Drinking & Dragons


From Drinking and Dragons


Exposure to Chthonic powers warps people into shadows of humanity, their minds destroyed, their bodies twisted. Nightmare horrors with mouths where eyes should be, fungal stalks where there once were arms, flesh that now flows like black tar.

Not everyone exposed suffers from corruption and some don’t show signs of it. But unless watched carefully, corruption can grow and fester until the victim finally succumbs, turning into something that can’t even be called human, not anymore.

Manifestations of corruption

Just as there are many causes of corruption, its manifestation is varied. Corruption typically starts small, some minor change that may go unnoticed to anyone but the victim, and is almost always of some benefit. Sharper vision, greater agility, unusual strength.

As the condition progresses, it becomes more and more visible. Though the victim’s abilities may be enhanced to superhuman levels, they also begin to take on characteristics of the Chthonic powers. Bones shift, skin changes texture, teeth sharpen, gills appear, limbs might become more like tentacles, and so on.

There are mental changes too. Victims become more emotionally volatile, pushing away friends and family. As the condition progresses, they become less able to perform higher-order thinking. Motivations shift, and language skills suffer. This is particularly rampant among those who study the language of the Chthonic powers—the words and gestures that create seemingly magical effects. Simply speaking a spell is dangerous, but to learn a spell, to perform it by rote with a modicum of reliability can only be done by allowing the words of the spell to corrupt one’s very psyche.

Corruption clock

Every character has a corruption clock with four quarters, which are filled in as you feel the effects of corruption. When you’re prompted to mark corruption, fill in one space of your corruption clock to show that you are becoming more like the Chthonic powers. Characters who are already corrupted will grow more so as they lean on their uncanny abilities. Even characters who have not yet been infected by the Chthonic powers can mark corruption as the price of using Chthonic technology, performing spells and rituals, or facing off against particularly eldritch creatures. Marking corruption may also be the cost of success at a cost if a character is up close and personal with incomprehensible creatures or in a place beyond imagination. The most common reasons you’ll mark corruption are:

  • Using a corruption stunt
  • Casting a spell
  • As the cost of success for using Old One technology
  • As part of an eldritch horror’s attack against you

The corruption clock doesn’t clear out easily, either—there are only two ways to do so:

  • Clear one corruption space at the end of a session in which you filled no corruption spaces.
  • Clear all of your corruption spaces when you corrupt an aspect.

Filling in your corruption clock

If you ever fill your corruption clock, you fall deeper into the Chthonic powers’ clutches—you must immediately rewrite an aspect into a corrupted aspect, then you clear your corruption clock. At your next minor milestone—or if you get a moment of downtime during the session—fill out the corresponding corruption stunt.

Corrupted Aspects

Corrupted aspects are aspects that have been rewritten because the character has fallen under the power of a Chthonic entity. Because of the influence of ancient, unknowable powers, these aspects are more easily compelled than invoked.

When writing a corrupted aspect, be sure that it reflects the dark, sinister powers that granted it. Spend some time discussing with the GM what the benefits and downsides of that corruption will be. The supernatural influence of the corrupted aspect gives your character a passive benefit, which is true whether you invoke it or not, and new circumstances under which it can be compelled. This aspect marks your character as otherworldly, giving you some broad permission to leverage that aspect, so go for broke when you’re coming up with them.

The first aspect to be corrupted is any free aspect. The last aspect to be corrupted is the high concept.

Once an aspect has been corrupted, it can’t be redeemed through normal means. Corruption is permanent—unless one of your fellows makes the ultimate sacrifice to save you.

If all of your character’s aspects are corrupted, you can still play them, but they will be dangerous and deeply unsettling to work with. However, if their corruption clock fills but they have no more aspects to corrupt, they lose their last shred of humanity. They are no longer playable, having transformed into a shambling monster or mindless servant of the Chthonic powers—a very dangerous NPC.

Corruption Stunts

Tapping into the power of the Chthonic entities lets you do incredible things beyond human capacity. This can manifest as physical abilities, powerful attacks, and access to weird science from out of space and time. Corruption stunts do not cost refresh and cannot be purchased with refresh. The only way to get a corruption stunt is to corrupt an aspect. At creation, a character starts with one corruption stunt per corrupted aspect they have. If a character corrupts an aspect during play, they gain a corruption stunt at the next minor milestone.

Corruption stunts work like normal stunts, but are roughly twice as powerful—when only granting a skill bonus, they give a +4 rather than a +2, and those that create rules exceptions also grant a +2 bonus. And of course, the nature of the stunt must be justified by the aspect that created it—having eyes that glow an eerie violet light is unlikely to give you +4 to Athletics, for instance.

The cost is this: using a corruption stunt makes you mark corruption. That’s the downside of tapping into eldritch power—you risk becoming that which you fight against. Particularly potent corruption stunts may also require you to pay a fate point or take a hit. Keep these in mind as you work out your corruption stunt with your GM.