Rules | GM Screen

<- Return to All Rules (Group by Source)
<- Return to Horror Rules

All Rules in Horror Rules

+ An entry marked with this has additional sections within it.


Source Horror Adventures pg. 138
Curses are among the oldest and most deeply feared types of magic. They linger far beyond the original malicious words or grave deeds that spawned them. Although the most wellknown and easily broken types of curses are spells, others are afflictions, from the notorious curse of lycanthropy to foul mummy rot and the esoteric death curse of the linnorm. All the new curses presented in this section are afflictions and share certain features as a result.

This section includes new curses, as well as several curse variants. It also provides advice for using all kinds of curses in your game, including guidelines on creating them.

Curses in your Game

Source Horror Adventures pg. 138
Curses can afflict characters in a variety of ways, but because they are perniciously difficult to remove, the tone of the game can shift if they appear often. Most curses—especially those that require more than a simple remove curse spell to eliminate—should be used to add a significant and memorable challenge or as a consequence for a momentous choice. A relentless torrent of curses reduces their mystique while dramatically hampering a party’s effectiveness, potentially removing the PCs’ ability to deal with encounters of appropriate Challenge Ratings.

Curse Spells

Source Horror Adventures pg. 138
Many spells can place curses on unfortunate victims. Their effects are usually simple and can be ended with the right spell (but never dispel magic). All curse spells have the curse descriptor. The most well-known is bestow curse, which allows the caster to invent her own effect in line with the listed options (no worse than a 50% chance of losing actions, a –4 penalty on checks, or a –6 penalty to an ability score). Effects in line with that power level include the following, though ultimately they are limited only by the caster’s imagination and the GM’s discretion.
    When the victim is adjacent to the area of a damaging spell or spell-like effect (even one he created himself ), the area expands to include the victim. The victim can’t heal naturally, and magical healing heals the victim by only half the usual amount (minimum 1 point). The victim’s fast healing and regeneration, if any, are likewise halved. The victim is plagued by cacophonous sounds and strobing lights that only she can hear and see. She is distracted (–5 penalty on Perception checks), cannot take 10 on skill checks, and must succeed at a concentration check (DC = 20 + spell level) to successfully cast spells. Any time the victim picks up or retrieves an object (including drawing a weapon or ammunition), there is a 50% chance that she immediately drops it. If she drops ammunition while attempting to make a ranged attack, that particular attack is lost.

    Save DCs: The stat block for a curse lists the save DC. For curses that can be created by a spell, this usually represents the minimum DC. If a spell is used to create a curse in your game, calculate the DC using the caster’s ability score and the spell level as normal.

    Optional Rule: Spontaneous Curses

    Although spellcasters can curse targets more easily than others, in times of great emotion and the need for vengeance, other creatures can channel divine or arcane energy to create a spontaneous curse. A curse can be improvised only under great stress, whether by the deepest indignity, seething hatred, cold revenge, or as a dying act (all at the GM’s discretion), though in any case, never more than once in a month. Spontaneous curses are most commonly placed upon those who violate a taboo or a sacred or unholy place. Sometimes gods or other supernatural beings curse mortals who fail tests of character or who trespass where they are not welcome.

    If the GM allows a creature to place a spontaneous curse, that creature must have at least 5 ranks in Knowledge (arcana) or (religion). Such a creature can attempt to use a curse with a listed DC less than or equal to 10 + its number of ranks in the skill. Creatures with a curse ability, as well as some creatures closely associated with curses (such as angels, fey, hags, and undead), can curse a target without meeting this requirement. Improvising a curse reduces the cursing creature’s Charisma score by 2, and this decrease remains as long as the curse lasts; the cursing creature cannot dismiss its improvised curse.

    Creating New Curses

    Source Horror Adventures pg. 140
    Curses needn’t be limited to the effects listed under Afflictions. When designing a new curse, though, be careful not to go too far. A devastating curse can have consequences as serious as dying or being turned to stone. Certainly, horrific curses that promise immediate and inescapable doom have their place, but curses that can be endured for a time bring far more horror to the table, as struggling under the curse can lead to more tension than instant death would bring, while surviving and escaping such a curse can become an adventure all its own. Consider these guidelines when creating a curse.

    Make It Logical: A character generally doesn’t get cursed for minding her own business. More often, the victim meddled with powerful forces, disturbed an ancient grave, or even wronged a vengeful fortune-teller. Try to fit the curse to the act that brought it on, like a glutton being unable to eat, a bigot becoming the target of his bigotry, or a tomb robber burning in the light of day.

    Make It Interesting: A boring curse isn’t worth the game time it consumes. A good curse should be creepy, comical, embarrassing, or terrifying, and it helps to have a good story behind it.

    Make It Interactive: Some curses require the players and GM to roleplay effects such as an inability to lie or a compulsion to steal. This sort of curse can be very rewarding with a motivated group, as possible effects could extend far beyond what game mechanics decree.

    Make It Simple: A good curse has easy-to-handle mechanics. Most curses should have only one or two effects, and should be possible to resolve during play. Avoid the need to reference complicated effects during combat. Failing that, prepare an index card with the curse’s details that you can use as an easy reference.

    Cursed Items

    Source Horror Adventures pg. 142
    The Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Equipment describe many kinds of cursed magic items. These cursed items most commonly result from something going horribly wrong during the creation of a normal magic item. However, it is also possible for such items to carry a curse to punish a death or to be the result of intentional malice. Cursed items are often most pernicious and difficult to thwart when created to hurt a particular foe.

    Cursed Land

    Source Horror Adventures pg. 143
    Cursed land is a region marked by divine judgment, scarred by a great tragedy, or wounded by intentional malice. Common causes of such a regional curse include undead hauntings in the area, a grave transgression by the inhabitants that offends a powerful spirit or god, and large-scale killing or destruction that demands justice. They can also be artificially created with spells, such as curse of night, curse of fell seasons, and the curse terrain spells. A regional curse has an area in addition to the features all curses have. All regional curses have a DC for the purpose of removing the curse, but many of their effects allow no saving throw. When casting remove curse to remove a regional curse, the caster treats the land as an object and typically needs to be at the center of the emanation or at some other location closely tied to the curse.

    Sometimes, a creature’s punishment curse and a land’s curse are the same. A cursed lord is a creature trapped by a cursed realm. The cursed lord gains power over the realm, but is incapable of leaving unless the curse is somehow broken, which usually involves killing or redeeming the cursed lord. Characters can accomplish this only by enacting very specific circumstances, similar to the restrictions placed upon the destruction of artifacts. For example, a cursed realm might trap a villainous cursed lord who profited by selling false maps to escaped slaves and refugees, who then drowned while attempting to cross a river at a nonexistent ford; the realm would be impossible to free from the stain of his heinous crime until he is slain and his body is placed in the river by a former slave.

    Curse Templates

    Source Horror Adventures pg. 143
    Some curses function in an unusual fashion compared to others. The following section presents several templates that can be applied to any curse to represent variants of that curse. These templates function similarly to templates that can be applied to creatures, and you could potentially apply several templates to the same curse to create a truly horrifying effect.

    Contagious Curse

    Effect In addition to the curse’s normal effect, the curse is transmissible to other creatures by a particular means. This could be similar to transmission methods for a disease, or it could be something more esoteric, such as by song or love.

    Cure The accursed creature’s attempts to remove its own curse with magic automatically fail, though other creatures can do so as normal. Whatever its other means of transmission, a creature attempting to cure the original creature’s curse with magic is automatically exposed to the curse and must succeed at a saving throw to avoid being afflicted by it.

    Death Curse

    Effect A death curse usually occurs upon the deaths of linnorms, some fey, or hags, but other creatures can also curse their killers. The save DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 the creature’s Hit Dice + the creature’s Charisma modifier, rather than the curse’s normal DC. A death curse’s effect is the same as the original curse, and the effect tends to vary based on the cursing creature’s HD.

    Cure In addition to the standard cures, the first time that the creature who placed the death curse returns to life, the accursed creature receives a new saving throw to break the curse. If the accursed contributes to this resurrection, she receives a +4 bonus on this saving throw.

    HDDeath Curse
    1–5Minor haunting or weeping wound
    6–10Bestow curse, major haunting, or tormenting visions
    11–15Doom of the hunted, shattered self, or unluck
    16–20Greater doom of the hunted or sealed fate

    Generational Curse

    Effect In addition to cursing the original target creature, this curse continues to curse the target’s children, and their children, and so on across multiple generations. It is possible it might carry on only to certain children (such as daughters or firstborn children).

    Cure Generational curses can usually be cured only by special means, though the extinction of a family line also is able to end its threat. Even if remove curse can cure the curse on an individual target, it doesn’t stop the generational curse from affecting future generations, which must deal with the curse in their own manner.