D&D 5th Edition Trail and error item identifying




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  1. #1

    Trail and error item identifying

    It's back: I put the ring on and jump up and down, flapping my arms,

    What to do, to prevent discovery of a magic ring turn into a 10 minute random-activity slapstick comedy show as experienced players go through a guesswork routine aimed at all the well-known items?

    Roll with it, because it's part of D&D?

    Limit such player activity? E.g. one in-character guess per PC?

    House-rule out this method of identification?

    Homebrew in some in-character clues for what an item does (e.g. an "Air" rune on the ring of flying)

    (I'd probably do the latter two, and let the PCs keep their dignity - no bird impressions, please!).

 

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    How about adding a rider to detect magic that says the caster can make an Intelligence or Magical Lore check to identify the item's properties? You might rule that a successful check only identifies the general properties and that "secrets" are only revealed by a certain degree of success or by a second check. Two checks might sound a bit clunky, but that's often how rogues approach a closed door - first check for traps, then check for locks.

    That doesn't totally nerf identify. It's still the only foolproof way to learn all the properties of an item since you can fail a check.

    "Hey, Zandar, are you sure you correctly deduced all of that magical belt's properties?"

    "Yes, why do you ask?"

    "Uh, because Hrothgar just put it on and his beard is falling out... And I think he's growing boobs..."
    Last edited by GameDoc; Tuesday, 9th October, 2012 at 03:37 PM.

  • #3
    Quote Originally Posted by GameDoc View Post
    How about adding a rider to detect magic that says the caster can make an Intelligence or Magical Lore check to identify the item's properties? You might rule that a successful check only identifies the general properties and that "secrets" are only revealed by a certain degree of success or by a second check. Two checks might sound a bit clunky, but that's often how rogues approach a closed door - first check for traps, then check for locks.
    Also works. I quite liked 3E's identification of magical school, although the mapping of school to game effect was not very reliable.

  • #4
    I have also noticed that identifying scrolls requires "Read Magic (or similar ability)", but there is no such spell in the spell list at the moment . . .

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    Ignore Sadras
    Perhaps giving out gentle clues through inscriptions, insignia's or markings on the magical item or through effects.
    Effect examples:
    - Have the ring slowly levitate a person between their walking steps (if its a Ring of Flying)
    - If its a Staff of Thunder and Lightning, anyone who touches the staff feels the static electricity, or the person that holds it hears the rhythmic sounds of Thunder or his eyes sparkle.
    - A Ring of Warmth is naturally warm to the touch, perhaps the wearer feels too warm, uncomfortably so, resulting in the character removing his thick winter cloak.

    Or the item has the creators name, initials or insignia inscribed and through a Lore check, giving clues about the creators interests, historical or mythical backstories...etc

    You could even go the route that magical items provide flash memories of their previous users allowing the new owner to learn of its powers through Attunement.

    And then there is always study or Identification by experts and sages, encouraging PC interaction with the world allowing for the possibilty for more story arcs.

    But I agree with you, having PCs play around for 10 minutes trying to figure out an item through numerous foolish acts (based on player knowledge) is not what I wish to encourage.

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    Just dont make clues too obvious, and add in some poison potions and cursed items, so fumbling with unknown magic involves risk.

    But on the other hand, if noone has identify, there should still be possibilities to guess what the item does.

    So a potion of flying may make you dizzy and feel light on your foot. Or you could get problems with your stomach, as whatever is inside tries to go back up...

    A cure light wound potion may make you feel less pain, as does a poison potion.

    So be creative and reward creativity, but if they do stupid things with a magic item, something terrible could happen...

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    Quote Originally Posted by UngeheuerLich View Post
    Just dont make clues too obvious, and add in some poison potions and cursed items, so fumbling with unknown magic involves risk.
    This.

    I always found the "experimentation technique" to be the most fun method of identifying magic items, personally.
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    Simply make some item properties really obvious, specifically those that are always 'on'. You'll know when you have a +1 sword or a ring that stops you falling to your death, but you might not know about the flame burst power (activated on command word once a day) or that the ring actually lets you fly (when you assume the correct stance once a day).

    Edit: since some people are disappointed with attunement, then combine mechanics so that the powers that aren't always on are gained as you attune with the item.
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    Ah, Identify. A long, difficult process of identifying magical items that all character classes have to go through except Wizards who get a low-spell-level plot coupon to get out of that nonsense.

    That summarizes so very much that was wrong with the system.

    Make Identify an hour long ritual that anyone can do.

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    I like it.

    I always had the players just put the stuff on and use it normally. if an item had an effect that wasn't likely to appear through casual association then having some one examoine the thing was always an option.

    one of the things that made magic items magical for me was the mystery. Sure common things like potions were labeled, usually with the clerical order who brewed the healings or the alchemist who made the invisibility potions, but everything else was mysterious and exotic.

    Eventually the players will come to recognize the different items with little more than a description but until then it's part of the fun.

    It may not make a whole lot of sense to people who play modern D&D but much of the fun of the game once came from more than a grinding combat encounter. Which is the main reason I'm looking at Next as an option for future gaming fun. What I got now is more work than fun.

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