It’s no secret that DnD players covet magic items, and DMs struggle to balance encounters with a party loaded up with powerful tools. The WotC reference books provide some great ways to balance and readjust encounters, but often this leads to combat changes and nothing else. Having possessed items can be great, manipulating a PC with an ancient entity trapped in a sword, but that also means a whole other character that the DM has to play on a regular basis. There is obviously nothing wrong with possessed items, or curses that only make a difference in combat, but here are a few ideas for items that are cursed in different ways.
- Curse of Comedic Timing: Every time the player attuned to this item attempts a Charisma (Persuasion or Intimidation) check it is instead turned into a Charisma (Performance) check, and whatever they are saying is taken as a joke instead. Their role determines if the target finds the joke funny or not.
- Curse of Fire Breath: Any time the cursed character speaks they have a 10% (0 on a d10) chance of casting firebreath. Use stats from Dragonborn race to determine damage and saving throws on firebreath.
- Anti-Luck: The DM chooses 2 rolls per long rest of the cursed player, the player must reroll those two rolls and take the second roll no matter what it is.
- The Undecided Curse: The nature of this curse can only be determined with a DC 25 Arcana check. Anytime the cursed player uses the cursed item roll a d4 on the table below to determine what happens.
1 Magic Missile fired at a random creature within sight
The item becomes invisible for 1 hour
A very confused Kobold is summoned on top of the player
These curses are designed to be used with almost any item, save for The Undecided Curse which must be placed on an item that can be used, such as a sword, arrow or some other magic item that gives the player some form of ability. Each curse is designed to have potential for shenanigans both in combat but also in roleplay, since that seems to be an overlooked area for curses to hold sway.
Quick DM Tips for Running these Items
These curses should not have huge consequences in the long run. They won't change anyone's alignment, they (probably) won't get a player directly killed, and in general they're designed for a good laugh. Normally curses can only be lifted by a small handful of relatively powerful spells, but we recommend also trying to curse strong items. This way players will continue to use the items, continue to be curse, but they have nothing to blame but themselves.
Don't punish your players too much, that's what homebrew monsters are for.
If you try these curses out let us know how they work! We love seeing our assets, adventures and ideas used in the real (or should we say fantasy) world. If you have ideas for crazy magic items, monsters, or any other asset that could benefit a DnD campaign, feel free to shoot us a message or an email. We love hearing from you and especially love distributing great ideas.