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While one may be tempted to write off corruption as a particularly virulent curse, it’s quite different and has the potential to be more far-reaching. Unless the surrounding areas are purified by powerful holy energies, corruption left unchecked can and often will spread, overrunning and infecting everything in its path. As it has the potential to permeate the very land in which it is found, simply traveling through corrupted lands can be enough to twist an individual’s mind or body. Corruption bound to an object often has some form of powerful abjuration magic attached to it that keeps the evil confined, but any who willingly open their minds up to such evil often find themselves a victim of both corruption and a curse.

Safety Tools: Corruption and Body Horror

It is important to note that not everyone has a similar tolerance for horror elements, particularly body horror. Narrators should make note of what players want to avoid and tailor the presentation of the more disturbing elements of this condition to create a game everyone can enjoy. The effects listed in the Corruption Effects table are merely suggestions and can be adjusted or omitted as necessary to ensure everyone is comfortable and still having fun.

But for some, giving one’s self up to corruption holds within it some benefits that can outweigh the costs. There are some who willingly take on corruption, hoping to leverage it to their benefit—be that in pursuit of power or out of sheer desperation. Some truly believe that what they lose of themselves can be replaced with something greater; whether or not that is the case is left to individual interpretation.

It is important to note that truly corrupted lands, creatures, or items are extremely rare and the result of a series of very traumatic or heinous events. The violent death of a god, a book bound in the flesh of a tortured solar, a powerful ritual intending to contact those amorphous beings who linger in the spaces in between planes gone awry, or a precious item bound to a particularly evil archmage are some examples of the extreme amount of malice and evil energy that is necessary to create corruption. Narrators who choose to incorporate corruption into their games should do so sparingly.

To determine the effects of corruption, refer to the table below. The change may be immediate or it may take hold over a period of time, at Narrator’s discretion. Narrators may choose to follow this table in order as characters fail their saves, or they may choose to roll 1d6 to determine an effect at random, as level 7 of corruption should nearly always be saved as the last effect on the track. Note that a character can have only one instance of each level of corruption. If you roll the same result twice, roll again until you roll a new result. Like all tracked conditions, a creature suffers the effect of its current level in a tracked condition as well as all lower levels. In the case of a rolled effect, the creature still suffers the effect of all active corruption results.

Status Level   Effect
  1 You start to lose some of yourself and who you used to be as the corruption enters you and begins to alter your very mind. You lose one skill, tool, or language proficiency gained from your background of the Narrator’s choosing. That proficiency is replaced with a different proficiency of the same type (a skill is replaced with a skill, a language with a language, etc.). This replacement proficiency should reflect the narrative nature of the item or area in which you are traveling. Any expertise dice that are attached to a skill or a tool kit proficiency are retained, though any specialties you have may change.
  2 Your joints and ligaments become unnaturally flexible. You suffer a –2 penalty to Strength checks, but your disconcerting flexibility grants you some benefits. You have advantage on checks made to escape the grappled or restrained conditions.


Your mind is tormented by dream visions of both the past and the future, though when you awake you cannot remember any concrete details. You must rest for a full 12 hours to achieve the benefits of a long rest (a regular 8-hour rest only counts as a short rest for you). However, these visions grant you some measure of prescience. You have advantage on either your first attack roll , ability check , or saving throw of the day.


Veins on one or more of your limbs begin to blacken as your blood turns foul. You have disadvantage on Constitution saving throws , but your blood takes on a caustic trait. Any time you are hit with a melee weapon attack, the attacker must make a Dexterity saving throw against your maneuver DC or take 2d4 acid damage. Any creature who consumes your blood (such as a vampire) automatically takes 4d4 acid damage.


The whispers of unknowable beings fill your mind. You have disadvantage on Wisdom saving throws . However, the chaos of your mind shields it from unwanted prying. Any creature who attempts to read your mind (as in the spell detect thoughts ) must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC 12) or take 2d6 psychic damage.


Abnormal growths sprout on your body—both within and without. These may be small, malformed limbs, eyes or mouths where there should be none, or other horrific mutations. Your Charisma score is reduced by 2, but you gain immunity to poison and necrotic damage.


The corruption fully takes hold of you, warping you into an avatar of evil. You radiate an Evil aura, and good-aligned creatures (such as a solar or other celestial) react to your presence with hostility. Any time you attempt to enter a hallowed place dedicated to a good-aligned force, you must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC 15). On a failure, you cannot enter the area for 1d4 days, after which you may repeat the saving throw. However, you learn the vampiric touch spell. You can cast it once per day without expending a spell slot. When you cast it in this way, the spell is considered to have been cast using a 5th-level spell slot.

The Spread of Corruption

While it lingers until truly cured, corruption only progresses so long as the individual is continuously exposed to the source of the corruptive forces. For example, a party who is traveling through a forest corrupted by the untimely death of a nature god will only continue to acquire levels of corruption so long as they remain within the area; once they leave, they cease to gain levels in the status, as seen on the Corruption Effects table. Conversely, an individual who is in possession of a cursed item that also imbues corruption will continuously acquire corruption levels until they become unattuned to the item or it is destroyed.

How quickly corruption takes hold is dependent on its source. Because blighted lands are more pervasive and oppressive, a character or party will need to roll a Constitution saving throw every 1d4 days to determine whether or not a new level of corruption takes hold. If the source is an item, the effect takes hold far more slowly, as cursed items are often sentient and wish to exert their insidious control over time. A character attuned to an item touched by corruption will need to make a Constitution saving throw once every 1d4 weeks.

Corruption can also be inflicted through a wound dealt by a creature touched by corruption. Often, these creatures are encountered in corrupted lands, though some of these tortured beings make their way out of these places and into other dark corners of the world. A Narrator may choose to graft corruption-based attacks onto existing stat blocks. Attacks that inflict corruption most often are through the use of a creature’s natural weapons (i.e. claws, bites, gore attacks, etc.), though powerful entities like dread knights may wield weapons that inflict corruption upon a hit. To alter an attack, see the following example from a corrupted wolf:

Corrupted Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage. On a hit, the target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the target receives one level of corruption. Once a creature receives a level of corruption in this way, it cannot gain any successive levels from additional attacks by the corrupted wolf

It is important to note that while corruption contracted in this way may resemble a disease, it is still corruption and cannot be cured through any other means other than purification as outlined in Curing Corruption below.

Preventing and Detecting Corruption

Whether an item or land is simply blighted, cursed, or actually corrupted cannot be determined at a glance. Spells such as detect evil and good registers the item or area as being desecrated in some fashion, but cannot determine the exact nature of that desecration. As with cursed items, spells such as identify do not immediately register an item as corrupted, though a Narrator may rule that such a spell allows the caster to know that there is something off or unusual about the magic that imbues the item in question. Knowledge that a particular area or item is corrupted often necessitates prior research. A successful Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion check will often provide some context for whether something is truly corrupted. A critical success provides a key piece of information that indicates that the area or item is corrupted and that utmost caution should be used in dealing with the situation.

In terms of prevention, corruption cannot be entirely avoided if one is exposed to it over a prolonged period of time, but some steps can be taken to stave off the effects temporarily. Consecrated objects can deflect environmental corruption, though this concentrated form of holy energy is rapidly sapped by the corruption and is eventually destroyed by it. What form these objects take is entirely dependent on the faith that provided it, though they all share the following characteristics: they are small objects that are easily worn or carried in one hand; they have been blessed by a high-ranking member of a holy order or clergy; and they cost at least 100 gold. If a character is carrying a consecrated object and fails their Constitution saving throw to fend off corruption, the object instead absorbs the negative energy and is destroyed. A character may only carry one consecrated object at a time. Consecrated objects only work on environmental corruption; corruption caused by an item is transferred via the attunement and cannot be prevented in this way.

Curing Corruption

Similar to fatigue and strife , corruption is a status that, if left unchecked, can negatively affect a character over time. And, like these other two conditions, higher levels of corruption require additional steps or specific conditions to be cured.

The first level of corruption, if detected early enough, can be cured with a lesser restoration or greater restoration spell. Subsequent levels, however, will require ritualistic purification in a safe or hallowed place to remove the corrupted energies. In a location marked as a haven , it takes 7 consecutive days and a daily casting of one of the listed spells to cure one level of corruption. Any penalties and advantages granted by that level of corruption are systematically removed in the order in which they were acquired. If the purification is taking place in a hallowed space (as per the hallow spell or similar magic), the amount of time needed to purify a level of corruption is reduced by 1d4 days.

Corrupted Items

Only items of extreme evil have corruption attached to them. These are often legendary artifacts that are (understandably) kept locked away or hidden out of fear or an abundance of caution. Some are blessed by evil gods, while others are created by evil archmages or the most powerful liches. Items that are listed as Legendary or as an Artifact are the only rarities that are likely to have become corrupted over time by their continued exposure to some form of irredeemable evil.

If an item has the “cursed” tag, the effects of the curse and the corruption happen concurrently, though the curse always takes precedence. If a character in possession of an item that is both cursed and corrupted must make simultaneous saving throws, they first make the saving throw for the curse. The Narrator then rerolls the 1d4 in secret to determine how many weeks pass before they must make the saving throw for the corruption.