[magic items index]

Cursed Items

Table: Common Item Curses
d% Curse
01–15 Delusion
16–35 Opposite effect or target
36–45 Intermittent functioning
46–60 Requirement
61–75 Drawback
76–90 Completely different effect
91–100 Substitute specific cursed item on Specific Cursed Items

Cursed items are magic items with some sort of potentially negative impact. Occasionally they mix bad with good, forcing characters to make difficult choices. Cursed items are almost never made intentionally. Instead they are the result of rushed work, inexperienced crafters, or a lack of proper components. While many of these items still have functions, they either do not work as intended or come with serious drawbacks. When a magic item creation skill check fails by 5 or more, roll on the table to determine the type of curse possessed by the item.

Identifying Cursed Items

Cursed items are identified like any other magic item with one exception: unless the check made to identify the item exceeds the DC by 10 or more, the curse is not detected. If the check is not made by 10 or more, but still succeeds, all that is revealed is the magic item's original intent. If the item is known to be cursed, the nature of the curse can be determined using the standard DC to identify the item.

Removing Cursed Items

While some cursed items can be simply discarded, others force a compulsion upon the user to keep the item, no matter the costs. Others reappear even if discarded or are impossible to throw away. These items can only be discarded after the character or item is targeted by a remove curse or similar magic. The DC of the caster level check to undo the curse is equal to 10 + the item's caster level. If the spell is successful, the item can be discarded on the following round, but the curse reasserts itself if the item is used again.

Common Cursed Item Effects

The following are some of the most common cursed item effects. GMs should feel free to invent new cursed item effects to fit specific items.

Delusion

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 casting of remove curse.

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.

Table: Dependent Curses
d% Situation
01–03 Temperature below freezing
04–05 Temperature above freezing
06–10 During the day
11–15 During the night
16–20 In direct sunlight
21–25 Out of direct sunlight
26–34 Underwater
35–37 Out of water
38–45 Underground
46–55 Aboveground
56–60 Within 10 feet of a random creature type
61–64 Within 10 feet of a random race or kind of creature
65–72 Within 10 feet of an arcane spellcaster
73–80 Within 10 feet of a divine spellcaster
81–85 In the hands of a nonspellcaster
86–90 In the hands of a spellcaster
91–95 In the hands of a creature of a particular alignment
96 In the hands of a creature of a particular gender
97–99 On holy days or during particular astrological events
100 More than 100 miles from a particular site

Intermittent Functioning

The three varieties of intermittent functioning items all function perfectly as intended—at least some of the time. The three varieties are unreliable, dependent, and uncontrolled items.

Unreliable

Each time the item is activated, there is a 5% chance (01–05 on d%) that it does not function.

Dependent

The item only functions in certain situations. To determine the situation, select or roll on the following table.

Uncontrolled

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.

Requirement

Some items have 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.

Requirements are so dependent upon suitability to the item that they should never be determined randomly. An intelligent item with a requirement 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).

Drawback

Items with drawbacks are usually still beneficial to the possessor but carry some negative aspect. Although sometimes drawbacks occur only when the item is used (or held, in the case of some weapons), usually the drawback remains with the character for as long as she has the item.

Unless otherwise indicated, drawbacks remain in effect as long as the item is possessed. The DC to save against any of these effects is usually equal to 10 + the item's caster level.

Crafting Cursed Items

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Intentionally crafting cursed items requires the same item creation feats and skill checks as does crafting a normal item of that type, but in addition to such requirements, intentionally cursed items require bestow curse or major curse as a spell prerequisites. Crafting cursed items is generally cheaper than creating fully functional items, depending on the type of curse involved, as detailed below. The table above indicates the price and spell prerequisites of some of the most common deliberately created cursed items.

Delusion: Cost is reduced by 90%.

Drawbacks and Requirements: Cost isn't reduced for cosmetic drawbacks or requirements with no direct game effects. Cost may be reduced by 10% for minor drawbacks or requirements such as minimum skill ranks or worship of a specific deity; by 30% for harmful or costly drawbacks or requirements such as alignment change, ability damage, sacrificing wealth, or performing a quest to activate the item; or by 50% for severe drawbacks or requirements such as negative levels or sacrificing sentient creatures.

Intermittent Functioning: The cost of uncontrolled or unreliable items is reduced by 10%. The cost of dependent items, which function only in certain situations, is reduced by 30%.

Opposite Effector Target: Cost is reduced by 50%.
Item Price Spell Prerequisites
Armor of arrow attraction 10,650 gp Protection from arrows
Armor of rage 1,850 gp Rage
Bag of devouring 120,000 gp Disintegrate, plane shift, rope trick
Berserking sword 36,190 gp Rage
Boots of dancing * Irresistible dance
Bracers of defenselessness 12,500 gp Mage armor
Crystal hypnosis ball 49,000 gp Dominate person, false vision, scrying
Cursed backbiter 3,901 gp Magic weapon, warp wood spear
Flask of curses 25,000 gp Bestow curse
Gauntlets of fumbling * Touch of gracelessness
Mace of blood 12,912 gp Bleed, death knell
Necklace of strangulation 95,000 gp Power word kill, steal breath
Net of snaring 16,320 gp Entangle
Potion of poison 1,800 gp Poison
Ring of clumsiness 1,100 gp Slow, touch of gracelessness
Robe of vermin 30,000 gp Summon swarm
Scarab of death 6,000 gp Finger of death, summon swarm
Stone of weight 5,400 gp Make whole, slow
* 90% of the normal price for the beneficial effect the item duplicates in addition to its curse or when its curse is not active.