Monday, August 14, 2017

The Cursed


“I’m sorry, I cannot help you.”

“I have journeyed two weeks–

“I cannot help you.”

“I have gold.”

There was silence for a few moments then the light of dawn filled the room as a woman pushed aside the door curtain and left the shop. She paused for a moment just outside. The winter sun is cold comfort but taking time to enjoy its warmth, as little as it is, has become an important ritual.

What number was this? The fourth, no, fifth time she’d been refused? That was the last master healer in the city. Her grimace cut long lines through the scars on her face as she sighed, “No point in staying here any longer.”

Making her way to the city gates, she rounded the corner and was met with smashing pots and shouting. Riding at her, a man on a cart was yelling, “Out of the way!” as two men with a symbol of sun embroidered on their tunics gave chase.

Anna threw herself towards the nearest wall but in doing so her foot slipped on the muddy road and instead of diving from the path, went face down in the wet earth. The wagon narrowly missed her but one of the two men giving chase nearly tripped over her, instead stepping on Anna's leg.

Her yelp of pain was muffled in a spurt of muddy bubbles as the man ran over her and the cart continued plowing through the streets, finally disappearing down an alley. 

Wet earth caked her mouth, Anna slowly picked herself, spitting. Half covered in mud, she sat up gingerly. Not to be defeated she finally picked herself up and again made her way to the city gates, this time limping.

If asked why she did not take a rest or stop to properly to clean herself or why she had a look of complete determination like a trapped wolverine, she would reply, “That old bitch won’t kill me yet.”

It’s become a bit of a personal mantra.

Arthur Rackham

A true curse is a formidable and enigmatic spell. Few understand the precise workings of a curse or how exactly it interacts with those afflicted, only that is a feared and seldom used avenue of power. Many learned in magic do not accept the existence of curses, believing them to be mere myth. And yet, even doubters are wary of them.
A true curse is different from normal spells in that they can be cast by even the most mundane of Rhen’s inhabitants. True curses are evoked with dread, fury, and pain. One does not premeditate uttering a curse. It cannot be fabricated. It must be cast with genuine and powerful emotions. Curses are screamed or spoken in cold, precise words with eyes like piercing daggers, mouth frothing like a rabid wolf, and fingers clenched so tight that nails draw blood. Spend 1 to 4 Power to speak a curse. You have a 1 in 6 per Power chance of successfully cursing the target (or targets), however, curses are fickle; in attempting a curse there is also a 1 in 6 per Power chance that you become cursed as well, unless you are able to name your target (it must be their true name). If you can name your target there’s only a 1 in 6 chance that you curse yourself. Cursed targets henceforth cannot spend Luck and what’s more, 1 in 6 checks automatically fail.
Unlike a broken oath, a true curse can be removed, but it is dangerous. As a result, wise healers are wary to help. A Remove Curse spell will remove a true curse, but to determine its success or failure, the healer must also make a Will check versus the strength of the curse (1d6 times Power spent on the curse). A successful check removes the curse. However, if the check fails, the curse is not removed and it results in the healer suffering one of the following conditions: 1. blinded, 2. muted, 3. unfeeling (numbed), 4. deafened, 5. exhausted, 6. paralyzed.
This and other additions/changes to the Northern Realm have come with plenty of playtesting. I think I'm getting closer to the mark with it. It's almost ready if you want to give it a try: The Northern Realm Handbook

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