Limitless Worlds

Limitless Worlds

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blood & Treasure - Corruption

Archibald the Grand,
13th level sorcerer with a severe corruption
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and no force on earth is more powerful than arcane magic. When you cast a spell, you deal with mystical energies man was never meant to tamper with, let alone know about. Magic involves bending and breaking the laws of the universe, and some beings beyond mortal ken do not appreciate little specks of dirt meddling in their realms. They know mortals can not handle the universal power of magic, and they can see it in the very physical corruption of magic-users.

Corruption is an optional rule to make casting spells more dangerous for arcane casters, namely the magic-user and sorcerer. While the bard and the assassin both use magic, they access it through different and safer means. Clerics, druids, rangers and paladins must appeal to deities to keep their powers, so a check is already placed against them. However, magic-users and sorcerers, who have almost unlimited access to powerful energies, risk their humanity with every spell cast.

When a magic-user or sorcerer casts a spell, they must make a Will save, often called a "casting roll". This save has a penalty on it equal to the level of the spell being cast. Thus, a level 10 magic-user casting a level 4 spell would have to roll higher than 14 on their save. Regardless if they fail or not, the spell is cast. However, if the save is failed, the caster suffers corruption. Corruption comes in three levels: minor, major and severe. The level of corruption is determined by the difference in what you rolled and the Will save. To go back to the 10th level wizard, if the caster rolled a 10, the difference would be 4 and the caster
would obtain a minor corruption. If he rolled a 5, the difference would be 9 and would result in a major corruption. The ranges are listed below:

1 to 5, Minor
6 to 10, Major
11+, Severe

As a small gift, cantrips don't require casting rolls.

Corruption Tables

Below are some example tables to randomly roll for corruptions. These are not iron clad, and can be added to or taken away from. The basic rule is minor corruptions are small and sometimes temporary, major marks you as unnatural, and severe change your character entirely. The penalties to Charisma only apply to interactions with others; a sorcerer's spellcasting is not affected by being corrupted.

Minor Corruption

Minor corruptions are small changes that are not always permanent. Every time you gain a minor corruption, you gain a cumulative 5% chance that the change is permanent. Otherwise, the malady disappears at sunrise. Usually these changes can be concealed, but if they are revealed, they give a -1 penalty to Charisma for each corruption.

1. Your skin/hair/eyes/teeth and nails (1d4) take on an unnatural hue (for your race).
2. All your hair falls out, including body hair. If not permanent, regrows at the natural rate. Alternatively, you could grow a thicker layer of hair.
3. You give off a strong, unnatural odor like brimstone, burnt ozone or decay.
4. You obtain a strange tick, such as a twitchy eye, nervous whistling or constantly biting your nails.
5. You become extrmely paranoid something is out to get you.
6. You whisper blasphemous things under your breath.
7. You see things that aren't there, such as phantom shadows or unowned footfalls.
8. You hear things that aren't there; voices, growls, whispers, etc.
9. Food and drink tastes rotted to you, and possibly appears ass such.
10. You have terrible dreams of strange creatures, locales and beings stronger than the gods

Major Corruption

Major corruptions impart major physical or mental changes on the user. They are always permanent. Each corruption always impart a -2 penalty to Charisma, unless the change can somehow be hidden (which is quite difficult)

1. You grow 1d2 new eyes. They are usually on your face, but they could be elsewhere. Imparts no abilities
2. Grow a new mouth, either on your palms or torso. They can inflict a bite attack that deals 1d6 damage.
3. Your skin breaks out in disgusting, putrid boils.
4. You ooze something when you cast a spell, such as bile, blood, vomit, etc.
5. Something unhinges in your mind. Once a day, you can converse in Felltongue, a blasphemous language that anyone can understand but usually terrifies the listener
6. Something is following you, for real this time. It's always behind you, waiting until your vulnerable to destroy your very being.
7. You grow or shrink in size noticeably, up to a foot either way. This does not look like natural growth; your body is the same size, but your limbs are unnaturally
long or short.
8. You become either extremely corpulent or as skinny as a rail. No matter what you eat or how much, you are never satisfied
9. You hunger for something strange; human flesh, souls, gems and so on
10. You skin constantly peels and cracks painfully.
11. Your bones become very brittle; falling even a few feet could possibly result in a broken limb.
12. Something speaks to you directly, inhabiting your headspace. It could be a demon, an outsider or just your raving delusions, but the voice is real and speaks
to you
13. You open a gate to a realm that man was never meant to see for only a moment. You are forever haunted by its contents.
14. Some part of you takes on an animalistic appearance. Your arms grow scales, your fingers gain octopus-like suckers and so on. Usually hard to conceal without a robe
15. You see a vision of someone close to you, showcasing how they will die. You will be helpless to change the outcome. Sometimes, you view your own death
16. Holy items are painful for you to touch, dealing 2d6 damage on simple touch. It is difficult for you to enter churches or other places of worship
17. You can see magic. Not spells, but the very threads of magic inherent in the atmosphere. They are both beautiful and terrifying
18. You give off am ambient energy. It could be unnatural heat, malevolence, sickness or anything else
19. You have gained some god's ire. While they are usually not too concerned to do anything personally, you may start fighting an unusually high number of that god's faithful
20. Some people or creatures start to view you as an avatar of chaos, for better or worse.


Sever corruptions should always be unique and possibly campaign changing. If you gain a severe corruption, many humanoids will now believe you to be a monster and you'll have a difficult time interacting with civilization. Common changes involve new limbs, becoming clinically insane, being sucked into another dimension, instant death by being ripped apart by invisible forces, your body becoming composed of hive-mind worms and so on. As a rule of thumb, about 25% of severe corruptions result in characters dying or becoming NPCs. The rest are major changes.

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