Does anyone still use cursed items or legendary

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I've played every form of DnD from aDnD to pathfinder pretty much, and i'm wondering if any DM out there still used cursed or legendary items that have curses on them as it was in 1st edition? 
I talk about them a lot, but rarely get around to it. I gave an evil player a sword that glows when evil is near rcently

I probably should use them more, but it seems like the books aren't that into it so I don't think about it too often.
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
That's the same way I feel about it, I mean I was just reading my old 1st edition DM guilde and all the Maleficient things you put on the legendarys are like ...Jesus.. For example - If a player strikes with this weapon an ally must make a save vs death roll- or like - All allys within ten feet of this character will take 6d6 damage- and it's a lil obsurd but then again the perks you get are pretty nice. So i've been thinking about putting them into my upcomming games and of course legendarys are legendarys you won't find 2 in the same dungeon but i'm sure you get my drift. 
The thing is, a cursed item needs to make some sort of sense to really work. 
Boots of Dancing are great, because when some wizard made them, he just wanted to be a better dancer. You can find a place for them in a dungeon and give context clues.
Cursed items often sort of rely on alignment to really make sense like, "this is a sword that is +5 if you are evil. If you are good, you lose 1d4 fingers when you try to pick it up"
I'm not that interested in alignment so maybe thats why I never get around to them. I'll have to flip through the old books and get some ideas.

Legendary items, I have never used ever. Not that I don't want to, but I unfortunately try to save them for some seriously cool epic stuff that we never get around to cuz I move or get older. 
A few guidelines for using the internet: 1. Mentally add "In my opinion" to the end of basically anything someone else says. Of course it's their opinion, they don't need to let you know. You're pretty smart. 2. Assume everyone means everything in the best manner they could mean it. Save yourself some stress and give people the benefit of the doubt. We'll all be happier if we type less emoticons. 3. Don't try to read people's minds. Sometimes people mean exactly what they say. You probably don't know them any better than they know themselves. 4. Let grammar slide. If you understood what they meant, you're good. It's better for your health. 5. Breath. It's just a dumb game.
Oh, yea I completely agree with you. I've never once given out a "WELFARE" legendary and in fact in all my years playing i've only seen 1 person with a legendary. I believe it was our Wizard about 15 years ago with the -Hand of Vecna-. With cursed items I think it's fun to throw them in the mix because (of course this depends on the type of DM you are) sometimes magic items flow and sometimes they don't. Saying that when people cast out the detect magic or roll to see if it's magical of coruse everyone wantst that item. So throwin in the Boots of Dancing or the sword of Beserking etc, etc... is what I think makes people double take on things they come across. 
I'm not a fan of cursed items. Fear of cursed items (or traps or ambushes or...) can lead to a style of play that involves a lot of failure mitigation which can slow a game's pace to a crawl. PCs poke and prod every 5' section of hallway for traps or cast spells and make skill checks to determine whether that magic spear will stab them in the back. Before you know it, people are stacking dice and killing innkeepers just to get some action. Sure, it's traditional, but it can really suck the action and forward momentum out of the game for me. Pacing is something a lot of DMs overlook in their drive to be loyal to old tropes or for the purposes of "realism." I think that stuff can be put aside to avoid any chance pacing takes a hit due to failure mitigation concerns.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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About Curses


The way curses are handled, is soften a bit boring and flavor-less in DnD. I prefer to see curses as a group of meta-magic spells. They can be combined with other spells or magic items and vary greatly in how powerful or nasty they are, as well as in how hard they are to resist or to break.


1.)    Cursed items:


There are many variations of cursed items, and most of them are far from useless.  And not all curses will detect as curses or as evil.


 a)      The curse is part of the items function:


Example: A sword of wounding.  This is a simple +1 sword – but adds 1 point ongoing damage for 10 rounds. And the damage can only be healed normally – magical healing and regeneration do not work! For the wilder, this is a great weapon – especially against regenerating creatures. But anyone ever hit by this sword will tell you it is cursed. I figure, it is created as any other magical sword with “enchant an item” followed by “enchant a weapon” (done for every +1) and sealed with “permanency”. But instead of upping the “to hit and damage bonus” further, the enchanter added a curse, worded along the lines of: “You shall cause nasty, bleeding wounds that can’t be healed by magic or regeneration – only in the slow, mundane ways” 


 b)      The curse is part of the enchantment and secures the item:


Examples: Nearly all the wands, rods and staffs! Previous editions made it clear, that these items usually require a command-word to activate. Other conditions (like rubbing or twisting the wand or to press it in certain places) are possible as well. Another favorite one of me is activation by key-item: The wand only works properly, if you wear this glove or ring on your wand-hand. Anyway, if you don’t do it right, the magic item…


…doesn’t work at all (this is frequently done by good/responsible mages – think of it as a magical –safety-catch)


…or the wand activates, targeting you and expending one charge (for example a wand of fireball just drops it “ground zero”, roasting you and everyone in the 20’ radius). This is obviously a bit irresponsible/evil.


These two possibilities are the most easy to use. But it can be more elaborate as well…


…like the item targets the wilder, but with reduced power. Say the “wand of fireball” burns your hand for 1 point of damage or casts “burning hands” at you. You get a saving throw (usually reflex-based for half damage). Mark you - a successful save means that you drop the wand in time or throw it away.


…alternatively, the effect could increase every time – in case, someone takes the “trial and error” approach. Like no result for the first time, one point of damage the second time, 1d6 (close burst) the third time, than 6d6 (20’ radius - all with save for half)


and after this…


…the most devastating; the wand goes nova, expending all remaining charges at once. Since this is easy abuse, I’d suggest that every charge after the first only adds an additional dice to damage and 3’ to the radius. So a wand of fireball with 20 charges, cursed to go nova if activated the wrong way would do 6d6 with the first charge plus 19d6 for the remaining charges for a total of 25d6. Radius would be 77’. You could reduce the damage by 1d6 for every 3’ over the first 20. So someone standing 77’ away from the center of the blast would only suffer (the last) 1d6 and could perhaps save for no damage at all.


c)       The curse secures the item, but isn’t part of the enchantment.


Examples: A ring of 3 wishes could hold a curse as well. If it isn’t deactivated, it spoils the wishes for amusing and nasty effects. The same could be done with a scroll. Let’s say the scroll holds a “burning hands”- and a “stone-skin”- spell as well as a curse. Now, if the curse isn’t deactivated, the “burning hands” just burns your hands and the “stone-skin” turns your skin into stone (as well as your flesh) and you into a statue.


This is a good example what I mean with “meta-magic”: the curse uses the energy of another spell and just twists it. Have fun with this!


A curse can secure other items as well – a purse or a spell-book for example. My favorite one colors the hands of anyone that touches it without permission red – so you can catch a thief red-handed!


d)      The  creator of the item botched or was sabotaged (say by an imp-familiar)


Example: A potion of regeneration. The creator used “the essence of a troll” to pull off the regeneration effect. The potion works as it should – at first. Let’s say, the potion is consumed by a fighter that lost a hand or an arm. The limb re-grows as promised. Perhaps there are some minor flaws like he has to cut the nails of his new hand on a daily basis. But there are also good things, like he heals damage a bit faster than normal. In the end, the new limb could act like a ring of regeneration for him. At some point (after he has healed a certain amount of damage this way) there could other changes as well: The skin of the new limb becomes greenish and warty and the limb looks slightly too big -resulting in a penalty to charisma and a bonus to strength. The limb continues to eat him up like some cancer – a penalty to intelligence and a bonus to constitution could follow. And an all-consuming hunger whenever he used the new abilities. In the end, the limb converts him into a CE – troll-monster, perhaps after murdering him in his sleep and raising him as a troll.


A ring of regeneration or a ring of vampiric regeneration could work similar…


e)      Like the above - but the item was intentionally created as a trap or as a temptation


f)       The items has quirks …


…maybe because there were some minor flaws in the creation process or because it was secured with a curse once, that was not totally removed. Or the item was created with the quirk, because it made sense to the original user.


Examples: A wand that fires a bit to high (so you have to adjust your aim) or


a flying carpet that pulls upwards and to the left if you stop concentrating on it (so it circles safely if you fall asleep or are busy fighting an enemy) or


a ring of feather-fall that only works for 1-3 rounds (just used to break the fall) or


a one-use delayed-fireball-wand (holy hand-grenade – activate and throw at enemy)


g)      The item was cursed later…


Example: weapons used to commit many crimes or to execute hundreds of innocents could acquire a curse (because of the vengeful souls/ghosts or the telltale fairy-godmother passing through)


Another famous example would be certain large gems (mined on holy ground, or costing the life of many workers) that claim the life of its owner (by accident or because he is killed by someone else who wants this gem so badly)


 

Panartias, ladies-man and Jack of all trades about his professions:

"Once, I was a fighter -

to conquer the heart of a beautiful lady.

Then I became a thief -

- to steal myself a kiss from her lips.

And finally, I became a mage -

- to enchant her face with a smile."

In my homebrew world the PC have stumbled across a few cursed items.

One was an axe that if used a certain ammount of times in battle would cause the person to go blind. The axe was found in the hands of a giant statue, with the eyes missing.

They currently have in their possesion, and don't know anything about it, a sort of cursed item. It is a spear made out of silver. A vampire lord can sense the PC when they are near through the spear, and to a lesser degree know where they are if he concentrates hard enough. They just think it is a magical spear.

As for legendary ...

I have made an artifact of sorts for each PC in the group. None of them have been found yet, and I don't think they even know about it. But I just thought it would be a cool thing to do, since about half my group is playing D&D for the first time.
I wouldn't use cursed items, or artifacts, or anything anymore unless a player specifically requested it. That way, I know they're interested in it, and will keep it in mind and have it do interesting things, while I'm busy keeping track of other stuff.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I haven't used any cursed items or legendary items in the current game that I'm running.  I may input a legendary item or 2 later on, but we are still early on in this campaign.

The campaign my friend is running has used a few cursed items in it.  Pretty low powered ones, and used sparingly just to keep us on our toes so that we don't necessarily just grab every single magic item we find and try to go nuts with it.  It's worked out pretty well for that campaign and makes sense in the setting so it really adds to the flavor and makes it more fun for everyone.

@ Panartias, I like those ideas and I'm going to talk with the guys/girl in my campaign and see if they would be interested in incorporating that into our game.  If so I'll probably use one or two of those ideas just to add a little extra something for them to be challenged with, but only if it sounds interesting to them as I don't want to throw things into the game that they have no interest in.
Yes I do. 

Some I throw in for actual story purposes.
Some are just generated randomly.
And a few?  Well, what can I say....  I'm just malicious.

The most recent one I used?  A good old bag of devouring.
It didn't start out as a BoD though.  Adventure-wise I'd included it as bag of holding within the adventure to provide a means of dealing with/transporting another dangerous object.  Well, the PCs came up with a different solution.
And then, since they were alone in the royal palce?  They went looting before steping out into the sun & acting the role of the day-saving-heroes.
Based upon the character descriptions we'd started with, I'd not anticipated this turn.  I'm not against it, but....  As this happened in the very 1st adventure, the amount of wealth they were now hauling around would be problematic later.

So the magic bag that they believed to be a BoH?  It turned into my "control wealth button"

It was effective & provided some good entertainment until they figured out what was happening.
After that?  It got used in some creative ways & developed into an intelligent item. :/
The game ended with the party still in possession of the thing.

Another one I'll use in the future?
I'm going to lift one from Warhammer.
In the WH minis game there's a magic sword that turns models killed by it into additional skeletons in the users unit.
I'm going to stick it in a D&D game.  Party'll find it as part of the loot in an adventure.  It'll be usefull so I assume it'll get claimed & used.
Well then the fun begins.  Because anything killed by this sword?  Will (soon) rise & follow after the PC weilding the blade.
So the PCs will wonder across the land, killing bigger & bigger things - as parties are wont to do - kiting an ever growing undead hoard in their wake.  And given how fast PCs can move?  They'll likely be far far away & never realize what's going on behind them.
It then gets better.  Because my Playerss often take leadership....  So when the sword weilder does this?  "OK, here's your followers...."
I envision this "curse" generating more storylines/plot twists than combat effects.    
I understand and where I agree that not all cursed items are "BAD" but I do believe that we as humans don't live in a perfect world so why would we want a perfect world for our players to play in. I prefer chaos, not to much were I let everyone run a Chaotic evil alignment. Enough for the fact that random **** happens. As far as legendarys I only ONLY put them in when I roll that 100% on the D100 and then it's not always put in to where it's "NOTICEABLE" it's hidden in etc. But as Gm's do you not like the chaos that "BAD" cursed items bring or the effects that Legendarys bring or do you simply just ignore them. 
You would be hardpressed to look at my game and not consider it filled with chaos and mayhem. Bad things are happening all the time and yet I never used cursed items or other "gotchas."

The trick is... I have my players' buy-in and they know that whatever bad things happen will be fun and move the game forward. Now, some will say that cursed items and the like do exactly that. In my experience, I have seen it make players overly cautious and that's bad for game pacing. Players who are overly cautious are actually actively avoiding the very chaos you hope to create. So in my opinion, it's better to avoid these kind of gotcha things in the game.

I'm not sure what a "legendary" item is. If it's an artifact, sure, I've used them sometimes.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  How to Adjudicate Actions  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Legendary-Artifact, pretty much the same thing. There is no "gotcha" thing, but more of a line to you get this really good weapon but you have to suffer the consequence thing. Yea you may be able to deal d12 plus 2d6 damage but if by chance you miss the attack you take the full damage etc etc. For cursed- As far as Artifact/Legendary items/weapons a decent appraise or lore roll from an NPC I mean you could have your next bad guy in the campaign. As far as the gotcha things yea they are tidious and annoying but I think they make dungeons and evnets fun. I mean look at the Tomb of Horrors 1st edition (can't say i've played the 4th edition) It was FULL of traps that were deadly as crap.  
I will say that the best thing that I have done with my artifacts is that it has helped me as a DM come up with a richer history to the campaign world.

And with the PC finding clues from raiding an old rundown hidden libary. So now they have a better sense of the world around them. I wasn't going to sit out from the start of the campaign with a hour or so of me telling them the history of everything. I have found this works a lot better and doesn't make them bored as well.
@ Panartias, I like those ideas and I'm going to talk with the guys/girl in my campaign and see if they would be interested in incorporating that into our game.  If so I'll probably use one or two of those ideas just to add a little extra something for them to be challenged with, but only if it sounds interesting to them as I don't want to throw things into the game that they have no interest in.


Glad you like the ideas, jplay36 and you are welcome to use them! But you are right to talk to your players about it first! 

Another item that I once used had an in-build flaw as well: A girdle of dwarvenkind. It gave you +1 to your constitution but – 1 to your charisma (those were the racial modifiers for a dwarf in 2e).


I ruled that the -1 charisma manifests as your facial hair growing 1 inch per day – even for women or elves.  


This little quirk ensured that the item ended up in the hands of the right character in the end.





Panartias, ladies-man and Jack of all trades about his professions:

"Once, I was a fighter -

to conquer the heart of a beautiful lady.

Then I became a thief -

- to steal myself a kiss from her lips.

And finally, I became a mage -

- to enchant her face with a smile."

I only use cursed or legendary items as a means of plot.

I've explained to my players that such items are not to be kept for fairness reasons.  My players agreed with me on this one.

I did have one player ask to purchase a cursed item (3.0) a backbiter spear because it was cheaper and only had a 1 in 20 chance of harming her.
I recently made a cursed item based on Shared Valor Armor that was looted off a vampire.  The vampire had been using it to heal her allies, and until the curse was broken (arcana check) and the undeadness leached out (3 uses after arcana check), there was healing surge penalty on all heals granted by the wielder.  
  Earlier in the campaign my co-DM (we swap every few weeks) had a cursed Feyswarm Staff that emitted a constant buzzing sound (penalty to stealth, sound-based perception).  

Neither of those were game changing, but did add a bit of chaos and some roleplay opportunities.

  Also added an artifact  that was a heroic version of sunblade/soulsword.  Haven't had to do concordance and such for that yet, so I'm not sure how we'll handle that part.  The soulsword "moving on" section is pretty powerful (+2 ability score, +2 to 2 knowledge skills), and I'll likely tone that down ... thinking +2 to her lowest NAD stat, or something.

  
 
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