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.”

3 thoughts on “Chaos Engines

  1. LS

    I love coming up with magical crap on the spot.

    This system works for me. Though if I were to get rid of anything, it would be modification by item level. If wizard level don’t count towards ability to use magic items, what’s the point of being a wizard?

    This also seems as though it would work well with your “Monster XP as Treasure” idea, and removing other forms of magical advancement from the game.

    On an unrelated note, having your comment link at the top of your posts seems strange to me. My normal pattern (which I imagine is pretty standard) is to first read a post. When I’m finished reading, if I have thoughts, I leave a comment. Since I don’t read backwards, I end my reading at the bottom of a post. So that means I need to scroll back to the top of it to find the reply link.

    1. Brendan Post author


      The comment link at the top is the theme default. I agree it is somewhat strange. I’m probably going to change the theme at some point, but I haven’t found one that fits my needs yet. The “leave a reply” text boxes are at the bottom though, right?

      That’s a good point regarding the wizard mod. Maybe wizards should just be the only class that get the bonus.

      1. LS

        Once you’re viewing the specific post, the comment box is at the bottom, yes.

        If you only have a handful of issues with the theme, the edit should be relatively simple. A cut-paste in 1-3 .php files would be my guess.

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