Boil and Bubble: Curse as a Sorcery Spell

I’ve posted a Sorcery-style Bless spell already (and my thoughts on creating custom traits) so I figured I’d go ahead and do the counterpart: A Sorcery-style Curse spell.

Constructing a Universal Penalty Trait
Creating Curse as a spell has the same inherent problems as creating Bless as a spell. That is, in GURPS there’s no “I take a -1 to all rolls” disadvantage. Just like Blessed is the proper trait to start with for new advantageous effects so Divine Curse is the right one to start with for disadvantageous effects. Like with my previous efforts, there is some established material (in this case, material I wrote): “Cursed Thou Art” from Pyramid #3/78: Unleash Your Soul. Cribbing off my previous notes we get the following sorts of rolls for GURPS.

  1. Active Defense rolls (e.g., Dodge or Parry rolls)
  2. Appearance rolls (e.g., the roll for a Contact)
  3. Attribute rolls (e.g., Dexterity roll to avoid a trap)
  4. Damage rolls (e.g., a sword’s damage roll)
  5. Effect rolls (e.g., Critical Hit tables, Critical Spell Failure tables, etc.)
  6. Reaction rolls (this one is self explanatory)
  7. Skill rolls (e.g., Observation vs. Camouflage Quick Contests)
As I noted before there may be other types of rolls, but those are the ones that will get the most use. Figuring the cost  we get the following:

  1. For Dodge this is effectively -1.00 to Basic Speed for -20 points, but with +5 points to account for Basic Move for a total of -15. For Block and Parry, it’s a bit trickier since there are about 30+ skills. You could use a Racial Skill Incompetence (p. B452) to figure the cost – that case it’s going to be about -15 per level. Since we need a -1 to Block and Parry rolls that requires a -2 to skill rolls for another -30 points.
  2. As before, I’d calculate the cost as for the most expensive base trait requiring Frequency of appearance rolls – a 40-point Enemy. Averaging the appearance numbers together we get on average an increase of 1.625. That gives us a cost of -25 points.
  3. So ST without HP is worth -8 points, DX without a decrease to Basic Speed is worth -15 points, IQ is worth -20 points and decreases both Perception and Will rolls, and HT without an increase to Basic Speed or FP is worth -2 points.
  4. This one is fairly tricky since there is no “decrease ST trait” other than lowered ST. Since we’ve already got a -1 to ST from step 3 we simply need to calculate how much decreased ST for thrust only is worth (since two levels of ST is about -1 to swing and -1 to thrust). Since “Striking ST (Accessibility, Thrust attacks only, -20%)” is worth bout 4 points not having that trait would be worth -4 points. If you add up the cost of all Innate Attacks (71 points) and average them (there are 11 types) you get 6.46. Since that’s the cost for a full die of damage we multiply that by 0.25 for 1.62 points. Adding Universal Follow-Up increases the cost by 50% gets 2.43 and if we treat it as a disadvantage we get -2 points.
  5. As before I’d call this a Wildcard Power built as a Racial Skill Penalty- that gives us a cost of -8 points and only works on various effect tables.
  6. This is worth a flat -5 points per -1.
  7. Skill rolls are effectively lumped in with Attribute rolls since a +1 increase in Attributes rolls over to skills as well.

I’m going to suggest treating this just like I did Blessed (Charmed Existence) and charging only 1/5 the cost of the disadvantage for every trait except the most expensive. Doing that means the penalty to Block and Parry is worth -30 points and then we add 1/5 the cost of everything else, or 53 points. Rounding up we get a Divine Curse worth about -55 points. So, as a variation of Divine Curse it might look something like this:

Divine Curse (Whammied)

-55 points

The GM hates you (or maybe it’s just Devil being bored). Every roll you make is a made at a -1: reaction rolls, damage rolls, skill rolls, etc. If there is a die roll involved and it would be disadvantageous for you to get a bonus to that roll you get a -1. The GM may optionally allow multiple levels of this advantage, if so each -4 translates to -1d with an upper level set by the GM.

Curse as a Sorcery Spell
Building off of our previous work we get a version of Curse for Sorcery as follows.

Keywords: Buff.
Full Cost: 33 points for level 1 + 6 points/additional level.
Casting Roll: None. Use Innate Attack (Gaze) to aim.
Range: 100 yards
Duration: Special.

This gives the subject a -1 to all rolls per level the spell. This effect lasts indefinitely… until the subject succeeds a die roll (or a foe makes a bad die roll) that would remove him from serious danger. Then the spell averts the peril and the spell ends. The GM decides what exactly happens to increase the peril and should use the rules for Influencing Success Rolls (p. B347) as a guideline. For example, someone under the effects of a level 1 Curse who dodges an arrow by one might instead get hit in the Torso, while someone under a level 3 Curse might get hit in the head.

Statistics: Affliction 1 (HT; Disadvantage, Curse, +60%; Extended Duration, Permanent, Use of Serendipity Points, +150%; Increased 1/2D, 10x, +15%; No Signature, +20%; Sorcery, ‑15%) [33]. Notes: Each level of Curse is Divine Curse (Whammied) [-55/level] and a Serendipity Points [-5/level] and increases the cost by 55/level. Serendipity Points cost the same as Destiny Points (GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys, p. 5), but automatically refresh fully each session thanks to their narrowed scope.

Picking Over the Bones
Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m happy with the price – for a mere 20 more points you can be Cursed and get hosed all the time. That said, Cursed is more GM-subjective and is more akin to having bad serendipitous events occur vs. a hard game mechanical effect. I suspect that playtesting both Blessed (Charmed Existence) and Divine Curse (Whammied) would be required to see how things shake out. 
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