While most spells in Diablo II are character-specific and require mana to cast, two spells are different. Town Portal (TP) and Identify (ID) are both cast from scrolls or tomes (books), and neither can be learned or cast for just the cost of some mana. Scrolls must be purchased, or else tomes, which are simply scroll-holders, with a capacity of up to 20. Most characters in Diablo II carry one of each type of tome, and keep them topped off at or near the maxiumum 20 charges (when they remember to).
See the inventory management section further down this page for some exceptions to this rule of thumb.
Identification scrolls turn unidentified items into usable objects. To use an identification scroll or tome, right click it. This will turn the cursor into a question mark with a point, and a left clicking that ID pointer on an unidentified item will identify it. Items must be in the inventory, cube, or stash to be identified.
Deckard Cain can instantly identify all unidentified items in a character's inventory and stash. He does this for free if that character rescued him in the Act One quest, and charges 100 gold per item if not.
Many items do not need to be identified. Only magical, rare, set, and unique items must be identified. Normal items list their stats as soon as they are picked up, and can not be ID'ed. Items such as gems, keys, scrolls, books, gold, and other basic staples need not be identified either.
When to Identify
Most items worth picking up will be identified eventually, so the question is whether or not to ID them in the field, or carry them back to town. Items that are being carried for their sale value, such as exceptional or elite armor, rare wands, and other expensive items, need not be identified in the field since they're going to be carried back to town anyway.
Identify scrolls are therefore useful primarily to quickly ID items that aren't going to be carried back to town to be sold. Things like charms, jewels, magical and rare jewelry, set amulets, and other trinkets that command a low sales price, but that might be worth saving to use, are good things to identify. Other items, like magical weapons that won't sell for very much, and that take up a lot of inventory space, are also better off identified and dumped, than carried back to town.
To use a town portal scroll or tome, just right click it. Town Portal can be set to a hotkey and cast simply by hitting that key, and this is how most players use it. Town portal scrolls can also be cast from the belt by hitting the 1-2-3-4 key for the slot the scroll is in.`
Casting a town portal instantly opens a portal to the town in that act. Each town has an area where the portals appear, and it's possible to tell the portals apart since the hover text on each says where they go, and which character cast them. This is not the case in single player games, and if a character casts a portal on the same level as a Portal Shrine was activated on, there is no way to tell which portal is which. Portals created by Portal Shrines remain open for the duration of that game, no matter how often they are used.
Returning to the dungeon through a town portal cast by your character will immediately close that portal. Casting a new town portal will close the previous portal cast by that character, if it remains open. (Even if that previous portal was in another act.) A character who goes hostile will see their portal close instantly. Even though hostile characters can not move through portals, they can see who cast them and where they are; keep this in mind if you are in the dungeon and there is a hostile player in town; your portal will give away your location, and if you are near a waypoint, this can be a dangerous problem.
Only the character who cast a portal, or other characters in her party, can use her portal. Since portals only close when their caster uses them to return to the dungeons from town, other players in a party can make an infinite number of trips to and from town through another character's portal. Be careful not to remain in town when the character who cast the portal returns, or their portal will vanish and you will have no way to get back to the battle (short of asking one of the characters there for a portal.)
It's wise to cast a portal in some safe location near the site of a major boss battle, if you think you or others in your party might die. Running back to Diablo all along the River of Fire causeway, or down to Baal from the Worldstone Keep level 2 is no fun at all, especially if you didn't clear those levels the first time, and it's impossible to kill the monsters blocking your path back to your corpse.
Town portals are useful ways to escape trouble, whether from monsters or from other characters. Bear in mind that town portals are not Recall spells, as seen in some games. Your character must have space and time to cast the spell, and then be able to walk through it. This may be impossible in a hurry, or when mobbed by enemies.
Use town portals to save time while exploring areas. If you're looking for a waypoint, and you find the stairs to the next level first, or to some dungeon area (such as the Maggot Lair), cast a portal by the stairs, continue looking for the waypoint, and when you find it take it to town, then return through your portal. Don't forget you've got a shortcut portal waiting and cast another one in some distant corner of the level, though.
This technique can be expanded upon when playing in parties; one character can cast a portal somewhere, such as at the entrance to the Frozen River, and then once the level is cleared and Anya is rescued, a second player can cast the portal to return to town, before everyone goes back through the first portal to resume exploring the Crystalline Passage.
After v1.09, portals can not be used to skip to areas late in a quest, if this will take a character past one of the "blocking quests." This feature was added to make rushing low level characters through the game a bit more difficult, so it's no longer possible to simply arrive in Lut Gholein, take a friend's portal to the Canyon of the Magi, and tag along while they find the true tomb and kill Duriel for you in 3 minutes.
Levels that can not be portaled to until the previous, required quests have been completed include:
- Act Two: The Harem, Palace Basement, Arcane Sanctuary, and the Canyon of the Magi, Seven Tombs of Tal Rasha, and Duriel's Lair.
- Act Three: Durance of Hate 3. (Portals may be taken to Durance of Hate 2, to get the waypoint.)
- Act Five: The Worldstone Keep, the Throne Room and the Worldstone Chamber.
Scrolls of Identification and Town Portal are frequently dropped by the monsters, but few characters take the time to pick these up, unless they find themselves entirely out while in a dungeon. There's really no need to scavenge scrolls, since NPCs sell them in every town, and for affordable prices.
To quickly fill up a tome, buy a scroll with the right click, while holding down shift. This will purchase as many scrolls as are required to fill up a tome of that type, if the tome is in your character's inventory.
Another trick to quickly fill a tome is to sell it to an NPC. It will appear in the magical item tab, with the full 20 charges, and can be bought back for an instant refill. This works on all NPCs (who have space to display the tome in the appropriate tab) and is a convenient way to buy scrolls from an NPC who doesn't sell them. (This instant refill trick works with all stackable items, including keys, arrows, bolts, etc.)
While most characters find the convenience of carrying two tomes well worth the inventory space trade off, there are exceptions. Many dueling characters do not carry either type of tome, or the Horadric Cube, since they do not need those items while dueling, and can put the inventory spaces to better use by filling them with charms. Some dedicated item hunting characters don't carry tomes either, since they want every possible bit of magic find and other bonuses derived from their charms.
When item hunting from bosses, identification scrolls aren't really needed, since the vast majority of top items are sets or uniques, and can be idenfied by their item type. ID is more useful when item hunting in other areas, since charms and jewels are found very frequently, and while the vast majority are worthless, the small percent that are useful are very valuable. Few players will leave grand or small charms lying without identifying them first; just in case.
Town portals are not needed when item hunting either, especially if a character is dedicating themselves to endlessly repeating the same run or two, over and over again.
Scrolls picked up from the ground or purchased from NPCs will automatically be placed in an appropriate tome, if there is space for them to fit. If not they will take up an inventory space, if any are available. If not, the scroll can not be picked up.
Scrolls can be dropped into tomes simply by clicking and dragging them, like files to the recycle bin. Scrolls in the inventory must be clicked and dragged; they do not automatically stack in the tome if you hold down shift and right click, the way potions auto fill the belt slots.
Tomes can be filled one at a time by buying single scrolls, however the easiest way is to buy more scrolls with a right click, while holding down shift. This will completely fill a tome. If you have more than one tome of the same type, you can fill them in sequence by doing this trick more than one time.
Multiple tomes of the same type can be stacked up; the charges on them will simply add together in a single tome. There is no way to split off scrolls from a tome, or to split a tome into two tomes.
Another trick to instantly fill a tome is to sell it to an NPC. It will appear in the appropriate tab for that NPC, with 20 charges. This works even if the tome you are selling is empty, or if the NPC doesn't sell scrolls or tomes.
Scrolls in the Belt
One way to carry a few emergency town portals is by using the belt. Tomes can not be put into it, but scrolls can. They will not be placed there automatically; you need to click and drag them in, but sticking town portal scrolls in the 4 slot is a good way to have some handy, without giving up the two inventory spaces for a town portal tome. Very seldom does a character need to drink more than the potions in belt slots 1-2-3 to survive, especially when using a 3 or 4 row belt full of rejuvenation potions.
It's possible to carry ID and TP scrolls or tomes in the Horadric Cube, to free up more inventory space. TP and ID can be cast from inside the Cube, but if the cube is in a character's inventory. The cube must be opened and the tomes right clicked, though. Hotkeys will not point to tomes inside the cube, so this method is space-saving, but not as useful in an emergency.