Campaign Consequences: 20 Minor Curses

Curses aren’t all doom and gloom. Minor curses can be great fun to role-play and result in memorable gaming sessions as the cursed adventurer wrestles with his new affliction.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)
By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Perhaps the PCs have fallen prey to a vicious hedge witch or have garnered the attentions of some otherworldly, capricious power. Hitting the PC with a -6 penalty to an ability score or other major penalty is sometimes overkill. That’s where minor curses come into their own.

Minor curses are annoying, but don’t derail the session or adventure as the party scramble to deal with their consequences. Their game effects are minor, and the player should be encouraged to role-play their consequences as much as possible. To generate a minor curse, roll a d20 and consult the table below:

  1. The character has great trouble sleeping. Every morning, the character must make a DC 10 Fortitude check or be fatigued for the following day.
  2. The character’s hearing is impaired by a low roaring or ringing sound that only he can hear. He suffers a -5 penalty on all hearing-based Perception checks.
  3. The character begins to emit a strange odour, which animals find off-putting. The character suffers a -2 penalty to all Ride and Handle Animal checks.
  4. The character’s hair begins to prematurely grey, making him seem older than he would otherwise appear.
  5. The character suffers from an itchy rash which inflicts a -2 penalty to Stealth and Acrobatics checks made to balance.
  6. The character becomes easily distracted and must make a DC10 Will save at the start of each combat or suffer a -2 penalty to his initiative roll. Additionally, the character suffers a -2 penalty on all Pereception checks.
  7. The character develops a delicate stomach and suffers from terrible indigestion. He can only eat bland foods and suffers a -2 penalty to saving throws made to resist the effects of ingested poisons.
  8. The character’s immune system becomes weakened. He suffers a -5 penalty on all Fortitude saving throws made to resist the effects of disease.
  9. The character begins to sprout hair all over his body and becomes hirsute.
  10. The character’s hair begins to fall out in clumps and he suffers a -2 penalty to all Bluff and Diplomacy checks.
  11. The character begins to see indistinct moving shadows from the corners of his eyes. He suffers a -2 penalty to sight-based Perception checks.
  12. The character suffers from a terrible red rash that covers part of his face and forehead. His skin is flaky and it itches terribly. He suffers a -2 penalty to all Bluff and Diplomacy checks.
  13. The character’s leg muscles are constantly cramping which causes near constant pain. Reduce the character’s movement rate by 5 ft.
  14. The character loses all interest in sex.
  15. The character is always hungry. Over the next month, he gains 1d4x10 lbs.
  16. The character is never hungry. Over the next month he loses 1d4x10 lbs.
  17. The character develops an unhealthy fixation to a minor item possessed by one of his friends. He does everything he can to possess the item short of murder.
  18. The character smells. No matter how often or how frequently he washes as soon as he exerts himself the smell returns. Creatures with scent can sense him at twice the normal range.
  19. The character develops an irrational fear of spiders or some other small, harmless insect. Whenever confronted by normal-sized versions of the creatures he is shaken. Encountering a monstrous or obviously dangerous specimen renders him frightened.
  20. The character becomes convinced a nameless, powerful foe is hunting him. He begins to take more and more outlandish precautions in regard to his safety—particularly at night.

More Minor Curses

Have you used other minor curses in your game? Let us know what they are in the comments below and help GMs everywhere bedevil their PCs with minor curses!


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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

4 thoughts on “Campaign Consequences: 20 Minor Curses”

  1. One of my fave curses was the curse of the excessive fu-man-chu. The character, despite race and sex, begins to grow a long thin mustache and goatee. Ever time it is shaved off it immediately grows back twice as long as it was before it was trimmed or shaved. At first it’s just a minor annoyance, then it starts affecting things like, diplomacy, and disguise. Then as it grows longer it begins to affect tumble and hide, checks. The only way to permanently remove the curse is to shave with a razor of adimantine, or similarly rare metal, and with a soap made from Nymphs milk. I like the simplicity of the above curses too.

  2. I have long loved playing “broken” characters – those with some sort of flaw or circumstance that many players would consider to be unplayable or hopeless. I find they’re much more enjoyable and engaging than “Throg like to hit things!” and comparing die rolls to a page full of numbers.
    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on _major_ curses – things that can have a more defining effect on a character, which may be impossible to remove, or difficult to the point that they’ll just have to make their peace and learn to live with it.

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