April Fool’s Day is traditionally the time people put up prank posts, but screw that. It’s also a perfect time to write up some pranks monsters can play on PCs. I’m going the easy route and focusing on curses placed by sprites.
Sprites are supposed to be nonlethal but annoying. They can cast curses on PCs, as their main attack, and the effects can be pretty much anything that is annoying or just embarrassing — the rules are completely open-ended, at least in B/X and earlier editions of D&D. (Are there sprites in 4th ed.? Or are they irrelevant to combat and thus left out?)
They might make a dwarf’s beard fall out, or make a halfling smell strongly and offensively of feet, or give an elf large warts on her nose, and so on. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to think of something that will humiliate a given character, but other times if you’re like me you’d rather just roll something up on a table. This month I’m going to try to write more of the kind of posts I like to read, and one kind of post I love reading is random tables, so here’s a table of spritely curses because that’s just the kind of thing I’d probably need at some point in my campaign anyway. Most of these will cause reaction penalties. All sprite curses are permanent but may be removed by a Remove Curse spell.
D30 table of sprite curses
- Nose begins to grow d20 inches longer, sprouting small branches and leaves as it does so.
- Anything placed in a pocket, pouch, sack, or pack will, 50% of the time, disappear and reappear in another random container/pocket/pouch/etc. on the target’s person.
- Stinkfingers. One of target’s hands permanently smells of feces.
- Dribbles. Target always dribbles when drinking any beverage. 1 in 6 chance any given potion imbibed will be at 1/2 strength or effect due to loss of volume.
- Must speak in questions only. (If the player messes up and makes a statement, his character feels a stinging pain. Subsequent errors will cause 1 hp nonlethal damage.)
- Must always give false answers to any questions, with same penalties as #5 above for errors.
- Can only shout, never whisper or speak normally.
- Hair grows 6″ per day. Including body hair.
- Sprouts small butterfly-like wings.
- Face freezes in ugly grimace.
- Eyes water continuously.
- Whoopee! Whenever target stands or begins walking, it sounds like he/she farted.
- Stomach growls audibly whenever target sees or smells food.
- Butterfingers. 2 in 6 chance to drop anything fragile when picking it up or setting it down/putting it away.
- Feet grow several sizes, splitting whatever footwear is currently worn. Over the course of a week they grow clown-shoe sized. Penalty to climb, run, etc.
- Hiccups. These subside occasionally but always return. Stealth is impossible.
- Suddenly very attractive to all animals in the area, who will follow the PC and put on mating displays and possibly attempt to mate.
- Grow whiskers, chin recedes, nose grows pointed, ears grow rat-like.
- Sneezing fits (lasting a full turn) whenever a member of the opposite sex touches or comes very close.
- Small yellow flowers begin to grow in among body hair. They smell strongly but not entirely unpleasant.
- Any clothes immediately show large sweat stains on chest and armpits; armor will rust slightly in same areas; body odor is noticeable even in medieval culture.
- Colorful mushrooms sprout from neck and shoulders. Every few days they release very fecund spores which can grow on any organic material, living or dead.
- Skin turns bright blue.
- Tattoo of the word “Stoopid” (in Common) appears on forehead.
- Followed by a halo of flies/gnats/bees at all times.
- Any food touched turns to tasteless mush; drinks turn to stagnant, brackish water. It is still edible/drinkable, just lousy.
- Severely cross-eyed. Misread any writing on a 3 in 6 (scroll spells will fail or be reversed). Memorize wrong spell on a 2 in 6 (roll randomly among those in your spellbook).
- Any gold or silver touched or possessed turns to copper.
- Any strings, ropes, chains, etc. handled, touched, or carried become hopelessly tangled and useless.
- Target is unable to speak or write proper names; all communication must use common nouns, pronouns, etc. Same penalties as #5 above.
Apart from the obvious & expected effects on one’s appearance, I thought it would be fun to add some ‘taboos,’ creating something along the lines of mini-games Telecanter has described, and also some effects that would inconvenience a character by ruining resources and equipment. None of these should be directly life-threatening, although the chance of offending and even provoking patrons/rulers/other major NPCs seems pretty good!
Update: It occurs to me now that if you are like me, you’ll forget about the curses long before the PCs pony up for a Remove Curse spell. (And/or the players will forget after a session or two.) So I would write the curse down on an index card the player has to keep. You could even make up a “deck” of spritely curses if your party is planning an extended foray into fairyland.