I never used a random loot table before playing ICRPG. I’d always carefully populate every NPC or chest or dragon hoard with items. There’s definitely value in that mechanism, and it can lead to some really useful loot.
But when I switched my party to using ICRPG rules, I took to following Hank’s advice of “a chest in every room” (even if the party doesn’t find it), and that’s too much to populate by hand. So rolling from the tables became the norm.
I’ve found this to be a delightful experience, for a couple of reasons.
First, I can roll on any of the relevant tables, which expands the number and variety of loot to be discovered. This room is a “shabby loot” roll, next one is “sci fi”, next is normal, next is “bizarre”. I don’t follow any real rhyme or reason.
Second, if I roll something wildly out of place / over-powered / thematically incorrect, I re-roll. It takes seconds to do, and doesn’t slow things down in any real way.
Third, it amps up my ability to be creative. We don’t use spells in my game, so I find it a fun challenge to provide a narrative description of what thing provides this WIS or INT spell-like ability for my players. They love finding some weirdo looking Star Trek tri-corder thing that they discover lets them read thoughts when they aim it at someone (the mind link spell, as happened in last night’s game).
Fourth, and most importantly to me, random loot vastly expands the creative opportunities for my players. “What the hell am I going to do with this glider parasite?!” But the player loves knowing that he has this crazy arthropod attached to him now, even if it does nothing particularly useful most of the time. It differentiates his character, and gives him something fun to use when plotting out wild antics he might never have tried before!
Some of my loot drops are still bespoke, because the dice can be fickle; but I’ve learned to really enjoy the variability and unpredictability that can result from random loot.