Question about items/potions

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Snarkythekobold
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Question about items/potions

Post Mon Jun 11, 2018 10:30 pm

When a character discovers a magical item or potion, do you (as the GM) tell them what it is or do you let them find out for themselves?

I know that you would not tell them about an item if it is cursed but what about potions? Can a magic user somehow do something to tell what is inside a potion bottle or discern something about magical armor/ weapons?

Thanks for any help
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:02 am

As a player (and as the DM the few times i have DMed) it was my opinion that the overage bloke can't tell what a potion is unless they take a teenny weenny taste, or they take it back to town and pay an exorbitant fee to an Apothecarist or high level MU. I like the teeny weeny taste test because I believe that someone who is willing to risk death to determine what a potion does should get first choice if they want to keep it or not.
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Clever_Munkey
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 2:58 pm

Unless it is obvious, I usually hide an item's true identity until it has been tested. This usually means using the item in combat if a weapon, or drinking the potion. I run poisons differently, so in my game a sip is not going to kill them outright, but it also won't fully identify a potion. So a potion of heroism will make them feel stronger or braver, a potion of speed may make them feel energetic, etc.

I also allow a magic user or cleric to do research similar to the core rules, but less expensive. Of course the research can be outsourced (for a steep price) if they don't want to take the time to do the research themselves.

I should also mention that, in my games, generally all potions of a certain type will look the same, so once one has been identified, all of that type have been identified. The notable exception is when the potions come from a different region, culture, or magical school, which basically means whenever I want.
Last edited by Clever_Munkey on Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dimirag
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:41 pm

I tend to give magical items more visual quality than mundane ones, sometimes relating to the powers or effect but I never tell the players the effects and object has, its up to them to discover it either by testing it or using a spell that lets them know that info, or they pay somebody to do it.

For potions I can be more lax, using engraved symbols on the vials or an attached tag (that can be in another language, illegible or missing) as I tend to see the vials as universal in shape and reusable meaning that those carrying them will need a way to better separate and identify them to use the one wanted.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
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orobouros
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:29 pm

Depends a bit on the characters and the background. My last party was part of an adventurer's guild and came from a town big enough to have a potion shop. After a passed wisdom check I gave them some strong clues that it's a healing potion. It's always a matter of judgement. Is it a super-rare potion? How common are potions even in your world? Would your player's characters know about common potions? Did your magic user do potion research or scroll research?

I'd never flat out tell the players (unless it's super-obvious, like in a store) or flat out deny them any useful information.
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Longman
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:45 pm

First time a character has to test a potion - fun.

Tenth time - getting a bit dull now?

I like to have some potions clearly labelled. Wizard potions designed for use in tight situations might have "Invisibility" engraved on the bottle in Old Archaic, or a particular religion's Clerical healing potions might be all red in colour, like they are in computer games.

Then, the party find an old bottle full of murky liquid and have no clue what it is, or if it is even a potion at all.

Variety is the key here. I wouldn't use just one idea.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:00 pm

truly, variety is the key in most cases when gaming. Not knowing what to expect is what makes adventuring adventurous.
Snarkythekobold
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:28 am

Well, the answers make me feel good about what I have been doing. I have been putting a label on some while others I have been leaving for experimentation.

I have found that just simply trying to think about a particular situation realistically (as realistic as possible in a fantasy world) yields the best results. For example, if the adventurers raid an alchemist's lab, they would probably find properly labeled bottles. But if they find one locked away in an old, treasure box or in a sunken ship, labeling and such will likely be rubbed off/ faded away.

But there are spells that can discern what is in a bottle right . . . like discern magic/ enchantment?
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Solomoriah
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:19 am

Longman, I like your approach. I may steal that...
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Longman
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Re: Question about items/potions

Post Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:40 pm

Solomoriah wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:19 am
Longman, I like your approach. I may steal that...
Cheers. I usually have only a few types of magic in my games (elvish, magic-user, one or two main religions, maybe one weird cult) so the question of identification of items is all about which type of magic was used to make them.
Snarkythekobold wrote:
Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:28 am
But there are spells that can discern what is in a bottle right . . . like discern magic/ enchantment?
There's no "Identify" spell in Core Rules IIRC. Maybe Smoot's Libram Magica supplement has one. In most versions of the game, Identify was costly and time-consuming, and probably not worth using on a potion.
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