Identifying Magic Items Properties

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Identifying Magic Items Properties

Post by raskal »

Whick kind of rules game master use for identifying magic item properties ?

This is mine :
Identify magic item (name, properties, charge, etc.) is skill check similar to spell check :
Wizard / Elf : 1d20 + Int modifier + Caster Level
Thief : (cast spell from scroll dice) + Int modifier + Caster Level
The DD is 15 or 10 with the spell Read Magic is active
Last edited by raskal on Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Identifying Magic Items Properties

Post by abk108 »

I simply don't let them identify items "the D&D way". The magic item is always a mistery unsolved, no matter how deep you dwelve in its secrets, you feel like there's always more to it.

They find a sword, i tell them "it radiates some magical energy of sorts" and "you get +1 on attack rolls".

There may be other effects and qualities they don't know about. Only research (in libraries, takes time, should be done between levels) might identify the item "a little bit more".

E.g. "The sword seems to have belonged to Heskar the conqueror, who enslaved the frost giants of Kazhertum to get himself an unstoppable army agaisnt the South. It gives 2 points of damage reduction against frost, and +2 to checks against hazards related to cold and ice. Its damage is increased to 1d16 when wielded agaisnt Giants of any kind."

There may still be more to discover about the sword (like, how was it forged? who did it? what's it made of? has it took part in any other important event, like the Battle of the 3 Thrones?).

This way I try to get characters attached to the magic weapons they find. And maybe, after they use it for a long enough time, the characters themselves might be the cause for another little quality in the sword, for future adventures, or future adventurers!
(Like, if you killed the ominous green wyrm of the Dark Forest with it, it may as well be constantly covered in acid)

just the way i do it :)
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Re: Identifying Magic Items Properties

Post by finarvyn »

Gary Gygax loved to have players take items to the "Striped Mage" who would (for a cost) identify things for them.

I think another of his tricks was simply to identify things on the spot and somehow bill the Striped Mage's fees by deducting from their treasure.

I think his theory was that it should somehow cost players to get information, but they had more fun if they knew what things could do and could actually use them. I can understand to a point, since I've had players hourde potions and stuff before being afraid to try them for fear that they would be dangerous or wasted. (You quaff the potion, and can fly for a few turns but you don't need to fly at the moment. Bummer.)
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Re: Identifying Magic Items Properties

Post by Galadrin »

I agree with that sentiment (letting players know what they have, for a price). I think if I made the players pay to learn an item's history, I would also make them invest to earn the item's benefits - maybe continual XP investments would unlock more backstory and greater power. I like the idea that magic items have potential, and grow more powerful as the players do.

As an example, the players find a greatsword. Paying the Striped Mage, they learn it is the sword Scrioth and a little of the history. Initial investments in XP gain a permanent +1 to hit and damage. Later XP investments reveal more backstory and imbue the weapon with the ability to spout flames. Final XP investments uncover the fate of the previous owner and grant the wielder greater defense. The player never knows exactly what he is buying, but he may get a hint of what may be down the road, and they uncover more story and powers as they go along.

That said, I think it goes without saying that uncovering magic items can be incredibly dangerous. Not only does the unravelling history open up new side stories, but magic items tend to have a mind of their own and unlocking their power can also awaken their motivations and ambition. Magic items that seem like they are only getting better and better can end up being cursed in their final stage as well (although I would use that sparingly).
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Re: Identifying Magic Items Properties

Post by reverenddak »

Since there aren't really any rules on Magic Items in the BETA, i don't know. There's the Scrying Orb in the FREE RPG DAY mod that my guys got. I let our wizard try once a week, in-game time, to identify it. The DC was 18, it took a long time... actually, he never identified it, then he died. A different character was able to identify it immediately. I made up the story of how and what (basically a cut-scene, like the Fellowship the Rings movie where Gandalf went to some ancient libraries and found out...). So, yeah, it can be part of an adventure or a role, whatever you feel like.
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