Any item can be completely identified by reading a scroll of identify. While these scrolls are common, using them to identify every item you come across is wasteful; identifying items through other methods will leave you with more scrolls for later use.
Checking items you have identified
Press \ for a list of items already identified. While viewing the list, the command - will toggle the view to items you have not yet identified.
- Fighters start with a potion of might.
- Warpers start with a scroll of blinking.
- Artificers start with a wand of flame, wand of enslavement, and a wand of random effects.
- Wanderers may start with scrolls or potions which they will then recognize.
Additionally, converting to Ashenzari will identify scrolls of remove curse, if you haven't already identified them. Followers of Ashenzari can always tell if an item is cursed, and they will have a much easier time identifying other items as their piety rises.
All monster equipment is identified on sight. For example, weapons held by enemies will automatically have their brand, enchantment level, and cursed status identified.
Identifying items in shops
Anything bought from a non-antique shop will automatically be identified. This is especially useful for identifying harmful potions or jewellery (such as potions of degeneration or an amulet of inaccuracy), as all of these are quite cheap and identifying them this way will prevent you from harming yourself by experimenting with them.
Identifying items through use
If the item is a weapon, armour, ring or amulet, you may want to make sure that you can uncurse it if you need to: a scroll of remove curse will always work. Some weapons and armour appear as shiny, runed, glowing, dyed, embroidered etc., while others are "plain". Plain equipment is always unbranded and is generally +0, though it may be cursed (in which case it will often have a negative enchantment). Equipment with adjectives is often enchanted and may be branded but has a slightly higher chance of being cursed with negative enchantments. More exotic descriptors such as "ancient", "humming", or "distressingly furry" indicate artefacts, which can possess dramatic enhancements or maluses (sometimes both at once!) Even when unidentified, artifacts will appear in white in the inventory listing.
Armour is always fully identified when worn. The only risk with wearing unidentified non-artefact armour is being stuck by a curse with something suboptimal; there are no harmful armour egos other than ponderousness, which is exceedingly rare and not usually generated cursed. Wearing a piece of artefact armour will identify all of its properties, but some of those can occasionally be nasty: mutagenic radiation, teleportitis, and negative slaying are all possibilities. You should always have a scroll of remove curse handy when trying on unidentified artefact armour. Also note that some artifacts are generated with effects that harm you when you unequip the item, even after it is uncursed, including temporarily draining your stats.
Weapons are also fully identified upon wielding, including brand, enchantment, and curse. The same applies to artifacts, which will have all of their properties identified when you wield it, though they may have negative properties and or be cursed, so be wary.
Be careful when identifying weapons lying around the dungeon: weapons of distortion can have dangerous effects if you unwield them, such as dealing heavy damage, heavy glow or casting the user into the Abyss.
All jewellery identifies when equipped. Amulets are generally safer to identify in this way than rings, since only a few of them can be harmful.
- Amulet of inaccuracy is the only truly harmful amulet. They are always cursed, so keeping a spare scroll of remove curse on hand for trying on unidentified amulets may be helpful.
- Amulet of harm increases the damage you deal, but also causes damage done to you to be increased. It also causes draining on removal.
- Amulet of faith can be quite a boon, depending on which god you worship, but unequipping it will lower your piety by 1/3. If you already have high piety with your chosen god and do not plan to wear an amulet of faith for general purposes, consider using scrolls to identify unknown amulets to prevent hefty piety loss.
- Amulet of guardian spirit can be dangerous for spellcasters, as it will drain all your MP when put on. Don't try on unknown amulets in combat.
Rings can be more dangerous than amulets, but many of the same strategies apply.
- Rings of teleportation and rings of attention are always cursed. A cursed ring of teleportation can be especially hazardous on floors where moving slowly and carefully is a priority; if you're out of scrolls of remove curse, consider using scrolls to identify unknown rings.
- While rings of protection, evasion, strength, intelligence, dexterity, and slaying often have positive modifiers, they may have negative modifiers, in which case they are often cursed.
Artefact jewellery will reveal all properties when worn; as always, exercise caution when trying on unidentified artefacts.
All scrolls identify when read, even if their effects aren't obviously perceived.
If you really want to optimize read-identifying scrolls, be sure that you:
- Are on an unexplored level, standing on stairs leading to a clear level (to retreat if it's a teleportation, noise, or another harmful scroll, and to make the most out of magic mapping)
- Test the most numerous unknown scrolls you have first (to make it more probable to discover the more common identify, teleportation, and remove curse scrolls first and to avoid wasting more valuable scrolls)
- Don't have any allies nearby (to not offend them and possibly your deity with fear, torment, or holy word)
- Are carrying at least one enchantable weapon, preferably unbranded or with a brand you'd like to replace (enchant weapon and brand weapon), and one piece of enchantable armour (enchant armour)
Conditions can be adjusted as your knowledge improves. For example, if you are playing as a formicid, you don't have to worry about accidentally teleporting, due to the permanent stasis effect. Some of the less common scrolls are very valuable and therefore it is not wasteful to use a scroll of identify on single scrolls that have been single for some time (e.g. brand weapon).
Identifying scrolls is all about balance. On the one hand, you shouldn't waste scrolls of identify out of sheer curiosity, but on the other, it's massively annoying to die on level 3 with several scrolls of teleportation, fear, or blinking in your inventory. When read-identifying scrolls, watch out for the following detrimental effects:
- Scrolls of noise may attract unwanted attention to your position.
- Scrolls of immolation give all creatures in view the Inner Flame status condition, which causes them to explode violently upon death. If you have no way to kill things from a distance, keep away from your explosive foes until the status wears off.
- Scrolls of silence prevent all spellcasting in an area around you for some time. While this can be helpful for melee-based characters, spellcasters will essentially be rendered helpless for the duration.
- The scrolls of torment cause serious HP damage, though they are never directly lethal (deals half of your health, less if you resist negative energy). Scrolls of holy word cause similar damage to undead or demonic characters.
- If you have any allies in sight, reading a scroll of fear, immolation, or torment (or holy word, for undead/demonic allies) is liable to cause them to turn on you. On top of that, some gods get angry if you harm your allies.
All potions auto-identify when quaffed, but some (potions of mutation and degeneration, for example) can be harmful. It may be sensible to wait until you have larger potion stacks before trying them, so that you are more likely to discover the potion of curing, which is the most common potion and will cure poisoning and rotting.
You will also automatically identify potions when you see a monster quaff them.
It is not cowardice to avoid quaff-identifying potions entirely. Scrolls of identify are common enough that using them on every unidentified potion you find is not unreasonable.
Wands will automatically be identified (along with their number of charges) when picked up, and stacked with other wands of the same type.
- Prior to 0.23, all monster equipment didn't identify on sight.
- Prior to 0.16, wands did not automatically identify when picked up and the brand of weapons wielded by monsters did not identify on sight.
- Prior to 0.15, most jewellery would not fully identify when worn, and scrolls of identify could occasionally affect multiple items.
- Prior to 0.14, scrolls of curse weapon, armour, and jewellery could be found which would curse a random equipped object of that type. These scrolls are now obtainable only through Ashenzari, and are therefore always identified. Also, weapons, wands, and scrolls would fully identify when used, some backgrounds started with knowledge of items they did not possess, and potions of blood and porridge were not pre-identified.
- Prior to 0.10, scrolls of enchant weapon, scrolls of fear, scrolls of holy word, scrolls of torment, and scrolls of vorpalise weapon would only identify when read if they affected something.
- Prior to 0.8, wield-IDing magical staves would only work if the spellcaster's skills exceeded a certain value, much like with weapon enchantments.
- Prior to 0.6 and the removal of the Divinations school of magic, you could also identify items using the Identify spell.