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Cursed Items

Cursed Items

While magical items can be potent weapons in any adventurer’s arsenal, magic can be unpredictable and is not always benign. Cursed items are unusual magical creations that have a malicious effect on the unwary and can force its wielders into difficult choices.

Cursed items are almost never made intentionally; even those who set out to curse an item find the task incredibly difficult or even impossible. These items are the results of magical mishaps, shoddy crafting, or sinister forces interfering with the creation. Many specify how their curses work, but curses are fickle, and you as the GM determine how curses play out in your game. Due to these factors, an item with the cursed trait is always rare.

Identifying Cursed Items: Cursed items often appear to be ordinary magical items, as the magic that warps their function also disguises their curses from detection. Unless you roll a critical success when Identifying a cursed item, it simply appears as something helpful or benign. A critical success reveals both the presence of the curse and the exact nature of the curse.

Removing Cursed Items: Many cursed items can’t be discarded. Some use magic to fuse to the wielder, making it impossible to remove the item, while others attune to their owner and return even if discarded. (This section uses the term “fuse” to describe either situation.) In many cases, this feature reveals itself only after the cursed item has been triggered for the first time or after investing the item for the first time, allowing the user to develop a false sense of security. Fused cursed items can be removed by targeting the item’s owner with a remove curse spell or similar magic. If the spell is successful, the item can be discarded, but nothing prevents the item from cursing the same creature again if the conditions are met, so it’s best to dispose of the item quickly. Invested cursed items that can’t be removed continue to count against a character’s invested items, even without reinvesting them each day.

Specific Cursed Items

The following are a few examples of cursed items.

Bag of Devouring Item 7+

Rare Conjuration Cursed Extradimensional Magical

Usage held in 2 hands; Bulk 1

This item appears to be and functions as a bag of holding, but is actually a feeding orifice of a bizarre extradimensional creature. Any animal or vegetable matter put in the bag has a chance of triggering the bag’s interest. Whenever you reach into the bag to retrieve an item or place an animal or plant (or animal or plant product) within the bag, roll a DC 9 flat check. On a success, the bag ignores the intrusion. On a failure, the bag devours the triggering material, removing it from this realm of existence; the bag can’t eat artifacts or other similarly hard-to-destroy items. If the triggering material is not entirely inside of the bag, such as when someone reaches a hand inside, the bag of devouring attempts to pull it completely inside the bag using a Grapple action, with an Athletics bonus determined by the type of bag. On a success, it devours the victim or object entirely.

Type I; Level 7; Athletics Bonus +15; acts as a type II bag of holding

Type II; Level 11; Athletics Bonus +21; acts as a type III bag of holding

Type III; Level 13; Athletics Bonus +24; acts as a type IV bag of holding

Bag of Weasels Item 4

Rare Conjuration Cursed Extradimensional Magical

Usage held in 2 hands; Bulk 1

This item appears to be and functions as a type I bag of holding, until you try to retrieve an item from the bag.

Whenever you retrieve an item from the bag of weasels, roll a DC 11 flat check. On a success, you retrieve the item as normal. On a failure, the item you retrieve is transformed into a weasel; this doesn’t affect artifacts, cursed items, or other hard-to-destroy items.

This weasel has the statistics of a giant rat, except that it is Tiny and exudes an aura of transmutation magic. The weasel has no loyalty to you and typically attempts to escape as quickly as possible. If the weasel is targeted with a remove curse spell or a similar magical effect, it transforms back into the original item that was taken from the bag of weasels. If it dies or is slain, the weasel disappears and the item is permanently destroyed.

Because the weasel is a transformed item, you don’t gain any benefit you would receive from attacking a creature, defeating one, damaging one, or the like, but you do gain any benefit you would gain from destroying an item.

Boots of Dancing Item 11

Rare Cursed Enchantment Invested Magical

Usage worn shoes; Bulk L

These boots act as greater boots of elvenkind, but they react wildly to strong physical exertion. While you wear the boots, the curse activates whenever you attempt an Athletics check or Stride more than once in a single round during an encounter.

The boots cast an 8th-level uncontrollable dance spell on you, and you automatically fail your save. Once the curse has activated for the first time, the boots fuse to you.

Cloak of Immolation Item 7

Rare Cursed Evocation Invested Magical

Usage worn cloak; Bulk L

Appearing as a magic cloak such as a cloak of elvenkind, this garment is made of highly volatile fabric. While wearing it, if you take fire damage, you also take 1d10 persistent fire damage. Taking fire damage while the persistent fire damage is in effect has no additional effect.

You can extinguish the persistent fire damage as normal.

Any creature that hits you with a melee unarmed attack while you are taking this persistent fire damage takes fire damage equal to the persistent fire damage you took on your previous turn. Once the curse has activated for the first time, the boots fuse to you.

Gloves of Carelessness Item 7

Rare Abjuration Cursed Extradimensional Invested Magical

Usage worn gloves; Bulk L

These gloves appear and function as gloves of storing but repel any item not stored in the gloves. When wearing them, whenever you Interact to draw or pick up an item, roll a DC 11 flat check. On a success, you do so as normal. On a failure, you instead fling the item 15 feet in a random direction.

You can use a reaction to attempt a DC 23 Reflex save, causing the item to land at your feet instead if you succeed. Removing the stored item from the gloves does not trigger the item’s curse.

The first time the curse activates, the gloves fuse to you.

Medusa Armor Item 14

Rare Cursed Invested Magical Transmutation

Usage worn armor; Bulk 3

This +2 adamantine scale mail appears to have a fortification rune but grants none of its effects. Whenever you are critically hit, after taking damage, you become petrified for 1 round.

Once the curse has activated for the first time, the armor fuses to you.

Monkey’s Paw Item 20

Rare Cursed Magical Misfortune Necromancy

Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk L

This dried, gnarled hand is clenched in a fist, waiting for a creature to pick it up. When you pick up the monkey’s paw, the hand opens, revealing three withered fingers. The monkey’s paw grants you three wishes, curling one finger after every one. Once you pick up the monkey’s paw, you cannot discard the hand until it returns to a clenched fist by casting its three wishes. Any attempts to discard the hand, even with the effects of a miracle or wish spell, are unsuccessful as the monkey’s paw reappears among your possessions within 1d4 hours; it doesn’t work for any other creature in the intervening time. The hand returns even if another creature steals it from you. Once you make all three wishes, the monkey’s paw uses plane shift to travel to a random point in the multiverse.

Whenever the monkey’s paw hears you utter a statement that sounds like a wish, even if you don’t use the words “I wish,” it activates and grants a twisted, horrifying version of your wish, producing any effect within the possibility of alter reality, miracle, primal phenomenon, or wish, and potentially a greater effect at the GM’s discretion.

Necklace of Strangulation Item 15

Rare Cursed Invested Magical Transmutation

Usage worn necklace; Bulk L

This beautiful necklace appears to be a magical item such as a necklace of fireballs or a pendant of the occult. When invested, it magically locks in place, suspiciously tightly, and fuses to you. When you enter a situation of extreme stress (as determined by the GM), the necklace tightens around your neck, suffocating you and dealing 30 bludgeoning damage to you at the end of each of your turns.

Once per round, you can spend a single action to attempt a DC 34 Athletics check or Fortitude save; success means you don’t take the damage on your current turn, but you continue suffocating. The necklace loosens after you’ve been dead for a month.

Poisonous Cloak Item 13+

Rare Cursed Invested Magical Transmutation

Usage worn cloak; Bulk L

This innocuous-looking cloak is associated with a type of poison, set at the cloak’s creation. It often appears as a clandestine cloak or a cloak of the bat to the unaware. When you invest this cloak, you lose any resistance to poison damage, and anytime you take piercing or slashing damage in combat, you are exposed to the type of poison associated with the poisonous cloak with no onset, even if it’s not an injury poison. Once the curse has activated for the first time, the cloak fuses to you.

Type I; Level 6; Poison giant scorpion venom

Type II; Level 10; Poison wolfsbane

Type III; Level 13; Poison purple worm venom

Type IV; Level 17; Poison hemlock

Ring of Truth Item 10

Rare Cursed Enchantment Invested Magical

Usage worn; Bulk

This ring appears to be a ring of lies, but when invested, close investigation reveals angelic wings and divine creatures hidden on the face of the ring. When you invest the ring, you are rendered unable to tell a deliberate lie, in either speech or writing. If you attempt to omit the truth or phrase things truthfully but deceptively, roll a DC 11 flat check; on a failure, the ring itself blurts out the entire truth (as you believe it) as an answer. Keeping silent does not activate the ring’s curse.

Once the curse has activated for the first time, the ring fuses to you.

Stone of Weight Item 2

Rare Conjuration Cursed Magical

Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk L

Also known as a loadstone, this small stone appears nonmagical and has a lovely sheen, giving the impression that it could be a valuable or a notable item or a magic stone of some kind. When you’ve carried the stone on your person for 1 minute, its curse activates: the stone’s size does not change, but it suddenly increases in weight to 5 Bulk. This additional weight does not cause the stone to deal more damage if thrown or used as a weapon. It reappears in your possessions within 1 minute if you discard it, and can’t be destroyed or thrown away permanently, or even placed in a container that would reduce or negate its Bulk (like a bag of holding), until it is subject to a remove curse spell or similar magic effect.

Once the curse has activated for the first time, the stone fuses to you.

Item Curses

Most curses alter a base item. Item curses alter their base item, much like a property rune, though they can’t be detected or identified unless a creature critically succeeds at a check to Identify the Item. A curse can be applied to the specific types of magic items listed in its Usage entry.

Curses typically can’t be removed or transferred from the item, though at your discretion, either might be possible after the curse is broken. If the PCs manage to break the curse, the newly uncursed item could be quite valuable.

Arrow Attracting Curse 8

Rare Abjuration Cursed Magical

Usage curses armor or shield

An item affected by an arrow attracting curse protects you normally, but it draws ranged attacks like a magnet. Whenever a creature within 120 feet misses with a ranged attack, it must immediately reroll the attack against your AC, affecting you depending on the result of the new attack roll. The arrow attraction curse activates only if you could have been a legitimate target. Creatures that intentionally attempt to miss a ranged attack do not activate an arrow attraction curse. Once the curse has activated for the first time, the item fuses to you.

Arsonous Curse 7

Rare Cursed Evocation Fire Magical

Usage curses a ring, staff, or wand

An arsonous curse creates flaws in the mystic pathways that channel magic through an item, allowing excess power to escape as sparks. Whenever you activate the magic item, a random ally within 30 feet takes 1d10 persistent fire damage. If no ally is in range, you take the damage instead. At the GM’s discretion, this curse might ignite an unattended object or the surrounding environment instead.

Backbiting Curse 4

Rare Cursed Evocation Magical

Usage curses a weapon

A weapon with the backbiting curse warps space in response to catastrophic mishaps. Whenever you critically fail at a Strike with this weapon, the weapon curls around (or its projectile swerves through the air) to strike you in the back as though you hit yourself, automatically dealing maximum damage to you.

Bloodbiter Curse 6

Rare Cursed Magical Necromancy

Usage curses a piercing or slashing weapon

A bloodbiter weapon is awakened by violence and fueled by blood. When you make a successful attack with the weapon, it inflicts a wound that deals 1d6 persistent bleed damage (in addition to its normal damage), but it also deals 1d6 persistent bleed damage to you. The curse remains dormant until the weapon hits a creature, at which point black thorns protrude from the weapon and dig into your body; the weapon fuses to you and you can’t use the hand that holds the weapon for any other purpose. If the weapon is two-handed, it attaches itself to only a single hand (GM’s choice).

Degenerating Curse 5

Rare Acid Cursed Magical Necromancy

Usage curses a weapon Failure makes the weapon crumble. Whenever you critically fail an attack roll with the weapon, the degenerating curse deals 1d10 acid damage to the weapon, ignoring its Hardness and resistances.

Dependent Curse 9

Rare Cursed Magical Transmutation

Usage curses gear used for skills or a weapon

The dependent curse makes an item function properly only under certain circumstances. Whenever you use the item to perform a skill check or use the weapon in combat, your degree of success is one worse than the result you rolled unless those specific conditions are met. The most common types of dependent curses are nocturnal or diurnal—functioning normally only at night or only during the day, respectively—but more restrictive curses do exist, such as a curse that restricts the item’s use to underground or a curse that allows the item to function effectively only during autumn.

Dreary Curse 3

Rare Conjuration Cursed Magical

Usage curses armor When you invest this armor, a personal-sized cloud appears over your head and begins to rain on you, and the armor fuses to you. This extinguishes uncovered flames and soaks other objects you are carrying or holding, potentially ruining them. Cold conditions are one step worse under the cloud, and at the GM’s discretion it might cause other problems, such as interfering with sleep.

Erratic Transposing Curse 11

Rare Conjuration Cursed Magical

Usage curses a weapon

This curse bursts with uncontrolled teleportation magic when activated, unreliably transporting creatures across the battlefield. On a critical hit with the affected weapon, you and an ally within 60 feet (chosen randomly) teleport to switch places with one another. If either of the affected creatures is unable to entirely fit within its new space, the creature is placed in the nearest available squares instead.

Grandstanding Curse 11

Rare Cursed Enchantment Magical

Usage curses a weapon Weapons with the grandstanding curse inspire overconfidence in their wielders, demanding style over pragmatism. Whenever you reduce a foe to 0 Hit Points, you lose all remaining actions on your turn, as you are compelled to flourish, gloat, pose, or otherwise waste your time in response.

Overdramatic Curse 5

Rare Cursed Evocation Magical

Usage curses a weapon

The weapon flashes excessive light with each attack.

On a critical hit with the weapon, you are blinded until the end of your turn and take the effects of a faerie fire spell until the start of your next turn.

Raucous Curse 3

Rare Cursed Magical Transmutation

Usage curses gear or a weapon While more annoying than deadly, a raucous curse is the bane of subtlety. Whenever you use the affected item, you must loudly yell what you are attempting to do with it, ruining any attempts at stealth. Failure to announce your action or speak at an appropriate volume automatically causes the attempted action to become a critical failure.

Ravenous Curse 1

Rare Cursed Evocation Magical

Usage curses a ring, staff, or wand

A ravenous curse draws power from the wielder’s body.

Whenever you activate the item, you become incredibly hungry and immediately begin to starve.

You require 10 times as much food as normal for the next day.

Staining Curse 1

Rare Cursed Magical Transmutation

Usage curses gear or a weapon

This property is associated with a specific color, which is defined at the time of the curse’s creation. Whenever you use the affected equipment while taking a manipulate action with another object, the second object is permanently stained the associated color. For instance, if you used a set of yellow staining lockpicks to open a door, the lock would permanently become yellow. This color change does not otherwise unnaturally persist and can be changed via any normal mundane or magical means.

Withering Curse 13

Rare Cursed Magical Necromancy

Usage curses a ring, staff, or wand

A withering curse shrivels vulnerable flesh. Whenever you activate the item, one of your fingers turns black and falls off.

You take a –1 status penalty to Thievery checks and Dexterity-based attack rolls with a hand missing two or three fingers; if you lose more than four fingers on one hand, you can’t use that hand to hold objects or use manipulate actions. These fingers can be replaced by magic but are otherwise gone forever. The GM has the final say on how creatures with unusual appendages or numbers of fingers are affected by this curse.

Section 15: Copyright Notice
Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide © 2020, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Alexander Augunas, Jesse Benner, John Bennett, Logan Bonner, Clinton J. Boomer, Jason Bulmahn, James Case, Paris Crenshaw, Jesse Decker, Robert N. Emerson, Eleanor Ferron, Jaym Gates, Matthew Goetz, T.H. Gulliver, Kev Hamilton, Sasha Laranoa Harving, BJ Hensley, Vanessa Hoskins, Brian R. James, Jason LeMaitre, Lyz Liddell, Luis Loza, Colm Lundberg, Ron Lundeen, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Jessica Redekop, Alistair Rigg, Mark Seifter, Owen K.C. Stephens, Amber Stewart, Christina Stiles, Landon Winkler, and Linda Zayas-Palmer.