17 June 2016

Magical Wands of the Known World (formerly: Casting Times & Spell Components part 3)

New enchanted wands for your Magic User PCs, and some thoughts on Basic D&D's 'evolving' rules on wands.

As you may have noticed, the different editions of the Basic Rules have different notes on how many charges a wand has:

Original D&D (Book 2, Monsters & Treasures): 100 charges (1d100/d% when found)
Holmes Basic: 100 charges (1d100/d% when found)
Moldvay Basic: 10 charges (1d10 when found)
Cook Expert: 20 charges (2d10 when found)
Mentzer Basic: 10 charges (1d10 when found)
Mentzer Expert: 20 charges (2d10 when found)
Mentzer Companion: (DM's option) 30 charges (3d10 when found)
Rules Cyclopedia: 20 charges (2d10 when found) and DM's option 30 charges (3d10 when found)
"Challenger" (Post RC) Basic: 10 charges (1d10 when found)

To reconcile these differences, I simply use 4 classifications of wands:

Minor Wands have 10 charges, 1d10 remaining when found as treasure or purchased/traded
Standard Wands have 20 charges, 2d10 remaining when found as treasure or purchased/traded
Major Wands have 30 charges, 3d10 remaining when found as treasure or purchased/traded
Epic/Legendary Wands have 100 charges, 10d10 remaining when found, purchased or traded

The different classifications of wands otherwise function as described in the relevant rule book. Roll d%/d100 to determine which class of wand is found:

d100   Wand Classification
0-25   Minor
26-70  Standard
71-95  Major
96-00  Epic/Legendary

When a PC or NPC wizard is creating a wand, minor wands halve the time and money required to complete the task, and major wands double the time and money required. In addition, the DM may require the creator (or her PC customer) to procure a rare, exotic or magical material to be used in the creation of a major wand, sometimes requiring a side quest by the party.

Epic wands are the stuff of legends, created in the distant past or on the exotic planes of the Immortals and otherworldly beings. Such items are beyond the ability of mortal magic users of the Known World to create.

It is important to remember that the classification of a wand has nothing to do with its powers, it reflects only the number of charges the wand is capable of holding.

For all types of wands, unless specifically noted in the description of the item, each use of one of the wand's powers costs one charge, and a wand may only be used once per round. Note that in both the Moldvay and Mentzer basic rules, in the general notes on all magic items with charges, it clearly states that unlike other (advanced or d20ish) versions of D&D games, in Classic D&D, charged items may not be recharged. Though many DMs will surely houserule and override this, I will present this material in compliance with "canon" rules-as-written. In any case, even if you do bend the rule and allow PC or NPC magic users to recharge wands, Epic/Legendary wands may never be recharged, for the same reason they cannot be created by mortals of the Known World.

Finally, for those who followed my earlier blog articles on spell casting times and material components, Here are the promised notes on expanding that material with wands. Staves and items for non-magic user PCs will be covered in the articles specific to those items, forthcoming.

"Spell Wand" - The use of a wand to channel spell power while casting a spell is fairly ubiquitous in the fantasy genre, especially since the popularity of the Harry Potter novels. If permitted by the DM, a PC magic user may construct a special wand that allows her to collect and store unused spell energies to quickly empower spells later on.

The creation of such a Spell Wand takes 1d4 weeks and requires 200gp worth of exotic and esoteric materials (such as rare wood, exotic bone or even the hairs or sinews of magical creatures) per maximum level of spell the wand will be able to empower. In other words, a level 1 Spell Wand's energies may only be used to empower 1st level spells, while a 5th level Spell Wand can empower 1st through 5th level spells. Remember, opting to create a minor or major variant of the Spell Wand will either halve or double the cost in both time and materials.

When created, a spell wand has no charges, per se, but now has the capacity to hold up to 20 'spell levels' worth of energy (10 or 30 for minor and major wands, respectively). Each day, a magic user may opt to spend any unused spell 'slots' from that day by channeling them into the wand, thereby 'charging' it. Aside from the unused spell, the magic user must succeed in an ability score check (d20 less than or equal to INT-1/spell level) to transfer the spell energy into the wand. Once charged, the wand's energy may be spent to cast a spell on the fly, as explained in the casting times article here on the blog, without invoking the initiative penalty normally associated with doing so. The magic user must still spend a daily spell slot to cast the spell! The wand's charge is spent simply to provide the boost of magical energy needed to compensate for not having the spell fully memorized and ready to go. Each level of the spell being cast drains one charge from the wand, so a magic missile spell drains one charge, while a fireball would drain 3 charges.

Although a Spell Wand may only be used to empower spells equal to or lower in level than its own level, higher level spells may be used to 'recharge' it, so a magic user with an unused 2nd level spell at the end of a day may use that spell to reload 2 charges into a level 1 Spell Wand.

Obviously, the Spell Wand is one of the rare exceptions to wands not being rechargable. If the DM is not using my optional rules for on the fly casting, casting times and material components, this item is rather useless in the campaign.

These are standard Classic D&D items, a couple of which are tied to the Known World setting. Don't need to use my Casting & Components stuff to use them!

"Wand of Panic" - When used, this wand causes extreme fear and dread in the target creature. If the target fails a save vs. RSW, it will panic and immediately flee from the wand's user via the most direct route available. After 1d4 rounds, the panic fades a bit, and the creature may once again approach the wand's user, but after a failed save, subsequent saves against the same wand are made at -2.

Non-Intelligent creatures, constructs, mindless undead, and similar monsters are unaffected by the wand, and a Remove Fear spell will instantly nullify the wand's effects, including the penalty to subsequent saves.

"Wand of Paranoia" - Conjuring within the targets mind visions of whatever it is he fears most and leading him to mistake the creature nearest to him as the object of that fear, this wand causes a target who fails a save vs RSW at -2 to immediately attack the nearest creature (PC, NPC or Monster) to him for 1d3 rounds, or until that creature is slain. The DM should determine which creature, enemy, ally or neutral, is closest if miniatures are not used.

A Remove Fear spell grants the affected creature a second save vs RSW, without any penalty, to remove the effect of the wand.

"Wand of Intense Magic" - This wand is used in conjunction with spellcasting, and causes the spell cast to be extra-potent, causing a -2 penalty (or -10% to magic resistance or anti-magic) to any saves against it. At the user's option, two charges may be spent, doubling the potency of the spell to provide -4 to the save (or -20% MR or AM).

"Wand of Reach" - This wand similarly empowers spells cast while it is used, allowing the range of the spell in question to be doubled. Only spells with an actual range are so empowered. Personal, zero-range spells and those requiring the caster to touch the target may not be so enhanced.

---The above two wands were created in part to satisfy players with a background in 3rd edition/d20 and later editions and variants of D&D who are fond of 'meta magic' feats which allow tinkering with the ranges and other variables of spells by the caster. Given the limited charges of most wands, and the fact I have intentionally left out a wand that flat out increases the damage caused by a spell, I don't think they unbalance the game too much, and let the magic users have a little fun for once---

"War Wand" - Created by human magic users for use when their daily spells were used up, these wands grant one of the following boons, chosen at the time of activation, to the user for 1 + user's level rounds:

+1 to all to-hit rolls
+1 to Armor Class
+1 to all damage rolls

Only one boon may be active at any time.

"Eirak's Frost Wand" (Unique item, major wand) - Eirak the white was a self styled 'frost mage' from Noslo island, in Ostland. Adept at blending into the snowy terrain during winter raids with his band of brigands, Eirak lamented being easily seen when tromping through dungeons or out on rare spring and summer expeditions. After years or research and trial and error, he created the wand that bears his name, to hinder those who would see the face of their foe.

Eirak's wand creates a 20 foot diameter cloud of wet, icy mist anywhere within 100 feet of its user. Any flame based, non-magical light sources within the cloud are immediately extinguished, and more importantly, any creatures within the mist cloud who rely on infravision to see must make a save vs. RSW or be blinded for 1d6 rounds by the sudden shift in temperature around them.

"Andreja's Coffin Spike" (Unique item, minor wand) - The young magic user known only as Andreja is a newcomer to Specularum, having fled the terror filled rumors of Vandevicsny village. Having seen her family killed by the restless dead that stalk that sleepy town, Andreja now lives and studies magecraft in the city, hoping to gain the knowledge and power to rid her home of its undead scourge. Sadly though, her prized possession, a self made wand she calls Coffin Spike, has been stolen!

If the PCs are in Specularum, they may be approached by Andreja, seeking help in recovering her wand from the thieves who robbed her of it, otherwise they might come across the wand in any usual fashion as the spoils of conflict in their adventures.

Andreja's wand is aptly named, having been crafted from an ash stake once used to destroy a vampire near Vandevicsny. The wand must be activated by touching the undead target, requiring a to-hit roll against the target creature (though AC is calculated at 10 - magic and dex bonuses, if any. Armor is ignored for this 'attack'.) A successful hit deals the creature 1d8 points of damage per hit, using one charge. A failed attack roll means no charges are spent.

"Wand of Introspection" - These wands are rumored to have been created by the mischevious but kind hearted pixie folk of the Alfheim woodlands. The fact they tend to be only 6 or 7 inches long gives credence to that rumor (though that size would still make them a staff to a pixie who wielded one). While causing no direct harm to a creature, and designed merely to incapacitate a foe long enough for the fey folk to escape, the lingering effect of the wand's magic could put a target creature in temporary grave danger.

The target of this wand must succeed at a save vs. RSW or be overcome by feelings of peace and introspection, causing her to simply stand (or sit, or lay, if already doing so), smile and ponder how great and wonderful life on Mystara is. The victim becomes oblivious to everything around her except for actual damage to her person, which immediately ends the magic's effects. While in the trance, though, she suffers a -2 penalty to all saves, loses any dexterity bonus to AC, automatically fails any ability check and is incapable of any actions up to and including combat. The trance ends after 1d10 rounds, or upon physical HP damage to the victim.

"Wand of Procrastination"
- The target of this wand's magic suddenly becomes lethargic and unmotivated unless a save vs RSW is made. If the save is failed, the target automatically waits till the last possible moment to take any actions, causing him to automatically go last in initiative order for 1d6 rounds after which the magic fades.