Summoning the Terrasque
and other curses.
By MARK WILSON
I like the concept of cursed items, but in practice I have a hard time executing them believably at my table. It often seems arbitrary, like I’m punishing the players simply because I’m an antagonistic DM (which I’m not…usually).
So I have a proposal for a type of curse that I think is easier to run effectively. I don’t know where I heard the idea originally. I doubt I came up with it on my own. But here it is:
Taking, attuning to, or unlocking an item either releases an entity that is set on your destruction, or inspires in them the desire for revenge.
I don’t necessarily need this to be magical. Maybe it’s a priceless family heirloom, and the family happens to be lycanthropes. Or maybe it’s a Rahkshasa’s last vestige of a long-lost lover. In taking the item, you inspire a thirst for revenge in them.
I could also see this as being plot-based. Maybe the party needs the magical crown of the king to complete the ritual that will send the demon lord back to the Abyss, but in doing so, they’ll be banished or hunted by the kingdom.
“Taking, attuning to, or unlocking an item either releases an entity that is set on your destruction, or inspires in them the desire for revenge.“
Lastly, I don’t think this “curse” needs to be secretive, even if it is magical. Perhaps what the party needs resides behind a locked vault. But in opening the vault, they’ll awaken a great evil that will attempt to destroy them. So they have to make the decision: do we do the thing and summon a Terrasque that hates us (or whatever else), or try to find another solution?
These are interesting conflicts to me, because they create meaningful decisions with impactful consequences. So the next time you roll to curse an item randomly, or decide to place one in your campaign deliberately, spare a thought for how this type of “curse” might affect play moving forward.