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Top Reasons Why Someone Might be Unlucky or Cursed


Being cursed or just plain unlucky sucks, we get it. But what if there were more than simple luck or a reason behind the reason why we are? This is a list of some reasons why someone is cursed or has terrible luck, ways the curse might affect them, and ways to reverse them.

30 Reasons you might be cursed

(Author’s note: by “You” this means “your character”)

  1. Bad Omen: You were born under a bad omen.
    1. The stars decreed that you were fated to do some awful thing and therefore to prevent you from fulfilling your evil destiny, you have the worst luck ever.
    2. Your destiny was to be great and something inverted the blessing t the last minute, thus cursing you.
  2. Wrong bloodline: Maybe you’re a half orc and people just hate you for your race. Or maybe you’re of a race of perpetually unlucky people, y’know the cannon fodder or shock troops of your world.
  3. First/ Last of your Kind: Because of this nature hates you.
  4. Murderer: You killed someone or something and as a result you got cursed
  5. Self-Cursed: You accidentally cursed yourself somehow, such as by breaking a mirror or walking underneath a ladder.
  6. Wrong place, wrong time: you got cursed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, such when a black cat crosses your path, or (in modern times) get involved in a multi-car pileup.
  7. Unlucky Date: You’re cursed because it’s Friday the 13th or some other supernaturally unlucky day.
  8. Self-Sacrifice: You threw yourself in front of someone in order to protect them and got cursed in the process.
  9. Trespasser: You were entered the Pharaoh’s tomb or other such place, and thus got cursed.
  10. Moron: You are incredibly stupid, unskilled, unobservant, clumsy… or a combination of all of the above.
  11. Willing “victim”: You willingly and knowingly took on the curse to save your life (or that of someone you know and love)
  12. Ancestral Curse: An ancestor passed the curse down to you, but you can’t shake its effects.
  13. Deliberately Passed: Someone deliberately passed a curse onto you to avoid its effects
  14. Talisman: You’re carrying around something that attracts bad luck… something like an anti-rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover. A “White Elephant” gift might fall into this categor
  15. Angry God: You pissed off some god or powerful otherworldly entity and therefore have the worst luck ever. Whether or not it’s your fault is up to the DM.
  16. Marked: You’re marked in some unusual way – a birthmark, a scar, or just your mere presence makes others uneasy around you or makes you the target of their ridicule, scorn, or hatred. This can be a result of a curse as well.
  17. Cursed by Creature: You were cursed by a hag, a witch, or other such creature
  18. Scapegoat: You were cast out by your community as a scapegoat. All the community’s misfortunes fall on you.
  19. Disease: You are infected by a disease that affects you as a curse.
  20. Gaslighting: Someone is gaslighting you, and the curse is a hoax
  21. Vacuum: Nature abhors a vacuum. And you’re it.
  22. Powerful: You’re too powerful and the curse helps to curb your power usage or output. Think the “cursed seals” in Naruto.
  23. Blessed with suck: (warning TV tropes link)
    1. You have a special power that is stupid or useless.
    2. Your power is too dangerous to use.
    3. You have a cool sounding power, but it’s lousy because of a limitation or weakness, control problem, lacks the Required Secondary Powers, or (in the worst cases) has very dangerous side-effects.
    4. You might have a cool or useful power, but due to extenuating circumstances, it’s not fun to use to use it to its fullest extent.
  24. Evil in a can: You’re a walking talking sealed evil in a can (warning TV trope link), and thus can’t escape the curse
  25. Cursed with Awesome: You were either born with some “terrible” curse or had it placed on you, from certain perspectives isn’t all that bad – and may be seen as awesome from certain perspectives, but want to get rid of it. Included with this curse are such things as vampirism, lycathropy and how the bodies of the Elric brothers were changed in Fullmetal Alchemist
  26. Cursed yourself: you somehow cursed yourself, but now must suffer its effects
  27. Hypochondriac: You think yourself cursed, but aren’t.
  28. Messing with magic: You messed with magic and since you didn’t know what you were doing, got cursed.
  29. Dice gods: The dice are against you this day.
  30. Contract: The bad luck you’re experiencing is because you have a contract out on you and whatever’s trying to get your soul wants it now.

Table: 32 ways that a curse might affect the character  

  1. Unusable/ un-functional/ nonfunctional Body Part
    1. Blinded: character can’t see
    2. Deafened: character can’t hear
    3. Blinded & Deafened: character can neither see nor hear
    4. Muted/ Laryngitis: character can’t talk, Spell casting with verbal components becomes impossible.
    5. Gnarled hands: Magically induced arthritis. Use of hands is at a penalty.
    6. Bum Arm/ Leg: Limb doesn’t work for some reason (missing, petrified, numb, or otherwise disabled)
    7. Gnarled Teeth: Causes problems when performing or skills involving vocalization.
    8. Dulled senses: Choose a sense – hearing, sight, touch, smell, taste; it is dulled
    9. Sudden Reverse of body part movement: character needs to learn how to move again.
  2. Extra / unneeded / unwanted body part
    1. Extra Nasty Head: an additional head grows which curses and insults others.
    2. Extra fingers: Character grows an extra finger on his hands which makes doing things with them more difficult.
    3. Donkey Ears: Character has donkey ears. Can be removed by changing shape somehow.
  3. Face only a mother could love: The person is horrendously ugly
  4. Bad stench: character smell horribly, whether from their breath or awful B.O. Stealth becomes impossible. Social skills become all but impossible.
  5. Constant Cough: penalties for spell casting, singing, and communication without interruption. Can also give penalties to hit as characters can’t concentrate on a fight if they suffer a coughing fit.
  6. Mind Affecting Curses:
    1. Blinding Stupidity: character has a 25% percent chance to suddenly suffer a “brain-fart” each time s/he uses an Intelligence-based skill; this causes the character to suffer a penalty to intelligence. For spellcasters, this can also be a spell failure chance.
    2. No Common Sense: No Common Sense: Character engages in risk-taking behavior as if he or she has no common sense (such as putting their hand in an alligator’s mouth, etc). Character makes all rolls necessary for his or her actions, and should be encouraged to roleplay this curse if suffering it.
    3. Short Attention Span: DM picks a random, common element in the game; character becomes fascinated by the object(s) in question (regardless of situation) unless he is able to snap out of it.
    4. Lethargy/Sloth: There is a chance that the character doesn’t want to do something, or anything for that matter.
    5. Insanity: For inspiration on how to it more fun / playable, see here and here.
    6. I Can’t Hear You Over Myself: Character’s thoughts are transmitted from him/her in 30 foot radius, causing possible problems for the character’s plans or personal issues.
  7. Bad Luck Curse: Penalty on all rolls.
  8. Bad Reputation: Character is known by an unpopular nickname, no matter where he or she may go. Character suffers a penalty to social interactions. May be consired a liar.
  9. Hair & Skin Curses:
    1. Massive Hair Growth: character’s hair grows 2 feet as well as becoming covered in thick, shaggy fur, like bigfoot. Cures male pattern baldness. Beards and facial hair also grow 2 feet.
    2. Baldness: character instantly loses all hair everywhere and can’t regrow it without getting the curse broken.
    3. Boils, Warts, Zits and Festering Sores: The character breaks out in every kind of skin problem possible, and is in constant pain. Whatever stat is used for health is damaged. Character also has problems in social situations due to the skin problems.
    4. Inverted Coloration: character’s skin, hair, eyes and possessions all invert their coloration to the opposite hue. Permanent unless reversed somehow by magic.
  10. Immunity to magic: Character becomes immune to all forms of magic. Magical healing. Spells of protection. Offensive help. Magical Items. Read Piers Anthony Xanth series for possible plot complications.
  11. Aging
    1. Reversed aging: From that point onwards, afflicted character gets younger unless stopped or reversed.
    2. Rapid aging: character starts aging rapidly, but without any of the benefits of doing so.
  12. Weak stomach: 95% of all food the afflicted PC eats he can’t stomach and throws back up. Watch him waste away. Character is also starving or unable to taste things.
  13. Spontaneous Combustion: character bursts into flames and is dealt fire damage each round until he puts himself out.
  14. Night Vision: Character becomes only able to see in complete darkness and in shadows. Loses ability to see in daylight.
  15. Instant Loss of Gear: All equipment and gear character is wearing or carrying that is theirs disappears forever. Character is left naked and destitute. Artifacts as well as unique story driven items are not banished.
  16. Illiteracy (for anyone who can read already): Character loses ability to read.
  17. Massive Weight Gain: Causes character to suddenly double in weight, suffering problems with movement and fine maneuverability in combat.
  18. Stop Hitting Yourself: Character deals one round’s worth of damage (counting all possible attacks of the character) to him or herself once per day
  19. Uncontrollable Yelling: Character can’t stop yelling; all their words come out as a shouts. Causes social problems, problem with being around animals, and performing, as well making it impossible to sneak around.
  20. Attracts vermin: character attracts insects, rodents, and the like.   
  21. Ghost Whisperer: Character becomes aware of ghosts; ghosts may attempt to speak with character but are not articulate enough to be understood. (These particular ghosts are not harmful and don’t do anything but bother the character with moans)
  22. Minor Lycanthropy: afflicts character nightly as the hybrid form as the sun sets. lasting until the sun rises
  23. Language Swap: character believes the language is what he learned it as. (e.g. when he speaks Common, he’s really speaking Orc, but thinks he hears Orcs speaking common and humans speaking orc.)
  24. Poverty: Whatever character owns is prone to breakage (often by their own hand); s/he attracts thieves to possessions; anything s/he wants is scarce and overpriced; s/he is prone to getting fake treasures.
  25. Love in Wrong Places: Less about the character falling in love, though a clever DM can arrange it, this curse is about inappropriate advances from NPCs the character would not want them from, or from those who would get the character in enormous trouble for reciprocating.
  26. Inseparability: Character and an object become linked in a non-useful and inappropriate way. For example, the fighter becomes tattooed with the entire contents of the wizard’s spell book, and no matter how the wizard tries, anything he puts in it turns blank and is transcribed to the fighter.
  27. Theme Music: wherever the character goes, music follows them, attracting monsters. It also makes it impossible to use stealth based skills.
  28. Utter Failure: There is a natural 1 somewhere in the character’s future. The DM will decide when. But it will be not just bad, but the worst thing ever
  29. Pain & Pleasure: what others see as pain, you see as pleasure, and visa versa.
  30. No Rest for the weary: The character is never able to get the benefit from resting, no matter how much s/he sleeps.
  31. Seven Deadly Sins: Roll a d8 to determine which cursed Sin takes hold; 1) Lust, 2) Gluttony, 3) Greed, 4) Sloth, 5) Wrath, 6) Envy, 7) Pride 8) no sin, but will be a prude to those who exhibit the other sins. Exhibition of this particular Sin then supersedes how the character would normally act.
  32. Forget me not. The character becomes instantly forgettable to everyone who sees him. Even his companions forget who he is if he is away from them for a brief time.

10 Ways of Reversing / Mitigating Curses

  1. Remove Curse: have a priest or paladin or other appropriate person cast remove curse on the character.
  2. Magical or mundane Healing: in games that have healing magic or skills in healing, the character can get rid of the curse
  3. Null magic zone: the character needs to be in a place where magic has no access to for a time.
  4. Restoration: The character needs to have a ‘restoration’ spell cast on them to ends the curse’s effects.
  5. Wish: The character needs to have wish cast on him/ her in order to remove its effects
  6. Shape change: If the character can change its shape, they may be able to get rid of its effects either temporarily or permanently.
  7. Perform X action(s): In order to mitigate or eliminate the curse, the character needs to perform an action (or series of actions). If mitigation occurs, it may need to be done daily for the rest of their life. This could be as simple as throwing salt over one’s shoulder once a day to as complex of a series of actions the PC and DM comes up together with. Some ideas include (roll a d6):
    1. Ceremony: the character needs to perform a ceremony with salt, crystals, candles, mirrors, herbs and the like to get rid of the curse.
    2. No Power: By declaring it not to have power over them, the character can be rid of it.
    3. Immersion in water: the character needs to be immersed in water
    4. Immolation: the character needs to be burned to release the curse
    5. Declaration of guilt:
    6. Quest: The character must go on a quest to reverse the curse.
  8. Give it to someone else: The only way to eliminate the curse is to give it to someone else
  9. Roll again.
  10. Roll twice and combine, ignoring results of 8, 9 or 10

(D8) Duration of Curse if not broken some other way

  1. Permanent
  2. A year
  3. A half a year
  4. A month
  5. A week
  6. A day (24 hours)
  7. 1d10+1 hours
  8. 1d4+1 hours

There are a variety of ways to play curses. For laughs and fun. For serious storyline purposes. Or to give an enemy a reason for being evil. Whatever the purposes of them in your game, they need a reason, an affect on the character, a way of reversing, and a duration. I hope this article inspired you to make more uses of curses in your game and to give them some interesting components. As always, feel free to like, comment, and re-share!