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7/04/2014 4:48 am  #1


Identifying magic items without identify spell

I am not a fan of the identify spell and would prefer to have other ways to find out what an item does.
With weapons and armor, you can just use them without knowing what they are doing. Putting on rings and boots and the like also might reveal most of their powers over time.
But that doesn't really work for potions or wands. With a potion you might get lucky that it is labled, though there is no way to tell if the label is actually accurate. Drinking a mystery potion in a dangerous situation is just suicidal, and when you drink it in a safe environment it is destroyed in the process with no opportunity to benefit from it.

One option might be to allow spellcasters to make a special Test of Intelligence to identify an item. If it fails, they can consult a special sage with a 5:6 chance.
Or are there perhaps better solutions?


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
 

7/04/2014 8:49 am  #2


Re: Identifying magic items without identify spell

According to the AS&SH rules, magician classes can identify potions just by tasting them (Referee Manual p. 136).  This doesn't waste the potion.  There is the danger of poison, of course. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/devious.png


As for the rest, I usually just tell the players at the end of the adventure.


"The fear of death, its risk each time, is one of the most stimulating parts of the game. It therefore behooves the referee to include as many mystifying and dangerous areas as is consistent with a reasonable chance for survival." - J. Eric Holmes
 

7/05/2014 4:28 am  #3


Re: Identifying magic items without identify spell

use the nethack trial and error method. But perhaps this is a little cruel.


Consider assigning certain properties to some types of potions that could be tested for experimentally. Maybe a magic user could purchase certain sheets of papyrus imbued with the resuidue of the Coljukop flower that when a poison is dripped on it turns dark red. It could make the abstraction of a roll a bit more interesting.

Last edited by The_Great_Lestrade (7/05/2014 4:56 am)

 

7/05/2014 3:03 pm  #4


Re: Identifying magic items without identify spell

I'm not sure if there's a by the book answer in AS&SH, but here's what we do.

If you want to identify something in the dungeon or on a mission without the identify spell, then you have to test it out somehow, if that is possible. You may end up only learning some information about an item even after testing it. A magical sword or magical armor might feel light or perfectly balanced (suggesting it is perhaps magical), but you would not learn its actual pluses or any other special powers.  In the case of a magical wand, if there was a button, you would have to expend a charge to see the effect, and if it required a magical word trigger, you would be SOL. As for potions, I usually allow PCs to drink a small sip to get the gist of what they might do, but warn them that poisonous potions may have red herring effects as part of their trap-like nature. In my game, testing out items is very situational according to the item and there wouldn't be a standard answer or method for adjudicating. It is possible that in some special cases a party member might be able to discern what an item is and how an item functions because of his particular background in the game, but again, that's very situational as well. I would probably not ever use a die-rolling system, but that's just me. You have to do what works for you and your group.

If you want to identify something in town without the identify spell, you can employ a magician (or someone appropriate) who may be paid with gold, information or a favor. This method has been a good one for generating new quests for the low-level adventurers. Want to figure out how to use that wand for free? Then complete a quest for Famboozle. Otherwise, pay up.

I think I read somewhere that Gygax, at one point at least, had item identification costs subsumed into upkeep costs, so the whole process was waived and the item's properties simply revealed upon returning to town (I think he said he thought the process itself was usually less interesting than adventuring, so he didn't want to belabor it). If you wanted to know the item's properties while still in the dungeon, of course, there was still the option of using the identify spell (assuming you have it). Anyway, not sure if Jeff has commented on an upkeep cost system, but if not, it's easily grafted on.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

7/05/2014 4:10 pm  #5


Re: Identifying magic items without identify spell

I provide a resource in Khromarium (the Hooded Sage) who will Identify items for 100gp per item. He will also cast Detect Magic in a group of items for 100gp. I'm pretty sure I got the idea from reading about some of Gary Gygax's later games. I also allow characters to sip potions, etc to figure it out themselves if they want to. My system becomes a question of economics, how much gold are you willing to spend versus how much risk will you take that an item might be cursed or poisoned.

I think puzzling out magic items is fun and interesting in special cases, but gets tedious if you do it for every item.

For high tech artifacts, I use the the table from Gamma World first edition to determine if a character can learn how to use the item without shooting themselves in the face.

Last edited by chrisj (7/05/2014 4:10 pm)

 

7/05/2014 4:19 pm  #6


Re: Identifying magic items without identify spell

chrisj wrote:

I think puzzling out magic items is fun and interesting in special cases, but gets tedious if you do it for every item.

Agree, totally.

For high tech artifacts, I use the the table from Gamma World first edition to determine if a character can learn how to use the item without shooting themselves in the face.

Great idea! I have this table, so I may incorporate it or version of it.
 


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

7/05/2014 6:34 pm  #7


Re: Identifying magic items without identify spell

chrisj wrote:

I provide a resource in Khromarium (the Hooded Sage) who will Identify items for 100gp per item. He will also cast Detect Magic in a group of items for 100gp. I'm pretty sure I got the idea from reading about some of Gary Gygax's later games. I also allow characters to sip potions, etc to figure it out themselves if they want to. My system becomes a question of economics, how much gold are you willing to spend versus how much risk will you take that an item might be cursed or poisoned.

I think puzzling out magic items is fun and interesting in special cases, but gets tedious if you do it for every item.

For high tech artifacts, I use the the table from Gamma World first edition to determine if a character can learn how to use the item without shooting themselves in the face.

Ditto!  I like the GW chart idea as well.

Morgan
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

7/05/2014 7:31 pm  #8


Re: Identifying magic items without identify spell

Excellent idea, Chris!


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