8 thoughts on “If your players get a magic item how do you tell them / how do they find out what the magic item does?”

  1. As a DM no matter how obvious or obscure a magic item should be, never be stingy about descriptive info. Even if there is a faint sparkle or unusually cold to the touch description, that will set the players off to ask questions. If you really want to make a tiny adventure about discovering the item’s power, let them find a sage. If you decided how the magic item is activated or used, give some evidence or trace after active use or close examination. Blatantly telling them it’s magic, what it does, and how it works can be acceptable and quick, but that’s a good way to kill the magic of the game.

    And of course rolling spout lore helps reward the guy who bothered to focus on intelligence.

    Does any of that help answer the question?

  2. Here are the four things I use in order of priority. If one doesn’t work, move on to number two and so on. Three and four can be switched interchangeably.

    1. Bardic Lore

    2. Spout Lore

    3. Quest to find the answer

    4. Trial and error

    Edit: Number three can include using ritual or any other compatible move to find the answer as well. Or you could just give your wizard an identify spell at some point. I also like the “Inspectacles” from D&D (not sure what they were really called) that were glasses that let you identify 3 items a day. I might make them into a DW item and post them here.

  3. Wizard’s Spectacles

    Everyone knows the life of a Wizard is full of books, tomes, scrolls, journals and any other object that can be written upon. So was the life of Zorandus the Shortsighted. He was well known for his less than adequate vision, so he took it upon himself to craft some magical glasses that would give him vision as sharp as an eagle! Unfortunately his vision was so bad that he misread the instructions for enchanting them and fell down the stairs during testing. But fortunately for anyone who finds these glasses, their magical properties might still be of use!

    The Wizard’s Spectacles gain 3 hold at the beginning of each day, replacing any hold they had the previous day. Anyone who wears the glasses may spend the hold. You may use the hold to perform any of the following actions:

    • Detect Magic as the Wizard spell.

    • Read magical writing as if it was in your native tongue.

    • Identify a magical item.

    The spectacles will only function if both lenses are intact and they are only as durable as a normal pair of glasses.

  4. If they’re trying to figure it out by experimenting, I interpret that as Discern Realities. Using magic-detecting tools or spells can provide better fictional positioning, there.

    There’s also Aether Sensitive, a move that one of the PCs in my current game has:

    You sense nearby magical energy. When you take a few moments to examine a ripple in the aether, roll+WIS. On a 10+, ask the GM three questions about it. On a 7-9, ask one. Either way, take +1 forward when acting on the answers.

    • What sort of magic is it?

    • What does it do?

    • How old is it?

    • What caused or created it?

    • What was the target?

    • How can I disable or avoid it?

    That’s general-purpose, and works for spells as well as enchanted gear. Studying something longer gives more information, naturally.

  5. How does all this relate to the Wizard advanced move “Enchanter”?

    When you have time and safety with a magic item you may ask the GM what it does, the GM will answer you truthfully.

    I suppose that move saves you having to make a roll… still seems a bit weak for an advanced move if it’s pretty straightforward to identify a magic item without it.

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