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AFAIK the only way to identify magic items in PF2 is the Identify Magic action, there's no spell or alternative method like in other editions or games.

So, how much should a NPC charge the party to perform that action and tell them what he finds out?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why would the party need to get this from an NPC? \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben R.
    May 15 at 13:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BenR. There could be any number of reasons: maybe no one in the party is trained in the required skill, or those who are failed the check and they can't to wait 1 day to try again, or the DC is too high for the bonus they have, etc. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 15 at 13:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ The main reason, I would think, outside of plot point items would be a lack of the appropriate skill. While items that just have the [magic] tag can be identified by any one of the 4 spellcasting-related skills, if they are tied to a specific one it could be much more difficult. I'd also add that if they've mis-identified something and subsequently its been shown that they were wrong, they might seek an NPC's aid in figuring it out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    May 15 at 17:36
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There is no number for exactly that, but there are a few options on CRB p293-4

  • Formulas show the cost to learn how to make such an item
  • Hirelings are level 0 people that can be hired for 1sp (+0) or Skilled for 5sp (+4) per day
    • Obviously, this won't work for most items, but gives some idea of a place to start
  • Spellcasing Services gives a better idea of what a spellcaster's time (and spell slots) are worth
    • Note the modifiers in the text as well, 100%+ extra for Uncommon spells and 25% more for spells that take a significant amount of time to cast

Regardless of the actual costs you settle on, it should

  1. Be adjusted by the level of the item, to keep with the economic balance Paizo established
  2. Be pretty negligible in cost compared to permanent and consumable Equipment

With these numbers in mind, my suggestion is just to use the Formulas cost for permanent equipment or 10% of that for consumables unless you want the identification to be a dynamic plot point because I wouldn't consider every item interesting enough to invest more effort into.

For that price, you could discuss with your group whether they think it's more interesting and fair to either roll 1-3 times with level-appropriate NPC checks as though the NPC's had Quick Identification and Assured Identification (my first thought), give them the 'success' results, or whether you should roll but not charge them for failures. I haven't tested this in-game, but the numbers are easy to work with, small enough that it won't bother most players, and large enough to cause the party to consider investing in the skills themselves.

My personal suggestion to a group I'd be in, for the sake of realism, would be paying the Formula cost on a successful NPC roll; the larger/higher level the settlement, the more NPC's the party could find to attempt the roll. If it became clear that the party was going to use this as their main efforts of determining items' abilities, I would also suggest there be a level of item for each settlement that results in auto-success (for the Formula price).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ With your suggestion, what would the party get after paying? The result of an Identify Magic check made with the NPC's bonus? Or is he somehow supposed to automatically get a success, or a critical success? \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 16 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good question, for that price I'd probably have an NPC roll for them, with level appropriate Quick Identify and Assured Identification (as a magical merchant, they have few better things than those to have invested in) and probably give them a few rolls to represent shop helpers contributing if the first roll fails. Or just give them the results of a success, if I wanted to speed things up. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    May 16 at 11:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ A potential issue I see with this approach is that the NPC doesn't know the item's level until after identifying it, so he doesn't know how much to charge for the service until after finishing it. If the party doesn't want to (or can't) pay after hearing how much it is, he would have to withhold the information. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yopi Lapi
    May 16 at 12:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree it's not perfect, but that's the system that Paizo went with for 2e economy. If you don't adjust by level, then you might as well make it a free service at any major hub because the difference in costs across levels will mean that an incidental cost at one level is impossibly expensive two levels lower or barely worth tracking a few levels later. You could institute that the level of items is known, or go with the "NPC's who fail to ID don't charge for no service rendered" because they don't know the level \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    May 16 at 15:26

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