In the process of crafting a magic item, so many delicate factors have to be taken into account that occasionally things are bound to go awry. These small errors are often readily apparent and usually show up immediately. Sometimes, however, they are more subtle and don't emerge until days, months, or even years later.
Other factors can make a magic item go wrong as well - things not the fault of its creator in any way. The forces of chaos and general entropy can cause magic to decay or become corrupted. Time corrodes all things - even magic. Long exposure to powerful magical forces, gateways to other planes, or even the proximity of other magic items or creatures can alter a magic item in odd ways.
Finally, items with unpredictable or cursed effects can be created by the devious intention of spellcasters who are malicious, chaotic, or simply insane. These are the most dangerous cursed items of all.
Cursed items are magic items with some sort of potentially negative impact. Sometimes they're directly bad for the user, sometimes they're just inconvenient. Occasionally they mix bad with good, forcing characters to make difficult choices, if you want to include the chance for cursed items in your game, determine treasure randomly as usual. Whenever you roll for a magic item, however, make a second secret d% roll. On a result of 01-05, the item generated is cursed in some way. To determine how the item is cursed, consult the table below.
|Cursed Item Common Curses|
|16-35||Opposite effect or target|
|76-90||Completely different effect|
|91-100||Substitute specific cursed item|
Common Curse Descriptions
The most common curses that items can possess are described below.
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 (making him invisible, emitting lightning bolts, or whatever) and cannot be convinced otherwise without the help of a Remove Curse spell.
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. For example, eyes of charming with the opposite effect enrage targets rather than charm them. A rod of curing inflicts wounds. Eyes of petrification turn the wearer to stone. A magic arrow curves around to strike the archer. The interesting point to keep in mind here is that these items aren't always bad to have. A wand of lightning bolt that heals rather than harms can be used as a potent healing item.
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 bonus of a good magic item is, she shouldn't immediately know that the weapon is so cursed. Once she knows, however, the item can be discarded unless some sort of enchantment 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 such an item.
Intermittent Functioning: The three varieties of intermittent functioning items all function perfectly as described - at least some of the time. The three types include unreliable, dependent, and uncontrolled items.
Unreliable: Each time the item is activated, there is a 5% chance (a 01-05 result on d%) that it does not function. At the DM's option, the failure chance can be altered to be anything from 1% to 10%, depending on the item and the campaign.
Dependent: The item only functions in certain situations. To determine what the situation is, either select an activation condition or roll on the following table.
|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|
|35-37||Out of water|
|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 non-spellcaster|
|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 particular gender|
|97-99||On non-holy days or during particular astrological events|
|100||More than 100 miles from a particular site (holy, magical, etc.)|
Uncontrolled: An uncontrolled item occasionally activates at random times. Roll d% every day. On a result of 01-05 (or whatever range the DM determines as appropriate), the item activates at some random point during that day. Results range from the humorous, such as when the wearer of a ring of invisibility suddenly disappears right in the middle of bargaining in the market, to the disastrous, such as when the wielder's wand of fireball discharges in the middle of her friends - er, former friends.
Requirement: In a sense, a command word is a requirement. Nevertheless, some items have much more stringent requirements to be used. To keep the item functioning, one (or more) of the following conditions must be met:
- Character must eat twice as much as normal.
- Character must sleep twice as much as normal.
- Character must undergo a specific quest (one time only and then item functions normally thereafter).
- Character must sacrifice (destroy) 100 gp worth of valuables per day.
- Character must sacrifice (destroy) 2,000 gp worth of magic items each week.
- Character must swear fealty to a particular noble or his family
- Character must discard all other magic items.
- Character must worship a particular deity
- Character must change her name to a specific name. (The item only works for characters of that name.)
- Character must change his class to a specific class if not of that class already.
- Character must have a minimum number of ranks in a particular skill.
- Character must sacrifice some part of her life energy (2 points of Constitution) one time. If the character gets the Constitution points back (such as from Restoration), the item ceases functioning. (The item does not cease functioning if the character receives a Constitution increase caused by level gain, a Wish, or the use of a magic item.)
- Item must be cleansed with holy water each day
- Item must be used to kill a living creature each day
- Item must be bathed in volcanic lava once per month.
- Item must be used at least once a day, or it won't function again for its current possessor.
- Item must draw blood when wielded (weapons only). It can't be put away or exchanged for another weapon until it has scored a hit.
- Item must have a particular spell cast upon it each day (such as Bless, Atonement, or Animate Objects).
Requirements are so dependent upon suitability to the item that they should never be determined randomly. An item with a requirement that is also intelligent 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 beneficial to the possessor (for instance, a weapon with an enhancement bonus still benefits its wielder in combat), but they also carry some negative aspect. You might think of them as "give and take" items. Although sometimes drawbacks occur only when the item is used (or held, in the case of some items such as weapons), usually the drawback remains with the character for as long as she has it.
The following are drawbacks that remain in effect as long as the item is in the character's possession:
|01-04||Character's hair grows 1 inch longer (only happens once).|
|05-09||Character either shrinks a half-inch (a 01-50 result on d%) or grows that much taller (a 51-100 result). This event only happens once.|
|10-13||Temperature around item is 10°F cooler than normal.|
|14-17||Temperature around item is 10°F warmer than normal.|
|18-21||Character's hair color changes.|
|22-25||Character's skin color changes.|
|26-29||Character now bears some identifying mark (tattoo, strange glow, etc.).|
|30-32||Character's gender changes.|
|33-34||Character's race or kind changes.|
|35||Character is afflicted with a random disease that cannot be cured.|
|36-39||Item continually emits a disturbing sound (moaning, weeping, screaming, cursing, insults).|
|40||Item looks ridiculous (garishly colored, silly shape, glows bright pink, etc.).|
|41-45||Character becomes selfishly possessive about the item.|
|46-49||Character becomes paranoid about losing the item and afraid of damage occurring to it.|
|50-51||Character's alignment changes.|
|52-54||Character must attack nearest creature (5% chance [a 01-05 result on d%] each day).|
|55-57||Character is stunned for 1d4 rounds once item function is finished (or randomly, 1/day).|
|58-60||Character's vision is blurry (-2 penalty to attacks, saves, and skill checks requiring vision).|
|61-64||Character gains one negative level.|
|65||Character gains two negative levels.|
|66-70||Character must make a Will save each day or take 1 point of temporary Intelligence damage.|
|71-75||Character must make a Will save each day or take 1 point of temporary Wisdom damage.|
|76-80||Character must make a Will save each day or take 1 point of temporary Charisma damage.|
|81-85||Character must make a Fortitude save each day or take 1 point of temporary Constitution damage.|
|86-90||Character must make a Fortitude save each day or take 1 point of temporary Strength damage.|
|91-95||Character must make a Fortitude save each day or take 1 point of temporary Dexterity damage.|
|96||Character is polymorphed into a specific creature (5% chance [a 01-05 result on d%] each day).|
|97||Character cannot cast arcane spells.|
|98||Character cannot cast divine spells.|
|99||Character cannot cast any spells.|
|100||DM's choice: DM either picks one of the above that's appropriate or creates a drawback specifically for that item.|
Completely Different Effect: The DM should choose a negative effect for the item, perhaps using the specific cursed items (see below) as examples. The item may seem to be the item that was originally determined, but at some juncture it displays different properties altogether.
|Specific Cursed Items|
|01-05||Incense of obsession||200 gp|
|06-15||Ring of clumsiness||500 gp|
|16-20||Amulet of inescapable location||1,000 gp|
|21-25||Stone of weight||1,000 gp|
|26-30||Bracers of defenselessness||1,200 gp|
|31-35||Gauntlets of fumbling||1,300 gp|
|36-40||-2 sword, cursed||1,500 gp|
|41-43||Armor of rage||1,600 gp|
|44-46||Medallion of thought projection||1,800 gp|
|47-50||Spear, cursed backbiter||2,000 gp|
|51-55||Flask of curses||2,100 gp|
|56-57||Dust of sneezing and choking||2,400 gp|
|58||Helm of opposite alignment||4,000 gp|
|59-64||Potion of poison||5,000 gp|
|65||Broom of animated attack||5,200 gp|
|66-67||Robe of powerlessness||5,500 gp|
|68||Vacuous grimoire||6,000 gp|
|69-70||Armor of arrow attraction||9,000 gp|
|71-72||Net of snaring||10,000 gp|
|73-75||Bag of devouring||15,500 gp|
|76-80||Mace of blood||16,000 gp|
|81-85||Robe of vermin||16,500 gp|
|86-88||Periapt of foul rotting||17,000 gp|
|89-92||Sword, berserking||17,500 gp|
|93-96||Boots of dancing||30,000 gp|
|97||Crystal hypnosis ball||-|
|98||Necklace of strangulation||60,000 gp|
|99||Cloak of poisonousness||62,000 gp|
|100||Scarab of death||80,000 gp|
Specific Cursed Items
The following items are provided as examples of cursed items. They are given creation prerequisites, should someone want to intentionally create them (although that does not need to be the origin of the item if you choose otherwise). Note, however, two exceptions: The crystal hypnosis ball and the bag of devouring cannot be created by any known means. The bag of devouring is a creature, and the crystal hypnosis ball is the tool of powerful NPCs such as liches. Market prices are listed to facilitate construction of the items, but players will generally not be able to sell cursed items.
All of the following are relatively common cursed items. They may be used as is or may serve as good examples you to create your own.
Amulet of Inescapable Location
This device is typically worn on a chain or as a brooch. It appears, to magical analysis, to prevent location, scrying (crystal ball viewing and the like), or detection or influence by detect thoughts or telepathy. Actually the amulet doubles the likelihood and/or range of these location and detection modes. Item identification attempts, including identify, analyze dweomer, detect magic, and so on, do not reveal its true nature.
Caster Level: 10th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 1,000 gp.
Armor of Arrow Attraction
Magical analysis indicates that this armor is a normal suit of +3 full plate. However, the armor is cursed. It works normally in regard to melee attacks but actually serves to attract ranged weapons. The wearer has twice the normal chance to be selected as a random target of a ranged weapon. In cases where each individual in a group is the target of a set number of ranged weapons (such as in large-scale combats with multiple archers), the wearer has twice as many weapons fired at him. Furthermore, the magical protection of the armor does not apply for ranged attacks. The true nature of the armor does not reveal itself until the character is fired upon in earnest - simple experiments (throwing rocks, for example) do not suffice.
Caster Level: 16th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 9,000 gp.
Armor of Rage
This armor is similar in appearance to armor of command and functions as a suit of +3 full plate. However, when it is worn, the armor causes the character to suffer a -4 Charisma penalty. All unfriendly characters within 300 feet have a +1 morale bonus on attacks against her. The effect is nor noticeable to the wearer or those affected. (In other words, the wearer does not immediately notice that donning the armor is the cause of her problems, nor do foes understand the reason for the depth of their enmity)
Caster Level: 16th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 1,600 gp.
Bag of Devouring
This bag appears to be an ordinary sack. Detection for magical properties makes it seem as if it were a bag of holding. The sack is, however, a lure used by an extradimensional creature - in fact, one of its feeding orifices.
Any substance of animal or vegetable nature is subject to "swallowing" if thrust within the bag. The bag of devouring is 90% likely to ignore any initial intrusion, but any time thereafter that it senses living flesh within (such as if someone reaches into the bag to pull something out), it is 60% likely to close around the offending member and attempt to draw the whole victim in. The bag has a Strength of 23 for purposes of pulling someone in.
The bag radiates magic and can hold up to 30 cubic feet of matter. It acts as a bag of holding (bag 1), but each hour it has a 5% cumulative chance of swallowing the contents and then spitting the stuff out in some non-space or other plane. Creatures drawn within are consumed in 1 round, eaten, and gone forever.
Caster Level: 17th; Prerequisites: In effect, this is a minor artifact and cannot be created; Market Price: 15,500 gp (but note that the bag cannot be created, since it is a creature).
Boots of Dancing
These boots initially function as one of the other types of useful boots (DM's choice) and are indistinguishable from other magic boots. But when the wearer is in (or fleeing from) melee combat, the boots of dancing impede movement, making him behave as if Otto's irresistible dance had been cast upon him.
Only a Remove Curse enables the boots to be removed once their true nature is revealed.
Caster Level: 16th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Otto's Irresistible Dance; Market Price: 30,000 gp.
Bracers of Defenselessness
These appear to be +5 bracers of armor and actually serve as such until the wearer is attacked in anger by an enemy with a Challenge Rating equal to or greater than her level. At that moment and thereafter, the bracers inflict a -5 penalty to AC. Once their curse is activated, bracers of defenselessness can be removed only by means of a Remove Curse spell.
Caster Level: 16th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Mage Armor, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 1,200 gp.
Broom of Animated Attack
This is indistinguishable in appearance from a normal broom, except that detection spells reveal it to be magical. It is identical to a broom of flying by all tests short of attempted use. Using it reveals that a broom of animated attack is a very nasty item.
If a command ("Fly," "Go," "Giddy-up," or some similar command) is spoken, the broom does a loop-the-loop with its hopeful rider, dumping him on his head from 1d4+5 feet off the ground (no falling damage, since the fall is less than 10 feet). The broom then attacks the victim, swatting the face with the straw or twig end and beating him with the handle end.
The broom gets two attacks per round with each end (two swats with the straw and two with the handle, for a total of four attacks per round). It attacks with a +5 bonus on each attack. The straw end causes blindness for 1 round if it hits, The handle causes 1d6 points of damage when it hits, The broom has an AC of 13, 18 hit points, and a hardness of 4.
Caster Level: 10th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Animate Objects, Fly; Market Price: 5,200 gp.
Cloak of Poisonousness
This cloak is usually made of a wool-like material, although it can be made of leather. It radiates magic. The cloak can be handled without harm, but as soon as it is actually donned the wearer is stricken stone dead unless she succeeds at a Fortitude save (DC 28). A detect poison spell registers the poison impregnated in the fabric.
Once donned, a cloak of poisonousness can be removed only with a Remove Curse spell - this destroys the magical properties of the cloak. If a neutralize poison spell is then used, it may be possible to revive the victim with a raise dead or resurrection spell, but not before.
Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Poison, and Limited Wish or Miracle; Market Price: 62,000 gp.
Collar of Obedience
This plain band of iron can he worn a bracelet or necklace. The item imposes a -2 penalty on wearer's Will saving throws.
When using the skirmish or mass battle rules, this effect makes a creature easier to command, reducing its Difficult rating by 2.
Faint enchantment; CL 3rd; Craft Wondrous Item, Doom; Price: 3,000 gp.
Collar of Slavery
This black collar can be worn as a bracelet or necklace. The item imposes a -10 penalty on the wearer's saving throws against fear effects. It also imposes a -10 penalty on level checks to oppose Intimidate checks.
When using the skirmish or mass battle rules, a creature unit using this item is considered to belong to any faction.
Moderate enchantment; CL 7th; Craft Wondrous Item, Charm Monster; Price 8,000 gp.
Crystal Hypnosis Ball
This cursed item is indistinguishable from a normal crystal ball. It radiates magic, but not evil, to appropriate detection spells. In fact, it doesn't function as a crystal ball at all. However, anyone attempting to use the scrying device becomes hypnotized, and a telepathic suggestion is implanted in his mind (Will negates DC 19).
The user of the device believes that the desired creature or scene was viewed, but actually he came under the influence of a powerful wizard, lich, or even some power or being from another plane. (The DM should choose the controller to fit his or her campaign.) Each further use brings the crystal hypnosis ball gazer deeper under the influence of the controller, either as a servant or a tool. The DM decides whether to make this a gradual or sudden affair, according to the surroundings and circumstances peculiar to the finding of the crystal hypnosis ball and the character locating it. Note that throughout this time, the user remains unaware of his subjugation.
Caster Level: 17th; Prerequisites: In effect, this is a minor artifact and cannot be created by a player character; Market Price: - (cannot be created).
Dust of Sneezing and Choking
This fine dust appears to be either dust of appearance or dust of disappearance. If cast into the air, however, it causes those within a 20-foot spread to fall into fits of sneezing and coughing. Those failing a Fortitude save (DC 15) take 2d6 points of temporary Constitution damage immediately. In addition, those failing a second Fortitude save (DC 15) 1 minute later are dealt 1d6 points of temporary Constitution damage. Those who succeed on either saving throw are nonetheless disabled by choking (treat as stunned) for 5d4 rounds.
Caster Level: 7th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Poison; Market Price: 2,400 gp.
These funerary garments are indistinguishable from shrouds of the holy. Instead of returning the body within to life, it whisks the body off to another plane and summons a barghest to immediately consume it. The item destroys the body and prevents any form of raising or resurrection that requires part of the corpse. A wish, miracle, or true resurrection spell can restore a victim to life, but there is a 50% chance that even such powerful magic will fail. While someone expecting to return their companion to life might be desolated by the effect, an assassin wishing to dispose of a dead body may find such burial wrappings quite useful. The magic of the shrouds is usable only once, after which the wrapping becomes ordinary, fine cloth.
Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Plane Shift, Summon Monster VIII; Market Price: 16,500 gp; Weight: 10 lbs.
Flask of Curses
This item looks like an ordinary beaker, bottle, container, decanter, flask, or jug. It has magical properties, but detection does not reveal the nature of the flask of curses. It may contain a liquid, or it may emit smoke. When the flask is first unstoppered, all within 30 feet must make a Will save (DC 17) or be cursed, suffering a -2 penalty to attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks until a remove curse spell is cast upon them.
Caster Level: 7th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 2,100 gp.
Gauntlets of Fumbling
These gauntlets may be of supple leather or heavy protective material suitable for use with armor (ring, scale, chain, and so on). In the former instance, they appear to be gloves of Dexterity. In the latter case, they appear to be gauntlets of ogre power. The gauntlets perform according to every test as if they were gloves of Dexterity or gauntlets of ogre power until the wearer finds herself under attack or in a life-and-death situation. At that time, the curse is activated. The wearer becomes fumble-fingered, with a 50% chance each round of dropping anything held in either hand. (If items are held in both hands, roll only once. If the d% result is 01-50, roll again: even = right hand, odd = left hand). The gauntlets also lower Dexterity by 2 points. Once the curse is activated, the gloves can be removed only by means of a Remove Curse spell, a wish, or a miracle.
Caster Level: 7th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 1,300 gp.
Helm of Opposite Alignment
This metal hat looks like a typical helmet. When placed upon the head, however, its curse immediately takes effect (Will save negates DC 15). The alignment of the wearer is radically altered - good to evil, chaotic to lawful, neutral to some extreme commitment (LE, LG, CE, or CG) - to an alignment as different as possible from the former alignment. Alteration in alignment is mental as well as moral, and the individual changed by the magic thoroughly enjoys his new outlook.
Only a wish or a miracle can restore former alignment, and the affected individual does not make any attempt to return to the former alignment. (In fact, he views the prospect with horror and avoids it in any way possible.) If a character of a class with an alignment requirement is affected, an atonement spell is needed as well if the curse is to be obliterated. Note that this is a one-use item: once a helm of opposite alignment has functioned, it loses all magical properties.
Caster Level: 12th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item creator must be 12th level; Market Price: 4,000 gp; Weight: 3 lb.
Incense of Obsession
These blocks of incense exactly resemble incense of meditation. If meditation and prayer are conducted while incense of obsession is burning nearby its odor and smoke cause the priest to become totally confident that her spell ability is superior, due to the magic incense. The priest is determined to use her spells at every opportunity, even when not needed or when useless. The priest remains obsessed with her abilities and spells until all are cast or until 24 hours have elapsed.
Caster Level: 6th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Confusion or Bestow Curse; Market Price: 200 gp.
Mace of Blood
This +3 heavy mace must be coated in blood every day or its bonus fades away (until the mace is coated again). The character using this mace must make a Will save (DC 13) every day it is within his possession or become chaotic evil.
Caster Level: 8th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, creator must be at least 9th level and chaotic evil; Market Price: 16,000 gp.
Medallion of Thought Projection
This device seems like a medallion of thoughts, even down to the range at which it functions, except that the thoughts overheard are muffled and distorted, requiring a successful Will save (DC 15) to sort out. However, while the user thinks she is picking up the thoughts of others, all she is really hearing are figments created by the medallion itself. These illusory thoughts always seem plausible and thus can seriously mislead any who rely upon them. What's worse, unknown to her, the cursed medallion actually broadcasts her thoughts to creatures in the path of the beam, thus alerting them of her presence.
Caster Level: 7th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Detect Thoughts, Ghost Sound; Market Price: 1,800 gp.
Necklace of Strangulation
A necklace of strangulation appears to be a rare and wondrous piece of valuable jewelry and, short of the use of something as powerful as a miracle or a wish, can only be identified as a cursed item when placed around a character's neck. The necklace immediately constricts, inflicting 6 points of strangulation damage per round. It cannot be removed by any means short of a limited wish, a wish, or miracle and remains clasped around the victim's throat even after his death. Only when he has decayed to a dry skeleton (after approximately one month) does it loosen, ready for another victim.
Caster Level: 18th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item Slay Living; Market Price: 60,000 gp.
Net of Snaring
This net offers a +3 bonus to attack rolls but can only be used underwater, thus making it a limited item rather than what most would really call a "curse." Underwater, it can be commanded to shoot forth up to 30 feet to trap a creature.
Caster Level: 8th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Freedom of Movement; Market Price: 10,000 gp.
Periapt of Foul Rotting
This engraved gem appears to be of little value. If any character keeps the periapt in her possession for more than 24 hours, she contracts a terrible rotting disease that can be removed only by application of a Remove Curse spell followed by a cure disease and then a heal, miracle, limited wish, or wish spell. The rotting can also be countered by crushing a periapt of health and sprinkling its dust upon the afflicted character. Otherwise, the afflicted loses 1 point each of Dexterity, Constitution, and Charisma per week (as if permanently drained).
Caster Level: 10th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Contagion; Market Price: 17,000 gp.
Potion of Poison
This potion has lost its once potent magical abilities and has become a potent poison. The imbiber must make a Fortitude save (DC 16) or take 1d10 points of temporary Constitution damage. A minute later he must save again (DC 16) or take 1d10 points of temporary Constitution damage.
Caster Level: 12th; Prerequisites: Brew Potion, Poison; Market Price: 5,000 gp.
Robe of Powerlessness
A robe of powerlessness appears to be a robe of another sort, and detection discovers nothing more than the fact that it has a magical aura. As soon as a character dons this garment, she suffers an immediate -10 effective penalty to Strength and Intelligence scores, forgetting all spells and magic knowledge. The robe can be removed easily but in order to restore mind and body, the character must receive a Remove Curse spell followed by a heal.
Caster Level: 13th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Bestow Curse, Permanency; Market Price: 5,500 gp.
Robe of Vermin
The wearer notices nothing unusual when the robe is donned, other than that it offers great magical defense (as a cloak of protection +4). However, as soon as he is in a situation requiring concentration and action against hostile opponents, the true nature of the garment is revealed: The wearer immediately suffers a multitude of bites from the insects that magically infest the garment. He must cease all other activities in order to scratch, shift the to be, and generally show signs of the extreme discomfort caused by the bites and movement of these pests.
The wearer suffers a -5 initiative penalty and a -2 penalty on all attack rolls, saves, and skill checks. If he tries to cast a spell, he must make a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level) or lose the spell.
Caster Level: 13th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Summon Swarm, creator must be at least 8th level; Market Price: 16,500 gp.
Ring of Clumsiness
This ring operates exactly like a ring of feather falling. However, it also makes the wearer clumsy. She suffers a -4 penalty to Dexterity and has a 20% chance of spell failure for all arcane spells that require a somatic component. (Note: This chance of spell failure stacks with other types of arcane spell failure chances.)
Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Forge Ring, Feather Fall, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 500 gp.
Scarab of Death
This small pin appears to be any one of the various beneficial amulets, brooches, or scarabs. However, if it is held for more than 1 round or placed within a soft container (bag, pack, etc.) within 1 foot of a warm, living body for 1 minute, it changes into a horrible burrowing beetlelike creature. The thing tears through any leather or cloth, burrows into flesh, and reaches the victim's heart in 1 round, causing death. A Reflex save (DC 25) allows the wearer to tear the scarab away before it burrows out of sight, but he still takes 3d6 points of damage. The beetle then returns to its scarab form. Note that placing the scarab in a container of hard wood, ceramic, bone, ivory or metal prevents the monster from coming to life and allows for long-term storage of the item.
Caster Level: 19th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Slay Living; Market Price: 80,000 gp.
Shrouds of Disintegration:
These burial wrappings are indistinguishable from shrouds of the holy; however, the body placed inside is turned to dust when the command word is spoken. The magic of the shrouds is useable only once, after which the wrapping becomes ordinary, fine cloth.
Caster Level: 11th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Disintegrate; Market Price: 6,600 gp; Weight: 10 lbs.
Spear, Cursed Backbiter
This is a +2 shortspear, but each time it is used in melee against a foe and the attack roll is a natural 1, it damages its wielder instead of her intended target. When the curse takes effect, the spear curls around to strike its wielder in the back, automatically striking her for normal damage. The curse even functions when the spear is hurled, but in that case the damage to the hurler is doubled.
Caster Level: 10th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Bestow Curse; Market Price: 2,000 gp.
Stone of Weight (Loadstone)
This stone appears to be a dark, smoothly polished stone. It reduces the possessor's speed to one-half of normal. Furthermore, once picked up, the stone cannot be disposed of by any nonmagical means - if it is thrown away or smashed, it reappears somewhere on his person. If a remove curse spell is cast upon a loadstone, the item may be discarded normally and no longer haunts the individual.
Caster Level: 5th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, slow; Market Price: 1,000 gp.
-2 Sword, Cursed
This longsword gives off a magical aura and performs well against targets in practice, but when used against an opponent in combat, it penalizes its wielder's attack rolls by -2. Only by careful observation can this penalty be detected.
All damage dealt is also reduced by 2 points, but never below a minimum of 1 point of damage on any successful hit. After one week in the character's possession, the sword always forces her to employ it rather than another weapon. The sword's owner automatically draws and fights with it even when she meant to draw or ready some other weapon. It can be gotten rid of only by means of limited wish, wish, or miracle.
Caster Level: 15th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Bestow Curse, and Limited Wish or Miracle; Market Price: 1,500 gp.
This performs by every test, except that of the heat of battle, as a +2 greatsword. However, in actual battle its wielder goes berserk (gaining all benefits and drawbacks of a barbarian rage). He attacks the nearest creature and continues to fight until unconscious or dead or until no living thing remains within 30 feet. Although many see this sword as a curse, others see it as a boon.
Caster Level: 8th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Feeblemind; Market Price: 17,SOO gp.
A book of this sort is identical in appearance to a normal one on some mildly interesting topic, although a detect magic spell reveals it to have a magical aura. Any character who opens the work and reads so much as a single glyph therein must make two Will saving throws (DC 15 each). The first is to determine if 1 point of Intelligence is permanently drained, The second is to find out if 2 points of Wisdom are permanently drained. To destroy the book, a character must burn it while casting Remove Curse. If the grimoire is placed with other books, its appearance instantly alters to conform to the look of these other works.
Caster Level: 20th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item Feeblemind; Market Price: 6,000 gp.
Behind The Curtain: Putting Cursed Items In Your Game
Some DMs decide not to use cursed items because they complicate the discovery process, since everyone is nervous about trying to use a new item. Other DMs include them for a variation of the same reason: Discovering new items becomes more exciting, because there's always at least a minor hint of danger.
Items with requirements and drawbacks force players to make difficult decisions, which makes for interesting roleplaying opportunities: "Do I want the +5 sword, even though it occasionally makes me attack my friends?" "Do I keep the rod of curing, even though it puts me at -1 to attacks, saves, and checks?"
Don't give out a lot of cursed items that characters can't get rid of - that only becomes annoying to players. While some cursed items are meant to hassle the players a little, too much annoyance detracts from fun game play. Once a player has figured out that her character has a cursed item, most of the time she should just be able to rid herself of it.
And of course, some cursed items aren't really that bad. Dust of sneezing and choking, once it's identified, can be a potent weapon. Some, players who identify cursed items for what they really are will still try to think of some use for them. Some DMs assume that players automatically discard cursed items, which is not necessarily the case. Expect most to do so, but don't step on the creativity of those who think of some ingenious use for a cursed item.
Some of the items on the regular magic item tables have drawbacks or limitations but aren't mentioned in this section. That's because either the item is still so good to have that no one would think twice about using it, or the item is too interesting to automatically exclude it from a campaign, even if cursed items aren't used.