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D&D 5E What if a curse isn't a curse?

Quartz

Hero
The setup: the PCs drink from a magic fountain and something happens to one of them. Maybe they change race, maybe a huge disfigurement - something like a port wine stain - appears, maybe something else significant changes. So they go to someone who can remove the curse only to find that the fountain didn't curse them; rather, the fountain removed an enchantment placed upon them when they were an infant. What next?
 

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aco175

Legend
Be careful when attacking PCs. Changing them without player ok may not go well with players.

Otherwise, it sounds like a cool hook is a birthmark was revealed showing the lost king or something. Then the PCs are forced to deal with having the PC be the lost king and all the problems with getting him to the throne and the others not wanting him to once they find out about him. This presents the problem with that PC not being able to die or the plot of the campaign is gone.

They all could have the mark of the disgraced legion. Somehow their grandparents were in this battle group that disappeared with rumors of dealings with devils. Now it is up to the PCs to find them and free them from their long imprisonment.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
This is a great hook for a mysterious village... They think a travelling potion peddler is turning villagers into inanimate objects, like brooms and teapots. The villagers are ready to stone this peddler to death...

Turns out the villagers were originally objects given life in some miracle, and turned human. The peddler sells potions that dispel magic.

Who originally transformed these objects (or animals, or faeries, or demons) into human villagers? What was their purpose? How can they be found to help save those who drank the dispelling potions?
 

Bagpuss

Hero
Be careful when attacking PCs. Changing them without player ok may not go well with players.
Can depend on how dramatic the change is as well.

Recently our party Warlock cast Misty Step while targeting it by looking round the corner holding a mirror (they also unknown to them happened to be in a wild magic zone).

After they cast it I let them know they were a mirror image of themselves. They were now left handed, a mole had swapped sides, etc.
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
I think this is a bad idea. Players get dominion over their characters, the DM gets the rest of the world. Here you're trespassing on their domain, on who their character really is.

If a player wants to play a character with a facial disfigurement, or green eyes, etc. that's their call. It's out of line for a DM to say, "Ha, ha, your eyes are really blue!".
 


You'd need to get a player's buy-in before pulling this off, IMO. If they agree, it could be a very fun twist for the rest of the group to witness, though.
 


toucanbuzz

Legend
The setup: the PCs drink from a magic fountain and something happens to one of them....What next?
I'll start by echoing others: don't force a "mystery" storyline on a player. That's your story, not theirs, and they are likely to ignore it.

However, in the "trying to be helpful" category, what's next? So you have a fountain that dispels powerful magic. Will players figure this out and come back anytime they need magic dispelled (e.g. free remove curse)? Otherwise, you could try and pull your player aside (send them a private message, etc.) and tell them you've got a story idea, but it requires them to secretly buy-in to the idea. If you collaborate, that could be something. For example, the royal line of X kingdom is known for being born with "strawberry" birthmarks on their faces that lighten with age. The PC could have been a bastard and someone took great steps to protect their identity. That's a pretty common, cliché storyline, but it gets the ball rolling.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The setup: the PCs drink from a magic fountain and something happens to one of them. Maybe they change race, maybe a huge disfigurement - something like a port wine stain - appears, maybe something else significant changes. So they go to someone who can remove the curse only to find that the fountain didn't curse them; rather, the fountain removed an enchantment placed upon them when they were an infant. What next?

I am assuming, for the moment, that you've got player okay on this*.

The problem with the question is that what is next... is really dependent on the player. So... my character is disfigured, and you dock me some Charisma points. And... do I care? Maybe I care to quest to have this fixed. Maybe I care to have a huge blow-out with my parents about how they could have done this without telling me. Maybe I care to just use this as an excuse to play a bit more brooding. Maybe I wasn't using my Charisma score much anyway, and I'm glad that if you hit me, you hit me in the dump stat, and I don't care to do anything at all.


For my games where I intend to manipulate player backstory, I have the player write up that backstory, and then indicate to me elements they refuse to have me alter, things they *may be okay with alterations in, and things that I am free to screw with as I see fit. If I really know the player, I can be comfortable in pulling their chains unexpectedly. If I'm not that familiar, we'll have a discussion first.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
I think this is a bad idea. Players get dominion over their characters, the DM gets the rest of the world. Here you're trespassing on their domain, on who their character really is.
If true, then the players should consider such things before having their characters drink out of MY magic fountain. :)
 

GSHamster

Adventurer
If true, then the players should consider such things before having their characters drink out of MY magic fountain. :)
The magic fountain doing stuff to them is fair game, it's the world acting on the character and changing them. But that's different than the DM overriding the player's original vision, and "restoring" another one.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
The magic fountain doing stuff to them is fair game, it's the world acting on the character and changing them. But that's different than the DM overriding the player's original vision, and "restoring" another one.
You do realize that as the DM I'm the one controlling the effects of the fountain as well as the reasons it does xyz to {PC}, right?
 


aco175

Legend
You do realize that as the DM I'm the one controlling the effects of the fountain as well as the reasons it does xyz to {PC}, right?
You should also realize that the players are there to play the game with you and there to watch you tell a story. It should be ok to do things but not force things. This is similar to the story where everyone is taken prisoner and forces that on the players to make the game fun- but for whom is the question. I would suggest that it be done with care.
 

ccs

41st lv DM
You should also realize that the players are there to play the game with you and there to watch you tell a story. It should be ok to do things but not force things. This is similar to the story where everyone is taken prisoner and forces that on the players to make the game fun- but for whom is the question. I would suggest that it be done with care.
You missed my point.
Wich was that the fountain doesn't do anything to them. I do. Though the fountain. The fountain? Or anything else that's not a PC? Only exists & has any effect - good/bad/otherwise/none because I, the DM, decided it does.
So saying that it's fair game for the fountain to do something to them is the same as saying it's fair game for the DM to do something to them. And yet you object to the DM doing stuff....
 

nevin

Adventurer
I like it. I think some are overreacting to the perceived loss of control. As long as removing the curse provides some benefit or at least no negative affects it's no worse than finding out your mother is really your birth mothers chamber maid who spirited you away just before the massacre. I've done similar things to player's, I have seen DM's who get so into thier story that they try to force players into roles they have no desire to fill. As long as the player has the ability to make choices without DM railroading them to a plot point it'll be fine. I've got an NPC in my world that was a PC who ignored every clue, plot hook and push by the DM to find out who his real parents were. He simply didn't want to know. Frustrated me greatly but both me and players had a great campaign.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
"Congratulations, nobody-turned-King-claimant Arthur, every knight in the kingdom (and the current king-by-right-of-battle) want to kill you now" is no fun.

Discovering you bear the family heirloom birthmark that indicates you have a claim to an old abandoned / conquered fief on the borderland, which you could liberate and rehabilitate (plus a half-dozen potential rivals or allies, a.k.a. your cousins) can be fun.
 
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