The Taint and Tainted Characters, Advanced
The Shadowlands Taint
Access to this page requires DM permission and starts with at least 1 rank in Knowledge (Local History, Rokugan) and at least 1 rank in Knowledge (the Shadowlands) and at least 1 rank in Knowledge (the Planes) earned while in Rokugan.
The Shadowlands was once the home of an advanced Nezumi civilization. When Fu Leng fell to the earth, from Tengoku, he fell upon the Shadowlands destroying the Nezumi civilization and creating a great pit as he transcended from Ningen-do to the plane of Jigoku. Jigoku twisted and corrupted Fu Leng bestowing dark powers that the other Kami couldn't comprehend. Twice he has come close to taking over, both times he was barely defeated by mortals, the second time he was killed. Even today his name is rarely spoken people fear his power even beyond death. In Rokugan death is not a final end it is worried that Fu Leng could come back.

Shadowlands Taint is covered in Chapter 3 of Rokugan, it is a gradual and inexorable corruption of a victim's body and soul. It has a terrible cost causing creatures to become psychotic and paranoid, as a horrible corruption takes their soul. Most creatures found to be corrupted are banished to the Shadowlands, since there are so few ways to remove Taint once it has been gained. It also can grant additional abilities and powers.

Combat with a Tainted creature can cause the combatant to get Taint from either obsidian weapons or from the Tainted creatures claws and bite. Unless the wound is properly treated. Requiring a DC 12 Heal check (1/4 the damage inflicted, round down, minimum of +1 is added to the target creature's Taint score). Creatures with the Shadowlands subtype do not acquire Taint and are immune to it's effects. The would have a Taint score of 1/2 the Cha. Undead would have this number +1, and Outsiders would have 1/2 their Cha +2 points of Taint.

A Taint score applies as a negative bonus to Wis and Con scores. If a character's Con drops to zero from Taint he dies and rises as an undead. If a character's Wis drops to zero from Taint they fall into a coma tortured with nightmares. Those who experience and use Taint (maho-bujin (warriro) and maho-tsuki (Spellcaster) prestige classes) can suppress their Taint and can ignore some of the penalties (see Oriental Adventures page 235 Table 12-1 for the effects of the Taint). If a character's Taint score reaches 10+ the character becomes a slave to evil. Their character travels to the Shadowlands, where they are often killed by its inhabitants or Crab patrols. Survivors are met by akutsuka, a semihuman servant of evil, who tests them for skill and loyalty. If they survive the test they are trained in the maho-bujin or maho-tsuki prestige classes.

Any creature, except oni, who die in the Shadowlands animates in 1d4 hours as an undead. Crab protocols call for burning the dead.

Character Level/HD before Death Transforms Into   Character Level/HD before Death Transforms Into  
0th to 2nd Zombie   9th to 12th Wraith  
3rd to 5th Ghoul   13th or higher Bodak (1)  
6th to 8th Ghast        
(1) Advance the bodak until its HD equals the character's level before death.
Curing the Taint is very hard. Tea of Purification (using rare ingredients), must be consumed at least once every 2 weeks, it can eliminate the physical and mental symptoms of mild to moderate Taint, but it only postpones the Taint, it doesn't remove it. The Naga's have a spell ritual that reduces Taint, but it drastically shortens the lifespan of the subject. There is a shugenja spell; blessing of cleansing, developed by the Crab, that absorbs all Taint in the area of effect into the shugenja who cast the spell. Nezumi are somehow immune to the taint so it is theorized that their blood could hold a cure of some sort. A remove disease or remove curse can reduce the taint score by 1 point, but never to below 1. A heal spell removes 3 points of Taint, but again never below 1. No other spell, including wish or miracle can do any more than a heal spell can (Oriental Adventures page 235). According to the Heroes of Horror Restoration reduces the character's Taint score by 1/4 levels if used within 24 hours. Greater Restoration reduces the character's Taint score by a number of points equal to the caster level of the cleric casting the spell. Atonement can, with a quest, remove up to the casting cleric's level in Taint. In Rokugan all three of these spells do not work against Shadowlands Taint. Once a creature contracts a single point of Taint there is NO way to reduce it to zero, they are Tainted forever more. Clerics of non-evil deities can continue to advance in levels, but paladins with a moderate taint score cannot advance as a paladin until they reduce their Taint score.

Obsidian Tea suppresses the symptoms and signs of the Shadowlands Taint, but at a cost of increasing the rate at which the user acquires more Taint. The Tea needs to be imbibed once every 2 weeks in order to surpress Taint symptoms, much like the Jade Petal Tea; Tea of Purification. Any individual treated with Obsidian Tea has moderate Taint symptoms reduced to minor ones, and minor ones go into remission for the duration (severe symptoms are beyond the Tea's ability to treat). Additionally the user's Taint score is treated as one full rank lower for spells and abilities that check Taint, including being detected as being Tainted. However, the price is high--anybody drinking a dose of Obsidan Tea who has even 1 piont of Taint immediately gains an additional point of Taint. Multiple doses within a 2 week period have no effect although the Taint penalty is incurred with every dose.

According to The Unearthed Arcana atonement can reduce a Taint score to zero, but this is not true in Rokugan; where it can only drop a character's Taint score to 1. The Unearthed Arcana also says that a restoration spell can reduce a character's Taint score, but this is not true in Rokugan. The rituals of doing good deeds mentioned in the Unearthed Arcana are unknown in Rokugan and may not work. The Unearthed Arcana also mentions sacred springs as a location that can be used to clear Taint, there are no known such springs in Rokugan. The Unearthed Arcana says that a hallow spell can remove Taint, in Rokugn it is too powerful to remove it with this spell, instead it provides a +5 saving roll modifier to any Fort saves made to resist Taint in its 40' radius area of effect. Casting an unhallow spell in the same area nullifies the hallow spell. Unintelligent items that are Tainted can be cleared of Taint if they are removed from a Tainted area and placed within the area of effect of a hallow spell for 1 year and a day. An intelligent Tainted item may not have the taint purified from it. The Unearthed Arcana has two Prestige classes; Tainted Sorcerers and Tainted Warriors; in Rokugan they are replaced by the Maho-Tsukai and Maho-Bujin Prestige Classes respectively (the requirement for blood to be used in place of material components when spell casting is only true for casting maho spells).

For every 24 hours in the Shadowlands a character must make a Fort save (DC 10), but it increases by +5 for every consecutive 24 hours spent in the Shadowlands. If the saving roll is failed the character's Taint score increases by 1 (a failed saving roll doesn't reset the chance to gain more Taint). Nezumi are immune to the Taint for reasons unknown. Jade can protect a character making Taint Fort saves unnecessary for as long as the Jade lasts. Exposure renders it corrupt and turns the jade black and soft, turning it into obsidian (not the volcanic glass). A finger is about the same size as a human finger and costs 100 koku. Magically created jade will not work; only natural jade has the right balance of elements to absorb Taint (the Unearthed Arcana list other items that might absorb taint, but they do not work in Rokugan).

Jade Fingers Duration of Protection   Jade Fingers Duration of Protection  
1 7 days   4 19 days  
2 12 days   5 21 days  
3 16 days   Additional Jade Fingers provides less and less protection
All Fingers of Jade will corrupt at once, not one by one so with a used finger you will have to track how many days you used it previously. For more on protection in the Spirit Realms see the Spirit Realms Advanced and check the protection required for each realm. In Jigoku and Ningen-do the protection lasts the shortest period.
Magic in the Shadowlands
Access to this page requires DM permission and starts with at least 1 rank in Knowledge (Local History, Rokugan) and at least 1 rank in Knowledge (the Shadowlands) and at least 1 rank in Knowledge (the Planes) earned while in Rokugan.
All divine magic in the Shadowlands is impeded (shugenja are divine casters), the caster must make a Spellcraft check DC of 20+ the level of the spell. If the check succeeds the spell works without difficulty. If the check fails the spell doesn't function, though it still counts as a spell cast that day. In addition the spellcaster exposes herself to the Shadowlands Taint and adds 1 to their Taint score for every 5 points by which she fails the Spellcraft check.

Arcane spells cast in the Shadowlands have the Empower Spell feat applied to them at no additional cost to the caster.

Casting a maho (blood) spell can give the caster and the spell's targets the chance to acquire Taint. Whenever subject to a spell that doesn't explicitly give the target Taint, the character must make a Fort save with a DC equal to the maho spell caster's level or they acquire 1/2 the spell's level (round down) in Taint. Whenever casting a maho spell the shugenja, or sorcerer, must make a Fort save (DC 10+spell's level) or gain a point of Taint (this is true no matter where the spell is cast, inside the Shadowlands or out).

Learning a spell from the maho list requires the shugenja or sorcerer to make a Knowledge (Shadowlands) check (DC 15+ the spell's level) or a Knowledge (the Planes) with ranks earned in Rokugan. It counts as one of the number of spells known and it counts as a spell outside of the shugenja's element.

The Effect of Taint on a Character
Access to this page requires DM permission and starts with at least 1 rank in Knowledge (Local History, Rokugan) and at least 1 rank in Knowledge (the Shadowlands) and at least 1 rank in Knowledge (the Planes) earned while in Rokugan.
A character with Taint can use his Taint Modifier on any Str, Dex, or Con ability or skill check, but gains 1 taint point for this. They must apply their Taint Modifier to all Cha and Cha based skill checks. Each time a character advances in their taint score (past 6) they gain a new symptom, chosen by the DM. They can also gain bonus maho spells that they can cast each day. They also suffer a loss of 1 point to their Wis and Con scores for each point of Taint they acquire.

With a taint score of 6+ a character starts to acquire symptoms of Taint, at first they are subtle then they grow from moderate to severe. A Spot check with a DC 30- deformity is required to notice if an individual is Tainted.

Shadowlands Taint Symptoms (Chart 2-1 p137 Rokugan)
-------------------- Bonus Maho Spells --------------------
Taint Points Taint Modifer Corruption 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1-5 0 ---   1 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
6-10 0 Mild   1 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
11-15 +1 Moderate   1 1 --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
16-20 +1 Mild   1 1 --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
21-25 +2 Severe   1 1 1 --- --- --- --- --- ---
26-30 +2 Mild   1 1 1 --- --- --- --- ------ ---
31-35 +3 Moderate   1 1 1 1 --- --- --- --- ---
36-40 +3 Mild   1 1 1 1 --- --- --- --- ---
41-45 +4 Moderate   2 1 1 1 --- --- --- --- ---
46-50 +4 Mild   2 1 1 1 1 --- --- --- ---
51-55 +5 Moderate   2 2 1 1 1 1 --- --- ---
56-60 +5 Mild   2 2 1 1 1 1 --- --- ---
61-65 +6 Moderate   2 2 2 1 1 1 1 --- ---
66-70 +6 Mild   2 2 2 1 1 1 1 --- ---
71-75 +7 Moderate   2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 ---
76-80 +7 Mild   2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 ---
81-85 +8 Moderate   3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
86-90 +8 Mild   3 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
Table 12-1 Taint Effects (the effects are determined by the DM):
Mild Taint (Taint score 6-7) Game Effect (effect were created by the DM)
Nausea, vomiting At the start of each combat or when casing a spell the character must make a Fort save (DC 13) or suffer the effects rendering them unable to act for one round, this can only happen twice an hour.
Pain in joints -1 Str
Skin thickens, cracking and turning leathery -1 Cha
Skin seeps, greasy, yellowish "sweat" - Cha and +1 to the DC to resist any disease
Eyelid swells obscuring vision -1 Dex
Hair goes white No effect
Phlegmy, wracking cough At the start of each combat or when casing a spell the character must make a Fort save (DC 13) or suffer the effects rendering them unable to act for one round, this can only happen twice an hour.
Pale, grayish dead complexion

-1 Cha, you confuse unintelligent undead they must make a Will save DC 15 to attack you, intelligent undead know you are not one of their kind.

Sunken eyes, cracked lips -1 Cha
Mild paranoia -1 Int
Disorientation -1 Int
Mild Hallucinations -1 Int
Increased aggressiveness When threatened the character must pass a Will save (DC 15) to avoid going in and attacking, they do gain a +1 to hit and -1 to AC for the first 4 rounds of combat.
Moderate Taint (Taint score 8-9) Game Effect (effect were created by the DM)
Bones begin to warp and thicken -2 Dex
Itchy black lichen-like growth across skin -1 Dex, -1 Cha
Reddened burn-like sores and scars -2 Cha
Eye clouds or blood vessels break obscuring vision -2 Dex and -10' to darkvision
Lips shrink back from gums -2 Cha
Gums swell bleed and rot -2 Cha
Bleeding from eyes, nose, mouth, ears or lips -2 Cha
Hair falls out -2 Cha
Uncontrollable seizures that wrack the body At the start of each combat or when casing a spell the character must make a Fort save (DC 15) or suffer the effects rendering them unable to act for one round, this can only happen twice an hour.
Eruption of painful sores -1 Dex, -1 Cha
Sores ooze blood, pus, foul-smelling ooze thick pasty substance, maggots, or acidic green slime -2 Dex, +1 to DC to resist any disease
Hears voices of evil spirits (imagines) -2 Int
Severe paranoia -2 Int
Fits of uncontrollable, disturbing laughter At the start of each combat or when casing a spell the character must make a Fort save (DC 15) or suffer the effects rendering them unable to act for one round, this can only happen twice an hour.
Disregard for hygiene and cultural mores -1 Cha and +2 DC to the DC to resist any disease
Severe Taint (Taint score 9) Game Effect (effect were created by the DM)
Flesh rots away, leaving skull-like openings Loss of scent and -3 Cha
Mutated, deformed fingers, toes, leg, arm, head, ear, eye, or teeth begin to grow on inappropriate parts of the body, then shrivel, rot and eventually fall off -3 Cha
Spine twists, back hunches -1 Str, -2 Dex
Severe warping of skeleton, skull enlarges and deforms -1 Dex, -2 Str and helms no longer fit
Great swollen growths on the body Lungs eaten away from inside--wet, labored, painful breathing At the start of each combat or when casing a spell the character must make a Fort save (DC 17) or suffer the effects rendering them unable to act for one round, this can only happen twice an hour.
Eye falls out, leaving gaping socket that glows with eerie green light -2 Cha, -1 Dex, partial blindness, loss of depth perception
Skin peels off in papery sloughs at the slightest touch, leaving red, raw flesh beneath. -1 Cha, -2 Dex
Fingers or toes begin to web and fuse. When casting a spell that has somatic components the caster has to pass a Concentration check (DC 10 +spell level) or they miss cast the spell. In combat they suffer a -1 to hit.
Irresistible murderous urges. When threatened the character must pass a Will save (DC 18) to avoid going in and attacking, they do gain a +1 to hit and -1 to AC for the first 4 rounds of combat.
Reduced to primitive behavior -3 Cha
Major Taint (Taint score 10+) Game Effect (effect were created by the DM)
The character becomes an NPC as they answer the call of Fu Leng and they must go to the Shadowlands.
As their taint score increases they get more deformities and/or derangements.
MINOR SHADOWLANDS POWERS (can use with a Taint modifier of +1 to +3)
Blackened Claws: extendable claws of obsidian giving the wielder a +1 circumstance bonus to their initiative. Unarmed strikes inflict 1d6 points of slashing damage (if the unarmed damage is greater than 1d6 then it is increased by one die category; from 1d6 to 1d8, from 1d8 to 1d10 etc.). They have a critical threat range of 18-20 (x2) and may benefit from Weapon Focus, Specialization, and Improved Critical. The creature is considered armed and adds their taint modifier to all damage. Merely extending the claws inflicts 1 point of Taint on the creature. Those with extended claws suffer a -4 circumstance penalty to any skill requiring finesse and can't hold tools or weapons in their hands. DC 10 to notice extended claws.

Blood Sense: Sense the presence of warm fresh blood, sensing any and all living creatures within 50'. (constructs, oozes, slimes and undead are not detected).

Child of Darkness: Generates an aura that causes all Shadowlands creatures to see you as an ally, as long as you don't initiate hostilities, granting you a +4 profane bonus to all Cha based skills and checks when dealing with Tainted creatures.

Claws of the Kumo: black hairs grow from your forearms and shins allowing you to use spider climb as a spell-like ability at will. DC 15 to notice, this ability can't be used if the forearms and shins are covered.

Taint Sense: Can sense the reservoir of all Tainted creatures within 50'. They are unable to surprise or sneak attack you and you can determine what category of Taint the creature has--a native Shadowlands beast, a Tainted human, a Tainted Artifact etc (not their Taint score though).

Unholy Speed: +10 base speed, for 1 point of Taint you can gain a +6 circumstance bonus to initiative for a single combat round. When this power is in use your skin blackens and it is automatically noticeable.

Unholy Vision: Your vision isn't obscured by Darkness, smoke, or magic. You gain blindsight 30', and Darkvision 60' (2x your existing Darkvision range). Your eyes glow with a sickly green color and anyone who can see your eyes automatically notice this.

MAJOR SHADOWLANDS POWERS (can use with a Taint modifier of +4 to +6, must have one Minor Shadowlands Power for each Major Shadowlands Power).
Billowing Darkness: Can summon a noxious cloud of black smoke centered on you with a 10' radius three times per day. Darkvision can't penetrate the cloud, but daylight will dispel it. The cloud is stationary.

Blood Knows Blood: Can sense a body part no matter how far away (often blood). By smearing a small amount of blood on people or their trappings you can sense where they are at all times. If you scry on the body part or blood, you have no chance of failure when scrying on them. If you teleport you may teleport to their location as if you are very familiar with it. Blood used in this fashion lasts for 1 week. Permanent body parts can be severed and used to track someone. DC 15 to notice if someone has used their fingers or toes to use in this fashion.

Father of Lies: Gain your Taint modifier on any Cha, Int or Wis ability check or skill check, doing this gives you 1 point of Taint.

Terrible Armor: A thick scabrous armor coats you entirely granting your Taint modifier to your AC. It is DC 10 to notice and if even a single body part is uncovered discovery is automatic.

Unearthly Regeneration: When cut your blood turns black and tiny black tentacles extend to knit your skin back together, lost parts can be regenerated in 24 hours. You have regeneration 10, all damage inflicted on you is subdual damage unless inflicted by fire, jade, or crystal.

Unholy Strength: For a point of Taint you can add your Taint modifier to any damage roll. Noticing this is automatic as your muscles bulge and your body becomes grotesquely disproportionate.

GREATER SHADOWLANDS POWERS (can use with a Taint modifier of 7+)
Bloodstrike Plague: Those with this are covered in sores and lesions and bear a virulent plague, those who contact the oozing substance coming from your pores must pass a Fort save (DC 10 +1/2 your level + your Taint modifier) or contract the bloodstrike plague. You can purposefully fling or spread this substance on a weapon or apply it to a foe, or apply it as a touch attack or flick it at a foe with a 5' range increment. The plague inflicts 1d6 permanent Con damage with a 24 hour incubation period. The power can only be concealed with the extreme use of bandages all over the body.

Feeding on Flesh: As a free action you can cast death knell (any creature you touch with -1 or fewer hit points must make a Will save or die, if it dies it gives you +2 Str, 1d8 temporary hit points and +1 caster level for 10 minutes/HD). This power is accompanied by a brilliant red light emanating from the target that goes to your eyes and mouth.

Protection of the Dark: Gain DR 10/+5 for 2 hours, while this is active you radiate an ominous black aura that is unmistakable.

Thy Master's Will: If you are killed you return from the dead exactly 1 month later (losing 1 level in the process). Even if destroyed your body will regenerate, but it will have radiantly glowing skin or decaying flesh (your choice). You gain 25 Taint points whenever this power is used and your type changes to undead. You will never be mistaken for a living creature again.

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