All Red Curse content derived and adapted from Wizards of the Coast's AD&D 2nd Edition Supplement, "Red Steel".

The Red Curse

Posted by EarthDragon on 16th July 2015.

The majority of the lands of The Unification and its surrounds are under the effects of a series of enchantments collectively called “The Red Curse.”

The true origin of these enchantments is lost to the mists of time, though there are a number of theories, which will be examined in brief below.

Though the Red Curse is potentially devastating, there are ways to channel its magical energies, and to some individuals the curse is more of a blessing.

This is because the area covered by the Red Curse is magical in ways other than just its curse. It is also home to two magical substances, vermeil and cinnabryl, and the latter can be used for protection from the Red Curse.

Currently, the only regions known to be outside the influence of the Curse are the two Unification protectorates of Illendre and Yahovian, and the area to the south and west of these provinces which fall outside the borders.

Unfortunately, these lands are unsuitable for colonisation due to a massive Fallen population and the heaviness of evil’s taint on this area. The taint in these lands also carries somewhat into The Unification, affecting the provinces of Illendre and Yahovian, though there are some tainted areas of evil further inside The Unification, with one small area reputed to be very close to the capital.

The Taint is distinct from the Red Curse, and is covered elsewhere in these rules.

Basic Effects of the Red Curse

Posted by EarthDragon on 16th July 2015.

The fundamental effects of the Red Curse are twofold.

First, every person who spends time in the cursed area begins to manifest an extraordinary magical power, known as a Legacy.

Second, if proper steps are not taken to protect against the Curse, the affected individual usually suffers some changes in physical appearance, or some other detrimental effects, as well as attribute loss.

There are various side effects of the Red Curse.

For most people, the acquisition of a Legacy means a loss of health, or of mental or physical prowess, as well as some unpleasant physical manifestation. For example, someone who receives a Legacy of great strength might gain it in only one arm, and that arm might grow to huge proportions, while the rest of the body remains relatively normal. At the same time, the person would lose Intelligence, forgetting those things once learned, and possibly even losing the ability to learn.

However, the magical substance cinnabryl protects from the worst effects of the curse, while allowing individuals to enjoy the benefits. Cinnabryl, and other magical substances are used to manipulate the Curse’s magic to beneficial purposes, even allowing some people to gain more than one Legacy.

The Origin of the Red Curse

Posted by EarthDragon on 16th July 2015.

The Dragonfall

According to this legend, many years ago, dragons roamed the lands, and were often seen in the sky. The dragons met in great conclaves, where they decided how they should be governed, and how they should relate to others, whether dragons or other races.

Then, the dragons began to war among themselves, for reasons lost in time.

It is said that the leader of all the dragons was saddened by these conflicts, for he had believed that the noble dragons were above the petty conflicts of other races.

Eventually, the dragons’ leader was able to find out who started the conflict, but to do so cost him dearly, for he had to battle other dragons.

Grievously wounded, the dragon leader left the scene of the battle, and flew to find the instigator, leaving a great trail of blood.

The great dragon finally found his hated enemy, a powerful human. They fought for many days.

In the end, the dragon won, but only at the cost of his own mortal life. As he lay breathing his last, he laid an eternal curse on all the lands where his blood had fallen. So great was his curse that, in effect, he gained immortality.

The red vermeil that blows on the winds is the living remnant of his blood, an eternal reminder of his pain. Because of it, the curse is eternal.

The wording of the curse was such that all who lived in the area would suffer, becoming twisted relics of their former selves.

Yet, the curse would also draw the greedy and the power-hungry to the area, leading them away from other parts of the world, to a place where they would be all gathered together into one nation and would eventually destroy themselves.

The fact that most of The Unification is under the Red Curse, as well as the Fallen lands around it on most sides, but not in other parts of the world, suggests that the people of The Unification were drawn here seeking power during their ongoing struggle with the Fallen. If this is true, and the people of The Unification came here out of preference over other lands not affected by the Red Curse, it suggests that The Unification may, in time, destroy itself.

Some argue that it already has.

The Aranea and the Wallaras

Another tale claims that the wallaras, known to many as chameleon men, once had a great and powerful civilisation.

Descended from dragons, the wallaras were altered to have smaller forms, so they might interact more freely with the human and near-human races, and spread the wisdom of the dragons to them. They brought many great things to the world.

Then came the aranea.

They were evil spider beings who, in their arrogance, conducted strange, magical experiments on wallaras, and released a plague that damaged them and turned them to evil.

The immortal patron of the wallaras, the dragon known as the Great One, tried to save his chosen people, but his magic was twisted by the aranea and their patrons.

In the end, the wallaras devolved into the race of spiritually rich, yet technologically primitive people they are today.

The Great One’s wrath was terrible.

He brought all his magic to bear, and laid an aura of magic over the land. The magic was meant to give every living thing in the area a magical power, so that they might resist the aranea.

Alas, the aranea and their patrons again interfered, altering the magic so that with the power came a curse. All who gained the arcane power would be twisted by it.

Still, the Great One fought against the forces of evil and chaos, in a battle beyond the comprehension of mere mortals. He fought the enemy until both sides were exhausted by their efforts.

But still the Great One persevered.

He knew that he would be unable to act for a long time, too late to save the people doomed by the magic he had initiated, and that others had perverted. With a great effort, the Great One pulled a bone from his body, and smashed it above the world.

The blood that rained down dried and became the powdery vermeil, while the pieces of his bone fell deep into the earth, where they turned into the deposits of cinnabryl, the substance that protects from the curse, and allows the Great One’s blessing to function properly.

Now the aranea are a hated race, nearly extinct. The few who still exist hide from the sight of all who care for good and order, mainly in the lands of the Fallen, although they are not too popular or numerous even there.

Nimmur and the Manscorpions

This legend states that many centuries ago, beings that were half-man and half-scorpion roamed the lands of the world.

They became friends with the ancient people of Nimmur, the ancestors of the enduki, whom most call winged minotaurs.

At first, the manscorpions were friendly, even helpful – but they hid a deep and abiding love for chaos.

Eventually, they turned against the good people of Nimmur, and against the immortal patron of both races, Avuitar, goddess of the sun.

Avuitar was angered, and she took her blessing from the manscorpions, making them vulnerable to the light and heat of the sun.

Wherever they stood, manscorpions burnt to piles of red ash, which we now know as vermeil.

The power of Avuitar was great, and it sank into the land. Now all people who live in areas where vermeil is present gain power from the land.

But the red ash from the manscorpions flies through the air, and it poisons all who live near it, giving them bizarre afflictions, unless they dig to find the receptacles of Avuitar’s power, the magical metal cinnabryl, which still protects people from the traitorous manscorpions.

Effects of the Red Curse

Posted by EarthDragon on 16th July 2015.

The Red Curse is made up of a number of elements, which are all believed to combine into one curse. There are, however, different terms for different aspects of the curse.

This section describes each component of the effects of the curse, as well as the time factors involved, and the details of protecting oneself from the curse’s detriments.

Generally speaking, the curse affects only intelligent beings. However, animals and some monsters have been known to acquire legacies.

Some, but by no means all, of these suffer the detriments of the Red Curse as well.

Almost all animals of the cursed lands are affected by at least the side effects of the Red Curse.

The Red Curse has precisely one beneficial effect: the Legacies.

Since this is always accompanied by some malign effect, the people of The Unification and its surrounds never refer to the acquisition of a Legacy as a blessing or benefit, but always as part of the curse.

The name “Legacy” hearkens to the affliction, for an arcane power gained is considered a legacy of the Red Curse. The Legacy is the first effect of the curse to manifest.

A Legacy is a magical, spell-like power; its use is essentially automatic for the user, but it is limited. Legacies are usually directly beneficial to the user, but can sometimes be used to aid another.

Further discussion of Legacies, and descriptions of the Legacies themselves, appears on the Legacies page, accessed via the menu to the left.

After a person acquires a Legacy, he or she begins to lose points from a particular ability score, such as Constitution or Intelligence.

The precise number of points lost is variable (generally 2d4 in most cases, but other ranges exist). Note that wearing cinnabryl prevents most of this loss, but not all of it in most cases.

The ability score affected is dependent on the exact Legacy acquired, and is usually more or less the opposite of the arcane power gained.

For example, a character who gains a Legacy of Strength loses points from their Intelligence score.

In addition to the ability loss, the character receives another detrimental effect, related to the Legacy acquired. In most cases, this is a physical deformation.

For example, characters with a Legacy of Armour might grow ugly and uncomfortable scales over their skin.

An individual who suffers ability loss and physical change is referred to as an Afflicted.

People living in the cursed lands gradually acquire a red tint to their skin and hair. For humans and humanoids, this reddening begins well before adulthood in the Disputed Lands, and approximately at adulthood in other lands.

The scaled races, such as some Tieflings, Gith, Githyanki and Githzerai, or those with reptilian or draconic Bloodlines, first manifest redness around the edges of their scales, or in web-like lines through their skin.

Furred races like the Hrruban or the Baruti gain a red tint to the ends of their hair strands. In all cases, the colouring spreads and will eventually cause the character’s whole body to appear red, if the character lives long enough.

After the initial reddening described above, hair usually colours next, with that on the head acquiring a deep red tint after some time. The exact rate varies, though the rate of spread is rather slow for the Revanna, Sandana, Imir, Anath, and Dvati; it might take several years for a character of one of these races to acquire red skin, scales or fur, and they might never get red hair. The rate is somewhat faster for other races, taking some two to five years for most others.

Del’Romi never show any sign of colouring at all (even if they are Inheritors), perhaps because they, of all the character races, are plants.

The rate of progression of the reddening is also dependant on the zone within the cursed lands in which the person lives and adventures. The acquisition of Legacies accelerates this reddening process. A person colours relatively quickly (given race and zone of origin) when a Legacy becomes enabled, often serving as a clue that the person has gained the power.

In addition, an individual who has acquired a legacy receives an additional side effect: They begin radiating a slight magical aura.

A magical aura is also acquired by a person who gains the detrimental effects of the curse, but does not gain a Legacy (such as Del’Romi, who never gain any benefits from the curse unless they become Inheritors, only detriments, again, possibly because they are plants).

The basic effect of this magical aura is that it befuddles most detection spells. The more Legacies a character (that is, and Inheritor) gains, the greater the aura.

The exact amount of colouring a character endures is left to the DM and the player. This should be something of a role-playing choice, influenced by the character’s origin and how the player wants the character to look.

The following text describes the Red Curse’s effects on a person not protected by cinnabryl.

Reddening of skin and hair is typically the first thing to manifest, starting well before the character reaches adulthood. The base starting age can be considered the approximate age of adulthood (most races mature slightly before that).

Most people gain a Legacy when they reach maturity; some (NPCs) developing earlier, while a few (mostly PCs) gain the power later (approximately 3rd level).

Despite what any sage or church may claim about fate, a person’s Legacies are essentially random, though related people tend to have related Legacies, and some Legacies are more common in certain regions. In some very small villages, virtually all people have the same Legacy. If a character’s parentage, and the Legacies of the character’s relatives and neighbours are known, then these will influence the choice of a character’s initial Legacy. Otherwise (or if preferred), the player should roll 1d20 and consult the table below and the map of Legacy regions.

The map (see the Maps page accessed from the menu to the left) shows numbered regions; the table identifies Legacies by those same numbers. Note that some areas belong to regions some distance apart. In the column numbered for the region in which the character resides, find the Legacy on the same line as the number rolled on the 1d20.

People who travel into a cursed area (from one of the few regions not cursed in the area around The Unification) after reaching maturity also gain a Legacy, unless they belong to a race that does not acquire Legacies.

Non-natives are completely unaffected for a number of days equal to their Constitution score; one day later, the Legacy manifests. All characters are either natives of cursed regions, or have resided there long enough to have picked up a Legacy. For those who play non-natives, they acquire the curse at 1st level, and do not, by default, have the protection of cinnabryl, since it takes time to find out about cinnabryl and to find a reliable supplier.

The first indications of the manifestation of a Legacy are increased reddening of the person’s skin or hair, plus a tingling in the extremities and a subdued sense of euphoria and power.

This “Time of Grace” lasts for about a week (1d4+5 days), during which time the person can activate the Legacy once per day.

Natives are well acquainted with the symptoms, and know that Legacies are activated by force of will. They immediately seek to obtain cinnabryl (see the section on cinnabryl below).

A non-native will not automatically understand what is happening, and will need to consult a local. Locals are cagey when discussing the curse with non-natives, viewing them as competitors for a limited supply of cinnabryl.

Still, the Legacy might activate during times of stress, if the DM deems it appropriate. For example, a non-native character whose Legacy has manifested might unconsciously activate it when threatened by a monster. This will certainly be a clue that something has happened to the character.

After the Time of Grace, the Legacy becomes fully enabled, and the user can activate it the standard three times per day. This coincides with the beginning of the “Time of Loss”, which lasts for 2d4 days. Each day, the person loses one point from the ability listed for the Legacy acquired. If any ability score other than Charisma drops to a score of 0 or below as a result, the character dies. A Charisma score of 0 or less simply means that deformation has rendered the character extremely ugly.

After the Time of Loss, there begins the “Time of Change”. It is during this period that the physical detriments of the curse manifest. In most cases, the body of the affected individual begins to change in some way. As with the ability loss, this physical change depends on the exact Legacy gained, and is detailed with the description of the Legacy.

The Time of Change lasts about a week (1d6+4 days), during which time the body of the affected person transforms slowly. If the person has a Legacy that does not cause a physical transformation, the other detriment(s) begin to slowly occur over the period of time rolled.

Those individuals who have suffered an ability loss and physical transformation are referred to as “Afflicted”. Afflicted are considered hideous mutations; they are hunted and destroyed by some people, though their friends might try to obtain cinnabryl to reverse the effects.

When a person’s Legacy first manifests, the individual has a few days to obtain a cinnabryl amulet to hold off the detrimental effects. The amulet should remain in contact with the person, which means touching the skin or separated from it by no more than a thin layer of cloth.

People who do not obtain cinnabryl deteriorate slowly, as detailed in the previous section. If they begin wearing cinnabryl during the Time of Grace, they lose only one point from the designated ability score, shortening the Time of Loss to one day, but this ability loss is permanent (and cannot be avoided by any means).

An individual wearing cinnabryl from the beginning does not go through the Time of Change.

Cinnabryl can also counteract detrimental effects that have already occurred, provided not too much time has passed. If a person begins wearing cinnabryl after the first day of the Time of Loss, the loss of ability score points is halted. The process of loss is reversed, and the character regains ability score points until only 1 point below the original score.

Regardless of when a character begins wearing cinnabryl, 1 point is always permanently lost from the ability score. The loss of that point is not reversed by cinnabryl.

If an individual begins wearing cinnabryl during the Time of Change, the progress of the transformation halts immediately. Regardless of how long the character has been changing, the time required to reverse the change is 1d6+4 days.

The transformation is slow and rather painful. If the character stops wearing cinnabryl for a time, the detrimental effects of the curse can occur again. A new Time of Grace begins, lasting only one day, after which the Time of Loss and Time of Change begin, occurring simultaneously. At such a time, the affected person loses the full 8 points from the designated ability score, a process that requires 8 days.

The transformation requires the same amount of time, and is quite painful (making it hard to concentrate (-20 to Concentration), among other things). As with the standard Time of Loss, a character can die (or become exceptionally ugly) because of ability score loss.

During this combined Time of Loss and Change, the process can be stopped if the character starts wearing cinnabryl again. As with the other times when cinnabryl is worn, the process of loss and change stop immediately.

However, after this discontinuation follows a period of stasis; the character remains at the ability score as adjusted, and in the state of transformation reached, for a period of 2d8 days. After this, reversal begins. The ability score returns at a rate of 1 point per day, again until the character’s ability score is 1 point below the original score. The reversal of the transformation takes longer, 2d4+6 days.

If the process of loss and change are ever completed, the person is considered fully Afflicted, and special measures must be taken for restoration. See the following section on “Recovery from Affliction”.

Everyone with any intelligence considers it important to wear cinnabryl from the moment the effects of the Red Curse are first detected (note that wearing it before the start of the Red Curse has no effect on the character and still depletes cinnabryl as if the person had the Curse, see below for depletion).

Naturally, this makes cinnabryl a valued commodity. Note that most people wear an amulet of cinnabryl, simply a neck pendant (or other piece of jewellery) designed to place cinnabryl near the skin.

Inheritors wear cinnabryl talismans, amulets designed to hold a vial for production of crimson essence.

Someone who has been affected by the Red Curse, acquiring a Legacy and suffering the loss of an ability point, but using cinnabryl to hold off further change is considered “Tainted” or “Balanced”. The former term is used mostly by the common folk, the latter by Inheritors.

Whenever cinnabryl is worn next to the skin, its magical properties become depleted. One ounce of material will deplete in a week (seven days). So if an amulet weighing eight ounces is worn, for instance, its power drains over eight weeks.

It is the amount worn that is important, rather than the number of items worn. A character wearing two bracelets of cinnabryl, each weighing eight ounces, is protected for 16 weeks. Both items are depleted equally, so if a person removes the bracelets after wearing them together for eight weeks, each would be good for four weeks alone.

If this seems complicated mathematically, well, it does to the people of The Unification as well. Since the depletion rate of cinnabryl is so vital to the people, they tend to wear one item at a time, usually an eight ounce item that has been tested and guaranteed for eight weeks, or a one-pound item guaranteed for 16 weeks.

Note that the weights mentioned are for cinnabryl that has not been depleted. As explained in the page on the magical substances, the actual weight of cinnabryl, compared with its mass, indicates how long the cinnabryl item will last. The testing of a cinnabryl item can be performed by jewellers, alchemists, smiths, and some merchants and traders. A player character can learn to test cinnabryl without needing to learn the requisite skills, but scales and a marked container for water are required, as is knowledge of the simple equation for the test.

Only a truly nasty person would mislead another as to the time a cinnabryl amulet can be expected to last. However, such a thing has been known to occur.

Note that the detonation of smokepowder can increase the depletion rate of cinnabryl. Fortunately for most people, this affects only cinnabryl worn by Inheritors, due to the odd interaction between the magical substances and the Inheritors’ bodies, which have been imbued with the magic of multiple Legacies.

A smokepowder explosion within two feet of an Inheritor causes the instant depletion of a week’s worth of cinnabryl. The amount of smokepowder that explodes does not matter, as long as it is enough to propel a bullet from a wheellock pistol (about an ounce).

If the character is not carrying at least a week’s worth of cinnabryl, the amount carried is instantly depleted, and any amount of time left over is applied to the Time of Loss and Change (as described above) as if the character had stopped wearing cinnabryl. Thus, an Inheritor caught by a smokepowder explosion while wearing less than an ounce of cinnabryl will experience perhaps several days’ worth of the Time of Loss and Change, all in a few seconds. Because of this, and the pronounced effects of cinnabryl deprivation, Inheritors try not to allow themselves to be caught wearing less than an ounce of the metal.

Some people become fully afflicted, either from never wearing cinnabryl, or from ceasing to wear that magical metal.

To become fully afflicted, an individual must complete both the loss and the change. After this occurs, reversing the detrimental effects of the Red Curse becomes very difficult.

Though the remove curse spell normally has little effect on the Red Curse, it is vital in helping an Afflicted recover. The Afflicted must be the recipient of a remove curse spell, but the spell does nothing except to make it possible for cinnabryl to be used to reverse the condition.

The Afflicted must begin wearing cinnabryl immediately after the remove curse spell is cast (or just before it is cast, to be safe). During the first week thereafter, nothing happens (except that the cinnabryl depletes at the normal rate). But at the end of that week, the Afflicted recovers 1 point lost from an ability score.

The character continues to recover lost points; at a rate of 1 point every third day after the first point is recovered. Once the ability scores have returned to normal (that is, one point below what they were when the character was originally created, taking into account any other effects that raise ability scores that the character might have undergone), the Afflicted must receive another remove curse spell.

This causes the character’s physical transformation (or other detrimental effect) to begin reversing itself. The character must make a Constitution check (DC 25), if this roll is failed, the character can never recover any further, and must permanently suffer the effects of the physical change. But if the roll succeeds, the individual’s transformation reverses in a process taking 2d4 weeks.

The reversal process is very painful, and actually causes damage to the character, at a rate of 1d4 hit points per day. Thus, the recovering character will probably require a few healing spells during this period. Natural healing occurs at the normal rate, and the healing skill helps, as per the standard rules.

The fact that this process is so long and involved prompts most people to consider it a waste of cinnabryl to reverse Affliction, causing most people to seek to hunt and destroy Afflicted.

As discussed, cinnabryl can protect people from the worst of the effects of the Red Curse, and can even reverse some of these effects.

However, there is no complete cure for the Red Curse, only prevention and continuing treatment.

It is possible to come closer to a cure if the character leaves the cursed lands.

It is dangerous for a character to leave the cursed lands after being affected by the Red Curse.

Once a person leaves the cursed lands, nothing unusual happens for a number of days equal to the character’s Constitution score. But at the end of this period, the character suffers the loss of any and all Legacies.

When this occurs, the Legacy (or Legacies) activates automatically. After one finishes, the next begins, until the character has used each of his or her Legacies the maximum number of times allowed.

In this fashion, the Legacies “burn out” of the character’s system.

After all the Legacies have run their course, the character must make a successful Constitution check (DC 25). If this roll is successful, nothing else happens, but if it fails, the character loses all but 1 remaining hit point and immediately falls unconscious for 1d4 hours. No healing less powerful than a heal spell can help the character during this time.

An Afflicted who leaves the cursed lands regains ability points at the rate of 1 point per day (though the initial point lost is still not regained). If the character has undergone physical transformation, this condition is not reversed.

However, when the character is outside the cursed area, a remove curse spell cast by a 12th-level caster can restore the individual’s body to its natural state.

If the detriment was something other than a physical transformation, the effect ceases when the Legacy is lost.

The red tint the character acquired while in the cursed lands gradually declines over the next year, leaving the hair and skin their original colours.

Any character who wears cinnabryl after leaving the cursed lands suffers the loss of 1 point of Constitution per day. This condition is often referred to as the “red blight”. It continues until all Constitution points have been lost (killing the character), or until the individual stops wearing the cinnabryl.

If characters such as this (I.e. one who has lost their Legacies and recovered from the detrimental effects, but not necessarily lost all of their red tint) ever return to the cursed lands, they are considered non-native persons entering the region for the first time, in regard to the time until the Red Curse takes effect again.

Legacies possessed before are not automatically regained. If a character remains in the cursed lands long enough to gain a Legacy, there is a 50% chance that it will be the same Legacy as was initially possessed, and a 50% chance it will be something else entirely.

In either case, the manifestation of symptoms follows the usual course, including the permanent loss of another point from an ability score. Note that a person who is considered a “non-native” in this fashion uses their current ability score as the original score for the purposes of determining the effect of ability loss (that is, if they were created with an Intelligence score of 14 and lost one point when gaining their first Legacy, dropping them to 13, then 13 is the “original score” for Intelligence from that point forward for any new Legacies gained which might cause Intelligence loss).

Thus, once “cured”, it is probably in the character’s best interests to remain outside the cursed region, if they can.

Legacy Acquired By Region

1d20 Roll Region 1 Region 2 Region 3 Region 4
1 Aid Animal Form All-Around Vision Acid Touch
2 Amber Paralysis Anti-Poison Anti-Missile Animate
3 Armour Bite Ball of Fire Blend
4 Burn Breathe Water Craft Item Clairvoyance
5 Charm Chill Cure Climb
6 Create Liquid Crimson Fire Disintegrate Dexterity
7 Detonate Digging Displace Disguise
8 Fight Disrupt Find Duplicate
9 Grow Entangle Float Feel Magic
10 Light Farsight Fog Missile
11 Luck Fly Gaseous Breath Phantasm
12 Proficiency Meld Gaseous Form Poison
13 Projectile Plant Form Hypnosis Red Steel
14 Senses Red Shield Leap Reflect
15 Sight Repel Metal Phase Regenerate
16 Speed Shape Stone Separation Silence
17 Swim Sleep Shock Spell Shield
18 War Cry Spikes Shoot Unlock
19 Weapon Hand Strength Shrink Weaken
20 Wind Temperature Translate Webcasting

All Red Curse content derived and adapted from Wizards of the Coast's AD&D 2nd Edition Supplement, "Red Steel".