Shadow World » Magic in the Shadow World » Taint

If the blood of Azrai can be described as a seductive evil, the Shadow World is a place of corruption. Though a paladin of Avani might remain true to her virtues in thought and deed, spending too much time combating the encroachment of the Shadow can erode her body and soul. Less heroic characters might give in to the taint of evil and embrace it, using it to increase their mental or physical prowess.

Taint is a set of optional rules common to the horror genre, and appropriate for a campaign with strong Shadow World themes and adventures. These rules can be found most completely in the Heroes of Horror source book, with a brief version found in Unearthed Arcana.

The taint of the Shadow World comes from prolonged contact with the darkest places, creatures, and objects from that corrupted plane. Once the taint begins to manifest in a character, evil actions that rise to wickedness, and dark thoughts of contamination, including study of the Shadow World, give rise to further taint. Physical taint is called corruption and has physical effects of degeneracy. Mental taint is called depravity and involves nervous and mental symptoms of perversion. Both corruption and depravity are measured in points. Under most circumstances where the characters contact the Shadow World's more evil elements, characters acquire 1 to 3 points of corruption or depravity. Extended contact with Shadow World phenomena of the most dark and sinister nature has the ability to bestow 1 additional point of corruption or depravity every 24 hours.

Places that might be considered evil enough to taint a character in the Shadow World might include a temple to Azrai or the Cold Rider, or a Cerilian temple of Kriesha or Belinik that channels Shadow World powers. An orb of illusion from the Shadow World that grants powers of seeming to its user, the crypt of a lich who dwells in the Shadow World and sustains himself on its dark powers of unlife there. Cerilian battlefields where the war and violence of rival kingdoms has infused the land itself with death, weakening the barrier to the Shadow World, can be sources of taint for character who perform evil acts, cast spells with the evil descriptor, or slay a creature there.

See Also: Shadow enviroments - locations that can result in taint.

[top]Effects of Taint


Any time a character acquires more points of corruption at one time than his current Constitution modifier, he may attempt another Fortitude save (DC 15+points of corruption acquired). If this save is successful, he is sickened for 1d4 rounds; if he fails, he is nauseated for 1d4 rounds.

Any time a character acquires more points of depravity at one time than her current Wisdom modifier, she may attempt another Will save (DC 15+points of corruption acquired). If this save is successful, she is dazed for 1d4 rounds; if she fails, she is stunned for 1d4 rounds.

DMs may increase the DC by as much as 5 for characters in the Shadow World. DMs may also consider extending the time a nauseated or stunned character suffers to 2d4 rounds for characters in the Shadow World. Some effects may get worse in the most dread parts of the Shadow World.

Creatures with the Evil subtype and undead creatures are effectively already completely tainted, and suffer no additional effects from taint. However, they automatically have effective corruption and depravity scores equal to one half their Charisma score, +1 for undead, and +2 for outsiders. This score allows them to qualify for feats or prestige classes based on taint.
Both corruption and depravity manifest in mild, moderate, and severe symptoms. The relationship between a character's taint scores and her Constitution and Wisdom scores respectively determine the severity of physical and mental symptoms of her taint.

To determine the severity of a character's taint symptoms, consult the following table:


Table: Taint Thresholds
Con or Wis ScoreNo TaintMild TaintModerate TaintSevere TaintDead or Insane
1-4012-56-1314+
5-801-34-1112-2728+
9-1201-56-1718-4142+
13-1601-78-2324-5556+
17-2001-910-2930-6970+
21-2401-1112-3536-8384+
25-2801-1314-4142-9798+
29-3201-1516-4748-111112+
33-3601-1718-5354-125126+

No Taint: A character with no taint manifests no symptoms.

Mild Taint: A character who gains her first point of taint crosses the threshold into mild taint and must receive a restoration, heal, or greater restoration spell and have her taint reduced to zero within 24 hours or be permanently afflicted with mild taint. If a character remains tainted at this level for 24 hours, she manifests one minor physical or mental Mild Taint symptom. Once a character manifests symptoms of a minor taint, only a miracle or wish spell can remove the symptom and return the character taint to zero.

Moderate Taint: A character who gains enough taint to cross the threshold into moderate taint must recieve a heal or greater restoration spell and have his taint reduced to mild taint level within 24 hours, or he manifests one moderate physical or mental Moderate Taint symptom. Once a character manifests symptoms of a moderate taint, only a miracle or wish spell can remove the symptom and return the character's to taint to mild. Taint symptoms are cumulative, the moderate symptom does not replace the mild symptom.

Severe Taint: A character who gains enough taint to cross the threshold into severe taint must recieve a greater restoration spell and have his taint reduced to mild taint level within 24 hours, or he manifests one severe physical or mental Severe Taint symptom. Once a character manifests symptoms of a severe taint, only a miracle or wish spell can remove the symptom and return the character's to taint to moderate. Taint symptoms are cumulative, the severe symptom does not replace the moderate symptom.

Corruption and depravity are tracked seperatly based on the amount of taint and the different Con and Wis scores.

[top]Taint and Bonus Feats


When a character aquires moderate taint and additionally when he aquires severe taint, he gains a bonus feat. This can be any feat for which the character has the prerequisites.

If a character takes a feat based on having a certain level of taint, and the character's level of taint drops, the feat becomes inactive until the required level of taint is aquired again.

[top]Resisting Taint


There are natural material objects that absorb taint and protect those who carry these objects. The DM should select a handful of objects appropriate for Cerilia. They might included a silver moon medallion, or an embroidered sash with symbols of the Old Gods who opposed Azrai at Deismaar, or a vial of aqua vita. It is open to the DM to include whatever she feels fits her campaign. Regardless of the item, it costs 100 gp apiece.

As the item absorbs taint it becomes corrupt, darkening and aging or rotting. During this time the object can absorb 7 points of taint.

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