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Most cursed items, like the Armor of Vulnerability, require to you attune to them in order to become cursed.

Curse. This armor is cursed, a fact that is revealed only when an identify spell is cast on the armor or you attune to it. Attuning to the armor curses you until you are targeted by the remove curse spell or similar magic; removing the armor fails to end the curse. ...

While others, like Demon Armor, appear to not have that requirement and aren't worded to say that you are the one who is cursed.

Curse. Once you don this cursed armor, you can't doff it unless you are targeted by the remove curse spell or similar magic. While wearing the armor, you ...

Are there items, like Demon Armor, that do not require attunement in order to curse you, even if you are able to attune to it? Are you being cursed or is only the armor cursed?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What is the actual question: Are there other items that can curse without attunement? How curses work? \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 1:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott I think the question is whether an item like the demon armor actually curses the wearer despite not explicitly saying something like "the armor curses you". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 1:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott The question was basically the title: can you be cursed without attunement? \$\endgroup\$
    – Codex
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 15:27

2 Answers 2

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Demon Armor curses its wearer immediately

The condition for being able to doff the Demon Armor makes it clear that the wearer is cursed (emphasis added):

Once you don this cursed armor, you can't doff it unless you are targeted by the remove curse spell or similar magic.

The fact that the Remove Curse spell must target the wearer rather than the armor pretty clearly indicates that the armor curses the wearer when donned, and that the curse must be removed from the wearer in order to doff the armor. Of course, the same logic applies to any other item that uses similar wording.

The Demon Armor is a bit unusual in that the curse takes effect as soon as the armor is donned, instead of waiting for the wearer to finish attuning it. This means you could theoretically become cursed by the armor and then choose not to attune it. However, given that attuning the armor has no detrimental effects on its own, I don't see any obvious benefit to refusing the attunement once you are stuck wearing the armor.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Addition: those items that require attunement to curse you say so (e.g.: dandwiki.com/wiki/Fey_Flute_(5e_Equipment) ) \$\endgroup\$
    – Hobbamok
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Hobbamok While your point is correct, the link you shared is a homebrew item off an uncurated wiki...not exactly a good example to choose to demonstrate your point \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ So far this answer best represents what I was looking for. Because the saying "items/spells do what they say they do" I was pretty sure it worked this way but it, along with the Loadstone from @Darth Pseudonym's answer, buck the trend of attunement to curse which is what I was trying to find out, the rest of the question was me being curious. \$\endgroup\$
    – Codex
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 17:21
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There is no general rule for curses. Each curse does only and exactly what that specific curse says.

Most cursed items require you to attune to the item to activate the curse, but some don't. Demon Armor is one of the ones that doesn't. A Loadstone is another.

The Demon Armor doesn't specifically say it curses you, yourself, but it's implied by the fact that removing it requires you to be targeted by a remove curse spell. The curse is, essentially, 'help I'm stuck in this armor' rather than actively altering how your mind and body work, like a Berserker Axe or Loadstone do.

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