Careless rogues plundering a tomb, drunken heroes insulting a powerful wizard, and foolhardy adventurers who pick up ancient swords all might suffer from curses. These magic afflictions can have a wide variety of effects, from a simple penalty to certain checks to transforming the victim into a toad. Some even cause the afflicted to slowly rot away, leaving nothing behind but dust.
Unlike other afflictions, most curses cannot be cured through a number of successful saving throws. Curses can be cured through magic, however, usually via spells such as remove curse and break enchantment. While some curses cause a progressive deterioration, others inflict a static penalty from the moment they are contracted, neither fading over time nor growing worse. In addition, there are a number of magic items that act like curses.
Curses are among the oldest and most deeply feared types of magic. They linger far beyond the original malicious words or grave deeds that spawned them. Although the most well-known and easily broken types of curses are spells, others are afflictions, from the notorious curse of lycanthropy to foul mummy rot and the esoteric Death Curse of the linnorm.
All the new curses presented in this section are afflictions and share certain features as a result.
This section includes new curses, as well as several curse variants. It also provides advice for using all kinds of curses in your game, including guidelines on creating them.
Curses can afflict characters in a variety of ways, but because they are perniciously difficult to remove, the tone of the game can shift if they appear often. Most curses—especially those that require more than a simple remove curse spell to eliminate—should be used to add a significant and memorable challenge or as a consequence for a momentous choice. A relentless torrent of curses reduces their mystique while dramatically hampering a party’s effectiveness, potentially removing the PCs’ ability to deal with encounters of appropriate Challenge Ratings.
See Magic Items for a description of these cursed items.
The following curses present just a few possibilities.
|Baleful polymorph spell||Curse, Spell||Fort 17||—||—||Transforms target into a lizard||See baleful polymorph.|
|Bestow curse trap||Curse, Spell, Trap||Will 14||—||—||–6 penalty to Strength||—|
|Blood Bane||Curse, Disease||Fort 18||—||—||Whenever the sufferer takes piercing or slashing damage, she also takes 1d3 points of bleed damage. Furthermore, the cursed individual is especially susceptible to poisons delivered via injury, taking a –2 penalty on Fortitude saving throws against them.||Can be cured only with both remove curse and remove disease cast within 1 minute of each other.|
|Creeping senility||Curse||Will 19||1 minute||1/day||Target suffers 1d2 Int drain and 1d2 Wis drain.||Successfully casting remove curse and restoration within 1 minute of each other. Additional castings of restoration are required to restore the drained ability scores.|
|Crusader’s Curse||Curse||Will 15||—||1/day||Target’s gear and equipment takes 1d4 damage, ignoring hardness||Return stolen items to the grave, or successfully casting remove curse (DC is 5 higher than normal).|
|Curse of the ages||Curse||Will 17||—||1/day||Age 1 year||—|
|Daybane||Curse||Fort 17||—||—||The target takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage for every minute of exposure to bright light, including daylight.||—|
|Dayblind||Curse||Fort 17||—||—||The target is blind except in dim light or darkness.||—|
|Debasement||Curse||Will 15||—||1/day||The victim’s valuables rapidly degrade: gems crack, coins transform into lesser metals, objects of art deteriorate, and so on. Each day, mundane items of value—things that aren’t magic items, tools, weapons, armor, food, or living matter—in the accursed’s possession lose 5% of their value. This repeats each day until someone else assumes possession of the items or the items become worthless (coins are transformed into iron slugs, gems into misshapen glass lumps, jewelry into malformed tin, and art objects into amateurish dreck).||—|
|Dissolution||Curse||Fort 18||1 week||1/day||A dreaded form of wasting curse, causes 1d2 drain to a random ability score (determined each day).||Successfully casting both remove curse and remove disease within 1 minute of each other and succeeding at both checks by 5 or more.|
|Famine||Curse||Will 22||—||—||Any food that the target attempts to consume instantly rots into a putrescent mass.||—|
|Fevered dreams||Curse||Will 17||first period of sleep after exposure||1/day (when sleeping)||The target’s sleep is plagued by nightmares.||Successfully casting both remove curse and either remove disease or dispel evil within 1 minute of each other.|
|Font of truth||Curse||Will 15||—||1/minute (when speaking only)||The target is unable to intentionally lie.||—|
|Lethargy||Curse||Will 15||—||1/day||The victim always goes last in the initiative order, and he takes a –4 penalty on all Reflex saves.||—|
|Lycanthropy (werewolf)||Curse||Fort 15 / Will 15||Next full moon||Every full moon or whenever injured||Transform into a wolf under GM’s control until next morning||—|
|Maladroit||Curse||Will 22||—||—||The afflicted character takes a –5 penalty on all Dexterity-based skill checks. Furthermore, during combat the victim must succeed at a DC 20 Reflex save at the beginning of each round or drop a held item (such as a weapon or wand). If she fails the save but isn’t holding anything, she instead loses her balance and falls prone.||—|
|Marksman’s Malady||Curse||Will 14||—||1/day||This curse impacts the victim’s ability to make ranged attacks (including ranged touch attacks). The victim takes a –4 penalty on ranged attack rolls. If the target of such an attack is adjacent to at least one other creature, there is a 50% chance the attack targets one of those creatures instead (determined randomly); apply the attack roll to the new target’s AC to see if the attack hits.||—|
|Mindless Mirth||Curse||Will 16||—||—||Whenever an initiative check is required, the victim must also succeed at a DC 16 Will save or collapse to the floor in gales of laughter (as hideous laughter). The episode lasts 2d4–1 rounds.||—|
|Mummy rot||Curse, Disease||Fort 16||1 minute||1/day||1d6 Con damage and 1d6 Cha damage||Successfully casting remove curse and remove disease within 1 minute of each other.|
|Parched||Curse||Will 15||1 hour||1/hour||This variant of the ravenous curse causes extreme thirst.||—|
|Ravenous||Curse||Will 15||1 hour||1/hour||The target suffers from ravenous hunger.||—|
|Reader’s Scourge||Curse||Will 20||—||—||The target of this curse must succeed at a DC 20 Linguistics check to comprehend any written material. On a failed check, the victim can’t understand the written material for 24 hours, at which point he can attempt a new check. The victim can’t prepare spells from a spellbook or formula book, scribe scrolls, benefit from a magic tome, or research new spells on any day he fails the Linguistics check for the relevant written material.||—|
|Repel Beneficence||Curse||Will 18||—||1/day||The victim gains spell resistance equal to 10 + her character level, which applies only to spells noted as harmless in the Saving Throw section of their descriptions. This spell resistance can’t be lowered voluntarily.||—|
|Runecurse||Curse||Will 22||—||—||Target becomes hunted by a specific devil||Slay the devil or pass the runecursed object to another person who must be willing|
|Shattered self||Curse||Will 20||—||no more than 1/day||The victim’s mind splits into two coexisting personas, one normal, the other malicious and self-destructive.||Successfully casting remove curse and either heal or greater restoration (or other means of restoring sanity) within 1 minute of each other.|
|Swamp Reek||Curse||Will 12||1/day||The accursed reeks of the marshes, and is constantly covered in the fetid muck of swamplands. Anyone tracking this individual gains a +5 bonus on Survival checks to do so, except in an actual swamp. The victim takes a –4 penalty on Diplomacy checks, and NPCs that have an attitude of indifferent toward the accursed act as though they had an attitude of unfriendly. (The penalty on Diplomacy checks and effect on NPC attitude don’t apply when interacting with natural bog dwellers.)||—|
|Unluck||Curse||Will 20||—||1/hour||Target rerolls a roll and takes worse result||—|
|Unthinking Wrath||Curse||Will 22||—||—||Each round the victim is in combat, she must succeed at a DC 22 Will save or be overcome by a blind fury. This state lasts 1d4+1 rounds, during which time she’s under the effects of a fury similar to barbarian’s rage, although she doesn’t gain the benefits from that class feature, including bonuses to Strength, Constitution, or Will saves, and access to rage powers (even if the afflicted has the ability to rage normally). While in a fury, the afflicted takes a –2 penalty to AC, can’t use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Ride) or any ability requiring patience or concentration, and attacks the individual nearest to her. If multiple targets are equally close, the afflicted person attacks randomly each round.||—|
|Vulnerability||Curse||Will 17||—||—||The target becomes vulnerable to a single energy type||—|
|Weakened Shield||Curse||Will 26||—||—||The afflicted develops a pronounced vulnerability to either bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, taking a –4 penalty to AC against attacks that inflict that damage type.||—|
Many spells can place curses on unfortunate victims. Their effects are usually simple and can be ended with the right spell (but never dispel magic). All curse spells have the curse descriptor. The most well-known is bestow curse, which allows the caster to invent her own effect in line with the listed options (no worse than a 50% chance of losing actions, a –4 penalty on checks, or a –6 penalty to an ability score). Effects in line with that power level include the following, though ultimately they are limited only by the caster’s imagination and the GM’s discretion.
- When the victim is adjacent to the area of a damaging spell or spell-like effect (even one he created himself ), the area expands to include the victim.
- The victim can’t heal naturally, and magical healing heals the victim by only half the usual amount (minimum 1 point). The victim’s fast healing and regeneration, if any, are likewise halved.
- The victim is plagued by cacophonous sounds and strobing lights that only she can hear and see. She is distracted (–5 penalty on Perception checks), cannot take 10 on skill checks, and must succeed at a concentration check (DC = 20 + spell level) to successfully cast spells. Any time the victim picks up or retrieves an object (including drawing a weapon or ammunition), there is a 50% chance that she immediately drops it. If she drops ammunition while attempting to make a ranged attack, that particular attack is lost.
Save DCs: The stat block for a curse lists the save DC. For curses that can be created by a spell, this usually represents the minimum DC. If a spell is used to create a curse in your game, calculate the DC using the caster’s ability score and the spell level as normal.
Curses needn’t be limited to the effects described above or in the rules for afflictions.
When designing a new curse, though, be careful not to go too far. A devastating curse can have consequences as serious as dying or being turned to stone. Certainly, horrific curses that promise immediate and inescapable doom have their place, but curses that can be endured for a time bring far more horror to the table, as struggling under the curse can lead to more tension than instant death would bring, while surviving and escaping such a curse can become an adventure all its own. Consider these guidelines when creating a curse.
Make It Logical: A character generally doesn’t get cursed for minding her own business. More often, the victim meddled with powerful forces, disturbed an ancient grave, or even wronged a vengeful fortune-teller. Try to fit the curse to the act that brought it on, like a glutton being unable to eat, a bigot becoming the target of his bigotry, or a tomb robber burning in the light of day.
Make It Interesting: A boring curse isn’t worth the game time it consumes. A good curse should be creepy, comical, embarrassing, or terrifying, and it helps to have a good story behind it.
Make It Interactive: Some curses require the players and GM to roleplay effects such as an inability to lie or a compulsion to steal. This sort of curse can be very rewarding with a motivated group, as possible effects could extend far beyond what game mechanics decree.
Make It Simple: A good curse has easy-to-handle mechanics. Most curses should have only one or two effects, and should be possible to resolve during play. Avoid the need to reference complicated effects during combat. Failing that, prepare an index card with the curse’s details that you can use as an easy reference.
Curses can have a wide range of effects, which is something to keep in mind when designing a new curse. They may trigger only intermittently, apply a constant penalty, or grow worse with time. In addition, curses can function exclusively using game mechanics, or incorporate roleplaying considerations.
Optional Rule: Spontaneous Curses Although spellcasters can curse targets more easily than others, in times of great emotion and the need for vengeance, other creatures can channel divine or arcane energy to create a spontaneous curse. A curse can be improvised only under great stress, whether by the deepest indignity, seething hatred, cold revenge, or as a dying act (all at the GM’s discretion), though in any case, never more than once in a month. Spontaneous curses are most commonly placed upon those who violate a taboo or a sacred or unholy place. Sometimes gods or other supernatural beings curse mortals who fail tests of character or who trespass where they are not welcome.
If the GM allows a creature to place a spontaneous curse, that creature must have at least 5 ranks in Knowledge (arcana) or (religion). Such a creature can attempt to use a curse with a listed DC less than or equal to 10 + its number of ranks in the skill. Creatures with a curse ability, as well as some creatures closely associated with curses (such as angels, fey, hags, and undead), can curse a target without meeting this requirement. Improvising a curse reduces the cursing creature’s Charisma score by 2, and this decrease remains as long as the curse lasts; the cursing creature cannot dismiss its improvised curse.
Intermittent: Some curses, such as unluck, trigger only under certain conditions but otherwise stay consistent in their effects.
Mechanical: These curses rely on game mechanics for the majority of their effects, such as applying penalties, ability damage, or negative conditions. This sort of curse is a good choice if you want a steady, consistent effect for the curse, though particularly with conditions, you might have to start considering interactions with other abilities triggered by those conditions.
Progressive: A progressive curse functions much like a disease, requiring periodic checks to determine whether the affliction progresses. However, unlike those suffering from diseases, the victims of these curses cannot recover just by succeeding at saving throws. A progressive curse worsens with each failed save, often ending in incapacitation or death. Mummy rot is a typical progressive curse.
Static: Curses like baleful polymorph apply an effect for the entire duration of the curse, with no change in their severity.
The most conventional way to rid a victim of a curse is the spell remove curse, occasionally with the aid of other or more powerful magic. When making a new curse, especially one with a strong story background, consider novel ways to remove the curse beyond just casting a spell, as with the spell conditional curse. Robbers might be cursed until they return every ill-gotten coin, while a haughty aristocrat might suffer until she cleans the feet of a dozen beggars.
In these cases, it’s best to make the victim vaguely aware of how to end his torment, but let him discover the specific details on his own through either research or trial and error. Curses with story-based remedies are often hard to break with remove curse and break enchantment.
Increase the DC for removal by 2, 5, or even 10 based on the power of the curse. Particularly powerful curses resist remove curse and break enchantment entirely, requiring either specific conditions for removal or the application of limited wish, miracle, or wish.
Some curses are easier to remove than normal; improvised curses, because of their impromptu nature, tend to be easier to remove. A simple cleansing ritual might suffice to remove them, which the PCs could discover through exploration, research, or a successful Knowledge (religion) check.
Such curses could even fade over the course of days or weeks. While many NPC casters offer curse removal with no questions asked, it is common knowledge that curses are rarely picked up accidentally. Some of these casters might want to know the circumstances behind the curse (often employing Sense Motive or even divination magic during the discussion). Good-aligned churches might expect acts of atonement or charity as at least partial payment for removing a justly gained curse.
Should a curse seem impossible to end by either normal or conditional means, the accursed might take desperate measures for even temporary relief from their suffering. Many such methods are dire enough that creatures may consider them worse than simply being cursed.
Death: Some curses end upon the death of the victim, perhaps leading a victim to take her own life in the hope of being raised from the dead free of the curse. Although some find release this way, others are sorely disappointed; some gods may not smile upon such wanton suicide—or the victims might be restored to life, only to find themselves still afflicted by the curse.
Making Amends: A curse laid as punishment for a misdeed might be neutralized by rectifying the misdeed. But there are no guarantees. Undoing the misdeed and additionally offering a comparable effort to make up for the 141 trouble caused might allow a new saving throw against the curse to remove it. Forgiveness from the curse-layer grants a +4 bonus on this saving throw. For curses that require amends, remove curse generally fails unless and until such amends are made.
Symbiosis: On rare occasions, a character might allow the curse to infect her very being as a desperate attempt to mitigate the effects, hoping that this will give her some measure of control. Symbiosis with a curse is rarely successful, and it usually leads to contracting an accursed corruption, as the curse takes over the creature’s personality. In rare cases, curse symbiosis might transform the accursed into a monster associated with curses (such as a hag) without first going through an accursed corruption.
The existing rules describe many kinds of cursed magic items. These cursed items most commonly result from something going horribly wrong during the creation of a normal magic item. However, it is also possible for such items to carry a curse to punish a death or to be the result of intentional malice. Cursed items are often most pernicious and difficult to thwart when created to hurt a particular foe.
A creature can intentionally craft a cursed item—except unique cursed items and items with opposite effects—in the same manner as the item it resembles in most respects.
Crafting a cursed item has the same requirements and calls for the same skill checks as for the normal item, but in addition, intentionally cursed items require bestow curse or major curse. Crafting cursed items that pervert normal items usually has the same cost as for the fully functional versions, though with the exceptions below. However, as with all magic item price guidelines, the discounts below should be used only as a starting point for determining a cursed item’s final price, and the particulars of a given situation will likely require ad hoc adjustments beyond the advice below.
Delusion: Items that merely delude the user into thinking they function cost 90% less than normal, or possibly even less (for instance, an item that deludes the user into thinking it’s a mirror of life trapping probably doesn’t need to cost 20,000 gp).
Drawbacks and Requirements: Drawbacks and requirements typically don’t reduce the cost of a cursed item in any way (and might increase it). Since the crafter of an intentionally cursed item is setting these requirements, it is expected that she does so with a particular agenda, such as choosing a requirement that doesn’t affect her very much but would make the item painful for her enemies to use should they steal it, or choosing a requirement that she wants someone to perform anyway and then offering the item as a gift.
That said, these curses typically affect the price when selling the cursed items to a merchant. The price may be reduced by 10% for minor drawbacks or requirements such as minimum skill ranks or the worship of a specific deity; by 30% for harmful or costly drawbacks or requirements such as an alignment change, ability damage, sacrificing wealth, or performing a quest to activate the item; or by 50% for severe drawbacks or requirements such as negative levels that cannot 142 Horror Rules 5 be removed or needing to routinely sacrifice sentient creatures to the item.
Opposite Effect on Target: These items are rarely appropriate for a character to intentionally craft, as they might lead to weird situations where a reverse attack or a dispelling of certain spells is actually beneficial when used on allies, or vice versa. For effects where the opposite is not a new effect (such as inflict light wounds instead of cure light wounds), the crafter might as well just craft the opposite item to begin with unless she plans on tricking the owner of the item.
Stained Items: A creature’s death can potentially stain a magic item that’s used to kill it, that’s in close proximity at the moment of death, or that’s crafted using material gained by its death. A stained item is permanently converted into a cursed item of the appropriate type. A stained item functions as normal for a cursed item of its type except that the DCs of checks for remove curse or similar magic to suppress or remove the item’s curse from any creature responsible for the curse-layer’s death increases by 5.
Unique Items: These items should be priced and their crafting requirements assigned on a case-by-case basis as new items with the effects they produce rather than the items they appear to be.
These are two examples of unique cursed items.
Slot none; CL varies; Weight — Aura varies
This scroll can seem to contain any spell. When the wielder attempts to cast the spell, the ink turns to blood and runs off the page, ruining the spell automatically. The scroll’s edges turn sharp and cut the wielder’s hands and wrists, dealing 4 points of Constitution bleed. A successful DC 15 Reflex save halves the bleed. The bleed can be stopped with any magical healing or a successful DC 20 Heal check.
INTENDED MAGIC ITEM
Slot none; CL varies; Weight 5 lbs.; Aura varies
This staff appears to be an ordinary staff and functions normally as such until it is used in combat. The wielder’s effective caster level drops to match that of the staff or the wielder’s caster level – 4, whichever is lower. The wielder’s spellcasting ability score drops to 10 + staff’s highest spell level, unless it is already lower.
The wielder must employ the staff rather than any other melee weapon or spell trigger item. Even if the staff is fully charged, the caster fails to regain spell slots for the day unless she forgoes a spell slot to restore 1 charge to the staff. However, she never again regains a spell slot used to charge the staff until she is freed from the curse. The only way for the wielder to be rid of the staff is by miracle or wish.
INTENDED MAGIC ITEM
Cursed land is a region marked by divine judgment, scarred by a great tragedy, or wounded by intentional malice. Common causes of such a regional curse include undead hauntings in the area, a grave transgression by the inhabitants that offends a powerful spirit or god, and largescale killing or destruction that demands justice. They can also be artificially created with spells, such as curse of night, curse of fell seasons, and the curse terrain spells.
A regional curse has an area in addition to the features all curses have. All regional curses have a DC for the purpose of removing the curse, but many of their effects allow no saving throw. When casting remove curse to remove a regional curse, the caster treats the land as an object and typically needs to be at the center of the emanation or at some other location closely tied to the curse.
Sometimes, a creature’s punishment curse and a land’s curse are the same. A cursed lord is a creature trapped by a cursed realm. The cursed lord gains power over the realm, but is incapable of leaving unless the curse is somehow broken, which usually involves killing or redeeming the cursed lord. Characters can accomplish this only by enacting very specific circumstances, similar to the restrictions placed upon the destruction of artifacts. For example, a cursed realm might trap a villainous cursed lord who profited by selling false maps to escaped slaves and refugees, who then drowned while attempting to cross a river at a nonexistent ford; the realm would be impossible to free from the stain of his heinous crime until he is slain and his body is placed in the river by a former slave.
Type regional curse; Area 1-mile-radius emanation; Save Will DC 23 to remove (see spell text)
The area is cursed with famine, living death, or plague, as described in cursed earth.
Type regional curse; Area 1-mile-radius emanation; Save Will DC 22 negates
Nonmagical light and magical light sources that produce normal light create only dim light in the cursed area, and even direct sunlight leads to only an ambient dim light in the 143 area (similar to a full moon). Twilight and night are always dark. Creatures harmed or weakened by daylight can move about during the day in this area and the only impairment they take from the dimmed sunlight is that they become dazzled in its area. Plant growth in the area is stunted, as per the stunt growth usage of diminish plants. Any spellcaster attempting to cast daylight or a spell that creates true daylight or bright light in the area fails unless she succeeds at a Will saving throw against the curse. Success leads to normal light, rather than bright light.
Type regional curse; Area 1 structure; Save Will DC 19 negates effects
A building can take on a life of its own if enough memories, fears, or other strong emotions become bound up in it. Such a building seeks to force residents to stay and either keep it company, serve it, protect it, or feed its unearthly hungers. The jealous structure is similar to a building-sized intelligent magic item of any evil alignment with Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores of 16, fast healing 5, and the ability to use the following spell-like abilities at caster level 11th a minimum of the number of times per day listed below: 3/day—animate objects (furniture only), heightened fear (DC 19), heightened telekinesis (unattended objects only; DC 19); 1/day—guards and wards.
Type regional curse; Area 18-mile-radius emanation; Save Will DC 22 to remove
As per major perilous demesne, except up to seven hazards, each of CR 14 or less, imperil creatures in the area. The hazards are arranged so that if any are encountered together, the encounter’s effective CR from hazards must be no more than 15 (for instance, two CR 13 hazards could be encountered together).
Cure Remove curse removes a grand perilous demesne only if followed by a casting of hallow at the effect’s center, and then casting disintegrate on each of the hazards before the next nightfall or midnight.
Type regional curse; Area 6-mile-radius emanation; Save Will DC 19 to remove
As per major perilous demesne (see below), except up to six hazards, each of CR 10 or less, imperil creatures in the area. The hazards are arranged so that if any are encountered together, the encounter’s effective CR from hazards must be no more than 11 (for instance, two CR 9 hazards could be encountered together).
Type regional curse; Area 1-mile-radius emanation; Save Will DC 16 to remove
As per minor perilous demesne (see below), except this can involve up to four hazards, each of CR 6 or less, imperil creatures in the area. If any hazards are encountered together, the encounter’s effective CR from hazards must be no more than 7 (for instance, two CR 5 hazards could be encountered together).
Type regional curse; Area 300-foot-radius emanation; Save Will DC 13 to remove
Up to three hazards (see the Environments section), each of CR 3 or less, imperil creatures in the area, though never with more than one hazard at a time.
If a creature places this curse, it can choose the hazards.
The hazards must be appropriate to the type of terrain (at the GM’s discretion). Any of the hazards that are rendered safe reset themselves and become dangerous again at each midnight.
Type regional curse; Area 2-mile-radius emanation; Save Will DC 23 to remove
The weather in the cursed region changes drastically, even bringing snow to a blazing desert. The area is plagued by your choice of cold weather conditions, very hot conditions, or frequent powerful storms. The weather remains unpredictable, and can change over time (as determined by the GM), but the baseline weather is altered as long as the curse remains.
Some curses function in an unusual fashion compared to others. The following section presents several templates that can be applied to any curse to represent variants of that curse.
These templates function similarly to templates that can be applied to creatures, and you could potentially apply several templates to the same curse to create a truly horrifying effect.
In addition to the curse’s normal effect, the curse is transmissible to other creatures by a particular means. This could be similar to transmission methods for a disease, or it could be something more esoteric, such as by song or love.
Cure The accursed creature’s attempts to remove its own curse with magic automatically fail, though other creatures can do so as normal. Whatever its other means of transmission, a creature attempting to cure the original creature’s curse with magic is automatically exposed to the curse and must succeed at a saving throw to avoid being afflicted by it.
A Death Curse usually occurs upon the deaths of linnorms, some fey, or hags, but other creatures can also curse their killers. The save DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 the creature’sHit Dice + the creature’s Charisma modifier, rather than the curse’s normal DC. A Death Curse’s effect is the same as the original curse, and the effect tends to vary based on the cursing creature’s HD.
Cure In addition to the standard cures, the first time that the creature who placed the Death Curse returns to life, the accursed creature receives a new saving throw to break the curse. If the accursed contributes to this resurrection, she receives a +4 bonus on this saving throw.
HD Death Curse 1–5 Minor haunting* or weeping wound* 6–10 Bestow curse, major haunting*, or tormenting visions* 11–15 Doom of the hunted*, shattered self*, or unluck 16–20 Greater doom of the hunted* or sealed fate* * New curse described in this section.
In addition to cursing the original target creature, this curse continues to curse the target’s children, and their children, and so on across multiple generations. It is possible it might carry on only to certain children (such as daughters or firstborn children).
Cure Generational curses can usually be cured only by special means, though the extinction of a family line also is able to end its threat. Even if remove curse can cure the curse on an individual target, it doesn’t stop the generational curse from affecting future generations, which must deal with the curse in their own manner.
Type curse; Save Fortitude DC 19
The victim’s mind and body become unreliable, imposing a –4 penalty on all ability scores. Whenever the victim enters combat, he must succeed at a Fortitude save against the curse’s DC or become fatigued.
Type curse; Save Will DC 17
The victim is haunted by a ghost as described in minor haunting (see below).
Cure Unlike a minor haunting, a major haunting can be ended only by putting the ghost to rest, though casting remove curse directly after the ghost is destroyed prevents it from reviving for 2d4 days.
Type curse; Save Will DC 13
The victim is haunted by a poltergeist. Once per day, the victim must attempt a Will save against the curse. If she succeeds, she takes a cumulative –1 penalty on future saving throws against the curse. If she fails, the poltergeist manifests within 300 feet and begins stalking her over the course of 2d12 hours, attempting to kill her when she appears to be most vulnerable. When combat begins, the victim automatically becomes shaken for 1 minute. The curse revives the destroyed poltergeist to haunt the victim again the next time she fails the saving throw against this curse.
Cure In addition to the normal means for removing a curse, this one can be ended by determining the poltergeist’s reason for existence and setting right whatever prevents it from resting in peace.
Type curse; Save Will DC 22
The victim is hunted by an ankou as described in hunt of the bogeyman.
Type curse; Save Will DC 19
The victim is hunted by a bogeyman. Once per day, the victim must attempt a Will save against the curse. If he succeeds, he takes a cumulative –1 penalty on future saving throws against the curse. If he fails, a bogeyman is called within 1 mile and begins stalking him over the course of 2d12 hours, attempting to kill him when he appears to be most vulnerable. When combat begins with the bogeyman, the victim automatically becomes shaken for 1 minute. The curse revives the slain bogeyman to hunt the victim again the next time he fails the saving throw against this curse.
The target is doomed to die in an appointed fashion (this curse can also be an unintended consequence of an attempt to prevent the target’s death by other means).
The victim gains a +4 luck bonus on Constitution checks to stabilize when dying as long as she is not suffering from injuries tied to the named cause of death. Whenever the target is damaged by the named cause of death, fails a save against that cause of death, or otherwise fails to withstand the named cause of death in a way that doesn’t involve damage or saving throws (for instance, failing a Constitution check against suffocation), she must attempt a Fortitude save against this curse. If she fails, she dies instantly; if she succeeds, she is staggered for 1 round.
Type curse; Save Will DC 20 negates; Frequency no more than 1/day (see text)
The victim’s mind splits into two coexisting personas, one normal, the other malicious and self-destructive. When in control, the self-destructive persona sabotages the victim’s efforts and plots the demise of the victim’s friends and loved ones. It takes care to conceal its actions and intent from others. The normal persona has no sense of missing time.
Exactly when the alternate persona takes control is up to the GM, but it does so no more than once per day. Each time the alternate persona surfaces, the victim must succeed at a save or the alternate persona takes control for 1d6 minutes.
Normally these takeovers happen when the victim is alone or with just one person, but moments of extreme stress can force the victim to attempt a save against this effect as well.
The alternate persona has full access to the normal persona’s memories and abilities, and it receives a +10 bonus on Bluff checks to conceal its presence. Despite the malevolent nature of this affliction, the victim’s alignment remains unchanged when under the curse’s effects, so for instance, the selfdestructive persona could still use a paladin victim’s abilities.
Type curse; Save Will DC 15 negates
The target is haunted by horrible phantasmal visions that distract him at critical moments. He takes a –4 penalty on concentration checks and on saving throws against effects that would impose any of the following conditions on him: confused, dazed, nauseated, shaken, sickened, or stunned.
Type curse; Save Fortitude DC 14 negates
The victim has a wound that cannot heal, effectively reducing her maximum hit points by an amount equal to her level or 5, whichever is more. Magical healing that would raise a victim’s hit points above this reduced maximum is wasted.
Source Wayfinder #12
Tomb curses are a new type of curse introduced in the Pathfinder fanzine “Wayfinder” issue #12. Scroll down below the table (or click here) to check them out!
Everyone has heard tales of archeologists, tomb robbers, or adventurers who ignored the warnings posted on the entry to a tomb and suffered strange events and bizarre deaths as a result. While some may scoff at the idea, these curses are quite real. Spell casters usually placed them upon the tomb or sarcophagi of powerful or important individuals, giving them heightened power specific to the tomb they protect.
The curses of interred royalty and their minions are unusually potent, having some limited effect even on those who avoid the main effect of the curse. The most potent curses require powerful magic to remove. Many of the tomb curses are also poetic in their delivery, which lends an air of mystery to their effect until it manifests. Many victims have assumed to know the effects of a curse only to have their preparations be ineffective against the actual effects.
Tomb curses have the following elements:
Inscription: This is the actual text of the curse. These curses follow a specific pattern in their wording. It begins with the curse’s triggering conditions followed by the effect of the curse. Both sections may be either as clear as a perfectly cut diamond or as opaque as silt during the rains.
This lists the specific action or actions required to activate the curse. There can be multiple triggers; making any of the triggering actions will require one or more saving throws.
Save: This lists the DC and saving throw type for the primary effect.
On a failed save, this is the main effect of the tomb curse.
This is the secondary effect of the tomb curse and affects anyone who triggers the tomb curse, regardless of the results of her saving throw. The secondary effects do stack with the primary effect, though the secondary effects are typically restricted to the area of the tomb itself.
A successful remove curse will cleanse most tomb curses. The more powerful tomb curses may require stronger magic (such as wish or miracle), specific actions (such as consecrating the tomb or returning any looted items), or both.
Inscription: “Those who would defile my tomb or contents therein shall be known to all of the foul creatures that crawl upon the land and thus shall know no peace.”
Any act of looting or opening of sarcophagi within the tomb.
Save: DC 15 Will
Any vermin or vermin swarm encountered will focus their attacks upon the victim. Magic that would normally calm or control vermin have no effect and vermin or vermin swarms summoned by allied casters, or by the victim herself, also target the victim.
Suffer a –2 penalty to attack and damage rolls against vermin within the tomb.
Spells remove curse
Inscription: “Cursed be those who plunder or desecrate my tomb. Their bodies shall succumb to the venom of the asp and their souls shall be granted no rest.”
Any act of looting or opening of sarcophagi within the tomb.
Save: DC 15 Will
The victim automatically fails all initial saving throws versus poison. Additionally, when she sleeps, the victim is plagued by dreams of a ghostly form chasing her relentlessly through the desert, causing her to awaken every morning fatigued.
Suffer a –2 penalty on all saves versus poison made within the tomb.
Spells remove curse
Inscription: “May the power of Ra burn the body and turn the soul to ash of those who dare to disturb my rest.”
Opening the tomb’s primary sarcophagus.
Save: DC 20 Will
Suffer a –2 penalty to saving throws against fire-based spells and effects within the tomb.
Spells remove curse
Inscription: “Woe unto those who disturb my tomb. A plague be set upon your house, leaving you weak for the slaughter at the hands of your enemies.”
Entering the tomb.
Save: DC 20 Will
The victim must also make a DC 17 Fortitude save or be struck with the withering (see below). Additionally, until the curse is removed, all opponents gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls against the victim.
Opponents encountered within the tomb gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls against those suffering this effect (this effect stacks with the primary effect).
see The Withering below
The Withering Curse/Disease
Type curse, disease; save Fortitude DC 17; onset 1 minute; frequency 1/day; effect 1d6 Str; cure The withering is both a curse and disease and can only be cured if the curse is first removed, at which point the disease can be magically removed. Even after the curse element of the withering is lifted, a creature suffering from it cannot recover naturally over time. Anyone casting a conjuration (healing) spell on the afflicted creature must succeed on a DC 20 caster level check, or the spell is wasted and the healing has no effect. The save DC is Charisma-based.
Inscription: “Herein lies the favored of Osiris, protected by the god’s will from those who would pillage what is not theirs. With great vengeance shall his will smite those who would dare violate his favored servant’s tomb.”
Any looting of items in the tomb.
Save: DC 25 Will
The victim receives only half the amount of healing from conjuration (healing) magic and cannot be brought back from the dead. Anyone casting any conjuration (healing) spell upon the victim must succeed on a DC 20 caster level check or the spell fails to deliver any healing and is wasted.
While in the tomb, any time a victim of the curse takes damage from any source, she suffers an additional 5 points of damage.
Inscription: “The claim has been made and the deal struck with Ptah. Let none usurp it. Misfortune follow any who enter this sanctuary and doubly so on those who would violate the claim.”
Entering the tomb and any looting within it.
Save: DC 25 Will
The victim must roll two dice for all attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws and ability checks and take the worse of the two results. If the victim participates in any looting within the tomb, the victim’s opponents roll two dice for all attacks made against the victim and take the better of the two. Additionally, every night, half of the victim’s coin, gems and jewelry vanish.
All attack, damage, skill, saving throws and ability checks suffer a –2 penalty while in the tomb.
Special All looted items must be returned within 24 hours or victims are again subject to the curse.
Inscription: “Those who enter my sacred tomb with impure heart, or who disturb my body or those of my servants, shall be drained of soul and left to wander the deserts for all eternity.”
Anyone of a differing alignment of the deceased entering the tomb or any looting within the tomb.
Save: DC 30 Will
The victim is affected by an energy drain and receives 2 permanent negative levels. Each day the victim is under the effects of the curse, she must make an additional Will save or suffer an additional 2 permanent negative levels. If a victim dies while under the effects of the curse, her spirit manifests as a spectre the following night. She is drawn back toward the tomb, cursed to be its guardian.
All saving throws made against negative energy effects have a –5 penalty while in the tomb.
Special Negative levels cannot be removed until the curse is removed.
Inscription: “Behold the resting place of the Unseen One, servant of those from beyond. Breach not the seal lest those who lost a servant gain one anew.”
Anyone opening the tomb or crossing the threshold.
Save: DC 30 Will
The victim goes mad, as per insanity.