Cursed, Variant (5e Background)

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A cursed individual.

You have received some form of curse. Perhaps you angered a higher power or someone skilled with magic, regardless it has led you to this point. Was it your actions that caused this misfortune, or do you feel as though the hammer has come down on the wrong person? Curses are not easily bestowed nor easy to remove, and you may have decided to whole heartedly accept your curse, no matter what it may be.

Curses are sometimes of a mundane variety, from tools breaking, food souring, minor items disappearing, or they may be of a more arcane variety; Your face may be impossible to remember, or you find yourself unable to speak at times, or you may have found yourself in a different body entirely. The nature of the curse is typically founded in the manner of it's creation, however, though the meaning may be more or less poetic depending on the reason behind your curse. Did you merely irritate the wrong person, or do you suffer the consequences of someone (or thing's) wrath?

Regardless, curses tend to make one's life more difficult. While you may have learned to live with it, as a cursed individual typically you spend most of your time travelling—either away from angry villagers or because your curse may prevent you from staying in one place for too long (perhaps after your presence has rotted out every stool in the inn.)

Skill Proficiencies: Choose two of the following: Athletics, Intimidation, Survival, Insight, or Perception

Tool Proficiencies: Choose either: Disguise Kit or 1 Artisan's Tool relevant to your previous occupation

Languages: Common, and any 1 (including any exotic languages)

Equipment: Traveler's clothes, a warm blanket and bedroll, a cloth sack, and a pouch containing 10gp

Curse Origin[edit]

You were cursed by something or someone. Roll on the table below to find out who/what it was.

d6 Dealt by
1 Wild Magic: You are very unlucky.
2 Mage: You were cursed by a magic wielder of some kind.
3 Demon: You were hexed by a demon
4 Fey: You were tricked by a fey
5 Deity: You've earned the ire of a god or goddess
6 Dragon: A dragon cursed you

Affects of the Curse[edit]

This section may serve as more of possible inspiration, however some things to keep in mind when determining the affects of your curse: Who/what cursed you, and why? A curse from a divine being may differ greatly from one cast by a person.

  • When individuals cast curses, it may often come from a place of deep sorrow or incredible rage. Who did you hurt? Did you humiliate someone irreparably? Was it an accident, how well did you know them prior to being cursed by them? Is the curse on the behalf of someone else? Because curses like these are often bestowed as a form of poetic justice, they also tend to be more obstructive (though not always.) Perhaps in reprisal for a betrayal, you were cursed to always sleep alone at night—to never have another watch your back.
  • Other beings may do so for less emotional reasons. Perhaps you simply angered one of their followers or desecrated a place sacred to them. Perhaps you simply stole from the wrong dragon. Depending on what cursed you, the severity of the curse might be fairly limited-- the fairy you insulted might only steal your ability to laugh, but not the ability to feel joy.
  • Curses cast by wild magic are strange, rare and often simply down to bad luck, though perhaps it was the result of an experiment gone wrong. These curses may often be on the lower end of severity, though highly potent magic cast in this way may make life incredibly difficult for those who live with them.

Regardless of the origin, however, it is important that no curse be completely unlivable—you may have not been intended to live very long, but curses are typically cast in such a way to draw out suffering and earn some sort of retribution. All curses have some form of cure—this may range from simply earning the forgiveness of the one who cursed you (or, not so simply, if they're dead) to having to sacrifice much of yourself. The way to lift a curse is related to its cause.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and the in-game affects may be up to your DM. How your curse is conveyed to others may be more or less apparent depending on how obvious it is.

d12 Possible Affects
1 All food you eat tastes of ash, though you never starve.
2 Every day you stay in one place, there's an increasing chance a minor object breaks, such as the leg of a chair or the cork on a bottle. After a week, vital objects begin to break, such as clasps on armor and bow strings.
3 You cannot speak to someone until they address you first—not necessarily by name, but you must in some way be acknowledged.
4 Animals despise your presence and may attack when they otherwise would be docile, or may be so frightened they do anything to escape you.
5 You begin to imagine slights against you by those nearby—petty insults and jabs that seem to know just where to bruise your pride.
6 Scavengers and disease carrying animals are drawn to you—you've found rats cozying up to your sleeping bag and vultures circling overhead on a number of occasions.
7 Your body has been replaced with another's—perhaps you now take the form of a monster.
8 Urges to commit random acts of violence can bloom suddenly, which take much of your will to prevent.
9 Seemingly unprompted you might burst into laughter, even (and perhaps especially) when it's a bad time to.
10 You are faceless—anyone who stares at you either sees no features at all or a confusing mosaic.
11 A direct insult can never leave your lips.
12 All music sounds exactly the same and it's the one song you hate the most.

Feature: Unnerving Presence[edit]

There is something about you that tips others off, often sparking wariness. Perhaps it is some sort of aura: animals reacting poorly to your entrance or a simple air about you that indicates something is wrong. Or, perhaps, something is more obviously amiss about you, such as strange marks or scars. You may or may not be fully capable of hiding this fact until the time calls for it, but it is always apart of you, and may slip out when the moment is inopportune. Civilians and other folk who wish to avoid trouble may ignore small crimes or trespasses, however be wary: depending on the nature of your curse, clerics and other holy persons may in fact have their attention drawn towards you, and mages with less scrupulous research practices may become a little too interested in your physiology and the nature of the magic that affects you.

Alternate Feature: Easily Forgotten[edit]

People have a difficult time recalling your name or face (or both.) You easily slip into and out of crowds so long as you don't stand out too too well but could easily get away with things others could not, as your presence is easily forgotten. Any wanted posts with your face on them may vary widely or only faintly resemble the real deal. Your relative unremarkability may mean no one will sing your praises in any towns or bars but may allow you to enter and exit normally private areas—so long as you either reasonably play the part of someone who should be there or stand just out of view. However, this "out of sight or of mind" lifestyle may include members of your party, so perhaps wear an audacious hat or something to keep their attention.

Suggested Characteristics[edit]

d8 Personality Trait
1 I have very little pride in myself (or shame)
2 I don't care who knows about my curse and choose to live with it freely and may even brag.
3 I'm extremely driven to live a normal life.
4 I'm almost too positive in everything but the most dire situations
5 I'm more a "here for a good time, not a long time" sort of person.
6 I am extremely anxious and tend to second-guess my decisions (and everyone else's)
7 My patience could be described as Saint-like
8 I'm quick to anger, but don't tend to stay angry for long.
d6 Ideal
1 Guilt I have earned my curse for a reason and intend to live with it (Good)
2 Resentment If I'm to be cursed, then I'll make it everyone else's problem (Chaotic)
3 Acceptance I strive to learn to live with my curse (Neutral)
4 Revenge I will get back at those who cursed me, no matter what that means (Evil)
5 Destiny Perhaps my curse is not a curse but a blessing (Lawful)
6 Resistance If I act like my curse does not exist then it can't bother me (Random)
d6 Bond
1 There is someone I care for deeply that I wish to return to un-cursed.
2 The origin of my curse is of my own making; I seek to become a better person because of that
3 The world is cursed. I intend to make it a better place, despite what's holding me down now.
4 The world is cursed. I have lost too much, and I see very little purpose in trying to be better for it. In fact, I might be worse now.
5 I will not rest until the person/being that cursed me at least has a piece of my mind.
6 Well, if I'm cursed, I may as well have fun with it.
d6 Flaw
1 My positive attitude is the only thing keeping me from completely giving into despair. I can simply not stop being optimistic.
2 I am secretly (or not so secretly) resentful of most people and can be very quick to judge.
3 I some times fall into long periods of moroseness and may be difficult or impossible to motivate.
4 I'm very sensitive about my curse; I may either lash out or become incredibly upset if someone were to insult me for it
5 I have difficulty reaching out to others for help and hate feeling so weak as to have to rely on someone else
6 My temper can spill over into violence and I might hurt someone with either harsh words or actions.

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