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Curses

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.

See Magic Items for a description of these cursed items.

New Curses!

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!

Sample Curses

The following samples present just some of the possibilities when creating curses.

Name Type Save DC Onset Frequency Effect Cure
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Unluck Curse Will 20 1/hour Target rerolls a roll and takes worse result
Vulnerability Curse Will 17 The target becomes vulnerable to a single energy type

Tomb Curses

Source Wayfinder #12

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.

Elements of a Tomb Curse

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.

Trigger

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.

Primary Effects

On a failed save, this is the main effect of the tomb curse.

Secondary Effects

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.

Removal

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.

Sample Curses

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.”

Trigger

Any act of looting or opening of sarcophagi within the tomb.

Save: DC 15 Will

Primary Effects

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.

Secondary Effects

Suffer a –2 penalty to attack and damage rolls against vermin within the tomb.

Removal

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.”

Trigger

Any act of looting or opening of sarcophagi within the tomb.

Save: DC 15 Will

Primary Effects

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.

Secondary Effects

Suffer a –2 penalty on all saves versus poison made within the tomb.

Removal

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.”

Trigger

Opening the tomb's primary sarcophagus.

Save: DC 20 Will

Primary Effects

The victim acquires light blindness and vulnerability to fire. In direct sunlight, she suffers 1d6 fire damage per round.

Secondary Effects

Suffer a –2 penalty to saving throws against fire-based spells and effects within the tomb.

Removal

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.”

Trigger

Entering the tomb.

Save: DC 20 Will

Primary Effects

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.

Secondary Effects

Opponents encountered within the tomb gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls against those suffering this effect (this effect stacks with the primary effect).

Removal

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.”

Trigger

Any looting of items in the tomb.

Save: DC 25 Will

Primary Effects

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.

Secondary Effects

While in the tomb, any time a victim of the curse takes damage from any source, she suffers an additional 5 points of damage.

Removal

Spells miracle or wish.

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.”

Trigger

Entering the tomb and any looting within it.

Save: DC 25 Will

Primary Effects

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.

Secondary Effects

All attack, damage, skill, saving throws and ability checks suffer a –2 penalty while in the tomb.

Removal

Spells miracle or wish.

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.”

Trigger

Anyone of a differing alignment of the deceased entering the tomb or any looting within the tomb.

Save: DC 30 Will

Primary Effects

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.

Secondary Effects

All saving throws made against negative energy effects have a –5 penalty while in the tomb.

Removal

Spells miracle or wish.

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.”

Trigger

Anyone opening the tomb or crossing the threshold.

Save: DC 30 Will

Primary Effects

The victim goes mad, as per insanity.

Secondary Effects

Victims' faces are marked with a sign of the Old Ones, as greater brand. Worshipers of the Old Ones gain a +2 profane bonus to attack and damage rolls against bearers of the brand.

Removal

Spells miracle or wish. Each removes only one of the effects.