Corruption Explained

Introduction

The 1.1 Sacrifice of the Vaal expansion on 3/5/14 brought Queen Atziri, Vaal Side Areas, Corruption and Vaal Orbs which are still one of the best ways to improve your items. The Corruption system adheres to the risk & reward principle at the core of Path of Exile loot system. You have the possibility to greatly improve your item, offset by the chance to destroy it.


General Concept

The concept is rather simple: you use a Vaal Orb on an item you want to corrupt, which produces a random effect on it with no possibility of going back.

A Corrupted Item

In most cases, corrupted items cannot be modified further, meaning you can't apply any crafting currency on them anymore. A corrupted item has the red Corrupted tag at the bottom of its modifiers list to notify the player.

There is one exception to that rule, you can still change sockets and links using your crafting bench at the cost of additional Vaal Orbs on top of the usual Orb of Fusing fee. This is usually referred to as Vorici Linking/Coloring as a remnant of the old Master system, when getting the master Vorici to level 8 was the only way to access these crafting recipes.


Outcomes

Items
Corrupting an Item has several different outcomes weighted equally:

  • Adds a random implicit modifier
  • Turns 1 or more sockets into white sockets
  • Bricks the item into a random rare item
  • Nothing happens

Some items have a fifth outcome which upgrades the item to another one:

  • Tear of Purity can upgrade to Blood of Corruption
  • Voll's Vision can upgrade to Malachai's Vision

It is worth mentioning Flasks cannot be corrupted naturally. However, it is possible to obtain Corrupted Flasks with specific divination cards (The Undaunted). Note that 6-Links are way more common from "Bricked" Corrupted items. This is because bricking an item ignores the weight when it comes to define the number of Sockets and Links, meaning there is a 1/36 chance to get a 6-Link on any brick (that can have 6 sockets).

Level 21/23 Combustion Support Gem

Gems
Corrupting a Gem has several different outcomes weighted equally:

  • Adds or removes a level to the gem with a maximum of level 21
  • Adds or removes up to 10% quality to the gem with a maximum of 23% quality
  • Transforms the gem into its Vaal skill version
  • Nothing happens

Getting you Skill Gems to level 21 is one of the first endgame optimizations you can do since it is usually equivalent to ~10% damage. It is a common farming strategy to fill the sockets in your weapon swap with gems to level up, in order to corrupt them hoping for +1 level or just to sell them max level uncorrupted to people that will corrupt them. Usual big money targets are Enlighten Support, Empower Support and Awakened Gems.


Jewels
Corrupting a Jewel has several different outcomes weighted equally:

  • Adds a random implicit modifier
  • Transforms the jewel into a random unique vaal jewel
  • Reroll the item with random modifiers
  • Nothing happens


Maps
Corrupting a Map has several different outcomes:

  • Makes the map unindentified, keeping all mods
  • Reroll the map with 4-6 modifiers and a chance to increase its tier
  • Reroll the map with 8 modifiers
  • Nothing happens

Corrupting Maps is required to get T11+ Atlas Bonus Objectives (Red Maps). Later on, corrupting maps is one the best way to juice up Maps since it can give Maps with massive quantity and monster pack size for little investment. Unfortunately this can brick the map by giving it modifiers your build cannot handle, but this is on average considered worth the risk. Map Bosses from Corrupted Maps are Corrupted and randomly drop Corrupted Items, Vaal Skill Gems or Vaal Fragments. Finally, corrupting any Tier 15 Map also has a chance to turn the Map into a Tier 16 Vaal Temple Map.


Strongboxes
Strongboxes can be corrupted, either naturally through various Sextants or Atlas Passives, or by the player using a Vaal Orb. Corrupted Strongboxes drop all their content as if a Vaal Orb was applied on it.


Special Corruptions

In addition to Vaal Orbs, there are also ways to double corrupt either items or gems which were introduced in Incursion League.

Locus of Corruption
This Incursion room found in the Temple of Atzoatl contains a device called Altar of Corruption allowing the player to risk everything by performing a special corruption with exclusive outcomes on an item of his choice:

Darkness coalesces, imbues, and blesses.
  • Destroys the item *poof*
  • Turns all sockets into white sockets
  • Grants 2 random corrupted implicit modifiers
  • Transforms the item into a random influenced rare


Note that using the Altar on a non-unique Sacrificial Garb (which drops from Atziri) replaces the 2 implicits outcome by the chance to upgrade it to a Shadowstitch.

The enlightened fall victim to Doryani's dark dictum.

Doryani's Institute
This Incursion room found in the Temple of Atzoatl contains a device called Lapidary Lens that allows the players to double corrupt a gem. The device corrupts the gem twice successively, with exactly the same options mentioned above. So it's possible to upgrade the level while downgrading the quality at the same time, for example. This also gives you the option to obtain a 21/23 gem or a 21 Vaal gem… eventually.


Special Cases

Special Items
Some items have a specific way to interact with Corruption and Vaal Orbs.

  • Hands of the High Templar is a pair of Gloves dropping from Sirus, Awakener of Worlds. These Gloves can be modified while Corrupted and can have up to 5 implicit modifiers.
  • Doryani's Delusion is a pair of Boots with many variants found in Doryani's Machinarium that have a special corruption outcome turning the Purity skill granted into its Impurity vaal skill variant.
  • Star of Wraeclast is an Amulet inherently corrupted that can be obtained through a vendor recipe by selling a unique Ruby Ring, any Onyx Amulet and a level 20 Corrupted Lightning Warp.
  • Glimpse of Chaos is a Helmet dropping from the Ultimatum Trialmaster (currently unobtainable). It can be modified while Corrupted and has special unique corruption outcomes, such as removing one mod of the item, bricking it into an influenced Yellow Helmet, transforming it into another Unique Helmet or add an exclusive implicit modifier:
    • Nearby Enemies are Blinded
    • Nearby Enemies are Crushed
    • Nearby Enemies have Malediction
    • +1 to Minimum Endurance, Frenzy and Power Charges
    • +2 to Level of Socketed Gems
    • (10-15)% increased Effect of your Curses
    • (10-15)% increased effect of Non-Curse Auras from your Skills
    • Socketed Skill Gems get a 80% Cost & Reservation Multiplier
    • (5-7)% increased Quantity of Items found
    • (15-25)% increased Area of Effect
    • (15-25)% increased Skill Effect Duration
    • (8–12)% increased Cooldown Recovery Rate
    • Skills fire an additional Projectile

Some items are Corrupted by default, the main reason being so that players cannot craft or divine their affixes, forcing them to find what they want by farming or trading:

  • Legacy Leaguestones (Mystery Leaguestone)
  • Talismans
  • Heist Trinkets
  • Breach Rings
  • Skin of the Lords
  • Split Personality
  • String of Servitude
  • Synthesised Maps


Beastcrafting
Using Craicic Vassal in Beastcrafting allows you to Corrupt an item while granting it 30% quality. There is no risk of losing or bricking the item using this recipe. This is not really useful anymore since Hillock in Betrayal allows you to put 30% quality on items without corrupting them.

Craicic Vassal Bestiary Recipe

It is also possible to use a special trick with Gilded Fossils. This Fossil adds an Item sells for much more to vendors implicit modifier to the item, which is added to the other item implicit modifiers. The trick here is that corrupting an item with several implicits only replaces one random implicit and leave the others untouched, allowing you to potentially keep the base implicit of the item.


Implicit Modifiers

The main reason to corrupt an item is to look for an implicit modifier improving your build. There are dozens of them accessible depending on the ilevel or the item slot:

Select Item Slot


Summary

Corruption is a very old, yet extremely vast and complex mechanic of Path of Exile. After all these years it is still the very last step that can make a character's gear shine or even be considered a true "Best in Slot" item. It is also very interesting to look for specific Corruptions on some cheap Unique Items to enhance them. All in all, Corruption is arguably the perfect balance of Risk and Reward!


Credits

Written by Chewingnom.
Reviewed by Raxxanterax.


Changelog

Jul 9th 2022
Article Created.