Hanging Curse – A New Power for ‘Better Angels’

Better-Angels-cover-v4-front-612pxWritten by Greg Stolze, © 2013

Hanging Curse (Corruption)

While the curse of being hung by the neck until dead would be useful for agents of demonic malice, that’s not exactly versatile.  No, the ‘hanging curse’ takes its name from the way it hangs, like the legendary Sword of Damocles, until one day it drops.

It works like this: The demonic supervillain gestures dramatically and declares, “My ire shall fall upon thee should you ever talk to Janice again!” or some other similar trigger condition.  “…should you ever raise violent hand against me” is a pragmatic alternative, while “…the next time thou hast the temerity to micturate standing up” is a dramatic combo of cruelty and weird specificity.  The trigger action can vary widely.

The effect of the curse varies, but as long as you rolled a Patient Corruption set while placing it, it goes into effect the instant the target performs the forbidden action. Specifically, the curse immediately removes one point from a designated Virtuous Strategy. The point does not slide; it’s just gone. It comes back only in the usual difficult ways you gain points in a Virtuous Strategy.

You can curse someone as many times as you want, but the most recent success is the only one that’s supernaturally enforced.  (You may not want to let people know that—if you fool them, they might avoid five or six behaviors, not just the last one forbidden.  On the other hand, if they notice that one curse didn’t take effect, they may assume all of them are bluff.  Take your chances.  If they do know the curse works, it’s really fun to call out two or three fakes with each real one.)

The overarching effect of the Hanging Curse is to give your enemies an unpalatable choice.  They can avoid the action you forbade (thereby letting you control them) or they can suck it up and take the hit on Patient, Open or Insightful.  Once the curse discharges, it’s done until another is placed.

While the Hanging Curse is powerful, it does have limits.  First off, it only works if the victim can hear and comprehend the forbiddance. (If she doesn’t know what to avoid, she doesn’t squirm, and what’s the fun for your demon in that?) Secondly, it’s one to a customer. You can actually remove someone’s Hanging Curse by replacing it with something like “Yeah yeah, feel my wrath if you ever, um, jump to the sun.”  The quality of the roll doesn’t matter, remember—just how recent it is.

As for the form the curse takes, that’s up to you.  If you target Patience, he could become subtly scatterbrained or plagued by terrifying hallucinatory clowns.  A decrease in Insightful could inflict Tourette’s-like impulsive cursing, or it could just be a shady cast to his features that make every statement and question seem vaguely sleazy.  Open could be anything from weeping sores to sourceless lethargy.

Written by Greg Stolze, © 2013