- The character cannot turn right until the curse is lifted.
- Characters feet always sink at least 1 inch into any surface they walk on (the at least accounts for walking on water, as in if they try to walk on water they sink normally)
- All [food] type becomes tasteless (meat, vegetables, fruit)
- When the character fires a ranged weapon, the ammunition always breaks on impact (no effect on damage)
- Until the curse is lifted, when the character falls to 0hp, roll a D100. If you roll equal to or below the CR of the creature that cursed you, you instantly die.
- A player must close every door they walk through, even if there are people behind them.
- A player's weapon becomes lodged inside the body of their enemy after any stab attack, a strength check (DC 15) is needed to free the weapon.
- A player's weapons become twice as heavy, requiring two actions to strike once, until the curse is lifted.
- A player is stalked by an imp, who simply follows him, saying nothing, always staring. No one else can see the imp.
- The player's backpack is enchanted, to always give the player an item they needed in the past, but never what they will need in the future or present.
- The next item the cursed player grabs is bound to them forever, they can never get rid of it.
- Everytime the cursed character kills someone stealthily, the slain thing lets out an incredibly loud scream that can be heard from 500 ft away, even if it wouldn't be possible for the dead thing to scream.
- Character takes on the appearance and smell of being undead, but isn't.
- Characters must only answer questions with lies, unless they are asked about the reason for their behaviour (ex: "are you cursed?" "Are you lying on purpose?") In which case they must respond in the affirmative.
- Characters must agree to every suggestion or request made within 30 feet of them. Curse is broken after a week.
- The cursed character takes 1 damage whenever a creature within 30 feet of them takes any damage.
- Character cannot willingly kill/spare the life of any living creature (choose depending on character personality).
- Character becomes incapable of visually perceiving living creatures.
- Characters low-light vision and high-light vision switch (i.e. sunlight is effectively dark, but can see areas in shadow as if they were brightly lit).
- Roll a d100. After the amount of dies shown on dice, the character explodes for (as per a 5th level Fireball) the next time they take a long rest, then is immediately put under the effects of a Reincarnation spell. The cycle continues until a Wish spell dispels it.
- Character is struck with blindness, but can accurately identify objects by taste through the air up to 60 feet away.
- Butt switches place with face. Switches every time either orifice expels any substance.
- Your CHA stat becomes your CHAR stat, determining your effectiveness at cooking up a mean barbeque. Reflavour spells and skill checks accordingly.
- When the target of the curse next goes to sleep, they dream of a burning lake. The dreams progress, becoming nightmares over time. The target instinctively becomes aware of the direction of the lake, and must save vs Wis or spend that day trying to reach the lake. The target must save every day to prevent the condition progressing, taking a penalty to mental rolls for every stage it advances. To completely recover, the target must make 3 saves in a row, if they fail a save it regresses to its initial condition, and if they fail 3 times in a row the target becomes maddened until they reach the lake. Upon reaching the lake they will see it is not engulfed in flames, and will take d6 Psychic damage for the number of days they have been affected by the urges.
- The first ritual performed after being cursed succeeds instantly, but when they next sleep the target must save vs. Con. If they fail, their skin dries and their body catches alight, taking d6 damage per turn. The fire can be put out by magical or mundane conventions.
- The cursed begins aging at 5 years an hour. When they reach 100 years, they die, and an infant crawls from their body’s clothing. It continues to age at the same rate until it reaches 20. Same character, same memories.
- As the curse is activated, the target's hands detach from their wrists and scuttle away, and new hands grow in their place. For the rest of the day, every time they cast a spell, the same thing happens. The hands remain animate until destroyed, and will do their best to make terrible mischief.
- A thunderous voice narrates everything the cursed does, says, or thinks for the next d4 hours.
- For the next d4 days, every time the cursed attempts to speak, including to cast a spell, they must Save vs Int or instead deliver a lengthy and discursive monologue on: 1: bean cultivation; 2: the daily schedule of an emperor who died thousands of years ago; 3: the spiritual beliefs of spiders; 4: the life cycle of the cherub; 5: the various manias, phobias, or perversions of the nearest, most powerful monarch; 6: the correct method of preparing, storing, and administering a heretofore unknown and spectacularly deadly poison; 7: the best tourist destinations in the nearest village; 8: famous fish poets; 9: the dangers of breathing; 10: the magical properties of cheese; On a repeated roll, the target must continue their lecture from where they left off before.
- Until the curse is lifted the character constantly sniffs and has a runny nose. Disadvantage on stealth, persuasion and deception checks.
- Character can not control the volume at which he speaks. Player rolls a D6 every time their character speaks, even rolls are spoken in a whisper, odd rolls are shouting.
- Animals and children are always aware of your presence and are able to locate you without difficulty.
- "Curse of Popularity" - In populated area with non-hostile NPCs, everyone knows who you are and will not leave you alone. Roll a charisma check/save (DC varies). If failed, you are viewed in an unfavorable light. If passed, you are viewed in a favorable one.
- Everytime a player deals damage the same amount is reflected back to a random party member.
- All food and drink consumed immediately tastes of rotten flesh a successful fortitude save of DC 15 can overcome this taste.
- Whenever the PC comes into a hallway/corridor they are compelled to Sprint at full speed to the end. Will save to resist at DMs discretion.
- The PC must only speak in rhyme.
- The PC gains a new fear based on popular vote of the party until dispelled.
- All the player's equipment glows brightly for 24 hours. All of it.
- The player becomes magnetic.
- It is always raining in a 5ft cube around the player. The intensity randomly varies from a drizzle to a downpour and can exist even underwater or indoors.
- The character finds themselves unable to open any containers or doors which require a twisting motion.
- The character perceives traps everywhere where none exist.
- The cursed becomes lactose intolerant. Consuming any dairy leads to 1d4 hour(s) of insufferable gas & diarrhea.
- The player must compulsively juggle items any time the player has two or more of an object in easy reach. DC 10+the number of items being juggled Acrobatics check, or an item gets dropped, with appropriate consequences.
- Boots squeak loudly with each step.
- Effects of alcohol are heavily amplified, so that even drinking one drop of a fairly weak alcoholic beverage will make the PC drunk. Drinking a full glass of a strong alcoholic beverage could potentially cause death.
- All of the PC's armor and clothing teleported off their body and always floats just out of reach. Any attempt to put on other clothing or armor produces the same effect.
- Character's known languages are randomly determined after a long rest. Roll 1d8 per standard language known & 1d8 per exotic language known. You decide whether to exclude common from these rolls or not.
- After a long rest a random amount of GP the character is carrying is randomly changed to an amount of either Electrum, Silver or Copper pieces of the same worth, increasing number of coins. eg. (1d20 Amount, Roll 1d6 to determine type) Won't take long for pockets to become overflowing if character doesn't spend loose change.
- Any divination spells where the caster or target is within a certain range of a character are retargeted to that character.
- The cursed begins to weep tears of blood uncontrollably, reducing their hit point maximum by 1 for every hour the curse remains active. The cursed dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.
- The cursed is compelled to repeat the last word of each sentence they say 3 times, each time speaking a little bit softer than the last. If the curse remains active for more than 24 hours, the cursed is compelled to dramatically flick their hands open and closed with each echo.
- Cursed characters are hated by all cats until cured. Every cat will hiss and attempt to swipe and bite the character. Irregardless of the cat is successful or not the cat will run away and hide. If the cat is successful in the attack any wounds caused will not heal (even with healing spells and potions) and will continuously weep foul smelling pus.
- The character cannot be convinced by any means that magic exists. They rationalize magical events away by using insane, impossible logic.
- The character believes themselves to have swapped bodies with the nearest person. Nothing has happened.
- One of the character's limbs no longer has any bones. It flops around uselessly until the bones have successfully regrown in 1d4 days.
- The character is unable to sleep when others are sleeping in a 60' radius.
- Once the character has fallen asleep they cannot be awoken by any non-magical means until 8 hours have passed.
- The character must consume 1d4+1 times the amount of food and drink a normal person does do sustain themselves. They experience terrible thirst and hunger pains. Treat as exhaustion if they do not actively maintain this regimen.
- The character cannot see anyone within 10 feet of them.
- The character finds a wooden spoon in their bag. Every time they retrieve an item they find another wooden spoon. Every time they investigate an area they find another wooden spoon. Every time the search a body they find another wooden spoon. If they intentionally attempt to locate, retrieve, or use a spoon the task is impossible.
- Incapable of ignoring direct orders given to their person.
- When splashed with cold water transforms the character into the opposite gender. Warm water temporarily reverses the transition.
- Must make one significant lie per day.
- Automatically fails all swimming checks; it's as if the character weights 10 times their normal weight while in water.
- Turned into a lycanthrope... with the form of a rabbit.
- All creatures of a specific species are invisible to the character.
- A perpetually magical darkness surrounds the character for 25 feet. It is transmittable by touch.
- When killed for the first time each day, the wounds heal and they instead stabilize. If they are not killed once a day, they are permanently slain.
- Makes an unarmed attack against themselves whenever they say 'what'.
- Characters ears and eyes switch place. PC cannot look straight ahead. This lasts until the next full day ends.
- PC summons a little foot tall naked man with a hat that goofs around and makes as much noise as possible. Everyone can hear him and see his impact in the area, but cannot see him. He has no name and will not speak back. He just speaks in sounds and screams.
- PC thinks their eyes have the same effect as a beholder and use them as much as possible in combat.
- PCs teeth are as weak as glass.
- PCs weapon changes to the next material they touch.
- PC is followed by all bugs within 20 yards. (Bonus points if there are ant hills around).
- PC grows a mouth in their chest. You can feed the mouth but you do not know what it will do. Overtime the mouth will grow if unfed.
- PCs money all goes down a material (gold turns to silver) until curse is lifted. Copper turns into wooden toy coins that children would play with.
- All plants the PC touches turn to dust for the next week. (Bonus points if a druid gets this)
- All potions being held by PC give a delusion effect (example: PC thinks they are invisible but are not.)
- All damage given to the PC for the next 12 minutes are irreversible.
- The next person the PC touches switches all items.
- PC's armor or clothing (whichever applicable) is made entirely out of shards of glass magically held together.
- Character must kill one humanoid per week or die themselves.
- Character must read one book per week or die, it must be a book they have not read before.
- Every dawn, gravity reverses for the character for one hour.
- Whenever the character physically harms another sentient being the character must apologize.
- Whenever the character is on a sea vehicle of any kind the character vomits anything he/she eats and cannot sleep.
- The PCs hand's tense up, and are stuck in a fist until the curse is removed.
- The character's left and right hands, and/or left and right feet switch sides until the curse is lifted.
- This curse hardens all food this character tries to eat like stone, unless they have the correct eating utensil to eat it. (ie They need a spoon to eat soup, a fork to eat pie, a knife to cut meat, etc).
- The player believes that their mentor/parent has just died.
- The player receives at least one false vision from their deity a day.
- The cursed player can no longer fail the expectations of those they come across. (For example, if an NPC learns the player's name and they believe their name to be elfish, they will become an elf. If they expect that he is a weakling due to rumors they have heard of him losing an important fight, the player looses some of his strength. If they thought he would be taller, the character would become taller, etc...)
- The player is cursed to look down at the ground; they can no longer make eye contact with others, unless they are able to look down on them...
- Until this player's curse is lifted, as long as they wear shoes/boots, they will feel as if their feet are walking on burning hot coals.
- This player has been cursed to be afraid of the sun.
- This curse makes the player compelled to hug all characters they come across, even if it would be inappropriate or awkward.
- This curse makes the character forcibly say gibberish every time they cast a spell.
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Coming up with unique and interesting D&D backstory curses doesn’t need to be difficult. I’ve got a list of a hundred below and some information on how you can create your own unique RPG content at LitRPG Adventures, a powerful RPG generator and content library powered by GPT-3 from OpenAI. First, though, I hope you find this list of 100 curses you can use for your character backstory useful.
- 1) You are cursed to never die. You will never die of old age, and can only be killed by diety level foes.
- 2) You suffer from a curse that makes you smell like shit. everyone who gets within 10′ of you has to make a DC 15 constitution check or vomit.
- 3) You have a curse that makes everyone you know and love hate you.
- 4) You have a curse that makes you run around in circles for no reason every day when you’re in a stressful situation.
- 5) You have a curse that makes you forget your own name. You must go by the name “I Forget My Name”
- 6) You have a curse that makes it so you can never have sex with someone who doesn’t hate you.
- 8) You have a curse that makes you run around on all fours and bark like a dog.
- 9) You have a curse that makes it so that whenever you see a dog, you try to chase it.
- 10) You have a curse that gives you a permanent erection.
- 11) You have a curse that makes it so you must eat one pound of food every day. Or else.
- 12) You have a curse that makes it so you must paint everything black.
- 13) You have a curse that makes it so you can never look at the sun. And you’re always so angry, it burns everyone you try to talk to.
- 14) You have a curse that makes it so you can never look at the moon. And you’re always so sad, it makes everyone you try to talk to cry.
- 15) You have a curse that makes it so you have to travel everywhere by foot.
- 16) You have a curse that makes it so you can never look at a goat without tripping.
- 17) You have a curse that makes it so you’re magnetized to glass. And when you walk past a glass object, you get stuck to it for 5 minutes.
- 18) You have a curse that makes it so you only have one head. But you have multiple bodies that you switch between every minute.
- 19) You have a curse that makes it so you have to engage in a staring contest with everyone you meet.
- 20) You have a curse that makes it so you can only wear things on your head.
- 21) You are cursed to always be hungry. You can never have full belly.
- 22) You are cursed to only speak in geometric shapes.
- 23) You can only walk in a straight line.
- 24) You have a curse that makes you so cold, you turn everyone into an ice sculpture. You die if you get warm.
- 25) The curse that afflicts you is that you have a million identical copies of yourself, all of which are the same person, and all of which have their own identity, and all of which hate each other. They are spread throughout the world.
- 26) Your curse is that you can only talk in dirty limericks, and it’s impossible for you to say a sentence that doesn’t rhyme.
- 27) Your curse is that you can only say the word “no.” When you try to say anything else, you instead say “no.”
- 28) Your curse is that you must always take off your shirt in public.
- 29) Your curse is that you must always tell the truth.
- 30) Your curse is that you can see the auras of living things.
- 31) Your curse is that you can see the future, but you can’t do anything to change it.
- 32) You have been cursed. At dawn each day, you are compelled to tell a random person in the wilderness what you are most afraid of. Before sunset you must murder the person you told, and consume their heart. The curse will pass to the next person you talk to.
- 33) You have been cursed. At dawn and dusk each day, you must shed a tear for someone you’ve loved and lost in your life, and then slash your wrist with the weapon of their murderers.
- 34) You have been cursed. Whenever you are surprised, you drop your backpack and vomit a pile of gold worth 50 gp.
- 35) You have been cursed. Whenever you are surprised, you poop in your pants.
- 36) You have been cursed. Whenever you make a deal with a diety, you will be asked to sacrifice something you love on the spot.
- 37) You have been cursed. Whenever you enter a building, the front door swings shut and locks itself.
- 38) You have been cursed. Whenever you encounter a new creature, it must attack you.
- 39) You have been cursed. Whenever you encounter a new creature, it must attack you. And when it destroys your body, it will reform your body in front of you, and you have to go through the whole thing again.
- 40) The curse of your character is that no matter what happens, no matter what chaos or evil follows you, at the end, everything will return to normal, and everything will be fine again. Your curse is boredom.
- 41) Your curse is that you can’t die.
- 42) Your curse is that you can’t sleep.
- 43) Your curse is that you can’t feel pain.
- 44) Your curse is that you can’t feel anything.
- 45) Your curse is that you can’t speak.
- 46) Your curse is that you can’t stand still.
- 47) Your curse is that you can’t stay awake.
- 48) Your curse is that you can’t keep your hands to yourself.
- 49) Your curse is that you can’t look at someone without flirting with them.
- 50) Your curse is that you can’t not fight things.
- 51) You are cursed to forever wander the wilderness, and to always be cold and wet.
- 52) You are cursed to forever wander the wilderness, but never suffer any ill effects from the cold or wet.
- 53) No matter how much you try, you can never be polite.
- 54) You are cursed to forever wander the wilderness, and to become stronger and tougher the longer you stay out.
- 55) You are cursed to forever wander the wilderness, and the wilderness itself will always be out to get you.
- 56) Whenever you walk through a door, it slams shut behind you.
- 57) You have been cursed to forever wander the wilderness, and to lead the wildlife on hunts against civilisation.
- 58) You are cursed to forever wander the wilderness, and your shadow is malevolent and wants to kill you.
- 59) Whenever you talk to a new person, you must greet them by calling them “mother” or “father” if you dare.
- 60) You have been cursed to forever wander the wilderness, now and forever.
- 61) You have been cursed to forever wander the wilderness, and your family has been cursed as well.
- 62) You have been cursed to forever wander the wilderness, but you and your family are being hunted by the wilderness itself.
- 63) You have been cursed to forever wander the wilderness, but you and your family are being hunted by the wilderness itself, and it’s even more powerful than you are.
- 64) You have been cursed to forever wander the wilderness, and the wilderness itself is being hunted by an even mightier power.
- 65) You have been cursed to forever wander the wilderness, but you and your family are the powers that be, and you must hunt the wilderness.
- 66) You are cursed and will turn into a wolfman every fullmoon.
- 67) You are cursed and will turn into a wolfman every fullmoon, and it’s hereditary.
- 68) You are cursed and will turn into a wolfman every fullmoon, and it’s hereditary, but you and your family are the only lycanthropes in existence.
- 69) Your family is cursed to always be lycanthropes, but you are the first one in your history not to be a werewolf.
- 70) Your family is cursed to always be lycanthropes, and the only way to break the curse is to kill all the heirs.
- 71) You are cursed to sing at loud volumes in battle, even if it will give you and your allies away.
- 72) You are cursed to sing at loud volumes in battle, and if you ever sing in peace, you’ll go mad.
- 73) You are cursed to sing at loud volumes in battle, and the reason you fight is to be free of the curse.The curse will be broken if you can kill a thousand creatures in a single battle.
- 74) Your family was cursed to suffer from oddities, including but not limited to having an urge to laugh uncontrollably, uncontrollable sobbing, the need to lick everything, the urge to sing at loud volumes in battle, and the urge to run away from home every fullmoon.
- 75) You are cursed to be joined on your adventure by the spirit of your dead grandfather, but he is a loud, obnoxious, and generally unlikable person.
- 76) The curse you’re afflicted with is that you learn slow. You lose 10% of xp every time you get experience points.
- 77) The curse you’re afflicted with is that you forget fast. Your short-term memory is shot.
- 78) You are cursed to forever wander the wilderness, but you can only die at the hands of a human.
- 79) Your curse is that you must always do the opposite of what you want.
- 80) Your curse is that you must always do the opposite of what your friends want.
- 81) The curse you’ve been afflicted with is to always be hungry, but you can never be full.
- 82) The curse you’ve been afflicted with is to always be thirsty, but you can never be hydrated.
- 83) Your curse is that you can’t find any place you can call a peaceful home.
- 84) You are cursed to become violently ill when you drink ale, beer, or any alcoholic drink. Because of this, you’re often very irritable.
- 85) You are cursed and unable to eat any type of fresh fruit. If you do, you’ll be violently ill for a day and a half.
- 86) You are cursed and unable to eat any type of fresh vegetable. If you do, you’ll be violently ill for a day and a half.
- 87) You are cursed and unable to eat any type of fresh meat. If you do, you’ll be violently ill for a day and a half.
- 88) You are cursed and unable to eat any type of saltwater fish. If you do, you’ll be violently ill for a day and a half.
- 89) You are cursed and unable to eat any type of freshwater fish. If you do, you’ll be violently ill for a day and a half.
- 90) You are cursed and unable to walk on any surface that isn’t made of wood.
- 91) You are cursed that whatever you do with your magic will end up hurting yourself.
- 92) A year and a half ago, a witch cursed you. Now, you cannot help but seek out (and crave) food. This curse makes you unable to hold your hunger for more than a few hours, and it also makes you unable to resist any food.
- 93) Your curse is to become addicted to any substance you put into your mouth on the third day of using it.
- 94) A year and a half ago, a witch cursed you. Now, you cannot help but seek out (and crave) water. This curse makes you unable to hold your thirst for more than a few hours, and it also makes you unable to resist any beverage.
- 95) Your curse is to become addicted to any substance you put into your mouth on the third day of using it.
- 96) A year and a half ago, a vampire cursed you. Now, you must only drink the blood of the living. This curse makes you unable to hold your blood-thirst for more than a few hours, and it also makes you unable to resist any vampire’s commands.
- 97) As a young person, you were cursed by a mad wizard named Zan. He cursed you to suffer from spells of amnesia. Every night, between the hours of 2 AM and 6 AM, you are afflicted with complete amnesia. As a result, you have trouble remembering things and you have a very hard time dealing with problems that require quick thinking.
- 98) You are cursed to suffer from memory loss. Every time you sleep, you forget everything that happened that day.
- 99) You were cursed by your parents when you were a child. This curse makes you more and more stupid each year that you age.
- 100) Your curse is that you are addicted to any substance you put into your mouth on the third day of using it. If you don’t use the substance, you suffer from withdrawal.
- 101) You are cursed to become more and more impatient over time.
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Before I start, I just want to make sure everyone is aware that I’m not actually showing you how to curse someone. I do know how to do that, but I don’t want to share the method lest someone use it on me. That would suck. No, I’m talking about creating a curse for a story, one that would terrify all who read your work.
The thing about curses is that they are relentless and awful. A curse doesn’t discriminate based on how nice you are, how much money you make, what religion you belong to, or any other factor. No, once a curse locks onto you, it’s like you have a target on your back that you can’t get off, and you won’t get that target off until the curse has run its course (usually this means death). That’s what makes them so scary.
So how do you create a curse? First you need to decide on this:
Person, place, and/or thing. A curse is usually associated with a specific object, location, or person, though sometimes a curse can be associated with more than one of these (such as with an entire family, multiple houses, or a person who lived in a house). In the movie The Conjuring and its spinoff/prequel Annabelle (which I just saw recently), a curse was placed on the doll, allowing a demon to possess it and make havoc for anyone who came into contact with the doll. That’s an example of a cursed object. The house in The Grudge is an example of a cursed location, as well as an example of a cursed person (Kayako, the woman who lived in the house, is the one who carries out the curse). Another example of a cursed person is simply someone who has a curse placed upon them, making interaction with others difficult, if not impossible. Boy, would that suck!
This brings me to my next point, though:
The well is essential to Samara’s curse and origin story.
The origin story. Every curse has its story of how it came to be, and often that the basis of how the curse can be warded off (more on that later). Generally this involves some horrific event happening, causing the curse to manifest or be cast. For example, in the Buffy universe Angel’s curse was caused when he killed the beloved child of a tribe of gypsies, who restored his soul to him through magic. Another example is when Samara/Sadako from the Ring movies was trapped in the well and died, her soul was filled with rage and she infected a blank video cassette. And in The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Freddy’s curse came into being when he was killed in a fire by the parents of the children he’d killed/molested (depending on if you’re going with the original movie series or the remake).
The trigger. For a curse to take hold of a target, something specific has to happen. For instance, in the popular Bloody Mary legend (which I’ve tested numerous times, by the way), you have to say Bloody Mary three times in the mirror in order to summon her. In the Stephen King story Bag of Bones, the curse was triggered when a child descended from one of any of the families involved in a gruesome murder, whose name usually began with a K, got to a certain age (in the TV miniseries, this was simplified to just the daughters). And in the popular story The Monkey’s Paw, one had to make a wish on the titular paw in order to start the curse. Which leads to the fun part:
How the curse manifests. A curse manifests after the trigger has been…well, triggered. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (yes, I’m pulling Harry Potter out), Katie Bell was put in unimaginable pain when she touched the cursed necklace. Touching the necklace was the trigger, and the pain was the manifestation. Another form of manifestation would be the Tecumseh curse, which was that any President elected in a year divisible by twenty would die in office (though Ronald Reagan and President Bush managed to get away). The election year is the trigger, while the death of the President is the manifestation.
How to ward it off. This is optional for literary curses, but it’s something you want to consider in creating a curse. In Jewish folklore, the demon Lilith tries to take the souls of newborns or eat them. However, if one has a mezuzah, a marker on one’s doorpost that has the name of three angels on it, Lilith cannot enter the home and attempt to take the child. The angels whose names are on the mezuzah were the same angels who tried to get Lilith to return to Adam when she was still his wife. When she refused, they cursed her to become a demon and made it that she could not enter a home with their names on it (that’s how the origin story relates to warding off the curse).
The hamsa, a symbol prevalent in Judaism and Islam, is also good at warding off evil. It’s no good at warding off taxes though.
In another example, there’s a curse among some actors about saying the name Macbeth in a theater which leads to bad luck. Depending on who you ask, there are different methods to dispelling the curse, a popular one being to leave the theater, walk around the building three times, spit over one’s left shoulder, say an obscenity, and then wait to be invited back into the theater.
Containing/canceling the curse. This is also optional in writing fiction, but it should be considered. Two things one should consider when figuring out how to cancel or seal a curse is that it should be difficult, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the origin story. In the movie The Unborn, the dybbuk couldn’t be stopped until it was exorcised. A similar thing happened in the third movie in the American Grudge movies, in which case an exorcism that sealed Kayako into a little girl was needed before she could be stopped. In Japanese onryo legends, the spirit needs to have whatever is disturbing it resolved or it will continue to seek revenge.And in Bag of Bones, Sarah Tidwell did not end her curse until her bones were dissolved with lye, thereby releasing her from Earth.
That’s how you create a curse. As for creating a terrifying story involving that curse…well, that’s up to you. I’m not going to give you directions on that. Not in this post, anyway.
Oh, and one more thing: I saw Dracula Untold and Annabelle at the movies today with a friend. Both were excellent, getting 4.5 out of 5 from me. But something in the latter film really stuck with me: near the end, the priest character says that evil can only be contained, it’s not created or destroyed (or something like that). I think that when you’re writing a scary story, especially one involving curses, that’s some pretty good stuff to keep in mind. True evil is not something you can easily be rid of. At least, not in my experience.
What advice do you have for creating curses?
Have you written anything with curses recently?
Are there any stories of curses that are your favorite or that I didn’t include? Tell me a bit about them.
Curses are a very old trope. Very old. They served as warnings to listeners against defying morality or doing the taboo, for fear of angering the gods and incurring some terrible punishment. What might bring down a curse? It depended entirely on the story. Eating Forbidden Fruit, crossing the bridge after midnight, speaking out of Pride or even unkindness to strangers can trigger a curse.
The curser might be a petty god, witch, or even a normal person driven to great anger. Words and Language have power, especially spoken from the heart. Doubly so if the heart is filled with bitter rage. Triply so if the person is dying. But even in ordinary circumstances, Be Careful What You Say, or you may well cast a curse on a loved one. Or the curse might not be cast by anyone at all, it may well be a 'maliceless' effect of breaking some taboo. And there's no guarantee that the cursed person is the offender; a Hereditary Curse may steadily descend through a family.
A curse may be Laser-Guided Karma, in which case it will fit the crime like a glove. Otherwise—and sometimes even when it is Laser-Guided Karma—curses are the very darkest of Black Magic.
The effect of the curse on a character and story is that of a potent driving force. Getting rid of it can drive a character to do great and terrible things. Enduring one can add drama and complicate a hero's life. Resolving it is cause for a satisfying resolution. Whatever the case, curses aren't minor things.
Curses can come in all shapes and sizes. Common curses include:
Curses can also be put on inanimateobjects, such as swords, and places, both houses and lands. Places tend to turn to Mordor under curses, or at least smell bad, and both places and objects inflict bad things on the people about, or owning, them.
Curses can be cut short by:
- Giving back a stolen item, apologizing, or otherwise setting right the original offense.
- Completing an Impossible Task.
- Dying and coming back, usually as part of finding a loophole in the curse.
- Passing it on to someone else, like a bad penny.
- Getting the cursing person to die. (Not effective in cases of a dying curse.)
- For a country, putting the rightful king on the throne. (This may or may not fall under the first as well.)
- The Power of Love. Sometimes this simply requires actually being loved by someone else, sometimes it requires the person to receive True Love's Kiss to seal the deal. Furthermore, many curses are susceptible to the Power of Love even if it's not supposed to be a condition of the curse.
For some reason, a curse that turns you into a member of the opposite sex is particularly hard to break, doubly so if you were a man.
It isn't awesome and was not meant as a blessing, this is a wicked spellintended to harm or even kill the cursed character. A common variant is the Gypsy Curse. Contrast the Protective Charm, which can block or lessen curses. See also One Curse Limit, in which a victim can only suffer a single curse at one time.
Examples of Curse include:
Anime and Manga
- Ranma ½: Ranma fell into a cursed spring where a young girl drowned—as a result, whenever he is splashed with cold water he will turn into a girl. This is where most of the plot complications and comedy stem from. If he is splashed with hot water, he changes back. Several other characters apparently fell into magical springs where something drowned in it, and suffer Involuntary Shapeshifting themselves.
- Besides Ranma's curse there are several other curses as well as cursed objects. Such as the other cursed springs, the curse that a ghost placed on Happosai to get him to steal her panties, the cursed paintings, and more.
- Berserk: Guts and Casca have the Brand of Sacrifice as a result of Griffith's betrayal during the Eclipse, which acts as a magnet for ravening demons that want to eat them alive, causes them pain when the monsters draw near and generally makes their lives a living Hell.
- Hayate the Combat Butler: Athena, Mikado and Himegami have been to have been placed under a curse for trying to steal the power of god. Exactly what these curses are hasn't been stated yet. Part of Athena's was to be stuck in the Royal Garden for eternity, though at least that part of the curse is no longer valid. And it's after this has been cleared that she talks about being cursed, so we know that's not all there is to it.
- AIR: The curse the Buddist Monks pull on Kannabi has the effect of killing her and her next incarnations if they are to fall in love or be loved. Only true happiness can break the curse and make the next life much more better.
- In Inuyasha, Miroku's family was cursed by Naraku with the Wind Tunnel: a black hole in the palm of the right hand that's passed down through each generation. The Wind Tunnel absorbs everything in front of it unless sealed by enchanted prayer beads, and it's constantly expanding which culminates in it being strong enough to break the seal and consume its bearer and all that surrounds him, just like it has already done with Miroku's father and grandfather. The only way for Miroku to free himself and his descendants from this fate is to kill Naraku.
- In Fate/Zero when Lancer dies, he curses his killer Kiritsugu (and also His Master, Kayneth) for making the same thing that made him regrets happen again. With red eyes and his normal golden pupil making him look like RedArcueid so that their wish will bring disaster, regret, and despair to them. Guesswhathappenslater?
- In Bloody Cross, half bloods are all cursed to die when they turn 18 unless they drink a pure demon's blood or find a God's inheritence strong enough to remove the curse.
- Curses from Fairy Tail are powers that Etherious can use in combat. It is similar to magic but is more malevolent due to being powered by humans' negative emotions.
- Curses from Jujutsu Kaisen are spiritual beings brought into being through cursed energy that originates from humans' negative emotions.
- Jujutsu is magic and skills that both Jujutsu Sorcerors and Curses use by manipulating Cursed Energy.
- With Strings Attached: C'hou is riddled with curses, which seem to be easy to cast.
- Lyndess was cursed by the Dalns gods to remain on Ketafa until she figures out how to cross the ocean without using any sort of vessel (ships sink under her, it's too far to swim, etc.). Another thing that will break the curse is if she apologizes to the god who cursed her, but she can't, because...
- Ketafa itself is under a curse: the gods cannot see anything on the continent.
- Actually, no, it's not, the gods are just ignoring the continent, but no one knows this.
- As'taris is cursed to return to his house every evening until Brox returns or he dies. (Brox did this to ensure that As would not go skylarking off after rumors of monsters.) Also, he's cursed not to initiate combat with anyone. He often tries to get people to fight him, but no one will.
- Penelope has the titular Penelope receive a hundred plus year old curse on her family that their first born daughter would be ugly until she were accepted by "one of her own." This is why her parents went about trying to get her married, but it turns out the curse can be interpreted as "when she accepts herself." As soon as she becomes okay with the idea that she's going to be ugly forever, and it's not a cause for angst, does the curse lift.
- Drag Me to Hell has the protagonist be cursed by a gypsy woman to be terrorized by a Lamia for three nights before being bodily dragged into hell. All for denying her a third loan extension on her house.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
- Ladyhawke has two lovers, Etienne Navarre and Isabeau de Anjou, who are kept apart by a demonic curse laid by the corrupt and jealous Bishop of Aquila, who wanted Isabeau for himself. By day, Isabeau becomes a hawk, and by night, Etienne becomes a wolf. The only time they can both see each other in human form is at dusk and dawn of each day for one fleeting moment, but they can never touch. The two break the curse by surviving until the "day without a night and a night without a day" (a solar eclipse) and standing together before the Bishop in human form.
- Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle, cursed to be an old woman and be unable to tell anyone her plight. It appears that her remembering that she is cursed is a key in the curse maintaining its effects. That, or her self-esteem issues. Whenever she appears more confident, she grows younger. When she goes back to being shy, she ages up. The book the film is adapted from features the same curse, which Howl attempts to secretly break on his own but discovers Sophie is unconsciously retaining on herself. Later, her concern for an injured Howl overcomes her shyness and the curse finally lifts.
- The Beast of Beauty and The Beast was cursed to be a beast until a woman honestly loved him.
- In Brother And Sister, the Wicked Stepmother had cursed streams so that her stepchildren would be transformed to beasts if they drank from it. Her stepson succumbed and became a deer, turning back only when she died.
- In all variants of "The Kind and Unkind Girls", the unkind girl behaves badly toward a stranger or employer and is cursed. Some include Diamonds and Toads, The Enchanted Wreath, The Two Caskets, The Two Cakes, The Three Little Men in the Woods, and The Three Heads In the Well.
- In East of the Sun, West of the Moon, the hero was cursed into a white bear by day by his Wicked Stepmother. When the heroine looks at him by night, that means to break it was gone; she succeeds only after a long Quest.
- In The Singing, Springing Lark, the hero is cursed into the form of a lion by day, and if he ever lets sunlight fall on him, he will be transformed again, into a dove, and have to wander for seven years.
- The Frog King was cursed into that shape. As were the heroes of The Queen Who Sought a Drink From A Certain Well and The Well of the World's End.
- In Snow White and Rose Red, the bear is a cursed prince.
- In Sleeping Beauty, the princess is cursed to die on her birthday. Another fairy manages to modify this to make her sleep a century.
- In Snow White Fire Red, the ogress curses the hero to forget the heroine as soon as his mother kisses him.
- In The Dove, any kiss whatever makes him forget the heroine.
- In The Six Swans, the princes are cursed by their Wicked Stepmother.
- In Hans Christian Andersen's The Wild Swans, having cursed the princes into swans, the queen tries to make the princess ugly and stupid:
She took three toads with her, and kissed them, and said to one, "When Eliza comes to the bath, seat yourself upon her head, that she may become as stupid as you are." Then she said to another, "Place yourself on her forehead, that she may become as ugly as you are, and that her father may not know her." "Rest on her heart," she whispered to the third, "then she will have evil inclinations, and suffer in consequence." So she put the toads into the clear water, and they turned green immediately. She next called Eliza, and helped her to undress and get into the bath. As Eliza dipped her head under the water, one of the toads sat on her hair, a second on her forehead, and a third on her breast, but she did not seem to notice them, and when she rose out of the water, there were three red poppies floating upon it. Had not the creatures been venomous or been kissed by the witch, they would have been changed into red roses. At all events they became flowers, because they had rested on Eliza's head, and on her heart. She was too good and too innocent for witchcraft to have any power over her.
- In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, curses are various forms of nasty magic. Particularly dreadful is the "death curse," a wizard's last spell, Cast from Hit Points. Harry is under a death curse to die alone. His mother's death curse, against a vampire who could not be magically injured, managed to cut that vampire off from all sources of power.
- There's also the entropy curse, a magical working that causes luck to turn hideously against the target. Harry has seen entropy curses that are well put-together (causing falling masonry and snapped power lines to fall on the target) and... not so much (resulting in a target being hit by a car... while water-skiing, or crushed by a frozen turkey falling from an airplane).
- And the bloodline curse in Changes, which is meant to kill everyone related to the target of the curse, no matter how distant the connection. Originally intended for Harry's daughter so that he'll die by proxy, he turns it on the entire Red Court, wiping out one of the major players in the supernatural world in one fell swoop.
- Fool Moon had the curse on Harley MacFinn's family line, which caused him to turn into a rampaging super-werewolf during the full moon. Said curse was supposedly laid by St. Patrick, though the source of that information (a demon) is questionable.
- In Guy Gabriel Kay's Tigana, the entire country of Tigana and all its inhabitants are cursed.
- In Patricia A. McKillip's Riddle of the Stars trilogy, Raederle offers to teach Morgan the ninety-nine curses of a certain wizard.
- In The Bell At Sealey Head, the book revolves about a wizard's curse.
- Xanth. Many. Cursefiends have this as their power, and the Furies use it on anyone who is not (in their eyes) a dutiful enough child. Which means everyone.
- In Andre Norton's Witch World, That Which Runs The Ridges turns out to be under a curse.
- Harry Potter
- The Unforgivable Curses: the Cruciatus curse (Crucio), used for torture; the Imperius Curse (Imperio) used for Mind Control, and the Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra), which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Unicorn blood will save you from dying "even if you are an inch from death", but you will live a "half life" from the moment you drink it.
- If a person continues to divide their soul, they lose their humanity and their very nose, and eventually suffer a Fate Worse Than Death.
- There are also curses that work in more traditional ways, e.g., jinxing the Defense Against The Dark Arts teaching position so that anyone who takes the job will never last longer than a year.
- Teresa Edgerton's second Celydonn Trilogy revolves about the curse on a land, and breaking it.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Curse of Chalion is a curse of corrupted virtues and ill luck on the country's ruling line.
- In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy, Arha curses another priestess. Unusually, there is no reason to believe that the curse has any actual effect.
- Hero Series: In Heroes Adrift, the troupe Lee and Taro travel with is cursed to not be able to stay in one place for more than a few nights. If they do, someone dies.
- In Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites, Granny Weatherwax assures Esk that she will curse under the right conditions, such as when people ain't showing respect. Often "curse" means that you tell someone you've cursed them and the next time something bad happens to them, they think "That was because I didn't show respect to the witch." Granny Weatherwax has been known to actually curse people, just in less traditional ways. For example, instead of turning someone into a frog just making them think that they are a frog. Much easier and more fun too.
- Later witches novels more or less follow the line that cursing works, but not unless they know you've done it. Unlucky Charlie, the target for the cursing at the Witch Trials cannot be aware you've done it because he's a scarecrow, so points are given for general inventiveness. Except for the year when Granny Weatherwax made his head explode.
- In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell the Gentleman does this Jonathan Strange, cursing him to eternal darkness. As it turns out, because of the imprecision of the spell the darkness entraps any English magician who comes into contact with it, starting with Mr. Norrell. The Raven King also cursed a few places during his reign, mostly over matters of civil unrest or rebellion.
- In Patricia C. Wrede's Thirteenth Child, Uncle Earn accuses Eff of casting a curse when she is five—too young to cast magic. Later, William asks Eff if her nervousness springs from being under a curse.
- David Eddings's The Elenium has an unusual variant of a benevolent curse. A god wants to hide his followers from obliteration and simultaneously give them magical powers to defend themselves. A blessing won't do, because blessings "ring in the air" and are easily detectable by magical means. So the god uses curse with exact same effects instead. It is notable that, while benevolent, it's still a curse; the god can't bring himself to curse his beloved followers directly and curses their drinking water instead.
- In Thinner, by Stephen King, the protagonist is put under a curse that causes him to waste away. (His judge and lawyer are cursed with hideous acne and skin cancer that will eventually kill them too.) His response is to track down the gypsy and curse him—by taking out a contract with a hit man to kill his family.
- The entire plot of Ella Enchanted (both the original book and the film) is driven by a curse placed on Ella as a child that makes her unable to ignore orders. Usually she gets around it by finding loopholes in the orders she's given, but this becomes hazardous when Prince Charmont falls in love with her and they begin to become entangled. Ella is rightfully concerned that because of her condition, she could be ordered into hurting him (and in the movie, Sir Edgar does exactly this in an attempt to off Char and grab the kingdom for himself). In the novel, the curse is resolved when Ella tries so hard to refuse Char's order to marry him that her love for him overcomes the curse. While in the film version, she sees her image in a mirror and orders herself to no longer be obedient.
- Conan the Barbarian: In "A Witch Shall Be Born", as a result of a Deal with the Devil a witch is born to the royal family every century.
The curse of the kings of Khauran! Aye, they tell the tale in the market-places, with wagging beards and rolling eyes, the pious fools! They tell how the first queen of our line had traffic with a fiend of darkness and bore him a daughter who lives in foul legendry to this day. And thereafter in each century a girl baby was born into the Askhaurian dynasty, with a scarlet half-moon between her breasts, that signified her destiny.
- In George Eliot's Silly Novels by Lady Novelists, she recounts how one such novels, when the mother, on evidence insufficient to hang a dog, concludes that her son had proposed to the women she wanted him to marry after all, and then finds out that he didn't, she starts to curse her son. A perfectly mundane novel, for all the Melodrama. Perhaps it's just as well that her son's true love interrupts her to say that she refuses to marry the son without his mother's blessing.
- In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero In Hel, Mephisto's folly is caused by amnesia, which he inflicted on himself to escape a curse.
- In the Avatar Trilogy we are introduced to Kelemvor Lyonsbane, last scion of a family of cursed mercenaries. The curse began when his ancestor betrayed a powerful sorceress and was cursed to never again act purely for profit, or transform into a murderous panther. However, with the birth of his son, the curse reacted to the boys innocence and reversed itself. From then on, Lyonsanes could ONLY act on anothers behalf out of thoughts of profit.
- In The Shahnameh, the one who kills Esfandiyār is cursed to die and suffer in this life and the next. Fortunately for Rostem, it can see through Uriah Gambits.
- In Tanith Lee's The Dragon Hoard, the events begin with Prince Jasleth and Princess Goodness being cursed by their aunt.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Monster Men, one dying man curses the man who betrayed him.
- In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, why Cedar is a Werewolf.
- Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series starts with Allie breaking a curse on a boy.
- Alison Sinclair has a trilogy of novels set in a country under an eight centuries old curse laid by a psychotic mage in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge over the death of her daughter, the country is now divided into the Darkborn who are incinerated by daylight, and the Lightborn, who melt away in the dark and rely entirely on magical lights to sustain them through the night.
- One episode of Middleman had a survivor of the Titanic cursed with immortality so long as his tuba remain intact for his heinous crime: pretending the tuba was his child and thus stealing the seats of a woman and her child. The tuba itself is an Artifact of Death capable of killing anyone who hears it's E Flat note by filling their lungs with the icy waters of the North Atlantic. After a decades he comes to consider himself Cursed with Awesome though.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel has Angel, a vampire cursed with a soul. If he ever has a moment of perfect happiness (such as having sex with Buffy), the curse is broken, he loses his soul, and he reverts to being Angelus, the Complete Monster of a vampire that he was before getting cursed.
- Merlin episode The Lady of the Lake. Freya was a Druid girl cursed to turn into a winged werepanther at the stroke of midnight.
- Alestorm's "Captain Morgan's Revenge" has its title character pronouncing a dying curse upon the mutinous crew who have made him Walk the Plank:
And as he fell down to the depths, he swore a deadly curse:
- Take all the evil things in the world. Put them in a box. Then give it to Pandora.
- Oedipus, maltreated by his sons, cursed them to kill each other. Leading the incidences of Seven Against Thebes.
- Theseus, believing what his wife Phaedra had claimed about his son Hippolytus, cursed him, resulting in Hippolytus's death.
- After Hecuba avenged the murder of her son by killing Polymestor's sons in front of him and then blinding him, Polymestor himself curses Hecuba - or maybe simply foresees her doom—to go insane and drown herself.
- Really, almost every event in Classical Mythology is a result of either some curse (often associated with a violation of Sacred Hospitality) an excesses of Pride (particularly failed attempts to Screw Destiny, since You Can't Fight Fate), or both. For instance:
- Tantalus steals ambrosia and generally misbehaves at a banquet of the gods (violation of hospitality), and serves up his son Pelops to the gods, who are horrified. Reviving Pelops, they send Tantalus to Tartarus for an eternity of eternal thirst and hunger, with water and fruit always shrinking away whenever he attempts to reach them (curse).
- Pelops is visited by Laios, King of Thebes. Laios for some reason tries to kidnap Pelops' son (hospitality). Pelops curses him for his trouble (obvious), saying, "May your own son kill you, Theban!" Laios' son is Oedipus; the tale is well-known, to say the least.
- Pelops' other sons are Atreus and Thyestes. Atreus catches Thyestes in bed with his (Atreus's) wife (hospitality). Atreus butchers Thyestes' children and serves them up to their father at a banquet (overreaction, and pride, and...Squick). Thyestes curses Atreus' line.
- Atreus has two sons, Agamemnon and Menelaos. Menelaos marries Helen of Sparta; Helen runs off with palace guest Paris of Troy (hospitality). Menelaos gets all Greece to go to war for this. Agamemnon has to sacrifice his eldest daughter to appease some god; wife Clytemnestra is not pleased. Long story short, Greeks win.
- Agamemnon goes home. Clytemnestra is consorting with a son of Thyestes. Together, they assassinate Agamemnon, fulfilling Thyestes' curse.
- And all of this is just one chain of curses.
- Bestow Curse (the reversal of the Remove Curse spell) in Dungeons & Dragons is of the "cloud of misfortune type". The Geas spells force the target to follow a certain course of action.
- Although cursed items can have such fun effects as changing your species, gender, alignment or making your hair grow longer..once
- The Book of Vile Darkness has a nice assortment of alternate Curse effects, including sterility, blindness and deafness, the next person the target is introduced to will hate the target uncontrollably forever, critical successes become critical failures, all creatures of a designated species are permanently invisible to the target, age the target one age category, and cause all the target's wealth to vanish.
- It also has an assortment of Greater Bestow Curse alternate effects, including permanent destruction of one of the target's magic items, give an incurable disease to a friend or family member of the target, the target's touch turns precious metals into lead, the target cannot use spells from any source, and the particularly nasty all the target's friends and family suddenly hate him/her.
- The Book of Erotic Fantasy obviously adds STDs and impotence to the possible effects of a curse.
- GURPS: Magic has Curse which prevents the victim from having any meaningful success. Thaumatology has Doom, for days worse and worse things happen to the target until something really horrible finally strikes.
- Changeling: The Lost includes both Contracts that count as curses (impairing performance, affecting one's behavior, etc.) and the ability to write an one-sided pledge that will greatly muck up a person's day until conditions are met.
- Geist: The Sin Eaters features a Manifestation known as "The Curse" that results in different afflictions depending on what Key the Sin-Eater uses to power it. For instance, the afflicted may be the center of a contagious Hate Plague (or other suitable emotion) (Passion), have every mechanical object he tries to handle explode in his hands (Industrial), have nature turn against him (Primeval), become burdened by some unknown weight and unable to sleep (Grave-Dirt), or unable to communicate with anyone (Stillness).
- Once upon a time, Caine saw that his brother Abel had produced a better sacrifice, and murdered him. God cursed him from this crime, and this is why we have vampires.
- The Pokémon series has a move called "Curse". When a ghost-type pokemon uses it, it sacrifices half the user's maximum HP and saps 1/4th of the opponent's HP every turn afterwards. If a non-ghost type pokemon uses it, the move just cuts the user's Speed stat to raise their Attack and Defense.
- It is also a legend that Ninetales will put an 1000-year curse on anyone foolish enough to touch one of its tails.
- This was a plot point in Pokemon: Mystery Dungeon and the comic of it. The main character believes that he's cursed to be a Pokemon because in a past life he grabbed a Ninetales' tail and let his friend Gardevoir take the curse in his place (as a legend has it). It turns out that Gengar was the human who left Gardevoir to take the heat.
- It is also a legend that Ninetales will put an 1000-year curse on anyone foolish enough to touch one of its tails.
- Some have pointed out an interesting pattern with the game Eversion. Blind Lets Plays of this game seem to botch the recording on world five, forcing the letsplayer to redo it while not blind to that stage anymore. Every. Single. Time.The game may actually be cursed.
- Anyone who enters the Dark World in The Legend of Zelda a Link To T He Past is transformed into a form reminiscent of what's inside their heart. Which doesn't explain why Link turns into a bunny. The seven maidens sent into the Dark World to break the seal on it are cursed to turn into crystals. Carrying a special pearl allows Link to ward off the curse.
- In the Nintendo Power /TheLegendOfZelda comic version, people who enter the Dark Realm change into monsters when they lose control of their emotions, and those who can't control them turn into monsters permanently. Link eventually gets his under control and it stops affecting him, but he meets an archer named Roam who eventually succumbs.
- A tiny demon curses Link to only use half of his magic power per spell. In other words, the demon's "curse" turns out to be extremely beneficial.
- Ezlo, in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, was turned into a hat by his former apprentice Vaati.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, being in the realm of Twilight turns him into a wolf. Later, he is cursed to turn into a wolf by Zant, even when in the World of Light.
- Zant is fond of curses. Midna herself used to be a Twili, but was cursed into the form of an imp by Zant.
- He was also cursed to become a Deku Scrub by Skull Kid in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
- If he touches a Blue Bubble in Majora's Mask, he is "jinxed" to be unable to draw his sword for a period of time.
- Which is a Shout-Out to the red/blue bubbles from the original The Legend of Zelda's Second Quest, where touching a red one disabled Link's sword until the player located and touched a blue one.
- Another NPC, Kafei, gets turned into a child by Skull Kid, right before he's about to marry his fiance Anju. Link has to go through a subquest to get them back together. The end of the game never shows if he broke the curse, but he's never shown during his wedding and the point of view is much higher than that of a child. In the manga retelling, the Kafei subplot is revealed to be a Karmic Transformation brought on by Kafei picking fun of Skull Kid's age...hence Skull Kid turning him into a kid as well.
- If he touches a Blue Bubble in Majora's Mask, he is "jinxed" to be unable to draw his sword for a period of time.
- The Nintendo Adventure Book The Crystal Trap featured Ganon cursing all three pieces of Triforce to turn to crystal. Since the Triforce of Courage was in Link's heart, this meant he was trapped in crystal as well. Zelda gets 24 hours to find the three ingredients required to shatter the crystal before the spell becomes permanent.
- The Curse Of The Meldrews in the Interactive Fiction game Curses (appropriate, no?). Not so much subverted as trivialized, since the Curse involves never quite being able to finish anything.
- The Curse of Monkey Island revolves around Guybrush trying to save Elaine from a cursed ring that transformed her into a gold statue.
- Not surprisingly, this shows up in Final Fantasy a few times.
- The recurring spell "Curse" appears in multiple games. Effects across the games include reduced stats, preventing limit break use, stopping job changes in battle, inflicting a variety of other status ailments, stopping the DMW wheel, or reducing the amount of successful interrupts by a character while increasing the number of successful interrupts by an enemy.
- Another recurring spell, "Doom", starts a timer that kills the afflicted character when the timer runs out. In Final Fantasy VIII, the Curse spell actually inflicts Doom, though the Curse status ailment is a separate entity.
- In Final Fantasy I, the prince of the elves was cursed by the dark elf Astos with eternal sleep. Only an herb from the witch Matoya can wake him. Unfortunately, she's blind and needs a special eye to see...and Astos stole it from her.
- In Final Fantasy III, Djinn curses the kingdom of Sasune and turns everyone in the kingdom of Sasune to ghosts. Two future party members, Ingus and Refia, missed getting cursed because neither was around when the curse hit. The only way to lift the curse is with Princess Sara's Mythril Ring, which needs to seal the Djinn inside and then be purified.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, the character Reis was cursed into the form of a dragon when she took on a curse intended for her lover, Beowulf. Because The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body, she also appears to have no memory of her life as a human either, though the dragon Reis still joins the party when Beowulf rescues her. He eventually changes her back when the party recovers the Cancer Zodiac Stone and she joins the party as a "Dragonkin" (Dragoner in the PS 1 version) with all her dragon skills.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Cid's wife Hilda turns him into an Oglop as punishment for cheating on her and runs off in the only non-Mist powered airship in the world. This turns out to be supremely bad timing since Kuja has just manipulated Alexandria into attacking Lindblum. He later tries to undo it but ends up turning into a frog instead. Eventually they have to track his wife down and convince her to undo her curse. Wouldn't you know it, Kuja also kidnapped her since he needed her ship. When she's finally rescued, she changes Cid back, but threatens to curse him again if he ever acts unfaithfully again.
- King's Quest II: In the AGD Fan Remake, The Father is exposed and defeated, but pulls a One-Winged Angel and puts a parting shot on Graham, a Retcon explaining some events of the other games:
The Father:Thrice now I curse, and from the first, your family shall feel the worse. Soon shall you see, they'll surely be, in the most dire jeopardy. (Referencing Alexander's enslavement and Rosella's nearly becoming a Human Sacrifice to a dragon in game 3) Then, as your foe, 'tis I who'll sew, the spell to cause heart to slow. (Referencing Graham's heart attack in the 4th game) And for my shame, for you the same, o'er Daventry your heirs shan't rein! (Referencing the 6th and 7th games, but invoking a Fanon theory on the latter)
- The premise of Dragon Quest VIII is that everyone in the kingdom of Trodain except the main character has been cursed by the villainous Dhoulmagus. King Trode is now a little troll-like creature, Princess Medea is a horse, and everyone else is a statue. The main character escaped the curse because a memory wiping curse that was cast on him when he was younger had the beneficial side effect of rendering him immune to other curses.
- You must fight two curses in The Game of the Ages. One on your own town, one on a race you visit.
- Goblin Hollow: The Questagainst the curse.
- In Sluggy Freelance Zoe considers the necklace tattoo that gives her Involuntary Shapeshifting powers to be a curse. It wasn't designed to be that way; for the original wearer, it was a precious gift that allowed her to sneak around with her true love without her father knowing the truth. Obviously, the original wearer didn't have best friends who think turning you into a camel is funny.
- The Dreamland Chronicles: Nicodemus's excuse for not giving back the amulet is to test for this.
- El Goonish Shive: The Dewitchery Diamond was made specifically to remove curses that affect one's body, and works by creating a permanent clone of anyone who touches it, AND transfer the curse to it. The original will be able to reassume the cursed form at will (as well as any other forms he was forced into for the next few hours), while the clone can spread the curse to others. What constitutes a curse can vary, and the Diamond will work it's effect on anyone who touches it while not in their original form.
- Roza's motive for everything is to break the curse on her.
- In American Barbarian, Rick threatens a dying curse
- In No Rest for The Wicked, the beggar woman laid a curse on her for not giving her bread the third time.
- In Our Little Adventure, Lenny is a little worried that Emily will curse his armor
- Techwolf of the Whateley Universe looks like a seven foot werewolf, as does his father, all because of a witch's curse on an ancestor.
- In the world of Codename: Kids Next Door, a smart candy hunter (like Numbuh Five) knows that "a good candy taken in greed will always turn sour". Which leads to quite a few instances of stupid candy hunters paying a price for being selfish:
- The first appearance of Numbuh Five's rival, Heinrich von Marzipan, involved Heinrich swiping her "blurpleberry supreme" in order to loot the tomb of King Tutakhandy. After reading the part of the inscription that said, "With the crown you shall control the sarcophagus", he disregarded the rest, refusing to listen to Numbuh Five when she tried to warn him that the other half was, "but refuse to share and only taste asparagus". Naturally, he found out that part the hard way, but the curse only lasted so long as he had the crown, which she took from him.
- He didn't get off quite as easy the next time. After trying to turn a pet rabbit into a chocolate one via a chocolate volcano, he fell into the choco-lava himself and was left for dead. However, he was actually turned into living chocolate, who could turn anything else into chocolate via touch. It was practically heaven for him, until he started craving foods other than chocolate, which he now couldn't have. The KND was able to cure him, but he didn't learn...
- Operation LICORICE had two curses in one episode:
- First, the candy pirate Black John Licorice discovered an island of red licorice trees, and selfishly chopped it all down and carted it away. The horrible curse he and his crew was punished with turned the licorice itself black (which is, to folks like him, inedible) and turned them into undead skeletons made of licorice, who could only function at night. Eventually, they sought a gypsy fortuneteller who gave them a magic seed that could restore the island, but they were unable to plant it before dawn. which led to the second curse...
- The island was eventually found by Stickybeard and Heinrich (again) and Heinrich foolishly took the seed, causing Black John's crew to pursue him endlessly. Leading to the actual plot of the episode.
- The biggest curse involving Heinrich came with Operation: CARAMEL, which explained the "Guatemala Incident" he had often referred to. As it turned out, Heinrich had once been a girl named Henrietta, meaning "Heinrich" was a curse she had been afflicted with since the aforementioned incident. In order to create pieces of ancient golden caramel, a magic ritual was performed that took away the most valued quality of a person present and turned that quality into five pieces of delicious caramel with flavor depending on the quality taken. Henrietta fell victim to the ritual's side effect, which transformed her into Heinrich, but before the curse could be reversed, she selfishly ate all of her caramels, causing her to lose the quality she valued the most. Knowing that Henrietta could not control her greed, Abigail left her behind, and Henrietta blamed her for becoming cursed. Although as it turned out, Abigail had been keeping Henrietta's last piece, which enables the curse to finally be broken, and the two reconciled.
- In The Owl House, Eda suffers from a curse that transforms her into a monstrous and near-mindless owl-demon at night. This curse was inflicted by someone when she was young, and she no longer remembers who did it to her or why. She uses an elixir to avoid the effect, but slowly, the elixir is getting less and less efficient...
- The Boston Red Sox baseball team was said to be cursed by former player and baseball legend Babe Ruth, who the Red Sox traded away to the hated rival New York Yankees in 1920. From 1923 through 2000, the Yankees won twenty-six World Series championships and the Red Sox won zero. The "Curse of the Bambino" finally ended in 2004, when the Red Sox won the World Series in four straight games.
- The WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw had a short run of a curse, The Curse Of The Undertaker. In one storyline, Eddie Guerrero was involved in a storyline with Taker that ended in him buried alive. The next year... well, Eddie died. A game later, Undertaker said "Your grieving family will have no one but you to blame." Nothing too big, but he said it to Chris Benoit, who killed himself and his family the next year. A year after that, Randy Orton was injured after an in game feud with Taker.
- King Tut's tomb was opened in 1922. It's been long stated that a curse on the tomb killed everyone involved, though such stories are rather exaggerated and often flat out untrue. Well—everyone involved died. Eventually.
- Older Than Dirt: Mesopotamian kings inscribed very elaborate curses on their stelae, threatening the hatred of the gods and long lists of nasty misfortunes upon any future king who overturned their decrees.
- Some Ancient Egyptian tombs threaten curses of misfortune and divine retribution upon would-be desecrators.
- William Shakespeare supposedly wrote a verse to be inscribed upon his tombstone cursing anyone who should move his bones. Also, superstitious actors say there's a curse on a certain play involving witches, and that quoting its lines outside a theater will bring bad luck.
- Many movies with dark subject matter and controversial themes have been regarded as cursed due to unusual amounts of on-set accidents and brutal fates befalling the casts and crews:
- The Wizard of Oz; First of all, let’s make it clear, NO, this movie is not considered cursed because an extra committed suicide and said act was caught on camera, that is just an old urban legend. However, there were quite a few on-set accidents that made some wonder if the production was cursed. Both Buddy Epson and his replacement Jack Haley suffered severe allergic reactions to the Tin Woodsman makeup, while Margaret Hamilton had to be treated for third degree burns after a take of her disappearing act early in the film was botched. Not even poor little Toto was safe, as a trainer assigned to him reported one of the extras playing the Witch’s soldiers actually stepped on him during a take.
- The Passion of the Christ: Getting struck by lightning is never a good sign, but when it happens when you’re portraying Jesus Christ on the set of a rather controversial movie, which happened to Jim Caviezel, one has to wonder if the boycotting fundamentalists have a point. This also happened to the assistant director, twice. There were also a lot of reported on-set accidents involved in the scenes where Christ is flogged and crucified, where Caviezel was actually whipped by another member of the cast, and had to be treated for a dislocated shoulder after stumbling and dropping the cross. He also ended up with a lung infection due to the weather and horrible migraine headaches as a result of his “bloody-eye” makeup.
- The Crow: Some folk believe Brandon Lee’s whole family is cursed, a common Conspiracy Theory saying his father’s death was the result of some mysticaltechnique used against him by order of the Triads. Thing is, Lee’s death on the set due to an improperly-loaded gun was not the only unusual accident in production of The Crow; a crew member was electrocuted after coming into contact with a power line, and had to be hospitalized.
- The Omen: Given the grisly and brutal deaths of people involved in this movie, you might wonder if someone actually made a Deal with the Devil where Human Sacrifice was required. Gregory Peck’s son committed suicide pre-production, and a small plane carrying some of the film crew crashed. Creepiest of all, John Richardson - the FX genius behind the famous decapitation scene in the movie - was involved in a tragic car accident after shooting where his passenger - his assistant and girlfriend Liz Moore - was killed the exact same way.
- Apocalypse Now: Few consider this movie cursed today, but almost everyone involved in it at the time thought so. While most everyone today considers it to be Francis Ford Coppola’s greatest masterpiece, Coppola himself doubted it would be successful, and contemplated suicide due to his fears of the financial ruin and loss of reputation he’d suffer. Production was delayed and hindered by natural disasters, Marlon Brando showed up overweight and unprepared for filming, and Martin Sheen actually had a heart attack on the set! Long story short, this movie was a nightmare to make, even if it was, in the end, a smash hit.
- The Conqueror is often considered the most cursed movie in history. Forget for a minute that they had John Wayne playing Genghis Khan (sure, he’s a tough, full-blooded American hero, but that doesn’t translate well when he’s depicting a Mongolian warlord.) but someone had the “brilliant” idea to film it on a site formerly used as a nuclear bomb testing site. Even worse, the producer - notoriously eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes - had tons of the contaminated soil shipped back to the states for some reshoots. Nearly half of the film’s cast and crew were diagnosed with cancer as a result, and there were even rumors of some of their spouses and children ending up with it decades later after visiting the site. While this can be blamed as gross negligence on the part of the idiots in charge, you can’t help but think the angry spirit of Genghis Khan himself put a curse on these foolish Americans for insulting him.
- Rosemary's Baby, another movie about The Antichrist and Hollywood Satanism with quite a few tragedies happening to members of the cast and crew that seem too brutal to be coincidences. The film's composer Krzysztof Komeda suffered a bad fall and died from his injuries before the film's debut, and producer William Castle was diagnosed with kidney stones soon after. The worst example, however, was the horrid murder of director Roman Polanski's pregnant wife Sharon Tate, the most publicized crime committed by the Manson Family. Poor Sharon would inadvertently become associated with madness and bloody murders for years to come.
- The Exorcist, yet another Religious Horror that became a hit movie (likely the most successful one ever made) and also possibly a cursed one. An accident caused a fire that destroyed every set except the bedroom, multiple reports of Linda Blair and Ellen Burstin hurt by on-set injuries, and actor Paul Bateson facing actual murder charges six years later. The movie is just full of creepy coincidences.
- Poltergeist. A common fan theory is that the three - real - skeletons used as props in the first movie had something to do with the infamous curse on the entire franchise that seemed determined to haunt the cast to the bitter end. Regardless, the original trilogy seemed to curse the entire cast. Dominique Dunne was murdered by her boyfriend after appearing in the first film, Heather O'Rourke died of complications following an undiagnosed intestinal obstruction some years later, and Julian Beck - who played the villainous Reverend Kane - died of stomach cancer before the release of the second movie.
Curse ideas fantasy
101 Weird Magical Curses
So, a 101 thread about weird curses you might see in a fantasy, or modern fantasy world. Some of these are contagious, some are self-inflicted, some can be forced on people. Doesn't have to be as light-hearted as some of mine, just make sure they are weird or ironic.
Those afflicted by this curse lose the ability to turn left. They instead have to turn right all the way around when they have to go that way. This means if you are attacked from the left, you will be caught off-guard, but also you may suffer hostility from people if they find out your condition and that it is contagious.
It can be caught by travelling with a person who has it. For every hour you spend journeying with them, you have a one in ten chance of catching it, increasing to two in ten for the second hour, three in ten for the third, and so on. After you stop for more than an hour, to rest, this is reset back to one in ten. If you are tracking a uniturner without thier knowledge, it is even more dangerous. Every time they turn a corner, you have a one in ten chance of catching it, increasing to two in ten for the second corner and so on.
It can be cured by walking backwards for a fortnight, using a mirror to see behind you. If you take more than two steps forward in a row, you have to start all over again.
002- Swaps (this seemed a lot more appropriate when I posted it in /tg/, but we're all adults here so whatever)
When you sleep with someone afflicted with this curse, when the two of you wake up next you will have the others private parts. The woman will have man bits, the man will have woman bits, or the man will have the other mans bits and the woman will have the other womans bits. If they sleep together again, it will swap back with no problem the next night.
If they don't, and they end up stuck with it, their bodies gradually change to match. The man with a womans bits will, over the next few months, change into a woman, one who looks just like a daughter of him and the woman who donated the bits. If two men have swapped, they gradually change to look like if the two had a son together, so like brothers. If at any point a person so afflicted gets back their originals, they will quickly, in a few weeks, return to their normal appearance, though they still have the curse.
The only cure is to remain celibate for a year. If you are in the wrong body at this time, you are stuck.
003- The Tongue
This curse is actually an easy to learn language. But as you learn it, you forget every other language you know with supernatural speed. The problem is that the language is very clunky, almost like Newspeak, and impossible to coin new words or grammar into. It is far easier to communicate basic, everyday concepts through the Tongue, but advanced concepts cannot be communicated through it at all. It is also impossible to use words of the Tongue in the middle of constructions of other langauges, and vice-versa. The supernatural capacity for this language to overwrite others extends to written language as well, but the Tongue itself cannot be written down.
It can be caught by simply attempting to learn it. As you understand more and more of it, you lose more and more of your other languages. But this is not so simple, as the language is very easy to understand, and speakers always have a mysterious aura around them, a sense of the exotic or taboo. This means that those who hear them speak quickly become intrigued, and if they spend even a few minutes trying to talk to the speaker of the Tongue, they will learn a few words. Since these words make a lot more sense to describe things that are common, they will start to use them and they will spread. Unless the problem is recognised, soon a whole town can be speaking in the Tongue.
Full fluency in the Tongue can be cured by not speaking a word of it for a year. This leaves the person utterly without language, so they have to learn it from scratch. A conversational knowledge of the Tongue can be cured by not speaking it for a month. This must usually be as part of a general vow of silence, since it is so much simpler to speak through the Tongue for most purposes and people slip up. They will be able to quickly relearn those parts of the language that the Tongue had deleted.
004- Uncanny Luck
This curse causes a person to win every game of chance they participate in. The only caveat is that they must be physically present for the chance element, so they would not win a lottery or scratch-card, but they always win at a coin toss or spinning the wheel.
This seems ideal, but it is always perfect luck. You always win the jackpot, you always get a royal flush, you always get 21, and so on. This is incredibly suspicious, and people will not be happy at the idea that they are being cheated. Successful users of this curse use it only very sparingly. It is a curse because there is no known way to remove it, and if a magic user tries to determine why they are always winning, they will find they are using magic to cheat.
The 8 Best Curses In Literature
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For as long as we’ve told stories, we’ve told stories about curses. Often they’re punishments, occasionally they’re strictly allegorical, and sometimes they’re just plain bad luck.
But whatever their explanations, these enchantments provide exactly what we human beings long for both in literature and our daily lives — clear causes behind ruinous effects, explanations for the frightening and irrational.
Our misfortunes are much easier to bear when we attribute them to gods or evil spirits, and our guilt is much easier to stomach when we view events as operating outside of our own power. As Alexander Chee’s Lilliet Berne tells us, our true misfortune is “not that we cannot choose our Fates… [but] that we can.” Still there’s nothing like a good magical malady to get a plot moving, subtly moralize, or set up a scare.
Here are the eight best curses in literature:
Cassandra in The Iliad by Homer
You can’t beat Greek mythology for tragedy. Cassandra sees her future — which includes the downfall of her family and the destruction of her home — and is cursed to have no one believe her visions. In several versions of her story, the god Apollo first gifts her with the power of prophecy, then curses her to never be heeded when she refuses to sleep with him in thanks. Some things never change.
Lilliet Berne in The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
Chee’s novel is steeped in the melodrama of the operatic form, so naturally his heroine is plagued by a curse. Lilliet is a falcon soprano, doomed to one day lose the lovely voice that both launches her career and puts her in path of danger. Whether or not the curse is real, Lilliet operates under a veil of superstition and intrigue, making drastic decisions in the name of her supposedly inevitable fate.
Effia in Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
A fire rages in the woods on the night Effia is born, and because of this her village thinks of her as cursed. She’s told she’ll never become a woman and will be sterile. Though this curse “may have been rooted in a lie…it bore the fruit of truth:” Effia does have a son with a British slave trader, but her descendants struggle with colossal horrors throughout the next century.
Madeleine in Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
The cause of Madeleine’s long, enchanted sleep is unclear — she falls into it after being horrifically punished for a sexual encounter with a man in her provincial French town. Throughout Bynum’s delicious novel, Madeleine is asleep and dreams about a gypsy circus and fantastic metamorphoses. Perhaps it’s waking life that is the actual curse.
Ursula Todd in Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Here’s another curse that might actually be a gift: each time Ursula Todd dies, her life begins again from infancy. This allows her to live out all sorts of alternate histories, each time with a faint sense of déjà vu that steers her away from her previous cause of death. Atkinson’s clever structure reminds readers of the curse we share with Ursula: the utter randomness of seminal events.
The Watson Family in The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Simon and Enola Watson come from a family of breath-holding carnival mermaids, yet one Watson woman from each generation mysteriously drowns on the same day each year. Bizarre ecological events, a strange old book, and a collapsing house hold the clues to the curse of July 24th — if, that is, Simon the librarian can piece them together in time.
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell inJonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Most literary curses are cast towards the beginning of a novel, and the recipient spends the story dealing with its effects. Not so for Strange and Norrell, who come into their curse at the very end of Clarke’s fantastic book. Having helped prevent disaster, the two magicians are cursed to remain together in darkness. For the competitive, ill-tempered magicians the curse of eternal togetherness is just as damning as the storm cloud that follows wherever they go.
The Pyncheon Family in The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Gothic literature is rife with ancestral curses, but none is more notorious than the one cast by Matthew Maule on Colonel Pyncheon, the man who stole the land on which he built his family home. Fast-forward one hundred years or so and we see the Pyncheons continuing to suffer an array of misfortunes, which include unjust imprisonments and untimely deaths.
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