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Define Corruption.

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#1 Griautis



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Posted 28 May 2013 - 09:37 PM


me and one of my players were discussing what exaclty corruption is and what it represents. He says that it is warp energies infusing the body, thus you can only gain it by being exposed to warp. His idea has some strength, becausedue to corruption your body mutates and Soul Sight power states that it can see Corruption point value by seeing how much the aura is connected to the warp.
However I disagree that thats the only way to gain corruption, as the book states corruption can be gained just by learning forbidden lore, being given doubts etc. 

So we can't quite find a definition for Corruption. Can any of you help us? :)



#2 Gurkhal



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Posted 29 May 2013 - 01:43 AM

The Warp does not work as easily as say some natural element where direct physical contact is needed. Instead I would say that learning forbidden arts or merely listening to daemons opens up your soul to become infused with the power of the Warp. The Warp reacts as much, or more, in my mind to symbolism and figurative things as physical and thus you can often find it seeping through between the realms even when it purely technical should not do so, for example when reading about forbidden arts. 

So in essence I think that your friend is right, but sees the interaction between the material world and the Warp as far to simple. There are loads of ways that the Warp can reach into the material universe that is not at all easy to see, understand or predict.  

#3 Lynata



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Posted 29 May 2013 - 02:43 AM

I would guess it is a matter of interpretations, and players or GMs may differ in opinion on this just as the various writers' may, leading to Corruption being gained or not being gained from a variety of sources.
However, it could be argued that whilst Corruption itself is a Warp-based metaphysical taint, the stat and mechanic represent more than this. By learning forbidden lore or harbouring doubts, for example, a character may open up their mind to the true Corruption, which then begins to taint their souls subliminally.
In other words, the stat Corruption is like "Warp AIDS" in that this itself isn't what makes you sick - but it allows it to happen, with the true process happening in the background, only made possibly by having a high amount of CPs (a damaged immunity against the "feedback" influence of the Warp, if you will, where a person not only projects their thoughts and emotions into the Warp as most human beings do, but actually starts being affected by what the Warp is sending back).
At least that would be my take on it, under the current principles.

#4 IdOfEntity



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Posted 29 May 2013 - 06:13 AM

My take:  (tl; dr's skip to the summary)

Corruption is the genetic malformation of an entity.  It is the distortion of the body further away from what is considered healthy and ideal.  Warp energy is to Corruption as Gamma Radiation is to Tumors.  Some tumors are small, benign, and not easily detected.  Corruption can be as such.  Corruption is only accumulated from exposure to warp energy, and is not in and of itself an indication of malfeasance of the soul.

Those who purposely seek out, bargain with, and manipulate the powers of chaos are going to be exposed to more warp energy than the average Imperial Citizen, and generally will show more corruption for it.  They have exposed themselves by choice, and as a side effect have physiologically suffered.   In this instance their lack of moral character has led to their physical corruption. That does not mean an Imperial Citizen who has been exposed to warp energy and suffered a malignancy is a Heretic, but there is a correlation.  Why should the Ecclesiarchy sift through the innocent and the guilty when they can purge all and ensure the guilt are slaughtered?

The danger with Forbidden Lore is that an Acolyte who seeks it out is either exposing themselves to artifacts that may likely have been exposed, or are a source of, warp energy.  It is the danger of the profession that as you begin to investigate, learn, and accumulate knowledge that involves the manipulation of the warp that you would inadvertently expose yourself to it.  You may have impeccable moral character, but you are still twisting your physiology from the exposure.


1) Corruption is only a physical manifestation in the body.
2) Heresy involving Chaos leads often leads to corruption, but corruption is not evidence of Heresy.  Not that the Ecclesiarchy cares.
3) Acquiring knowledge of Forbidden Lore: Warp, and the like, is Russian Roulette.  Eventually you will get burned despite good/bad intentions.

#5 Magos Seqvirin

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Posted 29 May 2013 - 10:41 PM

I humbly disagree with the notion that Corruption only represents the physical malformation caused by warp energy, because it is more than just a physical manifestation of the Ruinous Powers. Corruption happens when you diverge from the true path, whatever that may be, but as an Imperial citizen, the true path should be being a faithfull servant of the Imperium.

Therefore, if you consort with xenos, you should gain Corruption, because you have gone against the edicts of the God-Emperor. Oh, you did this for the benefit of the Imperium? That's perfectly fine, but you have made a choice to break the rules and thus gain Corruption. This is how a person goes from Puritan (always sticks to the rules) to Rogue (does whatever's necessary). Of course, the level of Corruption gained depends on the act committed, for example using xenos weaponry might give 1 point of Corruption, while having an intimate relationship with a Slaught should give you over 9,000! Heck, just thinking about it may open the road to damnation.

You might ask me, why did I use xenos in my example? Because they are not necessarily related to the warp, but nevertheless, interacting them will grant you Corruption (unless you are killing them wholesale). So how does this lead to physical disfigurement when you reach a large number of Corruption points? Well, the warp is an alternate dimension which is greatly influenced by emotions and because you have willingly interacted with xenos, you are aware that you have broken the laws and thus deep down in your subconscious, you are both ashamed of your action and get a bit of a thrill for breaking the unbreakable law. This is then reflected in the warp, a minor thing at first, but as the number of interactions increase and the guilt keeps piling up, the related emotion is reflected back at an increasing volume, leading to - after a long period - to signs of mutation.

I'll do a TL;DR summary myself, in case that was too complicated.

  1. Any unlawful/immoral action/thought might grant Corruption. Severity depends on aforesaid action/thought.
  2. The resulting emotions are reflected back by the warp, thus leading to physical effects. Besides, direct warp exposure is rarely survived.


#6 IdOfEntity



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Posted 30 May 2013 - 04:44 AM


Consorting with Xenos leads to corruption?  So having a philosophical discussion with one of the Water Caste of the Tau would lead to your disfigurement?  Having a respectful conversation with a species that has virtually no warp presence is a path to a vile and twisted body?  I believe you may have had a bit too much of the Ecclesiarchial Kool-Aid, sir.

Here's the biggest issue:

1) Morality is subjective, not objective.
2) In-game mechanics should be based on objective measurements in order to be consistent and fair.

The game developers created a metric called Corruption Points that ties directly to physical malformation of the body, and provided a few very specific scenarios in which corruption is attained.  I'll spend some time tonight checking, but I'm pretty sure there were specific scenarios that caused the accumulation of corruption.

Should a purveyor and imbiber of slaught receive more corruption points than Warmaster Maccaroth sending 20,000 ill-prepared men to their deaths in order to stymie the political and military might of one of his upstart suboordinates?  Should a guardsman sharing water with the Eldar Guardian who just assisted him in slaying a handful of Orc receive corruption, but the Confessor who orders the purge of a thousand workers for little more than suspicion is immune to the corruption?  Is a Rogue Trader who has a writ signed by the Emperor himself immune to the effects of corruption for as long as he holds the writ?

What you are arguing for is to invoke the game mechanic of corruption points based on adhering to the edicts of a religion revering an Emperor that did not give a flying hoot for religion in the first place.  If the God-Emperor did not care for gods, religion, or any of that nonsense to begin with…what is enforcing this corruption on citizens?  Are you implying that the Ecclesiarchy is inflicting affliction?  You're invoking the same kind of superstitious nonsense that the Ecclesiarchy preaches, but you're doing it to explain a game mechanic.

#7 Magos Seqvirin

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Posted 30 May 2013 - 08:06 PM

I understand your reasoning, but might I remind you that the whole of the Imperium is built on the foundation of blind faith and obeisance? Yes, back in the days when the Emperor still travelled the galaxy and lead his Crusade, he was promoting a completely secular world. However, since his entombement in the Golden Throne, things have changed significantly. If someone does not believe in His Divinity, they are going to be called heretics. So even though my words seem to suggest I'm just biased towards the Ecclesiarchy, I am simply referring to one of the defining core elements of WH40K: the Emperor is worshipped as a god and he is the ultimate authority. Therefore, doing anything that goes against the laws and tenets of the Imperium should invite corruption.

I understand that this is not exactly a completely objective look on things, especially considering how differently laws and faith can be and are being interpreted in the Imperium, but there are some basic things that should not be done. You don't deal with heretics, aliens and daemons. 

Since you have brought up a lot of examples, I'm going to answer them, if you don't mind.

Philosophical discussion with the Tau Water Caste: The first mistake that you haven't killed the Tau the moment you met him, but since it has come to a discussion, especially a philosophical one, you are allowing the Tau's words to influence you. You don't have to accept anything he says, but his words will come back to you later and might change your actions in the future (perhaps sparing a Tau's life along the line), even though you are supposed to kill them simply for being xenos. Also, please note that humans who have joined the Tau Empire are considered heretics.

Should a purveyor and imbiber of slaught receive more corruption points than Warmaster Maccaroth sending 20,000 ill-prepared men to their deaths in order to stymie the political and military might of one of his upstart suboordinates? I believe this example may be a bit wrong. Yes, the slaught-lover should receive a whole bunch of Corruption points. And yes, Warmaster Maccaroth would also receive lots of Corruption for such an action. However, if Maccaroth had sent those people into the jaws of death against heretics, there would be no Corruption involved. It is because he used his power and authority for his own use and not for the Imperium that I would give him Corruption points. 

Should a guardsman sharing water with the Eldar Guardian who just assisted him in slaying a handful of Orc receive corruption, but the Confessor who orders the purge of a thousand workers for little more than suspicion is immune to the corruption? Your first example would hardly come to pass, as the Eldar would probably shoot the Guardsman with the same dispassion with which he disposed of the Orks. But should such a scenario take place, yes, he should receive Corruption, although a very minor amount. And Confessor would receive Corruption points if he was wrong, but if there was indeed taint, his actions would be justified and no Corruption would be granted.

Is a Rogue Trader who has a writ signed by the Emperor himself immune to the effects of corruption for as long as he holds the writ? A Rogue Trader's writ doesn't grant him immunity to Corruption, he is simply given the authority to act outside regular Imperial laws and boundaries. It is up to the Rogue Trader how he acts and whom he consorts with. Those Rogue Traders who have dabbled into stuff that are against Imperial law are indeed afraid of the Imperial authorities because they know they are in the wrong and would receive a righteous kick in the rump for doing so. Of course, the Imperium overlooks some of their actions in favour of the other benefits the Rogue Trader's activites might produce, but a Rogue Trader can become Corrupted as easily as anyone else. He just has a paper that lets him do this more easily than other Imperial citizens. 

Of course, this does not mean that my reasoning is valid when it comes to the game mechanics of Corruption. But bear in mind that even though there are clear rules (bit of an exaggeration), it is always up to the GM to decide how to interpret them and give players Corruption. The physical disfigurement part is hard to explain when it comes to xenos, I give you that. But doesn't mean, and this is strictly my humble opinion, that Corruption points shouldn't be given for actions outside the legal / moral system of the Imperium.

#8 IdOfEntity



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Posted 31 May 2013 - 04:26 AM

I understand that the Imperial Creed is the backbone of Imperial Society, and that most citizens base their decisions on it.  There are measures in place to punish those who go against it.  Excoriation, Flaggelation, Execution, etc.  These are enforced by the Ecclesiarchy.  These are the methods they have at their disposal.  They don't have the ability to corrupt.

1) Who is deciding which Imperial Citizens are going to be afflicted with Corruption?
2) What is the delivery method for said Corruption?

The Emperor isn't casting affliction for Heresy.  The Ecclesiarchy certainly isn't.  A Daemon of Chaos isn't choosing to enforce the credo of the Imperium.  In your vision of Corruption someone has to be the judge, jury, and executioner to be casting Corruption around.  Who are these hapless fools "inviting corruption" from?

You mention humans who have joined the Tau are branded heretics.  Do you believe they have a higher degree of physical corruption than a faithful regiment?  There's no evidence this is true.  None.

Notice how for all of the negative side effects of Slaught the game developers chose not to mention a thing about Corruption.

Who or what is determining if the Confessor was wrong?  In his holy quarters he is randomly growing a third arm with pincers on it for a decision he authorized two weeks ago?

Are you seriously suggesting that the Imperial Creed takes precedence over a writ signed by the Emperor himself?  Dude…?

Your arguments are not supported by RAW or RAI.  What are you using to support your view?

#9 Lynata



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Posted 31 May 2013 - 04:46 AM

I feel both of you have a point, somewhere.

It may well be true that the Imperial Creed provides a sort of mental shield against corruption for the faithful who choose to live their lifes in accordance to the puritan doctrines promoted by the Ecclesiarchy. Anyone who has seen the 3E Witch Hunters Codex knows that this Shield of Faith can, in some cases, even be strong enough to repel the influence of the Warp completely, be it benign or malicious.

Of course, that does not mean that faith in the Emperor is the only way how one may protect their body and soul from the Ruinous Power of the Warp - it and the morality it propagates are but one of many paths on this road, albeit arguably the path most common within the Imperium. If you stray from this road, if you open up your mind to radical ideas, if you start giving in to temptation … this is when your shield becomes eroded and you are at risk from inviting the ravages of the Warp to your very body and soul.

It is as they say, an open mind is like a fortress with its gates left unguarded. ;)

Perhaps the amount of Corruption a character receives, or even if he or she should receive any at all, should be dependent not only on the action but also on who does it and why - yet that would arguably become much too complicated for an RPG, not only in terms of mechanics but also inviting mid-game discussions on the table. The current system is a clever compromise, if the GM interprets and applies it correctly.

#10 Zakalwe



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Posted 31 May 2013 - 03:00 PM

I look at it this way; insanity affects the mind, corruption is a tainting of the soul.  This might be too simplistic for many, but I find that when discussing abstract concepts and game mechanisms that the KISS principle is a good place to start.



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#11 Magos Seqvirin

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 09:26 PM

Okay, so I finally had time during the weekend to look at the book and refresh my information on Corruption and I admit I have been wrong in its interpretation. It's just a simple Chaos-taint meter that lacks the depth of what I was talking about. Then again, I have spent the majority of my roleplaying career playing games with morality meters and I thought that Corruption was such a system. Sure, it's far simpler to just dish our Corruption points and look at a table instead of giving moral choices their due consequences, but that's clearly what the book says.

Nonetheless, I would like to reflect on your arguements. First off, it is not just the Ecclesiarchy who enforce the Imperial Creed. Heck, they can't even have men at arms (but women are fine)! The Imperial Creed is enforced by every aspect of the Imperium, the Administratum clerk works for Him on Earth, the Adeptus Arbites hunts down criminals who have broken His Laws (remember, the Imperium has secular laws as well!), the Guardsman fights for His Glory. You can't just remove the element of blind faith from the game and call it WH40K. (Personally, I am not religious, but the game and theme is.)

"Who is deciding which Imperial Citizens are going to be afflicted with Corruption?"

Well, that should be obvious, it's the GM. He/she decides who gets Corruption and how many (aka the judge, jury and executioner who casts Corruption around) depending on the scenario. Sure, the book gives you examples, but it doesn't cover each and every possibility, so it's up to the GM to decide. (Accordingly, the mechanics of Corruption can be changed and agreed upon by GM and players, but that falls under the category of House Rules.) 

"Are you seriously suggesting that the Imperial Creed takes precedence over a writ signed by the Emperor himself?  Dude…?"

I am not quite sure where this question comes from as I never suggested such a thing. But as it stands, the Imperial Creed does take precedence over a Rogue Trader's writ. Why? Because the Emperor hasn't signed a writ in, oh, what, ten millennia? (Also, the Emperor intended a wholly secular Imperium and look how well that turned out.) So yes, just because a Rogue Trader has an official writ doesn't mean he's immune to Corruption. If he reads a volume of the Book of Lorgar, he will most definitely receive Corruption, writ or no writ. However, if he acts by the Imperial Creed, which means destroying such unholy artifacts without a second thought, he will avoid gaining Corruption. 

#12 borithan



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Posted 02 June 2013 - 10:38 PM

I have issued Corruption for an "immoral" act. However, it was because it was particularly henious (in my mind) and is an act that in my mind would have revealed something about the character's personality that would make them more susceptible to the temptations of the warp etc. It was a case where a character just murdered a guy who they were interrogating, but where about to have to give up to the local auithorities, pretty much in a fit of pique because he wasn't getting his way (not the player, the character). I gave 1 corruption point.

Now, this was in their second advanture, and I think the only corruption anyone had gained so far (barring the Dusk Worlder, who starts with 1d10, and so had about 5 or something). As I say, I felt this probably meant they were the kind of person that would be susceptible to the temptations of Chaos, and it was more that what was being punished with corruption, rather than the fact they killed someone. If it had been in a fight, or, or there had been anysense that the killing was justified (and I mean in the 40k sense, not in a modern "reasonable force" interpretation), it would not have been issued. I also would not have issued more than 1 for something like that.

Also, I would alter how I would deal with the consequences of it based on why co9rruption is gained. If it is purely down to Warp exposure, the basic rules are fine (mutations etc). However, if it was gained more due to corruption of the soul, I would be more inclined to used the optional rules from… can't remember the book, but the one where characters can be offered deamonic pacts etc, as it will be more that they are starting to get noticed by the powers of the warp as possible tools, ameanable to their will.

The campaign didn't progress along enough for this too matter, but I don't feel corrpution should be limited solely to warp exposure. However, it isn't a simple morality thing either, as the morality of the 40k world is so warped compared to our own that it can't really be used that way.

#13 Darth Smeg

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Posted 03 June 2013 - 03:08 AM

Corruption leads to mutations and malignancies, and as such just "being evil" is not enough. 

These changes to your body and person are the results of an external influence, you are literally being warped by supernatural powers. It takes exposure to or devotion to Chaos (aka the Warp) in order to make this happen.

Just killing people is not enough. People have been doing that for milennia without growing tentacles.

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#14 ranoncles



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Posted 03 June 2013 - 10:01 PM

Trust Smeg to cut to the hearth of the matter…pillo.


Insanity and corruption are difficult concepts to understand and to administer, partly because there is some ´overbleed´ IMO.

Regarding the example of the acolyte killing someone in an ´immoral act´, is it insanity or corruption? I would argue that acts that go against common morality or are only justified in only extreme circumstances but used as a first resort instead (but without obvious exposure to the warp in some way) are acts of insanity. They are the acts of a budding psychopath or sociopath, mechanically rendered by insanity points.

And because such a character is losing his grip on what is normal and allowed, he leaves himself open to corruption as he will not be stopped by simple laws which were surely only meant for lesser men. Typically the path of the radical. I expect that characters who are not obviously evil or chaos minded would start with wracking up insanity points due their callous nature which leads them to deviate behaviour and subsequent exposure to the warp as they start breaking more and more societal and legal rules including those to prevent exposure to chaos.


Reading a book on forbidden lore might indeed incur corruption points. By opening the mind to such knowledge, forbidden thoughts and temptations are more easily slipping in. The fluff mentions the warp trying to seduce men with whispers in the night, trying to play on their darkest fears and desires. 

If that is possible without 'direct exposure to the warp' (or is that actually exposure to the warp?), how much more effect would it have on someone who actually took the decision to read about such forbidden stuff?





#15 borithan



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Posted 04 June 2013 - 11:11 PM

Ok, maybe Insanity may have been a better choice (though in my mind it was an entirely rational act of a depraved person, the kind of deparved person who might gain the attention of certain powers eventually). However, I do think it warranted something, again, not because it was simply immoral, or even callous (I would just regard the latter as the norm for Acolytes), but the insight it gave on the character's personality.


#16 Denmar1701



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Posted 14 June 2013 - 08:39 PM

I have read through several of the posts (as is my habit, before I respond to any interesting topic) and what I see is a lot of back and forth arguments why it is or isn't, and a request for any in game existing method for showing what produces corruption. Most of these could still be argued ad naseum for a decade or more… but it's my intent to find a speedier conclusion.

I would suggest perusing a copy of Purge the Unclean. In the modules from that publication, you will find on more than one occasion Corruption points to be handed out, if the party of characters behaves in a certain manner, and for them to automatically receive those points. In my opinion that would be a good guideline for what 'normal' acts on the parts of players should and should not recieve corruption.

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#17 ranoncles



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Posted 17 June 2013 - 07:37 AM

Actually, that ship has sailed, hit a storm and sunk with all hands….


The example(s) in Purge the Unclean have bedeviled GM's and players for a while until the author acknowledged that the examples are indeed wrong. He wrote the book before the DH rules were finalised and the system for Insanity and Corruption had been determined. You can probably still find those threads if you're willing to dig.


The core rule book actually does a decent job at explaining corruption and how one gains them. Warp exposure of some kind is always necessary.

Insanity could have been done better IMO. It's not just meeting crazy **** and getting wonky as a result. Sometimes, IMO, its also doing crazy **** and moving along a sliding line, slowly going insane. Don't forget, what many people consider insane is perfectly rational for psychopaths. 

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