A little gear-modifying ritual to enhance your D&D game. It should work in most games with only a little modification. You’ll probably want to tweak the gold price, especially in Pathfinder.
Because most players seem reluctant to do things that could potentially make their characters or gear worse, I recommend allowing them to see the list of curses before deciding whether or not to use this ritual. Is the possibility of somewhat ruining an item worth a cool bonus? I tried to balance things so that it would be.
Accursed ArmsTime: 3 days.
By summoning contaminating magical energies and deliberating infusing them into an already-magical weapon or suit of armor, you increase the item's power at the cost of permanently cursing it. The item in question gains an additional +1 (not above a total of +5) and you roll on the table below to determine how the item is cursed. Two additional qualities accompany the cursing process: first, a player must volunteer to equip the item at the culmination of the ritual before the exact nature of the curse is known; second, once the cursed item is equipped, it cannot be un-equipped until the character has gained two levels.
You cannot curse an item multiple times or change an item's curse once it is determined. This ritual also modifies the appearance of the item to appear more sinister. Some possibilities: veins of black running through any metal, it sometimes glows with a sinister red light, the sound of shrieking whenever it is drawn from its scabbard, it constantly drips with blood or tears, or whatever you and your players come up with.
Minor Curse Table (d10)
- Of Swiping: Your attacks botch on a natural roll of 2.
- Of Frustration: Any time you miss with an attack, you either suffer 1 damage or inflict 1 damage to an adjacent player (your choice).
- Of Catastrophe: Attacks of opportunity automatically hit you.
- Of Poverty: You squander 5% of your personal share of any gold-valued treasure. Attempts to game the system via skewed treasure distribution or others handling your money will backfire.
- Of Hesitation: You have disadvantage on initiative checks.
- Of Snarling: Each day, you have a 1-in-6 chance of being stuck in wolf form for the day. Your gear merges with your wolf form. Don’t die in wolf form or you’ll die for real.
- Of Nearsightedness: You cannot see beyond 15 feet.
- Of Indifference: You have -1 to all saves.
- Of Mediocrity: Each day, you first critical hit is treated as a normal hit.
- Of Affliction: You are blind during the first round of each combat.
- Of Barriers: You can't tie or untie knots, lock or unlock objects, open or shut doors or portals of any kind, et ceteras.
- Of Otherworldly Influence: You attract inhabiting spirits like flies. They can’t quite possess you, but they can nudge your behavior. At the start of each combat,
- Of Jealousy: You cannot use other magic items that are better than common rarity. If item rarity isn’t a thing in your game, you can only use other items worth less than this one. If magic items aren’t valued in your game, just eyeball it.
- Of Etiquette: You cannot enter a room unless someone within it invites you. Usually, this means you cannot go in until another player goes in and says it is okay.
- Of Deference: Each encounter, you cannot attack until every other member of your party has made an attack.
- Of Contained Oblivion: You develop a gaping hole in your chest that constantly emits gouts of cloying, shadowy smoke. Undead with 1 hit die or less regard you as a peer, but clerics and good outsiders with 3 hit dice or less automatically attack you without the possibility of communication or mercy.
- Of Cowering: When at less than half your maximum hit points, you cannot willingly enter a space that is adjacent to an enemy. If you are already next to one or an enemy approaches you, that’s fine and you don’t need to move.
- Of Tantalization: You cannot eat food or drink water, including potions. Don’t worry, you’re sustained by carnage. A single worthy battle will sustain you for a day. You can store up to a week of carnage meals at a time. A battle is not worthy if it is contrived by the players to exclude the possibility of death. For example, fighting an angry horse while the party cleric watches is not considered worthy. Most fights found in a dungeon are worthy.
- Of Vertigo: If you end your turn in a space that is not adjacent to either a wall or another player, you fall prone.
- Of Plummeting: You have vulnerability to falling damage.