Curses, in most recent iterations of dnd, are incredibly boring. I realized a long time ago that to make the game fun and interesting for myself and the players involved, I needed to go in and do a little extra work. I’m sure a lot of you will say ‘these rules are game breaking,’ but I really don’t care about any of that. DnD curses are boring. These curses are going to be dark and twisted: just how I like them. Below are my homebrew rules for curses. These are only the first curses that’ll be incorporated into my games. I’ve got ideas for more later. I’ll share when I have them down on paper. I hope you enjoy!
Only the Maleficar and the Magic User can use curses. These things should be really difficult to come by. They also should be very dangerous to use because they’re so powerful. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t use this for a villain in a campaign, I just wouldn’t drop it in a random library for the first adventurer to find… or would I…
So first thing’s first, you need the components. A lot of these aren’t going to be lying around in a components pouch, because that shit’s lame. Most of these you’re going to need to go out into the wide world and find. When you have the components, and you have a secluded space, you’re ready to begin the ritual. Again, it’s strongly advised to have a SECLUDED SPACE. I’m not talking about an Inn where some plebe is going to walk in on you all half mast. I mean out in the wilderness, in some dark ancient tomb. This is because if you’re disturbed in any way, there’s a good chance the curse will backfire on you. Anyone else within the vicinity will probably suffer an agonizing death as well. However, in the event of a backfire, the caster must Save vs Magic. If worst comes to worse, and the curse backfires, Cast the Bones. If you succeed, the components get burned away in a vibrant flash of light and smoke. Nothing else happens. If you fail, it’s probably going to end badly.
I decided to leave a lot of these open ended to give the referee room to wiggle when it comes to their specific rulings. Obviously, this is all homebrew, so steal, change, and/or use whatever you want; these just work for me.
If you’re going to use this for 5e or pathfinder, just change the ‘save vs magic’ to any ol applicable save. If you’re going to use it for Savage Worlds… you’re on your own...
Curses go up to 4 Tiers, and are more powerful the higher the Tier. The trade off to this is they’re more fickle the higher the tier. However, *any level caster can bestow a curse from any tier… but the question lies, can one handle that kind of power? If one attempts to bestow a curse that is beyond their power/knowledge, they must then save vs magic at a -2 every tier above their own [tier].
Eg: A 1st level Maleficar tries to use Rivers of Blood. She must make a save vs magic at a -6 penalty at the beginning of the ritual. Oops, she failed the the roll, and automatically rolls the bones. Now she turned into a pile of steaming goo.
Below I have a rough breakdown of the tiers:
Tier Level Requirement* General Effects
1st Tier 1st- 4th individuals, small objects, etc...
2nd Tier 5th -9th families, multiple people, generations.
3rd Tier 10th -14th towns, small cities
4th Tier 15th- 20th permanent changes to geography
A curse may be empowered by using the lunar cycles and planetary alignments. Some curses may even require them as a component
Casting Time: 12 hours
Components: Arcane Circle (Item worn by victim, rat blood, snake venom, sage, 1 gp)
Duration: Until the hand is removed
Save vs magic or the victim’s hand loses feeling and falls limp after an hour or so. After a week, the hand begins to gain a mind of it's own. The only remedy is to remove the hand.
Casting Time: 1 day
Components: Iron Cauldron, red with heat(Clothing worn by victim, bottled breath of a dying man, pinch of sand, gnomes nose, 1sp)
Duration: until curse is removed
The victim must save vs magic or begin to become a hideous shadow of what it once was. Their skin and begins sloughing off of the body, their teeth and nails fall out as well.This progresses over the course of weeks, or months.
Casting Time: 12 hours or more
Range: 3 miles
Components: V, C, Arcane Circle(Pinch of salt, lock of victims hair or piece of fabric worn by victim, fresh eyeball, water, 1 sp)
Duration: Until caster dies
Save vs Magic or the victim is compelled to mutilate itself in it's sleep. It systematically gets worse over weeks and months. Save vs magic fights off urges for 12 hours.
Casting Time: 12 Hours
Components: Arcane Circle(Pinch of dried bat blood, Article of clothing or hair from victim, copper shavings)
Duration: Until Curse is removed
Save vs magic or the victim’s tongue shrivels up and falls out of their mouth, turning into a pile of flies and maggots as it hits the ground.
Casting Time: 1 week
Components: Apple, nightshade root, willo-o-whisp dust
Duration: Until dispelled
The Maleficar curses the apple into a tool of control. Once the victim takes a bite of the apple, they fall into a magical sleep, bypassing immunities to magical sleep. Only one person can be cursed in this manner at a time. Save vs Magic negates the effect. On a successful save, the apple turns into blood and maggots into the mouth of the victim.
Casting Time: 1 Hour(Ritual)
Range: Same plane of existence
Components: Arcane Circle(Coffee bean, silver coin, Lock of hair from victim)
Duration: Until curse is removed or objective is met
The victim is sent into a murderous frenzy with only one objective in mind: killing the one they love most, only then does the curse lift. Save vs magic the first time negates the effect. On a failed save, the victim must save vs magic every 12 hours to fights off urges.
Casting Time: 1 day
Range: 1 mile
Components: Arcane Circle (Blood from a demon, 1 gold coin, teeth from newborns relative, boiled cat tail)
Duration: Cannot be undone
The fetus is imbued with the blood from a demon. The child shows signs early on by their sadistic nature and horrendous temperament. However, before it reaches adulthood, the child will murder it’s family and go to the one that created it.
Casting Time: 1 Week
Components: Iron Cauldron(A strip of human skin, pinch of animal fur, glass shards, black mushroom cap, water)
Duration: Until curse is lifted
The victim must Save vs magic 3 times in 3 days, or he begins to turn into a creature dreamt up by the caster. On the first failed save, the victim begins to feel uneasy, like they’re being watched at all times. On the second failed save, the victim feels a call to them, from beyond the veil. On the third and final failed save, the victim loses his mind fully, and disappears into the night. If the victim gets 3 successful saves before 3 failed, the curse is broken.
The transformation is in stages that takes over a month to complete. By the end, the creatures goes to you and is under your control. The nightmare can increase one ability score by 2, and must choose to lower one ability score by 2. The creature has no magical abilities, but can be added later under the referee’s discretion.
Casting Time: 1 week
Components: Arcane Circle, Ending the Ritual on a Full-Moon, (Child to be sacrificed, Bar of gold worth 400 gp as an offering to whatever dark god you seek the favor from, pig feces, 1 pound of flies, and putrid water )
Duration: Until the caster dies
You create a contagious plague that begins where you see fit. You must create the epicenter by physically touching it: person, water supply, food resource, etc… Once the curse takes effect, the grain begins to wilt and spread the disease, livestock dies, and people grow boils and blisters all over their bodies. The first to die are within a few weeks. Eg: the bubonic plague
Rivers of Blood
Casting Time: 2 weeks
Components: Arcane circle, Solar Eclipse(gold bar worth 200gp, river rock, living locust, iron shavings, pinch of leather)
Duration: Until dispelled or the caster is killed
All rivers and streams in a radius of up to 100 square miles turn to blood. The water, at first, is still drinkable but tastes of copper and smells of rot. Anyone who consumes the water after a certain time set by the caster must make a save vs poison or die(this effect is a placeholder, it can really be anything).
Cast in Darkness
Casting Time: 3 weeks
Range: same plane of existence
Components: Arcane Circle, The totality of a Solar Eclipse (discarded gum wrapper, a small doll, a crushed button worth at least 1cp)
Duration: Until dispelled
The sun itself get's blotted out as if obscured by a celestial object. Once the moon passes, the sun stays as black as it was during the actual eclipse. Everything is dark. Creatures of the night reign supreme, once again.