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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cursed Items

How do you handle cursed items?

Specifically, what happens to your cursed sword or armor when you try to remove it or get rid of it? I get the impression that most people run it as if the curse warps space or perception; you *think* you dropped that annoying sword in a volcano, but next time you get in a fight, there it is, in your hand. It never actually came up in my games, but I more or less used this approach in the past.

Another approach, which was also explicit in Nethack and The Fantasy Trip, was to make cursed objects impossible to remove or drop. Not just "The cursed sword forces its way into your hand when you try to draw your dagger," but "You can't sheath your sword. It's cursed." Thus, the cursed item can cause far more problems than just an attack or defense penalty. In some cases, this can be useful, so GURPS actually had a Hex item enchantment that caused an otherwise un-cursed object to behave in this fashion.

What I'm thinking is: the easiest solution would be infectious curses. You pick up a cursed sword, you get infected with a curse that bestows an attack penalty, no matter what weapon you use. The sword itself remains cursed, so if you discard it, all you manage to do is spread a little more misery.

Are there any more approaches to cursed items floating around out there?


  1. I've done cursed weapons, generally, as, you can't throw it away, and every time you go to draw a weapon, it's the weapon you draw. Why can't you get rid of it? You just can't. The belt won't come loose, you can't drop the sword in combat (or if you do, you're compelled to retrieve it). Etc. But it depends on the power of the curse - a minor curse might be easy to break, a great curse might have that sword fly back to the castle after you chuck it off a cliff.

    The book The Misechanted Sword, by Lawrence Watt-Evans, has a (powerful) magic sword you can't sheath until you kill someone with it, and examines a lot of the practical consequences of that. The book ends lamely like most W-E's books do, but the idea is pretty well done.

  2. Another approach I've seen with Buck's Hat of Misery is to have adverse consequences (even worse than when the item is worn/held) take effect if the item is removed from the character. With Buck's Hat of Misery, the character starts to die when the hat is removed.


  3. Hm... I think it's high time I created a couple of cursed items and put them into my megadungeon in progress.