Scroll of Identify YKTTW Discussion

Scroll of Identify
An item, mechanic, or spell that tells you what another item is.
(permanent link) added: 2013-01-12 08:43:24 sponsor: TropeEater edited by: UltramarineAlizarin (last reply: 2013-07-09 21:55:54)

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(Please bring content updates to Unidentified Item. I'm looking to make a single trope for both concepts. -UltramarineAlizarin)

In a lot of Roguelikes, the game doesn't tell you what an object is at first. It'll just say "a red potion" or "a scroll labelled 'FOOBIE BLETCH'". Often this is randomized each time you play, along with everything else in the game, so that you can't remember which item is which from a previous run. To find out what an item does, you have to use it first. This can fall right into Fake Difficulty if you throw any possible Poison Mushrooms that might be running around somewhere into the mix. How do the game developers fix this?

Enter the Scroll of Identify. It is an item whose sole purpose is to offer information on other items. Sometime they can only identify items one at a time, with only one identification per scroll, and sometimes they can identify multiple items at once, or even identify multiple times per item. It all depends on the mechanics of the game they are in. Our Identify Scrolls Are Different, after all.

If these things are one-use-per-item disposables, you're probably going to get the urge to just hoard them and never actually put them to use, especially in NetHack-influenced games that focus on being Crazy-Prepared, fighting dirty, and outsmarting your enemies with traps and such.

Oftentimes, it is a literal scroll, but it can also be something else, like magnifying glass, or a Great Big Book of Everything you use to look up whatever is in front of you. Sometimes it isn't even an item at all, but a spell you learn so you can do the deed yourself. Sometimes, it's all of the above.

Compare Everything Sensor and Enemy Scan.


MMO Games

  • The Plus sign in Kingdom of Loathing, which identifies all items associated with the dungeons of doom/enormous greater-than sign when used.


  • Castle of the Winds has the Identify spell as a scroll (single use), staff (multiple uses), or spellbook (permanently learn). Each town also has a sage that can identify items for a fee, and selling an item to a shop automatically identifies it.
  • Diablo has 'em. You can also take your items into town and have Cain identify them.
  • Dungeon Crawl has 'em. They are rather costly to buy from a shop (80 gp if it's identified), but luckily they are one of the most common scrolls in the game. If the save isn't "jinxed" to lack in the SoI department, it's a rather safe bet that if you have 4 or more of the same scroll in the early stages of the game, it's either Scroll of Identify, Scroll of Noise, or Scroll of Random Uselessness.
  • Elona has 'em. Similar to Diablo above, scholars in towns can identify items for you.
  • FATE has 'em, and also has books of identify, which can be used more times.
  • Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo's Dungeon has a few options. Appraisal Glasses and Scholar's Glasses are consumable items for identifying one or all unknown items Chocobo is carrying, respectively. The Scholar job has the Appraise ability to analyze all items as well. Finally, wearing the Appraiser's Collar lets Chocobo automatically identify items as he picks them up.
  • NetHack is the Trope Codifier. It also has a high-level spell for this purpose.
  • Shiren the Wanderer has scrolls of identify (which have a small chance to identify every item in your inventory), but also jars of identify, which can identify any item you put into it.
  • Scrolls of Identification double as Practical Currency in Path of Exile.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.X has identify as a 1st-level spell usable by wizards, sorcerers, bards, and clerics with the Magic domain. It identifies all properties of a single magic item. And yes, you can make a scroll out of it provided you have the right item crafting feat. Another option is to use a Knowledge skill check to deduce the item's properties.

Western RPG's

  • Arcanum has unidentified magick items which must be identified to unlock their potential; this can be done by either learning 'Divine Magick', a fifth-level divination spell, or paying 100 gold to a wise-woman. Since character points are finite and gold isn't in short supply, sensible players opt for the latter.
  • Being based on Dungeons & Dragons, the Neverwinter Nights series has the identify spell. You can also use a Lore check to identify the item.
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