Friday, March 25, 2022

d100 - Methods of Magical Item Identification

Our rulesets for some versions of the game often appear to omit certain aspects when compared to their descendants. One item periodically perceived as “Missing” from OSE and B/X is a quick and convenient way to instantaneously identify the functions of recovered Magical Items.

The methods outlined within the text seem to circumscribe this process to either Experimentation or saving up to pay the exorbitant prices of Sages, Seers, and other such Specialists (a lovely money-sink in itself). The “Retainer Test Subject” approach seldom seems appealing to players, since the “Guinea Pig” often clamors to keep it (and why should they not? They assumed the risk!). Later versions, obviously informed by experiences with how these options tended to play out, mostly do away with these methods altogether by providing a convenient and often abecedarian Spell to perform the duty of discerning dweomers. Some of these, like Analyze from BECMI still preserve a percentile chance of failure and often fail to reveal an item’s secrets with complete precision. But the implications this still seems to create in me is a world where Magical Things are relatively humdrum or commonplace, so run-of-the-mill in fact that even a Minor Medium can avail themselves of a lower circle incantation to divine their purposes and suss out their secrets.

I like to lean into the rarity and wonder of any persistent Magical Creations that appear in my games. It adds mountains to their mystique and makes them much more memorable. So, this table offers another path: One Hundred Hooks to perform this appraisal process through play.

If you prefer the convenience of abstracting or expediting this process, then I’m afraid this table may not seem immediately useful to you. I suppose these could also find use as other Random Rumors tied to information gathering though. When players pose unexpected questions, it’s often quite handy to have some convenient concept on where they can obtain elucidation should the Referee be caught unawares (we all know this only ever happens so seldomly as to be almost unworthy of mention 😊). Information is such powerful paraphernalia in these games, and sometimes even the knowledge of “where to find an answer” is immensely valuable.

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