Wednesday, November 13, 2019

OSR: Cursed Items: Curse as Corruption

Kasimir Urbanski, better known as the RPGPundit said something very interesting about cursed items.  He says that cursed item in D&D are poorly done, because the second you use a cursed item, you're automatically cursed and it just sucks.  It's basically an overly complicated trap.  He said that was dumb and I agree.

The above format, curse-as-trap, doesn't really provide any interesting choices, plus it makes players paranoid about picking up cool treasures.  It limits player choice, which should be something avoided in an RPG, which is all about making choices. 

Thus, I am proposing two solutions.  The first is Curse-as-Gamble, which is where a Cursed Item is powerful, but there is a chance that it horribly backfires on the person who ends up using it.  For example, imagine there was a quiver of cursed arrows that always hit the target and inflicted wounds that could never heal, but on a critical failure (a natural "1") the arrow reversed course and hit the archer who fired it instead.  I will be making another post about items like this.

The second solution is Curse-as-Corruption, where cursed items don't necessarily seem cursed, but they are designed to provide the character with warped incentives, to slowly twist them into a villainous person.  These items aren't even necessarily cursed- perhaps they were evil from the start.

Regardless of definition, here are six items to corrupt your player characters with.

Cursed, Corrupting Items
1d6

1- The Transaurian Tooth.
2- Ring of Quagmire.
3- The Spectre's Key.
4- The Prismatic Javelin.
5- Seven Times Slaughter.
6- The Robe of Eyes.

                                              from Magic the Gathering

The Transaurian Tooth.

A golden tooth that can only be used by sticking it into your mouth over one of your canine teeth.  Once there it bonds with your tooth and functions as a normal tooth until you remove it.  While the Transaurian Tooth is in your mouth you gain the following abilities:

- You gain a bite attack that does 1d12 damage, but is made at a -4 penalty unless the target is helpless, sleeping or otherwise disabled.  If you were grappling them, the penalty would be -2.
- You regain an amount of HP equal to the amount of damage you have dealt with your bite attack

If you leave the Tooth on for 1 day or less, you suffer no penalties but gain no additional bonuses.

But if you leave the Tooth on for 1 day or more, one of your other canine teeth elongates and turns to a matching gold.  Once this happens, your STR and DEX go up by 1 point, to a maximum of 18(+3).  You also gain find that regardless of your original complexion, your skin is growing paler. 

After two days of wearing the Tooth, another one of your canines will have turned gold and elongated.  Your skin will now be very pale and your hair will begin bleaching, changing to a bright yellow. Your STR and DEX will go up by 1 point, to a maximum of 18(+3).  You will also find your fingernails have grown long and sharp in the night.  You may now make a claw attack that deals 1d6+STR damage on a hit.  Your claws also give you a +4 bonus to climbing.

After three days of wearing the Tooth, all your canines will have grown long and golden.  At this point, you will gain the ability to be able to teleport up to 50' once per day as a free action.  Your skin will now be pale and smooth as marble, your hair the color of shining gold and your eyes will be the same hue as polished rubies.  Your STR and DEX will go up by 1 point, to a maximum of 18(+3). 

If you wear the Tooth for any longer than three days, your body will undergo its final metamorphosis.  All your canines will fall out, to be replaced by long, glassy needles with hollow interiors.  You will find that sunlight damages your skin, doing 1d6 damage a round exposed to it and you need blood to survive.  If you do not consume at least 1 HD of blood a day, or do at least 1d4 damage to one of your party members as you drink their blood, you get -4 to any check or saving throw.  If you do not drink blood for two days in a row, this bonus doubles.  If you do not drink blood for three days in a row, you fall into a coma that only blood can awaken you from.  Congratulations, you have become an Auric Vampire.  This change is permanent.  Finally, all your golden canines are now Transaurian Teeth and function as the magic item.

At any point before the final metamorphosis, if you take out the Transaurian Tooth, the changes gradually reverse themselves, the bite attack, claws and teleportation ability leaving immediately.  The stat increases go over at a rate of 1 point per day.  Your complexion and natural hair color will gradually assert themselves over a period of months, but eventually you will be back to your old self. 

                                                     from Eepium on Shapeways

Ring of Quagmire.

The ring is made of clear crystal when you first pick it up.  It is magical, but weirdly "hollow" feeling.  Anyone who wears this ring gains one particular ability- to absorb other living creatures.  By touching that other creature, the ring's user can force that other creature to save.  On a successful save, that creature takes 1d6 CHA damage as the user's psychic attack chips away at the creature's defenses.  If this CHA damage ever equals or exceeds the creature's CHA score, or if it doesn't have one, Mor+HD, count that as a failed save.  On a failed save, the creature is absorbed into the user's body.

The creature saving may also receive penalties or bonuses to its saving throw.  If that creature has an equal number of HD to the user, it receives neither bonuses nor penalties.  If it has fewer HD, it receives a penalty to its save equal to the difference in HD.  If it has greater HD than the user, it receives a bonus equal to the difference in HD.  If the creature has 3x or more HD than the user, or has a damage threshold greater than or equal to the user's HD, the creature counts as immune.  A willing creature may also forgo a save and allow itself to be absorbed.

A creature that is absorbed is placed into the user's body, which may distort the user's body in shape or appearance.  The more creatures the user absorbs, and the more different those creatures are in comparison to the user's natural body, the greater the distortion.  This has no numerical bonus, but if you become a hulking freak, others might be less keen to work with you.

Finally, the ring's user can access any memories or abilities of an absorbed creature, provided that creature is either willing to fails a saving throw.  If the absorbed creature succeeds his saving throw, the user's mental attack does 1d6 CHA damage to the absorbed creature.  However, the absorbed creature may also attack back now, forcing the user to save as well, with the user taking CHA damage on a successful save.  On a failed save though, the absorbed creature may either wrench itself out of the user's body or possess the user's body.

If the Ring of Quagmire is ever taken off or separated from the user's body, all the absorbed creatures are immediately freed.  If the user dies with creatures still absorbed in it, the absorbed creatures die as well.       

                                                from aniknation on Etsy

Spectre's Key.

This a large, weighty key of tarnished iron.  It resembles a large paperweight more than an actual key.  The key also radiates a subtle aura of magic, but it doesn't feel like Wizard's work.  It feels, for lack of a better term, colder.  During the day, this aura is barely noticeable unless you hold the key, the holder or possessor of the key feeling it as a vague, undirected discomfort that can be ignored.  If you aren't looking for it, you might not even notice it.  The key's aura changes at night or in places where sunlight cannot reach, growing stronger and colder.  In dark places or at night, the key is cold to the touch, like you just picked it out of a snowbank.  When the key is activated, the temperature of the key drops even lower and astral winds buffet all those within 30', sending chills down their spine.

The key's power is that when touched to a locked door, chest, or anything else that requires a key of sorts, that lock will be opened.  The key can open any non-magical lock, even ones using computers or complicated mechanisms, such as a bank vault or a fingerprint lock.  It can even open most magical locks.  As long as the lock is sealed with a spell such as Arcane Lock and not a specific requirement, such as the Tooth Door in Death Frost Doom, the Spectre's Key can open it. 

However, there is a secret and terrible price for using the Spectre's Key.  The Key is actually haunted, with the ghost of a vengeful murderess tied to the Key.  Every time she is called upon to open a lock, she invisibly leaves the Key and opens the lock, but then leaves to go hunt.  The Spectre bound to the Key was a child-killer and a poisoner in life, but now in death she has become more terrible than anyone dared fear.  The Spectre will go in pursuit of a victim.  Her favorite prey is children, but if she cannot find any she will kill anyone who looks weak.  After she kills her victim, she will leave the body somewhere the holder of the Key can find it.  She will mock him or her through her murders.  If somehow prevented from killing after the Key is used, the Spectre will hide in the Key and refuse to come out until she is allowed to satiate her appetites.

The Spectre of the Key
HD 3  AC 13  Atk Claws (+1, 1d6 + poison claws/ 1d6 + poison claws)
Mor 12      Saves 9 or less is a success

Ghost: The Spectre of the Key is a Ghost.  Along with being Undead, she can also fly and turn herself intangible as a free action, so non-spiritual objects pass through her.  When intangible she is immune to non-magical damage, but can only affect spiritual or magical objects.  She cannot damage living creatures in this state.

Conditional Immortality: The Spectre of the Key will continue existing as long as the Spectre's Key is intact.  Even if reduced to zero HP, if the Key is still intact, she will return at full HP the next time night falls. 

Sunlight Damage: The Spectre of the Key takes 1d10 damage a round if exposed to sunlight.   

Poison Claws: The Spectre of the Key has long claws that upon a successful hit, force a creature to make a CON saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is paralyzed and cannot move.  On a successful save, the creature can either take an extra 1d6 poison damage or a -4 penalty to his next save against her poison.

Tactics:   
- Target the most vulnerable
- Paralyze someone then fly away with them
- Get overconfident

The Spectre's Key is magical, but this magic does not prevent it from being destroyed.  The Key has the same physical properties of a normal, iron Key.

                                                         source unknown
The Prismatic Javelin.

This is a javelin with a handle made of solid iron and covered in white gold, the tip being made of flawless crystal.  The javelin's crystal head shines bright in the light and throws rainbows through the air, so any attempt to use it while sneaking near a light source should automatically fail, unless the enemies are blind or will ignore bright lights and colors for some reason.

The javelin functions perfectly well as a Javelin and is magic, so it can damage non-physical creatures such as Ghosts and the like.  However, the Javelin has an additional ability.  It functions as a Staff and can can store a spell, but it will have a 50% chance of being pre-loaded with the spell Prismatic Ray and a 50% of being empty.  If you have at least one spellcasting dice you can cast the spell loaded into the staff. 

However, if the Prismatic Javelin is empty and the person holding it casts a spell that requires an attack roll, if they miss, the Prismatic Javelin gives them the ability to reroll that attack roll, though they must use the second result. 

There is a catch though.  The Prismatic Javelin is actually sapient and highly intelligent.  It calls itself Emperor Locus or The Refracted King and demands your respect.  It prefers to be addressed as "Your Majesty", but any sufficiently respectful title will probably be enough to sway it.  It has better things to do than nitpick you.  Locus does not tolerate disrepect  and if it is not treated well, protected and addressed politely and courteously, it will deny any disrespectful person who uses it the ability to reroll his spell attack rolls.  In particularly egregious cases it might reflect the attack back at the caster.

The Prismatic Javelin will also make requests of its wielder from time to time.  Each day, it has a 2-in-6 chance of making a request, with 1d4 weeks, or however much time the Referee thinks is appropriate, till the next request is made.  These requests will begin small and seemingly arbitrary, but will gradually increase in magnitude.  First the Prismatic Javelin will ask you to acquire a rare book and give it to some seemingly unimportant bureaucrat, then before you know it it will be asking you to hijack ships carrying large shipments of metal ore and disrupt local economies.  These requests will be staggered, with each one increasing in scope and wickedness, though the Prismatic Javelin doesn't seem actively malicious.  It doesn't seem to care about mortals, or even individuals, at all.  To it, you are tools to achieve an end. 

The Prismatic Javelin also has two secret abilities that it will not tell you about.  The first is that it can cast Prismatic Defense once per day as a level 1d4 spell, either on just itself, or on itself and the wielder.  If you anger it, the Prismatic Javelin will cast this spell on itself to cause anyone who tries to touch it will have a very, very bad time.

The second is that the Prismatic Javelin can cast Teleport once per day, either on itself, itself and its wielder or itself, its wielder and up to [sum] other creatures who are touching the wielder or someone who is touching the wielder, such as if everyone is standing in a circle and holding hands.  The spellcasting dice used to expand this spell must come from the current wielder.

If you are in serious danger and the Prismatic Javelin feels you will be useful to it, it will use these abilities to save you.  If it does not, it will not reveal these powers and simply let you die.  If it fears for its own safety though, or that it might end up in some terrible place, it will use these abilities to escape and leave you to die.  It has no real loyalty.

The Prismatic Javelin is very tough and is immune to most elemental forms of damage, necrotic, radiant, cold, acid.  It also cannot be damaged by non-magical weapons or tools.  The only way to destroy it would be to hit it with a magic weapon that was just as or even more powerful, expose it to some kind of effect that destroys magic utterly, or melt it into slag.  It can resist most fires without taking any damage, but a sufficiently hot blaze, such as a furnace used to make high-quality steel or dragonfire (assuming you can find a Dragon that breathes fire and not some other nonsense) could do it.  Of course, this is all secret knowledge.  The Prismatic Javelin will never disclose its weaknesses. 

Here is another piece of information the Prismatic Javelin will never disclose.  It is actually the phylactery of an ancient Lich named Locus, the Refracted King.  The weapon itself is not intelligent, being merely connected to his soul and you were actually conversing with an ancient Undead spellcaster who traded everything, including his "humanity" for power.  Locus will do anything to protect the Prismatic Javelin as if it is destroyed, so is he.  This is why he imbued it with so much power, so it couldn't easily be destroyed.  He could recall it at any time, but he feels that it is better served being as far away from him as possible. 

                                                           source unknown

Seven Times Slaughter.

It was once a beautiful sword.  In some ways, it is still is.  When it was forged, only the finest of ores were used.  The smith was an aged master, aided by assistants and apprentices who had decades of experience themselves.  They labored over the sword for seven days and nights, taking shifts to continue working on it.  In the end, the sword was all but flawless, as perfect as mortal hands could make it.  The ancient smith then bathed the sword and sharpened it till it was sharp enough to shave with, to make the wind bleed.  Then, just as he finished, the buyer came.  He arrived in the night to pick up the sword and when he saw the masterpiece the ancient smith had made, he rejoiced.  As he held the sword in his hands, he felt how balanced it was, how thin the blade, how flexible it was, yet he knew it would cut like a razor.  The buyer declared the sword to be the greatest piece of workmanship he had ever seen, which would have been high praise.  However, the buyer now realized something.  The sword had a flaw in it.  The apprentices and the assistants nearly rioted at that.  They demanded to be shown this flaw, but the ancient master calmed them with a word and replied that the sword was not perfect, as perfection was simply unattainable without the help of a higher power, which was the one thing that the ancient smith did not have.

No, not that, the buyer said.  The problem with this sword is that he's so hungry.  He's starving, but even though he is a guest in your house, nay, a child produced by your hands, you have not fed him.  The ancient smith was not given the chance to wonder what the buyer meant by this, as the buyer attacked and instantly beheaded the ancient smith, whose reflexes had been slowed by age.  The youthful assistants and middle-aged apprentices recognized the danger this buyer posed now, but they had failed to save their master.  In the end, they would fail to save themselves.

Thus, the bloody legend of Seven Times Slaughter began.  This sword has been passed from killer to killer, taking part in some of the bloodiest chapters in history.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that this blade is evil.  It breeds war and makes warriors into killers.  When drawn, Seven Times Slaughter draws fears from the wise and confusion from the foolish. They are its favorite prey, those who don't know what they are facing until it is far too late. 

Seven Times Slaughter starts a magic sword that does 1d6+STR damage on a hit, but when it comes into contact with blood, it animates that blood and transforms it into a temporary weapon with killing intent.  The bearer of Seven Times Slaughter may, on his turn, command the blood of anyone he has injured with the sword to either damage that person automatically for 1d12 damage or to command that blood to make an immediate attack roll against another creature as a free action.  This causes the blood to emerge as an animated tentacle from the wound of the previously wounded creature and attack another creature within 10', using the sword holder's attack bonus and dealing 1d12 damage on a hit.

However, once used to kill or wound any creature, the bearer of Seven Times Slaughter realizes that he must kill at least 3 more creatures within 1 minute or suffer at the hands of the blade.  If the bearer kills at least 3 creatures, then he suffers no penalty.  If he fails to though, he immediately takes 1d12 damage, plus an additional 1d6 each time he tries to touch the blade.  Seven Times Slaughter can be appeased by killing the remaining amount of creatures and draining their blood into an enormous jar, then dunking the sword into the jar and leaving it there overnight. 

Seven Times Slaughter's ability remains the same until the bearer of the sword has killed 10 creatures with it or 4 creatures within 1 minute (6 rounds = 1 minute).  After that, the bearer of the sword, upon wounding or killing any creature with the sword must kill five creatures within 1 minute or suffer the same penalty as per above.  The bearer still takes 1d12 damage upon failing to feed Seven Times Slaughter.  Additionally, the damage the sword's magical ability does to creatures who have had their blood affected, either by automatically damaging them or with the blood tentacles is reduced to 1d10.

This remains the case until the bearer has killed 20 creatures with Seven Times Slaughter or 5 creatures within 1 minute.  After that, the bearer of the sword, upon wounding or killing any creature with the sword must kill 5 creatures within 1 minute or suffer the same penalty as per before the 10th kill.  Additionally, the damage the sword's magical ability does is reduced to 1d8.  Everything else remains the same.

This continues until the bearer of the sword has killed 30 creatures with Seven Times Slaughter or 6 creatures within 1 minute.  After that, the bearer of the sword, upon wounding or killing any creature with the sword must kill 6 creatures within 1 minute or suffer the same penalty as per before the 10th kill.  Additionally, the damage the sword's magical ability does is reduced to 1d6.  Everything else remains the same. 

This continues until the bearer of the sword has killed 40 creatures with Seven Times Slaughter or 7 creatures within 1 minute.  After that, the bearer of the sword, upon wounding or killing any creature with the sword must kill 7 creatures within 1 minute or suffer the same penalty as per before the 10th kill.  Additionally, the damage the sword's magical ability does is reduced to 1d4.  Everything else remains the same. 

                                                                    source unknown
Robe of Eyes.

It is a robe made of warm, fleshy tissue, soft and slightly damp on the inside, smelling of meat and blood and sweat.  If draped around your body, it will bond with your flesh, becoming temporarily a part of your body.  Removing the robe causes minor bleeding and 1d4 damage, but this damage cannot drop you past 1 HP, unless you are already suffering from a fatal wound.  While it is bonded to you, damage to the does damage to you; and spells or abilities that heal you heal the robe as well. 

While wearing the robe, you cannot wear any armor besides it.   

While wearing the robe, you have 360 degree vision at all times, except when sleeping.  Then all the eyes close, of course.

There are also 8 additional eyes that are always closed.  As a free action while wearing the robe, a person may command any of these eyes to open.

1: X-ray.  The first eye, when opened, grants X-ray vision.  The wearer may choose to turn their X-ray vision on and off at will.  This X-ray vision allows them to see through objects and people, but is blocked by an inch of lead, half a foot of wood or a foot of dirt.

2: Thermal.  The second eye, when opened, grants thermal vision, allowing the wearer to see heat sources.  This vision may be turned on and off at will.

3: Binocular.  The third eye, when opened, grants binocular vision.  When activated, this type of vision allows the wearer to read a book from across the street or read lips from atop a tall building.  This type of vision may be turned on and off again at will. 

Once the third eye is opened, the wearer of the robe can tighten the rope against their body, turning into something resembling a catsuit, but made of the same fleshy material and still covered in eyes.  The wearer must also now save to wear any clothes underneath the robe.  If the wearer were to take the robe off now, they would take 1d6 damage.

4: Haptic Sight.  The fourth eye, when opened, grants haptic sight, enabling the wearer to feel the texture of whatever they are looking at.  This type of vision may be turned on and off again at will. 

5: Soul Vision.  The fifth eye, when opened, grants the wearer the ability to see the souls of living creatures.  In this vision, living creatures resemble chinese lanterns with glowing flames in them.  These flames shine brighter or dimmer depending on the creature's strength and health and from their glow, the wearer can deduce a creature's current emotions and virtue, or lack thereof.  This type of vision may be turned on and off again at will. 

Once the fifth eye is opened, the wearer of the robe can transform the soft outer layer of the robe into a stiff hide that acts as leather armor, with no additional weight.  The wearer must now save to take the robe off and will violently resist any attempt to force him to do so.  He will come to think of the robe as his real skin.  If the wearer were to take the robe off now, he would take 1d8 damage.

6: Sleeping Sight.  The sixth eye, when opened, grants the wearer an eye that never closes, even when the wearer sleeps.  The wearer gets +4 to any attempt to wake up during a dangerous situation and to spot something hidden, that is not invisible or cloaked through magical means.

Once the sixth eye is opened, the wearer of the robe gains the ability to grow large spines from his wrists.  Each spine does 1d6+STR damage on a hit and is retractible, slipping in and out of the wearer's arms as a free action.  The wearer of the robe must now save to expose any part of his body, preferring his whole body to be covered by something.  He will probably begin wearing gloves or hiding his hands in the pockets of the robe.  His face will also present a problem for him, so he will probably begin wearing a mask.  If the wearer were to take the robe off now, he would take 1d10 damage.

7: Future Sight.  The seventh eye, when opened, grants the wearer the ability to see the future.  This type of vision may be turned on and off again at will.  1/Day, if this type of vision is active, the wearer may declare that all events that just occurred were actually a vision they had and revert to up to 10 minutes in the past.

Once the seventh eye is opened, the wearer of the robe gains the ability to vomit a ball of acidic sludge that do 2d6 acid damage on a hit 1/Day.  This acid is also strong enough to melt through a steel, wood or most other materials.  The only exceptions are stone, glass or plastic.  Other than it's source, the acid is otherwise normal.  The wearer of the robe will now must save to show his face and will start wearing a mask at all times.    If the wearer were to take off the robe now, he would take 1d12 damage.

8: Sight Beyond Sight.  The eighth eye, when opened, grants the wearer to see through illusions, see shape-shifted creature's true forms, to see magic and to see reality as it truly is.  Basically, imagine vision if you didn't see the objects themselves, but the Platonic Forms they were inferior copies of.  This can also lend great insight into a character's soul or personality, being how they appear.  This type of vision may be turned on and off again at will. 

Once the eighth eye is opened, the wearer of the robe will be found wearing gloves and a mask that seem to have come from the robe itself.  The gloves are made of the robe's fabric and the mask will be made of the same material as the wearer's wrist blades.  The wearer will now consider the robe a part of him and will never take it off or part with it for any reason. Every day, the wearer must save, with a +1 penalty to their save for each day since the eighth eye was opened.  On a failed save, the wearer runs off into the night and is never seen or heard from again.  If the wearer is caught and prevented from doing this, the wearer will scheme and plot to find a way to escape and will do anything to do so.  If captured and stripped of the robe, the wearer dies in agonizing pain.

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  3. I'm pretty sure the Robe of Eyes picture is from the D&D3.5 Magic Item Compendium: Robe of Many Eyes.

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