If you’ve got a choice between running a predictable, fairly-executed combat, or on the other hand running a combat in which swords break, people fall, someone throws up from a blow to the stomach, a helmet goes spinning away, someone gets tangled up in a curtain, or other such events outside the formal rules … embrace the chaos. This is the rule of the Ming Vase. Why is it the rule of the Ming Vase? Look at it this way. There’s a priceless Ming Vase sitting on a table in the middle of a room where combat rages on all sides, swords swinging, chairs flying, crossbow bolts whizzing through the air. There is, however, no rule covering the chance of some random event that might affect the priceless Ming Vase. I’m not sure I need to say more, but just in case, I will. If someone rolls a natural “1,” or a “3,” or even if nothing specifically happens to trigger it, it’s blatantly irresponsible of you not to start some chain of events involving the Ming vase. A sword goes flying – the table underneath the vase is hit by the sword – the vase is swaying back and forth, ready to topple – can anyone catch it, perhaps making a long dive-and-slide across the floor? That’s gaming. Is it unfair? Well, it’s certainly outside the existing rules. It’s your job to create events outside the standard sequence of “I roll to hit. They roll to hit. I roll to hit.”
In combat, bad rolls can spontaneously generate bad consequences (make sure you do this to both sides, not just the players). You don’t need a table to generate bad consequences – just make it up on the spot. Good rolls might get good consequences, such as disarming the foe, making him fall, smashing him against a wall for extra damage, pushing him backward, etc. Again, make it up on the spot. Remember the Ming Vase!"