D20:Magic Items: Cursed Items Rules

[top]Cursed Items

Cursed items are magic items with some sort of potentially negative impact. Sometimes they?re directly bad for the user; sometimes they?re just inconvenient. Occasionally they mix bad with good, forcing characters to make difficult choices.

[top]Cursed Item Common Curses
16?35Opposite effect or target
36?45Intermittent functioning
76?90Completely different effect
91?100Substitute specific cursed item
The user believes the item is what it appears to be, yet it actually has no magical power other than to deceive. The user is mentally fooled into thinking the item is functioning and cannot be convinced otherwise without the help of a remove curse spell.
[top]Opposite Effect or Target
These cursed items malfunction, so that either they do the opposite of what the creator intended, or they target the user instead of someone else. The interesting point to keep in mind here is that these items aren?t always bad to have. Opposite-effect items include weapons that impose penalties on attack and damage rolls rather than bonuses. Just as a character shouldn?t necessarily immediately know what the enhancement bonus of a noncursed magic item is, she shouldn?t immediately know that a weapon is cursed. Once she knows, however, the item can be discarded unless some sort of compulsion is placed upon it that compels the wielder to keep and use it. In such cases, a remove curse spell is generally needed to get rid of the item.
[top]Intermittent Functioning
The three varieties of intermittent functioning items all function perfectly as described?at least some of the time. The three varieties are unreliable, dependent, and uncontrolled items.
Each time the item is activated, there is a 5% chance (01?05 on d%) that it does not function.
The item only functions in certain situations. To determine what the situation is, either select a situation or roll on the following table.
01?03Temperature below freezing
04?05Temperature above freezing
06?10During the day
11?15During the night
16?20In direct sunlight
21?25Out of direct sunlight
35?37Out of water
56?60Within 10 feet of a random creature type
61?64Within 10 feet of a random race or kind of creature
65?72Within 10 feet of an arcane spellcaster
73?80Within 10 feet of a divine spellcaster
81?85In the hands of a nonspellcaster
86?90In the hands of a spellcaster
91?95In the hands of a creature of a particular alignment
96In the hands of a creature of particular gender
97?99On nonholy days or during particular astrological events
100More than 100 miles from a particular site
An uncontrolled item occasionally activates at random times. Roll d% every day. On a result of 01?05 the item activates at some random point during that day.
In a sense, a command word is a requirement. Nevertheless, some items have much more stringent requirements that must be met for them to be usable. To keep an item with this kind of curse functioning, one or more of the following conditions must be met.
  • Character must eat twice as much as normal.
  • Character must sleep twice as much as normal.
  • Character must undergo a specific quest (one time only, and then item functions normally thereafter).
  • Character must sacrifice (destroy) 100 gp worth of valuables per day.
  • Character must sacrifice (destroy) 2,000 gp worth of magic items each week.
  • Character must swear fealty to a particular noble or his family.
  • Character must discard all other magic items.
  • Character must worship a particular deity.
  • Character must change her name to a specific name. (The item only works for characters of that name.)
  • Character must add a specific class at the next opportunity if not of that class already.
  • Character must have a minimum number of ranks in a particular skill.
  • Character must sacrifice some part of her life energy (2 points of Constitution) one time. If the character gets the Constitution points back (such as from a restoration spell), the item ceases functioning. (The item does not cease functioning if the character receives a Constitution increase caused by level gain, a wish, or the use of a magic item.)
  • Item must be cleansed with holy water each day.
  • Item must be used to kill a living creature each day.
  • Item must be bathed in volcanic lava once per month.
  • Item must be used at least once a day, or it won?t function again for its current possessor.
  • Item must draw blood when wielded (weapons only). It can?t be put away or exchanged for another weapon until it has scored a hit.
  • Item must have a particular spell cast upon it each day (such as bless, atonement, or animate objects).

Requirements are so dependent upon suitability to the item that they should never be determined randomly. An item with a requirement that is also intelligent often imposes its requirement through its personality. If the requirement is not met, the item ceases to function. If it is met, usually the item functions for one day before the requirement must be met again (although some requirements are one time only, others monthly, and still others continuous).
Items with drawbacks are usually still beneficial to the possessor but they also carry some negative aspect. Although sometimes drawbacks occur only when the item is used (or held, in the case of some items such as weapons), usually the drawback remains with the character for as long as she has the item.
Roll on the table below to generate a drawback that (unless otherwise indicated) remains in effect as long as the item is in the character?s possession.
01?04Character?s hair grows 1 inch longer. Only happens once.
05?09Character either shrinks 1/2 inch (01?50 on d%) or grows that much taller (51?100). Only happens once.
10?13Temperature around item is 10°F cooler than normal.
14?17Temperature around item is 10°F warmer than normal.
18?21Character?s hair color changes.
22?25Character?s skin color changes.
26?29Character now bears some identifying mark (tattoo, weird glow, or the like).
30?32Character?s gender changes.
33?34Character?s race or kind changes.
35Character is afflicted with a random disease that cannot be cured.
36?39Item continually emits a disturbing sound (moaning, weeping, screaming, cursing, insults).
40Item looks ridiculous (garishly colored, silly shape, glows bright pink, . . .).
41?45Character becomes selfishly possessive about the item.
46?49Character becomes paranoid about losing the item and afraid of damage occurring to it.
50?51Character?s alignment changes.
52?54Character must attack nearest creature (5% chance [01?05 on d%] each day).
55?57Character is stunned for 1d4 rounds once item function is finished (or randomly, 1/day).
58?60Character?s vision is blurry (?2 penalty on attack rolls, saves, and skill checks requiring vision).
61?64Character gains one negative level.
65Character gains two negative levels.
66?70Character must make a Will save each day or take 1 point of Intelligence damage.
71?75Character must make a Will save each day or take 1 point of Wisdom damage.
76?80Character must make a Will save each day or take 1 point of Charisma damage.
81?85Character must make a Fortitude save each day or take 1 point of Constitution damage.
86?90Character must make a Fortitude save each day or take 1 point of Strength damage.
91?95Character must make a Fortitude save each day or take 1 point of Dexterity damage.
96Character is polymorphed into a specific creature (5% chance [01?05 on d%] each day).
97Character cannot cast arcane spells.
98Character cannot cast divine spells.
99Character cannot cast any spells.
100Either pick one of the above that?s appropriate or create a drawback specifically for that item.
Template:d20:specific cursed items rules

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