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The stone of ill luck cursed magic item from Tales from the Yawning Portal appears as a stone of good luck and says:

it confers that item's property while on your person.

The bonus from the stone of good luck is +1 to saving throws and ability checks. Then under the curse section it says:

while it is on your person, you take a -2 penalty to ability checks and saving throws.

Until the curse is discovered, this is done by the DM in secret.

I see two options for how these bonuses could be added.

  1. The stone of ill Luck adds a +1 to applicable rolls, and subtracts 2 as well, for a total change of -1 to applicable rolls. The DM would need to subtract 2 from applicable rolls in secret since the player would be assumed to add the original +1 themselves.

  2. The stone of ill luck only appears to be a stone of good luck, and does not actually add the original +1, only subtracting 2 from applicable rolls for a total change of -2 to applicable rolls. The DM would then need to subtract 3 in secret, 2 for the curse and 1 for the incorrectly added bonus.

Option 1 is definitely easier to run and is nicer to the players, but I can also see an argument that the stone appears to add the +1 while not actually adding anything.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The version of the item I know of says "it confers [the stone of good luck]'s property while on your person" and "the DM secretly applies this penalty, assuming you are adding the item's bonus." which clears up the confusion. Does your version not say that? \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2020 at 6:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that means you just need to subtract 2 from their total, but I wanted to make sure it didn't mean "assume they added the item's bonus so remove that, then subtract 2 from their total" \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrew
    May 27, 2020 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Adrian: Don't answer in comments (including partial or speculative answers). \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    May 28, 2020 at 3:28

1 Answer 1

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The net result is -1.

In the full description of the Stone of Ill Luck it says "it confers [the stone of good luck]'s property while on your person", so we know that it does confer the bonus of +1. This is a real bonus.

The item goes on to say "the DM secretly applies this penalty, assuming you are adding the item's bonus." This means that the DM will take two from the player's roll, and it is assumed that the player is adding the item's bonus. There isn't anything to say you should first remove the Luck Stone's bonus.

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