Curse of Immortality (5e Curse)
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Curse of Immortality
Some forms of immortality are a blessing, granting a long and fulfilling life to those who truly deserve it.
The other form is a curse. A creature cursed with immortality will never find peace, forced to live a life full of misery and suffering as a near-dead husk.
A creature cursed with immortality cannot die. When they reach 0 hit points, they may make death saving throws as normal, but three failed death saving throws does not kill them. Instead, they are rendered unconscious in an agonizing state indistinguishable from death. In this state, the creature's body magically re-knits itself in the way barest needed to remain functional and ambulatory. This state lasts for 1d4 hours, and any instance of damage taken during this period will add an additional hour, up to a maximum of 12 hours. The creature cannot benefit from short or long rests during this state, nor any effects that would cause the creature to regain hit points, unless said effect is capable of bringing a creature back to life. At the end of this state, either the DM or the player controlling the creature must choose two of the following penalties, and the creature regains 1 hit point.
- Roll on the long-term madness tableDMG p259. The creature gains that long-term madness for 1d10 × 10 hours.
- Roll on the lingering injuries tableDMG p272. The creature gains that injury.
- Choose an ability score of the creature. That ability score is reduced by 1. This cannot decrease an ability score below 3. The creature can spend 10 days of focused training (8 hours per day) to increase the ability score back. This penalty can be chosen multiple times.
Any one of these penalties can be nullified via the greater restoration spell. Upon the penalties being chosen, the creature regains consciousness with 1 hit point. If the creature died from any other effect, such as a reduced ability score or exhaustion, that effect is undone.
The curse binds the creature's soul to its body, rendering it unable to experience an afterlife. The creature is unable to be affected by any effects or spells that cause the creature's soul to leave its body, such as astral projection. This same binding also prevents the creature from dreaming while they sleep. While unconscious, they are lucid and experience time normally, but are unaware of their surroundings.
A cursed creature can only be truly killed or cured by powerful magic, such as the wish spell or the power of a deity.
Variation: Extended Immortality
A creature that has been cursed with immortality for a very long time, perhaps tens, hundreds, or even thousands of years may have grown more acclimated to the workings of their curse. However, they may also have cracked a little.
When you choose a penalty, you need only choose one, and recovering a lost ability score point only takes 5 days instead of 10. In return, however, the creature has been afflicted with an indefinite madness caused by their extremely long and miserable life. Either choose one from the indefinite madness tableDMG p259 or roll for it.
- Immortal Inurement, a feat that turns some of the curse's features to your advantage
- Boon of Immortality, found in page 232 of the Dungeon Master's Guide
- Boon of True Immortality, a much more preferable version of immortality to compare