Evil / Undead Class : The Tainted

By Chris Tanner

Brutal monsters and evil villains stalk heroes at every turn, but if their claws, weapons, or spells fail to slay their enemies, some evil creatures employ a more subtle method - insidious temptation. Any hero can thus find himself traveling down a dark road - the first few steps always seem to make so much sense - but once the journey is begun, it can end only in death or damnation. Still, a valiant few who walk dark paths fight against the loss of their souls and virtue, and some manage to maintain a kind of balance, wrestling with temptation with each breath and even in their dreams.

A tainted is a once noble hero who has fallen under the sway of a fiendish parasite. The demon, devil, or yugoloth slowly tries to control the character's will, offering him vile powers in dark whispers. How a person becomes tainted varies greatly. Some are possessed, others are tricked, and still others willingly allow a fiend to share their soul, hoping to gain power in exchange. Once a person is tainted, a heart black as night, a will of unyielding evil, and a potency of unwholesome origin can often be concealed, but the eyes of the fiend cannot. The "eyes of the fiend" are the tell-tale sign of a tainted creature, a pair of strange eye-shaped markings that burn themselves into the character's chest.

Depending on the particular variety of fiend that inhabits his soul, the tainted takes on elements of its personality. Generally, demons cause the tainted to be prone to violence. Specifically, a succubus-possessed tainted might become lecherous and seductive. Bebilith-possessed might have an obsession with spiders. Vrock-possessed tainted take on the scavenging qualities of vultures, and tainted bonded with hezrou often lose all desire for good hygiene. Glabrezu-possessed become sneaky and silver-tongued. Nalfeshnee-possessed tainted are judgmental, prejudiced bigots. Marilith-possessed become covetous, particularly with jewels and other trinkets. Those unfortunate enough to have a balor inside them become instigators of the worst sort, sparking riots and violence.

Devils add to a character's desire for power and control, no matter what the cost. Osyluths make the tainted "snitch" more, blaming things on innocents. Kyton-tainted develop a disturbing obsession with sadistic torture. Tainted possessed by hellcats are prone to run on all fours and make bestial noises. Barbazu-tainted become aggressive and confrontational. Erinyes affect the tainted's personality much like a succubus. Hamatula-tainted become paranoid and distrusting. A tainted with a cornugon within his soul is often brave to foolish proportions. The gelugons are known for their elitist attitudes, and the tainted's personality changes to reflect this. A tainted dominated by a pit fiend develops a wicked pyromania and a fiendish cunning.

Yugoloths cause the tainted they possess to become greedy, selfish, and callous. Canoloth-tainted become overly stubborn Mezzoloths use the tainted's body to continue their martial training. Nycaloth-tainted become sneakier, using attacks from the shadows and other underhanded tactics. Ultroloth-tainted are scheming and cruel, and they tend to taunt victims before delivering the final blow.

If the tainted individual resists the advances of the fiend, he can use the powers without risk. He cannot, however, prevent the physical changes taking place in his body due to the activity of the fiend. Should the fiend's wiles pervert the character's mind far enough, he might become lost forever, trapped in the abyss of his mind, sealed in the shell of his body. Those who wish to rid themselves of the invading fiend must seek a way to banish it, but most tainted, even those who master the fiend within, fear the loss of the fiend's power.

A fiend usually prefers to take the noblest souls, so paladins and other good characters are at prime risk. There's nothing fiends crave more than to watch a pure heart melt away to be replaced with one as black as night. Fiends seem to take pleasure in polluting the most trusted and well-loved individuals. No one suspects these individuals of corruption, and their betrayals are the sweeter for it.

The tainted prestige class presents two paths of advancement, one for the spellcaster and one for the melee-oriented character. A character who wishes to become a tainted can choose from either prestige class path, but once a path is chosen, the character cannot then progress on the other. Both paths have the same class Requirements, Class Skills, skill points per level, and abilities, but they differ as described below.

Tainted Class Requirements

To qualify to become a Tainted, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:

Class Skills

The tainted's class skills are Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Disguise, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (the planes), Listen, Move Silently, Ride, Search, Spellcraft, and Spot.

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are Class Features of the tainted prestige class. In addition, some Class Features of the core classes are changed when a member of that class becomes a tainted.

Spellcasters: No matter what their alignment, tainted spellcasters cannot cast spells with the Good descriptor. Good-aligned tainted spellcasters have the option of casting Evil spells appropriate to their class, but each casting of such a spell causes the tainted to gain a fiend point (see below).

Cleric: Clerics who used positive energy to turn undead and spontaneously cast cure spells now have the option of using negative energy to rebuke undead and spontaneously cast inflict spells. They can choose to use this power at any time - it is not a permanent choice - but each use of negative energy in this fashion causes the tainted cleric to gain a fiend point. Clerics who already used negative energy suffer no penalty for doing so, but they gain no new ability. Clerics do not increase their turning ability when they take levels of the tainted prestige class.

Paladin: Tainted paladins have the option of using their lay on hands ability to cause damage like an inflict spell. Each use of lay on hands in this fashion causes the tainted paladin to gain a fiend point. In addition, a tainted paladin can cast contagion in exchange for a use of his remove disease ability. Each casting of contagion causes the paladin to gain a fiend point.

Fiend Points: A tainted is a character struggling to maintain ownership of his soul. Fiend points represent how much control the fiend has over the tainted's soul. At 1st level, the tainted has 5 fiend points modified by an amount according to the table below.

ConditionFiend Points
Alignment is good-1
Alignment is neutral+1
Alignment is good but has committed an act of evil in the past+1
Character is a paladin-1

When a character gains a tainted class level beyond the first or uses a fiendish power, he must make a fiend points check. If a fiendish power is continuous or can be used an unlimited number of times per day (such as a feat or a fly speed), the tainted must make the check at the start of each day (one check must be made for each continuous fiendish power). A fiend points check is a Wisdom check with a DC equal to the number of fiend points the character has. If the check succeeds, the tainted has fought off the fiend's temptations for the time being. If the check fails, the character gains a fiend point. On a roll of a natural 1. the tainted automatically fails and gains 1d4 fiend points. If the roll is a natural 20, the fiend's grip on the tainted's soul falters, and the character loses 1 fiend point. Fiend points cannot drop below 0. Willingly taking an evil action causes a character to automatically gain 1 fiend point. If at any time the number of the tainted's fiend points is equal to twice the tainted's Wisdom score, he has lost the battle over his soul, and his alignment changes to the alignment of the fiend inhabiting his soul. If the character's Wisdom is unnaturally low (due to ability score damage or drain) this alignment shift lasts until the character's Wisdom is returned to normal, but during this time, the tainted might commit many more evil acts and thus increase the number of his fiend points.

Spells Per Day/Spells Known: At specified levels gained in the tainted spellcaster prestige class, the character gains new spells per day and new spells known as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (metamagic or item creation feats, new familiar abilities, increased turning ability, and so on). This means that he adds these levels of the tainted spellcaster class to the level of some other spellcasting class he has, then determines spells per day, caster level, and spells known (if formerly a bard or a sorcerer) accordingly. If a character had more than one spellcasting class before becoming a tainted spellcaster, he must decide to which class he adds the new effective level for the purposes of determining spells per day and spells known.

Eyes of the Fiend (Su): A tainted's true identifying mark, the eyes of the fiend are tattoos burned into the chest of the character. Looking like two orbs of darkest night, they give the character a +2 competence bonus to all Intimidate checks and a +2 circumstance bonus to Intimidate checks against anyone who can see the tainted's tattoos. In addition, the eyes of the fiend give the tainted darkvision (through his own eyes) with a range of 60 feet.

Fiendish Power I: At 2nd level, the fiend begins to tempt the tainted with its evil gifts. The power granted depends on the type of fiend that possesses the tainted. When spell-like abilities are granted by the fiend, they are as the spells cast by a sorcerer of the tainted's character level.

Dream Haunting (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, whenever a tainted falls asleep (or enters trance), he must make a fiend points check. If he fails, his rest is filled with horrifying images of anguish and despair, and he is shaken (suffering a -2 morale penalty on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, and saving throws) until he defeats a foe in combat, gains a fiend point, or makes a fiend points check (regardless of success or failure). This fiend points check does not cause a gain of fiend points when the tainted fails the check, but a natural roll of 20 causes the tainted to lose a fiend point.

Minor Physical Change (Ex): At 3rd level, the tainted's body shows the first signs of what fiend shares the tainted's soul. The change does not grant any special bonuses or penalties, but it often unnerves those who see it. The exact change depends on the type of possessing demon:

Fiendish Power II: At 4th level, the fiend increases its pressure on the tainted and the potency of its temptations. When spell-like abilities are granted by the fiend, they are as the spells cast by a sorcerer of the tainted's character level.

Hallucinations (Ex): After reaching 5th level, the tainted begins to hallucinate at random. Once per week during a stressful situation, the DM should ask the tainted character to make a fiend points check. If he fails, the mind of the character becomes distorted. He gains a fiend point and is confused for 1d4 rounds as his senses are filled with diabolical images of horror, suffering, and death on a random Lower Plane. A roll of a natural 20 when making the fiend points check causes the tainted to lose 1 fiend point.

Moderate Physical Change (Ex): At 6th level, the tainted undergoes a more severe physical change.

Fiendish Power III: If the tainted has not fallen by this point, the fiend continues to tempt it with unholy abilities. When spell-like abilities are granted by the fiend, they are as the spells cast by a sorcerer of the tainted's character level.

Telepathy (Su): An 8th-level tainted gains the fiendish ability to speak telepathically to other creatures within 100 feet.

Craving (Su): Upon reaching 8th level, a tainted must make a fiend points check every day at dusk. In addition to the normal results of a fiend points check, failure means the tainted must kill (or destroy, in the case of undead or constructs) a number of creatures whose total Hit Dice equals the tainted's class level before the sun comes up. If the tainted cannot meet his quota, he suffers a -1 penalty to all attack rolls, damage rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws until the quota is met. The penalties cannot be removed by any other means short of a wish or miracle spell.

Major Physical Change (Ex): By 9th level, the tainted has fought with the fiend within so much that he changes dramatically in form to match his archenemy.

Fiendish Power IV: Further drawing on its vile potency, the fiend continues to entice the tainted with dark gifts. When spell-like abilities are granted by the fiend, they are as the spells cast by a sorcerer of the tainted's character level.

Tainted WarriorHit Die: d10
1st+1+2+0+0Fiend points, eyes of the fiend
2nd+2+3+0+0Fiendish power I, dream haunting
3rd+3+3+1+1Minor physical change
4th+4+4+1+1Fiendish power II
6th+6+5+2+2Moderate physical change
7th+7+5+2+2Fiendish power III
8th+8+6+2+2Telepathy, craving
9th+9+6+3+3Major physical change
10th+10+7+3+3Fiendish power IV
Tainted SpellcasterHit Die: d6
CLBABFortRefWillSpecialSpells per Day
1st+0+0+0+2fiend points, eyes of the fiend+1 caster level
2nd+1+0+0+3Fiendish power I, dream haunting-
3rd+2+1+1+3Minor physical change+1 caster level
4th+3+1+1+4fiendish power II-
5th+3+1+1+4Hallucinations+1 caster level
6th+4+2+2+5Moderate physical change-
7th+5+2+2+5Fiendish power III+1 caster level
8th+6+2+2+6telepathy, craving-
9th+6+3+3+6Major physical change+1 caster level
10th+7+3+3+7fiendish power IV-

Source: Dragon #302

Evil & Undead Classes