Chances are…Chaos Mixtures – Guest Post

Time to start paying more attention and utilizing the encounter environment around you. We call on the cowardly shapeshifting magician, Ergo “the Magnificent” (from the movie, Krull), Harry Dresden, and everybody’s favorite cartoon wizard, Gargamel as our inspiration.

It always seemed like a flip of the coin on whether or not their spells would work for or against them. There was some real entertainment value in that casting suspense. So, we thought why not add a little of that into your next game? But to do so, you have to get creative and scavenger-like.

Say hello to Chaos Mixtures. The premise is rather straight forward. Adventurers can hunt and gather a variety of oddball components to create a spell stew of sorts. That magical concoction (most likely in potion form) will then have a 50-50 chance of working for or against the caster.

Brewing these potions is a very personal affair and not to be thought of as basic chemistry. Each ingredient holds meaning as well as power. Thadeous likes to reference the Dresden Files books when thinking about rituals or alchemy. Each ingredient has to be personal and attached to one of the senses as well as a binding ingredient for the soul. In this system each ingredient has a purpose. A liquid to bind the potion together, a part of a monster to give it raw power, and organic component to link it to everything living, a rare component to link it to its arcane energy and a common item to give it focus and purpose.

Take “Moments reprieve” as an example.

  1. A tear cried for a lost companion
  2. Beholder eyeball
  3. One black crow’s foot
  4. Dried tears of a sleeping Giant
  5. Old frayed rope

The tear is a liquid made from raw emotion, holding a great amount of energy to bind the other ingredients together. The Beholders Eye is raw power rarely matched but also focused and precise. The black crow’s foot is an organic component from a creature tied to both the natural world and the world of death. The tears of a sleeping giant hold the sleep of the giants; it links the potion to a deep arcane sleep. The old frayed rope holds years and years of knots and the experience of binding over its life span. The rope helps the potions creator focus on what the potion is supposed to do. The end result is a potion that could daze the target until the end of their next turn.

Makes sense, right? Here’s another possible example of some possible group-gathered items:

  1. An Ogre’s Tooth
  2. A rescued Maiden’s perfume scent
  3. Some dust from a discovered tomb
  4. Sample of Fire Bat droppings
  5. A lock of goblin hair

The player use an arcane, history or nature skill check to help the group learn what their component combo will bring. Using an example above, maybe that mixture provides a resist 5 fire bonus. Of course, if you mixed that batch up incorrectly, maybe it ignites in your stomach and instead, you take 5 fire damage. We love the yes/no six-sided die to settle 50-50 chances but you can really grab any die in your bag and just go odds against evens.

We’ve created a write-in template sheet for you to create your own Chaos Mixture cards as well as a sample sheet with eight of our own concoctions.

Scaling Chaos Mixtures can be done based on the uniqueness of the components: the more unique the items and the higher the party’s level, the larger the spell effect bonus. A helpful creative tip is to put your items into 1 of 5 categories: liquid, monster, organic, rare, and common

The DM can examine the current module ahead of time to pre-set the Chaos components and allow the group to do a sort of scavenger hunt as they adventure. You can leave it more open-ended and challenge the group to find/collect unique items and materials on their own.

Regardless, every potion is more than the sum of its parts, and Chaos Mixtures are proof of that. Introducing them into your game can be fun and add a bit of light “collection” to your game. It might even bring players into odd little magic shops where they try to fin rare ingredients and who knows what else.

Remember – the RPG world is a gamers’ oyster…you never know what you will find next.

Bonus Sample Scavenger Item Ideas

Holy Water, Hobgolblin Fingernail, Undead Skeleton Femur Bone, Dire Wolf Paw, Dirt Handfuls from Exotic Places, Piece of (significant) Statue Stone, Cursed Coin, Powdered Dretch Claw, Balgura Tongue, Prince’s Mole, Kobold Ear Wax, Drops of Venom from a Yuan-ti, Drops of Blood from an Injured Comrade, Spriggan Hat, or Post-Battle Sweat.

– Ben & Thadeous

About the Guest Author

Ben Bertrandt is the co-founder of Gamers’ Inn in Mesa, Arizona. He also co-created and currently maintains Ben’s RPG Pile – a social network of D&D gaming goodness. You can enjoy his weekly blog of product reviews, watch a how-to video on YouTube and read his endless banter on Twitter.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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