Shadowlands Taint

The Shadowlands Taint is a manifestation of Jigoku's corruptive influence on the moral world. It functions as a disease, spreading upon contact, but corrupts the soul as readily as the body. Those subjected to the taint slowly face strange mutations, exhibit unnatural strength and unholy powers, and become violent and malicious as the taint subverts their thoughts and dreams. Corpses suffused with the taint return as undead abominations.

Much like Honor and Glory, one's Taint is representing through Ranks and Points. Whenever a character is exposed to Taint from an outside source, they must make an Earth roll to resist it. The roll's TN depends on the circumstance (from 10 from a simple contact to 30 for being swallowed alive by an oni). Failure means gaining a single point of Taint.

Furthermore, a character infected by the Taint must regularly (once per month for level 0 or 1 infection, twice per month for level 2, once per week for level 3, once per day for level 4) make an Earth roll. The roll's TN is 5 at level 0, then increases by 5 for each level thereafter. Failure means gaining a single point of Taint. A character drinking Jade Petal tea gains +2k2 on such rolls, and living a life of spiritual purity grants from +1k0 to +3k0 on such rolls.

A character can always "embrace the taint" and add +1k1 to any physical roll in exchange for immediately gaining a single point of Taint. This cannot be prevented. Whenever a character has ten points of Taint, they gain one rank instead. The Taint manifests in various symptoms, such as the following:

  • Mutations are the result of gaining ranks in Shadowlands Taint and represent difformities that must be concealed.
  • Minor Shadowlands Powers are powers usable by the least powerful Tainted individuals. Using them forces the user to make an Earth Taint roll (TN 15) or gain an additional point of Taint.
  • Major Shadowlands Powers are powers usable by the most powerful Tainted individuals. Using them forces the user to make an Earth Taint roll (TN 20) or gain an additional point of Taint.
  • Akutenshi Powers are powers usable only by Akutenshi, and by exceedingly rare other individuals. They are otherwise treated as Major Shadowlands Powers.

Taint ranks

Level 0 : Seeds of Darkness
A character with less than a full rank of taint is not treated as actually tainted. Spells that target tainted individuals do not register against them. At worst, they may have a few nightmares.

Level 1 : Passive infection
A character with a full rank of Taint is recognized as Tainted by specific spells and abilities, but otherwise functions as normal. They suffer from occasional nightmare, and may feel sick or tired.

Level 2 : Active infection
A character with two full ranks of Taint now experiences painful symptoms, such as nightmare, nausea and vomiting, muscle tremors, and mild hallucinations. They also develop a single Shadowlands power (minor or major, but most often minor).

Level 3 : Consuming
A character with three full ranks of Taint becomes paranoid and transformed, suffering from a -1k0 penalty to all Social skill roles. They also develop a single Shadowlands power (minor or major), and a physical mutation.

Level 4 : Deadly
A character with four full ranks of Taint barely function in normal society, and are haunted by madness, becoming obsessed with blood, death and flesh. suffering from a -2k0 penalty to all Social skill roles. In stressful situations, they must make Willpower rolls (TN 15) or resort to violence. Their maximum number of Void points is reduced by one. They also develop two Shadowlands powers (at least one major), and one physical mutation. If discovered, the character may be forced to commit seppuku, or be killed as an enemy of the empire.

Level 5 : Lost
A character with five ranks of Taint becomes Lost, unless they are exceptional (such as having one Ring as rank 6 or higher), in which case they wait until seven ranks. Several things can then happen: most often, the character is disintegrated, or becomes permanently mad as it is claimed by the Shadowlands, with all its mental traits reduced to one, and is treated as a creature.

Some characters manage to survive the ordeal as the Lost, or Akutsukai, becoming abominations under the GM's control. They have no longer any penalties for having the Taint, gain 0-3 additional mutations, and 0-3 additional Shadowlands powers. They can no longer embrace the taint, but instead add their Taint rank to all their physical rolls. Although they can be perceived as self-willed, Lost characters are in fact only driven by Jigoku, and are completely evil, without self-will, and with a twisted remnant of their former self as their only personality.

Even rarer are the Akutenshi, truly self-willed abominations. Sometimes claimed to bear the blood of Fu Leng himself, while supposed by others to be powerful Lost imbued with the power of Jigoku itself, Akutenshi exhibit a high level of free will and personality, although the full extent of such attributes is uncertain. Akutenshi can have any number of lesser and greater Shadowlands powers, but always have at least three of each. Furthermore, they have between one and four additional abilities exclusive to Akutenshi and extremely powerful Lost.

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