Faceless Kings and Endless Seas
Corrupion is a side-effect of the use of Wild Magic, with its effects growing stronger the more the user calls on it. Corruption is concentrated in the areas that the spells affect, with the physical modifications it causes seeming to be permanent.
Corruption has been around since at least the early days of the Old Empire, where authors documented men who were “cursed with black scales and spines and blessed with great strength.” It seems, based on the progression implied by documented cases of corruption, that the original corrupt men were what are now known by many as “Brawlers,” men who use Wild Magic to enhance their physical strength and toughness. This is supported by descriptions of their “massive arms and minuscule minds,” which most would agree summarizes the characteristics of the modern Brawler. As time passed from the first cases, more texts were written that described all types of corrupted individuals, ranging from “Prophets” (now most likely known as “Seers”) to a type called “Devils” whose characteristics do not match any typical known modern types of Corruption.
In the Modern World
Characteristics and Known Kinds
While old Corruption was characterized as being localized, performance enhancing magic meant to improve one part of the body at a time, modern Corruption tends to be much more generalized, coming in sets to change several aspects of a person’s being to make them fit a stereotype. There are two known types and one legendary in the present world: the Brawler and Seer are frequently found in the less regulated parts of towns, and the Sorcerer of Sah’vrael is the object of a folk legend that tells the tale of a man who would appear in Ha’shoi, Ha’shai, and Ger’taya to steal the hearts of young girls in an attempt to resurrect his dead lover. There is no evidence to support this tale, however, as the only disappearances in those regions are of adventurers who wander alone into the desert or out to sea.
Though Wild Magic is frowned upon in most high-class districts as well as among merchants specifically (merchants refuse to corrupt themselves in an attempt to maintain respectability), its use is not illegal anywhere outside Kretkovia, and even there it is not discriminated against (Kretkovia requires that any magic users have a permit, with violators being punished with execution). This has caused a counter-cultural movement to arise in the outskirts, black markets, and slums of most large cities as well as throughout many small towns, with some made up almost exclusively of basic Corrupted (which is to say, Corrupted individuals who expose themselves once or twice rather than repeatedly).
Physically, Brawlers are characterized by their increased muscle-mass and, as with all Corrupt, black scales and spikes protruding from the affected areas. Their appearance is occasionally caricatured by artist who portray them as massive upper-bodies with tiny legs and no necks, but such artists never publish more than one of these pictures in their lifetime.
Brawlers are infamous for frequenting taverns in the outskirts of cities, where they laugh, fight, and share stories of their favorite acts of destruction. The nature of their Corruption changes their temperament to be rather violent and quick to anger while simultaneously making them much less intelligent (with the exception of Brawler-Seers, which will be addressed later).
Many Brawlers intentionally corrupt themselves with the ultimate goal of profit; after corrupting themselves, they join an organization or small band that works on a pay-by-job basis, often finding work as guards in the castles of lords or kings. It is unclear at this time how Brawlers can run a successful business with such impeded intelligence.
Seers are characterized by their black eyes, with their corruption pattern following the veins outward from their temples and down their necks. Because they never publicize themselves (they get their business via word-of-mouth from customers), they usually do not find themselves in the public eye.
In large towns and cities, there are usually between two and four Seers in the outskirts, evenly distributed so as to avoid competing with one another. A more complex type of Corrupt than the Brawlers, Seers are almost always either knowledge-seekers or independence-seeking youth, attracted to the Corruption by its powerful abilities. Seers’ abilities can be summarized in four terms: increased intelligence, astral projection, future-sight, and motive sensing.
After becoming corrupted, Seers’ minds are quicker than before. They use this to their advantage, protecting their assets with great skill as well as using their quickened wits to better advise their clients.
Using their astral bodies, Seers can travel (with practice and repeated use of Wild Magic, thus increasing their corruption, great distances) to advise clients based on situations in other parts of the world. This makes them attractive to merchants, for whom knowledge of foreign markets is extremely beneficial, and military leaders, who occasionally employ them to discover the location of the enemy (though Seers are becoming less common in military situations, as they realized they usually fall victim to some “accident” while leaving the battlefield).
Seers can also look ahead in the existing (most probably) timeline, and though there is no guarantee that they will be entirely accurate, they usually maintain some degree of accuracy. The more corrupt a Seer is, the further they will be able to look ahead with high percentages of accuracy. In much the same way, Seers can “see” the truth in the words of people they are listening too. They also can see some of their memories, and after a while of seeing the memories of others, Seers usually lose their sense of self and feel as though they are a multi-person organism rather than an individual. They adopt the personalities of their visitors and forget about social niceties, instead seeking to accomplish the task at hand. The loss of individuality happens over the course of many years, often ten or fifteen, so it is not uncommon to find smooth-talkers among younger Seers, with the older Seers rarely asking for any payment beyond what they need to survive.
Seers’ clients are usually men and women of the higher-class, often politicians or wealthy shopkeepers. They often only seek out a Seer as a result of intense curiosity, as they are somewhat mysterious people that rarely leave their shops/homes.
Corruption has an interesting effect on animals. Frequently, dogs are attracted to the Corrupt, and will often serve as companions to them. Cats, however, react violently to any form of Corruption, and it is not uncommon for a cat to seek out and attack corrupted individuals.
An Important Note
It is important to distinguish the Corrupt/Cleansed spectrum from the lawful/chaotic and good/evil spectrums, because while there is correlation between them, they are inherently different. Think of the Corrupt side of the spectrum as having less self control, more irratic and at the whims of your emotions.
*Out of game note to players: I’ll show you a corrupt character pretty early, so don’t worry if you don’t understand just by reading this.