7266: Target's heart turns to solid gold, potentially killing him
May 29, 2019 2:55 PM   Subscribe

𝖂 hen playing Dungeons & Dragons, and a "wild magic surge" is called for, a blast of random magic, do you find the D20 or D100 tables usually supplied for these effects unsatisfying? I would point the interested/sadistic/madcap DM to the Net Libram of Random Magical Effects [PDF] which contains a D10000 table full of concerning, dangerous and otherwise odd results.

𝕴 n the game of Dungeons & Dragons, there is a type of spellcaster called the Wild Magic Sorcerer, who, when they use magic, might cause what is called a wild magic surge. Or, an ordinary sort of magic-user might roll a natural 1 when casting, and the DM might decide that's worth a wild magic surge for what some observers report as being "fun." And then there is the Wand of Wonder, a magic item whose entire purpose is producing wild magic surges. Good luck!

Here are a few sample rolls:
4124: Any water elemental touching or touched by target heats to 200°
6086: Target is immune to his own magic and attacks for 1d4 hours
6862: Target will die unless he spends 100 gold pieces each day
1862: Caster's arms and legs look like chicken's legs
3417: Once per week, caster can instantly snuff one campfire
6934: Target's allies think that he's under the caster's control
2542: Each day, caster wakes with his mouth packed full of flour
2824: If caster is wearing a magic ring, he's attacked by scarabs
2555: Each day, someone accuses the caster of unwholesome practices
...and...
0000: The Stars Are Right!
posted by JHarris (94 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
This should be in google sheets.
posted by bleep at 3:02 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Here's a web implementation I just found (and an associated txt file). On my first try I got 5729, Target forgets how to sleep, which seems about right.
posted by theodolite at 3:02 PM on May 29 [15 favorites]


I am reminded of the MERP/Rolemaster critical tables, although obviously the critical failure tables were more salient for this example.
posted by aramaic at 3:03 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


These also seem like they would make hilarious prompts for improv comedy.
posted by msbutah at 3:16 PM on May 29 [15 favorites]


6993 Target's bones are sought by poachers
8759 All within 50 yards preach a ridiculous "abstinence only" policy
posted by duffell at 3:16 PM on May 29 [6 favorites]


6434 Target must save or he will never have existed
posted by nubs at 3:17 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


4820 One of target's limbs can never be rendered invisible

There's an adventure hook right there...the case of the one-armed bandit, so named because the townsfolk only saw one arm.
posted by nubs at 3:21 PM on May 29 [15 favorites]


2542: Each day, caster wakes with his mouth packed full of flour


Gonna need a new binder.
posted by clavdivs at 3:42 PM on May 29


8527 All weapons within 50 yards are the property of some distant king
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:45 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


DnD got a Perils of the Warp table?
posted by Slackermagee at 3:53 PM on May 29


0517 Caster can speak with domestic fowl, but they tend to lie to him

I like very much that they do not always lie, but they merely tend to. “These chickens are... somewhat mendacious!”
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:12 PM on May 29 [22 favorites]


Also: 2067 Casterís hands feel just like two balloons

I guess someone is a Pink Floyd fan.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:14 PM on May 29 [2 favorites]


3814 When caster next enters his home, he forgets how to exit again
posted by some loser at 4:48 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure this one would end the world:

9447 Next weapon drawn nearby quickly becomes as hot as the Sun
posted by some loser at 4:52 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


2307 Caster's spellbook can be judged by its cover
posted by yellowbinder at 4:58 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


Ohhhh my god I literally just built a Wild Magic tiefling sorcerer - this is the most "relevant to my extremely niche interests" post I've seen here in a while.

Thanks for the web implementation link, theodolite! :D
posted by westface at 5:09 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


About the "as hot as the Sun" one, I think, not necessarily. That's really hot, but relatively-speaking it's a small amount of mass. Assuming it doesn't remain as hot as the sun, it'd cool down quickly.

Google tells us the surface of the sun is "only" 5,778 Kelvin. Kelvin is just Celsius with a different zero point, so to convert that to C we just have to add 273.15, or 6,051.15.

A standard longsword as hot as the sun would have as much thermal energy as two longswords half as hot as the sun, or four longswords a quarter as hot. It only takes six such halvings to get down to 64 longswords at 94.55 C, which is below the boiling point of water. That's kind of a half-assed calculation, considering that things cool off by difference of temperature and the density of the material to which the heat escapes, but still, the relatively small size of the longsword means that, while it'd be dangerous to be near, poses little danger to the planet.

The center of the sun is thought to be about 15,000,000 Celsius. It takes 18 halvings to get that down to around 57 C, or around 272,000 longswords, a significantly larger amount of heat to dissipate, but still, not enough to destroy Oerth, or Toril, or whatever fantasy world you happen to be on.
posted by JHarris at 5:13 PM on May 29 [22 favorites]


I've used this table in practice a bit, and I suggest that, if wild magic surges are going to be common, that you temper the table a bit. If it's an instantly fatal effect that comes up, I'd suggest at least giving a saving throw or something. If you have a magic user that regularly produces magic surges just as a consequence of its normal operation, then it's going to roll themselves certain death eventually over the course of its career.

This is also true, to a lesser extent, of permanent effects. Things like your hair turning blue are one thing, but one of my characters, using a previous version of this list (don't know if it's still there), got "barks like a dog when in the presence of royalty," which is the kind of think that I'll easily forget about by the time it actually occurs, if ever. A character could quickly pick up a number of such curses. You could think of them as being like magic scars, the natural consequence of spellcasting mishap over the years. During a long life, an elf could become a twitching bundle of dozens of them, all triggering over each other.
posted by JHarris at 5:18 PM on May 29 [14 favorites]


During a long life, an elf could become a twitching bundle of dozens of them, all triggering over each other.

This is how you get Lovecraft, right?
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:25 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Its moments like these that remind me im still part of the hobby because where else are you going to have a conversation about the outcome of heating up a sword to the temperature of the sun, or (as I did this past weekend) ask what the effective range is for a honeydew melon as a thrown weapon
posted by nubs at 5:38 PM on May 29 [11 favorites]


Great timing! I'm in the process of doing my Random Strangeness Encounter tables for my UFOs Meet D&D project!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:32 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


I’m an old skool D&Der, but I am firmly in favor of rewriting tables (and any other rules) to make them more interesting. Especially when it comes to spell tables.
posted by darkstar at 6:45 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


Back in my early 20s, my weird group of friends all sat around and generated the Random Activity Generator. With just a few roles of percentile dice, we could come up with an activity to do when none of us suggested anything worthwhile. It was several pages, a lot of tables with ranges and some sub-tables and such. It was mostly a "let's make this thing as an activity" activity, not a "let's make this thing to help us choose an activity" activity... although we did once or twice actually use it and it once led us on a road trip to Juarez to buy alcohol, so that was fun.

We did make it, however, so if you rolled 100 10 times in a row, the tables and subtables would lead you to the ultimate random activity -- Road Trip To Tierra del Fuego.

I've still never been to Tierra del Fuego.
posted by hippybear at 6:50 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


5801 Target has a colony of bees living in his skull
6684 Target sprouts an additional mouth next to his original one

It's like he knows my life!

4828 One of target's limbs is controlled by caster for 1d10 rounds

Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:50 PM on May 29 [12 favorites]


(I'm more than reasonably confident I still have this tucked away in a box someplace. That would be fun to find!)
posted by hippybear at 6:50 PM on May 29


During a campaign I was in recently (my first since I was a kid), our party came across a Rod of Wonder and convinced our DM to substitute this for the stock table. Every round of combat for the rest of the game had one of us using it -- usually our poor bard, who the DM didn't even need to ask for their actions, after a while. There were many sinister "Nothing appears to happen" effects.

It was a good time.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 7:04 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


Random Activity Generator

See also Morton's List, which we got into because it was harmlessly juggalo-adjacent and juggalos were fucking omnipresent in Michigan in the early 00s. Four of them took over the top floor of our co-op house, having moved to Ann Arbor from Brooklyn not even for college or anything, just to be closer to juggalo-dom — which we found hilarious because we thought Michigan was blatantly uncool and Brooklyn was cool by definition. And contrary to stereotype they were the sweetest kids, but their entire thing was they hung around, worked at this one scuzzy pizza place, listened to ICP or egregiously bad heavy metal, smoked weed, and occasionally played Morton's List.

The rest of us got into it for a while and had some randomly adequate good times together. I think the high point was being challenged to learn martial arts and so making one up that involved whapping each other with pool noodles.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:12 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


Huh, the Morton's List thing looks pretty cool.
posted by tavella at 7:27 PM on May 29


Huh. Morton must have stolen the idea from us, as we created ours in the early 90s.
posted by hippybear at 7:32 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


I love this, it's like concentrated mischief! I rolled "4377 If next attack on target causes maximum damage, winter begins now" aka A Song of Ice And Backfire?

6434 Target must save or he will never have existed
I was thinking this was a little harsh until I remembered that 2nd Ed(?) psionic power which had a 1/20 chance of accidentally disintegrating the user not the target.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:51 PM on May 29 [4 favorites]


RE: rewriting tables, this seems like a good place to add an excerpt from an email I sent to a fellow old school D&Der (he’s in his 70s now) and someone who used to DM for us many years ago.

I wrote:
I often recall in one of our sessions you were DMing, how my Druid frustratedly asked an elder Druid NPC he had befriended why there weren't more spells geared to the simple maintenance and benefit of a community. The elder (you) responded that there were many such spells and cantrips, but that I hadn't been taught them by my masters because of the militant and hierarchical attitudes of my particular denomination/sect.

"It’s in my spell book right there," you said, speaking for the elder "one of the first spells I learned: Make Crops Grow."

It would be difficult to describe how that brief exchange inspired my game play since then. In my last game with some friends on this side of town, I played another Druid. But this time, with the DM's permission, I rewrote the cantrip list.

There are now cantrips for "Nourish" and "Invigorate", for "Summon minor insects" and "Foxfire", for "Lullabye" and "Dewfall" and "Dawn's Awakening" and "Inspired Foraging", among others.

And as he leveled, he researched new spells along the way. Why would a Druid want to Warp Wood? It's a sacrilege to distort the remains of a noble tree whose health and vigor had yielded a straight grain in its life. He replaced it instead with "Whispering Pines", a new spell that carries a whispered message miles through a forest. Similarly, "Babbling Brook" allows the Druid to speak with bodies of water.

My Druid worked with the player team through eight levels of character building to found two towns: Sanctuary and Haven. In the end, though we occasionally had to kill when threatened, we had nevertheless rescued animals, humans and humanoids from across the alignment spectrum, and were a thriving little domain. It has been something I'd wanted to role play for years, and my in-game conversation with you was a major catalyst for it.

In fact, now that I've learned how to play this way, I'm completely turned off by the hack-and-slash mentality.

Last Saturday after a gaming break of a year, I sat in on a game (v3.5) that, 20 years ago, I would have found quite adequate. But afterward, I wrote the DM saying I wouldn't be continuing. It was too focused on “kill the NPCs, and loot the corpses”.

So when I saw your post, and then read that you'd recused yourself from a similar campaign, it struck a chord. I have been getting frustrated with gaming, because it felt like I was stuck in the past, glory days when the game was new and fresh to me, and character-building and epic storytelling were inspirational to my younger mind.

But maybe the problem isn’t curmudgeonly grognards incapable of adapting to new rules and new versions: old dogs failing to learn new tricks. Maybe it's that the tricks we’re trying to learn are the wrong ones.
So go forth! Adapt the game and it’s rules to meet your needs! And never game with assholes. Life is too short.
posted by darkstar at 7:57 PM on May 29 [91 favorites]


Skimmed to the end and clocked the HG Wells classic "9919 The planet no longer rotates", haha! Still possibly one of the least worst planetary effects listed.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:59 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


The Stephen Colbert plays D&D with a really skilled DM for Red Nose Day video (and post) is worth the hour it lasts. Colbert's utter look of joy and the DM's expert storytelling make for magical watching.
posted by hippybear at 8:02 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


9954 The target point acquires intelligence and free will

I missed the session where it happened, but I'm pretty sure my DM uses this table, and this is likely the roll that led to a whole arc of bad ideas and us creating a boss we'd have to fight.

We'd been exploring a mine where everyone had been turned into zombies, including a canary in a little cage. Our DM had put it there for background color, but my warlock and my friend's drow ranger decided to name it Aun and keep it as a spooky pet. The rest of the party hated the idea, but we promised to take good care of it and not let it out of its cage. We were so excited when wild magic let it start talking to us! Aun was our perfect child, and we were so happy.

We'd also acquired a cursed spellbook, and the only logical thing was to let Aun read it first, so we could make sure remove curse would work without having to risk any players. We started by turning the pages for him, but after a few days he was doing it himself with mage hand. He started fighting alongside us, and was very good about asking permission to attack. He finished the book and demanded more. We said no for a little while, but his tantrums were getting scary, and my warlock handed over their pact book to try to appease him. He made his own pact with my warlock's patron, started poisoning our food so that we could become like him, and ended up briefly taking control of my character. The rest of the party managed to defeat us, but my character became undead in the process.
posted by Akhu at 8:21 PM on May 29 [21 favorites]


I got "5201 Target believes that whatever he last ate is still alive", and now I am wondering if there is a matching "whatever they ate last *is* still alive."
posted by tavella at 8:24 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


I rolled a 7454: Target’s skin is as combustible as paper.

Which, given how quickly I sunburn, yeah, already there.
posted by darkstar at 8:43 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


2016: area effect, 4d20 percent of the target population permanently lose 2d4 wisdom and intelligence, permanently lose all saving throws against demagoguery.
posted by skewed at 8:48 PM on May 29 [13 favorites]


Rolemaster?

I think you spelt “roll” incorrectly... so many lookup tables, so much dicing... I think the only other system that had even more was Phoenix Command... 5 hours to play about 1 minute of in-game combat (ok ok, we were just learning the game), I loved it so much I immediately bought Living Steel.
posted by jkaczor at 9:44 PM on May 29


9447 Next weapon drawn nearby quickly becomes as hot as the Sun

Having your party suffer from radiation sickness for the rest of the game seems like a good way to make friends
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:47 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


Haha, holy shit, I'd completely forgotten about Phoenix Command & Living Steel! I remember spending an hour making our characters, only to have all four of us killed within thirty seconds of the game start (which, to be fair, took at least an hour to work out).

There was one other system that was worse; I don't recall the name, it came in a green pamphlet and had detailed charts that could be used to determine where precisely the bullet went through your pancreas. Literally a big chart of the human body with "8-bit" graphed versions overlaid and accompanying roll tables.
posted by aramaic at 10:10 PM on May 29 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of playing Car Wars, where it was like a half hour for every 1/2 second of gameplay to get worked out, complete with tokens and physics tables.
posted by hippybear at 10:26 PM on May 29 [6 favorites]


...of course, I should also criticize Twilight 2020: generate your folks, set out to find some stuff, wipe out half the party with a 120mm AP shell rigged with a tripwire.

The second half gets wiped out in a mortar strike 30min later. Fun!
posted by aramaic at 10:29 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


This list is great andIm saving it for future use, but this is some bullshit and symptomatic as fuck. If you’re aware of it as he states, then she, her and hers is literally zero-to-one letter difference. Make them all she if it’s same same to you.

Once again I have used the pronouns he, him, and his throughout the list, but this is intended to save space rather than as a commentary on sex as it pertains to chaos bursts. As before, one shouldn't infer a boys only attitude from this; female spellcasters can unleash chaos just as readily as their male counterparts.
posted by Iteki at 11:08 PM on May 29 [7 favorites]


A lot of these effects sound like Dwarf Fortress bugs, and conversely a lot of Dwarf Fortress bugs would make good Wild Surge effects.
posted by Syllepsis at 11:31 PM on May 29 [5 favorites]


LOL, those are awesome! A few of those Dwarf Fortress bugs:


8092: Dwarves constantly interrupt each other and run away

2722: Adventurer's backpack can carry many corpses

5224: Werecreatures and vampires are found naked in their lairs

7410: Ghosts report crimes

4732: Discodesert


Talk about painting a picture!
posted by darkstar at 12:17 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


OMG they get better:

5942: Hidden vampire outed by cat adoption

5387: Dwarf refuses to move until death

5343: 3/4 of the map is a big hole going straight to hell.

964: Tame bears keep guzzling the fortress' booze

7090: Baby invasion
posted by darkstar at 12:26 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Ah, I notice my calculation above is particularly half-assed, because to convert Kelvin to Celsius you'd have to subtract 273.15, not add it. But it doesn't really matter, the scales at which we're considering, that's not that much, the general point that a single longsword-sized object won't destroy the world if heated to sun temperatures.
posted by JHarris at 2:36 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]



6400 Target must carry a fifty pound wheel of cheese until sunset

Do they get the cheese, or do they have to go and find some cheese?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:52 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


These are a lot of fun.
I'm running a campaign at the moment that this will be useful for.

Earlier on in the game they ended up in a curse temple full of traps that randomly cursed them from a table of wierd curses.
Their next adventure will have them find a box that generates magic items from a randomised table.
I'll also throw in something like "The Orb of Uncontrollable Power" which will roll off this table. (And, I guess do something useful too?)
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:54 AM on May 30


A 1-kg-ish longsword at 15,000,000K would only have enough heat (~7.5 gigajoules, for comparison a barrel of oil has about 6GJ of energy) to vaporize a few cubic meters of water, so not quite a world-ending event.
posted by Pyry at 3:05 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


A character could quickly pick up a number of such curses. You could think of them as being like magic scars, the natural consequence of spellcasting mishap over the years.

Some of the permanent effects are beneficial. If I used this list in a campaign, I'd say that permanent effects from wild surges can be removed with a Remove Curse or similar, but that doing so removes all such permanent effects. Let the mage press her luck.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:07 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


A 1-kg-ish longsword at 15,000,000K would only have enough heat (~7.5 gigajoules, for comparison a barrel of oil has about 6GJ of energy) to vaporize a few cubic meters of water, so not quite a world-ending event.

Which, if it's a permanent effect, would then serve as a pretty badass core for a steam engine.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:19 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


The infamous F.A.T.A.L. RPG has a table of random magic effects that this one reminded me of, somewhat. Now, since it is F.A.T.A.L., the table contains tons of effects involving rape and scatology best not spoken of here, but a few of them are at least a bit inspired.

0056. Caster is able to shoot flames out of their ass 1d100 feet at will, 1d6 LP damage.
0512. The target creature must analyze the logic of every word spoken from now on.
0529. All (1d10 - 1) clouds in the sky seek the caster and will center on them for 1d10 hours.
0660. The previous lover of the caster loses all of their teeth immediately.
1156. Whenever the caster opens their mouth, everyone can see eternity.
1991. The nearest two nations declare war on each other.
posted by delfin at 5:14 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


Yeah, as a practical matter, this table is too big with too many effects that are unseen or overly conditional (or game-breaking). But the current list of 50 in the 5th ed Player's Handbook is too small. I'm currently using a 100-item list, which seems fine, unless you were running a multi-year campaign with multiple sources of wild magic, in which case even a 1,000-item list would be plenty.

It is fun to read, though.
posted by rikschell at 5:47 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I agree that this would be a bad table to roll on frequently, especially early in a campaign. Too swingy.

E.N. World's old D&D 3.0 supplement, Wild Magic, had a good set of three charts that were keyed off of the level of the spell being cast with wilder, more dangerous effects being on the higher level tables. A good project would be to break the table up into levels of effect so that world ending stuff is reserved for high level side effects and so on.

Incidentally, here's an automated version of this in the Perchance engine. It includes an optional duration roller since that's omitted from most of the effects.
posted by charred husk at 6:00 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Charred husk: My very first result on that page

All bags of holding within one mile are completely full of anvils

Needless to say, I’m sharing this bookmark with every D&D nerd I have an email address for.
posted by DigDoug at 6:41 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


I've got RTSD (random table stress disorder) dating back to my very first game as a GM. I had developed my own dungeon and one of the first rooms had a fountain in it where, if you took a drink, the effect of one random potion would ensue. An idea stolen from a then-current D&D YA novel, if I remember correctly.

Come game time the party got to this room and, once they figured out what was going on, spent the rest of the session pushing each other into the fountain for amusement's sake. They never did make it to another room.
posted by Quindar Beep at 6:46 AM on May 30 [10 favorites]


This is very timely, since my group's last D&D session involved the Deck of Many Things. Fortunately, none of us got anything scary.
posted by ITheCosmos at 6:58 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


The only time I encountered a DoMT was in a 1st ed (I think) adventure many years ago. My hyperacquisitive and impulsive Thief chose to pull three cards. It was pretty much the end of the road for him.
posted by darkstar at 7:27 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


completely forgotten about Phoenix Command & Living Steel

I was a "systems junkie" the weirder, the better - I would buy games not to play, but to study their mechanics and systems. Then, I preferred world-building - had more fun designing universes than actually running people through sessions as a GM.

Heck, if it hadn't been for the random encounter/dungeon tables in the original AD&D DMG, I wouldn't have started having a real interest in computers and programming... (Apple IIe, grade... 7/8?), so thanks Gygax and TSR.
posted by jkaczor at 7:33 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


4602 Nearest pine tree crushes the target's home, wherever it is

Hmmm that's pretty vague. "Nearest" to the caster? The home? The target? A pine tree visible by the caster takes off like a rocket and flies a thousand miles and crushes a house in the desert?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:46 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Hmmm that's pretty vague. "Nearest" to the caster? The home? The target? A pine tree visible by the caster takes off like a rocket and flies a thousand miles and crushes a house in the desert?

Consider, too, that many players are (murder) hobos - no real home or fixed address.

As with all tabletop RPGs, feel free to improvise for whatever makes sense in the moment. Perhaps a tree takes off like a rocket. Perhaps a tiny sapling near the home suddenly grows tall and crushes the home in the process. Perhaps a pine tree gains limited sentience and mobility and sets off on a quest to destroy the home. If they don't have a home yet, perhaps it follows them and waits.
posted by nubs at 9:04 AM on May 30 [9 favorites]


LOL, now I have the image of a pine tree skulking in the shadows, darting around corners, stalking the player throughout the campaign, always on the periphery of every adventure encounter, waiting, waiting...

Finally, the player levels up and gets a stronghold, at which point the tree, crazed and bellowing wildly, rushes forward and slams itself into the wall in an exploding cloud of shattered stone and splintered wood. As the haze of masonry dust and pine needles settles, it reveals the remains of the tree in the middle of the wreckage, a contented smile on its broken, lifeless trunk.
posted by darkstar at 9:26 AM on May 30 [17 favorites]


“What happened?”

“Well, you remember that critical failure I rolled, like, eight years ago...?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:30 AM on May 30 [8 favorites]


About two minutes after I posted the comment, I started mentally creating an NPC that the players will meet who is being followed by a pine tree. The NPC refuses to buy or build a home, knowing what will happen, and so travels through the world, always followed by a skulking pine tree waiting to strike...
posted by nubs at 9:32 AM on May 30 [10 favorites]


I’m also imagining the encounters:


Player: “So, your Highness, once again we thank you for graciously granting us an audience and—“

Prince: “Wait, wait...is...is that thing with you lot?”

Player: “Which thing, your Highness? “

Prince: “That...tree...rather conspicuously hiding over there by the staircase.”

Player: “Oh no, your Highness, that’s just...that’s...well, it’s rather difficult to explain.”

Prince: “Try.”
posted by darkstar at 9:52 AM on May 30 [13 favorites]


And the pine tree is wearing a gigantic false mustache.
posted by Quindar Beep at 9:58 AM on May 30 [10 favorites]


"He doesn't look entish."
posted by nubs at 10:04 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


4638 Next magic item handled by target is etched with his fingerprints

That would be a neat thing to put in a game, without explanation. A previous holder of an enchanted item was affected by this, and now there are fingerprints on it.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 10:18 AM on May 30 [5 favorites]


The pine tree stalker leaves no fingerprints, only needle tracks.
posted by nubs at 10:37 AM on May 30 [9 favorites]


The Pine Tree Stalker is one of the new creatures in the latest Monster Manual.
posted by darkstar at 11:04 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I'm always feeling, Blue: "Skimmed to the end and clocked the HG Wells classic "9919 The planet no longer rotates", haha! Still possibly one of the least worst planetary effects listed."

Eh, sounds pretty bad.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:21 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


"Inspired Foraging"

Useful for homing in on the high-value options and avoiding cheap carb-based fillers at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:50 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


These are fun! And there are lots of them!

I'm no fun!

The list lacks themes and magic-system-(world)building. So many of the effects are so random.

To me, "magic" is a manipulation of some kind of energy. The failure mode should be informed by the kind and means of the energy manipulation and the source of the energy itself.
posted by porpoise at 8:53 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


"Inspired Foraging"

Useful for homing in on the high-value options and avoiding cheap carb-based fillers at an all-you-can-eat buffet.



My late mother, who was an 11th level Bargain Hunter, taught me how to load up a plateful of shrimp at the all-you-can-eat buffet, and then remove the breading before you are it, so you didn’t get filled up on the cheap carbs.

Nowadays, that’s just called keto.
posted by darkstar at 8:55 PM on May 30 [5 favorites]


So many of the effects are so random.

Look, if you cast a spell, and you fail, and you fail bad enough, then fuck all what you were attempting to do with regard to "the kind and means of the energy manipulation". You did a thing, it wasn't what you intended because you sucked at it, and you did this other thing by accident. Enjoy!
posted by hippybear at 9:34 PM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Ah, I notice my calculation above is particularly half-assed, because to convert Kelvin to Celsius you'd have to subtract 273.15, not add it. But it doesn't really matter, the scales at which we're considering, that's not that much, the general point that a single longsword-sized object won't destroy the world if heated to sun temperatures.

D&D uses Fahrenheit.

Which unfortunate for two reasons. Firstly, it holds back the Prime Material Plane's scientific development. And secondly, it means that those nearby water elementals touching or touched by target that heat to 200° don't suddenly flash explode into clouds of steam more than 1600 times larger by volume.

I don't think experienced DMs would have much trouble modeling the effects experienced by the target and nearby landforms, although effects vary sharply depending on size. A medium water elemental, at 280 lb, flash explodes to 7175 cubic feet (7.175 ten-by-ten-by-ten rooms). A large water elemental, at 2250 lb, flash explodes to 57633 cubic feet (57.633 ten-by-ten-by-ten rooms).

Here I'm assuming the water elemental started at 25 degrees Celsius, and in giving the 1600x factor I'm ignoring the expansion of the resultant steam from 100 degrees Celsius to 200 degrees Celsius.

Although there's a table for that in the back of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

In Fahrenheit.
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:58 AM on May 31 [5 favorites]


Hmmm...your discourse on steam explosion with water has me thinking about that steel sword again...

Iron boils at about 2600K. Steel alloys would boil somewhat higher than that, let’s say 2700K. The sun’s surface is, as previously mentioned, about 5500K.

So, at 2600K, the sword would be about a kilogram of iron (about 18 moles) converted to a cloud of SUPER HOT iron vapor with a volume of (assuming atmospheric pressures) of 24L x 18 = 432 L.

Taking the temperature from 2600K to 5600K would just over double the volume, to about a 900L cloud, just over 0.9 cubic meters, or 30 cubic feet.

So, although the energy of that magically superheated sword would dissipate rapidly, it would first flash into a cloud of ultra hot iron vapor about a meter wide. The person carrying it would be instantly flash-fried by a cloud of iron vapor many times hotter than the hottest combustion zone of a conventional fire. Adventurers standing nearby would suffer lesser, but still considerable, damage.

Neat!

The force of the pressure wave of the cloud expansion — and the resulting damage to nearby adventurers — is something I’ll leave to the physicists in the party.
posted by darkstar at 10:28 AM on May 31 [4 favorites]


Oops, I made that common mistake: the volume calculation was based on Standard Temperature and Pressure, and the boiling temp of the iron certainly isn’t zero degrees Celsius.

Using the Ideal Gas Law, the volume of 18 moles of gaseous iron at 5500K would be about 8,000 liters of vapor, about nine times my earlier calculation. So, about 8 cubic meters, or an initial vapor cloud about 8 feet wide, or 4 feet radius, with the now defunct sword-bearer at the center.

posted by darkstar at 10:39 AM on May 31 [3 favorites]


10,000 entries but no Limb Loss Sub-table?
posted by ob1quixote at 8:31 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


I read this one:

8817 An arrogant, inarticulate twit achieves great political power

and now I'm questioning my reality again.
posted by some loser at 9:06 AM on June 1 [6 favorites]


At this point, as an explanation, “Bad roll on the Wild Magic Surge Table” seems about right.
posted by darkstar at 12:31 AM on June 2 [10 favorites]


Neat!
I love this game.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:37 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


> So many of the effects are so random.

That's the name of the document, yes.

Less snarkily: I see it more as a support document than a reference. As such, it's not that different from Eno's Oblique Strategies, or various web services that will provide generated writing prompts. It doesn't have to contain a system because it isn't describing a system, it's describing consequences. The author concedes that some consequences aren't appropriate or can't be used literally, in which case, adapt or reroll, it's OK. If you're in a campaign that has a more structured or systematized form of magic, then a diverse random-effects table isn't for you anyway, except maybe as some inspiration for thinking up a more relevant result.
posted by ardgedee at 9:21 AM on June 4


> This list is great andIm saving it for future use, but this is some bullshit and symptomatic as fuck. If you’re aware of it as he states, then she, her and hers is literally zero-to-one letter difference. Make them all she if it’s same same to you.

I'm curious about the publication date for this, because using "he" plus a disclaimer was a very 90s way of dealing with gender, and that plus the excite.com contact email makes me suspect this must have come out no later than the early 2000s.
posted by ardgedee at 9:26 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


How interesting — I hadn’t considered how that literary convention had gone through a fairly rapid evolution until you pointed it out, ardgedee.

Yes, sometime in the 80s, it became the “inclusive” writing convention to continue to use the masculine pronoun, but make a predatory disclaimer. During the same period, other writers opted to use “he or she” but that was a little kludgey. Perhaps that’s what this writer was comparing to, in reference to saving letters?

By 2010 or so, these conventions had both pretty much died out, in favor of interspersing masculine and feminine pronouns throughout a work, and taking special care to make sure the feminine pronoun was well represented. It’s like we witnessed the preceding, intermediate phase in writing come and go, sort of like laser discs were, for a while, a great idea, and then they were eclipsed by something better.

Interestingly, in the last few years I’ve started to see more “them/they” being used for the singular, even in places where it would have been rejected as poor grammar 20 years ago. But as the culture begins to acknowledge and respect non-binary gender, the old grammar rule is being bent or discarded in favor of true inclusiveness.

I know this is a derail, but linguistically it’s fascinating.

posted by darkstar at 2:27 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Interesting and valid point! The publish date is 2005, so perhaps I should allow a little slack. Thanks for the extra perspective. Time for version 2.5 to be released I think!
posted by Iteki at 3:02 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Ugh...*prefatory* disclaimer. Not predatory.
posted by darkstar at 3:49 PM on June 4


Oh I dunno. Depending on context, either could be appropriate.
posted by ardgedee at 5:31 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


For anyone still reading at this point, let me state openly and for the record that I completely agree with Iteki in her objection above:

this is some bullshit and symptomatic as fuck. If you’re aware of it as he states, then she, her and hers is literally zero-to-one letter difference. Make them all she if it’s same same to you.

Thank you ardegee and darkstar for defending my clumsy word choice on the grounds that gendered language has evolved since I wrote the lists years ago. Indeed it has, but I shouldn't get a pass for that reason alone.

A new, expanded edition of the the list is nearing completion, and the finished work will be much more conscious of gender equity.

Thanks very much to all who have commented here. I am delighted to see that a labor of love from a quarter century ago can still entertain gamers today.

---Orrex
posted by Orrex at 6:41 PM on June 22 [15 favorites]


That's awesome to hear, Orrex! Thank you for your effort!
posted by ardgedee at 7:34 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


Outstanding, Orrex!
posted by darkstar at 11:35 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Thanks Orrex for your thoughtful response to this. It's a fantastic resource and I am thrilled to hear that a new version is coming for the two-thousand-teens. Welcome to metafilter!
posted by Iteki at 11:46 AM on June 23 [4 favorites]


Hey Orrex! Might I just add that our group has gotten a lot of use out of your lists? Even though we mostly plat 5E, your list brings a bit of old-school fun to our game. We pull it in whenever a to-hit roll with a spell is a natural 1, although we do a second roll to "confirm the surge."
posted by JHarris at 11:16 AM on June 28 [4 favorites]


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