Curse (Action)

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Heroic Action Role-Play

Certain powers and schticks are categorized as curses. A curse is a great and terrible power that alters your life drastically. Sometimes, the GM will invoke curses for other reasons; as fumble effects on powers, as side-effects of experimentation or rituals, and so on. Obviously, curses serve well as adventure hooks.

Curses are do not wear off on their own, but can be negated by performing the correct deeds. This might involve some semi-impossible tasks, like taking a quest, making a net out of nettles and throwing it over the victim, or learning the secret name of a demon and speaking it backwards, . An important part of the cure is simply learning what must be done.

A curse is normally an obstacle to overcome, and breaking the curse before the end if the Story is normal. If a curse lasts past the end of a Story, the character should take steps to represent the effect of the curse, most commonly using Limitations.

Two-Step Process

There are several steps involved in removing a curse. First, you must find the inspiration and learn what to do. This generally requires a power-user, the various Dispel powers can give this information, but it is possible to find it in other ways; power skill rolls or Know skill rolls, prophetic dreams, or simple investigation. In general, this is the easy part.

Second, you must actually do the deed. Depending on the needs of the campaign and your character's resources, this can be easy or hard. Sometimes a curse has no particular role to play in the story, and removal is simply a matter of bathing in the correct temple pool or being kissed. But in many ways, this is a waste of a good adventure hook; even if the task is relatively trivial, it can be used to advance the story or fuel character development. Bathing in a holy spring is a less-impressive curse-breaker than to bathe in the holy spring of Diana at Dodona, and the later also works better as an introduction for a subplot.

The deed itself might involve further research. If the deed is to find a name or a secret, the methods are similar to those that let you learn what to do. Only now, the patent solutions provided by Dispel powers no longer work.

Specific Measures

The tasks required to break a curse can be tricky for the GM to come up with. Consider what the curse does and, perhaps most important, what it's origin is.

Magic Origin

In many ways, this is the easiest origin. When we think of curses, we think of the magic origin, and there are plenty of stories about curses and curse-breaking. Often, you need to learn something about the caster and do some symbolic deed related either to the curse or to yourself. Defeating the creature that placed the curse usually removes this kind of curse.

Gifts Origin

Gifts curses are personal, and the solution is often to find a person; either one of similar or opposite gifts, or one that is free from the kind of temptation the gift represents. Gift curse-breaking can also be a quest of personal enlightenment and insight. Some gift-users lean towards another origin; a sprite leans towards magic, a mutant leans towards technology, an angel towards spirituality. If this is the case for either the accursed or the curse-giver, the solution might resemble that of the other origin. Defeating the creature that placed the curse usually removes this kind of curse.

Spiritual Origin

Spiritual curses often require that you reexamine your faith. You must either atone to the divine agency that gave you the curse, or firmly align yourself with another, opposite faith. Note that philosophic world-views, such as atheism, can qualify as faiths for this purpose. Defeating the curser or forcing him to recant can also work, but spiritual curse-users are often fanatics.

Note that it is wise to thread carefully on a character's beliefs; this is a very personal matter and forcing a decision on such matters can antagonize players.

Technology Origin

Technology curses are impersonal, effects of science gone wrong. Things we can see as the curses of technology are radiation sickness, disease, electrical sensitivity, tinnitus, vertigo, stress disorders, and alienation. As technology grows into the manifold possibilities of the Technology Origin, the potential results when it goes wrong (or is deliberately used to harm) also grows. The cure for such ailments might require that you take a position on technological issues; either you withdraw from using technology for a time (or even permanently), or you seek a technological solution and scientific treatment, which makes you even more dependent on technology, perhaps even in the form of a prosthetic or life-support device.