I applauded the removal of the Identify spell from 4th edition. It didn’t seem to add anything to have a “this item is unusable” period between the acquisition period and the use/sell period. Still, I now miss one thing about Identify: it gave the DM time to think.

I tend to DM pretty off-the-cuff, and I wish there was some way to drop treasure without either sticking slavishly to wishlists or preplanning everything. I’m thinking of changing the rules so that magic items enhancement bonuses are determined right away, but their properties are identified after an extended rest, or possibly at the DM’s discretion. That way I could decide to drop a character’s economy-mandated axe +3, but not have to immediately determine which of the scores of potential axes +3 it is. I could browse the Character Builder while the PCs are exploring or planning; or even react to the PCs’ adventures (a PC who hits with an opportunity attack finds herself holding an Opportunistic Axe).

2 Responses to “identify”

  1. Rory rory says:

    That sounds like a pretty solid plan. Could cause a little confusion though (the fighter taking the bard’s songblade until they rest), but nothing that can’t be dealt with!

    Getting a magic item is kind of clinical these days, usually due to lack of preparation since magic items are the last thing I think about when designing an encounter. Also, it is a little weird to be like “and you get, low and behold, ANOTHER vicious weapon, but this one is +4!”. It’s not quite as exciting as getting some bizarre magic item, though usually I’m willing to trade that for happy players and balanced encounters!

  2. baf says:

    Judging by the descriptions of gameplay in 1e, it seems that Gygax never intended the Identify spell to create a “this item is unusable” period. Rather, he expected players to use items without identifying them, to figure them out through usage like people sometimes do in Nethack. Still, even if you wanted to bring that aspect back, it seems like it would be a good idea to eliminate Identify.

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