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Edition differences?

PBWmaia

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I DM games in a play-by-post format, and I'm starting to have a struggle here. I am running 2nd ed AD&D. I remember when 3e was still in preview stage, and the preview was sufficient for me to decide I was not going beyond 2nd ed. So some of this, I don't know if it's edition differences driving different expectations, or some other factor.

In 3e and beyond, is it normal for a regular blacksmith to be able to examine a weapon or set of armor and determine the level of enchantment?
 

Snoof

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In 3e and beyond, is it normal for a regular blacksmith to be able to examine a weapon or set of armor and determine the level of enchantment?
In 3.0 and 3.5? Nope, you'd need to use detect magic to learn if an item is magical at all, and identify to learn what it does.
In 4e, you can (usually) identify a magical item by spending a few minutes examining and interacting with it.
In 5, maybe. Detect magic and identify are back, but an Arcana check might be sufficient, as might something else with the GM's approval.
 

PBWmaia

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2nd ed has the detect magic also, although the identify spell is usually pretty limited (you don't get exact + bonuses unless you add a powdered luckstone into infusion the caster drinks). So maybe it is a little of the newer editions, but sometimes the repeated queries (after being told explicitly "no, that's not the way it works in 2nd ed") were making me wonder if it's an edition difference-based expectation or the hope that repeatedly asking me is going to make me give up the exact info that I've already said (more than once) that isn't available without recourse to actual magic (or having made the item personally, which is currently way beyond the capabilities of a character, but theoretically possible in the distant future). Or just too much video-game RPG play.
 

Little Rabbit Foo Foo

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It sounds like it might be video game experience. While the newer editions each have different ways of identifying items, all of those ways are more likely to be found in the hands of player characters than the average blacksmith.

Whereas in video games, particularly in the very popular Baldur's Gate series (which was based on the second edition rules), blacksmiths and other vendors would identify items for players as a service to be paid for.
 

Knaight

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There's also the matter of the genre literature, where the people who make weapons are generally in a pretty good place to try and figure out what's up with them. Video games aren't the only place that shows up - and even if they were it's not like the way D&D does things is somehow inherently correct and should be naturally assumed absent corrupting influences from video games.
 

Stryst

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When I run 2e, this is an area where I'm kinda lazy as a GM. I personally don't care to have to track a lot of modifiers for players ( like remembering who had the +1 weapon and who didn't) so I tend to sort of handwaive easy lower level item identification. It's a little more videogamy, but I get sick of "why did her 16 hit and mine miss?" I just want to get my players doing as much of the math on their side of the screen as I can.

My opinion is that magic items are more accessable in 3e than in earlier editions, and the process of identifying an item is a little more... mechanical? I'm not sure that's the right term, but it feels more like a standard service out of the book instead of a more esoteric undertaking.
 

Terhali

Serene Green Queen
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When I run 2e, this is an area where I'm kinda lazy as a GM. I personally don't care to have to track a lot of modifiers for players ( like remembering who had the +1 weapon and who didn't) so I tend to sort of handwaive easy lower level item identification. It's a little more videogamy, but I get sick of "why did her 16 hit and mine miss?" I just want to get my players doing as much of the math on their side of the screen as I can.
I believe that if players know their THAC0 (or edition-equivalent attack information) and are doing their own math, they should also know the bonus of their magical weapons and armor. It's not necessarily videogamey; for me it's just gamist. "Your sword is +1" isn't inherently different knowledge than "your proficiency bonus is +3" or "your Strength bonus is +2." The player knowing all three pieces of information isn't the same as the character knowing them--giving them the information is less work for me and a chance to make informed decisions for them. In-game, someone with combat experience can realize that a given weapon is well-balanced and sharp, or that armor is particularly good at deflecting attacks, even to a degree that's magical, without reducing the properties to pluses. The jargon is just an out-of-game convenience.

Other magical properties may be different. It's easy to discover that a sword swings well, not necessarily so easy to discover that it also shoots fireballs. It depends on what sort of game I'm running.
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
I DM games in a play-by-post format, and I'm starting to have a struggle here. I am running 2nd ed AD&D. I remember when 3e was still in preview stage, and the preview was sufficient for me to decide I was not going beyond 2nd ed. So some of this, I don't know if it's edition differences driving different expectations, or some other factor.

In 3e and beyond, is it normal for a regular blacksmith to be able to examine a weapon or set of armor and determine the level of enchantment?
This would be entirely the DM's prerogative as I understand it, at least in 3e. In 4e, determining the function of a "typical" magic item is simply a matter of taking a little time to test it out. Anything that's meant to be relatively more hefty, however, is easily handled by 4e's skill system: Arcana is not just knowledge, it involves a certain amount of understanding about the nature and process of magic. Thus there is no detect magic cantrip, nor really a need for one. Such things are simply an Arcana skill check--possibly Trained-only, if you want it to be something that requires more than just the knowledge an adventurer accrues.

For my own part--and this is purely my personal tastes, not the rules themselves--I like to have at least some blacksmiths capture some of the "riddle of steel"/mystical knowledge idea that some cultures ascribed to them. Like the Norse blacksmiths who accidentally-on-purpose made their swords stronger by burning the bones of strong people/creatures with the fuel. Or the mystique associated with the best of the Japanese swordsmiths, who were "mundane" men and yet could make blessed (or cursed) blades. So it might not be regular blacksmiths, but certainly some accessible blacksmiths could test a blade or a piece of armor to find out if it was magical, because they'd be testing it like they would test any piece they'd personally made and wanted to confirm was up to their standards.
 

TheGrog

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If nothing else, it cuts down on the drudgery of having to keep track of which PC has what magic item that they aren't supposed to know about.

I'd swear some edition had the 'take it to a sage' method of identification that started the whole thing, but I don't remember which.
 

WistfulD

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Validated User
2nd ed has the detect magic also, although the identify spell is usually pretty limited (you don't get exact + bonuses unless you add a powdered luckstone into infusion the caster drinks). So maybe it is a little of the newer editions, but sometimes the repeated queries (after being told explicitly "no, that's not the way it works in 2nd ed") were making me wonder if it's an edition difference-based expectation or the hope that repeatedly asking me is going to make me give up the exact info that I've already said (more than once) that isn't available without recourse to actual magic (or having made the item personally, which is currently way beyond the capabilities of a character, but theoretically possible in the distant future). Or just too much video-game RPG play.
It doesn't exactly sound like you are giving them a specific avenue for how to routinely determine what pluses their weapons have (unless they have regular access to powdered luckstone). It hardly seems like they would need outside influence from other games or editions to start feeling around for options. Can you explain what you would prefer they be doing to try to figure out the pluses?
 
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