Almost all characters in the Hyborian Age are capable of being corrupted if they face sufficiently severe challenges to their integrity. Indeed, many begin with no integrity whatsoever and seem to seek out self-corruption. Even those with stringent codes of honour may fall from their principled stance, usually without any hope of regaining it.
This is because the worldview portrayed in the Conan stories is essentially bleak. There are no cosmic forces for ‘Good.’ Even the supposedly good gods, such as Mitra, may be no more than creations of the priesthood. The only good is that which can be found in a few human beings of high moral standing, though even they are far scarcer than the self-serving or actively evil humans who make up the majority of ordinary people and great heroes and villains alike.
On the other hand, ‘Evil’ exists in a very real and concrete manner. Dark forces are always afoot. The foul sorcerous knowledge of evil priests and the vile demons they conjure up are far more powerful than any magics or defensive prayers to which their supposedly ‘Good’ counterparts might have access. Many folk who might otherwise be moral take the first steps on the road to damnation when they realise that even if they behave virtuously, there is no paradise in the next life, no guarantee of salvation; they might as well take what they can here and now.
Corruption is a more serious problem for magicians and other scholars than for most characters. Scholars’ research typically causes them to make more saving throws against corruption than most adventurers; moreover, even those who successfully avoid being corrupted have a tendency to grow madder and madder as they gain more and more unnatural knowledge.
Any time a character comes into contact with a demon, evil god or an unusually powerful and corrupt sorcerer, except in the context of actively attacking it or fleeing from it in terror, he must make a corruption saving throw. This is essentially a Will saving throw.
Certain magical artefacts and sorcerous practices can also force corruption saving throws; see Chapter 9: Sorcery. All corruption saving throws are made against a DC set by the entity, sorcerer or object’s magic attack roll.
A character’s current Corruption is applied as a circumstance penalty to all corruption saving throws. Once you start on the steady slope towards corruption, it becomes more and more difficult to stop.
A character who successfully saves against corruption usually need not make another saving throw due to the presence of the same creature on the same day. However, if the character has close, peaceful contact with the creature, the Games Master may call for another corruption saving throw every hour.
Consequences of Failure
Each time he fails a Corruption saving throw, a character gains one point of Corruption.