Greg Sez: Chaos Taints Q&A (2007)

Published 14th Jul 2007

Questions by Mikko ‘Adept’ Rintasaari, answers by Greg Stafford.

Q:When And How Does One Get A Chaos Taint?
A:First of all, let us recall that this is chaos, and that it operates outside of the known world systems. The are will not be a single answer to this question.Here are some of the ways to get a chaos taint, and an estimate on the likelihood that it will cause a chaos taint immediately:
  • Be born with it (broos, scorpion men, etc.) 99.99999999999999999999999999999999%
  • Act chaotically (rape, cannibalism, etc.) 15% [But this is cumulative.]
  • Knowingly initiate to a chaos cult (join Thanatar) 15%
  • Participate in chaos rites (worship Krarsht, Cacodemon, etc) 5%
  • Dedicate to a chaos entity. 90%
  • Handle chaos tools, etc. 10%
  • Eat something chaotic 5% (cumulative)
Q:What is the nature of the chaos taint? What actually happens when the cannibal or the Krarsht worshipper does get the chaos taint?
A:A chaos taint is a hole in reality, a hole in existence. Have you had anyone close to you die? If you have, perhaps you know the feeling of their absence. There used to be something, but you have an awareness that now there isn’t. A chaos taint is like that, only more so. It is not the absence of a person, but the absence of an underlying actuality. Something so deep that is inexpressible just simply is not.
Q:Is it something only a Storm Bull cultist or equivalent can tell, or is there an accompanying tangible change?
A:No, it is not tangible. Sometimes the world, protesting the violation of its reality, bursts forth in a wild effort to fill that non-hole, and this is expressed as a chaos featue. Chaos features are often tangible and discernable. But the taint itself is not, except through special perceptual ability, like the Storm Bull’s Sense Chaos.
Q:Can you be “just a little bit chaotic”?
Q:Are there degrees?
A:Yes, but only of enormity. There is chaotic, more chaotic, even more chaotic and so on. But there is no fraction of chaotic.
Q:My understanding of chaos is that ultimately every chaotic creature is a wound in glorantha. An agent of entropy, or like a parasite in the body of the world where existence is leaking out. As long as the number of parasites is kept to a reasonable level, Glorantha can bear it. The sacred time rituals and natural cycles renew her. When there is too much chaos, like in the greater darkness, then the world is in danger of ending.
Q:I guess it’s from the above that I’ve been thinking that becoming properly chaotic is a clear change. Your soul has a wound and your immortal existence is in danger. The wound also warps reality, and often gives you power (chaos features), though not always in a useful manner (detrimental features). I’ve understood that the vitality of a broo or a dragon snail is at least in part the result of the chaos wound.
Q:I also postulated that chaos isn’t pollution or a disease, but a spiritual and magical phenomenon. Generally it’s not something you catch by accident, but rather by your magical acts and choices.
A:Yes, correct again.
Q:I proposed that after a chaotic deer has been killed you are pretty safe in eating it. Not that most people would be prepared to, and a lot of it is probably slime, but I’d think the bits that look ok are ok to eat.
A:No. Devouring chaos is a deliberate partaking of chaos. It is using chaos to nurture oneself. Nurturing oneself on chaos is a way to become chaotic.
Q:If a wolf feeds on a dead broo it may be in danger of poisoning, but it’s not in danger of sprouting tentacles. When the broo is dead it’s just a pile of meat, and the chaos wound inside it has closed.
A:No. The taint is not a physical thing or part, any more than a soul is. Wild animals, having survived the Darkness or been killed by it, know about chaos as much as humans do. In fact, perhaps more so since they do not have intellect and the rational process to confuse them with options.
Q:When a person has received a chaos taint, how hard is it to get rid of it? Obviously his/her soul is now badly damaged. What does it take to fix it? At this point, I assume, death is not a cure anymore.
A:Correct. Death is not a cure but a curse. It is very difficult to fix, if at all. Most likely the after effects will remain forever. The best one can hope for is to get as fixed as possible, get good with one’s god, and then die.

Published 14th Sep 2007

Question by Ciaran Daly, answer by Greg Stafford.

Q:How would an Ogre for example go about cleansing itself of a Chaos taint, and what would a cleansed Ogre be like? Would physical changes accompany the spiritual ones?
A:Ogres are naturally chaotic. Their taint is an integral part of the race, due to the betrayal of the ancestors during the Great Darkness when they joined the forces of chaos. The chaos rune is a natural part of their make-up. Thus being cleansed is not easy-it would be akin to a Heortling removing the air rune from himself. Or, to put it in terrestrial terms, like a human removing his nervous or circulatory system!But it is not impossible-just cosmically difficult.


Note that this process is NOT known to the beings of Glorantha. The few individuals who have achieved it (like that lonely broo up in the Rockwoods) have not shared it with others-their own race don’t want to know, and the other races don’t believe them if they tell it! Most being who attempt this will fail. That is because the few who attempt it perform the removal part, but if successful, are so maladjusted that they cannot survive. They would know his deletion is necessary, and would be imagining that they would become what the ogre was before the betrayal. But this is impossible-the thing that became ogres were not just ogres without the chaos, but something else entirely that does not exist anymore.

So to succeed, an ogre would have to remove the chaos rune and-here is the secret- replace it with something else. So the simplest replacement would be with the opposite of Chaos: the Law Rune. Such a cleansed ogre would be obsessively concerned with maintaining the cosmic order. He’d probably not be associated with any specific deity or pantheon, but with the “higher order” of the cosmos. He’d have a natural affinity with others with the rune, though they might not accept him.

I do not think that physical change would accompany the spiritual transformation.


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