Magic items and identification work a bit differently than normal Pathfinder rules. While Detect Magic still functions to tell you whether or not an item is magical, and what general school of magic it’s from, actually determining the properties is another process.

Once you determine an item is magical, you can attempt to identify its properties. This is done with a Spellcraft check against a DC based on the the properties of the item. The Identify spell still gives you the +10 bonus when rolling. You cannot check an item again until you’ve gained another rank in Spellcraft.

Futhermore, the abilities of an item are broken into ‘packages’, each with a different DC. Here’s an example:
+2 Flaming Longsword
Package 1: +1 (DC 15)
Package 2: +2 (DC 17)
Package 3: Flaming (DC 25)

So lets say you roll a 16. You’d identify the sword as a +1 Longsword, but you’d know that there’s probably something else lurking in there, dormant and undiscovered. So maybe you decide to have another party member take a look at it. They roll a 20, and discover it’s actually a bit sharper and more deadly than you initially thought. A while goes by and you gain a level. After putting more ranks into Spellcraft, you decide to check the sword again, this time casting Identify to boost your chances of success. You get a 29 total, and discover the Flaming property, along with the command word to activate it.

Various things can alter your chances of success. Hitting a well stocked library with tomes about magic might give you a plus to the roll, while trying to identify it under duress (combat, poor lighting, lack of sleep, etc) could give a minus.


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