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If a character is wounded by a Clay Golem they gain Cursed Wounds.

  1. is this curse on all their received damage or just this blow?

  2. does it including damage they already have and future damage?

  3. does this curse last until the last hit point is healed, even future damage?

  4. can this Curse be removed with say Remove Curse?

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The clay golem's cursed wounds ability is so poorly written that a DM ought to just rewrite it entirely.

Cursed Wound (Ex): The damage a clay golem deals doesn’t heal naturally and resists healing spells. A character attempting to cast a conjuration (healing) spell on a creature damaged by a clay golem must succeed on a DC 26 caster level check, or the spell has no effect on the injured character.

Rules-as-written, the second sentence unambiguously applies to all healing. It doesn't say a character attempting to heal the cursed wounds has to pass a CL check; it says that a character attempting to cast a conjuration (healing) spell on a creature damaged by a clay golem has to pass a CL check. Even worse, the ability doesn't have any sort of duration or limit on it; a perfectly valid reading of the ability would have a character injured by a clay golem forever difficult to heal. (A valid reading of the English, that is; it's patently absurd as a rules interpretation.)

Was this intended? Almost certainly not. The AD&D Monster Manual says, on page 47:

Damage inflicted upon living matter by a clay golem is only repairable by means of a healing spell from a cleric of 17th or greater level.

So despite the erroneous phrasing in the 3.5 clay golem, cursed wounds is almost certainly only supposed to apply to the actual damage inflicted by the golem. This answers the first three questions:

  1. is this curse on all their received damage or just this blow?

Just the damage from the clay golem.

  1. does it including damage they already have and future damage?

RAW, it does, but that's clearly a mistake.

  1. does this curse last until the last hit point is healed, even future damage?

It would only last until the damage is healed, though it would again apply to future damage from a clay golem.

There's still plenty of ambiguity in the ability: what happens if the golem uses a weapon? Lays a trap? Would these be cursed wounds? It's also worth noting that cursed wounds is an extraordinary ability, and thus explicitly nonmagical. Similar abilities that remove curse can fix, like a mummy's mummy rot or a lycanthrope's curse of lycanthropy, are supernatural abilities. Even though the ability is called cursed wounds, it wouldn't be unreasonable to rule that, as a nonmagical ability, it isn't affected by remove curse. An ability's name doesn't have any actual bearing on its rules in 3.5.

That being said, cursed wounds is poorly written and ambiguous. Even trying to play it completely rules-as-written, it requires house ruling. A DM will need to decide what constitutes the golem inflicting damage at the very least, and how long the curse lasts (if ruling that cursed wounds negates all healing, which is RAW but which I don't recommend). Personally, I'd just re-write the ability based on what was almost certainly intended—it applies only to the wounds the golem inflicts; it's (Su) not (Ex)—and ignore the actual printed rules, because they're nonsense. This is something that one must do in 3.5, occasionally (e.g. monks being nonproficient with unarmed strikes, or the feat Leap Attack, which is written based on a completely incorrect understanding of Power Attack). So,

  1. can this Curse be removed with say Remove Curse?

RAW no, but I'd rule yes, and explicitly rewrite cursed wounds so that that's the case.

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    \$\begingroup\$ (Trivia: Prior to the 3.5 revision: "The damage a clay golem deals doesn't heal naturally. Only a heal spell or a Healing spell of 6th level or higher can heal it" (Monster Manual (2000) 110). Yeah, I don't know what a "Healing spell" is either, but at least it's clear about what damage is affected.) \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2022 at 15:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer is good, but doesn't address the opening sentence of the cursed wound special ability, which does explicitly refer to "the damage a clay golem deals." \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jul 29, 2022 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Heal and Mass Heal, but not Heal Mount or Healing Circle. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jul 31, 2022 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin Those would work (but I'm not sure why technically heal mount wouldn't), but It's that capital-H Healing that's weird, although it could refer to the Healing domain—and that's still weird. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 31, 2022 at 19:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Heal Mount is third level. Looking at Healing Circle again, I guess it does work for Druids (sixth level), but not everyone else (fifth level). \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Jul 31, 2022 at 19:20
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The Clay Golem’s Extraordinary Ability Cursed Wound reads:

The damage a clay golem deals doesn’t heal naturally and resists healing spells. A character attempting to cast a conjuration (healing) spell on a creature damaged by a clay golem must succeed on a DC 26 caster level check, or the spell has no effect on the injured character.

This effect only relates to the damage directly dealt by a Clay Golem and not to any other additional damage a creature takes or has taken before or thereafter from other sources. The "curse" affects only the wounds and not the creature as a whole. So it's important to track the damage dealt by a Clay Golem seperately.

If the damage is healed, the creature won’t suffer any further impairments.

It’s hard to say whether a Remove Curse spell would work here. Normally, curses are caused by magic or supernatural abilities rather than extraordinary abilities. On the other hand, a "curse" is something -at least to my knowledge- which it is not clearly defined anywhere in the rules.

As a DM, I would allow to use Remove Curse to get rid of the "not healing“-property of the damage taken – but not of the damage itself.


Add-on: I just saw that that this question also appeared in the FAQ:

When does the effect of a clay golem’s cursed wound go away? Can a character use remove curse (or a similar spell) to eliminate the effect?

The effect of the cursed wound lasts until all damage dealt to the target by the clay golem has been eliminated. (In general, any healing successfully applied to the character should eliminate the clay golem’s damage first.) Even if a cleric succeeds on a caster level check to heal an affected character, if any damage from the clay golem persists after that, he’d have to make another caster level check the next time he wanted to heal that character. If you don’t want to track damage from individual foes in this way, assume the effect lasts until all damage on the character has been healed. The name of the special ability strongly suggests that any effect that affects a curse would also affect this ability. Thus, it’s reasonable to conclude that a remove curse spell would remove the cursed wound effect.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 - I always agreed with the simple and straightforward interpretation that if something is named "curse", it should be valid target of Remove Curse. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Jul 28, 2022 at 13:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ This may be RAI, but RAW seems to prevent any healing without the DC 26 caster level check. The first sentence references the damage from the golem, but the next sentence does not limit the prevention of healing to only that damage. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2022 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelRichardson Remove Curse is not a conjuration (healing) but an abjuration spell. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Jul 28, 2022 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeregrinTook Sorry, my comment was directed at the Answer itself, not Molot's comment. I agree that Remove Curse should allow for normal healing. My thought is that healing for any damage (not just damage from golem) is difficult while under the effect. Heck, re-reading the quote in the answer again I think it could even be interpreted that the effect isn't automatically removed after healing. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 28, 2022 at 14:41
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Healing after being injured by a clay golem is complicated.

The damage a clay golem deals doesn’t heal naturally and resists healing spells. A character attempting to cast a conjuration (healing) spell on a creature damaged by a clay golem must succeed on a DC 26 caster level check, or the spell has no effect on the injured character.

First, natural healing:

The damage a clay golem deals doesn’t heal naturally ...

If a character has suffered 10 damage from a clay golem and 30 damage overall, then they can naturally heal 20 of that 30 damage (via resting, etc). The clay golem's curse doesn't stop natural healing for damage not caused by the clay golem.

Next, magical healing:

... and resists healing spells. A character attempting to cast a conjuration (healing) spell on a creature damaged by a clay golem must succeed on a DC 26 caster level check, or the spell has no effect on the injured character.

This statement globally interferes with conjuration spell-based heals. Note that non-conjuration-spell healing, such as a paladin's lay on hands su ability, would not be affected by the curse and would function unimpeded. Once the damage done by the clay golem is healed, then further magical healing is unimpeded. Although no specific mechanism for determining this is provided, it should be safe to assume that the clay golem's damage is healed first whenever possible. In the aforementioned example of 20 points of normal damage and 10 points of clay golem damage, one could assume that a 10-point lay on hands would heal the clay golem damage completely, and then further healing could be easily achieved with conjuration healing spells.

Regarding removal via remove curse, I would rule that remove curse would work since the ability is presented similarly to a curse and does not include any language stating that it cannot be removed with removed curse.

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