View Full Version : Best curses you have ever seen?

2017-11-10, 10:45 PM
What are some of the neatest curses you have seen in game? I'm in pretty tame groups, we have a magical sword which must kill before it is sheathed or it drives its owner mad.

What do you all have?

2017-11-11, 07:46 AM
I have no mouth, yet I must scream.

2017-11-11, 08:06 AM
One of the most interesting curses I've seen was actually on a recent LARP event. I'd worked together with several other enchanters to enchant a sword, but the enchantment hadn't gone quite right. It did what it was supposed to (instantly killed a single target each day), but it would then inflict a fear-effect lasting ten minutes on whoever had just used it, essentially taking them out of the fight.

2017-11-11, 01:34 PM
IMO, the best are those that have both positives and negatives.

Do you only want examples from a game? Cause I haven't seen too many good game examples myself...

I must admit I love Angel's curse: vampire is given his soul but loses it if he ever experiences a moment of perfect happiness.

Greek myth has a couple good examples, including Midas and Tithonus (the guy who was immortal but didn't have eternal youth).

Does imagined but not seen count?

I like the idea of a Ring of Mind Blank which on top of granting immunity to mental influence and scanning also drops the wearer's Intelligence to 1. You can't be mentally influenced or scanned, because your mind is now to simple to be vulnerable!

Invisibility which makes light pass completely through you, making you blind as well.

2017-11-12, 01:15 AM
Ring of Dark Pacts: In your hour of greatest need, this ring will summon a devil that will be willing to negotiate a contract with you (naturally, it will have the power to actually enforce/put into place that contract). Whenever someone puts on this ring, they instantly know the magical properties of it.

That's it. No strings, no "gotcha's", no "and now that summoned devil is going to teleport away and eat babies", nothing. And that's the beauty of it- with most normal curses, you can just cast Remove Curse or Break Enchantment or whatever on the cursed item/the effect from the cursed item, and that's that. But damning yourself of your own volition, with no (direct) magical coercion or mind-whammying whatsoever- that's something that nothing* can reverse.

*: Well, maybe redemption or the direct intervention of a deity could reverse it. But hey, it's close, right?

2017-11-12, 01:22 AM
I am big fan of the Gift Curse of Empathy.

Something I came up with for a story, and then ported into various campaigns. Basically, it provides you the insight into the lives and minds of those you interact with, so you can feel the effect you have on others just as if it'd happened to you.

And if you're a saint (like the species that invented it), then it's great! You help people, they're happy and they feel much better afterward, and people are relieved and so thankful.

But of course, if you're an average person, it's torture. People commit casual cruelty to others every single day, which ripples out to affect their direct friends and family, and then their indirect acquaintances, and on an on. Most people would be driven to distraction, always having to double and triple check everything they do, making sure they don't accidentally offend or hurt someone for fear of being hurt themselves.

And if you're a real monster? someone like Hitler (or, to be less real-world, some other vicious autocrat)? You'd be lucky to not commit suicide within seconds. The pain, grief, despair, terror, all those piercing and overwhelming emotions that were inflicted on millions of people at your word and command? And the ripple effect of those actions extending out to millions more, and the horror that others feel at seeing those atrocities? You'd feel it all.

2017-11-12, 01:56 AM
Cursed items? Oh, that's different.

Hmmm... Only one I can remember at the moment is one I made.

The party Identified this magical helmet, and learned that it "protected the wearer's head" (duh), and "teaches blind fighting". The party thought that was awesome, until they discovered that, in battle, it turns into a solid chunk of metal, preventing all vision (and blocking all head hits).

2017-11-12, 02:46 AM
I've never used a curse (besides the vanilla ones) in a campaign, but I love the idea of them being...nasty and sneaky. More voodoo curse than Frostmourne curse.

The kind of thing a hag might swear will be done if the PC decides to kill her instead of let her go free.

Depending on your group (because some of these could get annoying quick), some examples might be:

1.) Every session, a number between 15-20 is chosen at random secretly by the DM. It is the bad number. A natural D20 roll of the bad number by the cursed PC means bad things: Critical failure at best, A whole D100 table of various misfortunes that occur some time in the near future at worst. The fear of wondering if that good roll was a god-awful roll would be horrifying. (For dramatic effect, I would write the number down somewhere public but only reveal it at the end of the session.)

2.) A chance that the PC will suddenly blurt out what the player said. Possibly resulting in strained relations with the other PCs and talks of committing them to a mental institution, or awkward moments with NPCs.

3.) One day, months/years down the road, the PC finds it extremely difficult to get up from being prone. He has been subconsciously eating way more than he should. He didn't realize it, but he's been getting crazy fat (yes, this is Thinner, more or less). This results in a host of horrible modifiers to his abilities, though he does get a +4 bonus on all rolls to be Jolly. The other PCs were afraid to bring it up (out of sensitivity), or the curse gave them a sense of body dysmorphia as well. (You might want to get the other players in on the scheme, depending on how you play this one).

2017-11-12, 08:29 AM
No cursed item, but in a long running campaign the protagonists were rather vastly more 0owerful than any but one of the factions they faced.

So one of the lesser factions developed a curse that actually fed on the targets power.
The more powerful the target, the easier a time the curse had.

What did it do, you ask? It attacked, and removed, the biggest strength of the target. Then moved 9n to the next biggest. And so on.

The only PC hit by it lost her eyes (had immensely, supernaturally enhanced, vision) followed by her getting strong arthritis (she was very dexterous) her face was being overgrown with bones and skin (no beauty any more here...).

Yep, not nice. But the players talked about it for almost a year after they managed to circumvent it.

2017-11-13, 01:00 PM
In a high level Pathfinder game, the party knew we would have to face a group of large troglodyte creatures. Metagame they were a combination of giants and troglodytes. We faced them before and their stench ability was very difficult for the party to face. One failed saving throw and you're out of the combat a significant while.

Playing an Oracle I had an idea of how to negate that. I cast Bestow Curse on each party member, including the Paladin. The Curse was to lose your sense of smell. Not being able to smell anything meant their stench had no effect. The combat became a mere formality. Of course I also had the Remove Curse spell. I was quite proud of myself using Bestow Curse as a party buff.

2017-11-13, 02:43 PM
In my campaigns I often add a solid gold statue of a serpent small enough to fit in the pocket. Its cursed. Once a person pockets it, it is bound to them. It will always return to their person no matter how it is disposed of. After about an in-game week the unwilling/unwitting owner will begin to slowly and subtly hallucinate serpents. Over time it gets worse. I use it for all kinds of plot devices but mostly to punish greedy players and teach em a lesson.

2017-11-14, 03:43 AM
Cursed items? Oh, that's different.

Hmmm... Only one I can remember at the moment is one I made.

The party Identified this magical helmet, and learned that it "protected the wearer's head" (duh), and "teaches blind fighting". The party thought that was awesome, until they discovered that, in battle, it turns into a solid chunk of metal, preventing all vision (and blocking all head hits).

The Joojanta 2000 peril sensitive sunglasses. At the slightest hint of danger, they turn completely black, preventing the wearer from seeing anything that might alarm them.

Jay R
2017-11-14, 01:30 PM
In mythology, Hera turned Zeus's lover Callisto into a bear.

Her son was a hunter.

2017-11-14, 02:12 PM
In a Mage game, a character got a curse that was slowly turning him crazy with Jhor, a sort of death-resonance that slowly drained him of empathy, conscience, and believing others had a right to live.
Fittingly enough, it never really came up since the character was already being played as one that would have gone Jhor-crazy. Maybe he overhyped some of it a bit, but the DM told the rest of us about the curse after that PC died and admitted he never had to enforce the curse since the player RPed way more than the curse required.

In a D&D game, we got a cursed wand. We were able to identify it as cursed, but not what the curse was. Too afraid to try it, it stayed in our backpack for several levels. Eventually one of my characters decided to use it. We realized by then that the curse was too weak to matter for our level.
It was something like a Wand of Wonder, doing random things (sometimes good, bad, or neutral). The curse was a Will save to not be compelled to use it as the best solution for any given problem. By the time one of us actually used it, the Will save was trivial.

I like the curse in Dominic Deegan where a fish falls on his head whenever he takes a smoke.

2017-11-14, 03:19 PM
Ring of Dark Pacts: In your hour of greatest need, this ring will summon a devil that will be willing to negotiate a contract with you (naturally, it will have the power to actually enforce/put into place that contract).


In one of my adventures, my wizard was sent by the king to do an audit of a duchy that would not pay their taxes. I arrived to find the castle in lockdown, and the inhabitants talking about a plague.

After some investigation, I found out that the late duke's new wife was playing regent (badly) while his daughter was underage. She used a poison that caused her to scab all over, and kept her drugged (officially in fever) - and used bigger doses of the same poison to dispose of enemies. (she had been a spy sent to control the duke during the last war, left without orders when her side collapsed - with nothing to fight for, she decided to act on her own behalf)

So, I hit her with a curse that kept her too feverish to think straight ("standard 50% to waste a round" curse) while replicating the same symptoms, and had her confined as contagious, while playing miracle doctor for the duke's daughter.

I then put on a hat of disguise, introduced myself as a third party, cured her of the curse, faked her death, and as payment, recruited her for my own spy network.

Jay R
2017-11-14, 03:39 PM
Back in the 1970s, I was in a game in which the DM allowed "Harold Shea" type of magic. This meant that anybody could attempt a rhyming spell. If it was good enough (proper rhyme and meter, a form that fit the spell, etc.), the spell might work.

There was an elf PC who had caused difficulty for mine. Deciding that a limerick form was suitable for a curse, I wrote:

I have thought of this curse by myself,
For a certain cantankerous elf.
When in battle, despite
All his efforts to fight,
He sits down and plays with himself.

2017-11-14, 11:43 PM
I just added a cursed (are at least haywire) weapon to my game:

The Dagger of Alruin: This +2 dagger projects a line of plasma onto whatever it strikes first every 8 hours. This projects a line 15 feet long that deals 5d8 fire damage (double to shadow creatures) to all caught in it. There is a 1 in 4 chance that the heat also affects the user. On a one on a d4, That player looses the hand they were wielding the blade in.

Not exactly a curse, but I figured it ought to add a complication to most of their plans involving it.

2017-11-15, 12:31 PM
Wield it with Mage Hand.

problem solved.

2017-11-16, 08:45 AM
1) I cursed a Paladin to look like the last creature it killed. It was a blood-thirsty paladin that killed monster races, no matter the consequences (who was hurt in the process) or if they were doing evil. I did a dying curse, and it kept changing him to look like whomever he killed last. Really played up the response from townsfolk so he could see what prejudice looked like.

2) I created a soul-bound doll that had an item that allowed her to cast curse at will. She would find sleeping children and curse them to have nightmares that their parents were trying to kill them. When the party found her, she bluffed her way into the party and cursed them into having nightmares that the party cleric was secretly a member of a dark cult and was feeding them blood in their sleep. The cleric was cursed with speaking and understanding only abyssal, which no one in the party spoke, and he would see holy symbols as their opposite deity's symbol (including his own).

3) I had a party of Drow attack a Dwarven mining town and then retreat. At the top of a ledge, there is a rope that led down and next to it was an ever-burning torch. The torch had a curse that made it so that you could never put it down. You could switch hands, but you could never get rid of it. The two-handed fighter picked it up.

4) I had an evil looking mask that an enemy was wearing. When killed, the mask detached itself and began moving at a speed of 1 towards the nearest living person, sliding across the ground. It moves slowly enough for the party to get away, and can only sense people up to 60 ft away. Once in the same space as someone, it flies up and attaches itself to the face (grapple check), embedding hooks into the flesh. Benefit is that it grants Devil's sight (see in perfect darkness and 30 ft of magical darkness), however it cannot be removed and the user's alignment is slowly shifted to LE.

2017-11-16, 01:37 PM
In a recent Curse of Strahd Campaign, I played a vain bard who was cursed to never have his own face again. I made him into a changeling that couldn't change into anyone of a certain attractiveness.

2017-11-16, 02:43 PM
Once i'm able to use bestow curse to make it permanent, i'm fond of lifelong impotence. :)
Have also used it to make alcohol taste extremely foul and other little things like that. Basically just ruin things that people love.

2017-11-16, 02:50 PM
A fun curse might be that numbers have a 50% chance to get "jumbled" up in their head. It might be a while before they even notice that their money doesn't spend quite like it should...merchants may tell them that he/she hasn't given enough money or too much, or they may just keep the extra money.

When counting the number of enemies, the numbers will be off
When counting treasure, he/she will believe they were held out on

Not necessarily a most powerful curse, but if not noticed for a while, it could definitely become the most expensive.


The most powerful curse I could think of is that a certain monster / creature type was invisible to the victim. Perfect for a ranger with favored enemy or just an evil guy who is trying to stay alive. Have a glyph on a threshold that casts the curse on all who enter, and it makes the race of those within all "invisible". The party may believe that the entire race is just naturally invisible if they have never encountered them before.

2017-11-16, 05:46 PM
A golden rat statuette that shrinks the bearer (and nearby allies) down to tiny size, then transforms into a real rat, and eats them. The party must then escape the bowels of the rat. I guess it's more of a weird adventure than a curse, exactly.

2017-11-18, 01:56 PM
It's not the "best" by any means, but my wife's character in a game I'm running for her is searching for her lost mother, who left when she was a child. Dad would never speak of her and he's dead now, and nobody in the village knows exactly why she left either. Turns out mom and dad helped the village fight off a monster when she was a kid, but the monster was created by a witch who laid a curse on it; anybody who strikes the killing blow will slowly sicken those near them. The longer they are around, the sicker they will get until they die. If you leave and return, they quickly grow to be as sick as when you left. So the cursed person has to be a traveling loner, basically.