Ok, same player as last time, same game. My player's PC found a fairly powerful homebrew artifact that basically boosts the heck out of his casting levels, but holds a malevolent magic that enthralls him after a short period and forces the mask to stay on his face.

As nobody has the magical ability to nullify the curse, and he doesn't want to keep it on (despite my warnings he shouldn't have worn it in the first place), he suggested ripping the very flesh off his face and having the party healer fix him up afterwards. The healer undoubtedly has skill to do that.

Basically, could a character remove a mask that is cursed to stay on his face by removing the flesh under the mask?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How you expect us to know it, without any informations on how the curse works? If it is just like beeing glued on the face, maybe. if it just sticks to the face, because magic it wont work. \$\endgroup\$ – Zaibis Aug 15 '16 at 11:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ We're getting a lot of speculation about how this homebrew item/curse works in the answers. I'm closing this as unclear until that no longer requires speculation. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 15 '16 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Starting to think I should close this thread and more just peruse GMing Q&As regarding punishing players. \$\endgroup\$ – JessLovely Aug 15 '16 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Papayaman1000 It's already on hold, which will convert to closed in 5 days (which doesn't actually change anything except the words “on hold” to “closed”), so you don't need to do anything. If your browsing turns up new specific questions though, do ask them! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 16 '16 at 2:46

Well if the curse is "the mask stays on your face" then taking his face off works, if you want it to.

If you want to be a magic genie rules lawyer about it, that only works so long as that pile of fleshy goo in the mask best describes his face. Soon as the healer gives him a new face, guess what best describes his face now?

His solution was imaginative. It is best countered imaginatively.

I'd let him out of this trap if he realized he simply couldn't have a face anymore so built his own mask to wear all the time. But it's up to you. You're the DM.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 16 '16 at 7:23

In general, if someone has actually had a piece of their body severed, healing it requires the spell regenerate which requires a thirteenth-level cleric to cast. Of course it's your call whether severing someone's entire face counts as enough of their body to require this spell, but I'd tend toward saying that it does.

If your group does have a decent-level cleric, it's probably less painful just to cast remove curse which requires only a fifth-level cleric to cast.

If your group doesn't have a fifth-level cleric, I'd recommend either (1) do some sort of sidequest to find a way to remove or destroy it, or (2) live with it until you find a fifth-level cleric.

I was the DM once for a game in which players were wearing cursed armor imbued with negative energy. One player asked if he could remove it by cutting his skin off. I answered: "The curse goes pretty deep, so you'd lose quite a lot of flesh this way, and anesthetic hasn't been invented. Also, this is a necromantic curse, and pouring a bunch of your blood on it could have unexpected consequences. Are you sure you want to do this?" The player said no.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As I said, flavor wise, the curse is far too powerful a spell for any 5th level plebian of a cleric to break... \$\endgroup\$ – JessLovely Aug 15 '16 at 23:18

My player found a fairly powerful homebrew artifact

Given that the curse is homebrew, it really depends how the curse works.

If the curse only attaches the mask to the character's skin, you could indeed rip it off (it would be horribly painful though).

However, what says the curse isn't attached to the skull itself? Wouldn't hover in front of the face even if the skin and muscles were ripped off?

Without an in-world precedent, the character is taking a risk. Ripping the mask off might very well kill him...

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The item is a Cursed Item

The not being able to remove an equipped item is codified in D&D 3.5e as a feature of cursed items (and the question specifies that this item is cursed, so this might apply).

Cursed items cannot be removed unless some specific conditions are met. The bolded wording implies that no, it doesn't really matter that the DM told you that it sticks to your face. Taking off your face with it isn't enough to counter the "cannot be removed" clause (but see below).

The easiest way to remove cursed items is the proper spell, remove curse, but you can't access it now.

The specific item might then have some special ways of getting rid with it, usually tied to a knowledge check to discover them (maybe a bardic knowledge check if really obscure) and to mechanical consequences. E.g. "the mask can be removed by tearing it off your face, which deals 4d6 damage to the character wearing it".

Note that the "you can't remove" rule isn't forcibly tied to some physical, stickyness effect. Maybe everyone who tries removing it changes its mind. Maybe it mystically never comes to anybody's mind that it can be removed without using magic.

The specific item might have the usual curse rules amended and it could be possible to get creative with removal. In this case the wording might matter, but in this case I'd suggest skipping to the next item, which is...

The item is an artifact, a non-cursed wondrous item, or something else

Artifacts can't be crafted just by taking a feat and some cosmic power is going to be very angry at whoever successfully casts disjunction on it.

Wondrous items are at the opposite side of the spectrum, and non-cursed ones aren't usually effected by remove curse.

This homebrew item might be whatever, maybe it's an artifact that radiates a magic aura or a non-cursed wondrous item that requires remove-curse to be taken off, it doesn't really matter.

This item has been worded that way exactly to allow you, the players, to find ways to circumvent its magic effect. Ask your DM. He might tell you the truth, he might tell you "you have no idea" and experimenting happens at your own risk.

For your information, there are official artifacts that you can't remove. The ones that come to my mind have the "if removed, the character dies" clause.

Me? I wouldn't risk tampering too much with this thing.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Got me thinking... is 4d6 close enough? Seriously, I can't even begin to put my finger in a range of damage for pulling your face off. (And now that I think about it, how much of a penalty to CHA would you get?) \$\endgroup\$ – Roflo Aug 15 '16 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Roflo (All of it.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Aug 15 '16 at 16:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ One, I am the DM, two, when I say "nobody has the power to remove the curse", I just about mean everyone. Not going to post exactly why on here for fear of my players stumbling across a spoiler, but let's just say the person who created these things isn't one to be trifled with. Three, the very reason this question exists is because the nature of a curse's non-physicality is itself at debate around the table, I doubt rules lawyering about it would affect the situation any more than it already has, aside from perhaps earning me (another) nutshot. \$\endgroup\$ – JessLovely Aug 15 '16 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Papayaman1000 If you,as the DM, are not asking us the relevant rules on how to manage cursed items, I don't know what you're asking for. Anyway, the "nobody has the power to remove the curse" you're in the artifact zone, you decide how it works - and how physical or not it is. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Aug 15 '16 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan the artifact mask is mentioned, albeit not by name, in the second-last paragraph. \$\endgroup\$ – Zachiel Aug 15 '16 at 23:35

As this is homebrew, you are best placed to provide this answer, and most likely this will depend on who made the artifact and what protections were put on it.

Would the creator of the artifact have seen it coming that someone might try this (combination of ruthless and intelligent)? If so, See below question. If not, see answer A.

What source do they have for the fact that the item 'stays on your face'? Was it simply you announcing it? In which case, that is just the players casually observing and may not be exactly correct.

If they have reliable evidence (from Master Artificer Gazrak's thesis, '1000 cursed items, and how to ensure they don't find you') that it stays on your face, then go with answer B or C.

If they have only casual observation, go with answer d.

Answer A: That's a clever, albiet disgusting solution to a problem. Reward your player.

Answer B: See other answers re definition of face - the artifact is capable of recognising when a face is no longer a face, and regenerates when magic is used to regrow the face.

Answer C: The mask has injected a highly addictive drug, which conveniently enough can only be cured by whatever mechanism you originally invented to remove the artifact from faces. You can remove the artifact, but you'll either die from withdrawal symptoms or go all Gollum and put the mask back on. Resurrection would not cure this addiction any more than any other addiction.

Answer D: It doesn't stay ON your face, it now IS your face. Potentially, recognising danger when you get the scalpel out, the mask sends tendrils through your skull and wraps them around your brain.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The creator... let's just say he has similar motives to the Anti-Spiral from Gurren Lagann, if there's any anime nerds around here. He's not ruthless, but by Armok is he intelligent, though ultimately I don't see the foresight or technology for potent drugs or anticipating it being removed. Particularly, because he wants whoever wears it to want to keep it on, and it is designed as such. Not something that would grasp your face. \$\endgroup\$ – JessLovely Aug 15 '16 at 23:32

I think the key here is that the item enthralls him, so he does not want to remove it.

Don't worry about the physical side, these things don't work that way. Think Gollum and Frodo; Frodo couldn't remove the ring, because he was enthralled.

The other party members might take pity on the guy and take it off him, probably quite easily, the the PC should be role playing not wanting to.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The enthralling is a delayed effect, for several flavor reasons, so it isn't quite why it's unremovable. Both the fact that it can't be removed, and that the enthralling is delayed (as stated), are some masterful foresights by their creator. (After all, if your tribe's shaman immediately left to go guard a shiny thing the moment he put on the mask, it'd probably inspire fearful warnings, not legends of boundless power.) \$\endgroup\$ – JessLovely Aug 15 '16 at 23:28

This sounds like a great chance for an improvised low-tech surgery scene!

To avoid the pain, quaff enough rum, brandy or other very strong drink that you pass out, have your friends tie you down, and then have the healer gradually pare away the skin and flesh with the mask, using a very sharp knife. It'll be less painful and traumatic for the victim than just ripping the mask away, although the audience may be traumatised. It should make them quite firm about not letting anyone else use the artefact.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is pretty much exactly what the player suggested. Answer-wise, this is less would it work, and more, cool, it might work, so how do we wanna go about this? \$\endgroup\$ – JessLovely Aug 15 '16 at 23:34

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