Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium: Cursed Items are back!!

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September: Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium


 


























Well, we wanted to finish with a bang. As has recently been announced, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium has returned as a print product, and it's jammed full of items -- magic items, to be sure. You'll find plenty in the book for every character, whether you're looking for the armor of dogged grit, robe of useful items, or even plate mail of etherealness; new superior weapons, flame tongue or frost brand swords; or wondrous items such as a decanter of endless water, crystal ball, or Daern's instant fortress!

But wait, there's more!


You can add new artifact and story items, mundane adventuring gear, and hirelings and henchman to your game.


But that's not all.


You'll also find cursed items in this book. For fans of items with some extra roleplaying potential, here's how they'll work.


Item Curses


Cursed magic items were a mainstay of older editions of the Dungeons & Dragons game, much to Dungeon Masters' delight and players' occasional frustration. Items that hold curses seem just like normal magic items. They are, in fact, perfectly useful magic items in their own right. Under certain conditions, however, the dark magic of an item's curse causes the item to fail or malfunction in some spectacular way.


Cursed items should never be placed maliciously in a game or treated simply as a way to thwart the players. Such items can be a useful tool for the Dungeon Master, leading to interesting roleplaying opportunities and adventure hooks.


Item Curses in the Game


Each item curse described here is a quality that makes a cursed item of that kind seem as though it's another magic item of the same general sort. For example, a character might don a ring of the ram that turns out to be a ring of weakness, or purchase hero's gauntlets that are actually gauntlets of fumbling.


A cursed item functions normally until its curse is triggered, and it becomes a fully functioning beneficial magic item after its curse is lifted. When its curse is triggered, a cursed item imposes penalties or effects upon its wielder that run the gamut from irritating to deadly.


A cursed item looks and functions like a normal magic item, and it is the same level as the item on which the curse has been placed. Cursed items cannot be detected by any means; a character can use a cursed item normally -- sometimes for weeks -- until its curse is triggered.


Once the curse on a cursed item has been triggered and identified, the curse can be removed. Most curses can be lifted with a successful Arcana check (see below). You might also assign alternative methods of lifting the curse (which become known to an item's wielder when the curse is studied). They could range from bathing the item in the breath of a red dragon, to completing a skill challenge in the arcane foundry where the item was crafted, to taking the item to a powerful magical nexus where its curse will be cleansed. When a party undertakes a specific activity to lift a curse from an item, you should make lifting the curse a minor or a major quest.


A cursed magic item can be destroyed with the Disenchant Magic Item ritual, but the curse's presence halves the amount of residuum collected. A cursed item can be destroyed by other effects that would destroy a normal magic item, including the attack of a rust monster, powers that specifically target items (such as disintegrate), and so on.


Removing an Item Curse


A character can use expertise in magical lore to try to remove the curse on an item, but first the character must know that the item is cursed. Normally this knowledge is gained only when the curse is triggered, for there is no tried-and-true way of detecting curses.


To remove an item curse, a character must spend 1 hour in study while the cursed item is within arm's reach. At the end of the hour, the character makes an Arcana check (hard DC of the item's level). If the check succeeds, the curse is broken, and the magic item functions normally. If the check fails, the magic of the curse lashes out, causing the character to lose a healing surge, and everyone must wait 24 hours before trying to remove the curse again using Arcana in this way.


Using Cursed Items


Cursed items can be placed in a campaign as an ad hoc additional challenge. A cursed item does not create the same degree of challenge as an entire encounter or even a single creature, but any encounter in which an item's curse is activated might have an additional story XP reward based on how much the curse increases the challenge of the encounter.


Each item curse has a statistics block, just like a normal magic item. This statistics block explains the trigger and the effect of the curse, which functions in addition to the item's base powers and properties. When an item's curse is triggered, the curse stays in effect until the end of the encounter.


Once an item's curse is triggered for the first time, the item's owner cannot be rid of the item until the curse is broken. A cursed item that is being worn cannot be physically removed. A cursed item that is being wielded (including an implement, a shield, or a weapon) can be put away on the owner's person, but it cannot be discarded.


If a cursed item is removed by extraordinary means (such as by an unusual ritual), the item magically reappears in its owner's possession in 1d4 days.


The owner of a cursed weapon or implement can choose not to wield the item, but if the item's curse has been triggered, he or she must succeed on a saving throw in order to attack with a different item. If the saving throw fails, he or she must use the cursed item and must do so for the rest of the encounter.


Curses are typically named for their most commonly found form. Many of them can be imposed on other items, as indicated in the item's statistics block. The berserker's axe curse, for instance, might be applied to a greatsword or a scimitar. The periapt of foul rotting curse can be embodied in an Ioun stone, an amulet, a scarab crafted from a single gem, and so on.


Berserker's Weapon


It is said that the primal power of the Rashena barbarians is imbued in this curse, though those people saw such power as a boon, not a thing to be avoided. Most warriors who inadvertently pick up a weapon bearing this curse have a different opinion -- particularly those whose own companions fall to their accursed bloodlust.


In addition to its normal properties and powers, a weapon that has this curse harms its wielder when an enemy scores a critical hit on him or her.





Berserker's Weapon

Item Curse


A sudden frenzy overtakes you, blinding you to everything but battle.

Weapon: Axe or heavy blade

Utility Power (Charm)Encounter (No Action)

Trigger: While bloodied, the wielder is subject to a critical hit.
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, the wielder gains a +2 bonus to attack rolls and takes a -4 penalty to all defenses. All the wielder's attacks using this weapon must be melee basic attacks or charge attacks. Additionally, the wielder chooses a random creature as the target of his or her attack each round. If the wielder cannot attack, he or she takes 1d10 damage, and the penalty to all defenses worsens to –6 until the start of his or her next turn.


Well, that's stupid.

*crosses book off list*
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
I have always liked cursed items and I'm glad they decided to bring them back!
I have always liked cursed items and I'm glad they decided to bring them back!


I'm imaginative enough that I don't need an item to do my RP for me.
Ahh, so THIS is where I can add a sig. Remember: Killing an ancient God inside of a pyramid IS a Special Occasion, and thus, ladies should be dipping into their Special Occasions underwear drawer.
Oh, I get it. Seemingly useful properties that turn out to have a major drawback. This book doesn't just contain cursed items, it *is* one.

I guess I'll just have to preemptively apply "Remove Curse" before using it.
Oh, I get it. Seemingly useful properties that turn out to have a major drawback. This book doesn't just contain cursed items, it *is* one. I guess I'll just have to preemptively apply "Remove Curse" before using it.



3e:Complete Psionics::4e:Mordenkainen's Magnificent Emporium?
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.

Oh Salla, take off your Ring of Contrariness!  ;)

(Yeah, another book crossed off the list here too, but way earlier and for diff't reasons) 

I'm actually excited.

Waitwaitwait, hear me out.

Cursed items thrown in willy-nilly in order to f*** over your players is mean and stupid.  I think we can all agree.

But cursed items as a means to propel the story forward?  Ah, there lies the possibilities.  The One Ring, for example.  Cursed items beg for context and increased "history".

Perhaps the party finds a magical item, with a unique identifying mark on it.  Nothing to indicate it's cursed nature, rather something more mundane, like the "signature" of a famous crafter.  "Ah, this bears the seal of Herrimal the Red, famed crafter of the Arcane Order of the Eye!"  Later on, a curse befalls the bearer of the item (which the DM accounts for, so the PC is not unduly punished), and in their zeal to remove the curse or malady, they research Herriman and his works.  Perhaps they find accounts of failed experiments, or stories of legendary failures, or any number of other plot hooks.  In one way or another, the PCs connect the dots and realize that the item they have is cursed but perhaps it can be restored.  Maybe the crafting process was incomplete and they can complete it.  Or perhaps they encounter the spirit of Herriman himself, who explains that all his works are being perverted by some outside force, and the item is but one of many.

Cursed items suck as a punishment.  They rock as a motivator.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I'm actually excited.

Waitwaitwait, hear me out.

Cursed items thrown in willy-nilly in order to mess over your players is mean and stupid.  I think we can all agree.

But cursed items as a means to propel the story forward?  Ah, there lies the possibilities.  The One Ring, for example.  Cursed items beg for context and increased "history".

Perhaps the party finds a magical item, with a unique identifying mark on it.  Nothing to indicate it's cursed nature, rather something more mundane, like the "signature" of a famous crafter.  "Ah, this bears the seal of Herrimal the Red, famed crafter of the Arcane Order of the Eye!"  Later on, a curse befalls the bearer of the item (which the DM accounts for, so the PC is not unduly punished), and in their zeal to remove the curse or malady, they research Herriman and his works.  Perhaps they find accounts of failed experiments, or stories of legendary failures, or any number of other plot hooks.  In one way or another, the PCs connect the dots and realize that the item they have is cursed but perhaps it can be restored.  Maybe the crafting process was incomplete and they can complete it.  Or perhaps they encounter the spirit of Herriman himself, who explains that all his works are being perverted by some outside force, and the item is but one of many.

Cursed items suck as a punishment.  They rock as a motivator.



QFT. I never understood the need for a belt that changes your sex. But, finding a sword that could be a -1 weapon, and you have to quest to get rid of the curse is quite awesome.

Legend of Zelda- Majora's Mask does this at the start- you're "cursed" to exist in a different form for a while. I didn't like being a scrub until I could control it later on.
Show
Of the two approaches to hobby games today, one is best defined as the realism-simulation school and the other as the game school. AD&D is assuredly an adherent of the latter school. It does not stress any realism (in the author's opinon an absurd effort at best considering the topic!). It does little to attempt to simulate anything either. (AD&D) is first and foremost a game for the fun and enjoyment of those who seek the use of imagination and creativity.... In all cases, however, the reader should understand that AD&D is designed to be an amusing and diverting pastime, something which an fill a few hours or consume endless days, as the participants desire, but in no case something to be taken too seriously. For fun, excitement and captivating fantasy, AD&D is unsurpassed.As a realistic simulation of things from the realm of make-believe or even as a reflection of midieval or ancient warfare or culture or society, it can be deemed only a dismal failure. Readers who seek the later must search elsewhere. - Gary Gygax. 1e DMG.
Foxface: You can do all of that without the "surprise, suckers!" prerequisite of something like the Berserker's Weapon.

The party can find or be told about such-and-such and do the necessary research and recognize from the outset that the item is dangerously cursed and unusable until the problem is dealt with, in which case the item is a nonfunctional MacGuffin until the 'quest' is over, at which point the working version is a treasure reward.

This has been doable all along and doesn't involve the above "You're suddenly killing your own party members!" stupidity. (Which is doubly bad because there's no way to know when that sort of thing will go off and turn a difficult but winnable fight into a TPK - the only thing that motivates people to do is find a new DM or a different game to play.)
Foxface: You can do all of that without the "surprise, suckers!" prerequisite of something like the Berserker's Weapon.

True.  But if you (as the DM) were to use something like the Beserker's Axe, you would take care to use it without unduly punishing the player or party.  As I said, tossing them in to screw the player(s) is bad form.
 
The party can find or be told about such-and-such and do the necessary research and recognize from the outset that the item is dangerously cursed and unusable until the problem is dealt with, in which case the item is a nonfunctional MacGuffin until the 'quest' is over, at which point the working version is a treasure reward.

That is certainly valid, but maybe you don't want a non-functioning MacGuffin.  The One Ring for example.  Granted, by the time the "PCs" in the story have it, they are fully aware of it's cursed nature, so it is not a "surprise suckers!" moment when it is used (well, I suppose it does have a surprise when Frodo uses it out of fear when confronted by the Ringwraiths, only to find that they can still see him, rendering it useless (and the true curse of the item comes to the fore when one realizes his fear that compels him to put on the Ring is not truly his own fear but the one the Ring is instilling in him)).  Point being: The Ring is usable, should the PCs feel they need to use it.  Risk vs Reward, and all that.

This has been doable all along and doesn't involve the above "You're suddenly killing your own party members!" stupidity. (Which is doubly bad because there's no way to know when that sort of thing will go off and turn a difficult but winnable fight into a TPK - the only thing that motivates people to do is find a new DM or a different game to play.)

  Again, care must be taken.  Just tossing it in casually or, even worse, randomly (damn you, random distribution!) is a recipe for disaster.  You shouldn't just toss in artifacts either.

If the DM accounts for the curse, and doesn't screw over the players when it triggers, and the item remains ever after a temptation to use while they are on their quest (to fix the item possibly), then that presents an interesting dynamic of play whilst also offering a compelling story, and a chance to flesh out the history and background of the campaign.

But in the end, care must be taken.  Cursed items are not to be messed around with.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
Also, it's not like the entire book is cursed items.   Wondrous items, new "normal" magic items, and probably an artifact or two.

I don't like Essentials, so a book that offers options for only Essentials characters is a no-go for me.  But if a book offers quality stuff for non-Essentials classes (coughNOTheroesofshadowcough), then I might buy it despite whatever Essentials crap is included with it.

So if you don't like cursed items, fine, but don't brush off quality content of other stripes.

Now, if all the other stuff is pure crap (heroesofshadowcough)...damn this cough of mine...where was I?  Yes, if the rest of the book is crap, then don't buy it.  No need to buy useless junk.
Essentials zigged, when I wanted to continue zagging. Roll dice, not cars.
I see it as yet another turn away from 4e's original design goals. Cursed items generally return things to a "DM vs. the players" attitude. Story elements do not need to come with screwing players over, or throwing balance out the window in a system built around it.
Well, let's set aside good or bad for a moment.  How will these items work in the Character Builder?  Will the curse remain hidden from the player?
I think this is great news.  I look forward to seeing more.

Cursed items get a bad rap.

-O
I'm actually excited.

Waitwaitwait, hear me out.

Cursed items thrown in willy-nilly in order to f*** over your players is mean and stupid.  I think we can all agree.

While I agree, cursed items were a real hallmark of AD&D, and key in the atmosphere of paranoia that game often evoked.  If you didn't grab magic items when presented with the opportunity, someone else would, and items were potentially /very/ powerful and character-defining.  If you /did/ grap up items greedily, you might eventually get a 'cursed' one, and those 'curses' were quite often unavoidable and fatal.  Anyone who misses AD&D (and for some reason isn't just playing 1e or 2e or Hackmaster or Munchkin or one of it's many past and current immitators) should apreciate the return of cursed items.

But cursed items as a means to propel the story forward?  Ah, there lies the possibilities.  The One Ring, for example.  Cursed items beg for context and increased "history".

And already exist as Artifacts.


Cursed items radically change the dynamic of the game.  They create an air of paranoia, a DM vs player mentality, a /player/ vs player mentality, too for that matter, and can throw a campaign into a tailspin if miss-handled.  That said, there are things you can do with them as a DM.  They should be regarded as an 'advanced tool' in the DM's box, though - and, really, can be safely left to homebrew.  I recently ran a mini-campaign and did, indeed, emphasize the existance of cursed items when I explained it, though I only actually used 2, because I wanted to evoke some of the old paranoid treasure-hunting feel of AD&D - a reference that my older players apreciated.

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

Each item curse described here is a quality that makes a cursed  item of that kind seem as though it's another magic item of the same  general sort. For example, a character might don a ring of the ram that turns out to be a ring of weakness, or purchase hero's gauntlets that are actually gauntlets of fumbling.
A cursed item functions normally until its curse is triggered, and  it becomes a fully functioning beneficial magic item after its curse is  lifted. When its curse is triggered, a cursed item imposes penalties or  effects upon its wielder that run the gamut from irritating to deadly.



Hello back, obsolete concept.

Foxface, I agree that cursed items can be a good seed for adventures or plots/subplots, but not when they are implemented like this...

Positive items with negative story inducing drawback can be a good thing. Like a hide armor that is haunted by the ghosts of the creatures it is made with, causing nightmares, or invoking an unfriendly undead minion at a bad time.
Items attracting social prejudice.
A magic sword that some NPCs want so much that they will try to steal it, or take it by force - or attract Angels wanting to destroy it. Or Specters wanting to bring it back to Sauron.
Or an implement that accumulates magic energy with each spell cast and negatively changes the terrain when charged enough, maybe.

"Surprise !" negative items, on the other hand... Seems someone thought they were so much a pleasurable element of older editions that they had to be reintroduced as is for the sake of nostalgia. Rather han something that had to be re-designed for a more interesting experience.
Do the designers even try to find new, more interesting solutions ?

Disappointing, especially after taking so much time to, hmm, "increase the quality" of the product.

Well at least, all the players who thought D&D was ruined forever by the absence of penalty objects will rejoice.
Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
Cursed items are fun if used properly.

I had a party select some wonderous items at the beginning of the game and they each had a specific curse. The Handy Haversack for instance when someone would reach into it they would feel things moving around and after awhile what was inside licked the hand of the hero and then it grabbed the hand, finally they went to sleep at an inn and the back pack ate the party, they woke up inside the haversack and had to kill the demon that waited for parties to accrue enough magic items to feed its power and enough members to feed its belly.

The wizard had glasses that could read any language, but rather then just have the glasses interpret the language, the wizard heard a voice whispering what the words said into his ear and he'd take the glasses off and have a bite taken out of his face or ears, that would heal quickly but scar, it was always a trade off how scared and deformed was he willing to be versus gathering needed knowledge. After twenty levels, he had to hide his face in towns lest children cry at the sight of him, but the power and knowledge he gained was invaluable to him.

6 cursed items, my players loved them, my player's characters feared the consequences of there wonderous items, they'd pilfered.
Especially harmful in that the item previewed makes you select your targets randomly (whatever the **** that means for your game/DM) which means you can be forced to attack your allies.  Surprise, PvP horray.
Cursed items are fun if used properly.

I had a party select some wonderous items at the beginning of the game and they each had a specific curse. The Handy Haversack for instance when someone would reach into it they would feel things moving around and after awhile what was inside licked the hand of the hero and then it grabbed the hand, finally they went to sleep at an inn and the back pack ate the party, they woke up inside the haversack and had to kill the demon that waited for parties to accrue enough magic items to feed its power and enough members to feed its belly.

The wizard had glasses that could read any language, but rather then just have the glasses interpret the language, the wizard heard a voice whispering what the words said into his ear and he'd take the glasses off and have a bite taken out of his face or ears, that would heal quickly but scar, it was always a trade off how scared and deformed was he willing to be versus gathering needed knowledge. After twenty levels, he had to hide his face in towns lest children cry at the sight of him, but the power and knowledge he gained was invaluable to him.

6 cursed items, my players loved them, my player's characters feared the consequences of there wonderous items, they'd pilfered.



I can't imagine anybody actually keeping either of those items.  I would have discarded or destroyed them at the first opportunity.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Cursed items are fun if used properly.

I had a party select some wonderous items at the beginning of the game and they each had a specific curse. The Handy Haversack for instance when someone would reach into it they would feel things moving around and after awhile what was inside licked the hand of the hero and then it grabbed the hand, finally they went to sleep at an inn and the back pack ate the party, they woke up inside the haversack and had to kill the demon that waited for parties to accrue enough magic items to feed its power and enough members to feed its belly.

The wizard had glasses that could read any language, but rather then just have the glasses interpret the language, the wizard heard a voice whispering what the words said into his ear and he'd take the glasses off and have a bite taken out of his face or ears, that would heal quickly but scar, it was always a trade off how scared and deformed was he willing to be versus gathering needed knowledge. After twenty levels, he had to hide his face in towns lest children cry at the sight of him, but the power and knowledge he gained was invaluable to him.

6 cursed items, my players loved them, my player's characters feared the consequences of there wonderous items, they'd pilfered.



I can't imagine anybody actually keeping either of those items.  I would have discarded or destroyed them at the first opportunity.

Well yes, but you have also made it quite clear you don't enjoy roleplaying.  So you're point is moot.

These items are roleplay items, not combat items, so really don't worry bout em.  They arn't made for you.
Cursed items, dropped occasionally, aren't too bad; they're like a built-in side quest a PC must undergo to get rid of them. I'll be okay with these cursed items in 4e, so long as they aren't stupidly abusable (like the broke-as-a-joke Dust of Coughing and Sneezing from 3e) or absurdly deadly (like the poisonous cloak from 3e, whatever it was called).
4e D&D is not a "Tabletop MMO." It is not Massively Multiplayer, and is usually not played Online. Come up with better descriptions of your complaints, cuz this one means jack ****.
Cursed items are fun if used properly.

...



I can't imagine anybody actually keeping either of those items.  I would have discarded or destroyed them at the first opportunity.



^^ That is why you fear cursed items so.  I suspect you or any GM you have played under has not used cursed items for anything other than to punish the players for being unlucky enough to pick the wrong thing from a pile of loot.

With a little imagination (on both GM and players' parts) they can add great depth to an adventure, story arc or a campaign.  In fact, if one looks hard at the body of fantasy literature from classic novels to Disney to modern tales like Harry Potter and Legend of Zelda it is difficult to find a story that doesn't feature a curse of some sort (be it an item, a true curse, bad ancestry, etc).

Cursed items also have another role.  Paranoia.  Yeah, I am supporting paranoia.  Adventuring is supposed to be dangerous.  There are nasty critters all over.  So, why is it so hard to imagine nasty items as well?  Not all that glitters is gold.  Adventurers should be afraid, cautious, a little trepidatious and sometimes-- even paranoid.

The other night, we were tracking Lizard men in a swamp to find a lost girl.  We encountered the tribe.  We suspected they were the bad guys, but I tried diplomacy.  It failed.  They were the bad guys, and as we tried to talk, they surrounded and attacked.  One party member died and the rest of us ran.  We applauded the GM.  Why?  Because the bad guys acted like bad guys.

What does the encounter above have in common with a cursed item?  A lot.  When you pick up an item, it is most often a good thing to have.  However, sometimes, on that rare, dread occasion, it is a nightmare waiting to happen.  Diplomacy works a lot in this GM's game, and we have circumvented many a fight that way.  This time, there was no check, no skill challenge, for they were simply bad... just as some items out there should be.

Bad monsters, bad places, bad NPCs, bad traps, bad items... they are all part of what makes an adventure an adventure.  Now, I truly despise GMs who place cursed items for no other purpose than to screw a character over.  That is not what I am advocating.  I was once the butt of such a curse in an AD&D game that saddled my character with a -8 penalty to all rolls for levels 4 through 12 over a year and a half of actual play time.  I know how it can suck.  And I will join Sala to oppose any kind of shenanigans like that.

But I have seen such items used well, where they add depth, and the fear of them keeps us on our toes and fosters respect for the dangers of the world.  It is no different than a dangerous, but well crafted encounter, trap, or line of intrigue designed to seriously thwart the PC's plans. Rising above such perils is what separates the true adventurers from the wannabes.  Adventuring used to be dangerous; but now it is like the precious PCs can't be hurt or suffer any form of adversity.  No one likes a dick GM, but since when did adventuring become a coddled pursuit where Santa packs every chest with a PC's wishlist with glee?


Cursed items are fun if used properly.

...



I can't imagine anybody actually keeping either of those items.  I would have discarded or destroyed them at the first opportunity.



^^ That is why you fear cursed items so.  I suspect you or any GM you have played under has not used cursed items for anything other than to punish the players for being unlucky enough to pick the wrong thing from a pile of loot.

With a little imagination (on both GM and players' parts) they can add great depth to an adventure, story arc or a campaign.  In fact, if one looks hard at the body of fantasy literature from classic novels to Disney to modern tales like Harry Potter and Legend of Zelda it is difficult to find a story that doesn't feature a curse of some sort (be it an item, a true curse, bad ancestry, etc).

Cursed items also have another role.  Paranoia.  Yeah, I am supporting paranoia.  Adventuring is supposed to be dangerous.  There are nasty critters all over.  So, why is it so hard to imagine nasty items as well?  Not all that glitters is gold.  Adventurers should be afraid, cautious, a little trepidatious and sometimes-- even paranoid.

The other night, we were tracking Lizard men in a swamp to find a lost girl.  We encountered the tribe.  We suspected they were the bad guys, but I tried diplomacy.  It failed.  They were the bad guys, and as we tried to talk, they surrounded and attacked.  One party member died and the rest of us ran.  We applauded the GM.  Why?  Because the bad guys acted like bad guys.

What does the encounter above have in common with a cursed item?  A lot.  When you pick up an item, it is most often a good thing to have.  However, sometimes, on that rare, dread occasion, it is a nightmare waiting to happen.  Diplomacy works a lot in this GM's game, and we have circumvented many a fight that way.  This time, there was no check, no skill challenge, for they were simply bad... just as some items out there should be.

Bad monsters, bad places, bad NPCs, bad traps, bad items... they are all part of what makes an adventure an adventure.  Now, I truly despise GMs who place cursed items for no other purpose than to screw a character over.  That is not what I am advocating.  I was once the butt of such a curse in an AD&D game that saddled my character with a -8 penalty to all rolls for levels 4 through 12 over a year and a half of actual play time.  I know how it can suck.  And I will join Sala to oppose any kind of shenanigans like that.

But I have seen such items used well, where they add depth, and the fear of them keeps us on our toes and fosters respect for the dangers of the world.  It is no different than a dangerous, but well crafted encounter, trap, or line of intrigue designed to seriously thwart the PC's plans. Rising above such perils is what separates the true adventurers from the wannabes.  Adventuring used to be dangerous; but now it is like the precious PCs can't be hurt or suffer any form of adversity.  No one likes a dick GM, but since when did adventuring become a coddled pursuit where Santa packs every chest with a PC's wishlist with glee?





I can imagine keeping and using those items. Sounds like an awesome game to me.

well said Kishri.
Kishri sums up how I feel about cursed items . . . not all that glitters is gold.  Nothing brings that adage home in D&D quite like cursed items I think.  

The book offers an option.  As others mention, the trick is using cursed items creatively and with moderation.  I'd have fun with 'em ;).
/\ Art
Thank goodness for LFR item rules.

Screw cursed items sideways in general.

That being said, I'd agree with Foxface (which usually happens) - cursed items can have a place if used carefully and sensitively.  But conversely, I don't trust most DMs to use them carefully and sensitively, and I can see an unfortunate return to adversarial DMing rather than co-operative storytelling.

And I don't like that.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Glad to see Cursed Items Back !

And i am sure they won't be as bad as AD&D Book of where you'd read it and loose 1 level or drop your INT to 3 like the infamous Hat of Stupidity. They appear fairly easy and feasible to free yourself from them so i will wait and see. But i am teased lot more than turned off.


What made Cursed Items so bad in AD&D was not the effect itself most of the time, but its duration and ways to get rid of it. When you were in the middle of a Dungeon lost in the wilderness and put on Gloves or Redirected Missile that you couldn't removed until a Removed Curse was cast by a Cleric of Level 9 or higher, that was what really sucked.


If Arcana Check can do the trick alleluia ! Fairly easily surmontable yet short but stiff disagreement ! I am alright with that as a Player, and a DM.

I am sure CharOp will find a way to exploit one or two side effects Tongue out

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

Cursed items can be great, but I have very little hope that anything found in that book is going to be such, and that most will be boring and uninspired instead.

Maybe
 I'll browse through it, but honestly I think I'll just make up my own items if I still can't something interesting in that enourmous database they have already.
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Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Cursed items are fun if used properly.

I had a party select some wonderous items at the beginning of the game and they each had a specific curse. The Handy Haversack for instance when someone would reach into it they would feel things moving around and after awhile what was inside licked the hand of the hero and then it grabbed the hand, finally they went to sleep at an inn and the back pack ate the party, they woke up inside the haversack and had to kill the demon that waited for parties to accrue enough magic items to feed its power and enough members to feed its belly.

The wizard had glasses that could read any language, but rather then just have the glasses interpret the language, the wizard heard a voice whispering what the words said into his ear and he'd take the glasses off and have a bite taken out of his face or ears, that would heal quickly but scar, it was always a trade off how scared and deformed was he willing to be versus gathering needed knowledge. After twenty levels, he had to hide his face in towns lest children cry at the sight of him, but the power and knowledge he gained was invaluable to him.

6 cursed items, my players loved them, my player's characters feared the consequences of there wonderous items, they'd pilfered.



I can't imagine anybody actually keeping either of those items.  I would have discarded or destroyed them at the first opportunity.

Well yes, but you have also made it quite clear you don't enjoy roleplaying.  So you're point is moot.

These items are roleplay items, not combat items, so really don't worry bout em.  They arn't made for you.




That's right. Make personal attacks on someone because they disagree with you. I enjoy roleplaying. Cursed items are not roleplaying, they're a GOTCHA! tactic from the DM. It's another sacred cow that the essentials + era has resurrected. I can safely say this book will stay as far away from me as possible.
Actually the items described in that post are pretty clear examples of cursed items that are not GOTCHA! items, but actually pretty cool. If the book was full of those kinds of items, I'd be interested as well. Sadly, this does not seem to be the case from the description and example item.
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.


Cursed items thrown in willy-nilly in order to f*** over your players is mean and stupid.  I think we can all agree.

But cursed items as a means to propel the story forward?  Ah, there lies the possibilities. 

Cursed items suck as a punishment.  They rock as a motivator.




+1 to this.  In my experience, cursed items can be used by a skilled DM to add a lot of flavor to a campaign. The trick is that the DM has to use them infrequently, with discretion, and ensure that there are solid story reasons why the cursed item is in play. Done correctly, introducing a cursed item can be a defining moment in a campaign.

As an example, I used a cursed item as way to bring a powerful artifact into the game. The only way to remove the curse was to complete a major quest, and once done the player who had been cursed had an artificat that was the envy of the group. The players later said this part of the storyline was one of their favorites of the campaign.

The problem is not cursed items, it's with poor DM's. The DM just has to make a decision to not be a jerk.


The problem is not cursed items, it's with poor DM's. The DM just has to make a decision to not be a jerk.


Its pretty easy for a new dm to take cursed items as a tacit look its ok to be a jerk .. to mangle peoples characters etc... etc... not sure there isnt something bad about cursed items impact on the game.
 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
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At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
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A DM doesn't need cursed items to do the whole "Gotcha" thing.  If your DM is going to get you then he will do it with or without cursed items. 

Your DM is supposed to be someone you trust just like your fellow player's.  You trust that leader in your group to heal your ass if need be instead of saving himself because you are on the front lines and he may not be.

Also, just because someone lacks in the imagination department, that doesn't mean others do.  I like having mechanics to some plot devices because it makes me feel like I'm finally getting my moneys worth instead of me having to do all the work. 

What I have heard from some of the same people, 4th edition is supposed to be more about the narrative and making things happen from a story perspective.  Well now we have more tools to use in our games that actually have an official game mechanic to it. 

Here is some familiar advice to those that don't like it- Don't use it in your games.
Here is some familiar advice to those that don't like it- Don't use it in your games.



I'm pretty sure this is the very reason people have been saying "don't care, won't buy". 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Thank goodness for LFR item rules.

Screw cursed items sideways in general.

That being said, I'd agree with Foxface (which usually happens) - cursed items can have a place if used carefully and sensitively.  But conversely, I don't trust most DMs to use them carefully and sensitively, and I can see an unfortunate return to adversarial DMing rather than co-operative storytelling.

And I don't like that.



If you have a DM that screws you over and you don't trust them then this is going to happen regardless of the presence of Cursed Items.  If you don't trust a DM then you don't need to play with them period. 

Please define what you mean by not trusting your DM. 
A new DM who starts using these items, seems likely to get the impression that actively screwing your players is good.

Many DMs, in my experience, have a tendency to play far more adversarially than I would like anyway - and this can't help but make things worse.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Here is some familiar advice to those that don't like it- Don't use it in your games.



I'm pretty sure this is the very reason people have been saying "don't care, won't buy". 



It's interesting though how one type of item out of many seem to turn people off of an entire book though.  I mean it's alomst like saying:

"They have dryaid's in the MM3!  Im not buying the book!" 

Play whatever the **** you want. Never Point a loaded party at a plot you are not willing to shoot. Arcane Rhetoric. My Blog.

To me personally, it sounds like the book contains two things:

- Old style magical items, of which I have plenty
- Cursed items, which I do not want

That leaves nothing desirable in this book for me. 
Epic Dungeon Master

Want to give your players a kingdom of their own? I made a 4e rule system to make it happen!

Your Kingdom awaits!
Update 5th Sep 2011: Added a sample kingdom, as well as sample of play.
Indeed.  I'll probably have a browse of a copy in my regular game, but from the sound of it thuse far, I'm not particularly interested.
Harrying your Prey, the Easy Way: A Hunter's Handbook - the first of what will hopefully be many CharOp efforts on my part. The Blinker - teleport everywhere. An Eladrin Knight/Eldritch Knight. CB != rules source.
Seems interesting. The "new superior weapons" part in particular caught my eye.

As for cursed items, the are just another DM tool, and they aren't the entire book. I sincerely hope that they are still potent items that the players won't be crippled by being stuck with for some amount of time.

If anything, a curse should be something you add to an existing weapon (ie. A Vanguard weapon with a Berserker's Curse). That way the player gets the items they wanted, and you've got an interesting arc to explore. 

Hrm. I rather like that idea, actually.
A new DM who starts using these items, seems likely to get the impression that actively screwing your players is good.

Many DMs, in my experience, have a tendency to play far more adversarially than I would like anyway - and this can't help but make things worse.



Remember, the way of removing curses is far, far, far easier than in AD&D. Have someone with a good Arcana check and the cursed item shouldn't be a problem after it triggers.

I think it sounds reasonably decent - especially as you can attach the curse to an item that you know a particular player is drooling over from their wish list. You, the DM, get to have things go sideways for an encounter or two, the player gets exactly what they want rather than something that they'd like to have.