In a campaign in which I play, our DM is using 'taint' rules. Seeking to protect myself against taint, I found about taint absorbing items. The SRD has this to say about them:

Some natural substances absorb taint and thus protect those who are exposed to carry them. Examples include a pure jade rod the size of a human finger, a sheet of vellum prepared from a year-old lamb, an intricately carved piece of lightning-struck oak, or a silk sash. The GM can create other examples appropriate to the campaign as well. Regardless of the shape or substance of the item, taint-absorbing items cost 100 gp each.

As an item absorbs taint, it darkens, softens, and gradually rots away over seven days. During that time, it absorbs all taint to which the carrier is exposed. Possessing multiple taint-absorbing items at the same time can protect a character for longer than seven days, but the benefit does not accumulate indefinitely, as shown on Table: Taint-Absorbing Items.

As the text says, the benefit does not accumulate indefinitely. Nor does it stack perfectly. The table shows that two taint-absorbing items protect someone not for 14 days, but for 12. The longest protection is given when one carries 4 items with them, resulting in a protection lasting 16 days. After that, more taint-absorbing items create a shorter and shorter protection, with 5 items lasting 15 days, 6 lasting 12- And 7 or more items will last you even shorter than 1 item would: Only one day.

My question:
Am I misinterpreting this table? Is it actually an acumulative effect, as in "One item absorbs for seven days, a second item adds 12 to that" etc.?

Or, if not, what would be a possible in-universe explanation for this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ @Desolli Please don't answer in comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Aug 30 '18 at 23:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Please note the meta discussion about the taint tag on this question, in particular @enkryptor who removed it. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 6 '18 at 2:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage See above. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 6 '18 at 2:29

First of all, make sure you're looking at the right rules. There are two versions of taint in 3.5: one in the srd and one in Heroes of Horror. They are extremely different, so make you know whch the DM is using.

That said: you are reading the table correctly. While the SRD does not explain the phenomenon, the way I've understood it is that if you are carrying that many items absorbing taint; it becomes a fact that you are carrying a lot of taint with you. It's basically the same reason why more than 2 magic rings generally does not work, and actually nullifies all of them: magic radiates, and interferes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Trying to wear 3 rings doesn't nullify all of them, you just benefit from 2 rings and not the 3rd. (DMG p.214 or MIC p.218) \$\endgroup\$ – Topquark Oct 5 '18 at 14:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @topquark I see the wording you are referring to, and I find it vaguely interpretable at best. "It doesn't work". It does not say what doesn't work, or in what way specifically, as is usual in the DMG. I will edit the answer if you take gross offense at it, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Weckar E. Oct 5 '18 at 15:17

It looks like the taint-absorbing items attract the taint. When there's just a few of them, they pull the local taint to themselves, leaving the carrier 'clean', but as you get more and more of them, they pull more taint from the environment, eventually creating a situation where they attract more and more taint that, to the degree that they saturate more quickly, leaving the carrier unprotected after a shorter period of time.

That does, of course, lead to a clever way to sabotage someone journeying into/through a tainted area. Secretly give them a significant number of taint-absorbing items. By the time they notice, their protection will be nearing its limits, and they will still be several days from safety.


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