A good place to start with this guide is to briefly explain what exactly “Corruption” is. It has been mentioned in other write-ups in the past, namely Dreamwalking and Nyvora, but hasn’t had a presence before the writing of this guide.
Corruptions are minor insanities or poisonings of your character from exposure to the raw, uncontrolled chaos of Emea. Compare it to radiation poisoning, in a sense, as it interferes with your natural physiology and aims to change you in subtle ways because your solid form is inherently incompatible with the formless and chaotic nature of the dream realm. They change you physically, mentally and emotionally, subtly at first and more dramatically as your exposure draws longer and heavier. The regular dreamer is safe from Corruption unless under extraordinary circumstances, and it poses a threat primarily to Dreamwalkers and those who are subjected to Nightmares. All who venture into the Untold and those who are subjected to Nightmares are automatically subject to Corruption, at Reviewer’s and Storyteller’s discretion.
Sometimes it may be difficult to determine when it’d be appropriate to award someone with a Corruption. As a rule of thumb, follow the above statement: “All who venture into the Untold and those who are subjected to Nightmares are automatically subject to Corruption”. All Corruptions should ideally be thematically appropriate to the thread and what occurs in it, complementing their experience with a physical mark that they bear with them into the physical world even after the dream ends. The severity of the Corruption depends on the source. If it’s simply residual Corruption from exposure, default to Minor and, in extreme cases, Moderate. Moderate is what will be the default from active intervention of entities and Nightmares beyond the Veil, where their mere presence is enough to prompt Corruption in their victim and further interactions prompts further Corruption. Major Corruption should be reserved for extreme cases of exposure or damage and from powerful entities or especially dangerous locations.
There is no limit to how many Corruptions a player can be awarded at any time or in any one thread. If they still have a Corruption active by the time they receive more, however, the reviewer should pay attention and ramp up the severity of existing Corruptions before stacking on new ones.
Not all Corruptions are the same or even comparable, but they have been categorized by level of severity to give a sort of overview of what one can expect of a particular type of Corruption. They are divided in categories of Minor, Moderate and Major, as detailed below.
Minor Corruptions are by far the most commonplace, most mortals on Idalos having been subjected to them at least once in their life without ever noticing. They have mild and discrete effects that are difficult to detect and they don’t really stand out significantly in a way that paints them as unnatural. They generally expire on their own after a few trials, fading from their bodies, minds and memories and leaving nothing in their wake. While they are relatively harmless by themselves, racking up many of these in a short timespan may just evolve them into something more serious.
Moderate Corruptions are not as commonplace as Minor but are still not unheard of. They generally evolve from oversaturation of Minor Corruptions or are received from exposure to beasts from the Untold. These effects are obvious and stand out, but not necessarily debilitating. They may have a serious and dramatic impact on the victim’s life in a variety of ways, but are seldom dangerous to their health unless they are amassed in greater numbers and complemented by similarly harmful Corruptions. They can expire on their own after several trials to a season, and some may require regular maintenance in order to keep them from becoming debilitating in their day-to-day life.
Major Corruptions are dramatic and dangerous, and therefore rare. A Major corruption can form from several Moderate Corruptions amassed under a short timespan, permanently changing the physiology, mentality or health of the individual in remarkable and oftentimes debilitating ways. The Major Corruptions do not naturally expire and need to be dealt with surgically, therapeutically or magically depending on type and severity, capable of forever changing the character from the inside out. Several Major Corruptions inherently make the individual incompatible with the reality of Idalos, forcing them to seek refuge in the realm of Emea in order to survive without a world of pain and discomfort.
It’s difficult to provide proper examples of all kinds of Corruptions that can be awarded, and therefore this guide doesn’t aim to provide thorough examples. Below, you can instead find brief examples of different kinds and levels of Corruptions in order to give an idea of what you’re looking for when awarding a Corruption of a particular level. Keep in mind that they should be contextual to the thread and the events therein.
- Minor Cosmetic (Eyecolour hue, highlights in hair, freckles, spots in the skin, slight miscolouration, darker nails, miscoloured teeth, miscoloured tongue)
- Minor Mental (Fixation, change of taste, sluggishness, hyperactivity, new interest, forgetfulness, cravings, restlessness)
- Minor Physical (Boils, rashes, running nose, dry cough, sneezes, hiccups, aching joints, pressure in sinuses)
- Moderate Cosmetic (Non-functional gills, nails into claws, shark teeth, changing eyecolour, changing haircolour, hair turns into feathers, skin becomes miscoloured and leather, scales grow in skin, glowing eyes, skin glows in the dark)
- Moderate Mental (Hallucinations, taste for flesh, obsession, sudden and random phobia, narcolepsy, paranoia, irrationally changed opinion of friend, addiction)
- Moderate Physical (Bleeding through pores, brittle bones, migraines, feverish symptoms, hair loss, shedding skin, temporary denial of physical sense (blind, deaf, etc), muteness, constant pain)
- Major Cosmetic (Any Minor and Moderate, skin colour and texture, bestial features, luminescence, alien objects protruding from flesh)
- Major Mental (Any Minor and Moderate, insanity, personality changes, amnesia, delusions)
- Major Physical (Any Minor and Moderate, physiological make-up, body shape, bone structure, organs, blood type, gender, additional limbs, new bodyparts, loss of bodyparts)