These Dice: A Corruption System for Old School D&D

Welcome back to another post about These Dice:

Today, I'll specifically be talking about These Dice:
The following system is designed to fulfill a specific need: I run a lot of games at conventions featuring low (1st to 3rd) level characters. For these sessions, I tend to prefer lightweight, old school-type rule sets like OD&D white box (or my preferred retro-clone, Delving Deeper). I like systems like DCC's Spellburn, supernatural patronage and such for spellcasting, but don't want a system quite that dense for these sessions, since the emphasis should be on the players' collective skill and ability to overcome the challenges they face through thought, rather than just lucky breaks. I'm not saying that DCC player can't do this in a DCC session (quite the contrary), I'm just looking for a system that does something similar with (a) a lower degree of swinginess and (b) that's lighter-weight and plays faster at the table. And so I came up with these rules right before U Con this year and sort of dared my Magic User players to take me up on trying to use them. No one did, but more on that later.

In the depths of the dungeon, the magic of raw possibility, of untapped potential, of primordial protean puissance lurks, waiting to be taken advantage of by sorcerers and magicians plumbing the dungeon's depths. Furthermore, other powers from the near fringes of the cosmos's darkest haunts, outer gulfs and starless voids eagerly proffer arcane might to those bold enough to seize it. Yet, as with all things, there is a price...

Whenever a Magic User has expended all of his spell slots for a day, he may embrace the innate arcane wildness of the dungeon and attempt to cast a spell he has previously expended. In doing so, he accrues a number of Red Dice to his Corruption Pool equal to the level of the spell being cast. After the effects of the spell are resolved normally, the Magic User rolls his accumulated Corruption Pool, noting all Elder Signs (6's) rolled. Each Sign represents a degree of Corruption that the caster immediately incurs, though he may Save vs. Spells for half.

The Corruption Pool is cumulative and persistent: each successive spell cast in this manner adds to the pool's total and this total does not decrease by normal means such as rest. Thus, it is important for the caster to call upon such resources only when absolutely necessary, only in small amounts, or only when his self-preservation instinct has been overshadowed by a lust for personal power. However, certain sorcerous tomes speak of rituals designed to cleanse the body and spirit of such taint. Such rituals demand at least 1 hour per die in the Corruption Pool and use up an amount of valuable materials of no lesser value than 100 gp per die as well. After casting such a ritual, as the taint leaves his body, the caster must roll the entirety of his soon-to-be-depleted Corruption Pool and take whatever consequences may arise from the event (he may still Save vs. Spells as normal). Should he yet live after this ordeal, his Corruption Pool is reset to zero.

The levels of Corruption are broad categories allowing for interpretation by both player and DM alike. General guidelines for what the levels mean are as follows: