Follow TV Tropes


Random Effect Spell

Go To

"Yes, spin the wheel, you fools. See what horrors are in store for you."
[activates ÜberCharge spell]
"You are GODS! I... meant to do that. It will go badly for you. You watch.
Eh he... I don't know why I put that on the wheel."
Merasmus, Team Fortress 2

Sometimes, even heroes like to live on the edge.

A Random Effect Spell is just that — a spell or item in a video game that pulls from a pool of random effects, instead of doing the same thing every time. Often (but not always) granted as a late-game spell or ability, or difficult to come by, the Random Effect Spell's effects can run the gauntlet from "really cool" to "really lame". How big the effect pool is can depend on the item or spell, though frequently, at least one or two of them will be a duplicate of an already-existing spell or ability (if not all of them). Frequently, at least one possible effect of the spell will be completely amazing (such as dealing massive damage to all enemies), but another will be completely horrible (such as cutting all your characters' health in half). Also frequent is one option which does absolutely nothing. Whether the risk is worth it generally depends on the ratio of good effects to bad ones in the pool, the cost of the ability, and how many (and how strong) the enemies are you're facing. In other cases, part of the entire appeal is the hilarity of rolling the dice and seeing whether you obliterate the enemy or shoot off your own leg. Of course if you are playing on an emulator or Save Scumming is otherwise available, you can just keep resetting until you get the right luck.

Due to its random nature, it is frequently Awesome, but Impractical and a Useless Useful Spell, but not always. If there are enough good effects, they can easily be a Lethal Joke Item or spell. If the randomness results from the spell being miscast, then that's Magic Misfire. Compare Randomized Damage Attack where it's only the damage that is random, but the effect stays the same — although they may overlap if one effect yield greater damage than the other.

Troper General's Note: Many spells or items in video games (and other games) have an element of randomness to them to keep things unpredictable — such as the additional damage from one spell being randomized, or one spell possibly being able to inflict a number of status effects. However, for the purposes of this trope, we are mainly concerned about examples whose primary purpose or effect is the randomness.

See also the Super-Trope Unpredictable Results. Compare the Randomized Transformation.


    open/close all folders 

  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games: Link can obtain Mystical Seeds that, when cracked open, produce a supernatural effect. Most kinds have one effect each — Ember Seeds create fire, Scent Seeds attract enemies, Pegasus Seeds make Link move faster and Gale Seeds produce whirlwinds that allow Link to warp back to fixed points on the map. Mystery Seeds don't have a unique effect, but instead randomly copy one of the other four kinds' powers when they're used.

    Eastern RPGs 
  • Bahamut Lagoon: The Mini-Devils' Dances are entirely unpredictable; the pool of effects can be changed based on the dragon associated with them, but there's rarely more than about a 60% chance of getting a positive result. Results can range from various element attacks with varying ranges, healing your party, healing the enemies, healing everyone, putting targets to sleep or poisoning them, etc.
  • BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm has the rare Present? item, which can do any number of things once opened. Some of the effects are helpful, (like turning enemies into kittens, or giving everyone in the party a free Auto-Revive), while others can backfire, (like restoring bosses to full health and doubling their attack power). You can only get them when certain shops have limited-time sales, so keep an eye on your email notifications.
  • Acrobats in Dokapon Kingdom can get the "????" skill. It changes to a random skill every time a new battle starts.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Chance/Hocus Pocus in the various incarnations of the franchise.
    • This is carried over to Super Smash Bros., where it can pull from about 20 different effects, good and bad.
    • The Princess of Moonbrooke from Dragon Quest II is the first character in the franchise to use Hocus Pocus, whose description in that game warns that "you will never know what will happen before it is casted".
    • Meena's Silver Tarot Cards in Dragon Quest IV have random effects when used as an item. Using them too many times in one battle dramatically increases the chance of her drawing the Fool, which casts Thwack on the entire party.
  • Earthbound has Paula's Pray command, which does a random assortment of things. It's free and can heal people and give status effects to enemies, but it can also give status effects to you — so outside of the now-infamous final battle, you're generally better off sticking to Paula's Black Magician Girl skills.
  • The first four Epic Battle Fantasy games feature a skill which gives a character a random item to be immediately used:
    • Epic Battle Fantasy 1 gives Matt the ability to summon a Moogle Expy named Mog,note  with a 10% chance for him to appear automatically at the start of the players' turn. After appearing in Black Mages 5 and One More Final Battle, this would ultimately be Mog's final appearance.
    • Epic Battle Fantasy 2 gives Matt the ability to summon NoLegs, who functions more-or-less identically to Mog. NoLegs gains a 20% chance to appear each turn if Matt takes the Cat Tamer skill bonus.
    • NoLegs returns in Epic Battle Fantasy 3, as a Special Skill learnable by Matt, Natalie or Lance. He can be upgraded to give better items, whilst a fully-upgraded Cat Costume gives him the chance to appear randomly.
    • Epic Battle Fantasy 4 has the Friend Dog summon, which is available from the start of the game and cast randomly whilst the Puppy Hat is equipped.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • 'Gambler' types (Setzer, Selphie, Cait Sith, Lady Luck) have a variant on this that allow them to use a slot machine or dice to pull out a nearly random effect, but odds are not entirely random, due to a slightly skill or luck based timing on the slots.
    • Final Fantasy XII has the Shades of Black Technick, which casts a random Black Magic spell (possibly even one that the user hasn't learned yet) and without consuming MP.
    • Final Fantasy IV has a character named Tellah, who is an old sage who has forgotten most of his spells. When you first recruit him, he only has a smattering of low-level spells, but has an ability named Recall, which allows him to cast a random spell from his formerly expansive repertoire with no MP cost. This can be anything from a low first level ability to some of the late game powerful effects, and unlike the normal versions of said spells, Tellah can target multiple enemies with spells cast this way, even if the normal versions of the said spells can only hit 1 target.
    • In Final Fantasy V, the Hunter can summon a random animal, and the Geomancer can effect random effects based on the environment. The summoner also learns a command that allows them to call a random summon that they've learned, without using MP. Finally in the GBA and iOS/Android version, all four new classes get one command that lets them do something (seemingly) randomly — the Cannoneer gets Open Fire which randomly uses one out of four possible attacks; the Gladiator gets Finisher which either inflicts a Critical Hit, deals 9999 damage with element that matches the character using it, or does nothing; the Necromancer gets Oath which again randomly uses one out of four possible attacks, and the Oracle gets Predict, which seemingly randomly picks an attack that could target either allies or enemies (or both), does random damage, and randomly inflicts some sort of status based on the move randomly chosen. note 
    • Final Fantasy VI has the Magicite item that calls an Esper to the battle, but which one appears is purely random, ranging from the useless Siren to the lethal damaging Bahamut. It's useful early in the game when Espers aren't available to you yet or you haven't gotten the stronger ones yet. The item version of summoning Espers doesn't cost MP to use but you can be completely screwed if the wrong one appears. Also, Mog's special skill, Dance, lets him perform one out of four random attacks based on the dance chosen, and Gau's special skill lets him use either a physical attack or a special command/spell based on a monster within the game, amongst other effects.
    • The Animist in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has the Friend skill, which uses a random Summon Magic good or bad. Better hope you won't wind up accidentally blasting your own party with Ifrit!
  • A number of Viviosaurs in Fossil Fighters: Champions have random effect spells. Coelanth has an ability that randomly inflicts any status effect, and Archaeo has one that's just random, period.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance], the Juggle Pup and R&R Seal's Lucky Dice link attack can cause all sorts of randomness to happen to either you or your foes and for better or for worse. Not something you want to try out in a boss fight, as there's a chance for it to completely restore the HP of all enemies present. All of their basic attacks are random, as well, their normal dice attacking allies or enemies based on what side lands face up, and their ball/melon tossing attacks doing either no damage, decent damage, or high damage based on the color of ball/melon used.
    • There's also the always beneficial Break Time command, that restores either your HP, link gauge, or drop gauge at random. As the name might imply, it's not really meant to be used in combat, as it leaves you wide open to abuse for a lengthy period of time (Though using it in midair offers a good degree of safety from many enemies).
    • A number of dream eaters get this treatment in the Flick Rush minigame, with two or more of their attacks being consolidated into a single card that uses one of them at random when it's played. The Ducky Goose gets the most randomness of all, having three different possible attacks that can be chosen, and said attacks having a randomized length and/or random number of weapons produced.
  • Library of Ruina has the card Brawl, which randomly selects one of the cards that were in your hand at the start of the turn, and replicates most of its effects (so it's particularly useful with cards that have unreplicable drawbacks). It cannot replicate cards above a certain cost. On the other hand, there's a chance that "Brawl" will pick itself (or another Brawl), in which case your character will use a pretty damaging No-Holds-Barred Beatdown instead.
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team:
    • The Risk Badge, befitting its name, can be a gamble when paired up with other badges. With the Starter Badge, it either fully heals the Bros. or drops them to one health. With the Master Badge, it either fills the Badge Meter or empties it. With the Expert Badge, it gives everyone a 50% chance of taking enough damage to go down instantly. With the Bronze Badge, it gives everyone in the fight a random status effect.
    • The Secret Box items are a random effect ITEM. You use a nondescript box with a ? mark on it, and something random happens in battle. Could be good (healing both bros, doing huge damage to enemies), could be bad (healing enemies) or it could be plain suicide (wipes out everything on the field including your playable characters in a one-hit kill).
  • The "Bewildering Grace" spell from Octopath Traveler is one of the potential skills you can use as a Dancer, and the kinds of effects you can get from it can be pretty extreme. It can screw you in spectacular ways, like bringing your entire party's HP to 1, preventing item use for the remainder of battle, or healing your opponents fully. But on the other hand, it can heal/buff your party, summon a monster that kills your enemies instantly, or, most importantly, multiply the amount of experience or job points you win at the end of the battle. The rarest of these multipliers is 100x, which can only be gotten at maximum boost. Get the 0.1% chance for the JP one, and your squad can safely master their main and secondary jobs right then and there. Get the 0.1% chance for experience, and be lucky enough to get it when facing the equally rare Cait enemy, and you've basically won the game.
  • The Mystery items in the Paper Mario franchise, and, to a lesser extent, the Kooky Cookies. Almost everything Mystery gives you is good, and the Cookies are one of the only ways (outside of the rare Repel Gel) to turn see-through, so they definitely have Lethal Joke Item potential.
  • The rare Random Hearts equipment in Opoona adds random effects to all of your normal attacks, as dictated by a number.
  • Shin Megami Tensei series:
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey has Lost Word, which can heal, buff, or debuff either all enemies or all allies. There's also Horn of Fate which can cast either Mahamaon or Mamudoon, with a small chance of accidentally hitting your team.
    • In Persona 3, Fuuka can use Oracle to cause a random effect, this can include restoring your HP and/or SP, curing status effects, but also potentially set your HP to 1.
    • The Fool Arcana Chance in Persona 4 becomes any one of the other Arcana cards when it appears, adopting their effects. In Golden, it instead replaces the remaining cards with random cards while refunding your draw.
    • Teddie also gets a random effect spell similar to Oracle in Persona 4 Golden after unlocking his third-tier Persona in January or early February. This spel, called "Kamui Miracle," causes a random status ailment on your entire party or the enemies being faced, knocks everyone down, or restores everyone's SP and HP stores.
  • Pokémon:
    • "Metronome" can use any other move in the game barring a few exceptions.
    • "Assist" picks a random move known by any fellow party member, making it slightly less unpredictable than Metronome.
    • Delibird's "Present" move either will either inflict light damage, moderate damage, massive damage or moderate healing on the opponent.
    • Sleep Talk picks and uses another one of the Pokémon's skills at random while it sleeps, making it the most predictable of all while still being random.
    • Accupressure raises a random stat by two levels each time it's used.
    • Moody is an ability that functions similarly to Accupressure. At the end of each turn, the user has one stat lowered by one level and another increased by two levels.
  • The Sage job tree in Ragnarok Online has the spell Abracadabra. It randomly casts/executes any skill or spell available to any job, as well as some unusable through any other means. The most sought-after effect summons a random boss monster, which is then typically killed for rare loot.
  • Falitza's "Press Fortune" ability in The Reconstruction. Whether or not it even causes a good or bad effect to occur is random. Its effects aren't too varied, though — just full-party buffs or debuffs. It can be upgraded to have four new effects, though — increasing/decreasing the Rush meter, and advancing the skill chain by 8/breaking it.
  • Shadow Hearts: Covenant: Lucia's "Tarot Cards" command randomly chooses several cards out of her deck, and has the player (also randomly) choose one of them. Effects range from restoring the party's HP, MP or SP, to making all enemies skip a turn, to increasing amount of held money. If the card is reversed, however, then its effect is turned on the party instead. And then there's special effects and their reversed versions, that double the normal effect. Notably, two of reversed special effects are guaranteed party-wide instant death.
  • In Secret of Mana, the Sprite kid's Lunar Magic spell does all manner of odd things, including healing the party, boosting everyone's abilities, shrinking them, or turning them into Moogles.
  • In the PS3 remake of Tales of Vesperia, almost all of the arts and spells used by Patty Fleur are random in regards to what they'll do, though the odds of something good or bad happening can be tweaked by equipping certain skills. The most random of all is her Critical Moment spell, which has dozens of possible effects that make good or bad things happen to the party, the enemies, or both.
  • The aptly named "Spell" spell in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has a few different effects, although the most common is turning some enemies into Bots; but in one location it summons a shrine from the ground, which is necessary to progress in the game.

    Fighting Games 
  • BlazBlue has Arakune, the crazy insect-controlling blob. His special attacks can summon bugs with random attack patterns and damage.
  • The Darkstalkers series has Hsien-Ko, who has an attack that throws a random object at her opponent. The objects run the gamut of size, power, and usefulness. One in particular is a statue of Akuma that causes dizzy on a hit.
  • In Dissidia Final Fantasy, many of Gilgamesh's attacks have him attack with one of eight random weapons, with different damage and properties for each. They range from Excalipoor, which deals a measly 1 damage per hit, and Excalibur, which crits for huge damage.
  • Guilty Gear has a couple examples:
    • Faust has an attack that's appropriately called "What Will Come Out?" He digs into a bag and pulls out a random item that he throws at his opponent. The item produces various effects such as damage or even healing.
    • Zappa has a move where he summons a random ghost to help out. There are three main ones that he can get, plus a super one that always happens under certain conditions. One of the ghosts even has a random item attack like Faust.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Mr. Game and Watch has his "Judge" ability. A random number appears over his head, tied to corresponding effects. It can do everything to setting people on fire, freezing them, and (if you get lucky) causing an instant KO, and if unlucky, he will hurt himself.
    • Hero (from Dragon Quest) is more of a random-effect character, but in particular his "Command Selection" move gives him an RPG-style attack menu with four random moves to choose from... and one of those is "Hocus Pocus", which itself has completely random effects.
    • There's also the Poké Balls and Assist Trophies, who summon a random character from their individual lists to do different things. Two Pokémon, Clefairy and Togepi, even do random things within the random item. (In the first game, Clefairy copies another Poké Ball Pokémon. In the other games, they both pick from a smaller pool of unique effects.)
    • Lastly is the Final Smash of Sephiroth, Supernova, which, while it does consistent damage, can inflict random status effects on its victims, such as slowing them, giving them a damage-dealing flower, reversing their controls or forcing a Shield Break.

    First-Person Shooters 
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!: Claptrap's Action Skill has him run a program that analyses the battlefield and grants him a random ability it determines is most suited for the situation. The effects range from abilities used by previous player characters to buffs that affect the party but also abilities that can easily backfire and kill the entire party (tossing out grenades uncontrollably).
  • Team Fortress 2: Merasmus the Magician, the enemy in some Halloween maps, has a large wheel that he forces the two teams to watch him spin. Said wheel has a ton of spells that range from silly (making everyone Super-Deformed) to inadvertently both helpful and useless (giving both teams Ubercharge, making them invincible) to dangerous (spawing a lot of explosives).
  • Water Warfare: The Surprise Device does several effects, ranging from the beneficial-to-all (everybody gets healed and has their water refilled!) to the bad-for-all (everyone gets rained on and takes damage! Ack!) to the bizarre (Pan On The Head, it gets dark for some reason). And of course, the standard "nothing at all happens" effect.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Elemental Story: Some skills used by some monsters will hit enemies randomly for a certain number of times.
  • Peggle: Warren's special attack spins a wheel that randomly gives you an Extra Ball, Magic Hat, Triple Score, or a random powerup from another character.

  • Ancient Domains of Mystery: A sip from a pool can cause one of many effects, ranging from a free wish, through gaining or losing stat points or intrinsics, or even having a small frog pop out and give female characters a small golden ball and a "Frog Quest".
  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Pills are consumables with effects that range from various stats ups, stats downs, healing, damage, even teleporting you to another room. There are around 50 different pill effects, and only 13 pills spawn in every run (each assigned to a different sprite every run), so the only way to know which pill does what is to chow down.
    • Everything Jar is an unlockable item that gives you a different consumable based on how charged it was when used. If it used at the maximum of 12 charges, it has a wide range of random effects, such as spawning an item that rapidly cycles between 9 different choices, filling the room with beams of light that damage enemies, spawning a massive bomb that blows part of the floor away, or even filling the room with enemies and locking the door.
  • Dicey Dungeons: The Deck of Wonder in Reunion transforms into a random Witch spell after four pips for the rest of the run.
  • Dungeon Crawl features several different examples. One such is the Wand of Random Effects, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. You might launch a Fireball spell at that ravening ghoul... or you might end up healing it instead.
    • The Scroll of Random Uselessness is another such example. Only a few possible outcomes will do anything, and even those effects are extremely minor — you might summon a few butterflies, or the scroll might just reassemble itself so you can use it again.
    • You can drink out of sparkling fountains to gain the effects of various potions. This is generally a last resort, because while it's nice to get a free healing potion out of it, you might also wind up with a potion of poison or mutation.
    • Various weapons can have the "chaos" brand, which means the weapon will do random things upon hitting the opponent — burning them, freezing them, and poisoning them are but a few of the many possibilities. Certain unique monsters, like the gnoll Crazy Yiuf, always come with chaotic weapons.
    • Finally, certain deities approve of their followers taking risks with Random Effect Spells. Nemelex Xobeh, the trickster god, will grant you decks of cards which will do various things when drawn. With the proper strategy, though, said decks can provide a wide range of useful abilities.
  • In Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon, the final ability for the Scholar job is "Truth", which casts a random spell when used. In the Nintendo DS remake, this is now the Scholar's first ability; the new final ability is a variant narrowed to the most powerful spells only.

    Simulation Games 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • There are several spells that inherently work like this.
      • Prismatic spray hits each target with only one or two of its seven different rays. Depending on which rays hit, the enemy can suffer varying types of elemental damage, die, go insane, get petrified or get ejected into a different plane.
      • Forgotten Realms: The sourcebook The Elves of Evermeet has the faerie sword spell, which inflicts a random effect on a hit. The options include being imprisoned in a Forcecage, randomly Polymorphed, Turned to Stone, random Teleportation up to 1,000 miles away or instant death.
      • Nahal's reckless dweomer requires you to roll on a table with 100 diverse entries for its spell effect. Of course, many longer lists can be found on the internet. The associated class, the Wild Mage, has a 5% chance of causing an effect from this table whenever casting a normal spell.
      • Nathair's mischief charges a twenty-foot cube with magic and causes one of four effects to occur within it, determined by a dice roll — the cube fills with the smell of apple pie, causing all inside to become dazed and charmed; flowers fall from the sky and spray everyone's faces with water; all creatures in the cube are struck with hysterical giggling; or the cube fills with floating drops of tar-like molasses.
      • In The Principalities of Glantri, rules for children casting magic has a powerful random effect if the child messes up the spell. The feeble magic missile can become extremely powerful if unchecked.
      • This is how Wild Magic (technically a form of Entropy and Chaos Magic) traditionally works. Every spell that a Wild Mage casts has a Critical Failure chance that results in it becoming one of these. There are also Wild Mage-exclusive spells that deliberately invoke this effect in hopes of getting greater power out of it. This leads to prejudice from less-chaotic spellcasters, since wild magic surge effects can range from "annoying" to "deadly".
    • Several items work in this manner, providing randomly determined effects when used that range from devastating to underwhelming.
      • A bag of beans contains a number of dry beans that, if planted, can grow into a patch of poisonous mushrooms, a patch of shrieking mushrooms, a friendly treant, an evil treant, a geyser of random liquid, a hungry monster, toads that turn into monsters when touched, a statue of you that badmouths you to other people, a tree whose fruit work as random magic potions, a pyramid with an evil mummy in it, a blue but otherwise normal fire, a nest of eggs that explode when eaten, or a giant beanstalk that leads to a random destination.
      • A bag of tricks contains three small fuzzy objects that, when thrown, turn into a random bird or mammal that is friendly to the thrower. This can be anything from a tiger, bear or terror bird to a regular rat or weasel, depending on how the dice fall.
      • Wands are magic items which hold a set number of charges, each of which can be expended to cast a spell. While most wands cast specific, predetermined spells, a wand of wonder's effect is randomly determined from a wide pool of possibilities every time it's used — depending on the roll, the wand may shoot a damaging spell such as lightning bolt or fireball, turn you invisible, summon a rhino, elephant or rat that is explicitly not under your control, obscure an area with rainfall or a cloud of butterflies, shrink you or your target, make the target grow leaves, turn blue or turn to stone, or just leave you standing there in a daze while believing something amazing just happened.
      • The Deck of many Things has 22 cards. Effects range from really good (gain wishes, experience, items, etc.) to extremely bad (fight a mini-death, lose all your possessions, or be locked in a void almost impossible to find).
    • Several creatures also possess attacks whose effects are randomized, and whose specifics are thus outside of the creature's own control after the attack is activated.
      • Alkadas can cast a spell once a day — but that spell's effects are completely random. It may turn your hair pink, summon a random animal, teleport you slightly to the left or call a meteor down on your head, and neither you nor the alkada is going to know what it's going to be until it's cast.
      • A basidirond's spore cloud causes random hallucinations in those who breathe it in, saddling them with different combat penalties as they attempt to respond to each nonexistent set of problems.
      • A chaos dragon's breath weapon deals a random type of energy damage — acid, cold, electricity, fire or sonic — each time it's exhaled. Not even the dragon can tell what it's going to be until it uses it.
  • Eldritch Horror: Every spell has a consistent effect that you will always get if you cast the spell correctly, but also has a range of potential side-effects, and which side-effects you get is doubly random, depending both on which specific spell card you have and how well you cast the spell.
  • Elements has several examples of this type, mostly in the Entropy element:
    • Mutation causes the the target creature to die, turn into a mutant, or turn into a different, random creature with a random power. Additionally, the Entropy Wild Elf has an ability that does exactly the same thing.
    • In addition to its normal effect of returning a creature to the top of the deck, Reverse Time can, when used on a Zombie, turn them into a random creature.
    • Chaos Seed's effect is randomly picked out of eleven different possibilities, Pandemonium's is randomly picked out of all the available effects in the game, Skeleton is a card that can turn into a random creature using the spell Reverse Time, and Fate Egg turns into a random creature.
  • Fabula Ultima: The aptly named Gamble spell produces one of five random effects. One of these effects harms the caster and two others are detrimental to everyone on the scene, but the last two—a powerful group heal that also removes debuffs, and a strong Herd-Hitting Attack of a random damage type—are so beneficial that they make it worth the risk of casting the spell.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • Magic: The Gathering Online's "Vanguard" has several Vanguard avatars which pull random effects like these. Most prominently, Momir Vig allows you to pay X mana to make a copy of a random creature that also costs X mana, spawning an entire alternative format called Momir Basic, where players build a deck using only mana sources and a Momir Vig avatar and battle with randomized creatures from all over Magic. Jhoira of the Ghitu has a similar effect for instants and sorceries; likewise with Stonehewer Giant and equipment.
    • The Cascade ability from the Alara Reborn expansion allows you to cast a random spell from your deck for free. There are a variety of spells with similar randomizing effects.
    • Mind's Desire casts a random spell from your deck for free, and multiplies itself for how many spells had been played previously. Decks based around using it to cast lots spells that in turn multiply themselves or free-cast even more spells can get very sillyand very deadly.
    • Strategy, Schmategy has you roll a six-sided die to determine which of five totally unrelated abilities you'll get when you cast it. To up the ante, one of the options is "Roll the die two more times."
    • Wand of Wonder's ability has you roll a twenty-sided die to determine whether you cast one, two, or three randomly obtained spell cards from your deck.
    • Urza, Academy Headmaster is a planeswalker with loyalty abilities that just say to go to a website. Each ability has 20 possible outcomes, all positive for you.
  • Pathfinder:
    • The effects of pixie dust, a substance used by several sprite variants in their attacks, will cause on those who inhale it is randomly determined each time it's used. Depending on the roll, it may charm its targets into liking the sprite, wipe the most recent five minutes from their memories, send them to sleep, or send them into a state of stupefied euphoria.
    • Numerian fluids are a mixture of various chemicals seeping from the wreckage of ancient spaceships, altered by millennia of decay and radiation. Anyone crazy enough to drink such a substance experiences a mind-altering state similar to other drugs, but the real fun is in the side effects: because of the variability of the fluid's composition, it can be a Status Infliction Attack to temporary/permanent superpowers to cellular degeneration (read: the flesh melts off your bones).
  • Warhammer:
    • Since they don't actually understand the sorcery they wield and can't decipher their own writing, in battle the Blue Scribes of Tzeentch sling spells at random without knowing what's going to happen. This is reflected in-game by having the player choose a lore of magic and then roll a die to determine what spell will actually be used (in Fantasy) or randomly determining their psychic power each turn (in 40,000).
    • Warhammer Fantasy:
      • The Celestial Hurricanum, a magical Weather Manipulation machine used by the Empire, can cast the Storm of Shemtek, a direct damage spell that targets an enemy unit with a random weather phenomenon taken from a set pool of effects and decided by a dice roll. This can result in light rain that achieves nothing, a blizzard that does a little damage, a tornado that rotates the unit, a lightning strike that deals decent damage, or a devastating meteor strike.
      • While not a spell semantically, the Master Engineers' pigeon bomb attack functions this way mechanically — after declaring the attack, the controlling player rolls a die to see whether the pigeon bomb explodes uselessly midair, the pigeon reaches its destination, or the bird gets confused and flies back to the engineer.
      • Giants determine their attacks from one of two pools of preset actions, one for when the giant is fighting human-sized enemies and the other for when fighting other giant monsters. The attack is determined by a dice roll, based on which the giant may deal a decent attack, use a more powerful and damaging one, or just throw a tantrum and waste a turn. If the giant is fighting weaker enemies, it may settle on the "Pick Up and..." option, which initiates another dice roll to determine whether it stuffs a victim in its bag or down its pants, throws them into their allies like a missile, squashes them in its fist, or eats them.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Various cards involve flipping a coin or rolling a die, with effects happening based on the result. For example, the "Time Wizard" monster lets you flip a coin and call it — if you call it right, all your opponent's monsters are destroyed. If you call it wrong, all of your monsters are destroyed, and you take damage equal to half of the ATK they had.

    Third-Person Shooters 
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has the Random power, which causes any one of the other powers to be used when activated. God help you if it chooses Spite though.
    • There's also the Random Effect power, which restricts the possibilities to making your attacks a Status Infliction Attack for a random status.

    Turn-Based Strategy Games 
  • Fall from Heaven:
    • Several spells of the 'Chaos' domain fall under this — unsurprisingly. The 'Mutation' spell applies a random number of random effects to the affected unit, and can do anything from turning them into a greatly-empowered hero, to turning them into a withered, cannibalistic husk.
    • Greater yet is the 'Wonder' spell, which can have a vast array of effects — including nearly the entire archive of general spells, as well as a number of unique effects you can ONLY get from it: Creating penguins, causing giant mushrooms to grow, opening the very Gates of Hell... or turning you into a baboon.
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark has the Gambler class, whose Wild Card abilities generate random effects depending on the suit of cards being played. Red suits like Hearts and Diamonds usually buff or heal allies, while black suits like Clubs and Spades usually inflict damage or debuffs. All of them have a low chance of backfiring.

    Western RPGs 
  • Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal had the Wild Mage whose specialty, Wild Magic spells, could result in any one of a hundred random effects. Some were useful, such as giving the party bonuses, extra spells, or the mage actually succeeding at casting the spell they intended to. Or it could do useless things, like opening and closing all nearby doors, or a few absolutely hilarious things.
  • Dofus and Wakfu: The Ecaflip (gambler) class is based around this type of spell. In Dofus, they have attack spells that have a chance of healing opponents instead, attacks that wait a random number of turns before actually taking effect, and a spell that buffs everyone on the battlefield — friend and foe alike — with a random effect, just to name a few. Wakfu has similar attack spells, plus a passive skill that gives the character and/or the enemies a random buff or debuff each and every turn of combat.
  • The Elder Scrolls series has the recurring Magic Staff Wabbajack, a Daedric artifact associated with Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. It can randomly turn those it strikes into harmless creatures (bunnies, sheep), monsters (various forms of lesser Daedra), or even inanimate objects (cheese, gold coins). It is generally a Joke Item you can have some fun with. However, in Skyrim, it is a Lethal Joke Item and minor Disc-One Nuke. It's very easy to obtain from the start of the game; its most common effect is an elemental blast that is more powerful than anything a low-level character could manage; its rarer effects are mostly positive things for the player like transforming enemies into harmless bunnies; and the worst thing it can do (turning the enemy into a powerful monster) can be undone just by hitting them with the staff a second time.
  • Egoboo: The Jester Wand and the Archmage spell "Wonder" have a variety of random effects.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic: jinni/djinn cast random blessings/curses. Sorcerers from III also have this.
  • Neverwinter Nights: In Hordes of the Underdark, in a tower with Wild Magic field, every spell becomes this.
  • Ultima: In Akalabeth, the magic amulet had a random function that could cost you half of your hit points or turn you into a Lizard Man or a Toad.

  • Armory & Machine: The Matter Randomizer is a rare enemy encounter in the Laboratory whose only attack is "Mystery". Said attack does one of a variety of random effects, up to and including healing its health, healing its shields, damaging your health, damaging your shields, and even multiple of those effects at once.
  • Clonk has the aptly-named "Random Spell" spell, which casts any of the spells loaded as a definition, even ones not normally available in the scenario. Even in a scenario without any unavailable loaded spells, it's still not useless though obviously luck-based, since it has a very low energy cost.
  • Culdcept: The Protean Ring and Baldanders are an item and a creature (respectively) with the same effect: They turn into a random creature during battle. You could become anything from the meager Giant Rat to the insane Bundle Gear/Gearion. It also only lasts for one battle.
  • Head Soccer: The Power Shot of Kepler 22B is randomised between those of any character above it in the roster each time it is used.
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, being a digital card game, gets quite flashy with its randomized effects compared to physical TCGs, with effects ranging from conjuring up random minions to filling your deck with random cards.
    • Unstable Portal was one of the earliest random cards. It's a two-mana spell that adds a random minion to your hand makes it cost three less. Technically a savings, except the vast majority of minions are absolute garbage. Still, it was played in Tempo Mage back in the day just on the off-chance it would generate something game-winning.
    • One of the most noteworthy is Yogg-Saron, Hope's End. When played, Yogg-Saron casts a random spell with random targets for every spell you previously played in the game, resulting in utter chaos from things like Yogg destroying your opponent's board, Pyroblasting you in the face, drawing a bunch of cards, betraying you and casting spells for your opponent, summoning a bunch of tokens, or even instantly killing himself.
    • Yogg's revised version, Yogg-Saron, Master of Fate, is even wackier. His Battlecry "spins the wheel of fate", doing one of eight random effects. These range from filling the board with random minions, filling your hand with random spells and making them cost 0, stealing three random minions from the opponent's side of the board, or even casting Pyroblast at random targets until one player dies.
  • Monster Hunter: Exciteshrooms can take the effect of a random consumable item when they're used, though there's also a chance that they'll do nothing at all.
  • SCP: Secret Laboratory: SCP-330 gives the player one of six types of candy when interacted with, each of which have different effects. Which one you get is random, and you are limited to taking two - trying to take a third severs your hands, guaranteeing a swift death.
  • Sdorica: Every character has a passive skill. The passives of Hyde and Joan inflict two distinct random effects on an otherwise deterministic battle system: Hyde alters the strength of your character's skills every turn (and hides it until you activate a skill), while Joan's gives bonus passive abilities to enemies until she steals those passives for herself.

Non-Video Game Examples

    Anime and Manga 
  • Pokémon: The Original Series: The Togepi that spent time in Misty/Kasumi's care secretly knew one move that seemed to show up at the most coincidental moments. The move was Metronome, already mentioned above in Eastern RPGs. An early episode showed a Clefairy colony whose have the Metronome as well. Given that this show is a Long Runner, it's appeared in a few other places, as well. For some reason, the move most commonly used as a result of Metronome is Splash, which does absolutely nothing.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Joey/Jonouchi uses a deck with many cards that depend heavily on luck. For example, the Time Wizard can destroy all the monsters on either side of the field depending on its roulette result, dice-themed cards can multiply one of his monster's attack values or divide an enemy monster's attack values, and another card makes an enemy monster randomly attack a monster on either side of the field. Although Joey's luck often works in his favor, it has also backfired on him quite severely on more than one occasion.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Study Break, a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic, has a species of apple that only grows in areas with high levels of background magic. When Twilight unwittingly eats one, it causes random effects everytime she sneezes (beginning moments after she finishes it), including shrinking, invisibility, glowing, floating and making her look "like a badly used paintbrush", and that's just within a few hours - she expects the effects to continue for two or three days.
  • Level Up (MHA): Izuku's food always includes a random effect on the person who eats it. Sometimes the effect is fairly specific, such as curry that temporarily boosts one stat, but often the effect is completely random such as gaining a large purple spot that's visible through clothing or growing a tail.
  • Vow of Nudity: Fiora's self-made cantrip, draught pitch, deals one of six random damage types whenever she casts it.

  • The Iron Teeth: Badly grown magic crystals work this way if actually used. Given how the odds stack up, using them is almost certainly suicide.

  • The Fallen Gods: The Wild Magic table, though altered from the traditional D&D variant. Here Tuatha can invoke it to re-roll a spell, but that also causes a random effect (determined by a d100 roll) from the table will occur. It's also greatly expanded with submissions from listeners.

  • Adventurers!: Khrima has the Impulse Judgement, which inflicts some random status effects. It was still enough to kill the Spoony Bard.
  • Blood is Mine: The trade up ritual allows you to exchange a number of objects for a single object with similar but improved properties. However, it's always a gamble, because you never know what exactly you will get in return: it can be very useful (a phone that can call to Mars) or have major drawbacks (an alien computer with OS written in alien language that no one can understand).
  • Goblins: The Shield of Wonder causes a random magical effect when struck. Among the things it's done: turned someone's sword into an entanglement effect, came to life and ate the wielder, caused bladelike force fields to appear all over, and created Forced Transformation landmines.
  • Homestuck has the Fluorite Octet, an enchanted set of eight-sided dice wielded by Vriska Serket, which when rolled result in one of 16,777,216 unique effects, ranging from the devastatingly powerful to the completely useless. John uses its code to create the Pop-a-Matic Vrillihoo hammer, which when swung rolls a set of dice inside itself to determine which random effect it will cause — which can range from giving its target a silly hat to calling in a T. rex.
  • Tales of the Questor: Quentyn's sword Wildcard does this, but always comes with something useful for whatever crisis he is in, if he is in one. Outside of one and trying to test it, he may find it announcing what time it is — and getting it wrong.

    Western Animation 
  • Presto's magic hat in Dungeons & Dragons (1983) can produce seemingly anything... but almost never what he actually wants at that moment. The produced items usually do turn out to be useful for the crisis at hand, at least with a bit of thought, but are never ideal.
  • On Gravity Falls, Ford has an "Infinity-Sided Die" from his interdimensional travels. Since it has infinite sides, there are infinite possible outcomes whenever you roll it, which is why he never (purposely) uses it and just keeps it as a curio.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Discord can control the outcome of each of his spells, sure... But given his Cloudcuckoolander-ness, it'll often just be an Awesome, but Impractical visual gag or something.
  • In Mighty Magiswords, the Confusing Alien Magisword does something weird and different every time it's used. This includes altering a person's voice, summoning ducks, and tearing a hole in time and space.
  • In Miraculous Ladybug, Marinette's Lucky Charm will turn into some seemingly-random object whenever she activates it. It's always something that can help the current situation (since her powers are based on luck), but she has to take a few seconds to figure out how.