Crafting Magic Rods, Staves, Wands

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Creating Rods

Rods are scepter-like devices that have unique magical powers and usually do not have charges. Anyone can use a rod.

Physical Description: Rods weigh approximately 5 pounds. They range from 2 feet to 3 feet long and are usually made of iron or some other metal. Rods are treated as light maces for purposes of wielding and threatening in combat.

Activation: Details relating to rod use vary from item to item. In general, rods must be wielded to provide any effects, even continuous effects. (It is possible to make a rod which provides one or more continuous effects while simply worn, but even then, the rod must be worn visibly on the person (i.e. not in a bag, backpack or portable hole) to provide their benefits. Such rods must also be built as though they were slotless items, doubling their creation cost.

Some pre-built rods, such as metamagic rods, are imbued with abilities which cannot normally be bought during the magic item creation process (such as feats on items). These abilities can only be acquired via pre-built rods, and can never be custom-built by characters.

Rods As Weapons: Rods may be enchanted with weapon enhancements and magic weapon properties, since they are considered a light mace. The wielder must still be proficient with light maces or they will suffer a non-proficiency penalty (-4 to hit) while using it as a weapon.

  • Time Required: Crafting a rod requires 1 day for each caster level of the item, minimum 7.
  • Feat(s) Required: Creator.
  • Skill(s) Required: Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare

Permitted Enchantments - Rods

  • Rods may be enchanted to provide a continuous (permanent) or situational bonus to one or more ability scores.
  • Rods may be enchanted to grant a bonus to Maneuver Offense rolls, either continuously or only when performing specific maneuvers.
  • Rods may be enchanted to grant a bonus to Maneuver Defense, either continuously or only when defending against specific maneuvers.
  • Rods may be enchanted to be usable as weapons, but only as a club, light mace or heavy mace. In these circumstances, dweomermetals or special materials may also be used in the creation of the rod, using the rules for Crafting Magic Weapons.
  • Rods may be enchanted to be usable as weapons, but only as a club, light mace or heavy mace. In these circumstances, the rod may also be enchanted with one or more Magic Weapon Properties, using the rules for Crafting Magic Weapons.
  • Rods may be enchanted to provide a skill bonus to one or more skills. It is also possible to enchant the rod to only provide a skill bonus when the skill is used in a certain way, or when certain circumstances are present.
  • This bonus may only be applied situationally. The bonus cannot be permanent and continuous, but instead only available under certain defined circumstances, such as "against fear effects", or "if already under the effects of a status condition".
  • Rods may be enchanted to provide the benefits of a spell up to 4th level as a continuous effect, assuming the rod is wielded. Note that it is also possible for these continuous effects to function while the rod is simply worn somewhere visible (i.e. not in a bag, backpack, etc.) but in such a case, the entire rod must be built as though it were a slotless magic item, doubling its cost.
  • Rods may also be enchanted to be capable of casting one or more spells up to 6th level in power, usable a fixed number of times per day and requiring a command word to activate.
  • Rods may never use charges for spell effects. Instead, spell effects on rods typically have a limited number of uses per day.
  • Rods may be enchanted to be usable as weapons, but only as a club, light mace or heavy mace. In these circumstances, the rod may also be enchanted with a Weapon Enhancement Bonus, using the rules for Crafting Magic Weapons.

Restricted Enchantments - Rods

Note: any of these effects may be applied to a rod as a non-continuous spell effect, if an appropriate spell exists within the allowed levels for rods.

Example: Rod of Devastation

A rod of devastation is a +2 ghost touch heavy mace that can be used to cast disintegrate 3 times per day. Wow! To build this little beast, we first price out the +2 ghost touch heavy mace:

heavy mace - 12 gp
+2 enhancement and +1 magic weapon property, for an absolute bonus of +3 - 18,000 gp
total cost 18,012 gp

Next, we cost out the disintegrate spell, usable 3 times per day:

disintegrate is a 6th level spell (for a sorcerer or wizard; note that if you were building this as a cleric caster, it is a 7th level spell and would not be allowed on a rod)
the minimum caster level for disintegrate is 11th level, but we want more damage, so we'll buy up to caster level 15.
the disintegrate will only go off when we use a command word, not every time we swing.
the disintegrate will only be usable 3 times per day.

The formula we use is:

Spell level x caster level x 1,800 gp, divided by 5/<number of uses per day>
6 x 15 x 1,800 gp divided by 5/3rds
162,000 gp / 1.6666666667
total cost 97,200 gp

As you can see, disintegrate is the most expensive ability, at 97,200 gp. The other ability, the 'usable as a magic weapon' ability, costs 18,312 gp. Because these two abilities are nothing alike, and do not share a cool theme beyond busting stuff up good, the cheaper ability costs 1.5 times more than normal, or 27,468. This gives us a total cost of 97,200 gp plus 27,468 gp, which is 124,668 gp.

If we wanted to add additional properties to this rod, such as a +4 bonus to acrobatics checks to avoid attacks of opportunity while moving, assuming that didn't cost more than the disintegrate spell (unlikely), it would also be multiplied by 1.5 before being added to the total.

Creating Staves

A staff is a long shaft that stores several spells. Staves usually hold spells grouped by a theme, and sometimes possess other abilities that they grant to the wielder. A staff has 10 charges when created, but can be recharged by a spellcaster with the appropriate spells.

Physical Description: A typical staff measures anywhere from 4 feet to 7 feet long and is 2 inches to 3 inches thick, weighing about 5 pounds. Most staves are wood, but an exotic few are bone, metal, or even glass. A staff often has a gem or some device at its tip or is shod in metal at one or both ends. Staves are often decorated with carvings or runes. A typical staff also functions as a walking stick, quarterstaff, or cudgel. It has AC 7, 10 hit points, hardness 5, and a break DC of 24.

Activation: Staves use the spell trigger activation method, so casting a spell from a staff is usually a standard action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. If the spell being cast has a longer casting time than 1 standard action, however, it takes the full casting time to cast the spell from a staff. To activate a staff, a character must hold it forth in at least one hand (or whatever passes for a hand, for nonhumanoid creatures).

Using Staves: Staves use the wielder's ability score and relevant feats to set the DC for saves against their spells. Unlike with other sorts of magic items, the wielder can use his caster level when activating the power of the staff if it's higher than the caster level of the staff. This means that staves are far more potent in the hands of a powerful spellcaster. Because they use the wielder's ability score to set the save DC for the spells, spells from a staff are often harder to resist than those from other magic items, which use the minimum ability score required to cast the spell. Not only are aspects of the spell dependent on caster level (range, duration, and so on) potentially higher, but spells from a staff are also harder to dispel and have a better chance of overcoming spell resistance.

Recharging Staves: Staves hold a maximum of 10 charges. Each spell cast from a staff consumes one or more charges. When a staff runs out of charges, it cannot be used until it is recharged. Each morning, when a spellcaster prepares spells or regains spell slots, he can also imbue one staff with a portion of his power so long as one or more of the spells cast by the staff is on his spell list and he is capable of casting at least one of the spells. Imbuing a staff with this power restores one charge to the staff, but the caster must forgo one prepared spell or spell slot of a level equal to the highest-level spell cast by the staff. For example, a 9th-level wizard with a staff of fire could imbue the staff with one charge per day by using up one of his 4th-level spells. A staff cannot gain more than one charge per day and a caster cannot imbue more than one staff per day.

A staff can hold spells of any level, and the minimum caster level of a staff is 8th.

Discounted Spells: If desired, a spell can be placed into the staff at less than the normal cost, (or a weaker substitute used) but then activating that particular power in the staff drains additional charges from the staff. Divide the cost of the spell by the number of charges it consumes to determine its final price. Note that this does not change the order in which the spells are priced (the highest level spell is still priced first, even if it requires more than one charge to activate). The caster level of all spells in a staff must be the same, and no staff can have a caster level of less than 8th, even if all the spells in the staff are low-level spells.

  • Time Required Crafting a staff requires 1 day for each Caster level of the item, minimum 7.
  • Feat(s) Required: Creator.
  • Skill(s) Required: Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare

Permitted Enchantments - Staves

  • Staves may be enchanted to be usable as weapons, but only as a quarterstaff. In these circumstances, dweomermetals or special materials may also be used in the creation of the staff, using the rules for Crafting Magic Weapons.
  • Staves may be enchanted to be usable as weapons, but only as a quarterstaff. In these circumstances, the staff may also be enchanted with one or more Magic Weapon Properties, using the rules for Crafting Magic Weapons.
  • Staves may be enchanted to provide the benefits of a spell up to 1st level as a continuous effect, assuming the staff is wielded. Note that it is also possible for these continuous effects to function while the staff is simply worn somewhere visible (i.e. not in a bag, backpack, etc.) but in such a case, the entire staff must be built as though it were a slotless magic item, doubling its cost.
  • Staves may also be enchanted to be capable of casting one or more spells of any spell level, each requiring one or more charges and a spell trigger to activate.
  • Staves cannot make use of Turning Stones to recharge spent charges. Instead, casters must sacrifice a spell or spell slot of a level equal to the highest level spell the staff contains. See the 'Recharging Staves' section above for details.
  • Staves may be enchanted to be usable as weapons, but only as a quarterstaff. In these circumstances, the staff may also be enchanted with a Weapon Enhancement Bonus, using the rules for Crafting Magic Weapons.

Restricted Enchantments - Staves

Note: any of these effects may be applied to a staff as a non-continuous spell effect, if an appropriate spell exists.

Creating Wands

A wand is a thin baton that contains a single spell of 4th level or lower. A wand has 50 charges when created-each charge allows the use of the wand's spell one time. A wand that runs out of charges is just a stick. The price of a wand is equal to the level of the spell x the creator's caster level x 750 gp. If the wand has a material component cost, it is added to the base price and cost to create once for each charge (50 x material component cost). Table: Wands gives sample prices for wands created at the lowest possible caster level for each spellcasting class. Note that some spells appear at different levels for different casters. The level of such spells depends on the caster crafting the wand.

Physical Description: A wand is 6 to 12 inches long, 1/4 inch thick, and weighs no more than 1 ounce. Most wands are wood, but some are bone, metal, or even crystal. A typical wand is broken if it suffers a single Sunder.

Activation: Wands use the spell trigger activation method, so casting a spell from a wand is usually a standard action that doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity. (If the spell being cast has a longer casting time than 1 action, however, it takes that long to cast the spell from a wand.) To activate a wand, a character must hold it in hand (or whatever passes for a hand, for non-humanoid creatures) and point it in the general direction of the target or area. A wand may be used while grappling or while swallowed whole.

Table: Wand Base Retail Cost By Class
Spell Level Cleric, Druid, Wizard Sorcerer Bard Paladin, Ranger*
0 375 gp 375 gp 375 gp -
1st 750 gp 750 gp 750 gp 750 gp
2nd 4,500 gp 6,000 gp 6,000 gp 6,000 gp
3rd 11,250 gp 13,500 gp 15,750 gp 15,750 gp
4th 21,000 gp 24,000 gp 30,000 gp 30,000 gp
  • * Caster level is equal to class level -3.
  • Prices assume that the wand was made at the minimum caster level. The cost to create a wand is half the retail price.

To create a magic wand, a character needs a small supply of materials, the most obvious being a baton or the pieces of the wand to be assembled. The cost for the materials is subsumed in the cost for creating the wand: 375 gp x the level of the spell x the level of the caster. Wands are always fully charged (50 charges) when created.

The creator must have prepared the spell to be stored (or must know the spell, in the case of a sorcerer or bard) and must provide any focuses the spell requires. Fifty of each needed material component are required (one for each charge). Material components are consumed when work begins, but focuses are not. A focus used in creating a wand can be reused. The act of working on the wand triggers the prepared spell, making it unavailable for casting during each day devoted to the wand's creation. (That is, that spell slot is expended from the caster's currently prepared spells, just as if it had been cast.)

It is possible for a non-spellcasting Creator to make magical wands, but a potent substitute must be found for the spells requirement, or 50 instances of the spell must be arranged. Given the cost and time, wands are usually much more efficiently made by spellcasters.

Note that in all cases, it is not possible to place any spell higher than 4th level into a wand. Such items, if allowed at all, should be Rods or Staves.

Partially Charged Wands

All Wands are created fully charged with 50 charges. As a Wand is used up, its value decreases by a flat ten gold pieces per charge used. Partially charged wands may be available for purchase depending upon the town, and there is a vigorous 'aftermarket' for such items, due to the prevalence of Turning Stones.

  • Time Required: Crafting a wand requires 1 day per Caster level of the item, minimum 7.
  • Feat(s) Required: Creator.
  • Skill(s) Required: Divinity, Naturalism, Reason, Spellcraft, Spycraft or Warfare

Permitted Enchantments - Wands

  • The wand must use charges and spell triggers for all spell effects. Wands may never have any continuous effects, or spell effects which do not cost at least 1 charge to trigger.
  • Wands may make use of [[Equipment#Turning_Stones|Turning Stones] as a source of additional charges.

Restricted Enchantments - Wands

Other Considerations - Rods, Staves and Wands

Multiple Different Abilities

Abilities such as an attack roll bonus or saving throw bonus and a spell-like function are not similar. The most expensive ability on the item is priced at its normal cost, but all of the additional different abilities cost 1.5 times their normal cost. The final item cost is the sum of all of these costs. If the rod is usable as a weapon, the weapon is purchased following the magic weapon creation rules, but the 'usable as a weapon' ability of the rod is treated as one of its abilities for purposes of calculating costs (so, it is possible the weapon costs will get multiplied by 1.5 if they are cheaper than the most expensive ability). Note that a rod may only be used as a club, light mace or heavy mace, if it is usable as a weapon at all.

  • Upgrading an item with multiple different abilities: If the item has taken the "multiple different abilities" cost multiplier of 1.5x, it is still possible to enhance one or more of those properties individually post-creation. The cost to do so is calculated as normal, subtracting the cost of any existing lower-level version of the property being upgraded, and the final cost is multiplied by 1.5. Note that when creating a complex magic item with multiple different properties, the most expensive property is NOT multiplied by 1.5x, only the secondary properties. However, when upgrading any property on such an item, the cost is ALWAYS multiplied by 1.5x, even for the most expensive property. (This is to avoid confusing situations where the most expensive property changes several times over the item's life.)

Multiple Similar Abilities

For items whose magical abilities are synergistic and similar, use the following formula: Calculate the price of the single most costly ability, then add 75% of the value of the next most costly ability, plus 1/2 the value of any other abilities. This discount rewards items which are thematic and have abilities which cultivate that theme.

  • Upgrading an item with multiple similar abilities: If an item gained the "multiple similar abilities" cost discount at creation, the cost to upgrade individual properties of that item post-creation is the full (non-discounted) cost of the upgrade. Upgrades never gain the benefit of the "multiple similar abilities" discount.
  • Losing the multiple similar abilities discount: Adding new properties to such an item may cause the item to lose its "multiple similar abilities" discount, if the new property doesn't align with the item's theme. In such a case, the total item cost is recalculated to account for all of the cost penalties of a "multiple different abilities" item. This means adding a disparate ability to a well-themed item can be catastrophically expensive, as even the thematically consistent properties lose their discount and gain the 1.5x cost penalty.

Caster Level

Since different classes get access to certain spells at different levels, the prices for two characters to make the same item might actually be different. An item is only worth two times what the caster of the lowest possible level can make it for. Calculate the market price based on the lowest possible level caster, no matter who makes the item.

Workspace and Components

To create a magic rod, staff or wand, a character needs a workspace. The nature of the workspace can be widely variable.

For example, crafting a staff in a fine cabinet-making shop with lathes and mills would be a fine place to start. For rods, a foundry exactly similar to one used for magical weapons might be more useful, and for wands, a small, precise workshop such as one used for crafting magical rings might be best.

The GM is encouraged to be merciful, and allow players to be creative in arranging a workspace. For example, a coopery, used to make barrels, would be an unusual but perfectly appropriate place to build a staff, as would a library (assuming the stave incorprates tightly rolled paper in its construction) or a quiet grove (for staves made of natural branches).

In addition to a good place to work, a supply of materials is required. The cost for the materials is subsumed in the cost for creating the rod, staff or wand.

If spells are involved in the prerequisites for making the rod, staff or wand, the creator must have prepared the spells to be cast (or must know the spells, in the case of a sorcerer or bard) and needs to provide any material components or focuses the spells require. The act of working on the item triggers the prepared spells, making them unavailable for casting during each day of the item's creation. (That is, those spell slots are expended from the caster's currently prepared spells, just as if they had been cast.)

As always, substitutions are allowed and encouraged. If a Fighter with the Creator feat decides for some fighterly reason that he wants to craft a metamagic rod, he can! He's going to work on it very slowly and have a very high DC, but he certainly can try it. Working out a substitute for a metamagic feat might be difficult, but players are frequently very clever, so the task is left to them.

Creating some rods, staves or wands may entail other prerequisites beyond or other than spellcasting. See the individual descriptions for details.