I am running a D&D 3.5 campaign, and a player wants to go for the Cancer Mage prestige class in the Book of Vile Darkness. Is this prestige class overpowered, as defined in this question?


Cancer Mage is one of the most notoriously-overpowered classes in the game

Only the illithid savant and beholder mage immediately come to mind as more powerful. The ability to ignore the negative aspects of diseases, but only the negative aspects, is extremely powerful, because many diseases do have some kind of “upside” (to make diseased creatures more dangerous, I suppose). Worse, several of these have cumulative upsides: something it keeps improving (until it kills you).

In particular, Festering Anger is supposed to keep improving your Strength until it kills you – except it will never kill a cancer mage. So the cancer mage just gets arbitrarily-high Strength. Vile Rigidity is another one, that keeps improving your natural armor. Note that both of these diseases are in Book of Vile Darkness right alongside the cancer mage, so... I suppose someone wasn’t paying attention.

That said, without these and other abusive diseases, the cancer mage is probably OK. Drawing the line between what is an abusive disease and what isn’t is tricky though.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Upon rereading disease host, it seems extremely likely that it's supposed to be just disease immunity except the CM's still a carrier. But assuming a traditional reading, besides the GM fiat-heavy festering anger and the admittedly problematic vile rigidity, are there other problematic diseases? Seems sad to consign an otherwise interesting and flavorful class to the scrapheap when the DM can instead just say No to a pair campaign elements under his control anyway. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 10 '15 at 22:20
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan I do not, off-hand, know of any other problematic diseases, but at least for the sake of this answer I’m not comfortable assuming there aren’t any. Diseases are deep into that “the designers always assumed players wouldn’t be messing with this and gave no thought to what would happen if they did” category. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Sep 10 '15 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Reading the BoVD, it does specifically mention its only the cosmetic effects that effect the Cancer Mage with Disease Host - so in the case of Festering Anger, surely they would just get the pustules, but none of the other effects - and just act as a carrier? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeanR
    Sep 11 '15 at 10:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.