Something Creates: A Corruption (Golem Style)

This week is all about getting back into the swing of things since I’ve been away from home and the office for a couple of weeks. Because of that chaos, this article did accidentally fall by the wayside. Not to fear though! I’ve been thinking about my Paizo-styled corruption off and on during that time! Since I spent a lot of time talking about why I chose the Indoctrination corruption, I figured I’ll just jump right into showcasing it here!


Agents of sinister unknown forces have brainwashed you and you may be working for the enemy without even knowing it.

Indoctrination Corruption

Type mental corruption; Save Will DC = 10 + half the victim’s level + the number of manifestations he victim has; on a failure, a victim can spend a number of Respolve Points equal to 1 + the number of manifestations the victim has to succeed instead
Frequency 1/day
Cure Psychic conditioning can reverse indoctrination, but only if the implanted agenda is understood in detail.

Indoctrination Progression

Whenever you have the opportunity to gather intelligence valuable in political intrigue or relevant to the specific interests of your brainwasher (GM’s discretion), you must attempt a Will saving throw (DC = 15 + your manifestation level). Failure means you blackout and unwittingly attempt to seize the information when you have the best chance to do so undetected in the next week. Whether or not you manage to do so depends on the GM’s discretion and your abilities, but if obtaining the information is obviously beyond your means, you may instead work to undermine the defenses surrounding the intelligence so you or another corrupted agent can attempt to gain the information at a later date. If you succeed at this saving throw, you resist the unexpected urge, but the DC of future saving throws against your corruption’s progression increases by 2. This increase is cumulative, but it reverses when you fail the saving throw or your corruption progresses. Whenever you make a significant sacrifice to assist your brainwashed or advance its agenda in a way that harms innocents, your corruption progresses.

When you gain your second and third manifestations, you find it harder to question your own motives. You take a -2 penalty on skill checks made to investigate your corruption.  If you accepted your gifts, you feel this ignorance helps you finish your tasks, and upon accepting your third gift, if your alignment is good, it shifts to neutral. If your alignment is chaotic, it shifts to neutral.

Once you accept your fourth gift, you are aware that you might be actively working for your brainwashed. You gain pleasure from gathering information and stymieing your brainwasher’s enemies. You can psychically sense others that are indoctrinated by the same brainwasher (or organization), even if they are still dormant. You attempt to aid those in their tasks that can help your brainwashed.

If you accept a fifth gift, the corruption takes complete control of you, and you become a true agent of your brainwashed. You become lawful evil if you’re not already. You may undergo body modification to appear more like your brainwashed or their preferred agent appearance. You honestly believe that their agenda is what is best for the galaxy and will promote it to the utmost of your ability.

Indoctrination Manifestations

Fathomless Psyche

Your memory becomes increasingly unreliable.
Gift: Your mind contains gaps that serve as traps to those who contact it. You gain a +2 bonus on Will saving throws against mind-affecting effects. Anyone who reads your thoughts or emotions must succeed at a Will saving throw or become confused for 1 round. A creature can only be affected by your fathomless psyche once every 24 hours.
Stain: The bonus from your gift becomes a –2 penalty to Will saving throws against creatures of the same species as your brainwasher.


Prerequisite: 2 other manifestations
Your psychic wake burns away all memory of your passing.
Gift: You gain the ability to use memory lapse spell-like ability once per day. You can use this ability twice per day after you have 3 gifts, and up to three times a day when you have 5 or more gifts.
Stain: People find you creepy but can’t explain why. Living creatures gain a +4 morale bonus on Perception and Sense Motive checks to notice you or to see through your Bluff checks.

Inexplicable Illusions

Your lies distort the world around you.
Prerequisite: 3 other manifestations.
Gift: Once per day, you can manifest an illusion via holographic terrain or holographic imageThe spell level of holographic image will be based on the victim’s level: 1st – holographic image I, 4th – holographic image II, 7th – holographic image III, 10th – holographic image IV, 13th – holographic image V, 16th – holographic image VI
Stain: You cannot discuss your indoctrination corruption with anyone, whether verbally or by other means, unless you succeed at a Will saving throw. You can attempt this saving throw once per day. Members of your brainwasher’s species are immune to your illusions.

Malleable Flesh

Your body twists to conform to your deceptions.
Prerequisite: 2 other manifestations.
Gift: With 10 minutes of concentration, your flesh takes on a new arrangement, as per polymorph I with a target of Self. After you have 5 other manifestations, you can use this ability to assume the shape of a specific individual. At manifestation level 7th, this ability also functions as polymorph III.
Stain: The process of shifting your flesh is painful, and you are sickened while concentrating on making the change and for 10 minutes afterward.

Porous Mind

Your mind is full of holes.
Prerequisite: One other manifestation.
Gift: You can hear the thoughts of others when you listen closely. Whenever you succeed at a Sense Motive check to get a hunch about a creature, you can attempt to read that creature’s mind as if using detect thoughts as a standard action (revealing all the information from 3 rounds of concentration). After you have 6 manifestations, you gain limited telepathy, as per the lashunta racial trait. If you already have limited telepath, you instead increase your range by 60 feet.
Stain: The constant psychic noise makes it hard for you to stay focused. For 1 hour after you learn information about a creature with any divination spell or effect (including this manifestation), you take a –4 penalty on concentration and Knowledge checks.

Preternatural Persuasion

Your brainwashing is contagious.
Prerequisite: Two other manifestations
Gift: Once per day, when you succeed at a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check against a target, you can weave a suggestion, as per the spell, into your conversation as a full-round action. After 6 manifestations, you can instead use modify memory. After 9 manifestations, you can instead use dominate person.
Stain: Members of your brainwasher’s species can read your surface thoughts by concentrating; a successful Will saving throw negates this intrusion. Such a member can issue a suggestion once per day at any range to anyone whose actions are currently controlled by your mind-affecting effects, automatically overriding your control if the orders conflict.

Skill Conditioning

You have skills you do not remember learning.
Gift: You speak and understand a language of your brainwasher’s choosing. Choose a skill. You are treated as having ranks equal to your Hit Dice in that skill and it is a class skill for you. After you gain 5 manifestations, you can add a second skill with ranks equal to your Hit Dice.
Stain: Your mind works in ways that are unsettlingly alien to mortals. You take a –4 penalty on Diplomacy and Sense Motive check against creatures that are not the same type as your brainwasher.

Unconscious Agenda

You can suppress intrusive memories or thoughts.
Gift: As an immediate action once per day, when you are subjected to any compulsion effect that allows a saving throw, you can choose to reroll that saving throw after you roll but before you learn the results of your first roll. You can use this ability twice per day once you have 4 manifestations, and three times per day once you have 5 manifestations, but never more than once per saving throw attempt.
Stain: You become more vulnerable to mental influence from aberrations and take a –2 penalty on saving throws against compulsions from aberrations. You can still use your reroll ability against such saving throws, but the –2 penalty applies to all of your rolls.


Parts of this was super easy to write, that it is almost plagiarism. The Pathfinder 1st edition system and the Starfinder system as presented by Paizo are so similar that even if the format is slightly different, the information presented is essentially the same. The DC math is also essentially the same, so none of that needed to be reworked. So much so that I did copy/paste the initial manifestations from Archives of Nethys partly to see how the format translated over.  The biggest changes were spells since some of them did not have direct conversions. Most of them had similar spells available. The Shadow corruption only had 1 manifestation that graned a Spell-like Ability, so it was a little interesting to figure out at which manifestation level in Pathfinder 1st Edition, should I convert something to in Starfinder. Making things more generic did mean some of the direct mentions of aboleth or aberrations needed to be re-worded. I’m not sold on the “member of the brainwasher’s species” or “same creature type as the brainwasher’s species”, but for now I think it serves the initial purpose.

Next time, join me as we instead make this into an Everybody Games corruption!

Designer Note: I didn’t make any unique manifestations yet. I plan on coming back to this article and adding some more! I’ll make sure to post about it when I do!

Banner Image Art by: SvetaZi

Andrew Sturtevant

I have two bachelor degrees, one in Psychology, the other in Computer Science. I've been playing some version of D&D, Pathfinder or Starfinder since about 2000 when my Dad started teaching me. I've been GMing for most of that time as well. I am active in the Organized Play Foundation as a volunteer and organizer, along with volunteering to help my fellow military spouses as a Key Spouse.