Diseases of IIo: The Culling

Known by many names throughout history, the Culling is a unique affliction that seems to strike native creatures of IIo exclusively. In particular, those unfortunate creatures whose genetics and evolutionary lines were drastically altered by the magickal intervention of the high elves; that is, the Tauren Races: centaurs, minotaurs, merfolk, icthaylians, harpies, giants, and humes (amongst others).

And yet, to the dismay of healers everywhere, the Culling is not technically a disease. In only the most extreme cases (usually cannibalism or magickal transferrences) does the Culling pass from creature to creature, and indeed, from all accounts, it appears as though the Culling is present in varying degrees in every member of the Tauren races from birth.

The Culling does spread through a creature however. As it spreads, the Culling actually mutates the creature's own cells to use against it. But what drives the spread?

The most fearful property of the Culling, and how it came by its current moniker, is that it feeds on the magicks of its host.

Innumerable are the great and powerful creatures throughout history that have had their own considerable magicks used against them before being struck down by this most deadly affliction. The greater one becomes, the more powerful and deadly the Culling within them becomes.

There are many that believe the Culling is a curse designed to keep the natives of IIo weak, but there are a few scholars that fear another, more nefarious origin to this great disease.
In laboratories and in the behavior of the terrible undead created after a death from the Culling, these scholars have noticed a strange tendency and have come up with a terrible hypothesis. The cells of the Culling live on, independent of the host and empowered by the host, and what's more: the cells are actually attracted to each other! These scholars believe that the Culling is merely the first stage in the development of a world destroying plague--one that will not discriminate between natives of IIo and aliens.

Sidebar: Goblins and the Culling

Many are the adventurers that are incredulous over the goblin practice of eating out the hearts of their enemies. Are hearts that great a delicacy in the goblin world? Is there more than intimidation and social dominance involved in the practice? And why on the planet do the goblins prefer the creatures to still be alive when they begin dining?

In truth, the Culling is the primary reason for the practice. No matter what symptoms are present in the living specimen, the greatest concentration of the Culling gravitates and collects around and in the heart. By ingesting the heart, the goblins are ingesting the Culling, and amazingly, this empowers them.

There have been numerous attempts by non-goblinoids to gain power through cannibalism of Tauren creatures, but these attempts nearly always result in death, and frequently in the genesis of an undead after death. Those that survive suffer horrible mutation or some other terrible affliction, usually along with madness.