So, identifying a magic item should be a chancy business. The first thing to do is to see if the item is marked in any way. Roll 2 dice:
- 2-7: Item is unmarked; no identifying features of any kind
- 8-10: Item has some kind of marking or identification on it, roll on the table below.
- 11-12: Item has 1-3 markings of identification, roll on the table below.
Obviously, you can adjust the probabilities to fit your campaign. In general, though, the above roll should be adjusted by the relative fame and/or efficacy of the item. The “plus” for a magic weapon or armor should act as a plus for the first roll (above) and, optionally, the second table (below). A “minus” (such as for a cursed weapon or item) ought to be used on the table below, alone (since creators of cursed items often want to maintain plausible deniability). Roll two dice again:
- 2: Item has a symbol unrelated to its purpose (up to the referee to decide what that symbol is and how to decipher it). This symbol might be for inventory in the tower of the wizard that owns it, or the symbol of the god to whose temple it was donated, or…
- 3: Item has a symbol on it related to its purpose (up to the referee to decide what that symbol is and how to decipher it). The symbol may be indicative of the item’s function, or purpose, or owner.
- 4-5: Item has a word inscribed on it; it may be unrelated to the nature, purpose or identity of the item, or it may be related in some indirect or obscure fashion, e.g. what sort of creature it is efficacious against, etc.
- 6-7: Item has a word inscribed on it; it may be part or all of what is necessary to activate it (care should be taken by somebody saying the word while grasping or holding the item).
- 8-9: Item has the name of a previous owner on it. It is up to the referee to determine how famous or obscure the previous owner was.
- 10-11: Item has the name of its maker inscribed on it. It is up to the referee to determine how famous or obscure the maker was.
- 12: Item has its own name on it. If so, it is the proper name of the item and may awaken the consciousness of the item (if present).