Sometimes it is necessary. Sometimes it just happens. Whether to a PC or NPC, a curse is something nasty that changes their life significantly, and not for the better. You were warned.
I'm sure you know it. There comes a moment when you have finally enough of a certain player/character, or all of them ego-maniacs. Perhaps they did something really stupid, again, and you don't want to save their asses, yet again.
Or did they insult someone a bit too powerful or important? Did they kill your favourite dragon or villain, too soon?! Did they decide to turn to Evil and erased the village you so lovingly created with all inhabitants, up to the little girl's puppy dog?
Curse them, I say!
Vocabulary: the victim means the victim of the curse, of course.
Three classical curses I remember from don't-know-where:
The victim grows an argumentative, annoying second head on her shoulder.
People you meet point at you with their finger and say: "You are CURSED!"
Curse of Ambrosial Odour:
The cursed character smells like whatever food the creature smelling it most desires and likes to eat. Chance to encounter wandering monsters grows at least doubly. Many unintellingent beings automatically attack the victim, and even some intelligent beings will try to kill and eat the unfortunate.
But there are more... and I know there are cruel as well as creative natures among you, so feel free to add your own.
The Curse of Yoxer the Mighty (as seen in the Xena TV-show)
The character becomes extremely clumsy, almost to the point of not being able to participate in any combat - most of the time he is simply overrun and/or pushed/hit aside by other combatants. He becomes in essence a comical sidekick to the heroes, useful only for carrying luggage. The victim usually gets stunned and otherwise excluded out of The Big Action, on the other hand he is likely to become a hostage, being very weak in defense. Hope his comrades like him.
The Curse of Unlimited Familiarity
The cursed character radiates a weak subliminal message. Anyone looking at him, but not recognizing him, will get the feeling: "I know this guy from somewhere..."
This insidious curse does not impart any knowledge about the victim, it merely gives the feeling that the viewer met him somewhere sometime, or remembered him... for some reason? Who knows. The feeling is enough to change ones attitude and behaviour towards the cursed character, unlike to a complete stranger. Indeed, it is impossible to be a complete stranger to anyone, or blend into the crowd. While it can be exploited at times, the poor character will soon feel awkward, people behaving strangely around him.
- any role-playing with people not familiar with the group will most probably be done through the victim, or somewhat distorted by his presence. And there should be much role-playing based on this curse only.
The curse does not force any negative or positive emotions towards the wearer. Of course, people can make whatever assumptions they want, and they will. Once recognized, they treat the victim according to their experience. Anyone forgetting the character will be again subject to the effect of the curse.
The curse of Nastarn
This curse may affect all the party members because the curse makes the character affected by it an insect magnet - all the insects just stick to him even demon insects or monster insects and well the party or group will suffer too.
The light tower curse
This is one of my favorites and is in the palladium rpg but it can be played in any system. The curse is that the cursed character has a bright glow in his eyes just like a light tower and he can use the light to see like with a lantern but the trick is in night he can't hide hehehe and well in town they may think he is a demon or something because of the light hehe. The light can be of any color have fun!!
The Curse Of Exploding Weapon
Makes the character's weapon a magical +X superweapon... that will explode on a critical hit.
Alternately, the character's weapon grows progressively stronger, and more dangerous. With a +15 it would be unstable enough that a single hit makes it go BOOM, and a +20 should not be even touched. If you don't drop it soon enough, well... too bad.
In both cases it may be a fitting 'reward' : Oh, thank you mighty hero, I will bless your sword, so it may aid you more in your endeavours.
Reptiles find the victim fascinating. Snakes will be curl up in the victim's belongs, wrap around the victim, and slither out to meet them. Lizards leap out of trees and off bushes to get a look. Giant reptiles may consider the victim either their best pal or food. When one considers how much people hate snakes... Picture having a 30-foot boa constrictor follow you into town!
The victim is constantly soaking wet. No amount of drying, sunning, etc can dry them off. They leave puddles if they stay still for too long, and when it gets cold they're horribly miserable at the very least.
The victim is constantly dive-bombed by birds.
The victim is pained with recurring frostbite that leaves and returns.
It is not exactly sure if this is a curse, a supernatural ability, a minor or major mental disorder, or simply some kind of hobby, mood or what. Still, it brings its carrier lots of problems.
The character starts to feel unsatisfied with his life. He would like to achieve more, and feels it is possible, just in some... different way. Slowly, but irreversibly, he begins to move to a strange new way of living.
The character's personality partially splits into two alter egos. One becomes the so-called 'Clark', the other 'Superman'.
'Clark' is the average, ordinary, uninteresting half. It is likely that the greatest part of his original life will be drawn to him. Clark will become withdrawn and waiting for moments when the other personality can manifest. People start to ignore him in a way, and have a tendency to compare him to the his alter ego. Most attempts to do something heroic fail.
'Superman' is the hero. He can achieve more, does heroic stuff on a regular basis and has lots of witty sayings to educate the kids with. Superman is most often masked, so he that his true identity is hidden. Even if having superpowers, he is not able to save everyone and feels often depressed because of that.
Both parts of the character feel the need to keep this a secret.
Ruleswise the character may get a bonus when doing heroic staff while being a hero, and a penalty when not. The character must be in both forms at least one hour each day, or he can expect an identity crisis.
I am the fan of the more subtle misfortunes that can arise and that, perhaps, just a disgruntled peasant with the touch of power could enact without the players even knowing at first. They should be careful when the ignore a beggar or ruin somebodies home in a fight. Fit it to the occupation of the person they disgruntled too. Hated the food at an inn? Give them indegestion or gas. etc etc.
Some of these things should happen in a campaign periodically anyway to put a little more 'realism' and 'Murphy' in the game.
* The victims armor continuously comes undone and sags/falls off.
* Any equipment the victim uses has a chance of failure. Rope, torch, horse saddle, backpack straps, maps are smeared, bottles in pack leak, seams in clothes come undone etc.
* Sword gets stuck in sheathe and takes a battle of strength to get it out.
* Always break things when visiting places. Break chairs at taverns, knock over displays at stores, ruin goblets and forks at the kings dinner.
* Animals are skitterish around victim to the point where the victim almost can't use a horse. I would let them eventually get on but make it a constant struggle.
* Everytime they eat food they get bad indigestion or gas. Uncomfortable enough to force them to rest out of cycle occasionally.
* When the victim passes by some poor people some coins fall out of their coin bag without them noticing. To save the poor the dilemna of returning it, they never see who drop it and it usually happens so the poor are the first to find it.
* The insect one is always a good one as mentioned. When stationary cause flies or bees or something to start flying around the victim until it becomes unbearable and they have to leave. Works slowly though so when they are halfway through a meal the flies are just starting to get thick.
* They always get dirty somehow. Mud splattering on them, food dropped on themselves, stepping in dung, wash water thrown out the window, trees dropping dust and bark, small cave-ins, etc. Anything that can happen to soil them.
* Always misplacing things. They can swear they put something somewhere but when they go to find it it is somewhere else. Even if they announce to everyone, 'I am putting my healing potion in my right pocket' when he goes to find it, it is not there. When he asks, 'You saw/heard me' the response will always be, we heard you but I didn't see where you put it. The angle was wrong or they looked away or whatever. Only if they force the other person to watch somehow will the item be where they put it.
Hair changes color after every wash.
Keep hearing rustling just behind them.
Keep seeing shadows cross their peripheral vision.
A curse of constant itching.It could weaken the affected person in combat and make him/her take a willpower check each day to avoid scratching until bleeding takes place.
The first curse that comes to mind is the old Chinese curse of May you live an interesting life.
Some others that come to mind also:
The cursed becomes an interest to dogs of all stripes. They will follow him constantly, begging for food, or attention, sleeping next to him when possible, being a general nuisance. Stealing food, frightening the horses, giving the victim unlimited access to fleas, and ticks, and whatever burrs and debris is lodged in their fur. These are cowardly, whining, mincing mutts, not guard animals.
Victim becomes repellant to fish. Not such a big deal until it is time to cast a few lines in the water, and try to catch dinner, then no one catches anything. This is a fine curse, I myself suffer from it.
Victim leaves tarnished fingerprints on exposed metal. Silver comes away with black marks, copper comes away with green, etc. Leather straps and bands rot quickly, in a matter of weeks in constant contact with skin. TRy wearing a watch with this one!
Victim is cursed with a picky stomach. Cannot eat a certain staple food as it makes them queasy, violently ill, gives 'em diahrea and so on. The victim can no longer eat beef, or potatoes, or some other basic or daily food. A severe curse might make an uncommon food poisonous. One bit of celery could be potentially fatal...
Victim is cursed with a volatile temper, confronting them with it makes them angry, almost everything makes them angry. Fight, maim, punish!
Lets get Biblical
Feast of Ashes - regular food no longer sustains the character, eating it makes them violently ill to the point of vomiting. The only thing the character can eat is cold ash, taken from expired fires, torches, braziers. Messy to eat, meager at the very best, and it tastes like ash.
Curse of Night - sunlight causes the victim discomfort. Bright light hurts their eyes, and they sun burn with astonishing speed. Only cool, dark places offer respite from this maladiction. Double any damage from exposure to the sun.
Curse of Salt - No plant will grow for the victim, he has the proverbial brown thumb and must rely on the labor of others, or the flesh of beasts for his sustainence.
okay, i think that is enough for now.
The Curse of the Raven
Arrows are seemingly drawn towards the victim. Archers will shoot at him first, and a signifigant portion of wild, and massed vollies will fly towards the character. Someone deliberately shooting at the PC will have a very hard time missing.
Curse of the Pea
There will always be a spot of pea-gravel that hounds the victim. It may hide, a phantom in his boot or shoe, or it may be a lump under his bedroll, keeping him from much needed sleep.
Curse of Orpheus
Victim is afflicted by hideous nightmares that prevent most sleep, hindering healing and the regeneration of HP, or magic points, dependant on system.
Curse of the Fool
The fool is blinded to what he truely possesses. Lust is transposed for love, savagery for honor, and whimsey for wisdom. The fool becomes impulsive, and forgetful of all bonds, be they of law or friendship
Curse of the Death-Seeker
The unfortunate keeps finding dead people. Be it natural or unnatural death, known people or strangers that died in his or her vicinity are too often found.
The exact impact depends on the relation to the deceased, but over time, the high number of corpses one finds begins to take its toll. The curse does not make people die, but drastically heightens the chance of finding a body. The victim is but likely to start attributing these deaths to itself, that for some reason are they linked to him, or happen because of her.
Most victims of the curse inevitably start leading a lonely life, some completely withdraw from civilisation. If someone is of a particularly resistant nature, one could become a finder of bodies of lost friends or relatives. Some victims go mad.
The victims may easily attract unwished attention from the authorities, or enraged mobs.
Curse of Tarnished Love
While subtle at first, this vile curse can drive a victim into desperation and insanity.
Its effects manifest in events hampering the character's relationships - either the father of his beloved mistakes him for some enemy of his, chasing the unfortunate love-struck PC out of town, or his sister takes an instant dislike of the character's beloved because ... say, he wears furs and the sister just happened to join PETA.
Also, coincidences happen that compromise his beloved or him - a sailor might approach them and claim that she's but a harlot he had some fun with some time ago, or an ardent fan of the heroic PC leaps at him and starts hugging and kissing him just as his fiancee enters the door. An ex-lover of hers might get drunk and tell of the highly unusual (preferably repulsive) sexual practices she favored back then...
When they sit on a bench during a romantic evening, it will start to rain. The candlelight dinner will be contaminated with salmonella or other germs. When, finally, they get to a nice warm and cozy place, and let their passion lead them... a fire breaks out, the city watch storms the appartment on the search for criminals or illegal goods, or all the neighbors start making noise.
Should the character and his beloved endure all these hardships, and get to marry, the rings will get lost, the priest run over by a drunk dwarf, and resistance fighters assault the temple, while the replacement priest turns out to be the demon prince Asmodeus intent on devouring their souls...
Curse of the Blabbermouth
The PC allways ends up saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Insults to bouncers/innkeepers/patrons will come out of his/her mouth without him/her meaning to. Passwords will be wrong even when he or she knows them. Spells will have a wrong word in them which either makes them fail or become a totally random spell. The PC finds him/herself lying when the truth would be best and telling the truth when it would cause offence. Romance with this curse is almost impossible.
The Mirror Curse
The character is unable to see through mirrors, unless having closed eyes. So if he closes eyes, and there is a mirror nearby, he will see what he normally would see in it. Ironically, a mirror displays the eyes also reversed - closed when they are not, and open when actually closed.
Note that it is very hard to fall asleep while in the presence of a mirror. While one could note movement, and be warned of it, it guarantees no wake-up, only disturbing of dreams.
The curse also works on reflective surfaces of any kind. Lakes for instance, loose much of their beauty.
The first time the afflicted tells a lie, a little imp pops into existence over his shoulder and corrects him, blurting out the truth for anyone in earshot. Thereafter, any attempts to be subtle, diplomatic, or even falsely polite are foiled, as the imp blurts out whatever the character is thinking but not saying.
Curse of Curses (Got this one from Reaper Man)
Everytime the afflicted swears, it materialises as a little creature above his head. The viler the curse, the more bizarre the creature it becomes. These creatures follow the afflicted around like ducklings follow their mother, settlign on his head and shoulders whenever he stops moving.
(Borrowed from Family Guy) Theme music, appropriate to the situation, follows the character around everywhere. At first this is neat, but since it can't be turned off, it gets annoying quickly.
A variant on the above, is constant humming. This can be either a low mechanical drone, or what sounds like someone (source unascertainable) humming some unknown song--someone without any sense of tone or rhythm. Any of these variants makes stealth impossible, and the noise-cursed one unbearable in short order.
A deceptively simple one at first, loose threads, slowly adds up to larger problems. While the occassional loose thread isn't anything to lose sleep over, this cursed character constantly has at least one loose thead somewhere. Clothes slowly unravel, and there is a danger of anattended threads getting caught on something (or someone) or causing the inflicted to trip and fall. This becomes an especially irritating curse in the presence of someone with the compulsion to remove any loose threads found. First one, then another, then another... until the poor cursed victim is left naked.
Technology is the character's bane. One's keys get stuck, the computer blue screens, the copier jams, and so on. If the device is going to break, jam, or mysteriously stop work (only to start again later) it will happen to this character about (1/6th or 1/10th the time).
Now this is a valid curse in a fantasy world. However, since most worlds have few machines they are truly out to get you. Beware locks, traps, and oddly moving doors. They will target the characters. Of course, the things might go 'berserk' and go off on everyone nearby.
The character has some catchy tune stuck in their head. It is often one tune, but it can be a selection if the GM is nice. Imagine hearing Greensleeves 24/7...
To simulate the curse, the player should be wearing headphones with the song playing OR the song should be being played softly in the gaming area. The character will have negative modifiers to perception rolls and will frequently just get upset about having the songs (having either small roleplayed 'fits' or having minues to perform some task because of the frustration.
Curse of the lack of peace
The victim just cannot find peace in this world. You know, you get out of your hectic work for a nice weekend, but your neighbors happen to start a big reconstruction of their home. When they stop, then there's the kids crying and screaming. When they run off, your family comes for a visit, and you can't refuse them. At night there will be the cats fighting, the dogs barking, and some rodent scratching between the walls. Sleeping late is not an option either.
Smokers will happen to be around you all the time, if you hate smoking - and everyone will insist that you stop it, if you don't. No matter what you do, someone or something will disturb and ruin any bit of peace that you might find. You better find out who did this to you...
The Curse of the Theme Tune
The PC/s have a musical song following them around that changes depending on what they are doing and cannot be turned off by any spell.. Sneaking around becomes impossible and sleeping becomes very hard to do.
The Curse of Prophetic Dreams
A character starts to have vivid dreams of crucial moments of their life, and often of larger importance. The enraging quality of these dreams is that they happen always AFTER the events in them have transpired.
It is best to apply this curse to those that wished for a prophetic ability, or have actually insulted (or harmed) a seer.
The dreams will show useful details, that would have made the encounter much easier, or enabled its success at all. Of course, the character will already know most of them, much to his or her annoyance.
(Usage: the dreams can be as unpleasant as desired. Should the GM feel generous, he could reveal clues that were missed, or even things the characters didn't see. In general, paths not taken can be shown, more 'feeling' of a setting provided, and make PCs think of their choices. One cannot go wrong with showing what already happened - and conversely, it can be shown that the events were destined to look differently, and so demonstrate the heroes are in fact changing the future; for better or for worse. It could be also fun to show at great detail an event that seemed completely innocent... perhaps it wasn't.)
"You lookin' at me?"
It is the character's eyes, that annoy everyone. The ladies won't get rid of the suspicion, that he keeps staring at their chest or other attractive parts. The men will sense that threatening sideways look... the character may not be even close to that.
The curse is often sent down on those, who have have looked at what they shouldn't see. Now everybody sees their spying nature. It tends to get ugly fast.
Curse of Rags
The victim of this curse has all articles of clothing in their possession deteriorate to the state of little more than rags within a few days to a week. Metal armors will rust and corrode, Leather ones becoming rancid and foul smelling before falling apart.
This curse is often inflicted upon those that are vain about their appearance to teach them a lesson in humility.
Curse of Natures Call
This recipient of this curse tends to suffer from the "call of nature" frequently and at the most inopportune times. (such as while giving a important speech, or kneeling before the king, and even during the middle of combat and romantic intimacies)
These urges present themselves suddenly and without warning, causing the poor person to have an embarrassing (and sometimes messy) accident in front of everyone present.
Those who have been suffering from this lack of bladder and bowel control for more than a few days often learn to wear absorbent undergarments, or long dresses, (or baggy pants for the men) to help lessen the obviousness of the repeated public "performances" that they unwillingly provide throughout the day.
Due to it's ultimately disgracing and publicly amusing side effects this curse is often cast upon nobles and other influential people with the sole purpose of damaging their reputation. In some circumstances this curse has terminated arranged marriages and even brought war between formerly allied kingdoms.
Curse of Uncontrolled Strength
While at first a great increase in physical strength may seem like a blessing, the receiver of this curse will soon learn to regret the "benefits" this curse provides. Although easily as strong as a dozen full grown men, the recipient lacks the ability to control this strength, continually damaging delicate objects such as drinking glasses, flimsy door latches and snapping bowstrings. Attempting to dress themselves and fasten delicate buttons or pull bootlaces tight is all but impossible without help, to say nothing of the thin leather straps that holds their armor on.
The true dangers of this curse only come to light when the afflicted attempts to touch another person or even themselves. To their horror they find their lack of control turns a simple handshake into a bone crushing grip, and swatting a fly upon their cheek can leave them with missing teeth and even a broken jaw.
Those with this curse often find themselves unable to bathe or scratch their own itches without leaving bloody furrows along their skin, and even wiping themselves after using the bathroom can be an experience too painful for words. (This goes double for ladies.)
This curse is usually cast upon those who are obsessed with being stronger, or enjoy lording their strength over others in a cruel manner. (Such as the bullies in the local town guard.)
Curse of Endless Breath
A favorite of court jesters and anybody else who wishes the kings latest rambling speech would get over with already. This curse is another that might seem like a benefit at first, rendering the recipient unable to drown, suffocate, or be affected by any inhaled vapors by removing from them the ability (or need) to draw breath. The side effect of this, besides being rendered completely mute, is the continual problem of being mistaken for dead when asleep or otherwise not moving.
Despite it's favored use as a punishment for careless or unruly wizards, this curse is also often cast upon the town gossip mongers and rumor mills. And more recently upon soldiers who can't shut up on watch, and those absent minded people who have given away the wrong persons vital secrets by a slip of the tongue.
Curse of Reversed Aging
Though it's effects are not immediately apparent, (especially for old elves and dwarves) the aging process of this person begins to run backwards at a slow, but ever accelerating rate. At first they grow younger slowly by a week for every 3-4 days, then gradually increasing to a month every day, quickly leaving them a mewling helpless babe over the course of a short year or two.
This curse was first created by a angry god who grew weary of hearing the numerous prayers for youth from the old and wizened, and wished to remind them the pains of growing old are nothing compared to the pain of growing young again.
While one may consider this curse to indeed be a boon, as their frail aging bodies quickly regain a measure of lost youth and virility. However the jealousy of their closest friends and family members turns this from a joy to horror, as they realize they will likely outlive their lovers and perhaps even children, not to mention being hunted by those who are eager to learn their "secret" of youth.
Perhaps the most painful part of this curse onsets at the age of 18 (for humans anyway) as the body begins to undevelop and actually shrink in what is an unnatural and hideously painful process, often snapping what little of their sanity remains.
Everybody around you thinks that you are being sarcastic all the time.
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? Responses (13)-13
While this in and of itself is a very basically defined submission, the purpose behind it means more to me than the actual content. This is a great thing to have as I have done searching of actual curses in the christian religion and it is long and hard to sift through countless pages and websites pertaining to them.
Curses are a great way to deal a heavy blow to your players without so much as needing combat. Like the Stephen King novel Thinner. A simple occurence ruins a man's life due to a single word spoken in vengence. It's great. I think simple curses are best, but when they are detailed in riddles and rituals you get added flavor to your role-playing.
I could of sworn I had voted on this a long time ago. Oh well, life goes on.. (now Jack and Diane is running through my head... hey wait a new curse.)
quite fun to peruse when one needs a hex, jinx or curse!
Okay people. This is the third variation of the music-haunting curse. I know they are all different, but please try to think of some other, nicer curses. You don't want to bring that upon us, now do you?
This is a useful article and gives some great optional properties to add to magical artifacts and temporary afflictions to spice up a PC's otherwise dull adventuring life. (or teach them a lesson for desecrating that last shine of darkness!)
Glad you like it, and thanks for all the new curses!
I just hope for the sake of your players you won't use too many of those. ;)
I love lists like this and surprised I overlooked it. Good stuff here.