In Relic, the heroes of the Imperium of Mankind fight to secure the Warp rift that has opened in the Antian Sector. These brave few must face not just foul xenos, but also agents of Chaos. Though this battle must be fought, prolonged exposure to these corrupted creatures can only spell disaster for these intrepid members of the Imperium.
The powers of Chaos are not to be trifled with. The heroes of the Imperium have taken a great risk just by coming into contact with the space surrounding the Warp rift. Daemons pour out from this unholy window into the immaterium, and agents of Chaos increase in number with each passing day. Though a few of the champions of Mankind may succumb to the lure of Chaos willingly, corruption can also seep into those of stalwart and unwavering conviction, sometimes causing horrible physical mutations and madness.
A deck of Corruption cards represent the effects of Chaos in Relic. When drawing cards from any of the three Threat decks, players may be forced to draw a Corruption card or be faced with the chance to strike a deal for power and riches.
A Brush With Chaos
The heroes sent into the Antian Sector are not a crowd of fresh-faced recruits. These men and women are well acquainted with the field of battle and the lure of Chaos. Though these paragons of the Imperium are fighting for the future of Mankind, sometimes corruption comes simply as a result of making contact with the enemy while battling for the Emperor’s cause. Encountering some enemies can force a player to draw a Corruption card and resolve its effects.
Chaos is unpredictable by definition, and the effects of prolonged contact with its followers can take hold of an unfortunate soul immediately or fester over time before manifesting into something sinister. Each Corruption card raises that character’s Corruption by one point, and each card has an activation number and a series of effects. If a hero’s corruption is greater than or equal to a newly drawn card’s activation number, then the card’s effects take hold of the hero.
In this example, both Corruption cards have an activation of three. Unnatural Vigor did not take effect and is placed facedown, but Limb Loss did and is placed faceup.
If a champion of the Imperium is not sufficiently corrupt for Chaos to truly change them, then the effects of contact with its agents don’t take hold. If a hero’s current corruption is less than the corruption card’s activation number, then the card counts towards the character’s corruption value but it does not activate. The card is placed facedown to represent the accumulated pollution that inhabits the body and soul of your hero. Each card counts as one point of corruption.
Members of the Imperium who have not delved deeply into the ways of Chaos will generally suffer more negative consequences in their early contacts with the Ruinous Powers. Cards that possess a lower activation number, and therefore a higher likelihood of affecting the hero, tend to have adverse effects. A hero can be immediately inflicted with Emaciation and have his strength hobbled, or have his wits suppressed in a Stupor and lose one point of cunning.
Bargaining Body and Soul
If Chaos bred nothing but horrific mutations, gibbering madness, and other undesirable side-effects, then its lure would be quite limited. Unfortunately for the wills of warriors of Mankind, Chaos can have its benefits. Some Threat cards will promise power and wealth for a hero if a player draws a corruption card. Will your champion succumb to the wiles of an Alluring Daemonette, or will he make a Pact of Power to gain a quick and easy level? Can a hero of Mankind resist the temptation to work with the Dark Magos to enhance his attributes, or will he take on the taint of the Ruinous Powers to gain an edge in fighting a Possessed Chaos Space Marine?
Beyond the promise of immediate gain, corruption can have its own rewards for those who court Chaos. As corruption spreads through a hero, it becomes more boon than burden for most. Players that accept or are forced to draw more Corruption cards will find that, the higher the activation number, the more likely it is that the Corruption card will actually benefit their hero. A hero may be blessed with Beweaponed Extremities, gaining an edge in every battle. Your champion could gain the ability to evade any enemy with the onset of Invisibility. Though power and profit beckon, the various corruptive benefits that Chaos bestows upon the emissaries of Mankind come at a high price.
A Fate Worse Than Death
The very humanity of the heroes of the Imperium is at stake each time they are cursed with the touch of the Ruinous Powers. When the heroes take on corruption, they step ever closer toward heresy, the most grievous of crimes against Mankind. Any of the mighty defenders of Mankind can fall prey to the insidious powers of Chaos, and should a hero accumulate too much corruption, he is mutated into a Chaos spawn, and is lost to the Imperium forever.
The cost of becoming a Chaos spawn is far higher than simple defeat. As we saw in our last preview, if a hero is vanquished in battle, he is stripped of some of his belongings and then revives at the St. Antias’ Sanctuary Space to continue his mission.
The Imperium will support its loyal members, but Chaos spawn are beyond all hope. Should a player’s hero accumulate six Corruption cards, the character is horribly and hopelessly mutated by Chaos. The player’s character is removed from the game, loses his Power cards, influence tokens, trophies and Corruption cards, and the player must accept a new, randomly selected character who starts at level zero.
Whether the luck of the draw curses your character with corruption or encounters with Chaos are a conscious choice, such heretical practices can only lead to a disastrous demise. In our next preview, we’ll look at how these paragons of Mankind can acquire the powerful Relics that will give them a chance at securing the Warp rift for the Imperium!