Tag Archives: treasure

Tangle armor

zedd2

Image source (processed)

I was looking through my blog drafts folder, and came across several unfinished posts related to my Pahvelorn OD&D campaign (which has been on hold for several years now). This is one of those posts. If it feels somewhat out of left field, that is why. This is a fun item though, so I thought it still worth sharing.

In that game, one faction is a group of borg-like demonic invaders. They look like a mixture between Lord Zedd, Giger’s alien, and matte black humanoid crabs. They are highly organized, militaristic, and woven into a psychic mesh which allows telepathic communication. They cannot speak human language but at some point during the game one of the adventurers managed to communicate telepathically with a drone that had been separated from the central consciousness. I described the experience as a series of tangled visual signs and from then on the players referred to the creatures as Tangles. A tangle drone’s exoskeleton can be worn as armor if properly extracted.

There are two varieties of tangle armor, soft-shell and hard-shell.

  • Soft-shell: AC as medium armor, 5 [14].
  • Hard-shell: AC as heavy armor, 3 [16].

(Note that in this game, no AC, even for monsters, is ever mechanically better than plate.)

Anti-Disintegration. Wearers of tangle armor are immune to disintegration.

Rejuvenation. Following combat, tangle armor will heal 1d6 points of damage. This only applies to damage just suffered. This causes a head rush in a human wearer.

Pincer-Claws. Tangle armor appendages count as armaments (standard 1d6 damage). They also have 18 strength in terms of grip (think alligator jaws: easy to hold closed, hard to pry open). These pincers surround hands but do not interfere with standard hand uses.

Creepy. Wearing tangle armor results in a functional charisma score of 3 when interacting with civilized others.

Receptive. Wearers suffer disadvantage (such as -4 penalty) when resisting psychic attacks.

Wearing. To put on a suit of tangle armor safely, cast the bind exoskeleton spell. Otherwise, get naked, slip inside, and save versus stone. If the saving throw fails, roll 1d6:

  1. Armor wearer is psychically attached to the tangle hive consciousness.
  2. Armor wearer becomes unable to perform aggressive acts toward creatures with 4 or 6 legs/arms.
  3. Armor wearer’s mouth and larynx are replaced with a mandible-like mechanism that prevents speech. Spells may still be used though interpretive dance. This result is permanent even if the armor is successfully removed later.
  4. Armor wearer secretes colony spores whenever resting. There is a 1 in 6 chance that the resting place will become a new hive shortly thereafter. This hive is autonomous from the mother hive on tangle world.
  5. Armor wearer becomes a beacon. There is a 1 in 6 chance that a gate will open to tangle world every time the armor wearer rests. The gate will be located in a secluded area within one mile of the rest point and will remain open for one week.
  6. The armor fully infiltrates the wearer’s body, rearranging parts, integrating with organs, and improving resilience. Armor wearer gains one HD permanently and no longer requires oxygen but will collapse into a pile of disaggregated flesh if the armor is ever removed, even with a “safe” spell method.

(It may be enjoyable for the referee to keep this result secret assuming the effect would not be obvious to the wearer. But make a note somewhere to remember the per-rest checks!)

If the saving throw succeeds, putting the armor on has no side effect other than being permanently integrated with an alien exoskeleton.

Removal. Tangle armor may be removed from a human safely only with dispel evil (this destroys the armor) or remove curse (after which the armor may be worn by another). The armor may be removed forcefully or in a nonconsensual manner (if the wearer is restrained). This causes the wearer 3d6 damage (save versus stone for half). Spell-based removal does not protect the wearer from bodily disaggregation based on result 6 above.

Extraction. Defeating a tangle drone in combat damages or destroys the armor. Functional tangle armor can only be extracted from captured, living drones. Extraction kills the drone unless the extractor takes extraordinary measures.


Tangles have stats as hobgoblins with supplementary abilities consistent with the armor description above. In any raiding party, at least one drone will be armed with disintegration weaponry. Mounts and vehicles are hover platforms that can be psychically controlled. Tangles may be remote-controlled using telepathy (drones get a save to avoid, connecting to the hive mind risks alien psychic mental control and insanity).

 

 

Hexagram crafting

Several times over the past few years I have tried to create a Diablo style loot and gear generator that would work elegantly with a traditional tabletop fantasy game. This is hard, and I have not yet come up with something that I find satisfying. It is hard largely because I feel torn between writing something overly general and something overly specific. Ideally, such a generator should interface with the setting monsters, but then those need to be nailed down and the generator becomes less useful to any other setting that deviates from the setting implied by those monsters. That realization leads to a turn back toward generality, which tends to be too schematic and not particularly atmospheric.

VRA 1 mentioned the old 3E era tabletop supplement Diablo II: Diablerie which has such a generator. It is actually not bad. The prefix-item-suffix approach has potential and the volume of content alone is enough to create interesting sounding item names. Many (though not all) of the attached mechanics, however, are mostly just numerical inflation. Bonuses to attack, bonus HP, etc. It could be used, but would require so much at the table ruling and interpretation that it almost does not feel worth it.

So I have decided to try approaching the problem from a different angle. Rather than building the generator beforehand, instead I will build a game system that will build such a mechanism naturally as the campaign progresses. This sidesteps the problem of bland generalness versus specific atmospherics completely. The first time a component such as a mineral or monster part is used for crafting, a particular augmentation becomes associated with that component. Augmentations can either be taken from a list of examples or improvised using that list as guidelines to appropriate power levels. Harvesting monster parts takes one Dungeon Turn. The material and augmentation will also be added to the general gear generator table. I still sense a small amount of hand-waving here, but I think this is close enough to a workable mechanism that the remaining details will naturally reveal themselves through play tests. I can see this easily applying without fuss to just about anything, even things like gems, leading to an interesting gamble: sell that ruby for coin, or have it forged into some piece of gear?

Power inflation should be possible to keep in check through a combination of the always operative gear degradation rules (all items not made of adamant still have at least a 5% chance of being damaged during use depending on quality rating) and abilities that refresh only during haven turns. For example, I could see adding a lightning burst augmentation which would allow an adventurer to add a die of lightning damage to one successful attack per excursion.

Crafting is something you pay a Haven NPC to do for you during a Haven Turn. Though I would not say no to a player that wanted to take a crafting Expert Skill such as Smith or Brew, I am not going to include it as an option in the text because 1) I suspect (though am not sure) that it would feel suboptimal compared to skills usable within a dungeon and 2) really I am not trying to write Shopkeepers & Spreadsheets.

Specifically (now for the player-facing Haven rules):

Smithy

Repair: To repair a Damaged item, pay a smith 1d6 × 10 coins. Once a particular repair cost has been determined, it will not change on subsequent Haven Turns.

Forge: To forge a weapon or piece of armor from special materials, pay 1d6 × 100 coins and consume the materials.

Alchemist

Brew: To brew a concoction from special materials, pay 1d6 × 100 coins and consume the materials.

Smiths and Alchemists can each carry out up to 1d6 tasks per Haven Turn.

Eight enchanted objects

Seed of the sanctuary flower

Mondrian - Amaryllis (source)

Mondrian – Amaryllis (cropped, source)

This acorn-sized seed has a green and orange swirled pattern and is warm to the touch. If planted and watered in any soil, a small plant will grow rapidly until it is the height of a human and a magnificent flower will bloom (this process takes one exploration turn). When in full bloom, the petals shed a deep red light which illuminates with the radius of a torch. No creature with violent intent toward the planter or the flower may come near the flower or attack, either directly or indirectly, the planter or the flower. The flower will bloom for a year and a day, though will die within a turn if removed from the place of planting. Some ancient texts report that creatures of elemental earth sometimes carry these seeds in their bodies. Their true origin is unknown.

Bangle of earth

This heavy bracelet is made of dark brown stone. The crafting is superb, but several large gashes mar its otherwise smooth surface. It seems slightly too large to fit a human wrist, but mysteriously adjusts in size when worn. By concentrating for a full exploration turn, the wearer may cause a stone surface to soften temporarily and become plastic, almost as gummy mud. On each use, there is a 1 in 6 chance of the bangle itself dissolving into mud and thus being destroyed.

Time net of the time god

This gladiator’s net is woven with hair of a god of time, from whom it was stolen by a mortal hero in ages past. Anyone tangled in the net (reach melee attach versus unarmored AC), is frozen in time statically until the net is removed. When so used, the thrower must save versus magic or be flung into the future 1d6 turns. The original creator of the net will offer a great reward for its return.

Mergolder’s panoply

This old, heavily worn suit of heavy armor crafted from dragon scales was once fine but is now so battle scarred that it is almost more gap than armor and only protects as medium armor. The visored helm is in the form of a dragon, and when the visor is lowered, the wearer is transformed into elder wyrm. There is a 1 in 6 chance on each transformation that wearer’s personality is overwhelmed by draconic nature and becomes a dragon in mind as well as body. This process is irreversible. Otherwise, the transformation lasts 1d6 exploration turns, and leaves the wearer exhausted afterwards. It is said that the ancient wizard Mergolder created many similar suits of armor to transform his soldiers into an invincible army.

Scepter of Gremoras

The Scepter of Gremoras is a dull cast iron wand far heavier than its size would indicate. It is graven deeply with forbidden names. The wand may be used to command a demon (a saving throw applies, only one demon may be controlled at any given time, and the user must not take other actions while maintaining the effect). Even if the saving throw is successful, the wand’s user is protected from the wrath of the targeted demon by an effect similar to protection from evil, though this ends if the wand is used on another demon. Demons once touched by the wand’s power will always be able to sense the location of its holder.

Zephyrian sphere

This is a fist sized opalescent globe of unknown material that cannot be submerged in liquid no matter the force applied. When concentrated upon, the globe levitates to the user’s chest height, and electricity plays back and forth between the globe and the hands of the user. By means of stroking and gesturing the air around the globe, small winds and vortexes of air may be created anywhere within sight. The user may not otherwise move when using this power. These air currents are enough to hazard a flying creature or keep a heavy cloak aloft indefinitely, but not enough to knock a grown human prone. There is a 1 in 20 chance on each use that the globe will be sucked into a parallel dimension (creating a loud pop noise as atmospheres renormalize).

Ephebian mask

An ancient dynast was greatly saddened when the many men and women of his harem that he loved grew old. He commanded his city-state’s council of high magi to find a way to restore their youth, and in pursuit of this end the masks were created. Each mask is of white porcelain with high, dramatic cheekbones and striking, red painted brows. Many were made before the secret of their manufacture was lost, and though most were used in the distant past, some still remain. If worn, the wearer’s body ages backwards (or forwards) to that of late adolescence with all strangeness of body (including injuries, lost limbs, and birth oddities) normalized. In the process of working its magic, the mask fuses with the face of the wearer and loses enchantment (maintaining the consistency of porcelain while gaining enough flexibility around the eyes and mouth for moderate expression). After use, mask wearers continue to age normally, but their faces will forever be unlined masks.

Naberithim’s Crown

Naberithim’s Crown is an iron circlet set with 10 large emeralds that each emit pale green light and produce continuous trails of odorless, phosphorescent green smoke. The jewels are so perfectly formed that as abodes they are like paradise for earth spirits, and an earth spirit resides happily in each emerald. Given a boulder or other large stone nearby, one of the spirits may be released, but this shatters the emerald. Released spirits will perform one service, but are bound only by cosmic custom and will not look kindly on extended servitude. Damaging the iron circlet or removing the jewels will banish the spirits to the outer darkness, where they will drift eternally and undying without form or geometry.

Orphone’s magical item generator

Image from LotFP store

Image from LotFP store

The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions (from hereon, “Seclusium”) is a set of tools and procedures to help referees create a wizard’s stronghold.

As the first part of what will probably be a collection of posts on this book amounting to a review of sorts, here’s an example of using chapter 8, which is a magical item generator. The chapter is approximately 15 A5 pages that consist almost entirely of tables and lists. All of these results are interpreted in the light of previously determined facts about the wizard, the stronghold itself, and the circumstances that led to the disappearance of the wizard. I chose to focus on the creation of a magic item first, because I think it shows one of the strengths of the book, which is how the individual components can be used by a referee to help jumpstart content creation.

I’m working on a seclusium that is a collection of islands on a placid expanse of sea that is all columned verandas, richly carved wood, and fluttering silk curtains. Notes in parentheses are my own musings and ideas as I work through the results of the generator, making sense of the juxtapositions.

  • Physical object
  • Occurring here naturally or by some unknown process
  • The wizard has put it into its appointed and proper place
  • It is a magical tool, changes the way an adventuring rule applies: searching
  • The item protects the seclusium from outside magic
  • Its use introduces a minor irritation into the user’s life
  • Its use attracts the attention of others beyond the wizard’s control
  • To bring its power to bear or to come into contact with its power, the item is to be: displayed
  • (Something naturally produced at some place on one of the islands)
  • Gives a penalty to the searching rules (some sort of camouflage?)
  • It caresses and flatters your plasmic self, like an intimate or treacherous friend
  • (Waters of invisibility, “displayed” means washed in, if drunk something else happens)

Okay, what can we do with this? My first thought from “occurring naturally” was that it was some sort of spring that naturally produced a potion. Protecting the seclusium led to a variation on the potion of invisibility (which also fit with a penalty to searching). From previous work, I know that the wizard also has imprisoned enemies within the seclusium, so perhaps an enemy trapped in the spring is the source of the magic. That is enough info to start nailing things down.


There is a spring on one of the islands, within which is trapped Iakkend the Obscure, a wounded and bound sorcerer, and one of the many enemies of Foriophere. The pool is deep but clear, and an observer that peers into it carefully can see an indistinct struggling form chained in the depths. The blood of Iakkend, who is a master of illusion and misdirection, has suffused the spring and granted it magical powers. Any object washed in the waters will become invisible for one day as long as it remains near the sea (slowly fading back into sight over the next several hours). Foriophere has also learned a technique to make the effect last semi-permanently (and this is the source of the invisible structures on the islands), though such use will not be available to PCs unless they discover the required procedure and additional ingredients elsewhere.

The potency of the spring water is limited though, and there is only enough magic for 1d6 applications (which can be either bottling or direct immersion). The water glitters with an opalescent sheen when it is empowered. The magic will slowly seep back into the water Iakkend bleeds (another 1d6 doses will become available after a day passes). Bottled potions of concealment have a limited lifetime, and any older than a few weeks has a 1 in 6 chance of not working.

If the water is drunk rather than used as a wash, the drinker must save versus magic or become a vessel for Iakkend. While so possessed, Iakkend has access to the drinker’s senses, and can speak using the drinkers voice. Further, he may compell the drinker to take actions, though each such attempt allows the drinker another saving throw, and a successful saving throw causes violent retching (expelling the potion) and the termination of all influence from and access by Iakkend. Drinkers also gain the ability to see any concealed, hidden, or invisible objects for the duration of Iakkend’s influence. Thus, though Foriophere uses the power of the spring to hide certain aspects of the seclusium, it also offers a potential foothold for Iakkend to influence the world again, and so is a danger.


This process certainly led to a unique item that I likely would not have come up with on my own or if using a different generator. The result is more involved (in a good way), and situated in the context of the fictional location. It was also, however, not quick, and required time and deliberation to use. It is one of the better magical item generators that I have used, and I will definitely return to it for future inspiration, even outside of creating a wizard’s stronghold. As should be clear from the list above, the many degrees of freedom will likely result in a wide variety of qualities, and there are also many subtables related to magical entities which did not come up here at all because they were not relevant to this particular item.

In addition to tables that help you create magical items, the way Seclusium presents special abilities is interesting. The point of magic is that it lets you break the rules. That is the role of magic within the game; the ESP spell, for example, in OD&D, is presented as basically a super-reliable way to listen at doors. It is worth keeping this in mind when designing magical items. What part of the rules does the item interact with? You will recall that the generator result told me that the item modified how the character interacted with the searching rules, and applied a penalty (which I interpreted liberally). Thinking about rules interface directly in this way guarantees that the item will have relevance to adventuring.

The book is not without its flaws, which I will touch on more in future posts, but hopefully this should give some idea about the style and potential value of Seclusium. The hardcopy can be purchased from the LotFP store, and the PDF is also available (sans watermarks, happily) from RPGNow.

Vio-Lance

The Inferno, Canto 21

The Inferno, Canto 21 (source)

Vio-lances are wicked hell weapons. They usually look like large spears or halberds, with purple-tinged blades of unknown (and seemingly indestructible) metal. Holy magic does not function within throwing range of a vio-lance. If a death blow is struck with a vio-lance, the victim explodes messily, showering all nearby with gore, and making any attempt at resurrection futile.

Echo of Fitzwalter

Echo of Fitzwalter

Echo of Fitzwalter (personal sketch)

Summary:

  • +1 to hit, bolts fired from it inflict magical damage
  • Cumulative damage bonus of +1 per hit, max +6, resets after combat

This arbalest is said to have once been a standard light crossbow, of wood and steel, before it was taken into the Vaults of Pahvelorn during the time of the Order of Gavin. It was wielded by the adventurer Fitzwalter, warder of Eraria the Sorceress. Fitzwalter fell defending his mistress, but the energy released by his heroism in that cursed place bound something forever into the weapon, perhaps the soul of the fallen warrior or maybe the shades haunting that place. The crossbow’s wood was warped to dark ebony, the steel of the bow twisted into an amalgam of bone, and the tip became a grinning skull. The weapon is chill to the touch. When loaded, shadow seems to bleed from the aperture, which appears like dark, wispy drool from the skull’s mouth.

The Echo of Fitzwalter is a light crossbow +1 to hit that charges bolts with dark energy (counts as magical damage). Each time it inflicts damage during combat, it gains a cumulative damage bonus of +1. So, the first shot that hits does 1d6 damage, the second 1d6 +1, the third 1d6 +2, and so forth, up to +6. This damage bonus resets following combat.

Light crossbows may be loaded and fired in the same round, but don’t have a bonus against armor. (That is, they follow my crossbow rules from before the weapon properties post.)


I have so far avoided “plus” style magic weapons in my ongoing Vaults of Pahvelorn campaign, mostly out of a desire to rein in numerical inflation. However, Green Devil Face 5 (also available from RPGNow) has d30 critical hit and fumble tables that we have been using. Last session, this result was rolled:

18. If this attack is the killing blow, your weapon acquires a permanent +1 bonus to hit.

Further, it was indeed the killing blow. This just seemed like a golden opportunity to break my rule. So this is the first +1 Pahvelorn weapon: a bound spirit fused to a crossbow and sealed with the death of a retainer.

A report about the session that spawned the Echo can be found at Dungeon of Signs.

Telekinetic Sword

The striking edge of a telekinetic sword works over a distance. That is, you swing your sword here and something over there gets cut. When activated, the live edge of a telekinetic sword shimmers slightly, as if it were coated in psychedelic foil, though this does not produce any light. Radiant arcs accompany the delivery of the telekinetic strike at the point of the target, along with noises somewhat like a buzzing whip-crack. Effective range at full power is equal to the wielder’s HD x 10 feet. Range at reduced power (half damage) is HD x 20 feet. So, a 4 HD character attacking with a telekinetic sword can hit targets up to 40 feet away for full damage, or 80 feet away for half damage.

Telekinetic swords are disorienting to use, as they don’t react to the wielder kinesthetically as is commonly expected. Becoming accustomed to the quirks of a given sword requires at least a week for familiarization (roll two dice and take the lowest result for attack rolls prior to the completion of this period; familiarization is assumed during downtime, so telekinetic swords can generally be used “next session”). The physical edge of a telekinetic sword is not actually sharp, and only does 1d3 damage if used unactivated as a mundane melee weapon (though they may be used as melee weapons when activated). Telekinetic swords are psychically resonant when active and their use can be sensed by any psychic creatures nearby. Further, as psychic antennas, they may also amplify certain psychic effects, which could be either positive or negative for the wielder depending on the situation.

Some version of Final Fantasy 4 (screen shot from here)

Some version of Final Fantasy 4 (screen shot from here)

Monstrous Armor

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Wyvern-scale armor. Heavy armor, AC 3 [16]. When properly worked by a knowledgable armorer, wyvern-scale armor is amazingly light. So light, in fact, that it both floats and does not add to encumbrance. Maintaining the armor in fighting condition requires careful and continuous oiling and care, though no special or expensive oils are required. If wyvern-scale armor is not oiled for more than a week, it becomes brittle and begins to fall apart (this process cannot be halted or reversed; the armor is ruined). It is assumed that knowledgeable PCs will maintain their wyvern-scale armor adequately, and this downside will only manifest if the armor is lost or the PC is trapped away from maintenance materials for an extended period of time. When freshly made, wyvern-scale also has a very distinct aroma, undetectable by most humans, but clear to many animals and beasts, making achieving surprise more difficult in some circumstances (the scent may be perceived as either terrifying or aggressive, depending on the creature in question). After proper aging, the scent is said to dissipate, but experts estimate that such an aging processes requires the better part of 1000 years. Crafting cost & time: 1000 GP and 1d6 weeks, assuming access to a knowledgable craftsperson. One wyvern yields the materials for 1-2 suits.

Purple worm leather. Light armor, AC 7 [12]. One part of the dermis of the giant violet worm can be made into effective, flexible, and durable light armor. The armor, if properly made, remains partially alive (though its method of sustenance is unknown), and it slowly leeches alchemical compounds into the wearers body, granting a +2 bonus to saving throws versus poison after the armor has been worn regularly for at least one week. The wearer’s eyes and tongue also slowly take on a purple hue at this time. The armor feels slightly warm to the touch. The worm skin is too bulky to combine effectively with other forms of armor (such as plate + worm skin) but can be worked into heavy rain-capes or coats for those that seek only the poison resistance and cosmetic effects. The poison resistance does not persist when the armor is removed (sages suggest that the skin must release some further compound in response to poison). Most skins result in a vaguely tigerlike pattern of alternating brown and vibrant purple, and the color does not dull with age. Purple worm leather can be killed. Assume the armor needs to make a save versus death if the wearer is reduced to 0 HP by trauma (use the wearer’s save number). It will also mend itself naturally. Crafting cost & time: 100 GP and 1 week. One worm provides materials for a number of garments equal to its hit dice.

Crucilest

Lucicrucilest (illustration by Gus L.)

Lucicrucilest (illustration by Gus L.)

Fragment of a dispatch from the Sage Strodastin of Zorfath to High Merchant Thracle.

Also know as chiastons by western mercenaries, crucilests are seemingly magical weapons used by the invaders known as tangles†. The weapon name comes from a heavy crossbar which always occurs near the business end of the weapon, giving an appearance something like a crossbow without string or lever. Speculation: the similarity between the symbol of the Old Empire and this weapon can’t possibly be a coincidence. In some instances, the crossbar curves forward, like horns.

Crucilests discovered so far include:

  • Electrocrucilest: a stocked weapon of approximately the bulk of a heavy crossbow. So named because it seems to discharge a ray of lightning.
    [Range as crossbow, to-hit as normal, 4d6 damage, save for half, may ignite flammables.]
  • Lucicrucilest: similar to the electrocrucilest in appearance, this weapon emits a beam of light as thick around as a clenched fist. The colors and strengths of lucicrucilest emissions seem to vary, and some devices have been seen with complicated crystal arrays at their tips. These crystals are of no mineral that I have so far encountered.
    [Range as crossbow, auto-hit, save versus death ray or die.]
  • Cumulocrucilest: similar in size to the electrocrucilest, this device emits a wide fan of malefic discharge, melting and burning all in its path.
    [Area of effect 45 degree fan, 60′ radius, Xd6 damage, save versus breath weapon for half.]
  • Tridoform Crucilest: a melee weapon, often with three prongs, used to deliver a powerful blast of corruption.
    [Melee range, to-hit as normal, 1d6 damage and save versus death ray or die.]

Forgive the impertinence, Lord, but I have named the devices myself for ease of reference. If you believe that other names might be more appropriate commercially, especially for sale in the north, please let me know your preferences at your earliest convenience.

The ammunition used by these weapons is unknown, and the tinkers we have hired to examine (and disassemble, in one case, with disastrous consequences) have not been able to make heads or tails of their workings. Crystals embedded in the device seem to reflect the shots remaining.

My Lord will be pleased to note that the few examples of these foreign artifacts that have come into stock at the Zorfath branch of the Grand Emporium have generated princely profits.

† The etymology of this word is unclear, but I have reason to believe that it originated with the soldiers of fortune known as The Company of Gavin, previously based here in Zorfath, but now in unknown locations. One of my apprentices, however, believes the term is derogatory, and derived from mercenaries operating in the service of Efulziton Necromanticus in the west.


Note to Pahvelorn players: the tangle weapons you have found so far are a lucicrucilest and tridoform crucilest (these were the first found early on in the Vaults) and a 4d6 cumulocrucilest (which devastated the party in the northwestern cliff barrows).

Chaos Engines

When using a magic item, roll 2d6, add one half relevant class level (round up) and any item level (use enchantment bonus if it has one, or make a ruling). Then consult the table below.

Enchanted Device (2d6)
2d6 Result
2 or less Destroyed (item ruined, triggers chaos surge)
3, 4, 5 Warped (does not function, chaotic energies twist device)
6, 7, 8 Undermined (functions, but not quite as expected, device left unchanged)
9, 10, 11 Consistent (device functions without surprises)
12 or more Augmented (functions, chaos embues the device with a new permanent ability)

For example, a magic-user deploying a staff would get the class bonus, but a fighter would not. natural 2 and natural 12 should always override any modifiers, just like how nat 1 and nat 20 are often interpreted. If you wanted it to be more swingy, you could only apply item level (and ignore character level). That would also decrease the load on referee creativity (by not requiring the invention of new permanent abilities quite as frequently).

Perhaps especially useful for handling magic items in FLAILSNAILS games.

A great question from Eric B. on Google Plus: Would there be ITEMS OF CHAOS with negative item levels?

To which I responded: yeah, that sounds like a good way to operationalize curses. “Most of the time this wand will just make problems for you, but once in a blue moon it will level the evil overlord’s fortress.”