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June 2nd, 2009, 23:48
Jay Barnson's latest RPG design post looks at cursed items and how the concept can be improved:
Most of these cursed items were designed, I believe, as a penalty for greedy players who had memorized the magic item lists of the earlier version of the game. This added to some element of risk to the equation - which makes the game more fun when the risk pays off. But, like the risk of death, it's only fun if the risk is avoided. Or when the annoying player in the group who calls dibs on almost every magic item suddenly falls prey to Boots of Dancing or a -2 cursed longsword.

But for the most part, cursed items sucked. Early attempts to recreate D&D for the computer sometimes included cursed items, but the fact that most games ignore this aspect of old-school role playing games is probably telling. But the concept isn't completely without merit. There are two ways that I can think of that make cursed items an interesting and even enjoyable part of the RPG experience.
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June 2nd, 2009, 23:48
Our old DM that every magic item should come with a consequence and a few years later I realized that he took this idea from the precious. One of the items I managed to snaggle was a great shield that took years off your life. it worked out for me because I was a High Elf.

Backbiter was a well done spear too and he created wevery item to have personalities such as a mace that had you go berzerk and of course items that didn't like to be looted and would give away your position when you tried to ambush.

Later on one of my ideas was to create creatures from chaos dimensions that were immune to normal and magic weapons. They needed to be hit by cursed weapons. Naturally, you don't tell your players. Let them figure it out.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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June 3rd, 2009, 00:15
Heh - sounds like it made for a complex campaign, but a deep one.
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June 3rd, 2009, 11:01
My personal favvourite is a belt of gender chanching - which also appeared in BG, which left a mucky taste in my mouth after that male Ogre was killed …

Another personal favourite of mine is the "talking sword".
Which need not be a cursed item, but that solely depends on the "personality" of the sword.
An example could be a "pacifistic sword", which avoids comnbat at all costs, for example.

By the way, Jay, have you taken a look at the "negative attributes" of TDE 3 ? I think they'd fit nicely into that theme, and they're imho unique.

Unfortunately they are heavily reduced in TDE 4 : They are no more obligatory, but instead they are used as a means to receive more "generation points" in character generation. That's how they are usually used.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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June 3rd, 2009, 13:31
I think cursed items and the effects of such seem to fit better and carry more game immersion weight if they are story-line or quest related more than mere character development (or character restriction/handicap or similar) - eg: when removal of the curse yields a superior weapon, amour or artifact etc' then the reward factor can become more significant.
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June 3rd, 2009, 15:10
The problem is obviously the save/reload level 10 wizard spell all players have. Save, try item, if it's curse, reload.
It would work much better with MMOs for example, where you can't just 'reload'.
A better approach is like mentioned before. Items are not cursed, they just have trade-offs (one of my DMs used this too. For example, there were no 'cure light wound' potions, there were cure potions that gave you penalties for a time).
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June 3rd, 2009, 17:14
I created a Girdle of Gender Changing in NWN on a whim and then used it in my own PW

http://nwvault.ign.com/View.php?view…Detail&id=2157

It was crazy. Players went nuts with it. Usually veteran players would leave it on the ground for newbs. When it isn't put on yet it says its a belt of +10 strength (which at the time was not possible on an item in NWN). I leave a clue on it that says its that in name only. No attributes actually show. When you put it on it swaps it self out for the real belt and whammo.

People would scream! They would flood the DM channel with total horror. I made it somewhat of a policy to make sure it was left on the player. Some creative players would end up roleplaying it for awhile and still others kept using it as a really convenient disguise for RP.

Patch 1.23b in NWN2 appears to have a new function SetGender. Most likely its strictly a stat thing and I doubt it works on PCs.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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June 3rd, 2009, 21:18
The way I imagine it, cursed items are something that computers would be able to manage even better than a living DM. That's because curses are a wide-open category. Even the mildest curse has the potential to be tiny but exciting!

A "good one" tends to dominate a P&P game as imaginations run wild. Computers can handle that kind of complexity without even breaking a sweat. But not without code. That complexity needs to be programmed in, and that's why you don't see many cursed items beyond the garden variety ("It's cursed…toss it).

If anyone ever gets around to making a big, hairy RPG, a dynamic one or even an RPG universe, then cursed items might take center stage where they belong.

Oh, I wish I had a river I could skate away on. But it don't snow here. It stays pretty green. I'm going to make a lot of money, then I'm going to quit this crazy scene. — [Joni Mitchell]
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June 4th, 2009, 01:11
yes they need code and they get tricky. in the Bio NWN they couldn't force players to never let go of cursed items (traditionally they grafted themselves to your body which i think would make getting ready for bed a bit difficult not to forget using the facilities).

this little thread came up coincidentally on the NWN2 forums

http://nwn2forums.bioware.com/forums…0445&forum=128

it was a small spoiler for me so just be warned.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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June 5th, 2009, 00:14
LOL - is that required in the game? Part of a quest or anything? Or just something you end up picking up and carting around because adventurers always pick up EVERYTHING that isn't nailed to the floor….?

I've freakin' had NWN 2 and one of the expansions forever, but barely finished the introduction. Too many games, too little time…
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