Monday, 13 May 2013

What's In Box 13?

The current play-by-post adventure going on over at Gems and Giants, combined
with my general Supernatural fandom has set me thinking about curse boxes, and why they might make an interesting addition to your game.

In the slip of reality that is Supernatural curse boxes are, well, boxes, built with the express intention of binding the magic of the item contained inside.

Usually this is because the item inside is cursed in some manner but, generally speaking it could be said that this has a lot more to do with how magic is portrayed within the Supernatural setting and the mythos surrounding it. It's generally a bad thing, being one of the main paths that leads a human to become a demon.

It's an interesting idea but, high-fantasy is of course a million miles away from this in it's perspective. Magic being wide-spread and relatively common place. Even settings that are not jammed to seams with spells and incantations are generally populated by a wealth of magical beings. Which, if you think about it, creates an even greater need for curse boxes.

But why might you introduce them?
  • "Radioactive" Magic: Occasionally a magical item may become unstable and, unable to hold it's own power, leaking it's effects into the surrounding area. Such items, even those with purely beneficial effects would become abhorrent to magic-users in this instance as the chaos created by the radiation would make any magic used within it's vicinity high unpredictable. A curse box in this case would work a lot like a lead container.
  • A Fiendish Trap: Delver love nothing more than looting a ruin and finding a magical object. It's their big score. That's probably why cursed objects were invented by GM's in the first place if truth be told.. So why break with tradition? Maybe the next chest that they find contains a dancing sword.. That attacks whosoever is close by, be they friend or foe.
  • A Quest Of Duty: This one comes straight out of Supernatural, where hunters often keep such boxes locked away so that the item within can do no harm. Now if we ramp that up to a high-fantasy level of magic, the item within could be truly devastating. What would your party of adventurers do if they came across what is effectively a Pandora's Box? If they're smart, they won't open it but, how will they keep it safe from others? They can lock it away, but thieves may break in. They can drag it to the end of the known world but someone may still find it. It's quite the dilemma!
There are obviously many more reasons to introduce such items, but in the interests of time (and not rambling on) I'll just keep to those three, that illustrate a few likely possibilities.

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