Excerpt: Item Curses

In past editions I never used cursed items unless a pre-published adventure specifically mentioned them because in most cases they were a minor nuisance; any party with a cleric could basically get rid of it after taking a nap, assuming that no one had a remove curse spell prepared/scroll on hand (if the item even required it). Of course if your campaigns ever cranked it up to 11, then analyze dweomer became an option and cursed items stopped being a liability (which was just keeping in theme with older-edition magic's ability to just side-step problems entirely).

4th Edition's model for curses is making them category specific item properties that can never be detected, and remain dormant until the curses's trigger is met. For example a periapt of foul rotting acts normal until you take a specific amount of damage, at which point it infects you with a disease. So, pretty similar to how 3rd Edtion operated, but easier to apply to items. The key difference is that once you figure out that an item is bad, you can try to strip away the curse and "fix" them with the same Arcana check, making them much easier to deal with than in past editions.

I have only just started including cursed items in my Heirs of Ruin campaign, partially because I feel that it fits with Dark Sun's concept of magic as a flawed art, but also because I wanted to try and make my players make some hard choices; yeah, those iron armbands give you a damage bonus, but when you are bloodied they give you a damage penalty. I had intended to give players opportunities to restore them to normal, but with a bit more effor than a simple, low-risk skill check.

Really this is only issue I have with item curses as I currently understand them, and and will rule in most cases that must have access to Enchant Item and/or need to go on quests in order to change some cursed items back to normal. At the least, they are going to have to choose between living with the curse or burning ritual components.

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