Simple corruption

All magic-user spells are considered black magic. A magic-user has corruption equal to the highest level of magic-user spell that has been cast. Cast a second level spell, congratulations: you are now corruption-2. Make up some interesting (non-mechanical) external manifestation to represent each point of corruption (solid black eyes, snake tongue, whatever). Bonus points if this has some relation to the magic-user’s modus operandi (such as signature spells).

Corruption is:

  • Subtracted from all magical healing
  • A bonus to saving throws against chaos effects
  • Chance in 6 that the magic-user registers as “chaotic” for magical effects or turning
  • A bonus to armor class
  • Chance in 6 that the magic-user ignores non-magical damage
  • HD of terror released into the world upon the magic-user’s death

A point of corruption may be removed using remove curse (the magic-user gets a saving throw if this is not consensual).

Magic-users are “turned” as undead of equivalent hit dice and are prevented from casting while turned. Turned magic-users are not forced to flee (but they probably will if they are smart). Turned magic-users get a saving throw each round to end the turn. Magic-users subject to the D (“destroyed”) effect are not destroyed, but get no saving throws.

touched on this idea previously, but I think this current approach is much better.

Some other variations, courtesy of fine folks on Google Plus:

  1. “D” results are as hold person
  2. “You could make corruption juice explode out of the magic user’s orifices for damage” (Justin W.)
    [Editor: perhaps 1d6 damage per point of extra success on the turn roll?]
  3. Successful turning drains prepared spells (Duncan Y., James S.)
    [Editor: perhaps one spell per point of extra success on the turn roll?]
  4. As above, magic-user loses 2d6 spell levels worth of prepared spells, lower level spells affected first (Brock C.)

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10 thoughts on “Simple corruption

    1. Brendan Post author


      Thanks! Sorry your comment took so long to appear; it was flagged by the spam filter.

  1. guest

    That thing with Remove Curse, is that permanent or are you going to pick up corruption again just from casting?

    Awesome rules.

    1. Brendan Post author

      Thanks! I would not have remove curse be permanent. A cleric can help lift you out of the darkness, but if you go crawling back, that’s on you.

  2. 3d6 h-town

    See ya didn’t put in my D equals a purged MU loss of levels. I understand why now based on how you factor corruption as being the spell level.

  3. LS

    Would a scroll count? This could have a serious impact on giving a 1st level magic user the scroll for a single 6th level spell.

    1. Brendan Post author


      A good question. My inclination would be to say that the corruption would apply to the one creating the scroll, not the one casting it, as spell effects are determined by the creator level not the caster level.

      Though this probably wouldn’t apply to most people, it does also bring up additional consequences for my house rule that magic-users can scribe above level scrolls (one should not be able to jump to corruption-6 by spending 600 GP, for game balance reasons if nothing else).

      An alternative interpretation (that I’m kind of liking right now, but am not totally sold on) is that the process of scroll casting is somehow more stable or safer, and does not generate corruption. That would take care of the game balance concerns, and also provide a method for wizards to work dangerous magics without the risk of corruption (assuming they have the GP and encumbrance slots available).

      What do you think?

      1. LS

        That idea is somewhat similar to something I came up with for a piece of fiction.

        The essentials of it are that magic is actually quite easy to master once you’ve learned the basics, but opening yourself up to magic will drive you immediately insane. The only *safe* way to use magic is to spend decades of your life learning to open yourself to only small amounts of magic, and then rather than send that magic through your own body, you must send it into an item. And those items will never be more than a fraction as powerful as the spells an insane wizard with a week’s training could cast.

        While not perfectly suited for this issue, there’s a certain logic to it. Perhaps scrolls always count for 1/3rd of their level as corruption, for both creator and caster?

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