Spellbook of identify

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spellbook of
+   identify   Light green spellbook.png
Appearance random
Abundance 2.03%
Base price 300 zm
Weight 50
Turns to read 12
Ink to write 15–29
Spell type divination
Level 3
Power cost 15 Pw
Direction non-directional
Equivalent scroll of identify

In NetHack, the spellbook of identify allows you to learn the spell of identify. It is a level 3 divination spell, and the spellbook takes roughly 12 turns to read; while no more difficult than any other level 3 spell, this is the longest duration of the group.[1]


Wizards may start the game with this spellbook as their non-force bolt spellbook, while Priests may start with this as one of their two starting spellbooks.

There is a ~2.03% chance that a randomly generated spellbook will be a spellbook of identify.


Casting this spell at Basic or lower skill level is equivalent to an uncursed scroll of identify, identifying 1 item 84% of the time and identifying 2, 3, 4, or all items 4% of the time each. At Skilled or higher level, it works the same as a blessed scroll and identifies 1d4 items 80% of the time, and will identify your entire inventory 20% of the time. With positive Luck, a Skilled or higher casting will always identify at least 2 items.[2][3]


The spell of identify is considered the most useful utility spell in the game, and can easily supplant scrolls of identify. The spellbook is a serious boon for early-game Wizards and any high intelligence/wisdom character with good power reserves for casting, sometimes to the point of being a start scumming target - late-game Wizards often try to write the spellbook if they have not discovered it; other characters invested in casting might wish for it directly in the same scenario.

Being able to completely identify your inventory reduces the amount of inventory management required throughout the game: it saves an extra charge or more for most wands that would be spent engraving or zapping, as well as letting you see the number of charges they have left. It also allows you to discern the beatitude of any item without an altar, and easily distinguishes between normal and magical items. However, it also requires you to manage your energy efficiently if you intend to make use of other spells regularly, so that you do not find yourself short on power at a critical moment - though you will generally end up using it less as you identify more items.


The spellbook of identify and its spell first appear in NetHack 1.3d.


Several variants modify the availability of the identify spell, as part of a rebalancing attempt to make it less "overpowered" while still remaining useful.


In SLASH'EM, identify is a level 5 spell.


In FIQHack, identify is a level 2 spell, but is more limited in scope, only identifying object types. As the player's divination skill increases, they will be able to discern more qualities of an item aside from its function.


In xNetHack, the spell is removed entirely due to balance issues conflicting with the new spellcasting system introduced. Scrolls of identify are made much more effective to compensate.


This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-364}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.