Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Curses

Book curses are a deterrent against manuscript theft or vandalism, records show that they were employed in Assyria from 668 - 627 BC by King Ashurbanipal.  It went something like this:

"I have transcribed upon tablets the noble products of the work of the scribe which none of the kings who have gone before me had learned, together with the wisdom of Nabu insofar as it existeth [in writing]. I have arranged them in classes, I have revised them and I have placed them in my palace, that I, even I, the ruler who knoweth the light of Ashur, the king of the gods, may read them. Whosoever shall carry off this tablet, or shall inscribe his name on it, side by side with mine own, may Ashur and Belit overthrow him in wrath and anger, and may they destroy his name and posterity in the land."

In Fate a book curse would require a resistance roll from the cursed character to avoid having a "Marked By Doom" Aspect put on them, something nebulously bad that can be compelled and invoked against them in myriad ways.  Another option would be a "Geased" or "Alien Hungers" as a way to jerk character behavior around that's akin to an insanity spiral.

In D&D we see instances of this in the explosive runes or snake sigil spells, both are damaging outcomes, and underutilized.  Plain damage is dull though, what if a plague of locusts does descend on the countryside as ancient malice against they tomb raiders?  It certainly fits the mummy's curse model of cause and effect. Below are 8 book curses for use in whatever you want to use them for.

D8 Book Curses
1 -  The cursed finds his hair, teeth, ears, etc. sloughing away, revealing the appearance of the historical or fictional figure central to the stolen text. -4 reaction in the interim.
2 - When cut, the cursed individual no longer bleeds.  Closer inspection reveals that their flesh has become blood soaked paper.  They take double damage from fire as they are now quite flammable.
3- Everything they read is the text of the stolen book from a first person perspective, placing them inside the work.  In time all conversation also fits into the narrative in some way that's only intelligible to the cursed individual.
4 - A swarm of locusts follow behind the cursed by about a day, devouring all crops in their wake.
5 - Whenever any book is opened in the cursed one's presence, an invisible stalker emerges and bides its time to strike.
6 - The night after the theft, the character's skin is empty and left behind, a python is in the rafters.  If you can read snakes then this one embodies the stolen text.

7-Every enemy slain by the cursed raises 1 round later as a zombie, necessitating the destruction of the heart and brain. The zombies spout quotes from the stolen/damaged work.
8- Wounds dealt to the cursed reconfigure themselves into passages from the text. Take an additional 1d4 damage as the flesh swims around to more literary configurations.