On The Nature Of Corruption
The most unexplainable thing about Reality is that we seem to be able to understand it at all.
The cosmos is not only queerer than we suppose, it is queerer than we can suppose.1 Infrequently discussed in grim tones among morbid scholars are the more disturbing implications of a cosmos which carries on in orderly banality punctuated by instances of dreadful madness. Are these fleeting events, aberrant creatures and tainted locales just the expected, if fantastic, features of the whimsical nature of Magic? That is, given how ubiquitous and profoundly influential the forces of Magic are, could one rightly not expect the unexpected?
Many refuse to broach of the topic of Corruption at all, brushing off attempts to observe, discuss and understand it as the dangerous obsessions of potentially-blasphemous heretics.
But of course sages are not known for their lack of curiosity. Quietly, worriedly, a furtive cabal of intellectuals and mages has been approaching a horrifying consensus which is perhaps best phrased as a question, given its tentative and undesirable nature:
What if our universe, with all its mortal-graspable and predictable behavior, were a cancerous blight nucleating within a far greater Reality — one which is both inimical to our existence… and which is fighting to contain the infection?
And what if it wins the fight to survive?
Some places, experiences, creatures or objects are so far removed from the natural order, that they border upon insanity itself. Even some magics can open a channel to expose our world to the corrupting influence of unreality. By its very nature, the meta-real is ultimately incomprehensible, and introduction to it is disastrous, not just to the physicality of creatures and environments who are exposed, but to their very sanity and souls which are themselves mere conceits of our comfortable cosmological womb.
As befits its irrationality, Corruption does not behave too much like other afflictions such as Poison or Disease except in the most gross sense. Fundamentally, Corruption is a blight upon reality itself, and to resist it is a herculean act of willpower to defy forces which threaten to unmake existence as we know it.
- Spell Resistance offers no direct protection against Corruption
- The more Corrupted a creature is, the more difficult it is to resist further debasement
- Certain substances, magics and objects can offer limited protection against Corruption
- Alignment has no effect upon Corruption, though the outlook of severely Corrupted beings is usually so warped that it might be safest to just regard them as “evil”
- Certain magics, potent magical items, secret places or powerful beings can cleanse Corruption
- Likewise, certain magics, tainted magical items, blighted places and beings of madness can spread Corruption
Keeping Track Of Corruption
Most Corrupting effects allow a Will Save to negate or reduce the number of points of Corruption which the victim creature or object sustains. You take a penalty on Will Saves to resist gaining new Corruption points equal to the number of Perversions you currently have. Certain places might be extremely dangerous to remain within for very long: just by wandering through the area, creatures expose themselves to the background taint unless they take steps to protect themselves. For those who know what to look for, the strength of local Corruption can be estimated: the stronger the taint, the less “solid” reality seems to be as it struggles to retain even the fundamental properties of locality and causality.
The number of points of Corruption a creature has accumulated is kept track of as a separate running total. Every time this running total passes a multiple of the creature’s Wisdom score, it gains a single Perversion.
Likewise, effects which remove Perversions also reduce the creature’s running total of Corruption by an amount equal to their Wisdom score for each Perversion removed.
Creatures which have a total number of Perversions equal to half their Hit Die (minimum 1) collapse into dangerous writhing masses of quasi-real insanity and might soon unravel completely. In any case, this horrific fate represents a “point of no return” as the transformation is essentially permanent: it’s an inevitable downhill slide into non-existence from here. Some Feats, magical equipment or spells might, either permanently or temporarily, increase the maximum number of Perversions a creature can endure.
The Effects Of Corruption
Although most sane beings would be horrified at the implications of discovering they were Corrupted by the encroachment of a meta-reality which is absolutely antithetical to our notions of existence, the short-term effects are not necessarily immediately dangerous even if they are usually painful, repulsive or disturbing. The most obvious effects of Corruption are known as Perversions which alter the physical and spiritual nature of a being.
Refer to the section concerning Perversions for more detailed information.
Protections Against Corruption
Certain spells can temporarily protect a subject from the effects of Corruption if they are exposed, either mitigating it or absorbing it completely. With practice and endurance, a creature might even develop a measure of innate resistance to the effects of the unreal in the form of Feats which represent a degree of inurement. Some items, either mundane or magical, can also protect their bearers.
The most common means of removing Corruption once a creature has been tainted is by magic, though certain hidden places, items or even the blessings of powerful entities can cleanse some Corruption as well. The following spells have augmented functionality:
|Lesser Restoration||Also cleanses 1 point of Corruption, unless doing so would reduce the target’s total Corruption below the minimum number required to have the number of Perversions which the creature currently has.|
|Restoration||Also reduces the current total of Corruption to the minimum required to have the number of Perversions which the creature currently has. If 1,000gp-worth of diamond dust are used as the spell’s Material Component, this spell removes one Perversion and then reduces the current total of Corruption to the minimum required to have the number of Perversions which the creature then has. This spell cannot be used to cleanse more than one Perversion possessed by a target in a 1-week period.|
|Greater Restoration||Also removes five Perversions and then reduces the current total of Corruption to the minimum required to have the number of Perversions which the creature then has.|
|Wish and Miracle||Either spell can remove all Perversions from a target and reduce the current total of Corruption to zero.|
Jade As A Talisman Against Corruption
Jade can protect a creature just by being carried in a pocket, though it is very commonly worked into the design of bangles, earrings, brooches and other ornamentation. Jade can absorb a limited amount of Corruption, blackening progressively like gangrenous flesh, before it crumbles apart completely, forever ruined and useless. The larger and purer the shard, the more total Corruption it can absorb, and therefore the longer it can protect its bearer. Priceless stones as large as a wheelbarrow are sometimes found in the depths of the world, and they are quickly snapped up by interested parties either as objects prized for their utility or by commodity traders simply sniping a profit. Stones of that size can protect an entire caravan as it travels through tainted lands, though larger stones are also seldom of very high purity, so they don't last especially long. Those in the trade loosely categorize Jade by its grade (that is to say, its purity) and size, the two variables which determine how much Corruption the object can absorb, and price each pebble, shard and stone accordingly.
Discrete Jade stones exposed to Corruption all absorb the taint at the same rate simultaneously. Thus, every bead on a strand will disintegrate simultaneously within a tainted area, rather than crumbling one after another in sequence. So long as your Jade talisman can still absorb Corruption, you do not receive any, although if there is any leftover still incoming after your Jade is destroyed, the remaining Corruption then goes to you. Jade absorbs Corruption before it ever gets to you, so you don't get to make a save (if any is allowed) to halve the incoming Corruption before it damages the Jade.
|Grade or Purity||Price by weight||Capacity by weight|
|Low Grade||200g / oz.||5 CP / oz.|
|Modest Grade||500g / oz.||10 CP / oz.|
|High Grade||1,200g / oz.||15 CP / oz.|
This page was lifted wholecloth from another campaign by Ripples.