Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle
Corruption and Taint
One of the greatest powers of darkness has been its ability to corrupt and influence others. Even those of good intention and pure heart have been corrupted by the often-subtle taint of evil.
Exposure to extreme darkness or evil can corrupt the body, mind, and soul, forever changing the person that was exposed.
Corruption and Taint are two separate things on Ondoron, and function as opposite sides of the same coin. Corruption is the physical strain of being exposed to absolute evil, corruption, and darkness. It weakens the body and changes it. Severe exposure can cause a creature’s body to decay and become similar to that of an undead – or if severe enough, can even change the person into a true undead. Corruption attacks the Constitution of the victim.
Taint is the psychological, spiritual, and mental trauma inflicted by exposure to extreme evil and darkness. Severe exposure to taint can cause the victim to develop insanity or a change in alignment towards evil. In extreme cases, the spirit of the victim can leave the body behind and become one of the tortured spiritual undead or to become a near-mindless killing machine intent upon inflicting as much destruction as possible to fill the eternal void of darkness that has opened within their soul. Taint attacks the Wisdom of the victim.
The feat Pure Soul renders a PC immune to taint, but it does not render them immune to corruption.
Exposure to Corruption or Taint
When exposed to Corruption or Taint, a PC will usually receive some form of saving throw to reduce or negate the damage. In the event that the victim suffers some corruption or taint, that value is recorded and added to any existing corruption or taint (corruption stacks with corruption, taint stacks with taint. Corruption and Taint do not add together.) The total amount of corruption or taint is compared to the relevant stat of the character (the creature’s corruption score is compared to its current Constitution score. The creature’s taint score is compared to its current Wisdom score). The various levels of exposure are shown on the chart below:
|Corruption Description||Corruption Score Is…||Taint Description||Taint Score Is…|
|None||0 or less||None||0 or less|
|Minor Corruption||between 1 and half current Con stat||Minor Taint||between 1 and half current Wis value|
|Moderate Corruption||equal to or greater than half current Con stat, but less than current Con stat||Moderate Taint||equal to or greater than half current Wis stat, but less than current Wis stat|
|Severe Corruption||equal to or greater than current Con stat, but less than double current Con stat||Severe Taint||equal to or greater than current Wis stat, but less than double current Wis stat|
|Dead or Worse||equal or greater than double current Con stat||Dead or Worse||equal to or greater than double current Wis stat|
It should be noted that the severity of the corruption or taint is determined by the current Constitution or Wisdom (respectively) stats of the character. This means that ability damage to a character with corruption and/or taint can be devastating, escalating a minor taint to a severe one in a matter of rounds.
Effects of Corruption and Taint
The effects of corruption and taint are many and varied. The below chart gives an idea of the possible penalties associated with each level. The exact penalty is subject to the type of corruption/taint the character was exposed to and determined by the GM.
|Corruption Category||Possible Corruption Effect||Taint Category||Possible Taint Effect|
|Minor Corruption||No game effects. Some possible cosmetic changes such as dark circles under the eyes or graying hair after several points of corruption have been acquired.||Minor Taint||No game effects. Some possible minor role-playing effects such as nightmares or seeing/hearing things that aren’t there from time to time after several points of taint have been acquired.|
|Moderate Corruption||Body is weakened. -2 to Fortitude saves, -2 to Reflex saves, -2 to ability and skill checks related to one physical stat||Moderate Taint||Mind is weakened. -2 Will saves, -2 to ability and skill checks related to one mental stat, acquire a milder form of insanity|
|Severe Corruption||Body severely scarred by evil. Gain some undead traits, dramatic physical appearance changes, such as diseased or rotting flesh, glowing or oddly-colored eyes, or premature aging, -4 Fort or Reflex saves, or -2 to both, -4 penalty to ability and skill checks tied to 1 physical ability, or -2 to ability checks/skill checks for 2 physical ability scores||Severe Taint||Mind and soul severely scarred by exposure to evil. Gain a severe insanity, alignment shift up to two points, -4 Will saves, -4 penalty to ability and skill checks tied to 1 mental ability, or -2 to ability checks/skill checks for 2 mental ability scores|
|Dead or Worse||Body is corrupted beyond repair. Corruption can no longer be healed. Character’s physical body dies, PC acquires a template, or becomes fully undead. Body cannot be raised or resurrected by any means short of true resurrection, miracle, or wish.||Dead or Worse||Character’s mind and soul ravaged virtually beyond repair. The character’s body dies from psychic backlash, gains a template, becomes an incorporeal undead, or is possessed by a demon. Only a wish or a miracle can repair a mind or soul broken to this point. Resurrecting a body without repairing the soul can have devastating consequences.|
Ability Score Modifiers and Corruption/Taint
Corruption and taint are a one-way trip, and a character stays in the most severe category they have reached, regardless of the current ability score. For instance, if a character had moderate taint and then found a headband of wisdom and his new wisdom score would put his taint score in the minor taint category, the character would remain at moderate taint. If the character then gained a few more points of taint and would then go to moderate taint with his new Wisdom score, he would once again remain at moderate taint.
If a character is bumped up from a lower corruption or taint category due to ability damage or drain, then she gains the more severe category and keeps it, even if her ability score later goes back to normal. This makes poisons, undead, and certain spells extremely dangerous to people with corruption or taint.
The only way to improve a creature’s corruption or taint status is through magical aid. If magical restoration brings a corruption or taint category down, then the category goes down to the new level and the penalty reduces accordingly. For instance, a character with severe corruption receives enough healing to reduce his corruption score to the moderate corruption rating. He would be considered to have moderate corruption and would lose his penalty for severe corruption and would instead gain a moderate corruption penalty in its place.
Getting Rid of Corruption or Taint
(More info to come)
What Causes Corruption and Taint?
Fortunately, very few things cause corruption or taint. Exposure to extremely powerful evil outsiders, certain dark artifacts, and locations that have been steeped in supernatural corruption or taint (such as traveling through Hell or walking on Old Din’Garreth or deep in the Blood Plains) are the most common sources of corruption and taint. Even then, saving throws are generally allowed to reduce or negate.
Evil, Corruption, and Taint
Even though someone with corruption and taint may not necessarily be evil in alignment, the effects of exposure to darkness still leaves an imprint upon the corrupted or tainted individual. A creature that is not evil in alignment but that has at least Moderate Corruption or Moderate Taint detects as if they were an evil creature of their type to spells and effects like detect evil, but 4 HD less than they currently have. Smite Evil and effects that target or have specific effects on Evil creatures do not have any effect on someone with a category of Moderate Corruption or Moderate taint or less.
A non-evil creature that has Severe Corruption or Severe Taint (or worse), detects as evil to detect evil and similar effects. Smite Evil and effects that target or that have special effects on Evil creatures affect the creature as if it were evil.