Treasure includes special items, weapons, armor, and shields that are often magical in nature. These items bestow unique abilities separate from those granted by your class, kit, or origin. Throughout these rules, treasure may also be referred to as "magic items."
Identifying Magic Items
Magic items tend to be enchanted with a persistent, magical power that you can activate at will, or that confers upon you an ability when you possess it. A magic item's text will describe what it does, but unless you understand how it works, you can’t activate the item. Only heroes with an Arcana skill can ascertain a magic item’s function.
Generally, if there is ample time for you to study the magic item and you have the Arcana skill, you don't need to roll anything to understand how it functions. As a rule of thumb, if you have access to the proper research equipment, it takes 1 hour per rarity of the item to fully understand its function. However, if you're trying to study a magic item under duress, the GM may call for a Smart check. The TN to beat is 7 plus the rarity of the magic item.
If you fail the check, that means you need more time to properly study the item and can try again later. With the GM's discretion, a failed check will reveal what school of magic the item's function most closely resembles. For example, consider Magic Beans:
An unassuming leather pouch, closed with a straw drawstring. The pouch contains 1 magic bean per strength of the item. When you throw a bean to the ground, it instantly grows into a long, tangled beanstalk that can be climbed. The beanstalk will grow to connect two surfaces as far apart as a single encounter space, at a rate of 1 melee space per round.
Because this magic item summons giant beanstalks, the GM might hint that the item's aura radiates Conjuration magic.
Each magic item will indicate its rarity. Rarity ranges from 1 to 6. Rarity is used by the GM to determine how wondrous it is, how long it takes to identify, and how valuable it might be to spellcasters and treasure hunters alike. Even so, remember that any magic item would be considered priceless in OSR+. The game assumes there are not "magic item shops" in the world, or that magic items are being manufactured en masse by spellcasters on an industrial scale.
That being said, below is a table to help translate rarity to gold piece value, if that's the sort of game you want to run.
Magic Item Gold Value Table
Using Magic Items
Some magic items need to be activated in order to be used, while others provide a passive, spell-like effect if worn or possessed. If a magic item describes you taking action in order to activate the item's ability, then it requires an action to use. Magic items will use the word "activate" in some form to indicate this explicitly. Consider these items:
Boots of the North
While wearing these boots, you are unaffected by extreme cold, even when naked. You may travel through snow without leaving tracks and walk over ice without slipping.
This magic item passively provides you with cold resistance. Even if you don’t understand how it works, it confers resistance to extreme cold when you wear it, thus no action is required to use it.
Bowl of Elementals
This porcelain bowl is activated by filling it with an appropriate element. After 1 round of transmutation, the bowl creates an elemental under your command. The elemental will fight until destroyed. The magic item is extremely fragile: if broken, the elemental will perish. Determine the type of bowl when it is found: 1) fire 2) water 3) earth 4) air 5) shadow 6) light.
This magic item requires you to fill it with an element like water to be activated, and this is a Use action.
Magic Item Strength
Each magic item has a strength, which represents the number of times its power can be used per day (unless the item says otherwise). A "use" is indicated if the item is described as being activated, otherwise it can be used "at will," which means as often as you want. To determine its strength, roll a d6 when the item is found:
- On a 1 or 2, the strength is 1.
- On a 3 or 4, the strength is 2.
- On a 5 or 6, the strength is 3.
If the magic item produces an effect (that is not spell-like, see below) and no duration is specified, it lasts 1 round per strength of the item.
For any magic item that has spell-like effects or says "per the spell," calculate the spell-like effect as if a spell was being cast with MP equal to the magic item's strength. For example, if your magic item has a 3 strength, then its spell-like effects last 3 rounds, affect an encounter-size space, and can affect 3 targets, unless the item's text says otherwise.
If the magic item is described as being imbibed or consumed upon being used (or this can be inferred by its description), this means the magic is consumable and becomes mundane, or is destroyed once it is used (e.g., a potion is imbibed or all the beans in a Magic Beans pouch are used). Each consumable item has a single dose, unless the item says otherwise.