The Godsmen Apocalypse
Taint is a force of evil that corrupts and destroys anything around it. It pollutes the land, physically mars people and animals it comes into contact with, and takes the reason from a man’s mind. It is an overpowering near unstoppable destructive force that completely takes over whatever it comes into contact with. It is like a plague, like a curse, and like a rust upon humanity.
The mechanics of “Taint” can be found in the Heroes of Horror book published by Wizards beginning on page 62. I would recommend more fully reading that section of the book.
The short version is that coming into contact with “Taint” be it on a location, object, or spell that adversely affects your character will gain either corruption (physical) or depravity (mental). A character can either have no taint, mild taint, moderate taint, or severe taint (breaking your max limit will result in death or insanity). The actual statistical threshold for each level is determined by your Constitution (for corruption) and Wisdom (for depravity) scores. Once you reach mild taint you begin to exhibit symptoms that continue getting worse as you move from one threshold to the next. You gain a bonus feat at the moderate and severe levels (for both corruption and depravity). There are also a number of good prestige classes that require a taint threshold.
There are a number of theories as to how Taint originally emerged. Some of them include:
1) The release of Asmodeus creates a backlash of his power that corrupts the world, and the taint is one of the ways that corruption becomes evident. This explanation provides an interesting starting point for additional manifestations of the corruption. It also shows just how powerful Asmodeus was, and creates a great feeling of dread, because in order to counteract this absolute corruption, an equal power would have to work towards it, and considering that most gods are disabled, there might simply be no cope of confining the problem. Furthermore, if Asmodeus still lives, this puts other deities in an interesting situation where they need him to get rid of it.
2) One of the more thoroughly fleshed out hypotheses is dubbed the “Power Hypothesis.” Once released, Asmodeus needed to supercharge his power and by introducing taint to the world. It allowed a massive widespread amount of corruption to take the very nature of existence and use it to feed his power. This possibility enables alternate explanations for The Great Divide in which some good gods may see taint as a destructive force that is completely offensive, taking their worshippers away from them. Other good gods may view taint as a useful thing to test the faith of their worshipers and provide a potent outlet for their worshippers to demonstrate their faith and conviction by destroying it or immersing themselves in it.
In the same manner, some neutral gods will see it as unnatural and an affront to nature, hence pushing something new and unknown into the world, upsetting the perceived balance. While at the same time other neutral gods believe that it can help bring things more into balance, and view taint as a truly arbitrary force that weakens the weak and leaves the strong unchanged thereby making things more balanced by clearly defining the two sides. Again it would fracture the neutral gods by having some feel that it is unfairly depriving mortals of the ability to choose between good or evil, hence upsetting the balance by tipping the scales in the favor of evil.
Most evil gods will get a kick out of how it decimates the world, and laugh hysterically at how it destroys lives. Other evil gods will feel that it is “unfair” and that Asmodeus has overstepped his boundaries, hence seeking his blood in payment.
Certain lawful gods will think that Asmodeus is simply using taint to punish the gods who unlawfully bound him. While other lawful gods may feel that taint is uncontrolled, and although it may or may not have use, it is too erratic to be approved of.
The chaotic gods will look at taint as Asmodeus overstepping his bounds and attempting to overcome the world with his lawful destruction, whereas purer uncontrolled forces should be at work. A different side of chaotic gods will see taint as a beautiful thing that spreads madness, and think that Asmodeus is a dumb ass who created something out of his league.
3) There is also a naturalist argument in favor of Taint in which it is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the world and the good deities have simply kept it restrained. The Great Divide forced their attention elsewhere, or simply killed the specific deities that were holding it back, and therefore it reoccurred in the world. This theory provides a lot of interesting outlets. Once again, many gods will be for or against it for various reasons, but it goes beyond religion and into nature.