- You can feel it in the air all around. This place chills you to the bone and squelches underfoot with rotting damp and the stench of mildew. The sounds don’t carry right, the city outside felt so distant. Even your feelings for your dead parents, your rage and hate for their murder, even they feel distant.
- Casually you slide your knife across your wrist, your blood wells up like liquid green fire. The drops fall and the stinking rotted boards catch light as you pray to your Lady of Cleansing Flame. When a place is this far gone there’s nothing to do but burn it, and it burns so beautifully in emerald fire.
The ruins of the concentration camps. A house on an island where 10 people were killed one by one by a sadistic murderer. An abandoned apartment where the worst gangs always gather. A hidden temple where a dark wizard sacrificed people for infernal power. These are the Tainted places, where the evil that men do has lingered. Some are well known, while others are forgotten. The one thing they all have in common is that the Darkness was - or is - strong there, and it doesn't want to leave.
A place becomes Tainted when someone commits a grave sin there, meant to make others suffer, or else when vicious and cruel acts become routine and customary there. The very substance of the area is bruised by minor sins, cut or torn by major ones, and the Darkness comes quickly to infect the wound and open it farther. Each Tainted area makes it easy to commit acts like those that first Tainted the place, and hard for anyone to resist or do the opposite. And each time someone yields to temptation, the Taint deepens, and its malign influence steals more faculties from the innocent. Finally, staying within a Tainted area slowly drains the hope and life out of people even if they do nothing at all; a part of the Darkness stays in them afterward, trying to seduce them into joining it.
The busier a place is, the more the impressions of many people mix together, and the less likely it is to become a Tainted place. A place that is only used by a specific subset of people (a club house, a dark alley, etc...) will be more likely to become Tainted when one of the few people who come there becomes the victim of a crime of cruelty, or perpetrates it himself. A busy intersection is very unlikely to become Tainted, even if someone is murdered right there and all other conditions are met.
Anyone touched by the Light feels a shadow of fear, grief, ennui or despair when they stand within a Tainted place; the more experienced learn to recognize in that shadow a spoor of the Darkness. When a Beacon, Sworn, Shikigami or Noble first enters a Tainted area, and at the start of each scene in a Tainted area, the Storyteller rolls a dice pool of their base Sensitivity + the Severity of the Taint. If successful, the character realizes that the area has been Tainted.
Taint and SensitivityEdit
The acts that create Taint are not quite the same as those that trigger Sensitivity. Sensitivity responds to people in pain, whatever the cause may be. Taint, however, responds to the intent to cause pain, regardless of whether the intent was successful. For example, an accidental fire that destroys a house and kills its residents will trigger Sensitivity (people died) but not create Taint (nobody meant to start the fire.) And contrariwise, an arsonist whose fire gets put out before it destroys a building creates Taint (due to his intent), but doesn't trigger Sensitivity.
Tainted areas are represented with the following traits.
The Size of a Tainted area is measured on the Sanctuary scale - the smallest Tainted sites, at Size 0, would fit within a small walk-in closet; the largest ever found, at Size 5, covers the whole of a large estate roughly the size of the Pentagon. It's determined by how widespread the cruelties that led to its creation were. If someone committed suicide in a bathtub, the bathroom, or just the bathtub, may carry Taint. If a coach of a children's football team went crazy, locked them into the club building and killed them one by one in horrific ways, the entire building may become Tainted because of it. As a rule of thumb Size will conform to conceptual boundaries. Ask yourself what would be said on the rumor mill; if the gossip is "the coach killed them in the clubhouse” the Taint will spread to the entire clubhouse.
When crimes in line with the Tainted place's Aspirations (see below) are committed just outside of it, it may grow to encompass those areas as well. Often this happens by accident (a victim escapes the confines of a Tainted place, but is caught and cut down by her assailant just outside of it), but Darkened also instinctively know this and will try to work towards expanding them.
Rated from 1 to 5, and determined by the level of cruelty that created the Tainted place. Greater sins will override lesser Taints, so an action with a higher Severity than that of a Tainted place, if performed there, raises the place's Severity to the action's (and almost certainly will alter its Aspirations as well.)
|Class of sin||Severity|
|Petty crime: bullying, theft, threatened violence||0|
|Impassioned crime: grand theft, negligence causing serious injury||1|
|Premeditated crime: mass property damage (e.g. arson), deliberate injury to the defenseless||2|
|Heinous crime: murder, torture, rape, suicide||3|
|Multiple instances of the same crime in a short time period (a double-murder suicide, for instance)||+1|
|Similar crimes are committed many times over a longer period||+1|
|Act is especially cruel or generates a large amount of despair (someone being murdered by their beloved)||+1|
|Victim is Light-touched||+1|
A Tainted place has from one to three Aspirations, the kinds of actions it drives those within its bounds to commit. Stronger Tainted places usually have more history and a broader repertoire - a place with Severity 3 or 4 always has at least two Aspirations, and one of Severity 5 has three - but even the weakest Tainted area can have a full set. These Aspirations should be clearly cruel and framed in general terms, such as "commit murder”. At most the Aspiration should name a specific type of victim such as "bully schoolboys”. Tainted Aspirations can change over time, especially when a place's Severity rating changes.
While they remain within a Tainted area, any mundane characters treat its Aspirations as their own - they gain a Beat if they fulfill one, their presence may add or open Doors in social maneuvers, and so on. Creatures of Darkness gain the same benefit, but the Light-touched are immune; other supernatural beings may be swayed, at the Storyteller's discretion. Since the Aspirations belong to the place, they don't disappear when fulfilled - the Taint always hungers for more - though each character may fulfill each Aspiration only once a session.
Further, any action taken within the bounds of a Tainted place that directly opposes the fulfilling of any of its Aspirations takes a penalty equal to the place's Severity rating. Conversely, any action that directly furthers one of the place's Aspirations takes a bonus equal to its Severity. This effect applies to all characters: mundane, Dark, Light-touched, or other. Finally, unless it directly furthers one of the Tainted place's Aspirations, any failed roll where the dice pool (after all bonuses and penalties) is less than or equal to the place's Severity automatically becomes a dramatic failure. All rolls are affected - including rolls for breaking points.
Tainted Aspirations reflect the history of the Tainted Place, and they can change over time as the location's story grows with new atrocities. When a Tainted Place gains a new Aspiration (from increased Severity) the new Aspiration will either encourage repetitions of the new crimes, or all the Aspirations will shift to create a new set of Aspirations that reflect its entire history and the correspondence between all past crimes.
A few Tainted areas afflict their occupants in more direct ways than pushing them to depraved behavior. A Tainted place may forgo one of its Aspirations to inflict a Curse on anyone in it who isn't either Tainted or a creature of Darkness. Curses function as permanent environmental Tilts, but don't affect any character with the Tainted Condition or a Dark creature. A list of Curses (not complete - the Storyteller may design more) follows.
- Clumsiness: The Taint slows reactions and deadens nerves in the face of danger. Characters reduce their Defense by -2.
- Confusion: The Taint steals the will to act. Spending Willpower grants only +2 dice to a dice pool.
- Corruption: The Taint undermines mental stability. All breaking point rolls take an additional -1 penalty.
- Enthrallment: The Taint makes people vulnerable to hostile magic. When a supernatural power is resisted, the relevant Attribute is reduced by 1.
- Folly: The Taint tempts people into behaving foolishly. Characters gain the Spooked Condition on entering the area; it ends without resolving when they leave it.
- Sickness: The Taint steals vitality; blood clots slowly, wounds will not close. All injuries suffered inside it are worsened by one point of Health.
- Terror: The Taint unsettles and frightens people. Characters gain the Shaken Condition on entering the area; it ends without resolving when they leave it.
- Weakness: The Taint attacks health. The area is a level 1 extreme environment.
|0 or less||1 turn|
Taint, once established in an area, infects the people in that area if given an opportunity to do so; any act of cruelty, if done in Tainted places, opens the perpetrator to the Darkness, and even prolonged exposure wears people down. If a mundane character does anything that would create Taint, in even the slightest degree, while in a Tainted place, he takes the Tainted Condition - as if a small part of the place nestles inside of him and stays along for the ride. Also, after an interval of time determined by his Integrity and the area's Severity, a mundane character gains the Tainted Condition even without doing anything at all: subtract the place's Severity from the character's Integrity and consult this table.
Giving in to temptation and fulfilling the sadistic Aspirations found in a Tainted place will cause a breaking point in any individual with a healthy moral compass. There is nothing supernatural about this, but there is something supernatural about the consequences. A breaking point caused by fulfilling, or trying to fulfill, a Tainted Aspiration takes a penalty equal to the Tainted place's Severity, in addition to any other penalties the roll would normally incur. Failing the roll gives the perpetrator the Darkened Condition, rather than one of the Conditions that would normally be available. Even on a success, the character still takes the Tainted Condition, if he didn't have it already. Only on an exceptional success does the character escape unscathed.
Characters with Sensitivity - Dark creatures and the Light-touched - can't gain the Tainted Condition; the Light protects those it touches, and Dark creatures have been corrupted already. (The Storyteller decides whether other supernaturals can become Tainted.) However, the Taint still has some influence, even on them. After the necessary period of time spent in the Tainted area, a Light-touched character must check her Sensitivity, rolling her unmodified dice pool. A Haunting that causes Enraged or Maddened instills an obsession with cleansing the area of Taint, and penalizes all actions not directed to that end.
Frequently, followers of the Darkness will attempt to lure (or bring) others into a Tainted place, and then carefully manipulate them into doing the unthinkable and becoming Darkened themselves. This is generally handled through social maneuvering, with a goal of getting the target to fulfil the Tainted Aspiration. Remember that one Door will be automatically opened, because the stated goal would complete one of the character's Aspirations.
There are always people willing to sell their souls for power, and being corrupted by Tainted areas is a path to power... but a slow one. Those who are ready to sink into depravity at once can find, in moldering books or Internet sites on black magic, a host of rituals meant to summon the powers of darkness into the ritualist's body or soul - and if performed in a Tainted area, some of them will work. While the effective rituals vary widely (their discoverers come from every country and culture that ever existed) they have two points in common: they all include profound blasphemies against what the discoverers held sacred, and at their climax they require a human sacrifice.
A typical ritual for inviting the Darkness into oneself takes about an hour to complete, and must be done within a Tainted place. Only a mundane human can perform it, and he must murder in cold blood another mundane human, or a being touched by the Light, during the ritual's course. Many rituals mention that sacrificing the innocent, virtuous or holy is pleasing to the dark gods, which will lead them to favor the supplicant; though none refer to the Light's servants by name, it's unquestioned that the Darkness responds well to their deaths.
Performing such a ritual is, naturally, a breaking point with a -5 penalty, like any other premeditated murder. In addition, it counts as fulfilling a Tainted Aspiration if done in a Tainted area, regardless of its actual Aspirations - failing the breaking point makes the ritualist Darkened. A weak Taint may shift its Aspirations in response to the ritual, too.
New Tainted places can be made, but luckily for humanity and the forces of the Light, there are ways to unmake them as well. There are three known methods to unmake a Tainted place:
- Purifying it through long-term effort from the outside, healing the Taint by feeding it positive feelings opposed to its dark origins;
- Purging it by destroying the entire site it is linked to, at the risk of making matters worse if the attempt fails;
- Cleansing it by finding its Dark Door and stepping into its inner workings in the Dark World, and undoing it from within.
A Tainted place may be purified if events that directly oppose the themes and intents of its Aspirations and origins take place within the Tainted place. Taint that formed from an drug abusing parent tormenting their family might fade if the house becomes the site of a Narcotics Anonymous group, or becomes the home of a loving and stable family. The Consecrate Charm with the Purifying upgrade is advised for using this method against all but the weakest Taint. Not only does it prevent the Severity from affecting the dice pool, but it ensures that monsters will not wander in from the Dark World.
If the Taint is central to the story, resolving it might require a session's worth of work for each dot of Severity, or more at the Storyteller's discretion. Harkening back to the example given concerning a Tainted Place resulting from an alcoholic parent's abuses, purifying it might look something like this: One session to discover the origins of the Taint in order to know how to purify it, cleaning out the monsters, and consecrating the ground. Another session to get funding from city hall, secure the deed from a stubborn homeowner, and get the word out on the street. Then there might be a finale where the player characters run their first meeting, look for someone to be responsible for future meetings, and deal with a bunch of drug dealers who have started to ply their trade nearby, to ensure their new meeting place doesn't become a hub of broken dreams and relapsing addicts instead.
Once the venture is running smoothly, the characters might have to drop by frequently for a while to keep the Consecrate Charm up, until the Tainted Place is finally Purified once the Storyteller feels sufficient time and effort has been expended to balance out the ills committed within it. Consider keeping this new asset to the community a part of the story after the purification is complete. After all, the characters and their players are likely to have become quite invested in it, and it would be a shame just to toss all of that built-up characterization out the window!
The second option for cleaning up a Tainted place is to destroy it. At a minimum this requires stripping it down to the walls and power-hosing out every last trace of the past, but the most common tool for purges is fire.
The risk of purging a Tainted place, aside from police investigations and monster hunters investigating an "inexplicable" case of arson, is that anything less than total destruction can strengthen the Taint. Each Taint- ed place is the product of its history and a failed attempt by monster hunters or Princesses becomes another chapter in the tale. If any Taint survives it will spread back to reclaim the damaged area, and it will come back stronger. A failed attempt to purge a Tainted place increases its Severity by one, to a maximum of five. If the Severity was already at five, the Tainted place will grow in size instead. The Court of Storms have access to the Purgation Charm which avoids this risk. Purgation is a potent charm, and Furies who do not have access to it avoid the risks of purging a Tainted Place simply by being dedicated enough to finish the job even if they have to fight firefighters or sacrifice their own lives.
Purging Taint is resolved as an extended action with a threshold equal to five times the Taint's Size. If the Tainted place is Size 0, only a single success is needed. The interval depends on the method used. It takes 20 minutes per roll if the characters use hammers and other wrecking tools, 10 per roll for arson, and 5 per roll for construction machines or explosives. Characters may mix methods; if they can only afford a little bit of explosives, they can soften the building up with their supernatural strength first.
The characters can continue to roll until they have finished the Taint. It might take a while but so long as you're willing to keep smashing walls a building will come down eventually. However the longer the characters take the higher the risk that Darkspawn or the police will turn up. If the characters are forced to leave the job half done their progress is erased and the Taint profits.
- Dramatic Failure: The characters are forced to abandon the purge unfinished, and the Taint grows stronger.
- Failure: Demolitions is a dangerous job. If the characters continue, the Storyteller inflicts a Condition or Environmental Tilt. Punching through a load bearing wall might drop a ceiling on a character, or the fire might start early forcing the characters to work in an inferno or flee.
- Success: Progress is made. If the target number is reached the Taint is destroyed, or one spark away from going up in flames.
- Exceptional Success: The demolition goes faster than expected. Either reduce the threshold by the characters' Skill dots, or reduce the interval by a quarter.
Every Tainted place at least the size of a single room has a Nightscape, a nightmarish representation of its inner rot that can be found in the Dark World "beneath” the Tainted Place. A creature of the Darkness (including one of the Darkened) may enter the Nightscape from any point within the Tainted place, appearing in the corresponding location within the Nightscape. Likewise, he may cross from the Nightscape back to the Tainted place from anywhere within it. For everyone else, it's a bit more complex.
Every Tainted place has what is known as a Dark Door, a portal to the Nightscape. It is found near the place where the Taint first appeared, the site of the original act of cruelty that gave birth to it. A Dark Door always appears as a portal of some sort, normal enough to be ignored but sinister enough to catch the eye of anyone who knows what they're looking for, though they seldom appear in plain sight. Anyone can spend a Willpower point to gather their courage, open the door and face the nightmare within; the door stays open, letting any character pass through, for turns equal to the opener's Resolve + Composure. Passage through the Dark Door leads to a fixed point within the Nightscape. This is also the only point from which the character may leave the Nightscape again. Anyone in the Nightscape can open the Dark Door and flee back to the mundane world; this does not cost a point of Willpower.
The first step in gaining access is figuring out where the Dark Door can be found. This could be a simple Perception check to find the spot with faded blood stains and peel back the wallpaper, or it could require a thorough search through an abandoned facility, all the while fighting off the monstrous residents. Given the dangers involved many Princesses like to identify likely spots before even setting foot on Tainted grounds; piecing old newspaper reports back together, talking to witnesses, and reconstructing the history to find the site of the original crime. This uses the Investigation rules [CofD 77-81]. A successful investigation narrows the location of the Dark Door to one or two likely locations, but insufficient Clues might result in complications such as: Blundering into an ambush, a race to find the Dark Door before hostages are eaten, or even mortals following the Princesses in and getting into danger.
The Tainted place's Aspirations remain in effect inside of the Nightscape, as do the penalties associated with its Severity rating, and any other effects for being inside of the Tainted Area. Once inside, the way to cleanse the Tainted Place depends on the type of Nightscape it possesses. The base type, which most Nightscapes belong to, is the Echo type. Nightscapes which diverge greatly from their origins, or that were formed by an amalgam of various different crimes with little common theme, may be of the Maze variety instead. If the atrocities that created the Tainted place were committed by a supernatural being who still frequents it to this day, the Nightscape may form into a Lair. Finally, if the act that creates a Tainted place or increases one's Severity also transforms a Darkened into a Darkspawn, the new Darkspawn may merge into the Nightscape in body and soul, leaving their flesh behind to become a permanent fixture of the Tainted place, making it Guarded. This last one isn't a separate type, but an additional threat to intruders layered upon one of the other three types.
When a Tainted place is successfully cleansed, creatures of the Darkness (aside from the Darkened) inside of the Nightscape are pushed out into the Dark World, while all others translate back to the mortal world, appearing in the spot corresponding to where they were within the Nightscape.
Inside of an Echo, the crime (or crimes) which shaped it is repeated over and over by shadowy versions of the original perpetrators and victims. The shadowy echoes have Attributes and Skills, just like the people they represent, though they lack supernatural traits even if the originals had them. The Tainted place can be cleansed by giving the events a "good” ending: usually saving the victims. The higher the Severity, the trickier this tends to be. Not only will a high Severity Tainted place have more rights to wrong (and thus often more victims to save), but the events can blur together into a narrative that is more than the sum of its parts, a story of cruelty that almost seems to adapt to the efforts of those trying to cleanse it, actively thwarting them. Indeed, many Princesses fervently believe Echoes do just that.
Aside from the Darkspawn monsters and shadowy perpetrators that inhabit these Echoes, would-be cleansers face another danger: that of being drawn too deeply into the story. Thoughts and memories contrary to the narrative of the echo begin to fade, buried under intrusive self-recriminations, doubts and fears. It requires effort to convince yourself that what you are seeing is not real, for once you believe it to be real for even just a moment, it gains power over you. Whenever a character acts in line with the narrative — she pretends to be another prisoner to avoid a monster's notice, she fails to rebuff a Darkened treating her like an echo — she makes a Resolve + Composure roll.
- 'Dramatic Failure: The character utterly forgets herself and is sucked right into the scene around her. She takes the Nightmare Come Alive Condition, and cannot leave the Nightscape until it is resolved.
- 'Failure: The character's concentration lapses, and that short moment of weakness is enough for the Echo. She takes the Nightmare Come Alive Condition.
- Success: The character stays focused, and does not forget herself.
- Exceptional Success: The character sees the pitiful shadows playing around her for what they really are; pale imitations only. Armored in her resolve, she is ready for whatever the Echo may throw at her next. She gains the Steadfast [CofD 291] Condition.
Creatures of the Darkness are immune to this effect. Darkened may willingly take on the role of one of the perpetrators, in order to make a good resolution harder to reach, but they retain awareness that they are playing a role.
- Example: To cleanse the boarding school of horror, you have to get the bullies to repent and bring the evil headmaster, who made naughty kids "disappear”, to justice. You enter at the dorms and talk (or beat, if talk fails) some sense into the bullies. After that, you walk across the nightscape to get from the bully's dorm room to the headmaster's office. Possibly while dodging, or fighting, echoes of prefects and teachers who think nothing of using corporal punishment to discipline a "student skipping class. ” The original teachers and students may still be present, now mutated into monstrous forms and possessing supernatural powers that they will use to defend their home. If the Taint has stood for a while any manner of monster may have wondered in to take up residence in a comfortable Nightscape. If the Princesses haven't investigated the history of the school they may have to thoroughly explore the Nightscape to find what they need to fix.
When the crimes defining a Tainted place become too diverse to maintain a coherent image, or simply become so numerous that none of them really stand out above the others anymore, its Echoes may coalesce at the heart of a new type of Nightscape: a Maze.
Where an Echo is awash with sounds and images endlessly replaying past crimes, Mazes are often eerily silent. Harsh winds sweep through dusty corridors, doors creak ominously, shadows seem to reach and claw at those who pass by, and a subtle aroma of rot underpins everything. Underneath this all, a malign presence broods. Hallways shift to confound intruders, doors lock behind the unwary, and swarms of rats, insects or churning shadows appear as if out of nowhere to chase invaders from its halls.
Deep within the Maze, its Heart can be found, looking like nothing so much as a cancerous lump made up of a grotesque collection of icons representing the key crimes committed to form the Tainted place. There might be manacles used to restrain victims, a replica of a gnashing jaw, a sacrificial knife, or all manners of torture devices, all sticking out of a misshapen pulsing lump of bloody flesh. While its appearance may not be reminiscent of a "heart”, the name becomes more appropriate once you know that destroying it will cleanse the Taint. The destruction itself is generally a pretty simple task: a single point of lethal or aggravated damage is enough to destroy it; however, actually getting to the Heart tends to be anything but.
A Maze's power isn't endless. If it was, it would just block off its Heart completely and be done with it. Generally, a Maze has enough strength to assail intruders with one obstacle (that takes a scene to overcome) for each point of Severity it has. It never repeats obstacles of the same type, diversifying instinctively so that if one of its defences doesn't prove to be a suitable barrier against the invaders, another one will. These obstacles can take nearly any form imaginable (and several forms that are altogether unimaginable), from three dimensional mazes, to harrowing climbs up a ladder made from dangerously hot heating pipes, to air conditioning vents that release choking fogs to madden intruders, and even to walls that seize and grasp as if the Maze itself were striking back.
If the Maze has Dawkspawn subsisting inside of it, one or more of the obstacles can be geared towards assisting the Dawkspawn in dealing with the intruders for the Maze, providing a battlefield that is hindersome or downright dangerous for the average Princess, Hunter or mortal, but not bothersome to that particular Dawnspawn breed at all.
All in all, traversing a Maze is a harrowing experience, and few will make it through unscathed.
It doesn't take the touch of the supernatural to create a monster, but supernatural monsters can leave their mark upon the Taint they create in a way a mere mortal cannot. When a supernatural being inhabits a space, reworks it to their liking, Taints it through their actions, and continues to frequent the locale, the Nightscape might form into a Lair.
Lairs are the most curious form of Taint for while they can be purified or purged like any other Tainted place, cleansing a Lair might not require entering the Nightscape at all. In fact, if the master is not in residence, entering the Nightscape might not even be an option. The Dark Door is sealed and barred while the master is away, and if he stays away too long the Nightscape begins to lose coherence, eventually exposing any Darkspawn lurking there to the unmitigated cold of the Dark World. Cleansing a lair instead requires dealing with the monster that created it, whether that means destroying a it in battle, convincing it to repent, or even bringing a Slasher to face justice before the courts.
Of course, if the Taint's creator makes regular use of the Nightscape, Princesses might have to follow them in (especially if they spot it dragging along its latest, still living, victim). The Nightscape of a lair warps and reflects its owner. A serial killer's lair manifests grizzly trophies and shrines to their victims, past and future, while the lair of an animalistic Darkspawn might be covered floor to ceiling with claw marks. Within the Nightscape, the Lair's master adds its Severity to all their rolls, not just the ones that match one of the Taint's Aspirations.
Whenever a Darkened transforms into a Darkspawn at the same time as they create a new Tainted place, or increases the Severity of one that isn't yet Guarded, they may leave their corporeal form behind and merge with the Nightscape, making it Guarded. No roll is needed for this, making the choice is enough. Tainted places instinctively wish to be Guarded in this way, and exert a subtle temptation upon Darkspawn to accept the offer, which is stronger the more bestial the Darkspawn is. Becoming Guarded doesn't change the Nightscape, it remains an Echo, Maze or Lair, like it was before.
When he merges with the Nightscape, the Guardian receives a number of Shadows dots equal to the Severity of the Tainted place. These Shadows do not count when measuring if the Guardian can increase Shadows the normal way. If the Tainted place later grows in Severity, the Guardian gains a new Shadow dot as well. In addition, the Guardian heals rapidly while inside the Nightscape. At the start of each of its turns, downgrade the rightmost box of damage in its health track once. A Guardian is not negatively affected by having its health track filled with bashing or lethal damage (aside from wound modifiers), and when its health track is filled with aggravated damage, it simply discorporates, losing physical form until its wounds are fully healed and its health track is empty once more.
Sample Tainted PlacesEdit
Mary Ann's BathtubEdit
After a breakup with her boyfriend of four years Mary Ann ran herself a nice hot bath, poured herself a glass of wine, and slit her wrists. Four years of emotionally manipulating her vulnerable boyfriend condensed into one single act, tainting the bathtub. When they came for the body it was cleaned up of course, the tub was bleached and washed until it gleamed and not a drop of blood remained but cleaning isn't enough to remove Taint. If they wanted to do that they should have replaced the tub.
Even to this day, no matter how hot you run the water the porcelain always feels uncomfortably cold against your flesh. Lying in for a good soak comes with feelings of loss and distance from the people you care about.
- Size: 0: Just a bathtub.
- Severity: 3
- Aspirations: Emotionally abuse someone close to you; Commit suicide.
- Nightscape: None; Tainted places acquire a Nightscape at Size 1.
The Utility ShedEdit
In 1925 at Ellinson Junior high their were repeated incidents of students disappearing from campus... when the number reached 6 the school had almost closed down, but finally they discovered that the man behind it was in fact the school's janitor who had kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered the girls here.
This place was briefly much more powerful, but after the police took the bodies and buried them, stripped the shed down looking for evidence, as well as destroying the murder weapon this place has lost most of its curses. But perhaps they should have destroyed it entirely, since the shed remains a popular location for students to sneak a cigarette or an illicit tryst. That doesn't make it a good location though; at best the Taint makes things uncomfortable and clumsy, at worst, well, neither sweetheart is likely to feel very good about what the other gets up to.
Usually no one stays long enough to actually risk becoming Tainted themselves, but one repeat truant hid there just a few too many times. She's currently running on the rush, being in that shed makes her feel strong in a way nothing else ever did. She dosn't know why, but she knows she can grow the taint and is looking for ways to just that.
- Size: 1 (the shed's interior)
- Severity: 2
- Aspiration: Have emotionally uncomfortable sex.
- Nightscape: Echo.
White Picket Lane Edit
White Picket Lane always was a superficial place, a place where appearances counted for more than substance. Then it turned spiteful. The correct appearances became ever narrower. Those who did not fit in were passively aggressively driven away. The Taint is mild, but widespread.
Today White Picket Lane doesn't feel that different from normal. The minor amount of Taint is not enough to compete with the lovely climate and obsessive cleaning performed by the residents. On the surface the people wouldn't be seen dead as impolite, keeping up appearances is everything but peal back the surface and you'll see that the residents have become embroiled in constant games of one-upmanship, false smiles and social backstabbing.
White Picket Lane has few Darkspawn but many Darkened, most are in the mould of the Malicious Gossip.
- Size: 5 (an entire neighborhood)
- Severity: 1
- Aspiration: Destroy someone's trust in another person.
- Nightscape: A gravity defying, three dimensional Maze of suburban streets.
Meditech Universal started as a hopeful venture, the kind of place that would have any Princess' full approval. In its early years, it lead research into many topics which benefit the medical world even today, and collaborated on a handful of well-known projects. Sadly, the dream was not to last. A string of fruitless projects and the loss of a governmental grant brought the lab to the brink of financial ruin. Many jumped ship, but the founding core remained. They worked tirelessly to save the company, but it was never enough. Whenever they neared a breakthrough, larger organisations like the Cheiron Group released a similar product just weeks before theirs was ready to go. Eventually, their ideas became more "out there", their methods more radical. Corners were cut, and at some point, human rights (and whether or not someone had volunteered to be a test subject) simply ceased to matter.
The situation devolved rapidly when figuring out ways to dispose of the bodies became a recurring theme, and eventually the remaining lab members slaughtered one another in a fit of paranoia. All but one, who became one with the taint. With the lab members having been long estranged from any friends or family in their obsessive drive, nobody ever came to check on the remote lab in the woods. The corpses and the Taint are all still there, waiting for a hapless explorer to wander in and continue the researchers' bloody work...
- Size: 4 (a large medical research facility)
- Severity: 5
- Aspirations: Steal someone else's precious work and take credit for it; Kidnap someone and hold them against their will; Perform questionable medical experiments on someone. (If you're not scientifically inclined, this could amount to just cutting someone open bit by bit to "see how they work".)
- Nightscape: Guarded Echo. Labs full of twisted experimentation are still stalked by the man who just could not let go.