The Wondrous World of Wands

Copyright Steven Carpenter © 2004

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"A true wizard's wand should do much more than cast a particular spell a number of times."

Ah, step right in sir. I can see you are a man of power and discernment; we have just the wand for you. A fine scholar such as yourself would put this beauty to good use. It greatly enhances your ability with all informational spells. No? How about this one then? Amplify the power of your spells with this marvelous piece of work. Something less expensive perhaps, an aid for an apprentice? This gives a small boost to any spell. Ahh, so sorry sir, I should have known such a pre-eminent mage would never stoop to such minor works. If cost is no object you will surely want this work of art. Owned by the greatest wizard of our times, made from a feather of the phoenix itself, this is truly the wand of an arch-mage, there is of course the small matter of price...

Throughout mythology and fantasy the magician's wand has been one of the most important tools of the trade. It acts as a focus, an amplifier, and sometimes even the source of the mage's ability to do magic. It is used for almost all spellcasting. Yet in most role-playing games this tool or weapon has been relegated to nothing more than a magical firearm. It spits out fireballs or sleep spells for anyone who can use it until it runs out of "charges." A true wizard's wand should do much more than cast a particular spell a number of times.

Below are some suggested bonuses for wands. Most wands should provide bonuses to a single group of related spells or lists. This keeps them from becoming too powerful and makes them much more interesting. It is also a good way to get your fire mage to be interested in other spells if the wand he finds won't work with fire spells. This table expands the Bonus Item tables from the Treasure Companion. If the bonus applies to only one or two spell categories as defined in Essence Companion, use the weapon spells from the weapon enchantment list for item creation. If the bonus applies to all spells, the General enchantments list should be used.

Affects I II III IV V
Bonus to SCSM +5 +10 +15 +20 +25
Bonus to directed spells +5 +10 +15 +20 +25
Bonus to spell mastery +5 +10 +15 +20 +25
Bonus to BAR +2 +4 +6 +8 +10
Add to effective caster level for RR +1 +2 +3 +4 +5
Reduce casting cost of spells by x PP +1 +2 +3 +4 +5
Bonus to initiative(spellcasting only) +2 +4 +6 +8 +10
Increased spell range x1.25 x1.5 x2 x2.5 x3

Only one wand can be attuned to a caster at a time. If the wand is lost or the caster wishes to use a new wand he must attune to the new wand over the course of 24 hours (and make a successful attunement maneuver). There is a down side to using a wand. The mage can come to rely on the wand: it becomes a crutch and he must make a SCSM at --5 to cast spells without using the wand. If the wand the mage is attuned to is destroyed, the mage will be at --15 to all spellcasting for a week. If the mage goes for one month without using a wand, he can begin to cast spells normally again as long as he doesn't use a wand.

Sample Wands:

The researcher's wand: This thin black wand of ash wood bound to an owl's feather has silvery, flowing script covering every inch of its surface. A small chip of hematite is embedded in its tip. Powers: +10 to SCSM and spell mastery for all spells from the scrying and detection categories from EC as well as the Nomenist Casting (EC) and Nomenclature mastery (EC) lists.

GP wand: The old standby of adventuring wizards, there are more of these wands in use than any other excepting the apprentice wands. Usually made of oak and infused with various oils and unguents, they vary from 9" to 18" long and 1/2" to 1" thick. Powers: +10 to SCSM and Directed Spells, +4 to BAR and initiative, +2 levels for Attacker RR determination for up to two categories of spells.

Apprentice wand: Usually the first wand a fledgling magician is given by his master or creates for himself, these are as varied as they are weak. They often are indistinguishable from the GP wand above. Powers: +5 SCSM, reduce PP requirement by 1(caster is always required to spend at least 1 PP)

The wand of the Archmage: A beautiful wand created from dragon bone and a phoenix feather, this dark wand may be one of the most powerful wands in existence. At first glance it seems a dark version of a GP wand. Closer examination reveals subtle patterns of red and gold that shift as if they were flames licking the sides of the wand. Powers: Fire and Creation spells: +25 SCSM, Directed Spells, and Spell Mastery. +10 BAR and +5 to effective attacker level for RR. Reduce PP requirement by 5 (caster is always required to spend at least 1 PP). All ranges double. All other spells: +20 SCSM, Directed Spells, and Spell Mastery. +8 BAR and effective attacker level for RR. Reduce PP requirement by 3.

Author's note: This article is focused on the wand using magicians of fiction and legend and therefore is designed around essence users in RMSS. The same basic rules could also be used for a channeler's holy symbol or a mentalist's crystal ball or other focus. It also applies equally well to HARP magic.