Selunari Curse


Local racial coordinator here with a quick (okay, not really) reminder of how one of the most confusing skills in the game works, and doesn’t work: Selunari Curse. Given how much can go wrong with this particular skill, the explanation ends up being longer than the rulebook description.

Per the ARB p65-66 (PDF edition, if there's variance), there are a lot of stipulations to using this skill. I’d like to start with concept and some warnings.

  • This curse is intended to punish someone who has slighted the Selunari or their people (p65, 2nd paragraph). Using it for personal entertainment will generally not go over well in-character.
  • In-game, this curse is very recognizable. The victim will know you did it! Don’t curse someone unless you’re ready to be attacked and/or killed for doing so. This is about your people’s reputation and honor, not seeing random strangers get blue dots on their face.
  • In-game, willy-nilly cursing is generally frowned upon by the Selunari, as it makes their culture look bad. It’s rarely tolerated. Someone who uses curses for anything less than serious slights of their people’s reputation and honor may well be punished by their own people.
  • In-game, removing a curse is serious business (ARB p65, 1st paragraph). Most Selunari won’t remove another’s curse unless it was given without good cause, or it no longer serves its purpose. Generally, the Selunari doing the curse should be the one to remove it. Give some thought when cursing as to what you expect of your victim before you’re willing to remove the curse. “Forever” is easy to say, but if you use that as your standard for cursing, expect your victim to repeatedly murder you in your sleep, or another Selunari to remove it pretty quickly.
  • Recommendation from the chapter for new Selunari: Think of a curse ahead of time, which you would use in the rare occurrence that someone does slight the honor of your people. Practice it a few times so it’s stuck in your head like a spell incant. Verify that it fits these rules, and possibly check with a marshal to ensure you’re good to go. Hopefully, you don’t ever need to use it.

Now, let’s hit the major points of the game rules portion of how this skill works. This skill has a lot of power, which gives it a lot of limitations. Please be very mindful of these limitations, as ignoring any of them will lead to the curse likely being adjudicated or quickly removed.

  • Selunari curse may never impact combat or use of game skills. This is the second most commonly misplayed aspect of curses. Cursing a character to hop on one foot is fine, but they can stop doing so the instant combat breaks out, as hopping in combat is a safety hazard. Cursing a character to speak all sentences in reverse order is fine, but they can still cast spells. Cursing a character to get a headache when reading is fine, but they can still cast rituals and read scrolls without issue. Long story short, they can still kill you with any and all game skills, no matter how you set up the curse.
  • Selunari curse must include a verbal in a specific format. Skipping either of the first two sections of the verbal negates the curse as per “flubbing” a spell. The format is: <personalized phrase> <curse type> <optional but recommended: terms of removal>.
    • Personalized phrase: This is flavor-text, chosen by the player and customized to the character. Often, an individual will use the same flavor-text for all of their curses, rather than creating a new one each time. Examples include: “May the stars fall from the sky if…”, “May a thousand ills befall me if…”, “May my favorite horse break all its legs if…”, and “May I suffer a long and painful death if…”
    • Curse type: There are only four curses allowed (ARB p66). No other curse will be accepted, unless privately negotiated ahead of time between the curser and cursee. The type is the most commonly misplayed aspect of curses, with many Selunari creating freeform curses that are not covered by the below types. Specifically, many players make the mistake of trying to create new personality changes, which is not allowed.
      • Uncontrollable action: The target must add a single small quirk into their behavior at the specified time. Example: “May the stars fall from the sky if you do not cough after everything you say.” The victim must then cough after every paragraph, but does not need to in combat.
      • Deformity: This one gets tricky. The victim must display a clear deformity which cannot be from another race or playable creature (ARB p66). More importantly, the Selunari must provide any makeup/prosthetic at the time of the curse. Generally, if the target won’t be confused for something else, the use of a single feature is fine. A human cursed to have elf ears is not okay. A human with a dog nose is fine, as they don’t otherwise look like a dogkin. Example: “May the stars fall from the sky if you do not suddenly have a pink spot on the tip of your nose.” The victim must paint their nose tip pink, but the Selunari player must provide the makeup.
      • “Help those less fortunate than yourself”: The victim may interpret as they see fit for who is less fortunate, within reason. Example: “May the stars fall from the sky if you do not help those less fortunate than yourself.” The victim interprets this to mean that they must aid any and all dying creatures, if possible without impacting combat.
      • “Become the opposite of yourself”: This is very much open to interpretation from the victim. They might go from generous to selfish. They might become aggressive instead of passive. They might murder all Selunari, despite being a pacifist. It’s hard to say what aspect(s) of themselves they will flip, and thus difficult to give a good example.
    • Optional terms of removal: This is not required by the rules, but is highly recommended. The intent is that instead of spending hours of back and forth (or being murdered for using a curse), the terms of removal are placed right in the curse, so the victim knows what they need to do. It doesn’t actually remove the curse when they do it, but it’s essentially a contract between the Selunari and the victim as to how to move on. Example: “May the stars fall from the sky if you do not itch your nose constantly when talking to Selunari, until you apologize to me and buy me a drink!” The victim can go and collect some drinks from the tavern, come back to the Selunari, issue a formal apology (with nose-itching), and offer drinks to appease them. If the Selunari approves of the apology and gift, the curse absolutely should be removed.
  • Curses are removed by the resurrection of the victim, not the curser. However, keep in mind this is supposed to be fun and entertaining. Curses which strongly inhibit the target player’s ability to enjoy the game will not go over well. This is where the optional terms of removal becomes handy, as an otherwise mean curse has a course of action for the victim other than getting revenge.
  • Do not call holds! ARB p65, paragraph 6. We strongly discourage use of holds for anything except safety issues, plot announcements, or serious rules clarifications. If your curse is too complicated to resolve in-play, you might want to rethink it. If there is ambiguity, many victims’ players will ask after the scene, rather than during. This leads right into our next point…
  • As noted in the ARB p65, paragraph 3, the victim may refuse a curse that is problematic for any reason, but then the Selunari must offer a different one, which still must be from the list above. The discussion of why a curse needs to be swapped is an out-of-game one, and cannot be used to simply refuse any curse. If the Selunari player is unwilling to change the curse to something they both can agree on and is within the scope of the rules, the curse is lost. Also related, the victim has the ability to interpret the curse, not the caster. This is especially valid for the personality changing curses.
  • Do not try to make one curse do everything. They’re meant to create one little roleplay penalty on a victim. A common mistake is to attempt to layer all the possibilities for a curse into one verbal. This is not allowed and is well outside the power of this skill. Example: “May the stars fall from the sky if you do not grow a tail and hop on one foot and stutter whenever you speak, walk, or eat!” This is an invalid curse, as it is actually one deformity curse and several uncontrollable action curses. Keep it simple.
If I missed any rulings or conflicting clarifications, I'll update this post.

Sorry for the long ramble, but this is a very confusing skill and we want everyone to know what they're getting into with it. Good luck and happy gaming!
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This really needs to be cross-posted... like EVERYWHERE. I've seen people fouling up this racial for over two decades.

I have no objection to other chapters/locations/whatever linking to it, with the understanding that a few items are local suggestions (ie, the Optional part) and some chapters may interpret slightly differently.


Jim, thanks very much for the thorough, and entirely clear explanation, -- great work from you here!

[Previously posted detailed comment withdrawn due to clarification of my own bad information. Last summer, I was informed that Denver made an LCO rule that it would not allow non-standard curses. I was unaware that since that time, the more recent update of the ARB backs that choice. Fault's mine for not keeping up with official rules changes.]

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