Content of the article: "How much game mechanics do you (have to) explain/reveal? -> a question about cursed items"
Page 139 of the DMG states:
"Most methods of identifying items, including the Identify spell, fail to reveal such a curse, although lore might hint at it. A curse should be a surprise to the item's user when the curse's effects are revealed."
I would want to tempt my fighter with the Bow of Destruction) (homebrew), a powerful but cursed bow. I was hoping the party would forget to cast said Identify spell in order to surprise them with the curse, and so I could waggle my finger and nag about how dangerous this world is 🙂
But that was before I stumbled upon the DMG-rule above. You see: my party is new to D&D and are learning the rules as we play. Some of them have played computer games like Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale and "know" that an Identify spell reveals whether an item is cursed or not. Except it doesn't (anymore).
As a kind and benevolent DMTM I want to give my party a chance to know what's going on. They will be lured by the weapon (charisma ST 13), the bow " is covered in inscriptions of creatures going mad or withering away into nothingness " and on a display, ready for grabs. A 15 HISTORY CHECK will have the character remember this bow is trouble, a detect magic will reveal the necromantic school of magic; And frankly, the thing is just too good to be true 🙂
My players do not know about the rule of "a curse should be a surprise". And some of them – as I said – trust Identity to also reveal a curse. So I do kinda feel like I am lying to them.
On the other hand, telling about this rules just gives it away. Like when they cast identify, I say"this spell is different from the games we used to play as children – we are all old farts – and does not reveal if whether this item is cursed or not".. yeah, nothing fishy about that…
I use this cursed item as an example (to which I very much would like to know your thoughts about) but it applies to a lot of more situations, of course..
And I know all about "your table, your rules" and "just homebrew or modify that rule", but I don't want to do that. I want to stick as close as possible to the rules because I am a sucker for rules.
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