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RPG Brainstorming Blog
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RPG Brainstorming Blog
Saturday, April 24, 2004
 
Death Curse
I was thinking about the old Children of the Worm Call of Cthulhu game I ran. Here's a spell that I would probably include if I ran it again.

Death Curse (1 POW, 1+ MP, 1d6 San, takes 1 hour plus the casting time of the spells to be released)
This enchantment binds up a death curse in the core of the caster's physical being. The "curse" doesn't actually have to be harmful; the actual effect is that there's a spell waiting to be cast as soon as you die. The MP cost of the spell must be paid when the enchantment is created, but any POW cost can be paid when you die. If you die without sufficient POW to pull off the spell, of course, it will fail and your efforts will have been wasted.

The curse can be targetted in several different ways. The traditional one is to target whoever killed you. It could also target a random person nearby. Another (particularly popular when the curse is an area-of-effect spell) is to target yourself, so that your body is hit by the spell. The last is to target whoever you specify with your dying breath... but if you weren't conscious when you died, the spell will be wasted.

The spell is only released by the caster's actual death. There is a brief glow that burns its way out through their ribcage, then the spell goes off. Depending on the nature of the magic released, the mage's body may or may not be recognizable afterwards. A death curse may consist of multiple spells as well, but you have to pay the total cost for them all or they all fail. It's possible to have multiple death curses prepared as well, but the only real advantage to this is being able to specify different ways in which the curses are targetted. Because the curse is bound up in the core of the caster's being, it cannot be dispelled so long as they live.

Mages tend to be extremely secretive about the nature of their death curse and it's considered very rude to ask someone about it. If you know how it will be targetted, it's much easier to defeat it or arrange for some minion to take the fall.

It's a cute spell and its primary effect is to make killing wizards more dangerous. It would be more appropriate for a political game, where the mages tend to solve their problems by direct interaction, not combat, since it seriously discourages magical duels. Who wants to fight someone when their death might release a 15+ POW enchantment all at once?

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