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creating a modified "Identify" spell


subtledoctor

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The hard-coded limits of the Identify spell are annoying me.  I don't really do mods that involve dialogue, NPCs, stores, etc.... but lots of other people do.  So if anyone has thoughts on the feasibility of the following, I would appreciate your input:

  • Casting the spell would summon an invisible creature...
  • ...who would initiate a dialogue/script to enter a store interface.
  • Nothing would be for sale, but the "merchant" could identify items
  • Ideally, it would go immediately to the item identification section of the store interface, and that would be the only service available.
  • Ideally, identification by the merchant could be limited in some way, either by the number of items identified or by altering the cost of identification.  I don't suppose the cost of identification in the store interface could be changed from money to something else...?

If anyone has other ideas on ways to mod item identification (basically, to make it usable by classes which cannot normally use the Identification UI in the inventory screen) I'd be happen to brainstorm some more.  I've already considered a couple alternatives:

- Give a short-duration bonus to the Lore stat.  This is quite simple... the problem is that players can pause the game, so a single casting of this could mean an indefinite number of identified items.  I'm not averse to allowing identification of more than one item at a time - the existing vanilla spell is quite annoying and underpowered in this way - but a simple large bonus to Lore goes too far in this direction.  At least with the store interface there is a cost for each item.

- Add a hidden item that could act like the Glasses of Identification.  Usable once per day, basically make it an inborn ability for certain arcane kits.  Or maybe try to get clever, make the use of it dependent on a spellstate which could be toggled on by expending a spell slot... etc.  But making this work right would be tricky to code.

- Simpler: just have the spell create a single Scroll of Identification.  This would be super easy to implement, and would work for anyone who could use the scroll, and would be the most conservative change - identification would be very similar to the vanilla game: cast the spell, identify one item.  But it would just be... weird.  I suppose I could make a clone of the scroll and change up the description - "When you cast the spell it creates a shimmering, semi-ethereal crystal.  When you place the crystal atop a magical item, it disappears and imparts knowledge of the item's function upon the caster."  Or whatever.

EDIT - hmm, maybe this last one really is the best idea...

(For background, I currently have two problems with the vanilla Identification spell.  1) Its hard-coded use in the inventory screen cannot work with the "Level 1 Cantrips" mod in which all level 1 spells are renewed after you cast them.  And 2) it cannot be used by pseudo-spontaneous casters, like Tome & Blood's multiclass sorcerers or my recent Mana Sorcerer mod.)

Edited by subtledoctor
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I think the create invisible creature that does a store interface for identification is too clunky personally.

I would probably go an item implementation route, a lore potion that I would add to the stock of specific stores, and give it X gold cost and X lore bonus for X time (You could even add X charges if you so pleased). Then I can set it to be used by X classes, and toy with the balance of each of these X's accordingly. +50 Lore would probably be a safe amount to go with. It's simple and immersive. 

You could even have the spell make such a potion that lasts one day (So they couldn't be infinitely stacked and created), I.E. a Lesser Alchemy Spells or the like. This can be an innate ability of X classes. I think this would be a bit more intuitive if you wanted to go the ability route.

Edited by Skitia
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I already have a version of the spell that increases Lore, but I would prefer to stay away from the Lore stat.  Along with this changed spell, or at least compatible with it, I would like to actually repurpose Lore for something else altogether. 

So I'm leaning toward a pretty simple solution, along the lines of:

"Upon casting this spell you inscribe an arcane glyph upon a piece of parchment.  When you place the parchment next to an enchanted item, it enables you to discern to nature and workings of that item.  The Glyph may be used once at 1st level, and an additional time for each 5 levels of experience of the caster, up to 15th level.  The Glyph fades away after one hour."

This could create an actual scroll/parchment in your inventory, which would have between 1 and 4 charges and could be used just like the Glasses of Identification.  Or alternatively, it could create an invisible and undroppable item, which would simply let you use the "scroll" option 1 to 4 times when you left-click magical items.  The former is sort of clunky (a spell creates a scroll... isn't it supposed to be the other way around?) but it would give you a visual indicator of how many identifications you can use.  The latter is more elegant, but a bit more opaque, and could be tricky to make compatible with one of my other mods.

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25 minutes ago, subtledoctor said:

it could create an invisible and undroppable item

Problem with items is always: does the NPC have room in the inventory still? I know the same question would be true with creating a scroll, but especially with an undroppable item it would be rather weird imho... at least in my opinion, if it is due to engine restrictions I'd prefer the scroll variant.

What exactly is the problem with the identified spell, is there restrictions so you can't give it as an (once to be used) innate ability or something?

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2 hours ago, jastey said:

Problem with items is always: does the NPC have room in the inventory still? I know the same question would be true with creating a scroll, but especially with an undroppable item it would be rather weird imho... at least in my opinion, if it is due to engine restrictions I'd prefer the scroll variant.

Right.  That could be problematic in some edge cases.  I could put the item into a special invisible inventory slot... but there is only one such slot, thus the concerns about inter-mod compatibility.  Therefore, for me, I tend to agree that a movable, visible item is preferable.  I'm curious whether I might be in the minority, though.  (It happens often enough.)

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What exactly is the problem with the identified spell, is there restrictions so you can't give it as an (once to be used) innate ability or something?

In fact that is one of the issues: the Identify spell cannot be an innate ability.  Because it is not a spell that is cast the way others are, instead it uses this hard-coded mechanic where you right-click an item in the inventory, and the engine checks whether you have the spell memorized.  Innate abilities are not considered "memorized" in this way.  In the newest EE engine you can make a divine version of the spell (and we did ;) ) but it still cannot be innate.  This means, among other things,

  • You cannot give a non-caster (fighter or thief) kit the ability to use Identification.
  • The spell cannot be used by kits like my Mana Sorcerer and multiclass sorcerers, which perforce use innate abilities to replicate sorcerer-style spellcasting.

There is also the slight weirdness where in BG2 (maybe TOB?) they added the Glasses of Identification, but when you use them by right-clicking an item, you must press "scroll."  Plus, using one spell slot to identify one item makes for this annoying thing where you finish a dungeon, wipe out all your 1st-level slots and memorize only Identify, then sleep, then identify your loot and re-memorize all your 1st-level slots, the sleep again... use of the vanilla spell is kind of silly and annoying.  (I like RPing, and I have stopped using the spell at all, I just pay to identify everything in stores.)

So I'm thinking, why not make this all a bit more uniform.  Creating an inventory item to perform identification would be clunky, but then again the vanilla spell is already uniquely clunky, as I just described.  By making the spell something you can actually cast, and having it drop something in your inventory to perform the actual identification... well, you have to go into the inventory screen to identify things anyway, right?  We would eliminate the left "spell" option when identifying items, and could maybe rename the button on the right side from "scroll" to simply "identify."  The whole process would be a little more consistent, and it ability could be given to anyone, in any class.  AND, as a bonus, we could make the spell scale as you level up, allowing you to identify more items with each casting.

Jeez, I'm talking myself into it...

Edited by subtledoctor
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Thanks for the explanations! One last question: but it would be possible to create scrolls that can be cast by anyone, or is it somehow restricted to spellcasters?

I am for scrolls that will be created in the inventory. I think it rather an elegent solution to a silly problem, actually.

 

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36 minutes ago, jastey said:

Thanks for the explanations! One last question: but it would be possible to create scrolls that can be cast by anyone, or is it somehow restricted to spellcasters?

I don't think they would actually be scrolls.  In fact my work-in-progress version for testing is just a modified Glasses of Identification, set to disappear when all charges are used up and given a "scroll" inventory icon.  So yeah, that could be used by anyone, or restricted as deemed appropriate.

Edited by subtledoctor
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Thanks, this sounds great!

One very last question, ahem. There were problems with Finch's Glasses of Identification in a BGT game because appearently, using them would also use up one charge of Jan's, even if it were two different items/a copied version of his glasses. Do you know what the problem was, was it a BGII (old) only issue? Because by what you write this sounds as if a new unique set of glasses should be easily possible .

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Poor bards.  They have one thing...  LOL  Well, they have 2 but thieves can pick pocket as well, so we're back to the 'one thing'.  Identifying items is why I keep Garrick with me during BG1...well that and he just says the sweetest things!  'If a man is known by the company he keeps, I shall be thought of gloriously.'.  I mean, how can you NOT love the guy?   And he saves me thousands!

Just as long as it doesn't make bards useless.

Can't you give your innate spellcasters a spell that will duplicate scrolls?  Or is that too powerful?  With scroll cases, keeping a few extra scrolls of idenification would make sense.  Sounds like it would be a much easier way to go to me.

 

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Yeah this would nerd bards a but. (My versions of bards have way more, and more interesting, advantages, but yeah vanilla bards would be nerfed.)

Two possible ways to address it: 1) give bards an innate way to cast this spell once per day or whatever; or 2) just give bards max Lore so they can identify anything all the time. (Isn’t that the functional effect if their vanilla Lore bonus anyway?)

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I think, if I were an innate spell caster, I'd prefer the ability to duplicate scrolls than an innate identify ability.  Seems more versatile. 

Scenario:

I have three scrolls in my inventory.  I use my duplicate scroll ability.  It goes through my inventory (not scroll cases), and makes a list of scrolls it can duplicate, displays that list in a dialogue, I pick my option, and *poof* I have one more of those in my stack of scrolls.  This way you can cap the spell level to duplicate or in some other way limit it so it's not now the most powerful skill on the Sword Coast.

I'd like this a lot.  Gimme this! :)  I want my sorc to have this, too.  Pretty please!

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Well, innate casters wouldn’t have an innate version of Identify; the changes contemplated here would allow them to use the same Identify spell, in the same way, as regular casters. 

Creation of regular spell scrolls is a different beast. A few mods already offer this, though it is based on spells you know, not on scrolls in your inventory. (Not even sure that’s possible - it’s outside my areas of expertise.)

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Any UI modding wizzes like @lefreut know whether/how I can mod the Identification box that appears when you right-click an unidentified item?  It has two buttons: the left one says "spell" and the right one says "scroll." (Actually there's a third button in the center that says "okay" or something, but I don't care about that one.)  I'd like to  change "scroll" to something else.  Does this need UI modding, or can I just change a string somewhere?

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