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Magic/Spellcaster Corruption in BRP?


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In my 2 ongoing threads, Bastard Sword: A Fantasy Setting and ISO: BRP Magic Systems, I mention that instead of Sanity (which I am still not 100% sure I am ruling out), I would love to have a Corruption mechanic where in as the magic using characters get more and more into magic they start to show physical signs of the corrupting influence of the dark arts.

Dungeon Crawl Classics has such an idea, but theirs is based around spell fumbles. I like that, but I love the idea of a slow creeping doom. The idea is that ALL magic, even white magic, if abused or overused, will cause corruption.

First question is, does such a mechanic exist already in a BRP game?

Second question is, if not, how would you do it? 

The criteria for what I am seeking is as follows;

1] A trackable resource like Sanity.

2] A clear save mechanic that results in corruption point accumulation. (Could this also apply to morality maybe, doing corrupt acts could in turn give you corruption, even if non-magical?)

3] A table, or tables, like the Sanity ones, where players roll to determine the effects of their corruption.

I look forward to discussing this with you all.

Cheers!

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Mythic Iceland used the allegiance mechanics to show advancement in the worship of their chosen god and corruption by Loki.

If you want the save roll to be something that is easily resisted at first, but then spirals out of control as the corruption take hold then use POW vs Corruption Points on the resistance table.

Or roll under (POWx5)-Corruption Points as the save for a more linear progression.

I would use a variant of the allegiance mechanics to determine the effects of the corruption. As the corruption points pass thresholds then certain conditions can take hold. Here's a quick example:

Corruption Points          Effect
10                                   Mark of the Corrupt. Roll or choose one of the following:
                                       1. Flame glows blue in your presence,
                                       2. Animals are scared of you and shy away from you.
                                       3. Your eyes become different colours.
                                       4. You give off a faint smell of brimstone.
                                       5. People feel uneasy in your presence.
                                       6. You have a prominent birthmark that looks like a symbol belonging to an evil cult/religion.

25                                  Once per day you can use your corruption points as temporary magic points. Your corruption points
                                      will increase by the number of magic points used in this way. This is in addition to any points you'd normally get for casting the spell.

 

You can add more stuff as needed and anything beneficial should come with a cost.

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55 minutes ago, Greville said:

Mythic Iceland used the allegiance mechanics to show advancement in the worship of their chosen god and corruption by Loki.

If you want the save roll to be something that is easily resisted at first, but then spirals out of control as the corruption take hold then use POW vs Corruption Points on the resistance table.

Or roll under (POWx5)-Corruption Points as the save for a more linear progression.

I would use a variant of the allegiance mechanics to determine the effects of the corruption. As the corruption points pass thresholds then certain conditions can take hold. Here's a quick example:

Corruption Points          Effect
10                                   Mark of the Corrupt. Roll or choose one of the following:
                                       1. Flame glows blue in your presence,
                                       2. Animals are scared of you and shy away from you.
                                       3. Your eyes become different colours.
                                       4. You give off a faint smell of brimstone.
                                       5. People feel uneasy in your presence.
                                       6. You have a prominent birthmark that looks like a symbol belonging to an evil cult/religion.

25                                  Once per day you can use your corruption points as temporary magic points. Your corruption points
                                      will increase by the number of magic points used in this way. This is in addition to any points you'd normally get for casting the spell.

 

You can add more stuff as needed and anything beneficial should come with a cost.

This is bloody brilliant mate!

Thank you so much, this is exactly the king of thing I was looking for :)

Is this your creation? I want to give credit where due.

Cheers!

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You're welcome 😀

Let's call it a collaboration, rather than a creation. I'd been thinking of the Allegiance mechanics in BRP for a while. The way they're used in Mythic Iceland really highlighted how well they can they can show gradual changes over time. They're also good for simulating level based abilities/effects I've seen in other games.

I'm going to use it for powerful magical items, where more powerful abilities get unlocked as you show yourself worthy (getting more points). But I hadn't thought of using it for magical corruption until I saw your post.

Your game sounds pretty cool, I hope you have fun with it.

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IMHO, Magic Corruption is not something that should only be accumulated when one casts a spell, but also when he learns magic, and when he has long or semi-permanent ongoing magic cast on him.

I mean, before you cast a spell in-play, you had to learn and experience it, and I don't think it should be possible to have a skill of 90% without having more corruption than one with a skill of 20%.

Of course, you can have academic knowledge of "dark arts", but IMHO it should not be enough to cast such spells.

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12 hours ago, Mugen said:

IMHO, Magic Corruption is not something that should only be accumulated when one casts a spell, but also when he learns magic, and when he has long or semi-permanent ongoing magic cast on him.

I agree. I think it sort of fits the whole idea of a sorcery reading forbidden lore in his tower and slowly becoming corrupted.

 

On 2/3/2021 at 8:37 AM, Andrew Collas Presents... said:

First question is, does such a mechanic exist already in a BRP game?

Second question is, if not, how would you do it? 

I'd probably go take a good look at Decipher's Lord of the Ring RPG. Middle Earth's danger of magic (actually lust for power in general) leading to corruption seems suspiciously close to what you are aiming for. As I have LOTR I did just take a quick look and...

In that game a character who get exposed to "dangerous influences"  or succumbs to evil tempation may suffer the effects of corruption, which is rated in points. Basically this works out as a Willpower roll opposed by the strong of the temptation.

 

For magic, some spells (typically those that dominate or enslave the target) are considered to be Sorcery, and can lead to corruption, while others (such as healing) do not. Learning sorcery earns a character 1 Corruption Point automatically. There are each casting requires a Willpower roll to resist corruption with the difficulty increasing as the character become more corrupt. Note this this is all based on a system based on 2d6 and not % dice.

In BRP terms this could be handled with an opposed Willpower (POWx5%) roll vs Corruption or as a simple WIllpower statl with corruption points being subtracted, much like how CoC handles Sanity.  

 

When a character fails the corruption roll he earns additional corruption points based upon the degree of failure and the character must act in an appropriate matter in regard to the corruption (i.e. throttling your cousin to get that nice ring he found).

If the Corruption points reach a certain total then the character gets thoroughly corrupt and gets turned into a evil NPC. IN BRP terms this would probably mean greater than thier POW socre, or by having their WIll roll reduced to 0. 

 

Anyway, that's one way to handle it.

 

 

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On 2/9/2021 at 2:27 PM, Atgxtg said:

I agree. I think it sort of fits the whole idea of a sorcery reading forbidden lore in his tower and slowly becoming corrupted.

Agreed 100%

On 2/9/2021 at 2:27 PM, Atgxtg said:

I'd probably go take a good look at Decipher's Lord of the Ring RPG. Middle Earth's danger of magic (actually lust for power in general) leading to corruption seems suspiciously close to what you are aiming for. As I have LOTR I did just take a quick look and...

You are talking to Captain CODA! LOL, I loved that system and regretted it's demise 😞

On 2/9/2021 at 2:27 PM, Atgxtg said:

In BRP terms this could be handled with an opposed Willpower (POWx5%) roll vs Corruption or as a simple WIllpower statl with corruption points being subtracted, much like how CoC handles Sanity.  

When a character fails the corruption roll he earns additional corruption points based upon the degree of failure and the character must act in an appropriate matter in regard to the corruption (i.e. throttling your cousin to get that nice ring he found).

If the Corruption points reach a certain total then the character gets thoroughly corrupt and gets turned into a evil NPC. IN BRP terms this would probably mean greater than thier POW socre, or by having their WIll roll reduced to 0. 

This is in line with Greville suggested as well 🙂

I think there is a system in here, just need to figure it out.

BE HEROIC!

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14 hours ago, Zenith Comics Presents... said:

Agreed 100%

You are talking to Captain CODA! LOL, I loved that system and regretted it's demise 😞

I have mixed views as to the game system. The size/scaling didn't really work out right (any skilled warrior could carve up dragons with little fear of getting hit), and there were some other bugs to it, but it had it good points. The LOTR and Trek material was good. I think ICON was a better game system overall.

14 hours ago, Zenith Comics Presents... said:

This is in line with Greville suggested as well 🙂

I think there is a system in here, just need to figure it out.

BE HEROIC!

Yupp, and a lot of that will depend on the setting and where the GM wants to go with it. I'd probably look at the various Conan RPGs too. Conan seems to have the same viewpoint towards magic as a potentially corrupting influence.

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I kind of feel like "corruption" might properly be considered both externally and internally.

Maybe corruptive spells cast ON you tend to cause more physical warping, but leave you mentally/morally unchanged -- a prisoner of your warped body.

Maybe someone who CHOOSES corruption -- studying & practicing the material, using the magic, and (most especially!) gaining benefits from corrupting magic -- tends to gain mostly mental & moral corruption.

I might consider getting into a Passions mechanic, and include "corrupt" Passions like "Bloodlust" and "Lust for Power" and suchlike, as effects of Corruption.

===

Also, I've gotta point toward the "Madness Meter" mechanics from UA, long regarded as a "better SAN rule" by many (albeit not simpler!) .

 

Edited by g33k
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There is a corruption mechanic in the OQ game Age of Shadow. If you fumble a sorcery casting you gain a corruption point. When you have more corruption points than POW you become the pawn of Dark Powers. I would amend those rules though, to have the slow addition of corruption points have some effect on the character, such as CHA points lowering or CON points lowering too, so that the character takes on a diseased appearance, or something like that. 😁  

Edited by Conrad
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  • 2 months later...
On 2/17/2021 at 6:19 AM, g33k said:

I kind of feel like "corruption" might properly be considered both externally and internally.

Maybe corruptive spells cast ON you tend to cause more physical warping, but leave you mentally/morally unchanged -- a prisoner of your warped body.

Maybe someone who CHOOSES corruption -- studying & practicing the material, using the magic, and (most especially!) gaining benefits from corrupting magic -- tends to gain mostly mental & moral corruption.

I might consider getting into a Passions mechanic, and include "corrupt" Passions like "Bloodlust" and "Lust for Power" and suchlike, as effects of Corruption.

===

Also, I've gotta point toward the "Madness Meter" mechanics from UA, long regarded as a "better SAN rule" by many (albeit not simpler!) .

 

 
 
 

The Mongoose RQ Lankhmar Unleashed (as mentioned by @RogerDee) has a black magic system gets you to make corruption checks if:

  • You learn black magic
  • You cast a black magic spell (I define that as one that causes harm to another creature)
  • You kill someone with black magic

That black magic system allows you to make spells more powerful by using Agony (feeding the caster's HP or characteristic points into the magic), Hatred (the more hate the caster has for the victim, the higher the bonus) or Sympathy (the more connected the caster is with the body of the victim, the more effective the spell, eg. using a victim's blood or clothing).

In my Nehwon campaign I use the Elric! system and Chaos allegiance points to represent Corruption. But I didn't want to make all uses of magic corrupting. I award Chaos (=corruption) points for magic use which either fulfills the above conditions OR where the caster uses Agony, Hatred or Sympathy to enhance the spell OR where the caster draws on Chaos Allegiance points as extra magic points for a spell. In other words if you choose to call on the dark forces you gain power in exchange for corruption.

Edited by Questbird
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15 hours ago, Questbird said:

The Mongoose RQ Lankhmar Unleashed (as mentioned by @RogerDee) has a black magic system gets you to make corruption checks if:

  • You learn black magic
  • You cast a black magic spell (I define that as one that causes harm to another creature)
  • You kill someone with black magic

That black magic system allows you to make spells more powerful by using Agony (feeding the caster's HP or characteristic points into the magic), Hatred (the more hate the caster has for the victim, the higher the bonus) or Sympathy (the more connected the caster is with the body of the victim, the more effective the spell, eg. using a victim's blood or clothing).

In my Nehwon campaign I use the Elric! system and Chaos allegiance points to represent Corruption. But I didn't want to make all uses of magic corrupting. I award Chaos (=corruption) points for magic use which either fulfills the above conditions OR where the caster uses Agony, Hatred or Sympathy to enhance the spell OR where the caster draws on Chaos Allegiance points as extra magic points for a spell. In other words if you choose to call on the dark forces you gain power in exchange for corruption.

n.b."Sympathetic" magic -- as an in-game / in-character method, and as a game-mechanic -- should be neutral, or at least, not necessarily corruptive.  It looks tailor-made for beneficial magics, too... buff's, healings, etc.

 

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6 hours ago, g33k said:

n.b."Sympathetic" magic -- as an in-game / in-character method, and as a game-mechanic -- should be neutral, or at least, not necessarily corruptive.  It looks tailor-made for beneficial magics, too... buff's, healings, etc.

 

 

Possibly true, although it also brings up images of witchcraft and voodoo dolls for me. In Nehwon, Melniboné and other Swords and Sorcery genre worlds, sorcery is generally presumed to be bad news, though Leiber does mention white wizardry too. I like the idea of powerful black sorcery being 'quicker, easier, more seductive' like the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars, with a corresponding moral and physical cost.

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On 4/30/2021 at 7:59 PM, Questbird said:

Possibly true, although it also brings up images of witchcraft and voodoo dolls for me. In Nehwon, Melniboné and other Swords and Sorcery genre worlds, sorcery is generally presumed to be bad news, though Leiber does mention white wizardry too. I like the idea of powerful black sorcery being 'quicker, easier, more seductive' like the Dark Side of the Force in Star Wars, with a corresponding moral and physical cost.

Blood sacrifice looks inherently evil...  it's not just  what you do  with that "tool," it's that  you've used the tool  at all, to do anything  (even to heal somebody; one dies that another might live???  Shades of the "trolley problem" in ethics...).

Sympathetic magic isn't that way.  It's a tool more like a knife... you can carve a masterpiece that will bring joy to people, or stab an innocent in the heart.

===

Now, if you have defined a setting where all magic is (by it's very nature, as part of the definition of the setting) corruptive... then yeah, sympathetic magic  is obviously part of that whole corruptive metaphysics.

 

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4 hours ago, g33k said:

Blood sacrifice looks inherently evil...  it's not just  what you do  with that "tool," it's that  you've used the tool  at all, to do anything  (even to heal somebody; one dies that another might live???  Shades of the "trolley problem" in ethics...).

Sympathetic magic isn't that way.  It's a tool more like a knife... you can carve a masterpiece that will bring joy to people, or stab an innocent in the heart.

===

Now, if you have defined a setting where all magic is (by it's very nature, as part of the definition of the setting) corruptive... then yeah, sympathetic magic  is obviously part of that whole corruptive metaphysics.

 

 
Quote

“None can use black magic without straining the soul to the uttermost—and staining it into the bargain. None can inflict suffering without enduring the same. None can send death by spells and sorcery without walking on the brink of death’s own abyss, aye, and dripping his own blood into it. The forces black magic evokes are like two-edged poisoned swords with grips studded with scorpion stings. Only a strong man, leather-handed, in whom hate and evil are very powerful, can wield them, and he only for a space.”

 

-- Fritz Leiber, Swords and Deviltry

But Leiber also mentions White magic, rare and hard to keep pure. The Gray Mouser begins his training (as "Mouse") under a white wizard. I like the idea that not all magic is Black, even in a Swords and Sorcery setting.

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