Category Archives: Magic Items

Magic Words: Laboratories

A Wizard's LaboratoryI love the Magic Word system. It is my finest contribution to the gaming world: elegantly simple caster magic that encourages creativity, and removes the need for cumbersome spell lists. I don’t know if anyone aside from me is actually using it, but I just can’t imagine going back to running spells any other way. Magic Words feels so natural to me at this point.

Another thing that I love are crazy magical laboratories filled with curios, oddments, and the inexpiable paraphernalia of the magician’s craft. Furthermore, the way LotFP handles magic laboratories is one of the best changes Raggi made to the base B/X formula. It’s simple, it’s elegant…and Magic Words broke it.

For those unfamiliar, I’ll summarize. In LotFP, magic labs are measured by monetary value. So if you find a tome of magic theory worth 100sp, and you put it in your lab, then it adds 100sp to your lab. Labs are required for “Magical Activity,” and the value of the lab is a major factor in determining how difficult such activity is.

But I don’t really use scrolls, and I don’t allow players to transcribe spells. Potions are produced using the Alchemy skill. I’ve rewritten how wands work. I’ve also rewritten how staves work. And, of course, creating new spells is trivial, since that’s kinda the whole goshdang point of using Magic Words in the first place. That list encompasses the whole of what RAW LotFP calls “Magical Activity.” So, as I said, I’ve broken LotFP’s magic labs in basically every way.

Which means that the Magic Words system needs its own method for using magic labs, drawing on the core concept of LotFP’s system.

Magical Libraries and Laboratories for Magic Words

A magician’s laboratory is where they store objects for study. Tomes of forbidden knowledge, mystical objects of unknowable purpose, the corpses of demons ready for dissection; such things can provide insight into new realities as yet unknown.

Laboratories are ranked according to their value, which is measured in two ways. First there is Total Value, which measures everything in the lab taken together. Second, there is Unused Value, which measures the the objects which the magic user can still learn from.

For storage, every 500 silver pieces worth of lab value requires 10′ of square space to store. Objects that are appropriate for a magical lab must be discovered through play. If sold, lab items are worth 1/2 their value on the open market.

Unused Value can be spent in place of the time normally required to craft a new spell. It costs 500 sp of unused magical laboratory value to combine words into a new spell, which the referee will present at the next session as usual. Though, if the Magic User decides to go on a spending spree and produce a dozen new spells in a single session, the referee is well within their rights to say they’ll deliver the new spells in installments. A player expecting more than two or three new spells a week is being excessive.

This is a useful change for two reasons. First, my intent was for the player to be able to make a new spell pretty much every game session. But in practice, my players often end In Media Res three, four, or even five times in a row. I can’t reasonably allow the Magic User to craft a new spell while they’re in the middle of a combat, and as a result, Magic Users get frustrated. They wind up with ever-lengthening queues of spells they’re waiting to craft. That’s not inherently a bad thing, but it can reach a point of excess. Hopefully, this will alleviate that.

Second, this will allow higher level magic users to spend a little more time pursuing goals other than crafting new spells. Stuff like training skills, or casting longer ritual spells. They can diversify their interests a little bit without feeling like they’re wasting time that would be better spent on their wizard duties.

Once unused value is spent it’s subtracted from the unused value. However, it remains in the Total Value.

The Total Value of a magic user’s lab is a measure of cosmic prestige. Magicians hoard the mystic oddments they discover, show them off to their friends, and brag about them to their enemies. The acquisition and display of magical novelties is the primary social lubricant of the wizardly caste.

A wizard who is high level, but lacks a princely collection of curios, will be looked down upon. They’re like a wealthy merchant without a noble pedigree. A creature to be dismissed in public, and only dealt with in dark rooms where no one can see your shame. On the inverse, a wizard of low level with an excessive wealth of curios is likely to be robbed and murdered in a trounce.

And wizards are not the only folks who take notice of fine collections of magica obscura. There are things which move beside us. Things for whom most of us are beneath notice. But a fine magical collection may draw their attention for a time. Players should track the Total Value of their labs according to the Specialist’s experience table. Each time their lab “levels up,” it has drawn the attention of a thing beyond the experience of mortal things. Roll 1d20 to determine what creature is drawn forth from the dark beyond:

  1. Sandestine – Incorporeal creatures of impossible swiftness. Only their faint outlines are visible to humans, and they do not require any sustenance or sleep, though they do feel boredom acutely. Sandestines are keen observers, highly valued as spies or sentries.

    Some insignificant bauble from the laboratory has caught their eye, and seems infinitely important to them. In exchange for 1d6 money worth of the lab’s Total Value, the Sandestine will bind itself to perform a single task for the magic user. Sandestines are notably poor negotiators, so the blank check of “a single task,” may be abused by clever magic users. Though there is nothing quite so unreliable as a bored Sandestine.


  2. Ajuaba – A creature of spheres, lights, and wafting silks. It has come to the wizard because it has a problem it believes the wizard can help with. The Ajuaba knows too much. It knows everything there is to know in the cosmos, so long as that thing is not a closely protected secret. The excess of knowledge weighs heavily upon the creature’s mind. It will plead of the Wizard: ask it a question. Once it has shared what it knows, it can finally forget, and its burdens will be slightly eased.

    If the wizard offers to take yet more knowledge off the Ajuaba’s brain, it will melodramatically respond that it could never place such a burden on anyone. The small relief the Wizard offered was all it could ask of anyone. It is adamant on this point, believing that each tiny bit of knowledge is painful to bear, and that any demonstration to the contrary is merely bravado.

  3. Carcabat – A slimy thing, which sees through a galaxy of lights that orbit its body. They are the fishermen of the unseen ether of the cosmos. The wizardly crafting of wands appears like clumsy child’s play to them. With exasperated patience, they will offer to show how the deed ought to be done.

    Standing behind the wizard, they will offer instructions that make no sense, while guiding the wizard’s hands through rituals too complex to remember. The wizard may immediately create a new wand using only a single hit point, and they may roll on the table 3 times, selecting which of the 3 they roll they would like to keep.

  4. Elapera – A narrow thing, which somehow gives the impression of an imperiously perfect posture, without having any recognizable anatomy. Its initial interest in the laboratory will quickly turn to scorn once it notices the drab state of the magic user’s spells.  It will ask the magic user to show it their favorite spell. When they do, they will declare the thing to be entirely inadequate, and insist that the magic user do the work over again under their guidance. For the cost of 1,500 unused lab value (which remains in total lab value, as normal), the magic user may re-create a spell they have already created. The new version of the spell will be significantly improved over the original, in a manner determined by the referee. Upon completion, the Elapera will declare the work “almost adequate,” and congratulate the magic user on rising above the simplistic capabilities of their species, if only in the smallest degree.

  5. Panciu – A thought creature which travels the cosmos from mind to mind. It is impressed with the wizard’s laboratory, and offers to show them a bit of long forgotten lore in exchange for the pleasure of a tour. Panciu know the traditional spells of D&D! Roll 1d10 to determine the spell level, then randomly determine one of the spells from that level. If you roll a 10 while determining the level, then you must switch to a different spell list and roll again. (If you don’t have a different spell list, just keep re-rolling until you get a 1-9). 

    The referee should then re-write the spell to be levelless. The magic user also learns any magic words that can be taken from the spell.

  6. Silchar  – A creature of sensual delight, with 4 long tentacular tongues, eight eyes, three cavernous nostrils, six genitalia (one of each type), and numerous other sensory organs. It would very much like to taste such a refined magic user as it now sees. If allowed, it will enshroud the lab’s owner in its many tongues, enjoying every subtle nuance of their taste. Once it has thoroughly tasted, it will depart gratefully. So long as the MU does not wash themselves with any great thoroughness, the licking will leave a film of fortune over their body. The next time they are required to make a saving throw, it will automatically be successful.
  7. Mukdahan – Fleshy platonic solids which are baffled & fascinated by the variety of human appearance. After a tour of the fascinating laboratory, they will ask the Wizard if they may take their body, to put it on display in one of their galleries. In exchange, the they will provide the wizard with a new body of their choice. The Wizard may opt for anything they like: a new gender, a new age, a new ethnicity, etc. They can also roll new physical stats (STR, CON, DEX), as well as add 1d4 -2 to their Charisma. 
  8. Odrelos – A thing which can only be described as “visible wind,” blows into the wizard’s laboratory, rapidly forming itself into words and letters to communicate. It has a moment of business in this realm, for which it will need some local currency. In exchange for 5,000 money, it will reveal a secret. Any secret–for it knows them all. So long as a bit of knowledge is held within only 0-16 minds, an Odrelos will know it as well. 
  9. Aromtap – Creatures who move through time the same way you or I might move through rooms of a building. It will take the magic user, along with any companions they wish to bring, to a time & place of their choosing. Each character who goes on this trip must pay for it with 1 year of their life per day they wish to spend in this other time and place. When they are returned, they will rapidly age. 
  10. Balamgg – A catalogist who has carefully noted the location of several Wizard Staves.  In exchange for 1/4th the money required to reach the magic user’s current level, it will retrieve one of those staves at random, and deliver it to the magic user. Once it has the money it will simply burn it. The currency itself has no meaning to the creature, its true payment was the act of extracting value from the magic user. 
  11. Toynnin – Feeds upon ill fortune. The creature will excite the mind of the magic user, allowing them to instantaneously create 1 new spell for every -2 taken to a future saving throw. The magic user may use all of their penalties at once, or spread them out over multiple saves, but they must take at least a -1 on each saving throw until their debt is paid. 
  12. Valachk – A grinning thing which punctuates too many of its sentences with a humorless chuckle. Not because it is a menace, (though it is), but because it sincerely believes doing so will put humans at ease. Valachk know nothing of what has happened, only what will happen. From a human perspective this may seem an impossible way to live, but the Valachk do just fine. They would like to Rent half of the magic user’s maximum hit points. They won’t say what they’ll do with it, but they promise to return them unharmed and whole. In exchange, they will tell the magic user of one future event. This future event is not described at the table. Instead, the magic user moves forward with this nebulous knowledge. At any point, the player of the magic user may announce “This is the event the Valachk told me about.” The game’s time will then rewind some appropriate amount, so that the magic user can relive the event with appropriate foreknowledge.

    After they’ve re-lived the event, their hit points will be returned to them, as promised.

  13. Gader’el – The Gader’el isn’t terribly interested in the Magic User’s collection, but the existence of said collection has made it think the MU may be suited to its needs. It requires a body, with a mind capable of holding spells. It guarantees to return the body without any permanent damage, and in exchange it will use any spare moments it has to teach the body how to perform a few of the tasks that the Gader’el is familiar with. If the magic user agrees, their mind is instantly transported to a dark void. It is terrifying, to be a displaced mind. Fortunately, it also passes as swiftly as sleep. When the Magic User awakes from their nightmare, the Gader’el will already be gone. The MU’s body is injured. They’ve only got 1d4 hit points, with at least one serious injury that will take time to heal. However, they will also discover that 1d3 randomly determined skills have been improved by 1 step. 
  14. Jikinburchk – An exhuberant creature which delights and marvels at the Wizard’s collection, almost to excess. In thanks for putting together this fabulous collection, the Jikinburchk will offer to put on the most sumptuous, sensual, hedonistic party imaginable. Anyone invited to this party will have a phenomenal time, and it will reset the Magic User’s reputation within a community to “generally positive.” Even if the Magic User had previously earned themselves a reputation for stealing babies to sacrifice in their magical rituals, all will be forgotten in the haze of good times.

  15. Lempema – A creature which roams the past, but cannot imagine the future. They are the unwitting cousins of the Valachk: anatomically similar, but neither can even conceive of the other. In exchange for being given permission to peruse your personal history at their leisure, they will erase a single past event for the magic user.

    The erased event should be direct: preventing the death of a single person, undoing a theft perpetrated against the magic user, or perhaps an encounter with ghouls which resulted in a lost experience level. The referee is also entitled to impose consequences for erased events: if Robert had never died, would the party have ever met David? If the party never encountered those ghouls, they wouldn’t have the magic ring that one of them wore. There is no need to think about this too hard, and indeed, it works best if the referee is somewhat lenient here. This is, after all, supposed to be a boon.

    If the Wizard agrees to this bargain, they will often find the Lempema within their memories, standing in the background observing what’s going on.

  16. Uzuzuz – One of many creatures which might be called. “Grim Reapers” by mortals. Uzuzuz knows the location of all the dead, and will bring one of them to speak with you. Uzuzuz will provide translation, and allow you to speak with this person for as long as you are able to continue speaking.

    In exchange, all Uzuzuz asks is that he be the one to guide your soul into the beyond when you eventually die.

  17. Hyuteir – Speakers of spells. Every word in the language is a spell word. When wizards cast their magics, they are speaking in the language of the Hyuteir. This one is willing to reveal any one spell word that the Magic User desires. In exchange, the first spell the Magic User makes with this word belongs to the Hyuteir who gave it to them. The MU may never use it themselves. The Hyuteir find the ways in which smaller creatures use their language amusing, and many have become collectors of spells. Exclusivity is highly prized among their spell collecting connoisseurs.
  18. K’ksht – A creature which enjoys a good mortal brawl. In exchange for 1 point of the magic user’s Strength, it will slice off a part of itself appropriate to the magic user’s needs. This part will form into a creature that stands 5′ tall, +6″ per level of the MU. It has the abilities of a fighter the same level as the MU, but with a d12 hit die, instead of a d8. It gets two d6 claw attacks each round (upgraded to d8 at level 5, and d10 at level 10), and an armor rating of 12. It is eager to fight to the death, and will never retreat to preserve its life. If the magic user orders it to stop attacking because they wish to parley, the slice of the K’ksht will obey. If they merely wish to flee, the K’ksht will stay behind and finish the battle. If they survive, they will rejoin the Magic User later.

  19. Grue – A thing which lives in the dark. Hungry. Is looking for someone to eat. As payment for not eating you, you must tell it someone else for it to eat. The MU may choose anyone who has at least some chance of being in the dark at some point. (Things that glow are immune). The Grue has a 3-in-6 chance of eating that person within the next month, removing them from play forever. The referee may modify the chance up or down by 1, if they think the person is particularly capable, or incapable of dealing with a Grue. But that’s it. Even your biggest baddest dude has a 2-in-6 chance of being eaten by the Grue.

  20. Nulapuv – A benevolent creature, who would like nothing more than a tour of this fine magical laboratory. In exchange for an enjoyable evening, it will grant one Wish to the Magic User.

Better Wizard Staves + d100 Wizard Staves

the_weeping_hand_of_the_tam_priest_30x40-thumbDo you know what I hate even more than wands? Staves. Fucking wizard staves are dumb and awful and stupid. At best they’re just alternate wands, and at worst they’re like a whole secondary spell list that the Wizard hast to keep track of. A nightmare of bookkeeping that most players would seem to regard as a chore, since I’ve never seen a single player pursue creating a staff. Not once in 13 years of playing these games.

These are supposed to be a wizard’s totem. The universal sign that someone is in touch with powers beyond your meek understanding. I mean, far be it from me to put Wizards in a box. There are a ton of great wizards who don’t use staves. I don’t think any of Vance’s wizards use them, and his wizards are just the best wizards who ever wizard’d. But the point remains: a wizard’s staff should be cooler than it has ever fuckin’ been in D&D. Apparently it’s up to me to make that happen. So here we fukkin’ go:

The secret of creating staves has been lost. All which now exist were formed in the distant past by wizards greater than any now living. There may be two staves in the world, or there may be twenty thousand, but there will never be more.

Staves are an inherently immaterial non-substance, twisted into a physical shape. This is different from merely binding an immaterial thing to a material object, which is relatively simple by comparison. If you bind a soul to a stick, then examine the stick under a microscope, you will see the molecules that make up the stick. Perhaps they behave oddly because of their connection to the bound soul, but the soul is still a separate thing, obeying the rules that govern souls. On the other hand, if one were to examine a staff under a microscope, they would be struck blind because the universe doesn’t know what to show them. Blinding a person is the path of least resistance. Staves are under constant pressure as every force in the cosmos tries to put things back to rights, and the only force preventing it are potent magics beyond the ken of some gods.

Even touching a staff is a great burden upon a person’s mind. Anyone who does not have at least a single arcane spell slot must save versus Magic or fall briefly unconscious when touching a staff. Only those who have trained their minds to hold spells can effectively wield these powerful objects.

There are 3 common type of staves. Theoretically others may exist, but have not yet been discovered.

The first type is made of a magic word. Usually a word of some potency was chosen for this process. Something like “Stop,” “Fire,” or “Life.” While wielding such a staff, a magic user may modify their prepared spells on the fly using the word they hold. So if their staff is the word “Flight,” and they have prepared the spell “Fire Ball,” then they may choose to spontaneously cast “Flying Fire Ball.”

These spontaneously composed spells would normally be impossible, and are enabled only by the powerful magics of the staff. However, their spontaneous nature makes them unpredictable. They are wild magics, firing off untested, unfocused, and unrefined. Using this method, the same spell could be cast the same way, and be different each time.The referee must come up with the new spell’s effects on the spot, and should feel free to go wherever their imagination takes them.

The second type is made from a body of knowledge. Touching the staff serves as a sort of psychic connection to every mind on the planet, which knows anything about a given field. While holding the staff, a magic user will be the world’s foremost expert on the subject which the staff covers.

However, the staff is limited to what is already known, So if a staff is made from “History,” then the wielder will know everything that is known about history. But, if the last person who knows about the Battle of Chapsik Hill dies, the wielder will lose access to any knowledge of the Battle of Chapsik Hill. (Unless, of course, they had already committed that information to their own memory).

When relevant, these staves may also grant certain abilities to their wielders. So if a wizard were to come into possession of a “Stealth” staff, then in addition to learning how to move with subtlety, they would also gain the physical agility and muscle memory required to do so effectively.

In most situations, staves of the second type can be ruled as granting a 6-in-6 skill for as long as they are being held.

The third type of staff is made from a consciousness. These may be taken from the souls of mortals, or sources more exotic. Devils, angels, and even fallen gods have all had some part of themselves twisted into staves for the use of powerful magicians. These staves are more than mere intelligent objects, they are true intelligences which have been imprisoned in a physical shape. The referee is encouraged to play them as NPCs with their own personalities and desires; usually involving finding some way to become free.

Such staves can only “speak” while they are being touched, and even then, their voices can only be heard by the one who is touching them. They may offer secrets or advice, but will always have their own agendas, which will rarely align with their wielder’s. That being said, when no one is wielding a soul staff, its consciousnesses experience an existence of complete isolation and loneliness. If they cannot be free, then having a Wizard to be their companion is the next best thing, so they will be reasonably cooperative.

Each Soul-Staff allows the wielder to harness some of the powers the soul held in its own form.

D100 Wizard Staves

  1. Magic Word: “Animate”
  2. Magic Word: “Armor”
  3. Magic Word: “Boar”
  4. Magic Word: “Cold”
  5. Magic Word: “Dark”
  6. Magic Word: “Destroy”
  7. Magic Word: “Empower”
  8. Magic Word: “Fire”
  9. Magic Word: “Flight”
  10. Magic Word: “Gorilla”
  11. Magic Word: “Greater”
  12. Magic Word: “Hate”
  13. Magic Word: “Hell”
  14. Magic Word: “Life”
  15. Magic Word: “Light”
  16. Magic Word: “Lightning”
  17. Magic Word: “Mass”
  18. Magic Word: “Maximize”
  19. Magic Word: “Monster”
  20. Magic Word: “Permanent”
  21. Magic Word: “Poison”
  22. Magic Word: “Quick”
  23. Magic Word: “Servant”
  24. Magic Word: “Silent”
  25. Magic Word: “Sphere”
  26. Magic Word: “Steed”
  27. Magic Word: “Stop”
  28. Magic Word: “Subtle”
  29. Magic Word: “Summon”
  30. Magic Word: “Sword”
  31. Magic Word: “Time”
  32. Magic Word: “Wall”
  33. Magic Word: “Weapon”
  34. Body of Knowledge: Alchemy
  35. Body of Knowledge: Animal Handling
  36. Body of Knowledge: Appraisal
  37. Body of Knowledge: Arcane Lore
  38. Body of Knowledge: Art
  39. Body of Knowledge: Astronomy
  40. Body of Knowledge: Athletics
  41. Body of Knowledge: Demonology
  42. Body of Knowledge: Engineering
  43. Body of Knowledge: Geography
  44. Body of Knowledge: Healing
  45. Body of Knowledge: History
  46. Body of Knowledge: Languages
  47. Body of Knowledge: Law
  48. Body of Knowledge: Literature
  49. Body of Knowledge: Living Monster Lore
  50. Body of Knowledge: Local Area (This knowledge changes, depending on what area the wielder is in).
  51. Body of Knowledge: Metalcrafting
  52. Body of Knowledge: Music
  53. Body of Knowledge: Nature
  54. Body of Knowledge: Noble Lineage & Heraldry
  55. Body of Knowledge: Planes
  56. Body of Knowledge: Religion
  57. Body of Knowledge: Sex
  58. Body of Knowledge: Ships & Sailing
  59. Body of Knowledge: Spelunking
  60. Body of Knowledge: Stealth
  61. Body of Knowledge: Stone Lore
  62. Body of Knowledge: Survival
  63. Body of Knowledge: Technology
  64. Body of Knowledge: Torture
  65. Body of Knowledge: Undead Lore
  66. Body of Knowledge: Designate a person by touching them with the staff. The staff is then connected to the whole of that person’s knowledge until a new person is designated.
  67. Soul: A monk whose life was spent in meditation. Spell failure chance reduced by 1-in-6.
  68. Soul: A wizard who loved birds. Wielder is able to cast the spells Speak with Birds, Shriketoss, and Talon Strike once each day.
  69. Soul: A wizard who was obsessed with expanding her memorization abilities. Grants 2 extra spell slots.
  70. Soul: A really boring wizard who was never invited to any parties. Wielder may re-cast one of their expended spells each day.
  71. Soul: A psychopathic wizard who enjoyed casting large area of effect spells. Wielder is immune to damage from their own spells
  72. Soul: A wizard who took up their craft after escaping an abusive relationship. +3 to saves versus mind affecting effects.
  73. Soul: A fierce sumo wrestler, regarded as one of the best in history. Wielder may attempt to cast spell even while they are within an anti-magic field. These spells have a failure chance which is worse than usual by 1-in-6.
  74. Soul: A young girl, ritualistically killed by a drug overdose in order to create this staff. The wielder may alter their size at will, becoming as small as 4″, and as large as 16′.
  75. Soul: A devoted guardian who died by leaping in front of their liege to intercept an arrow. While held, this staff will move of its own accord to block incoming physical attacks. The caster’s armor rating is improved by 2.
  76. Soul: A madman arsonist. Never caught during his lifetime. Wielder may summon a line of flame, 30′ long, dealing 6d6 damage to everyone along its trajectory. Each time this is done, the wielder must sacrifice one of their prepared spells.
  77. Soul: A small fragment of the dead creator god. Any creature the wielder encounters will perceive the wielder to be a member of their own species.
  78. Soul: The soul of an ordinary person, whose body became the first zombie–which still walks the earth to this day. Every zombie that exists was all for the purpose of creating this staff. The wielder no longer needs to breathe, eat, or sleep.
  79. Soul: A wizard obsessed with their own longevity. Will teach the caster a series of complex rituals they developed during their life. First is the ward against natural death. Second is the secret of perpetual youth. Third is the ritual of rapid recovery from wounds. The rituals are always taught in the same order. Learning them requires the wielder to gain a full level while wielding the staff. Performing the rituals requires expensive material components, and weeks worth of time.
  80. Soul: A giant, furious at being trapped in a little weakling’s stick. The wielder is granted great strength (+8)
  81. Soul: An angel, one of the messengers of the gods. The wielder’s movement speed is doubled.
  82. Soul: A wild, unthinking warrior from the frozen north. Each morning, 6 spectral axes surround the wielder. If they take any damage, one of the axes will fly off to strike the source of the damage, reducing the remaining axes by 1 until the next morning. The axes deal 1d8 damage, and do not require an attack roll. Note that the axes will retaliate regardless of the source of the damage. If the wizard suffers a fall, an axe will attack the ground, etc.
  83. Soul: A wizard who spent all of their time in a lab, tinkering with magic. The staff engages in a constant background dialogue with the wielder, discussing how various spells might be tinkered with. For each level gained while wielding this staff, the wielder & staff reach an epiphany! The wielder may choose one of their spells to improve. The referee will adjust the spell to be permanently more beneficial to the caster, with no drawbacks.
  84. Soul: A stage magician who became immensely popular performing for yokels. Wielder may create as many silent, immobile illusions as they desire.
  85. Soul: A vampire of impressive lineage. Allows the wielder to cast “Turn Cleric” 3 times each day. This functions the same as “Turn Undead,” but against clerics.
  86. Soul: A powerful Psion who considers wizards weaklings who are satisfied to merely scratch the surface of what the mind is capable of. Grants the wielder 50lb telekinesis. Objects move a little slowly and clumsily, though.
  87. Soul: A child psion, turned into this staff before they had an opportunity to develop. Grants the wielder ESP, allowing them to hear the thoughts of a single target within 60′ at a time.
  88. Soul: A powerful devil, servant to a notable demon lord. Allows the wielder to cast the spells Hellfire, Damnation, and Gate once per day, each.
  89. Soul: A paladin who will only ever refer to the wielder as “Warlock.” The staff grants the wielder the ability to cast the spells Judgement, Consecrate, and Cure Moderate Wounds. The paladin will be really upset each time one of their spells is cast.
  90. Soul: A wizard who found the material plane very dull, and doesn’t understand why anyone spends any of their time here. Allows the wielder to cast the spells Dimension Door, Teleport, and Planar Shift.
  91. Soul: A thief who made her fortune delving dungeons and finding what people didn’t want her to find. Any secret doors in the area will appear to be gently sparkling to the wielder.
  92. Soul: A druid who is notably silent, apparently in some deep meditative protest. Small animals will do the wielder’s bidding.
  93. Soul: A tyrannical, but effective, king. The wielder may attempt to dominate any creature with 4 fewer hit dice than they have. The creature does not receive a save. Dominated characters obey the wielder in all things. Only one creature can be dominated at a time.
  94. Soul: A mathematician who was notably superior to all others during their lifetime. The caster may roll the damage dice for each spell twice, and take the better result for each one.
  95. Soul: A splinter from the soul of the goddess of time. In every day, there are moments of time which the goddess wanted to keep for herself, before they were stolen by the one who created this staff. Each hour off the day, the wielder may stop time for 1 round. If they do not use this ability in a given hour, it carries over to the next. If they wish, they may continue saving up these brief time stops until the final hour of the day, when they can stop time for 24 rounds. (2 minutes and 24 seconds). If time stops are not used by the end of the day, they are lost, and the staff begins accruing time stops anew.
  96. Soul: A djinn, who will grant a wish to anyone who breaks the staff. (This is a very difficult thing to do). The staff wielder levitates constantly. They move at their normal speed, but rest anywhere from 1″ to 6′ off of the ground. If they stand still, they can ascend up to 30′. As a consequence of this levitation, the wielder is also immune to any falling damage.
  97. Soul: An angel who once stood before the court of its god, judging who may enter, and who must go elsewhere. If the wielder fixes their gaze upon a person, they will immediately know the single worst thing that person has ever done.
  98. Soul: A splinter from the soul of Asmodeus himself. The wielder is immune to damage from fire, electricity, and acid, but takes double damage from any weapon that is silvered.
  99. Soul: The platonic ideal of a horse. It cannot speak, but will often whinny and neigh in the wielder’s ear. May be used to conjure a horse out of nothing. May conjure 1 horse every minute.
  100. Staff of the Archmage: Roll a d100 until you’ve landed on one of each of the three types of staff. This staff has all of those properties. Somehow, three staves were twisted together int a single unit. Whoever made this could easily have rivaled the gods for their power.

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Better Magic Wands + d100 Magic Wands

Magic WandI have never liked magic wands. Even back when I thought 3rd edition D&D was the bee’s knees, they just felt dumb to me. Little spell dispensers that you charge up and then unload like a magic machine gun. Brendan of Necropraxis made a fine attempt at rehabilitating them, but even thus improved, they still didn’t feel quite right to me.

Recently I decided to sit down and try to fix a lot of things around the periphery of the Magic User class which I don’t like, and I’m actually phenomenally happy with this:

Creating a wand is a very simple thing to do. It’s among the first thing any aspiring magic user learns, and so the only requirements for crafting one is that the character be a magic user of any level.

The process takes one haven turn, during which the caster draws off some of their own vitality (equivalent to 1 hit point per hit die of the MU) and dangles it like bait in the unseen ether of the cosmos. Eventually, some small shard of unknowable horror will latch on to this succor, and the MU will be able to trap it within some small object. A skull, a taxidermied snake, or even a bit of a twig will work.

While it is so trapped, the creature will continue to gnaw at the bait, and the MU’s maximum hit points will be reduced by that amount. But the MU will be able to force the bound thing to act at their behest, lashing out from its confinement to attack the MU’s foes. Each bound creature lashes out in a different manner, and there is no way for the MU to control what sort of creature they get.

Each wand has an exhaustion die, which should be rolled any time the wand is used. On a 1, the creature within manages to break free. The wand works one final time, then breaks, and becomes useless. Magic Users may also choose to release bound creatures by breaking their wands themselves.

In either event, figure out which of your dice has a maximum result that is the closest to the number of hit points that were being gnawed on, without going over. (For example, if the MU had 7 hit dice, then they gave up 7 hp, and you’d roll a d6. Or a d7, if you’ve got one.) With the wand broken, the MU’s maximum hit points go back to normal, and they regain health equal to the die roll.

When a wand is created, roll on the table below to determine what effect the bound creature produces.

Note: Some of these wands include subtables which determine the precise function of the wand. These should be rolled on once to determine what sort of wand you have, and then remain consistent after that. These tables are not re-rolled every time the wand is used.


  1. The target must save versus Devices. If they fail their save, their save versus Magic is increased by 2. Exhaustion Die: d12
  2. The wielder makes an attack roll against the target’s unmodified AC. A blast of (1. Fire, 2. Cold, 3. Acid, 4. Lightning, 5. Sonic, 6. Wind) strikes out, dealing 1d6 damage per 2 levels of the caster. ED: d8
  3. The wand elongates itself into a whip-like tentacle and strikes out at the caster’s target, before quickly retracting into its normal shape. The wand makes this attack roll itself, with a +1 to attack per 2 levels of the caster. The wand deals 1d8 damage per 2 caster levels. ED: d6
  4. A sticky goo sploots out of the wand, flying up to some high place indicated by the caster, and pulling them effortlessly up there. It takes 1 combat round to fire the thing, and 1 combat round to be pulled up. Casters level 4 and higher can complete the whole process in a single combat round. Casters level 8 and higher can use the wand as a free action. ED: 1d12
  5. Randomly determine one of the skills used in your game. When used, this wand grants the target the maximum level of that skill for 1 turn. ED: d4
  6. When used on a friendly target, their (1. Strength, 2. Constitution, 3. Dexterity, 4. Intelligence, 5. Wisdom, 6. Charisma) is temporarily raised to 18. This effect lasts 1 exploration turn per caster level. ED d8
  7. When used on a friendly target, their bonus to attack rolls is increased by 1 for each level of the caster. Effect lasts for 1 turn. ED: d6
  8. When used on a friendly target, the wand temporarily boosts their armor class by 1 per 3 levels of the caster. Effect lasts for 1 turn. ED: d4
  9. Sturdy rope can be dispensed from the tip of this wand. 50′ per use, although it can be used multiple times in a row to produce a longer piece of rope. Until the caster reaches level 4, this is hemp rope. After level 4, the rope is silk. ED d12
  10. When used on an object, that object ‘comes to life,’ and can move on its own. It gains whatever movement abilities are the bare minimum in order to perform its job adequately. For example, an animated jug will be able to float around, and to pour itself, but it won’t have the speed or strength to smash itself into people. A sword, on the other hand, would be able to move itself with enough force to deal normal weapon damage. If used on an object that is held by someone else, that person is entitled to a save versus Devices to resist the spell. Effect lasts for 1 hour per level of the caster. ED d8
  11. When used on a dead body, that body will rise as a walking corpse under the command of the caster. These are fragile creations, and will be de-animated if even a single point of damage is dealt to them (though they can be resurrected by casting the spell again). The corpses move at 60′, have an AC of 12 and deal 1d4 damage if ordered to attack. They last for 1 turn per level of the caster. ED: d8
  12. The wand allows the caster to perform a wide variety of moderately impressive feats, none of which have an obvious practical benefit. These consist mostly of what we might consider “stage magic.” Card tricks, pulling small animals or objects out of thin air, spraying sparks or smoke, etc. ED: d12
  13. Causes the target to grow to twice their current size. May be used repeatedly, with stacking effects. The growth causes whatever common sense improvements in ability the referee deems appropriate. Growing too large for whatever space you are in will cause damage if the structure gives way, and may cause death if the structure cannot break away to accommodate your size. Unwilling targets receive a save versus Device to resist being caused to grow. ED: d6
  14. When cast on a surface, a hollow, inverse pyramid will emerge, made of the same material as the surface it was cast on. This object will float just off the ground, following the caster at a distance of 10′. It can be commanded to stay put, but the caster must come within 10′ in order to retrieve it again. It can carry 2 encumbrance worth of objects per level of the caster, and lasts for 1 hour per caster level. ED: d12
  15. The target of this wand is entitled to a save versus Devices. On failure, they will begin to dance in, using whatever style they most enjoy. After 1d4 rounds they may attempt another save, and if they fail, another 1d4 rounds later, and so on until they succeed. Unusually, this wand can be used in a non-obvious fashion. Targets may never know what happened to them. ED: d8
  16. The target of this wand must make a save versus Devices. If they fail, they cannot move at all. This lasts for 1 round per level of the caster. ED: d4
  17. The caster may use the wand to create any image they can imagine. This illusory image may be 3 dimensional, and can encompass as much as 1 man-sized object every 3 caster levels. The image created is static, but is otherwise perfectly convincing to the eyes. Lasts for 1 hour per caster level. ED: d8
  18. The target of the wand must save versus Devices. If they fail, one of their (1. Fingernails, dealing 1d8, 2. Eyeballs, dealing 1d12, 3. Teeth, dealing 1d6, 4. A strip of skin, dealing 1d6) is violently torn from their body, dealing a commensurate amount of damage. ED: d6
  19. When used, the wand will jerk the casters arm to point towards (1. Gold, 2. A secret door or panel 3. A source of magic, 4. A person indicated during the use of the wand. 5. An indicated object, 6. The creature with the most hit dice in the immediate area) So long as they do not perform any actions (such as casting or combat), they can leave their arm limp, and the wand will continue to move their arm to keep it pointing at whatever it is indicating. ED: d6
  20. When used, a bit of goop is excreted from the end of the wand. This goop falls to the ground, and forms itself into a gremlin. Gremlins are terrible little creatures with neon skin, bug eyes, and hunched backs. They stand 6″ tall, and will do whatever you tell them to do, but they tend to do it in the most dickish way possible. Gremlins have a short life cycle, and will die of natural causes after 24 hours. ED: d8
  21. Casting this causes a spot on the ground to be charged with explosive magical energy. The spot is a circle, 2′ in diameter. If weight is applied to the circle , the explosive energy will be released, dealing 1d6 damage per caster level to whomever stepped on it, without a save. Anyone within 10′ takes half that damage, and may save versus Breath to take a quarter damage instead. ED: d6
  22. When cast on a weapon, a successful attack roll with that weapon will also required the target to make a save versus Poison. On failure, they (1. Take 2d6 damage from a random ability score, determined when the wand is created. 2. Take 3d6 damage from a random ability score, determined the same way. 3 Take 4d6 damage to a random ability score, determined the same way. 4. Die) The poison on the blade lasts for one turn per caster level. ED: d6
  23. When cast upon a lie that is communicated at the same time, that lie becomes very easy to believe. To the point that anyone hearing it will find the very idea of believing it is false to be ridiculous. There must be _some_ reasonable chance that the lie will be believed for this to work. You cannot, for example, tell someone that you’re their best friend and that you’ve known each other very well for years, it is impossible that they would believe that. You can, however, tell someone that you’re an old school chum that they’ve just forgotten about. ED: d4
  24. Restore some of the target’s hit points. At first level this restores 1d6 hit points. At third, 1d10; at fifth, 2d6; at seventh, 2d10, and so on. ED: d4
  25. If the caster touches the tip of the wand to the ground, and drags the wand along the ground, then a wall will rise up from that space, made of (1. Tempered Wire Mesh Glass, 2. Fire, 3. Colored Lights 4. Steel, 5. Same as the surface it rises from, 6. Spinning blades, 7. Stone, 8. Ice). The wall is 8″ thick, and 6′ high (+1′ for every 3 caster levels), with a maximum length of 10′ per caster level. The wall lasts for 1 minute per caster level. ED: d8
  26. The target must save versus Devices, or they will begin to choke; and will continue choking until the caster stops channeling the spell. While choking they may act normally, but cannot speak, and they take 1d4 damage each round. Unlike most wands, this wand may be activated subtlety, and the target may not necessarily know why they could not breathe. ED: d8
  27. Using this wand, the caster can make a hole appear in the ground. Where the contents of the hole disappear to is unclear, although it apparently ends up in the sky, because when the spell ends it falls down from above the clouds to land in the space it vacated. The hole is 10x10x10 at first level, and each dimension of the hole increases by 2 for each caster level. ED d6
  28. The target must save versus Devices. On a failure, they become frenzied and will attack with a blind fury. They may not flee, and cannot take any action other than attacking their target. They may use weapons, but not if the weapon requires any significant maintenance (they cannot reload a projectile weapon, for example.) While in this state, the target loses any bonus they may have had to hit, and must roll 1d20 unmodified for their attack rolls. If they do hit, they automatically deal the maximum possible damage. In this state, creatures are very easy to taunt, and will attack whoever dealt the most damage to them in the previous round.
  29. When using this wand, designate two targets of the same species of creature. Both may make a save versus Devices. If both fail, the two have become lifelinked. This has no effect unless one of the two dies, in which case the other will also die. ED: 1d6
  30. The target must immediately check morale, and if they fail, they must extract themselves from the situation in whatever way is appropriate. ED: 1d8
  31. When used, this wand causes the caster to vanish, and reappear at a different location. Use a d12 to determine the direction they move from their current location, assuming the numbers correspond to those on the face of a clock. They move 1d10 * 100′ along that vector. If where they would reappear is unsafe (such as inside a wall), they instead move back towards where they originated, and appear in the first safe space they encounter. The caster may bring 1 additional person or uncarried object with them per caster level. ED: d8
  32. Using this wand grants the targets the powers of a (1. Vampire, 2. Ghost 3. Bear, 4 Scorpion, 5. Mole, 6. Stone Golem 7. Unicorn, 8. Dragon). The effect lasts for 1 minute per level of the caster. The specifics of these powers are left to the referee to determine, but drawing upon superhero comic books for inspiration is recommended. ED: d6
  33. The earth where the caster indicates cracks, and molten lava begins to bubble up to the surface. It moves slowly, so anyone aware of it and free to move can avoid it, but being within 5′ of it causes 1d6 damage per round, and letting it touch you causes 2d6 damage, while falling into it or otherwise being engulfed by it causes instant death. The lava continues to flow out at a rate of 1 cubic feet worth each round, for 1 minute per caster level. ED: d6
  34. The target of this wand has their unarmed attack empowered to strike like a hammer. The first time the wand is used, it allows the target to roll a d8 for damage on their next unarmed attack. Subsequent uses of the wand can further empower the target, with each casting adding another d8 to the pool. So if the wand is used twice, then the target’s next successful unarmed attack will deal 2d8 damage. If used three times, the target will be able to deal 3d8 damage, and so on. This empowering remains in place until the target makes their next successful unarmed attack, after which their punching strength returns to normal. ED: d12
  35. Use of this wand binds the caster and the target together, allowing the caster to take themselves out of time, and give the time they lose to their partner. For as long as the wand’s wielder takes no actions, their partner may take twice the number of actions that would normally be allowed in a given span of time. For example, in combat, they may take two turns. While scouting, they may move at twice their normal rate without penalty. If they were to fail an attempt to stealth, they could make a second attempt to try and correct themselves before they were noticed. The effect ends the moment the caster does anything. ED: d12
  36. The target is bound to perform a simple, one-sentence task that the caster sets for them. They are entitled to a save versus Devices to resist. Targets who are unfriendly towards the caster receive a +3 bonus to their save. Targets actively engaged in combat against the caster receive a +6 to their save. Regardless of whether or not the task is completed, the compulsion only lasts for 1 hour per caster level. ED: d6
  37. When used on a friendly target, their base speed doubles. If the caster is level 4 or above, it instead triples. If the caster has reached level 8, it quadruples. The effect lasts for 3 exploration turns per caster level. ED: d12
  38. The targets must save versus Devices. On a failure, their morale is lowered by 1d4. This does not cause an immediate morale check, it only makes failure more likely when a morale check is called for. Wand effects 1 target per caster level. ED: d12
  39. The target must make a successful save versus Devices, or their armor rating is reduced by 1. If the caster is level 5 or above, they are able to reduce the targets armor by 2 on a failed save, and 1 on a successful save. At level 10 they can reduce by 3 & 2. ED: d8
  40. If the target fails a save versus Devices, their damage rolls are reduced by half (rounding up) for one round per caster level. ED: d8
  41. The target must make a save versus Devices or find themselves suddenly sluggish, as though they were moving through water. Their movement rate is halved. This lasts for 1 round for every 2 caster levels. ED: d8
  42. If the target fails their save versus Devices, then the next X times they would roll dice, they must instead roll 2 dice, and take whichever result is more favorable to the caster. Here, X is equal to the caster’s level. Using this wand on the same target multiple times can force them to roll one additional die per cast. Note that this spell may be cast on friendly targets as well. ED: d6
  43. The target must save versus Devices. On a failure, they will become a complete social buffoon for a number of rounds equal to to the caster’s level. Everything out of their mouth will either be boring, nonsensical, or unintentionally insulting. They are still more or less in control of themselves, and may push any agenda they want, or attempt to excuse themselves, but everything they do will come across poorly (including excusing themselves). This wand may be activated with subtlety. ED: d12
  44. When activated, this wand begins to exude a smell described by the caster. It may be pungently unpleasant, it may be fragrant enough to mask other scents, or it may be used to create smells that may attract certain beasts, like the smell of blood. ED: d12
  45. The wielder makes an attack roll against the target’s unmodified armor rating, dealing damage to the target, and then healing the caster for the same amount. At first the wand deals 1d4 damage, but this increases to 2d4 at level 3, 3d4 at level 6, 4d4 at level 9, and 5d4 at level 12. ED: d6
  46. The wielder makes an attack roll against the target’s unmodified armor rating, spraying the air around them with spores. The target is entitled to a save versus Poison, and if they fail, an egg survives all the way down into their lung, and it hatches. The next round it deals 1d4 damage to the victim, then 1d6, then 1d8, with the damage die rising higher each round. This persists for a number of rounds equal to the caster’s level. If the victim dies, then the creature born within their body has survived long enough to tear its way out. The creature of tentacles and pincers will then flee, seeking meat to make its nest. ED: d6
  47. When cast on a dead body, that bodies head will be animated, and will speak to you as though it were alive. At a minimum, the body must still have ears and a mouth in order for this effect to function. The corpse will answer a number of questions equal to the caster’s level. ED: d12
  48. A jet of water bursts from the end of the wand, slamming into the target who is entitled to a save versus Breath to leap aside. If they fail, they will be knocked backwards 10′ per level of the caster. If they strike an immovable object, they will take 1d6 damage for each increment of 10′ that they could not be pushed. ED: d6
  49. The wand emits a very peculiar sound, and the referee rolls on their encounter table. 1d10 minutes later, that thing from the encounter table will come to where the wand sounded from. It reacts normally to the player characters, though it’s not entirely sure why it just dropped everything to come here. ED: d12
  50. A kind of wire-form flower made of light emerges from the wand, and crashes into pieces upon the target. They are entitled to a save versus Devices. If they fail, then the will to fight suddenly leaves them. They are not dazed, nor are their perceptions clouded in any way, they merely gain a strong conviction that they do not want to participate in this fight. If harm comes to them, or if undue harm comes to their companions, they may yet force themselves to participate. ED d6
  51. A lance of green shoots out from your wand, and strikes upon the target’s forehead, snapping their head back with the apparent impact. They are entitled to a save versus devices, and if they fail it, will begin to take 1 damage each round. This will only end when they die, or when the caster wills for it to stop. ED 1d4
  52. The target gains a complete immunity to fire for 6 hours per caster level. ED 1d12
  53. When activated, a sudden wind blows through the area, kicking up dust from all around. 1d4 warriors made of dust appear, and will aide the caster in whatever they need. Each has only 1 hit point, but their armor rating is 11 + the caster’s level, and their attack bonus is equal to the caster’s level. They deal 1d8 damage on a successful attack. ED: d8
  54. When activated, time appears to stop for a brief moment, then suddenly everything that happens within the last minute happens in reverse. The caster, and only the caster, has traveled back in time 60 seconds. All others are required to act in precisely the same manner they did originally, unless the caster’s own actions would reasonably change their own. At level 3, the caster may bring 1 other person back in time with them, and at every 3rd level after that they can increase this number by 1. ED: d4
  55. A chittering sound is heard, first at a great distance, then suddenly swooping past to emanate from a single object of corrodible metal indicated by the caster. If this object is held by a person, they may make a save versus Devices to resist. If the save is failed, or if none may be attempted, the object quickly rusts into nothingness. ED: d6
  56. A randomly determined spell is cast from the wand each time it is used. After using the wand, the spell is determined, and the caster is allowed to read its description. The caster can then designate a target, along with any other variables that would normally be decided upon before a spell. Any material components are waived, as well as any lengthy casting times that might normally be required. The spell occurs instantly. The referee may roll the random spell on whatever table they choose, and should not feel restrained by the wand wielder’s level. The wand wielder, in turn, is encouraged to provide their referee with a case of beer to encourage them to roll on more badass tables. ED: d12
  57. Ever so slightly, the target’s eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and hands grow larger. Not so much that they look deformed, but enough that anyone watching the process will notice. All of the target’s natural senses (including those beyond the typical 5), are enhanced to superhuman levels. This lasts for 1 exploration turn per caster level. ED: d12
  58. Spectral chains covered with heavy weights briefly appear around the the target, who is allowed a save versus Device to resist. On failure, the chains briefly contract around the target before disappearing, and the target is suddenly no longer able to fly. It does not matter whether their flight was powered by physics, or by magic. Nor does it matter whether they were using motion to fly, or whether their wings were fixed. They plummet to the ground, and cannot fly again for 1 hour per level of the wand’s wielder. ED: d6
  59. With lightning speed the caster holds their wand aloft, and the spell they are responding to twists itself into painful shapes before flying into the wand. Part of the magic of this wand is that it grants the caster unnatural swiftness when they attempt to use it, allowing them to sacrifice their next action to activate this wand at any time, even during an opponent’s turn. The opponent is granted a save versus Devices to resist, but if failed, then the spell that opponent cast can be negated by the wand. ED: 1d6
  60. By activating this wand, the caster can re-form a spell which they already cast back into their mind, and cast it again. They must have had the spell memorized at some point since the last time they memorized spells. ED: d8
  61. It’s not quite clear what this wand does to achieve its effect. It can be used on any group of people small enough to be called a “band.” If you could call the group a “caravan” or an “army,” the charm will not work. When cast, the group’s journeys are…boring. Somehow they know to choose the road that won’t lead to them stumbling into a murder scene. Somehow, they just don’t look rich enough to tempt the bandits laying in wait. When this charm is cast, a group of travelers can skip 1 encounter roll per level of the caster. ED: d6
  62. This wand functions as a sort of “Ctrl+F for reality.” If presented with an obfuscation of objects in a fairly confined space, use of the wand will cause a certain specified thing to separate itself from the rest. Using this wand will cause the needle to separate from the haystack, cause a book to turn to a helpful page, or cause the gold coins to pop out of a heap of garbage. ED: d12
  63. When activated, luminous tendrils grow out from the wand to join the wielder in a wrestling attempt. While using this wand, the caster may grapple as though they have double their hit dice. ED: d6
  64. When activated, weapons made of light will grow from the wand, then fall into the air where they will float in a pattern that looks like they are being held by skilled warriors. The weapons are of all types, and will attack the caster’s foes. Each weapon deals 1d8 damage, and attacks as though it were wielded by a fighter of the caster’s level. Once a weapon deals damage, it will disappear. The weapons cannot be damaged by normal attacks, and unless they are dispelled, will continue to attack until they deal damage, or until 1 hour has passed. A first level caster summons only 1 weapon, with another weapon added for each even numberd level. ED: d8
  65. A cloud rises from the wand, creating a dome 20′ in diameter, +5′ per caster level. Within this cloud, the gods cannot see, and any powers granted by a deity will not function. The cloud lasts for 2 rounds per caster level. ED: d6
  66. Wireframe hexagons ‘pop’ from the wand, and fly up to arrange themselves in a dome at a location the caster indicates within their line of sight. The dome is 20′ in diamter, +5′ per caster level. Within this dome, the forces of reality are locked down, and magic cannot function. The dome lasts for 2 rounds per caster level. ED: d6
  67. The wand cracks open when this spell is cast, allowing hundreds of insects to crawl out of it before it seals itself back together. The insects are enough to fill a 5x5x5′ space, +5′ on each dimension per 2 levels of the wielder. The primary use of the insects is that they really freak people the fuck out, but they also obscure vision and sound with their buzzing bodies. Furthermore, if desired, they can sting foes within the cloud, dealing 1 point of damage per turn. The swarm persists for 1 turn per 3 caster levels. ED: d6
  68. 3 hit dice worth of targets per caster level must save versus devices. On failure, the immediately fall to the ground and sleep. ED: d8
  69. The target of the wand may attempt a save versus Devices. On failure, their body is transformed into (1. A frog, 2. A sheep, 3. A fish, 4. A housefly, 5. A snail, 6. A pot bellied pig.) Their clothing and equipment will suddenly no longer fit them, and will fall to the ground. They retain their minds, and will be able to react to their situation intelligently, but they cannot speak or take most actions. This effect lasts for 1 minute per caster level. ED: 1d4
  70. When used, the wand grants the caster telekinetic abilities. For each caster level, they are able to lift roughly 50 lb with their mind, and move it at a ponderous speed with perfect accuracy within their line of sight. ED: d8
  71. When used, this wand creates a dimensional portal from the wielder’s present location, to another location that they are familiar with within 100′. Aside from the caster, one person can travel through the door for every 3 levels of the wielder. ED: d6
  72. The wand project a giant hand, large enough to easily grip a full grown man in its fist. The hand grapples as a creature with a d12 hit die of the same level as the caster; and attacks with the bonus of a fighter the same level as the caster. ED: d4
  73. When cast on a an area 5’x5′ (+5′ per 2 caster levels), any plants in that area will grow at an accelerated rate, progressing to full maturity in a single adventuring turn. If the wielder is 4th level or higher, the process takes place in a single combat round. At 8th level or higher, the plants not only grow to their full potential, but at an option, can be forced to grow wildly out of proportion to their normal size, up to 4x what would normally be possible. ED: d8
  74. With a flick of the wand, the wielder causes a spectral mouth to appear and bite the target. They roll an attack roll as though they were a fighter of their current level. The bit deals 1d6 damage per caster level. ED: d6
  75. Use of this wand may be declared at any time, and the caster forfeits the next action they would normally have. The target may save versus devices, and if they fail, the wand wielder may redirect the target’s actions in another direction. So, for example, if the target has made an attack against one of the caster’s allies, the caster can force that attack to be directed to one of their foes instead. ED: d12
  76. When activating this wand, the caster must first declare a type of action: walking, attacking, spellcasting, speaking, dancing, lockpicking, etc. The action indicated must be similarly specific to those listed, and the referee should reject anything as simple as “movement,” or anything involuntary such as “breathing.” The target may attempt a save versus Devices, and if they fail, they are locked out of performing that action for 1 round per level of the caster. They may otherwise act normally.
  77. When used on a wall or other surface, that surface becomes temporarily immaterial. Anything leaning or hanging on that surface will fall, and anyone who wishes to may pass through the surface as though it were just a thick fog. The visual appearance of the surface does not change in anyway. This works for surfaces 1′ thick (Jumping to 10′ thick at level 5, then 100′ thick at level 10), and an area of 10’x10′, increasing by 10′ in both dimensions at every third caster level.
  78. When activated, this wand summons a sphere of light, comparable to a torch. At level 4 and higher, the light from the orb is comparable to sunlight. At level 6 or higher, the orb can be ordered to “flare” once per adventuring turn, and everyone who was not forwarned has to make a save versus Breath or be blinded for 1 round. The orb lasts for 2 hours per caster level. ED d12
  79. Causes a block of ice to appear. Very roughly 10′ by 10′ by 10′ in dimension. If summoned above a group of people, they are entitled to a save versus Breath to leap out of the way or take 6d6 crushing damage. If summoned around a group of people, they are entitled to a save versus Devices, or they will become frozen in a block of ice, and put into cryogenic stasis until it melts. ED: d4
  80. When cast upon a structure, it begins to slowly shake and wiggle itself apart. Nails and screws fall out of place, adhesives weaken, and over the course of 1 hour the structure just…crumbles. At first level it works only on small structures like tool sheds or single room huts. At level 3, the wand works against houses of moderate size. At level 6, it can affect an entire manse. At level 10, it could take down a castle. At level 16, it could bring down a skyscraper. If the caster wishes, they can immediately exhaust the wand to bring the structure down instantaneously, without the hour of shaking and wiggling. ED: d4
  81. Each friendly target tapped by the wand is given an illusory disguise of a general type. You can be “A man from this town,” but you can’t be “Dave, the butcher.” Each tap counts as a separate use of the wand. At first, the illusions are only incorporeal, and anyone touching the disguised person will have a chance to notice that the physical presence of the target is not precisely the same as their appearance. If the caster is level 3 or higher, the disguise also alters the voice of the target. At level 6 or higher, the illusion becomes tactile as well, so a person who is not wearing a hat, but is disguised to be wearing one, now actually has a hat which can be touched and felt. At level 9 or higher, the wand can be used to disguise the target as a specific individual, and the likeness will be good enough that it may even fool that person’s friends, if the player manages to act appropriately. Each disguise lasts for 2 hours per caster level. ED: d8
  82. The target’s experience of time is slowed slightly, allowing them to appear to move much more quickly than would normally be possible. The target may take 1 additional action each round, either taking a second movement action, or a second attack action. This effect lasts for 1 round per level of the caster. ED: d6
  83. When cast on a piece of metal, that metal begins to heat up. On the round the spell is cast, the metal is merely warm to the touch. The round after that, however, the metal becomes quite hot, and deal 1d4 damage to anyone touching it. The round after that, it becomes scorching, dealing 2d4 damage to anyone touching it. The metal remains scorching hot for a number of rounds equal to the wand wielder’s level. After that, it begins to cool, first to hot (1d4), then warm (no damage), then returning to its normal temperature. ED: d6
  84. The wand belches forth a cloud of sickly colored gas–a green, or a purple. The gas fills a 10x10x10 space per caster level. Anything which breathes the gas (including the caster and their allies) must save versus Poison or die. ED: d4
  85. The wand begins to spray a whispy white mist into the air, filling a 10x10x10′ space per level of the wand wielder. No creature which relies on sight can see more than 5′ in any direction while trapped within this mist. At level 5, at the wand wielder’s option, the mist may begin to emit a buzzing hum which similarly disrupts the sense of any creature that relies on hearing. The caster may turn this on and off at will. At level 10, the caster may also opt to impose an unnatural stillness on the ground and air within the mist, limiting the senses of any creature that relies upon vibration. ED: d12
  86. When cast upon a creature, that creature immediately becomes the target of every piece of random detritus in the environment. Each round, a random piece of junk will fly up and attack to strike at the target. These items make an attack roll with a +1 bonus for every 2 caster levels the wand wielder has. This spell may be more or less effective depending on the environment the characters are in. In a bare room, it will probably not matter at all; whereas in a cluttered workshop it might matter quite a bit. Exactly what objects fly up each round is at the referee’s discretion, but it is recommended that they roll 1d6. On a 1-2, a small item for the environment attacks. On 3-4, a moderately sized item. On 5-6, one of the larger items in the environment attacks. Damage should likewise be determined by the referee, based on what sort of items are available. A pebble, or a coffee cup might do 1d4 damage. A shovel or fist sized stone might deal 1d6. A cooking cauldron or head-sized stone might do 1d8. And so on. The spell lasts for 2 rounds per level of the spellcaster. ED: d6
  87. By pointing this wand at a creature which is not usually capable of speech and uttering the command phrase “Stop mumbling! In [language of choice], please!” the wand wielder grants that creature the ability to speak. This is permanent, and the creature will be able to talk forever after. This does not necessarily mean it will be positively disposed towards the caster, but they may attempt to parley with it as they would with any other creature. ED: d12
  88. When used on a sleeping target, the caster may concoct whatever dreams they desire for that target. In a world of magic and mysticism, many folk take their dreams as serious messages from the beyond, and these will influence their future decisions in ways determined by the referee. Of course, a crafty magician may be able to offer their services as a “dream interpreter” to ensure the intended interpretation. ED: 12
  89. The wand wielder may summon a floating sphere of flesh and bone. The sphere will wait for the caster to designate a target, after which the sphere will move to float near the target. Always careful to stay out of the way, but ready to leap forward if needed. If the target would take damage, the sphere will leap forward, and has a 4-in-6 chance of being able to intercept the hit. Note that in the case of spells which effect a large area, the sphere cannot protect its charge, and will take half or full damage along with their charge, according to their charge’s saving throw. The sphere has 6 hit points per level of the wand wielder. ED: d6
  90. The target of this wand must save versus Devices, or be struck with irrepressible diarrhea. This slows their movement by half, and they can only make attack rolls every other round. Obviously, this makes social situations difficult for the target. ED: d8
  91. By activating this wand, the caster can produce a Summon spell, as presented in the LotFP Rules & Magic book on pages 134-143. You can also use Ramanan Sivaranjan‘s handy Summon Spell Automator. Regardless of method, determine the number of hit dice for the creature by rolling 1d20. When wielding this wand, there is now way for the creature to resist being summoned, and there is no way for the caster to dominate the summoned creature. Further, the caster may cause the summoning to take place anywhere within their line of sight. ED: d2
  92. Sticky goo flies from the tip of the penis wand. The goo covers an area 5’x5’x5′ in size, with an additional 5′ on each dimension for every level of the caster after the first. Creatures trapped within this space are entangled, and cannot move until they manage to break free. This requires 2d4 rounds for human sized creatures, while larger creatures or humans with 18 strength can break free in only 1d4 rounds. Small creatures cannot break free. ED: d8
  93. The target of this wand does not need to breathe, eat, or sleep for the entirety of the spell’s duration. If the wand wielder is above level 6, the target further can survive at any amount of pressure, or lack thereof, and suffers no penalty from heat or cold so long as it is not extreme enough to deal immediate round-by-round damage. If the wand wielder is above level 12, the target similarly becomes immune to falling damage, poisons, and diseases for the spell’s duration. The spell lasts for 1 hour per caster level. ED: d12
  94. The target of this wand is entitled to a save versus Devices. On a failure, their blood has been excited with the desire to leave their body. This desire lasts for 2 rounds per level of the caster. Each wound the target has which would draw blood (such as damage from a bladed or piercing weapon) suddenly becomes a geyser of blood, shooting out with enough force that it only splatters against the ground some 10′ away. Each such geyser causes 1 damage to the target per round. If they die while in this state, their body will be completely drained of blood. ED: d6
  95. For every two levels the wand wielder has, they may make one target invisible for one hour (plus an additional hour after level 3, with new hours every 3rd level). While invisible, characters still produce noise and have physical dimension, and their invisibility will be dispelled automatically if they attack. After level 7, attacking does not automatically dispel invisibility, but instead causes the remaining time of the spell to be reduced by 1d4 turns. ED: d6
  96. The magic user holds the attention of 10 people per level. The magic user must be doing something, such as dancing, singing, or reading the phone book. The spell will not affect people’s opinion of what the magic user is doing, it merely affects their decision to continue looking at it, instead of moving on with their day. Note that this wand’s effect will not hold anyone’s attention if there is obviously something more interesting to pay attention to. An explosion, or a call to arms will break the enchantment. (Although if the wand Wielder is level 8 or higher, they may attempt a save versus Magic. On success, they manage to hold the crowd’s attention). ED: d8
  97. Whomever the wand is used upon may speak and understand every language. Alternatively, the wielder may attempt to use the wand offensively by preventing someone from speaking or understanding a specific language that they already do speak. In this latter case, the target is entitled to a save versus Devices. ED: d12
  98. When cast upon the ground, this spell creates a temporary lodging for the caster. At first it is a simple hut with a door that closes and locks. At level 3 the hut gets slightly larger, and gains some furnishings: a few beds, a table, a lamp. At level 6 the spell summons a fully furnished, 4 room house. At level 9, the house is now 2 stories tall, with 12 rooms. At level 12, the same house comes with a tireless servant who will attend those staying there. The house may continue to become more interesting and grand as the caster gains in levels. ED: d12
  99. A humanoid target must save versus poison, or die. If the wand wielder is above level 3, the round following the target’s death they will tear off all of their skin, and rise as a 1hd skeleton with a 1d6 claw attack in the wand wielder’s service. If the wand wielder is above level 6, the skeletons have 2 hit dice and 2 claw attacks. If the wand wielder is above level 9, the skeletons have 3 hit dice. ED: 1d4
  100. Some creature of greater significance has taken notice of the wizard’s dangled vitality, and has decided to indulge themselves in a peasant’s treat. They take the wizard’s bait outright, and those hit points are permanently lost to the wizard. Their wand gains no function, but by way of payment this greater entity was generous enough to toss a mote of power to the Wizard. What amounted to a few copper pieces to this entity overwhelms the wizard with its power, and they must immediately expel that power by using it to make a Wish.

And there you have it, the second longest post I’ve ever written for Papers & Pencils. (With the longest scheduled in a few weeks time). If you found this post useful, or if you just enjoyed reading it, I’d encourage you to check out my Patreon Campaign. Your support will help me to spend more of my time writing posts like this one. Thank you.

Magic Items: By Deed or by Craft

Beautifully Glowing Magical Blue SwordOne of the great legacies of Dungeons and Dragons, a legacy continued by Pathfinder, is the strong presence of magical items. Ever since Gygax and Arneson first published their “Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Campaigns,” magical swords, helms, rings, and so on have been a staple of treasure hordes around gaming tables everywhere. These wondrous treasures have served not only as motivation for players to delve ever deeper into the dungeon, but have played a role as an essential part of character progression and enhancement. This has remained true even as games moved beyond the tabletop. Modern games, such as World of Warcraft, can often be simplified as a quest to get magic items, so you can engage in more difficult challenges, which result in better magic items.

In Pathfinder, most of the magical items available can be gathered in one of three ways. The most traditional way of acquiring such treasures is to find them; whether it’s at the bottom of a dragon’s horde, or resting on a pedestal in the tower of an evil lich. A character might also earn magic items, either by gold, or by deed. Finally, with the right skills, a character can simply make the item they desire. Pathfinder (and D&D 3.5 before it) provides detailed information on creating magic items, including the cost of raw materials, and the amount of time the work will require. All a character needs are a few prerequisites: ranks in a crafting skill, a few feats, maybe a spellcasting class, and they’re good to go.

Some magic items which can never be crafted, regardless of skill. These exceedingly rare items are known as artifacts. The most common artifacts have perhaps a couple dozen iterations in existence. Most are even more rare than that, and many are one-of-a-kind. The exact reason why an artifact can’t be replicated varies from item to item. Some are simply of mysterious origins, such as the Deck of Many Things. Others might be ancestral treasure, created in time immemorial, such as the Axe of Dwarvish Lords.

World of Warcraft TCG Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the WindseekerMy favorite type, though, are the artifacts which are created by intersecting with greatness. Good examples of this tend to come from D&D, since Pathfinder’s mythology is not yet well established. Take the hand and eye of Vecna, for instance. If a player were to cut the hand and eye from just any lich, and attempt to replace his or her own hand and eye with the lich’s, it wouldn’t work. Like as not, the character’s shortsighted plan would leave him or her short handed. Alternatively, attempting the same thing using The Hand, and The Eye will work, and it will grant the character fantastic abilities to boot. These artifacts gained their power because they were once part of Vecna. Other items which gained their power through association with greatness are The Mace of Cuthbert, The Sword of Kas, and the Wand of Orcus.

I find these items so much more engaging than other magic items, or even other artifacts, because of the inclusion of a history. When my fighter hefts the Sword of Kas, she knows the blade was forged for one of the most evil swordsman in history. She knows the blood of countless innocents have run over the handle she now grips. That knowledge transforms the blade from a hunk of metal and a bonus to my attack roll, into something which my character cares about. That kind of interest in the game world is something which game masters should strive to instill in their players.

That excessive buildup brings me to the main point of this post:

What if all magic items were created by deed, rather than craft?

I’ve been toying with this idea for a couple months now, and I think it has potential. Such a dramatic shift in gameplay mechanics is perhaps best suited to an entirely new system. But I’m a Pathfinder GM, so I’ll present it as a house rule (probably a campaign-specific one) for that game.

Link draws The Master Sword from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Official ArtworkThe immediate problem with this idea is one of supply and demand. Pathfinder is designed with magic items in mind, and a character without them is going to have a much more difficult time dealing with encounters of his or her level. That isn’t to say that it’s impossible, many people enjoy low-magic games where magical treasures are much more rare than they are in standard play. But even in standard play, a high level character is lucky to have even one artifact. Clearly, that gap needs to be bridged for the idea to be viable.

The obvious response is to simply lower the threshold of awesomeness required to transform a normal item into a magical item. I think it was probably clear from the start that we’d need to do this, but there’s a danger in going too far. If we try to use this new method of magic item creation to simply supplant the current system without any additional changes, then killing five people will need to be enough to create a +1 bonus. That completely defeats the purpose of the new method, since the backstory for 90% of items will simply be “used by a nameless soldier for the three weeks he survived such-and-so war.”

The best solution to the supply and demand problem is to meet in the middle. Any game using this method needs to be a low-magic game, where players can’t expect to be able to find an upgrade in every dungeon they delve into. The threshold of awesomeness required to create a magic item will also need to be lowered drastically. Low enough so that magic items will be accessible starting as early as level 1 or 2, but high enough that the story behind the creation of the items will still be of interest to the player. I’ve given some possible examples below.

One other problem with this system is any kind of run-of-the-mill magic items which give simple bonuses. Items such as +1 daggers or +2 armor inherently lack flavor. In certain rare circumstances they may be appropriate (I detail a +1 bow below), but as a rule, magical equipment created through association with greatness should reflect the nature of that greatness more specifically than a flat numeric boost can.


Boarslayer’s Blade: This blade grants a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls when wielded against creatures of the Animal type. It was created by legendary human ranger Hassif Annandar when he was only 12 years old, and protected an injured playmate by slaying the boar which had attacked them.

Bow of Winning Accuracy: This is a +1 shortbow. It was created by a mysterious stranger who appeared at an elven archery tournament held annually in Mahgtinton Wood. The stranger won the competition easily, astounding the crowd by striking her own arrows in twain eight times on a target twice the normal distance from the shooting line. The stranger disappeared before she could be congratulated, but she left her bow behind. Legend says that the stranger was none other than the fiendish bandit of Mahgtinton Wood: Shora The Fox.

The Immovable Rod (as Immovable Rod, found on page 484 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.) This unusual magic device was created when the kingdom of Queen Darsus was beset by demons. The queen led her servants and children into her bedchambers, and barred the door with this rod. For three days she single-handedly held the door closed using only her strength, and what leverage she gained from the bar.

The Devilsblood Blade This is a Flaming Burst Battleaxe. It was created during the battle of Obrent’Kel, when an army of dwarves fought off an invading force of hill giants. The giants had hated the dwarves for years, and made a pact with devils to finally wipe out the clan. During the battle, a lowly Axe Hand named Torel Anvilchest (who would later become a general in the clan’s leadership) faced down and slew a horned devil after being separated from his unit.

Ring of Invisibility (as the item of the same name on page 481 of the Pathfinder Core Rulebook) When master assassin Arcturus Iammad accepted a contract from the price of Galnar to slay his father, the king, Arcturus didn’t know what he was in for. After sneaking into the massive Castle Galnar, it took the assassin no less than a month to finally finish what he thought would be only a night’s work. The labyrinth of secret passages, illusions, and magic portals within the structure were enough to nearly drive him mad. But not once was he seen, and once he found the king, he finished the job he had been given.

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