The malevolent spirits inhabiting such places are shy and unwilling to reveal themselves to strangers. They are ever watchful for intruders into their shadowy lairs, and will flee into hiding as soon as human beings approach. Therefore, communication with them can only be accomplished through less direct means - the most common of which is the tying of written messages, on small scraps of paper, to branches and shrubbery around the shrine's perimeter.
Typically these messages are only three lines long and contain three pieces of information - a desired victim's name and location, and desired ill-effect. If the spirits read one of these messages and are satisfied with the gift they are given (see below) they will act out the curse to the best of their ability within certain restrictions:
- The victim must live within a fifty mile radius of the location of the cursing shrine.
- The victim must be human.
- The victim must not be a paladin.
- Effect of a contagion spell
- Effect of a feeblemind spell
- Effect of a geas spell
The spirits require costly gifts to carry out a curse. Typically, an offering should be made in the form of a magical item worth not less than the level of the spell on which the curse is based x 1,000 gps. Therefore a contagion curse will require a gift of a magical item worth not less than 4,000 gold pieces. The DM should feel free to double the cost for particularly powerful or difficult targets.
Characters who are affected by the curse will usually be unaware of the cause of their affliction. However, if a detect evil spell is cast on the character by a cleric of at least 3rd level, the nature of the malady will become apparent.