Flawed magic items

Personally, I find Ye Olde +X Sword to be rather boring and the traditional D&D “you have a lousy sword and you can’t put it down!” style of cursed items are even worse. I prefer magic items with little quirks outside of their intended purposes, magic weapons/armor with effects that go beyond just modifying to-hit and damage rolls, and cursed items which also provide enough benefits that players will want to use them despite the problems they cause.

Any suggestions on pricing these items, so that I know how many XP they’re worth? For example, we already know from the Magic Item Prices thread that a +1 Flame Tongue sword is worth 45kgp, but how would you calculate the reduction in value if the Flame Tongue inflicts 1 HP of damage per round on the wielder when active?

And then there’s the question of where these items come from. The Item Creation Mishaps table in Player’s Companion only lists mishaps which harm the enchanter, but none that produce flaws in the item being enchanted. Plus, if quirky items are to be the norm, that would suggest that there should always be a chance for quirks, even when you’re not experimenting.

I rather like ACKS’ approach to cursed swords, that the PC in question believes it to be awesome rather than being literally physically glued to it. More fun to roleplay; we had a cursed sword that the paladin was convinced was amazing, but was forced to give to an orcish chief (who was subsequently also convinced of its quality) in exchange for safe passage. A feud resulted, over the cursed sword… not something one would see with standard cursed weapons.

I think flawed results of experimentation or barely-failed creation rolls are a great idea (one thing I do like about PF’s item creation is that failure results in cursed items, which provides an explanation for their existence). I have no input on calculating GP/XP value for these things, though.

Maybe we should create a separate mishap table for magical items, with all sorts of interesting curses in it…

I have a copy of the Encyclopedia Magica somewhere around here; if I recall correctly, it has a random trait table for magical sword generation that could easily be reworked into a flaw table.

(For example, ‘Sheds light on command’ is a power and the kind of thing I remember seeing on that table. ‘Sheds light at all times’ is a flaw.)

I rather like this idea and might incorporate it into the campaign I’m running, if we ever get that far. I’d probably just swap out one of the mishap options for “flawed but mostly functional item”.