Curse
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"I think this is it," Doc said examining the inscription on the massive stone door.

"What does it say?" Penny asked, shifting the burnished brass plate she held to reflect more light on the hieroglyphics.

"This here is the seal of the Pharoah Ash-Khash B'Ghash. And below it, there is more. It says: Cursed be all who desecrate this tomb"

Dick glanced at Penny and swallowed hard, trying not to let his uncertainty show. "Uh, you don't believe in that banana oil, do you…?"

Basic Information

A curse is any type of adversity believed to be inflicted by any supernatural power. It could be caused by a magic spell or an imprecatory prayer or just plain Wrath-O-God. Some curses are on people; others are on places or objects. Some curses are said to be transmitted through families down to the Seventh Generation.

Cursed objects either just bring uniformly bad luck to the owner, or work for their advertised purpose but have amusing side effects. Some of them are "sticky" and impossible to get rid of - or, failing that, so arranged that getting rid of the object and getting rid of the curse are two entirely different matters. Some of the nastier ones will influence the owner's personality instead, up to and including taking them over completely.

Curses on a place tend to transform them, one way or another into a bad place.

Traditionally a personal curse is a punishment for some crime or the other (with or without values dissonance) against the curse-giver. The accursed may be able to resist or, especially in the case of "if you do this then…" curses, may be considered to be consenting to it by doing whatever they were told not to do. Often a curse must be lifted by a power at least equal to the one that bestowed it, which can make a curse delivered by a deity interesting to get rid of.

A traditional way of lifting a curse placed on you by a human12 worker is to kill the person responsible. Depending on the magic involved this may - or may not - work. If that's how you got the curse in the first place, you'll need to try something else. The death curse - one invoked by the death of the giver - is therefore potentially a serious problem … this can elevate suicide from a somewhat counterproductive form of protest into a powerful weapon.

Divine curses can also be theologically interesting - in many cases it makes no sense for the deity invoked to inflict a given curse (particularly the sort that turn people into undead and suchlike) - in those cases it may be more appropriate for the curse to represent a handing over of the accursed to some power of evil who then punishes them. Of course, other deities are well known for their imaginative curse design…

Some curses don't actually exist, but are the results of coincidence and/or imaginative press agents.

Some Popular Curses

Sources

Bibliography

Game and Story Use

  • Often - but not always - a curse should be a thing of poetic justice; the punishment should reflect the crime. Making this work in game terms can be tricky - the GM will need to balance getting a working effect in the game mechanics with 'flavour' so that it doesn't just come across as some 'lamerz debuff'.
    • Bloodthirsty man! Since you were so eager for the blood of my people, let blood be your sustenance now and forever! - target is obliged to drink blood to avoid severe penalties (or possibly unable to consume normal food and drink). May be a prelude to rising as a vampire if not lifted prior to death.
    • You who are so eager to shed the blood of others - let your blood also be eager to be shed! - target now bleeds more profusely, either contracting haemophilia or suffering some similar affliction.
    • Accursed be the despoiler of the innocent - let your body betray the corruption of your heart! - an excuse to inflict some kind of physical deformity on the target.
  • Lifting a curse (whether on oneself or on another) is fairly standard quest fodder. As might be finding out whether the curse is real or imagined.
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