Monday, November 30, 2020

Numberless Curses

 These are curses on weapons that are not about -2 to hit or damage, but more about limiting the fighter tactically.  It may even be interesting to have weapons that have a bonus to hit and one of these curses and then let the player decide whether using the weapon is worth the trouble.  This weapon is cursed so that you must always: 

1.     attack last, after all allies and foes. [Sloth]

2.     attack only once per battle. [Sloth]

3.     attack only until you wound a foe, then stop. [Sloth]

4.     attack a foe only after it has been wounded by an ally. [Sloth][Envy]

5.     attack only one foe until it is dead and keep beating the corpse until the battle has ended. [Wrath]

6.     attack a foe, switch targets and attack that foe, switch targets etc, until the battle has ended. [Wrath]

7.     attack only foes that are also being attacked by an ally. [Envy]

8.     attack only foes that have attacked you. [Vainglory]

9.     attack only foes that have attacked an ally. [Sloth]

10.  attack only foes that have wounded you. [Vainglory]

11.  attack only the last foe to have wounded you. [Vainglory][Wrath]

12.  attack only foes that have wounded an ally. [Sloth][Wrath]

13.  attack only when unarmored and shieldless. [Vainglory]

14.  attack only while allies fight alongside, otherwise you surrender. [Sloth]

15.  attack only alone, never with others. [Vainglory]

16.  attack only unaware targets. [Sloth][Cowardice]

17.  attack only after shouting your intended target. [Vainglory]

18.  attack only the most threatening foe—the largest, most experienced—then stop when they are dealt with. [Vainglory]

19.  attack only the weakest foe—the smallest, most frightened—then stop when they are dealt with. [Sloth][Cowardice]

20.  attack only when begged by an ally. [Vainglory]


For some reason I started thinking of these curses in a framework of traditional Christian sins, like the knight that wielded the magic sword last was an anti-saint that was reeking of pride.  Sorry if that's a distraction, there are other ways to frame curses as “bad” as I realized when I noticed that cowardice, which is often reviled, is not one of the seven deadly sins, nor selfishness.  Also, I like the term vainglory here better than pride for boastful, showy fighting.


  1. Well, if we're going with the Big Seven, you can't leave out:

    21. attack until your target is slain or surrenders, then stop fighting to search the body for valuables that you can loot (Greed) "Hey, these are some really nice boots!"

    22. after each attack, spend a round eating and/or drinking, which requires at least one free hand and makes defending yourself difficult. Refuse to fight at all if no provisions are available - you're much too weak with hunger and thirst (Gluttony) "Gads, all this fighting makes for a terrible thirst!"

    23. when attacking a target that you find sexually attractive you must attempt to subdue them without causing harm, attempting seduction (and possibly worse depending on the character's personality/alignment) once you've done so (Lust) "So, you come here often?"

    You'll want to save that last one for the grown-ups table, and even then only after discussion about how far the curse can push things. Acting the rakish lothario is one thing, but nobody wants a rapist at the table.

    Nice to see you back. I'm so burned out lately.

  2. Thanks for those. Those are great, right in theme! I like the idea for the first two that the party doesn't know the character is cursed, maybe they can only say "I'm sorry, I feel compelled to do this" each time they take a food break and the party will have to figure out the curse.

    For the third one, maybe an abstraction that can stand in is just: "you must always avoid attacking foes of the opposite sex."

    And I feel you. Hang in there.

    1. I considered that approach for "Lust" but I've been watching far too much James Bond lately (RIP Sean) and the idea of trying to seduce an enemy you've just beaten is kind of stuck in my head as less squicky than it actually is. Wouldn't go the full-on sexual assault route without some serious forethought discussion, even if I was using it solely to establish something like a previously-friendly NPC having gone very, very bad since he picked up that new sword. Too much for a PC, that's not the sort of thing you want a cursed item to do. Which is perhaps hypocritical, I doubt at be as hesitant about a sword that cursed you to kill - the Sword +2 Berserking has been around forever, after all.

      Also, it's 2020 and assuming every PC (or player, for that matter) at the table is attracted to the opposite sex is something I try not to do anymore. Times have changed a lot in the last fifty years and I struggle to avoid true dinosaur status lest I be compressed into petroleum when I die. :)

  3. Lol, yeah. I was trying to think of simple and easy to adjudicate binaries and forgot for sex that could be nebulous. Heck, for something like knolls or sleestak how would you even know the target's sex?

    That made me think of a more clear and distinct binary foe vs. ally and the possibility of a curse being "always attacks allies when combat begins." but that seems potentially un-fun for players.

    I think the idea you brought up of the cursed doing something other than fighting during combat, or interrupting combat with other activities has more potential. Rest after every successful attack, clean your weapon after every successful attack, pray after every missed attack. etc.

    1. could take the magic ability here

      and hack it so it applies to a weapon, triggering when you make an attack with it. Hit or miss, you have to spend the next round cursing at your target even if you just killed it. Make the same opposed die roll in the article, or use Intimidate or whatever your system likes for that sort of thing, and either enrage or frighten your target accordingly.

      That would be Wrath, I think.

      Another take on Lust might be to force you to interfere with attacks being made by allies on whoever you're currently lusting after, spending your reaction to apply a big fat to hit penalty if possible. "No, you mustn't mar such beauty!"

      That doesn't feel nearly as sinful to me, but it could be pretty funny if your cursed sword also gives you a bad case of magical beer goggles and you keep insisting the party stop attacking that dead sexy mind flayer or giant slug or whatever. Definitely less grim than my original idea.