Youseph Tanha asked on Google+ how people identified magic items.
In my games, I don’t think unknowns add to the enjoyment of the game. After all, nobody knows about them. That’s why I only keep information from my players if one of the following is true:
In all cases, the How of the identification doesn’t matter and therefore I will just allow any character to discover it by examination in thematically appropriate ways (swinging it, aiming it, studying it, handling it, …).
Example magic item of the “random effect” variety: the wand of the chimera consists of a number of intertwined branches with detailed animal heads at the end: a wolf, a goat, a dragon.
The hit points of the wand user remain unchanged! The HD are only used to determine the attack of the new form.
Section 15: Chimera Wand, Copyright 2012, Alex Schroeder