January 27, 2010

On Cursed Items In 4E

Save Versus Death just joined the RPG Bloggers' network, and one of his articles is about cursed items in 4E. That reminded me that I should get working on my own article on the subject.

See, cursed items in D&D are weird with their universal badness. The One Ring was evil in all sorts of ways, but it was still a perfectly usable ring of invisibility. Stormbringer too... well, a perfectly usable sword of murderation +5. But in D&D, cursed weapons are almost all bad. You touch one, it gets stuck to your hand (head, body, whichever), and there's never an upside to the item.

(As an aside, Nethack handles this in an interesting way. Wearables can be cursed, non-cursed or blessed, but their effects can be good or bad, and have no bearing on the cursedness.)

Anyway, I figure that if I add cursed items to my game, I would want there to be an interesting choice to make. Take the classic Backbiter spear, for example. A perfectly functional +X spear, but on a natural attack roll of 1, it curves around to hit the wielder. Or the Armor of Arrow Attraction - I wouldn't quite use a -15 penalty vs ranged attacks, probably just say that the attraction cancels out the enchantment bonus of the armor against ranged attacks. Armor of Rage is a third option.

Even funnier would be an "Armor of Rage" that gave you bonuses for reckless combat behaviour and penalized careful tactics. Oh wait, that's the Berserking Sword.

(Seems there are a bunch of semi-useful cursed items anyway. Still, the concept is totally absent in core D&D4.)

Anyway, interesting drawbacks to otherwise useful items, not huge minuses making you want to get rid of the item ASAP. Those are my five cents on the matter.
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