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10/23/2009

[Review] Taint and Sanity – RuneQuest Edition

Taint and Sanity – RuneQuest Edition is an Open Game License product published by OtherWorld Creations for use with RuneQuest (Mongoose Edition). The object of this supplement is simple enough: to introduce rules on how to handle Taint and Sanity when using the RuneQuest ruleset. Does it accomplish this goal? Yes it does, and I feel it does so with rules that can be implemented seamlessly and effortlessly into a new or even an existing campaign.

Taint
What is Taint? Here is what the supplement tells us:
Some places and items are so evil or filled with Chaos that exposure to them marks, or taints, a character in a very real and difficult-to-cleanse way. Taint is evil. It is a corruption so deep it warps the very plane of reality. A weapon used to slaughter thousands of innocents, a forest grown on land soaked in the blood of an evil deity, a book bound in the flesh of an archfiend for his own horrible purposes, and the presence of an evil deity are all sources of taint. Then, of course, there are rings…
We have all seen this before. Taint is a well established troupe in fantasy gaming, even if it is not specifically named so in the rules we are familiar with. It is the bread and butter of fantasy literature, and it can be the linchpin for entire sagas that are told on the page, or at the game table.

In Taint and Sanity – RuneQuest Edition taint is handled much like a disease or a poison, and rightly so. Its effects are cumulative, and can quickly whittle away at an exposed character if the proper Resilience saves are not rolled. With each failed Resilience save a character’s Taint score is raised by 1. As the exposure takes its toll, a character will suffer physical ailments, and can even die from its effects. 

The rules go on to explain how to cleanse a person or place of Taint by using spells or performing good deeds. A useful list of possible side effects from exposure to Taint is provided, and there are even alternate rules for varying styles of games. And for the black of heart, there are rules provided for those retched characters who decide to embrace the darkness, and pledge themselves to the service of the source of the Taint.

Sanity
Taint and Sanity – RuneQuest Edition also provides an alternate set of rules for handling a character’s mental health. These rules introduce Sanity as a characteristic, which has the unfortunate potential to deteriorate as characters encounter monsters, are exposed to forbidden knowledge, witness evil or violent acts, or even when casting spells. 

The rules cover all the basic things you would expect: starting Sanity, maximum Sanity score, the loss of Sanity, regaining Sanity and also the effects of shock. There are several handy charts that help determine the effects of insanity and phobias. The rules also offer quite a bit of advice on treating insanity, mental therapy, restoring Sanity through magic, alchemical treatments and drug use. If you have played Call of Cthulhu then you already have a fairly good grasp on some of the rules that are presented.

Overall Impressions
Substance: 4 out of 5 – (above average) the rules presented are meaty, with some being ported directly over from Call of Cthulhu.

Style: 3 out of 5 – (average) nothing particularly special about the artwork, and the editing seems to be thorough.

As a gamer who loves to blend sword & sorcery with eldritch horror I can say Taint and Sanity – RuneQuest Edition is a must have. If you are using RuneQuest (or really any of the games in the D100 family), and are running a sword & sanity campaign you must get your hands on this supplement. OtherWorld Creations has a demo up, so swing by and take a look.
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