Friday, January 11, 2013

Alternate Rules: Taint

Ok, so in a previous post I talked about wanting to alter the way magic works in Hekinoe to cause taint. Looking through the Heroes of Horror 3.5 book (on a side note, the Heroes of Horror and Battle are both really good sourcebooks) there is a system for physical corruption and mental depravity based on evil. I've no interest in mental stuff, I want sorcery to corrupt the physical body of the caster and my campaign has no alignments and no concept of ultimate evil and ultimate good. Shit is what it is and it isn't intrinsically linked to the cosmos or anything.

So the way it works in Heroes of Horror is that you do bad things and accrue corruption points. When you get permanent corruption, nasty physical side effects occur like swollen gums, peeling skin, etc. As your corruption increases, these side effects get worse and they all have negative effects on gameplay. There are four ranks of corruption, none, mild, moderate, and severe. You start at none and as you achieve a new rank of corruption, you gain a bonus feat. Additionally, the amount of corruption it takes you to rank up is dependent upon your Constitution score. Depravity is based upon Wisdom and uses a similar system, but we don't care about depravity here. I want sorcery to manipulate flesh, not drive casters crazy.

Now, here is what I am proposing with spells causing corruption in Hekinoe, specifically The Known World. My thought is that when a spellcaster casts a spell, regardless of whether or not it misfires, he makes a Fortitude save with a DC of like 10 or 12 plus the spell's level. If he saves, he is fine, if he fails, he adds corruption points. My thought is that 0 through 3rd level spells add one point of corruption, 4th through 6th add 1d4, 7th and 8th add 1d6, and 9th level spells add 1d8. Instead of just gaining any feat you qualify for when your corruption rank increases, you can only gain a bonus Warped Flesh feat. There would of course be feats to improve your saves vs. corruption and to reduce the amount you take from failing a save. This system would also remove the mandatory Warped Flesh feats that I make spellcasters take at first level.

This system would only affect living creatures, not Fallen, Rankethlek, or Soulless. I also feel like the spell resistance of Vyanth and some Sereth would offer some sort of resistance to it as well. Like their corruption is at 0 until they have more corruption than their spell resistance, then they move into mild corruption. Spell resistance would kind of offer a buffer against corruption, but I think innate spell resistance provided by a race or class feature should be the only kind of spell resistance to do this. Obviously, power resistance would not affect this. 

I am almost positive I'll be adding this rule into the campaign book, but I have no intention of altering the way current characters work. Plus, magic works fine in Orcunraytrel. Also, while I am thinking of it, it would also be a much better explanation as to why the original Robust Five became so mutated and damaged when Nakmander cloned them than just saying magic did it. 


  1. Going back to Dark Sun via preservers and defilers: what about a way to "power down" your spell to cause less corruption? ... somewhat similar to how preservers had to hold back on their spell casting as not to damage the natural world too much.

  2. Eh, I'm not sure altering the power of spells on the fly is practical, Lance. With spells with variables, like fireball, it wouldn't be too hard, but what about wish? It has no variable components to reduce its power output, nor does clone, nor do many 0-level spells. I think a few feats to offer increased saves against corruption, reduced absorption of corruption points, and that sort of thing are more practical than finding a way to reduce the power of spells like some sort of anti-metamagic feat ability.

  3. Also you said taint ... he he he.