Curses don’t show up in tabletop games as often as you might think they would. Traditionally, curses are placed on tombs to prevent grave robbers from stealing the wealth which is buried there, right? But adventurers rob tombs all the time; the worst they ever need to deal with is an animated corpse. And while placing a curse on everything would be a massive time sink which would ultimately not be any fun, a curse here or there could add variety to game play. Sitting down with a notepad just now, I came up with five curses in about 15 minutes which I think would be interesting to use in a game.
Forgive me if this post lacks any of my usual style. As I write this, I am immensely tired.
Mummy’s Curse: Probably the most iconic of curses, the curse of the mummy is simple. When you break into a tomb under the protection of this curse and take something, the mummy rises from the dead. It then hunts you down, kills you, and retrieves what you stole. In D&D, however, mummies are really just another type of undead creature, rather than being part of a curse. They are described as a guardian creature, and are able to spread the curse/disease of Mummy Rot, but there’s nothing which matches the traditional Abbot and Costello style curse.
I propose that, while mummies can exist anywhere, they are most commonly created when a tomb must be protected against robbery. When that is the case, the doors to the tomb are sealed with magics which bestow the curse of the mummy upon trespassers. While the curse is active, the mummy who protects hte tomb which was trespassed upon will always be aware of the location of all of those who bear the curse, and will hunt them, or be destroyed in trying.
Destroyer’s Curse: When a sacred object such as a statue or talisman is broken, sometimes it will confer a curse to the character responsible for breaking it. Until the curse is removed, the character will find that they cannot handle anything safely. Everything they touch with their hands breaks. If they pick up a sword, the blade and pommel will fall apart, leaving the object useless. If they try to don clothing or armor, cloth will tear and straps will snap.
The power of this curse has limits. It cannot be used to destroy a wall or mountain. A rock will not crumble into pebbles simply because it is touched by the character. A good rule of thumb is that tools, weapons, and other items which would commonly be found in a character’s equipment will break if touched. While anything larger than the character themselves will probably be immune.
Captain’s Curse: A spiteful warlock may place a curse upon a position of authority, such as the mayor’s office of a certain town, the captaincy of a ship, or even just the king’s chef. When a job is covered by a captain’s curse, anyone who takes the job will mysteriously end up dead the moment they start trying to do the job competently. For example if the king’s chef made a delicious stew, then somehow they would end up falling into the pot and drowning.
When a position is afflicted by a Captain’s Curse, anyone who fills that role must do their best to perform their job incompetently, lest they become victims of the curse. A captain’s curse cannot be dispelled simply by using Dispell Magic. Normally a more involved decursing ritual is required.
Curse of Secrecy: Sometimes, knowledge itself may be cursed. This would be extremely unusual, as casting a spell on a concept is a difficult task. But for a dark god who wishes to keep their true name a secret, for example, it would be an easy feat.
Anyone who learns a piece of cursed knowledge will find that it is the only secret they can keep. They will be unable to speak a word to anyone about the cursed knowledge, but every other secret they know will constantly fall out of their m omouthes during casual conversation. If remove curse is cast, then the secret which originally caused the curse is forgotten as well.
Broken Mirror: A classic curse bestowing act. A broken mirror is, traditionally, seven years of bad luck. This is nothing but hokum. Breaking a mirror has no effects on a character’s luck. Breaking a magical mirror, however, has significant consequences. A doppleganger of the character will form out of the shards of broken glass within seven weeks of the mirror being destroyed. If the shards are seperated, then the largest group of them will fopminto the doppleganger with no loss of strength. Once it is created, the creature will have but one mission: to find punish the person whose face they wear.