Curses are an important type of evil magic. Although goodor neutral-aligned characters sometimes use curses to strike
at their enemies, curses are usually the domain of spiteful
and malicious creatures.
When a spellcaster uses bestow curse (see Chapter 11 of the
Player’s Handbook), the following curses can be substituted
for those given in the spell description.
• Target is rendered sterile.
• The next person introduced to the target for the first time
will hate him or her uncontrollably forever. Even if this
curse is removed, the person still hates the victim of the
curse, but the victim can improve the person’s attitude
normally after the curse is gone.
• Each time the target attempts to help a friend or ally, there
is a 50% chance the attempt fails and causes the ally to fail
at the task.
• Target is struck blind and deaf.
• Each round in combat, there is a 25% chance that the
target will attack the nearest creature rather than choosing
an opponent normally.
• Every time the victim makes a d20 roll, a roll of 20 counts
as a 1.
• The victim effectively ages, moving him or her to the
beginning of the next age category. See Chapter 6 of the
Player’s Handbook for the effects of aging.
• At some point within the next week (or whenever it is feasible),
thieves are able to steal all monetary wealth the
victim has.
• Animals refuse to be within 5 feet of the target and do not
respond to the target’s commands or requests.
• Each time the target meets someone for the first time,
there is a 50% chance that the new person will confuse the
target with a hated enemy, a well-known criminal, or a
raving lunatic.
• All creatures of a specific kind (such as orcs, owlbears, or
black dragons) are permanently invisible to the sight of
the victim (invisibility purge does not help, but see invisibility
and true seeing do). The spellcaster chooses the kind of
The following effects can be substituted for those given in
the bestow greater curse description (see Chapter 6).
• A random friend or family member of the target contracts
a disease. If the disease is magically cured or runs its
course (regardless of the outcome), another loved one
contracts a new disease.
• The target’s most powerful and/or cherished item falls
apart, becoming forever useless.
• Valuable metals (such as platinum, gold, silver, and
copper) turn to lead in the target’s possession, even if they
are in a bag of holding or stored away from the target. The
target’s touch transmutes valuable metals (including
coins) into lead as well.
• 1d4+1 of the target’s loved ones or allies are affected by a
curse chosen from the bestow curse list above.
• All of the target’s loved ones and allies suddenly despise
him and are considered to have unfriendly attitudes. See
NPC Attitudes in Chapter 5 of the DUNGEON MASTER’s
Guide for actions former allies might take.
• The target cannot cast spells, use spell-like abilities, or
activate spell completion or spell trigger items.
When a particularly vile creature dies, she often speaks a
final curse upon those that wronged her (usually, the characters
who killed her). The effect of the dying curse depends
on the level or Hit Dice of the creature bestowing the curse.
Table 2–3: Dying Curse Effects
HD or
Level Effect
1–4 Nothing
5–8 As bestow curse
9–12 As bestow greater curse, or up to four bestow curses
13–16 As limited wish, or up to four bestow greater curses, or up to
ten bestow curses
17–20 As wish, or up to ten bestow greater curses, or up to twentyfive
bestow curses
21+ DM’s discretion
Not all evil creatures will deliver a dying curse, because a
creature that speaks a dying curse cannot be raised or resurrected
thereafter. A true resurrection spell can bring the creature
back, but the curse is immediately lifted if this happens.
The dying creature can target anyone with a dying curse;
the target need not be present when the curse is delivered.
Removing a Dying Curse
Lifting a dying curse requires more than a simple remove
curse spell if the dying creature has more than 10 Hit Dice
or levels. A miracle or wish spell removes the curse, but each
dying curse also must have a single means of removing the
curse with some deed that the DM designates. The deed
must be something that the target can accomplish within
one year, assuming the task is undertaken immediately. For
example, the deed might be “Slay the dragon under Castle
Bluecraft,” or “Climb the tallest mountain in the world.”
The target of the dying curse can have help accomplishing
the deed. In fact, someone else can accomplish the deed
as long as removing the curse is the expressed purpose of
the deed. Thus, the king’s champion can climb the tallest mountain in the world to remove the curse on the king, for
example. But if someone who doesn’t know about the curse
climbs the mountain, the curse remains.
Dying curses are generally the province of evil creatures,
but this isn’t always the case. A good creature that was terribly
wronged and tricked into its death may also bestow a
dying curse, at the DM’s discretion.
Sometimes curses are passed through the generations of a
single family like a hereditary disease. A family curse can pass
from a parent to all children, or the curse can simply pass to
the oldest child, the youngest child, the oldest child of a particular
gender, a child with a particular trait, and so on.
A family curse can be the result of a particularly powerful
dying curse, a wish spell, the use of an artifact, or the intervention
of a god. It can take the form of a regular curse, or it
can seem to force a character toward a particular fate.
Because curses of the latter sort lie in the realm of destiny
and can be vague in their application, they are usually best
left in the hands of the DM, rather than obeying a simple set
of rules.
Family curses can be undone as described in Dying
Curses, above. Some fate-based family curses can be forever
broken if one member of the family can simply resist the
doomed destiny.
Some sample family curses are given below.
• Each oldest son is doomed to murder his father.
• The youngest daughter in each generation is doomed to
become an evil spellcaster.
• The children of the family born with red hair are all terribly
unlucky (as described in the bestow curse spell).
• One male child of each generation is doomed to be eaten
by a dragon.
• The sixth daughter of a sixth daughter will bring doom to
her entire land.
Evil creatures that benefit from an overall increase in
misery, darkness, and evil sometimes spread curses just to
further that end. Fiends, especially devils, are often the
perpetrators of misery curses. Demons are more interested
in destruction than devils, many of whom take particular
pleasure in subtler forms of corruption. Thus, magic
items that bestow curses are often prized among fiends.
A curse that causes a debilitating disfigurement gives
misery not only to the target, but to the victim’s friends,
loved ones, and even strangers of a kind heart who merely
see him. Less kind passersby might mock or shun the target
of the curse. And so the fiend’s work progresses: The curse
punishes creatures with kind hearts and darkens the souls
of those without them.
Any kind of misery can grow from a curse. A demon
might curse a child so that it has a taste for blood, not only
for the evil the child might spread but also for the sadness
that takes root in those who become aware of such a child.

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