Side Effects from Spell Research Shortcuts

When players in my White Sandbox campaign used spell research to create spells, I would often balance the desired spell effects by tossing in an undesired, unexpected result of casting the spell if I thought it was too powerful otherwise.
The advent of the spell creation guidelines contributed to the bonus goal in the Player’s Companion takes out the guesswork. The players can use this system to build the spell they want, and everyone can be confident it’s balanced without the Judge throwing in weird side effects to try to even it out.
However, weird side effects are fun! Talking it over with Alex, we decided that the best way to incorporate these would be to let the players choose to risk complications. By experimenting during spell research, a character might gain an increase in speed, a decrease in cost, or a bonus to the magic research throw at the cost of having to make a roll on the side effect table. A particularly devious Judge might give a character whose spell research is about to fail the chance to succeed with side effects instead. And Judges open to allowing the creation of spells that go outside the parameters covered by the spell research guidelines might still find it useful to have a table of side effects for use in balancing spells.
Unfortunately, being the kind of Judge I am, I make side effects up on the spot. I’m hoping that y’all can help invent effects which could be formalized into a table!
When Alex, Greg, and I sat down together to create the Mortal Wounds and Tampering with Mortality tables, we divided them into categories of severity. This greatly eased the process of brainstorming effects because we could first think of things to happen, and then assign a severity level. For side effects, I think three levels of severity will do - let’s call them Mild, Moderate, and Severe.
Here are some examples to get us started, please add your own below (or at the Autarch blog where I’ll post this too).
After casting the spell, you emit a sulfrous odor for 6 turns, during which reaction rolls and morale checks involving you incur a -1 penalty.
After casting the spell, you emit an odor of roasted meat for 6 turns, during which checks for wandering monsters are made twice as often.
After casting the spell, you emit an odor of roasted meat for 6 turns, during which checks for wandering monsters are made twice as often.
The ghosts and spirits that power the spell are unusually potent. When this spell is in your repertoire, you must make a throw of 2 + the spell’s level to cast any other spell of the same level. Failure means you must cast the new spell instead.

If below examples are too severe, perhaps allow a save to avoid effect?
MILD or MODERATE (? - i/we need some more guidelines for effect creation):
Dingding: a bell rings in your head, making you dizzy - unable to concentrate for 1 turn (cannot concentrate on or cast spells).
Fire in the hole: raw magical energy ignites your hands: take 1d6 points of fire damage
Love is not in the Air: Smell of pheromoes draws attention of monsters. if in combat all monsters turn their attention on you yiieeek
Shake it babe: random spasmic moves cause -1 on all DEX-based throws and attack throws, move at 3/4 speed for 1 turn. 1 in 6 chance that a spasmic wave shakes your body during the casting of a spell in which case the spell is lost.
Splash: ectoplasmic matter in your face: be blinded for 1 turn
Zap: Immediately teleport 1d6x10’ in random direction. If there is an item or creature, reappear right in front of it. Since this was rather unexpected, fall prone where you reappear.

Courtney Campbell of the Hack & Slash blog ( keeps links to the following on his blog:
Net Libram of Random Magical Effects v1.2 10,000 random magical effects.
Net Libram of Random Magical Effects v2 another 10,000 random magical effects.
A representative sample from book 1:
0096 All gold carried by caster becomes as hard as steel
0097 All gold carried by caster increases in weight by 100X
0098 All gold carried by caster melts at 32° Fahrenheit
0099 All gold carried by caster turns to fool’s gold
A representative sample from book 2:
0096 After each spell, caster looks like a cadaver for 1d4 rounds
0097 After each spell, caster makes short, barking cries
0098 After each spell, caster oozes sweet-smelling oil for 1d4 rounds
0099 After each spell, caster polymorphs very briefly
There are 20,000 effects. I let players exchange a roll on the table for casting an extra spell. They quickly learn to not do that.

(? - i/we need some more guidelines for effect creation):<<
to be more precise:
what is considered a mild effect? max range, max duration, max. damage, max. spell-like effect affecting the caster? something along those lines. same for moderate and severe.

Confused: Each time you cast a spell during the next 6 turns, game master rolls 1d6. on a 1, you actually cast the reverse of a normal spell or the normal form if you wanted to cast the reverse form. if a spell does not have a reverse form, no special rules apply.
So Tired: Casting of this spell was very taxing and you are sooo tired. You are fatigued (-1 to all throws until rested for 1 turn)
Ups: Something went wrong. you are the target or become the point of origina of the spell.
Ectoplasmic Strands: entangle you. no actions or movement until you escape with a saving throw vs. Paralysis.
Soso very tired: So Tired: Casting of this spell was very taxing and you are sooo tired. You are exhausted(-2 to all throws, move at 1/2 speed, unable to concentrate or cast spells until rested for 2 turns)
Lucky Fool: you open a rift. A 16 HD elemental (1= fire, 2=earth, 3=air, 4= water) appears within 1d6x10 feet and begins to attack not ou but one of your allies nearest to it.

Zizzl: charged with electricity. There are is a 1 in 6 chance that a touch spell you cast within the next 6 turns will cause a discharge and deal 1d6 damage to the spell’s recipient. (moderate: spells always zizzl, severe: always zizzl and 2d6 damage)
just to throw around some ideas…

Mild: After casting the spell, you turn blue for six turns. -1 to reaction rolls.