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 Post subject: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:09 pm 
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The rule says that there is no such thing as a “generic” magic item and that all magic items are unique. It's deeply different that other games i masterized recently (3.5, Pathfinder, ...). It's seems more difficult, long and ressources consuming to identifying magic item properties.

In the beta version i used the following rule :
To Identify magic item (name, properties, charge, etc.) the character makes a spell check with a DC of 10 if Detect Magic is sent or DC 15 without Detect Magic (Thief uses their scrolls dice).

But with the full rule i am not sure that is appropriate :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 3:56 pm 
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Want to identify a magic item? Do some research or simply try it out. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:07 pm 
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Raskal, the old school reason for "research" as an answer is to separate the PCs from their gold. You can just put the ring on. Given that 10% of magic items were outright cursed in older versions of D&D this was not really the right idea. The other choice was to spend 8 hours casting Identify (1e AD&D) which has a 100gp material component. And if the party Wizard doesn't have identify in his spell book you need to hire a wizard to cast it. Do you trust said wizard to tell you the truth? Or you can spend time in a library (20-100 gp a week) trying to find references to this magic item, if it has distinguishing characteristics.

Of course, given that magic items should be unique in DCCRPG, there's nothing really wrong with knowledge:arcana or spellcraft or bardic knowledge -type skills allowing you to know something about a magic item since ever magic item should have some kind of history so anyone with a background in studying that kind of history should have a chance of "just knowing" about a found magic item.

It all depends on what kind of world you wish to present to your players.


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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:17 pm 
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raskal wrote:
The rule says that there is no such thing as a “generic” magic item and that all magic items are unique. It's deeply different that other games i masterized recently (3.5, Pathfinder, ...). It's seems more difficult, long and ressources consuming to identifying magic item properties.

In the beta version i used the following rule :
To Identify magic item (name, properties, charge, etc.) the character makes a spell check with a DC of 10 if Detect Magic is sent or DC 15 without Detect Magic (Thief uses their scrolls dice).

But with the full rule i am not sure that is appropriate :oops:


One of the Magic Items in The Portal Under The Stars has the following rules: (DC 18
spell check plus study time and arcane consultation) It has the power equivalent of a 3rd-level spell. So you can get a DC15 + "spell level" DC check based on those numbers. "Spell research and study" is behind the screen, down-time, kind of stuff. So every week I just had the owner make a spell check every "week" to see if their research resulted in answers or a story or history on an item. It took Van den Danderslanden several weeks to finally be able to identify and use the Scrying Ball, it took Dolly Blackboots one week. Of course if a player makes extra efforts to spend money and pro-actively do some research while we play I wouldn't deny the effort, I'd reward the effort.

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:23 pm 
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reverenddak wrote:

One of the Magic Items in The Portal Under The Stars has the following rules: (DC 18
spell check plus study time and arcane consultation) It has the power equivalent of a 3rd-level spell. So you can get a DC15 + "spell level" DC check based on those numbers. "Spell research and study" is behind the screen, down-time, kind of stuff. So every week I just had the owner make a spell check every "week" to see if their research resulted in answers or a story or history on an item. It took Van den Danderslanden several weeks to finally be able to identify and use the Scrying Ball, it took Dolly Blackboots one week. Of course if a player makes extra efforts to spend money and pro-actively do some research while we play I wouldn't deny the effort, I'd reward the effort.


Brillant ! An excellent approach.

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 8:31 am 
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Identifying properties of a magic item could be a great source for an adventure. Taking it back to Appendix N, how did the adventurers of Appendix N discover the properties of magic items they found? There weren't a lot of magic items to begin with in Appendix N but usually the method was trial-and-error, consultation with an elder wizard or sage, or communication with a supernatural power. Here are some I recall offhand:

* Conan was given the sword with the Phoenix by the spirit of a long-dead sage. He only discovered its properties by accident when he stabbed a demon with that sword (after having used it "normally" against mundane opponents up until that point).
* Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser got their information in consultation with Ningauble
* Elric discovered the properties of his sword over time, and some properties weren't discovered until the very end. I seem to recall Arioch also helping some in this process.
* Lovecraft's wizards typically had to consult with long-dead tomes or possibly even the dead themself (i.e., through their "essential salts" or other methods)

The D&D abstract of "spell research" would theoretically include the methods above. Instead of a die roll you could potentially set up some interesting side treks or even full-fledged adventurers. Each class could contribute. For example:

Thief: Through connections on the street and in the guild, knows of an old tome wherein the nature, pedigree, history, and owner of every magic sword has been recorded. It's said the tome itself is magical and a certain ritual must be performed each new moon in order for the book to be updated. A craggy wizard now owns the tome, which he keeps in his hut at the edge of the old swamp. It could be stolen...

Cleric: Of course the gods know all secrets. If the magic item were brought to a holy place and blessed with appropriate (costly) donations to the deity, he may impart some knowledge. Continued fealty would be required, of course, and the deity's intervention may even change the magic item somewhat (shift its alignment a tad or something).

Warrior: An old veteran of the last frontier wars swears he saw that magic sword in use during the Battle of the Ford. It was wielded by a black-robed man with no hair and a large silver ring. The old veteran recalls seeing some of the properties of the sword in action. But you'd have to ask the veteran himself, and he's old and forgetful now, and lives twenty miles to the east on what used to be the frontier...

Wizard: Patrons offer a lot of possibilities here. The patron could divulge the information directly. Alternately, the patron could summon forth the soul/mind/corpse of the wizard that originally created the magic item, and give that to the current possessor for interrogation. Or the patron could transport the wizard to a place where the item's properties would be most useful, allowing an easy road down the trial-and-error path.

Those are just some ideas. Hopefully they serve to instill a little spark that could turn into a fun adventure. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 2:29 pm 
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Thanks Joseph.
When i started my campaign (with the beta rules) i used D&D/3.5 modules where players can find basic magic items (as a ring of protection +1). But now i have to reorient my gameplay to be more adpated at the full rule point of view about magic item.

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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:03 pm 
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Great ideas for turning the discovery process into part of the storyline. I am a fan of this approach, but does anyone have any suggestions about handling the mechanics of it in the meantime? I mean, say the warrior decides to use the magic sword that he's found while he's looking for the specifics of it's history and capabilities. Does the judge need to keep track of everything, do you give the player the details so they can take care of the math for you, or do you hold the functioning in reserve until the research can be completed and 'unlocked', so to speak? Just curious how people approach this problem. I would like to remember everything and do it all in the background, but you guys know, after several hours of gaming, just subtracting hit points correctlly gets to be mentally fatiguing (plus it typically doesn't take players long to figure out the pluses of a weapon if you use this method anyway).

Also, I am really trying to keep the money at a realistic level, as suggested in the rules, but that makes the costs of research way out of reach of most characters until they have been on many adventures and probably have a magic item or three (especially things like potions and other one-use items that I like to give low level characters).

Maybe I need to give low level characters a patron (a living patron, as in the classic sense of the term, not a summoned being) to foot the bill for magic item identification until they can do it on their own. Or maybe they just aren't realistically able to use magic items until they are 3rd or 4th level and can afford the research?


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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:39 pm 
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Another example with some spoilers: There is a magic ring in Sailors on the Starless Sea. My players found it, and a PC wizard ended up with it. At the end of the adventure, they ended up downriver in a fishing village. The wizard sought information about the ring, but no one there knew anything. What they could tell him was that a witch in the mountains might be able to help....she was said to dwell in a village called Hirot.

This led the players directly into Doom of the Savage Kings. The Mad Widow Ymae knew what the ring was, and was willing to tell the PC wizard in exchange for a favour, to be named by her when she willed. Now, in that module, the witch is a widow, and I decided that she also had a daughter. Both daughter and husband were slain by the fell cultists of Duvan'Ku, and a lock of the daughter's hair is still up there in the mountains, and must be recovered for her soul to know peace. (Rather than end with Ymae and husband reunited, I'm going for a family scene!) So, Doom of the Savage Kings will lead directly to Death Frost Doom. Of course, in my version of Death Frost Doom, the players will at least have been warned not to touch anything, and that there were very bad people there once. Not that this knowledge is likely to save them.

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Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.


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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:49 pm 
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Eyeball360 wrote:
Great ideas for turning the discovery process into part of the storyline. I am a fan of this approach, but does anyone have any suggestions about handling the mechanics of it in the meantime? I mean, say the warrior decides to use the magic sword that he's found while he's looking for the specifics of it's history and capabilities. Does the judge need to keep track of everything, do you give the player the details so they can take care of the math for you, or do you hold the functioning in reserve until the research can be completed and 'unlocked', so to speak?


I ran a D&D campaign once where every magic item was unique & had a history. I basically told the players about weapon powers as they discovered them. So, a bonus to hit or to damage would show up right away. A magical property, like doing extra damage to demons, wouldn't show up until the PC hit a demon. The characters had to learn how to activate other powers through research or trial and error - for example, here was a ring of invisibility that only worked if you covered the stone with your other hand while wearing it, and a sword that burst into flame when the wielded shouted the name of a particular saint.

I wasn't willing to track every single bonus, but I figured that a skilled fighter would recognize if a sword was especially sharp and well-balanced, or whatever. The mechanical bonuses were for the player's info, not the PC. I mean, I doubt that a PC knows what his ability scores and attack bonuses are anyway.


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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:04 am 
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Along these lines, I wanted to pipe in... I hate, hate, hate +1 stuff. I hate +2 stuff, too. Plusses are so BORING! Every time my players run across a new weapon or something, that's the first out of their mouths... "So, is this thing better than what I got? Is it PLUS ONE?!?"

No, jerkoff, it is NOT PLUS ONE. IT IS NOT PLUS TWO. It's just MITHRIL which makes it DIFFERENT from steel.

So, I've been thinking along these lines, and I got to thinking about my days of Mudding (ArcticMud mostly) many moons ago... and I decided I'd start using variable damage dice instead of plusses. So, the flaming flail from Sailors ... instead of being +1 to hit and 1d6+1 damage, I'm going to make it 2d4 damage. This gives it better average damage than a longsword, and certainly better than a regular flail, but doesn't make it completely "better"... I plan on doing that for nicer longswords, too... maybe 2d5 damage, instead of 1d8... so a "nicer" longsword would be better average damage than a regular longsword, but not "better" than a two-handed sword/battleaxe.

Also, this could end up making good/more use of funky dice. Mithril short sword? 2d3 damage instead of d6.

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RoM pbp:
Hamun Ry (Wiz 4)
Str 10 Agi 15 (+1) Sta 11 Per 11 Int 17 (+2) Luc 10 (Unholy House). Align: C. AC: 14. HP: 13. Melee +1, Ranged +2. Crit: d8, I. Save: Ref +5, Fort +3, Will +4.
Spells: 1: Choking Cloud, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic (odd crystal growths), Magic Missile (mirror images), Runic Alphabet (Mortal) (ravenously hungry), Ventriloquism (rain of frogs)
2: Detect Invisible, Levitate (extremely difficult, d14), Mirror Image (20% chance to raise/lower luck by 1d3 points).
Equip: Ring of the Sand Djinn: +2 AC/saves, Invisibility for 1min/spellburn point, or unmake for great, unknown effect. Padded Armor, Longsword, Longbow, quiver w/20 steel-tipped arrows, 10 silver-tipped arrows, backpack, spellbook, quill and ink, sturdy parchment (10 sheets), 5 days rations, high leather boots, belt w/ belt pouch, gray robe, dark gray hooded cloak. Also carries 3 small mechanical toys: wind-up mouse, wooden puzzle cube, small jewelry box that plays a little tune.


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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:35 am 
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I find rolling 2d4 etc. annoying so I just add another dice size usually. Thus a sword +1 becomes 1d10 instead of 1d8 or whatever. The players seem to enjoy the larger dice and feels like more of an upgrade than a simple +1. I then to try to jazz it up with other details and minor powers to make it interesting.


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 Post subject: Re: Identifying magic item properties
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:49 am 
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I dunno, the math part of it is kinda cool. My players are about half-number cruncher banker types, so ... they will probably pick up on that pretty quickly.

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RoM pbp:
Hamun Ry (Wiz 4)
Str 10 Agi 15 (+1) Sta 11 Per 11 Int 17 (+2) Luc 10 (Unholy House). Align: C. AC: 14. HP: 13. Melee +1, Ranged +2. Crit: d8, I. Save: Ref +5, Fort +3, Will +4.
Spells: 1: Choking Cloud, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic (odd crystal growths), Magic Missile (mirror images), Runic Alphabet (Mortal) (ravenously hungry), Ventriloquism (rain of frogs)
2: Detect Invisible, Levitate (extremely difficult, d14), Mirror Image (20% chance to raise/lower luck by 1d3 points).
Equip: Ring of the Sand Djinn: +2 AC/saves, Invisibility for 1min/spellburn point, or unmake for great, unknown effect. Padded Armor, Longsword, Longbow, quiver w/20 steel-tipped arrows, 10 silver-tipped arrows, backpack, spellbook, quill and ink, sturdy parchment (10 sheets), 5 days rations, high leather boots, belt w/ belt pouch, gray robe, dark gray hooded cloak. Also carries 3 small mechanical toys: wind-up mouse, wooden puzzle cube, small jewelry box that plays a little tune.


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