View Full Version : How does an item get cursed?

07-11-2009, 05:41 PM
All of the excellent cursed items in Favorite Cursed Items have me wondering:
How'd they get that way? The cause of the curse can be just as interesting as the curse itself.

Most of the cursed items in my campaign (there are very few) are the result of magic that sat out past its expiration date. To me, and the magicians in my campaign, it's simply more cost effective to create an item that works when the creator wants it to work, rather than one that isn't effective until someone stumbles upon it. :target:

So how did your item get its curse?

07-11-2009, 07:43 PM
Most items I've seen that are cursed were made that way via magic, usually by some less-than-reputable wizard, either for hire or for his own unknown evil intentions.

I did read an article long ago about an alternate way that items could become magical. Basically, it suggested that items used for extremely good acts, or maybe even extremely evil acts, could somehow become magical. I suppose if you agreed with that type of thing, any number of acts could create a cursed item as well as a non-cursed item.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
07-11-2009, 09:58 PM
I always wrote it off as... why ask why.

07-12-2009, 01:54 AM
In some cases, a cursed item offers the user power... but at a cost. The +2 berserk sword comes to mind. A nifty sword until you start going berserk. Or items were created for different type of beings creatures; a demon wielding a berserk sword would not be concerned with allies.

Another option is the item was conceived for treachery (a wizard creates an item for a powerful warlord in hopes it will fail on him when needed thus ending their tyranny or usurping their power.)

Or they were created just out of spite. I would put it in analogy of putting poison or razorblades into candy.

You can make whatever flavor you want but I prefer the model of items being usuable at a personal cost as being cursed.

07-12-2009, 06:37 AM
Sometimes wizards and high priests don't take all the necessary precautions when enchanting or channeling power into an object. Sometimes the salt bought is only 95% pure rather than 99.9985%. Sometimes the opening of portals opened to elemental plain of fire to draw forth elemental fire to make a flaming sword, fumble -- and a more evil flamie place is opened instead. ("Hey, Victor. Does this +4 flamebrand smell like brimestone to you?")

Sometimes its just mischievous fae who twist the magic.

Sometimes it a simple enchantment fumble, gone horribly wrong.

Cursed scrolls though... are the work of demon fundamentalists who believe that the best way to increase entropy in the universe is to mess with literate folks.

07-12-2009, 06:54 AM
In a game I am playing in the DM used a anti-magic field, and had the field work with the waxing and waning of the moon. And a player was trying to create a helm of True Strike. Well since the moon was in the waning stages he had to roll on the wild magic chart, and it wound up back firing on him. Instead of being a helm of True Strike, it would always be identified as such, but it gave you a -20 to your AC to the next attack on you.

So I would say some of the items might have been crafted in an anti-magic field with wild magic surges happening.

07-12-2009, 07:20 AM
im a dm and i use the cursed item as if they were made by people with dirty tricks in mind ( temporary curses) that only work for a certain sitautiona nd then are gone. or made with the intent to destroy or do harm to others ie. via a demon wizard or such evil creature. example i used recently was a cursed scroll found near an evil wizard the party just killed. it got read by the party druid and well now she has -3 to her int ( this is a scroll of learning disability. as you read this you will smoly not be abe to undlersland tese wrds) it was a cruel trick but the party never expected it and that was what made it fun.

07-12-2009, 07:24 AM
This is something that I really like about the way the upcoming Pathfinder RPG is going to handle cursed items. Paizo has added a crafting check, albeit not a difficult one from what they have said, that if fumbled can create a cursed item. That's an awesome idea as it seems the circumstances would be exceedingly rare indeed when someone would actually want to spend thousands, or tens of thousands of gold to specifically create an item that is malfunctioning. Don't get me wrong, I am sure it happens, but doing it this way is another plausible explanation.

07-14-2009, 12:34 PM
I like the sabotaging idea. I'm picturing an adventure in which the PCs have no hope of getting near, or hurting, some BBEG. However, the BBEG is known to use lots of magic items, so the PCs could get somewhere if they could figure out 1) how to create a cursed item and 2) how to trick the BBEG into using it.

Corvus Drake
07-14-2009, 11:08 PM
My last introduction of cursed items was in response to my players going evil and annihilating a magic-heavy city. They caused an apocalyptic condition and the enchantment on the town caused any magic item stolen from its denizens to become cursed...

So the apocalypse there kicked in, and people started dying, the end result was that all of the items in town that were magical were "stolen".

Gotta love Bag of Devouring...

07-15-2009, 01:12 AM
You see it starts with a DM who's a little mean and cranky...

07-15-2009, 11:33 AM
Too true, Grim. Too true.

07-15-2009, 09:46 PM
Can be. I don't have a single way curses fall on items.

Some are mis-made. The boots of springing and striding turn out as boots of eternal dancing. Toss those in the bin.

An item can become cursed for being used in a great crime. Say a holy sword used to betray and kill one's true and just Lord. The very act twists the weapon in some fashion that is evil.

The item might not be cursed. Who is to say a necklace of strangulation is a cursed item? It could well be a deliberate assassin's tool. replace the victim's favorite jewels and ACK!

That is just three reasons. I try to come up with a good background on any cursed item.

07-17-2009, 10:50 AM
one of my favorite 'cursed' weapons of all time was in this novel i once read, the mis-enchanted sword by lawrence watt evens. enchanted in a hurry and with bits and pieces of various spells, it winds up being a sword that once drawn, it will astound and amaze with it's magical prowess against a foe... but only one foe. then it is as if the sword is un-magical. so you have to re-sheath it after every foe in order for the magic to work again. oh, yes... the sword refuses to be re-sheathed until it has tasted blood, so once drawn it must slay something. and there is the little catch that the enchantment will only work so many times before the sword will turn on the owner... how many times, you ask? well, the wizard was in a hurry, so he doesn't know either. ^^

use with caution. =D