appraisal of gems is a service offered by many jewelers associated with the Sign of Swine. they typically charge 1% of the appraised value of the gem, and affix a small label to the gem indicating the appraised value and the appraiser. gems thus identified are commonly accepted as equivalent to currency, although areas with a strong Regium presence may frown on this practice.
identification and appraisal of scrolls is relatively straightforward, requiring either read magic or a DC20 spellcraft check. neither approach is out of the abilities of either mob. nonetheless, if you’re not in a position to cast read magic yourself, hiring a caster will cost 10 gp, assuming you’re in a relatively free market for magical services (such as the Peace).
identification and appraisal of potions is similarly straightforward. a DC25 spellcraft check will identify a potion, and the SRD suggests that you should be able to recognize the taste of a potion that you’ve used before. according to the DMGII for prices of skilled hirelings (under “Hirelings”, page 155), the suggested cost is 3 gp per potion.
identification of assorted magic items that aren’t potions or scrolls is a little trickier. this requires casting identify. as a first level spell, you can purchase a casting of it for 10 gp, which is the standard rate for a first-level spell cast by a first-level caster. but the spell requires a pearl with a value of at least 100 gp. so if we go by the book, that brings us to 110 gp to identify magic items (or 100 gp if you can cast the spell yourself). that’s obviously ridiculously out of line with the other costs.
another approach is provided by the Appraise Magic Value feat presented on p.103 of Complete Adventurer. this would allow a relevant skilled hireling to identify items such as the ones you’ve been dealing with at a cost to herself of 25 gp, hence a cost to you of something on the order of 30 gp, which is much closer to being reasonable, especially when you consider the costs of some of these items. (note that the Appraise DC goes up with the caster level of the magic item, so more powerful items may cost somewhat more to identify.) the article on the WotC site suggests some other approaches, which if a 30gp cost is considered extremely harsh, i’m willing to ponder further. comments?
return to Table Rules