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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Lords of Olympus: Curses and Benedictions

In Lords of Olympus, the power to utter divine curses and benedictions is part of Olympian Magic, though my own feeling is that in a LoO campaign, this should also be a power which other creatures and beings may have.  I had almost considered separating the curses/benedictions power from Olympian Magic itself.  The reason is mainly that this is a very important part of evoking the feeling of Greek Myth in the game.

A lot of Greek Myth ties in with ideas of destiny; there are things that are not destined, and that depend on the ability or choices of individuals, but there are things that absolutely ARE destined, in a magical sense, that in one form or another MUST come to pass.  In many cases, this issue of destiny becomes a major source of drama (and often tragedy).  Thus, in a Lords of Olympus campaign, I would strongly urge the GM to encourage the use of Curses and Benediction.  Without some kind of subtle encouragement, PCs might be very reluctant to use such a terrible power, in part because of the 10-point cost to luck.

What the Players should come to see (through GM example!) is that Curses and Benedictions can have massive significant effects in a game.  The GM should ideally demonstrate this by having NPCs make use of this power, and then making it clear to the players what a major force this power has.  The GM also has to be careful, while not avoiding the collateral damage that a well-worded Curse or Benediction can cause, to avoid any temptation to end up discouraging the use of curses (or benedictions) out of fear that the GM will just make it come around and bite the would-be curse-er in the ass.  The idea of collateral effects is in place to make people think about how they use Curses or Benedictions, and NOT to be used to just make these powers so inevitably self-damaging as to not be worth it; take my word for it, the 10 point cost will be more than enough to keep players from just frivolously throwing around curses (or benedictions).  Thus, when they do show a willingness the pay that cost, the GM shouldn’t make it any harder for them.

And it should be very powerful, a curse when uttered should be enough to make even the most powerful God very nervous. Fate cannot be avoided, only mitigated; and while a Benediction can remove the effects of a curse, that still brings a serious cost to whomever utters it; and it depends, of course, on the victim of the curse knowing that he has been cursed, which is not always evident!  I would go so far in my own game (though I did not explicitly state it in the rules) that a benediction could only remove a curse if the person giving the benediction knows what the curse was and who uttered it (this makes the matter much more interesting than a costly-but-routine reaction to being cursed). And of course, any effects already manifested by a curse will not simply go away by the granting of a benediction.

Finally, as I mentioned above, Curses and Benedictions need not be the exclusive domain of Olympian Magic users.  On the one hand, I could see very ancient and powerful creatures having access to this same ability.  Certain Primordials, without a doubt, would be able to do something equivalent to curses or benedictions, only in their case it probably shouldn’t cost them anything (however, just what kinds of curses or benedictions they can cause should be limited by their alien mentality and their specific primordial interests).

Similarly, there should be world/realm-specific “magic” that mortals might learn that allows for the creating of curses and benedictions as well; however, these would not be nearly as powerful as the Divine Curses or Benedictions available to those with access to Olympian Magic.  In most cases, this mortal-curse or mortal-benediction power should only be able to apply in the specific world where it is given; and simply avoiding that world would allow one to “escape” the curse (not to mention changing reality on that world, of course).  It could also be conceivable for there to be a kind of “Promethean Curse” power that mortal magicians could make use of, that could work in a greater range of the multiverse; though again in this case someone with access to the reality-altering powers of Olympian Magic should be able to rid themselves of its effects.


Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Bent Billiard + Rattray’s Marlin Flake

(originally posted May 17, 2013)


  1. How does Lords of Olympus compare with Heroes of Olympus?

    I hear it's diceless: how are things resolved? Is there a good overview somewhere?

  2. I'm not familiar with "Heroes of Olympus" at all.

    You can find an overview of sorts of Lords of Olympus here: