By Ed Stark
character confounded by a metallic gizmo? Cant quite see how to
operate that piece of siege weaponry? And what under the suns is that
exclamations sound familiar, or if your character is about to embark upon
a campaign that blurs the line between fantasy and the future, our Spellbook
has just the spell for you
Brd 1, Sor/Wiz 2
Time: 1 minute
One touched object
object determines the non-magical functions of an object or technological
item. The caster must handle or touch the object throughout the casting
time and spell duration to gain any knowledge. If the item has more than
one function, the spell identifies its most general or most likely use.
Casters can gather further information about the item only through additional
uses of the spell. Understand object does not reveal magical functions
(as identify would), only mechanical operations.
is used most often to help casters understand the nature and use of an
object from another technological level (such as a firearm found in a
world where such weapons don't normally exist), or to gain some clues
to extremely complex gadgets or puzzles.
in the latter manner, however, this spell can prove very, very dangerous.
Using understand object to figure out how a trapped device operates
can be disastrous, as the spell does not distinguish a harmful nonmagical
trap from any other gadget! And, since the spell starts with the easiest
or most general effect first (and traps are often much easier to trigger
than non-trap functions of an item), understand object may just
tell you how to kill yourself.
a character might cast the spell on three interlocking rings found on
what appears to be the locking mechanism of a box. The first use of the
spell tells the caster that the interlocking rings are, indeed, a locking
mechanism and they have to be turned in a certain way to cause a needle
to spring out of the box (a trap, though the spell doesn't tell the caster
that). On a second use of the spell, the caster learns that turning the
interlocking rings also can cause the box to open. Since the interlocking
rings have no other function, further uses of the spell reveal nothing.
If opening the box causes a fire trap to go off in the opener's
face, that is not revealed, since fire trap is a magical effect.
the spell is used in its most basic way, it can be a boon to adventurers
who encounter technological items and strange objects that they have no
way of understanding without help. New exotic weapons, high-tech gadgets,
and the like are the province of understand object.