Plaguemaster


(permanent link) added: 2009-09-16 21:38:50 sponsor: Tacitus (last reply: 2009-10-01 17:36:14)

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The Plaguemaster is a character who delights in disease and pestilence, gleefully spreading contagions and poxes across the world for the evulz. Leprous wounds, eyes scabbed over with crusted filth, weeping sores, unburied corpses piling up in the streets - these are a few of their favorite things, and they'll use whatever technological or supernatural talents they possess to bring about The End of the World as We Know It with a hacking, bloody cough.

Typically a Plaguemaster's physical form is just as ravaged by disease as his victims, but due to the character's empathy for illness, they are immune to the negative effects of the diseases they carry, and may even have supernatural toughness because they're a walking plague ward. In appearance, the Plaguemaster reflects his obsession, either bloated with rot and cancerous growths, or else wasted and skeletal - though some particularly insidious Plaguemasters appear perfectly normal, all the better to spread disease without suspicion.

Very rarely, characters will have powers of pestilence but no real interest in using them. But for the most part, any character with plague-related abilities is quite clearly a villain.

See The Plague or The Virus for what the Plaguemaster spreads. If faced in combat, the Plaguemaster is usually a Gradual Grinder.


Examples:

Comic Books
  • Infectious Lass (one of the Legion of Substitute Heroes in Legion of Super Heroes comics) is a heroic version of this.
  • Typhoid Mary from Elektra (Maybe an aversion as she's totally hot?)
  • Bile from Omega Flight in the Marvel Universe.

Film
  • The antagonist in 12 Monkeys released a deadly plague in multiple cities across the world which ended up causing the human survivors to live underground.

Literature
  • The immortal "H" from Zelazny's To Die in Italbar. When he meditates in a certain way, his immune system goes into a sort of Super Mode that can instantly cure anyone of any disease simply by being in his presence. However, when he goes long enough without meditation, he begins sort of radiating every disease he's ever been exposed to. When, due to a number of mistakes and understandings, he goes MUCH too long without meditation he is driven completely insane, eventually reaching the point where he can basically kill entire planets with a brief tour, and even his powerful immune system can't keep him from being covered in open sores. This is because it eventually turns out that his powers are granted by communion with an alien goddess of life and death.

Live-Action TV
  • There was a woman like this in Stargate SG-1, who was known on her home planet as the Destroyer of Worlds. She created a virus that wiped out most of the population, and tricked the Too Dumb to Live SG-1 into letting her escape from the prison she was in.
  • The damned soul of the week from the Brimstone episode "Carrier"

Mythology and Religion

Tabletop Games
  • In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, this is the portfolio of the Chaos God Nurgle. He spreads terrible diseases and plagues, and recruits from the victims who in their delirium turn to him as a way to end their suffering - he is the god of Hope, after all. Nurgle's disciples tend to be bloated with rot, but as part of their deity's favor are wholly immune to the poxes they carry, and are even supernaturally strong because of their corruption, working tirelessly to give others Nurgle's "gifts." Bizarrely enough, "Papa Nurgle" is one of the most jovial and kindly of the Chaos entities, cuddling and caressing his nauseating daemons, and shows his affection for his worshippers by inventing disgusting new diseases for them to enjoy.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons expansion The Book of Vile Darkness introduced a prestige class called the Cancer Mage, which is just as disgusting as it sounds. Two words: Cancerous Companion. It's actually sentient, can communicate telepathically with the Cancer Mage, and is a friend that's always with you.

Video Games
  • The Lich King spent Warcraft III spreading a plague of undeath across Lordaeron. During World of Warcraft, the Forsaken's Royal Apothecary Society spends its time brewing horrifying diseases and testing them on prisoners in an attempt to create a toxin capable of wiping everything that isn't free-willed undead from Azeroth. Meanwhile, Noth the Plaguebringer is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • The storyline of Prototype is eventually revealed to be a match between dueling Plaguemasters. On the one hand is Elizabeth Greene, sole survivor of the last virus outbreak and the game's Big Bad, who in a partial subversion appears entirely human: even her One-Winged Angel form, once defeated, simply spits her out in her original human form. The other? Protagonist Alex Mercer, who unwittingly is The Virus itself. He also appears human, but unlike Greene, his powers manifest through monstrous - and awesome-looking - transformations.
  • Adam from Trauma Center is not only the Plaguemaster, having created GUILT from his own cells, but has also kept himself alive for over a hundred years in his quest to 'return death' to the world. It's also suggested that the seeds of GUILT are found in all human DNA, so theoretically anyone could be another Adam.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • "Typhoid" Mary Mallon was a rare carrier of typhoid who was wholly immune to it, and ended up spreading it to over fifty people. This was not through malice, but mainly due to her moronic denial that she was responsible for the sicknesses blossoming around her, and her refusal to quit her job as a cook, making her more of a Zombie Infectee than a straight Plaguemaster.
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