... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Re-Doing Cursed Swords

I've been thinking again about ways to fix cursed swords and other cursed magic weapons. The problems with cursed magic items as they are currently described are that you have to make a cursed weapon undroppable, if you dont want players simply to ditching the weapon once they realize it's cursed, Even so, they can still carry an ordinary weapon in their other hand and attack only with that weapon, to avoid the curse. And also, a simple penalty on the attack roll seems so bland...

One solution is to apply the penalty to other random rolls, particularly random selection rolls like yesterday's Embedded Relics table. Of course, unless you are using a lot of tables like this, constructed with a mix of bad stuff on the low numbers and good stuff on the high numbers, this won't matter much. You could, however, apply the penalty to other rolls, like the wandering monster roll: instead of a 6 indicating a wandering monster, subtract 1 or 2 (depending on the curse value) from 6 to get a new target number.

These kinds of penalties would apply to the character who took the cursed weapon, regardless of whether the character keeps the weapon or uses it. Only Remove Curse corrects the problem.

Another idea is that, when making an attack, a roll of 1 (or 1-2, with a cursed -2 sword), would cause something bad to happen, like hitting a friend or animating a corpse of a recently-slain enemy. Something to make a cursed weapon seem scarrier than a mere "you thought you hit, but you missed instead." In fact, I'd make cursed weapons act like +1 or +2 magic weapons, in all respects, to give players a temptation to keep the weapon a little longer.


  1. One could be a horrible stinker and only allow those with a cursed weapon to gain exp for fighting when they use the cursed weapon, the now cursed warrior can otherwise do as they please. So go right ahead and drop it in the corridor...

    1. Aside from the meanness, though, I never liked fiddling too much with xp for specific actions. I prefer making it seem like a good risk.

      Also, if anyone who uses a cursed item gets a (copy) of the curse, a single cursed sword could cause quite a bit of mayhem.

    2. It could be mitigated by a exp reward for getting the curse removed (if the DM is a softie), or an exp reward for bumping off anyone else with a claim on a cursed weapon. Mayhem that motivates players to go off the sneak, bah door, kill monster, and loot scheme now and again is good. I'm not sure I'd go with it myself at all but "no EXP unless you use the cursed sword" would certainly feel like being cursed.

  2. You could give a cursed weapon a plus to hit, but reduce the damage it does. For example, a longsword might be +2 to hit but -4 to damage (doing a minimum of 1 damage). Just don't tell the player he's doing -4 damage - let him imagine he's doing +2 damage until he figures out for himself that his sword isn't as good as he thought!

  3. My favourite is to make cursed weapons have a short-term benefit and a long-term drawback. Play on the players short-sightedness and greed.