The world is rotting, the taint of evil spreading inexorably onwards like an oil slick over a calm lake. Greed and depravity rules the media and places of power, physical corruption grows among the urban poor.
- While taint rules have been released under the OGL as part of Oriental Adventures, they were quite primitive. Heroes of Horror contains a better base upon which to build, and is used here. This is not a full copy of those rules.
The taint effects table presented in Heroes of Horror is quite severe—bad effects start with the first whiff of taint, and rapidly grow worse. It is more fitting to start with just cosmetic effects, and slowly work upwards toward the horrific stuff. Taint is seductive, and can draw even the strong-willed in too deep.
- Taint < (Con or Wis)×½ is Negligible Taint. It has only cosmetic effects, such as pale skin or facial tics.
- Taint < (Con or Wis)×1 is Mild Taint.
- Taint < (Con or Wis)×2 is Moderate Taint.
- Taint < (Con or Wis)×3½ is Severe Taint.
The effect of having Mild, Moderate, or Severe taint are as presented in Heroes of Horror.
People usually gain corruption from prolonged exposure to urban wasteland, toxic waste, some Pentex products, and possession by Bane spirits. Normal people cannot see the effects of major corruption, their minds simply refuse to register what the eyes report. Cameras are not affected by this masking, so the corrupt must be careful to avoid unmasking as the freaks they are.
Undead and most aberrations and outsiders are immune to the effects of corruption. They have a fixed corruption score equal to one-half their Charisma score (+1 for undead, +2 for outsiders) to determine how easy they are to find with taint-detecting spells and abilities, but they cannot gain corruption, and suffer none of the debilitating effects of a high corruption score. They can use their corruption to qualify for feats.
People who exceed Severe Corruption sometimes turn into fiends, but more commonly they become permanently possessed by a bane spirit and turn into fomori.
There is a link between corruption and mutations. People receive mutation points equal to half their corruption score. Conversely, each mutation point gained from other sources always come with a point of corruption as well.
People gain depravity for many evil and twisted acts, such as dealing with the Elder Gods. Certain magics often cause depravity, most notably Necromancy.
People who exceed Severe Depravity become permanently insane.
Certain supernatural creatures have the ability to Incite Depravity in a victim. This depravity is always aspected, usually towards one of the classical seven sins (anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth). The attacker makes a Persuasion check, tempting the target (or flattering him for pride, or speaking badly of his enemies for anger and envy, etc). If the check equals or exceeds the target's Will defense, the target gains a point of depravity and is temporarily overcome by the incited emotion.
The effects and duration vary, depending on the victim's degree of depravity and personality. Since the effect comes from the victim's inner darkness, he will not be aware that he has been manipulated. It will just seem like one of his normal urges or uncertainties, somewhat magnified. At negligible depravity, it might last as little as 1d6 rounds if no immediate opportunity to indulge in the sin presents itself. At severe depravity, the effect can last for months, and will be much stronger.
If the incited depravity is enough to push the victim to a higher depravity level, his personality permanently warps towards that sin.
Taint is very difficult to remove.
- An action point can be spent as a swift action to remove one point of Taint.
- If cast within 24 hours of gaining taint, a restoration spell can remove 1 point per four caster levels.
- There is a lake of molten silver in the far reaches of the shadow world where taint can be boiled away, but few know the way, and the cure is supremely painful.
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