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Help creating a cursed item


Skull & Shackles


I just started running a Skull & Shackles game and one of my players is an undine. I allowed it on the condition that he agree to an inhibition to keep him on the ship (otherwise he could simply swim away).

We discussed several possibilities... loved one held hostage, captain is holding a special item of great sentimental value, etc.

The one he suggested, and I agreed to, is that an item has been placed on him that keeps him from breathing very long in water.

Sooo, that's where I need you guys' help: designing a cursed item (by Peppery Longfarthing-- Sorc 11) that would keep him from breathing for more than say 10 mins once he hits water.

But, at some point, say around 8th level, his arcane teammates should be able to help him remove it.

For now its handwaved, but eventually it will need to be a real thing that his teammates can help with, but not too soon.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Collar that removes his water breathing entirely. You don't need to stat it. Just state it.


The good/bad thing about cursed items, is that you don't intentionally create them. They're made when you catastrophically fail at creating a regular magic item. So, you are making a periapt of water breathing, fail horribly, and you've made a cursed item that prevents you from breathing anything but air. You don't really have to explain it. It does what it does, because it doesn't do what it's supposed to do.

Cheliax

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The question of why an Aquatic PC wouldn't just bail on the Wormwood at the first opportunity came up in my game (I have an Undine and an Aquatic Sorcerer), and the answer is actually the environment. There is no reason why somebody couldn't just jump ship and swim away, except that drowning is the least of your worries in the Fever Sea. Check out the low-level encounter table in the back of The Wormwood Mutiny- basically anything on there will annihilate a single 1st-2nd level PC in under twenty seconds. The ocean is just swimming with monsters, and the only safety for all those 1HD swabs and riggers is being on the same boat as the likes of a CR10 Sorcerer.
Islands aren't safe either, by the way. Bonewrack Island is pretty tame for the Shackles, all things considered.

Edit: Also, I realize the idea is to provide a substantial in-world reason why the player won't bail on the AP. The problem with stopping the Undine from breathing water is that with a Swim Speed (so, something like a +8 Racial Bonus to Swim and the ability to take 10) the Undine doesn't have to go underwater for very long at all to get away, he can just swim off.


Does it have to be a cursed item?

I'm not sure if Undines have gills or rely on lungs, but what about a parasite that has infected his gills/lungs that prohibits his ability to breathe underwater. Due to the unknown nature of the parasite and it's very aggressive attachment behavior, surgery is out and spell based cures have failed (though if you wanted to be nice, you could say a cure minor reduces the damage to the gills/lung enough to breathe under water for 5 minutes, a cure moderate 10 minutes, etc).

Turn the level 8 water breathing into a side quest to have the parasite removed, maybe it's an issue that has all but wiped out his clan - not to go changing back stories, just on a roll :)

Lots of RP ability in there too, maybe it's sentient and hostile? Who knows!


A big, lead ball-and-chain doesn't stop anyone from breathing underwater. It'll stop you from considering jumping into the water though.


Ninten wrote:

The question of why an Aquatic PC wouldn't just bail on the Wormwood at the first opportunity came up in my game (I have an Undine and an Aquatic Sorcerer), and the answer is actually the environment. There is no reason why somebody couldn't just jump ship and swim away, except that drowning is the least of your worries in the Fever Sea. Check out the low-level encounter table in the back of The Wormwood Mutiny- basically anything on there will annihilate a single 1st-2nd level PC in under twenty seconds. The ocean is just swimming with monsters, and the only safety for all those 1HD swabs and riggers is being on the same boat as the likes of a CR10 Sorcerer.

Islands aren't safe either, by the way. Bonewrack Island is pretty tame for the Shackles, all things considered.

Edit: Also, I realize the idea is to provide a substantial in-world reason why the player won't bail on the AP. The problem with stopping the Undine from breathing water is that with a Swim Speed (so, something like a +8 Racial Bonus to Swim and the ability to take 10) the Undine doesn't have to go underwater for very long at all to get away, he can just swim off.

+1 Ninten. The idea of allowing the player to play an Undine in the first place is to allow him/her to utilize the abilities of the race. Otherwise, all you have is bleh.

The "Logic says that you will die" rational is probably the best to use. The PCs will be away from any hospitable port up until the Wormwood Mutiny, so the Undine escaping will only be an issue for book 1. Up until the mutiny, the undine's chance at solo survival is laughably small, no greater than any terrestrial PC. Any PC could jump ship, aquatic or not. A single cask or barrel will mitigate any difficulty due to swim checks. But, as Ninten said, the true threat is not of the sea, but what's within it.

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