@ Mitch, I'm not sure that changing what the item does would be good for gameplay. I think the randomness comes in what treasure you will find at the end of the dungeon, but players want to be able to strategize. For instance if I am offered a knuckle duster for killing a monster when I have a leather shield and a low speed, and I break my only dagger on a demon, thinking that I will now have +2 to bare handed attacks, and it turns out that the knuckle duster now does what a buckler used to do, and gives +2 defence when taking a hit, I'd be pretty upset. now I have a near useless artifact, that I will likely sell to get another shield later, and I will have a low bare handed attack, and no weapon.
There needs to be balance between randomness and predictability. I think that it is pretty good for that.
@ Keeweed, a couple of ideas, maybe the gnome would notice the markings, but the scroll would identify the enchantment/curse - also make sure the scroll mentions the actual curse, most of them aren't so bad. taking a tower shield with a -2 defence curse means you basically have a round shield instead of a tower shield, not bad really.
So, I'm thinking you would find a weapon, without the gnome you would know nothing about it. the gnome would notice markings, but you don't know what they do.
Either way, - you could use a scroll.
If you use a scroll on a normal weapon the scroll would tell you it looks pretty normal.
If the weapon has an enchantment or curse the scroll would tell you about it exactly, like defence +2 or speed -1
So, having the gnome would let you know whether you should use a scroll or not, but not anymore info. You would know something's up, but would still be gambling.
Without the gnome, you could be wasting scrolls on normal weapons. I think this might be the kind of complexity you're going for. It makes the gnome scroll kind of a combo.
and it could be one more thing for those knights to carry, for a total of 5 objects.
Another idea about the quests, maybe the items for the queen could be in situations where you need certain stats to retrieve them. Like behind an armored plate that can only be broken with a powerfull hit, attack 10 or better. Or in some way where you need a speed of 3. With the ability to focus on stats that the game already gives you this would be more doable.
Also, I did notice one challenge where I needed to have one stat at 3 or better. This was not hard to do in the quest I was working on. so maybe something like that. I also didn't get the chance to try it out, but I was wondering if eating a mushroom would have worked if I only had a speed of 2 instead of 3.
It would also make the queen seem less like a capricious overlord. If the items are trapped somewhere, - maybe in lava that you need a defence of 4 to withstand, then it seems more like the circumstances being imposed on the queen herself. Right now the test seem more like one of those crazy gods that demands certain sacrifices. Although, maybe this is what gave the sorcerer the leverage to slander her reputation.
Keep the weird tasks like getting poisoned or keeping 150 treasure in inventory, but make those quests for the crystals to enchant weapons, and if you get the quests from the traveller, you don't need to adjust the special event count.
Another idea, - although this may be getting carried away, near the end of the game, have a knights of the round table, where you could trade in items for the special knight items, like if you had 3 stink bombs but really wanted a sharpening stone.