell.