Following the Trail of Evil
Taint and the Shadowlands
History of the Taint and the Shadowlands
The Taint is a force of deepest evil, older than written record, which can inhabit any creature, object, or environment.
The Taint was born in the Shadowlands, slowly blackening and consuming all in its path. Every few years, people venture into the unclean land.
Some seek fame.
Some seek revenge.
Some seek forgotten relics.
All can be broken.
When confronted by the dangers of the Shadowlands, such human desires must be put aside. Indeed, you struggle for your sanity and your soul. No one is incorruptible.
Fortunately, through religion, magic, and superstition, several countermeasures have evolved over the years. That said, totems and the like only slow the effects of the Taint – there are only a few ways to truly cleanse yourself. The dead can only be cleansed with fire and prayer.
Clerics have the Detect Taint spell or spell-like ability, which is identical to Detect Evil, but instead detects the presence of taint within a creature, object, or location.
Some natural substances absorb taint and thus protect those who are exposed. Examples include a pure jade rod the size of a human finger, a sheet of vellum prepared from a year-old lamb, an intricately carved piece of lightning struck oak, or a silk sash. For the purposes of this campaign, other items are acceptable if you run them past the DM. As an item absorbs taint, it darkens, softens, and gradually rots away over seven days. During that time, it absorbs all taint to which the carrier is exposed.
Effects of Taint (Here’s Where Things Get Nasty):
A character’s taint score applies as a penalty to his Constitution and Wisdom scores. These penalties reflect the taint’s impact on the character’s physical and mental health. A tainted character experiences the penalties in a variety of ways, from mild nausea, joint pain, or disorientation to rotting flesh, severe skeletal warping, and irresistible murderous rage. A character who has lost less than 50% of his Constitution to taint is Mildly Tainted. A character who has lost 50% of his Constitution is Moderately Tainted. A character who has lost 75% of his Constitution is Severely Tainted.
If a character’s Constitution score reaches 0 from the effects of taint, he dies, and 1d6 hours later rises as a hideous, evil creature under the control of the DM. Any creature that dies while exposed to taint animates in 1d4 hours as an undead creature, usually a zombie. Burning a corpse protects it from this effect.