Identifying Magic Items

The following system was created for progressively identifying magic items. It allows the 'identify' spell to be used as a cantrip and with increasingly more valuable pearls to gain more and more information on items. It also creates a profession for identifiers and uses knowledge(arcana) as a way of recognizing magics as well. DM's guide has categories for Minor, Medium & Major - these will be a base point for where to categorize items, stacking enchantments will push things upward. Ultimately much of this will be DM discretion, but this will serve as a rough guide.


 Item type/ Value

 Identify Spell

 Profession Check(identifier)/Knowledge (arcana)


No material component

 DC 25/30


 100 GP pearl

 DC 30/35


 500 GP pearl

 DC 35 /40
Artifact/15,000 GP

 1,000 GP pearl

 DC 40/45

 40,00 GP and up

 3,000 GP pearl

 DC 45/50


DC are based on the assumption of always taking 20 as someone studies an item carefully over a long period of time - at a certain point with high level items it will get VERY difficult to find someone who would recognize them. I like the idea of identify being almost a cantrip for more mundane magics - it should be (IMO) - it makes the mage a more valued member of the team

So the party mage blows the cantrip (if you got em use em) and you learn the first layer, but know there is more - then you start burning up pearls in progressively greater value (and a lost day to get the spell back) - each day you are bummed you don't know the WHOLE story but excited that it is even better than you anticipated - this seems like it would be fun, if it gets annoying then we can change the rules so the cantrip would reveal the level of pearl necessary (but that seems tooo easy). In practice this will work something like this

cantrip/profession 25/knowledge appraise 30: this is a very strong magic sword, not cursed, but very powerful

100gp pearl/profession 30/knowledge appraise 35: this is a +3 sword, but there is more to it than that...

500 gp pearl/profession 35/knowledge appraise 40: this is a +3 sword with an extra 1d6 fire damage, but it seems to be hunting something

1000 gp pearl/profession 40/knowledge appraise 45: This is the legendary Ogre Conqueror, forged ages ago in the heart of volcano Brisadoor in an attempt to help free the Dwarven lands of the ogre menace (what ogre menace you ask?... hmmm... guess it worked) it is a +3 flaming sword w/1d6 fire damage that does double damage against Ogres

realistically the wielder of the sword would have probably picked up on the fire enchantment long before the first pearl - pretty much the first time she made kobold kabobs she'd have a sense of the fire enchantment, but not the +'s or the fire damage and certainly could go years (and slay many ogres) before the nature of the ogre enchantment was known, quite possibly she could develop a reputation as an Ogre slayer without ever knowing (just lucky i guess) it was the sword... i like that idea ;) ... introducing: Tymeria the Avenging Flame, Slayer of Ogres!


Back to House Rules

Back to Shadows of Morning

Back to D&D Home