Use Magic Device

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Ability Score Used: Charisma
Armor Check Penalty Applies? No

You are skilled at activating magic items, even if you are not knowledgeable of how they are created or have no affinity for magic without them. You can pick it up and just... make it work. This may involve the sheer force of your will, sly flourishes and subtle motions, or just shaking the darned thing until it goes off.

As with all skills, the uses below are merely suggestions, and by no means the full gamut of possible ways a skill can be used. Players and GM's are encouraged to find additional ways to use each skill.

Activate Magic Item

You can use this skill to read a spell or to activate a magic item. Use magic device lets you use a magic item regardless of any restrictions which the item might normally impose upon you.

You do not need to make a use magic device check to activate magic items that cast spells which are already part of your class' spell list.

You make a use magic device check each time you activate a device such as a wand. If you are using the check to wear an item as part of a disguise, or which has long-term effects, you must make a check once per interval used by the item (e.g. if the item provides its effects for 1 hour per caster level, you must make a check each hour). Failing one of these checks means the item stops working, and imposes any negative effects it inflicts on inappropriate users, if applicable. You may not roll again until the next interval occurs. In addition, since most negative effects are things like Essence Destruction, they are not cured by simply making a new use magic device check. The negative effects must be cleared separately, or allowed to wear off on their own. Being evil and carrying a Holy Avenger is going to get painful, fast. But it can be done.

You must consciously choose which ability of an item to activate. That is, you must know what you are trying to activate when you make a use magic device check for that purpose. You may also attempt to activate an item 'blind', which is really its own reward. The DCs for various tasks involving Use Magic Device checks are summarized below.

  • Activate Blindly: You can always try use magic device on unidentified magic items, and it is usually pretty simple to get it to do SOMETHING. If that something is a beneficial effect, setting it off once and actually gaining a benefit makes that item identified to you for that function. If you set off the item and cannot determine what it did, the item remains unknown and you must continue to use it blindly. In general, trying items 'blind' is painful, embarrassing, and potentially lethal, both for yourself and for those around you. Blindly activating a cursed item always inflicts the curse upon yourself, and possibly even on others nearby, so there's that to think about as well. Perhaps solitude would be best for this activity.
  • Decipher a Written Spell: This usage works just like deciphering a written spell with the Read Magic cantrip, except that you must make a skill check for each page you wish to read, taking one minute for each.
  • Use a Scroll: Normally, to cast a spell from a scroll, you must have the scroll's spell on your class spell list. Use magic device allows you to use a scroll as if you had a particular spell on your class spell list.
  • Use a Wand, Rod, or Other Spell Trigger Item: Normally, to use a spell trigger item, you must have the spell on your class spell list. This use of the skill allows you to use a spell-trigger item as if you had a particular spell on your class spell list.
Action Required:

Part of the action to activate the item (which is usually a standard action).

DC of Check:
  • Activate Blindly: 15 (it's easy to set off magic items when you don't know what they do!)
  • Decipher a written spell: 10 + quadruple the spell level
  • Deceptive, protective, or dangerous writings: 10 + double the caster level of the writing/ward/glyph
  • Use a known scroll: 5 + double the caster level of the scroll
  • Use a known rod: 10 + double the caster level of the rod
  • Use a known wand (or other spell-completion item): 10 + double the caster level of the wand
  • Use a known restricted item: 15 + double caster level of item
  • (Epic Only) Raise Caster Level of Item: 10 + quintuple (5x) the desired caster level of item — must declare before roll
Modifiers to Check


Take 10? / Take 20?

You can take 10 (outside of combat). You can take 20, but only if there is no negative effect for failure (such as attempting to cast from a wand).

Allows Assists?


Results of Success

You activate the item and it operates properly, giving the effect it was designed to give.

Consequences of Failure
  • Normal Failure (within 4 of the target DC): You fail to trigger the effect on the item, and waste the standard action in the attempt, but the item is unaffected by the attempt (i.e. no charges are expended, etc.).
  • Critical Failure (5 or more below the DC, or a natural 1): You fail to trigger the effect on the item, and waste the standard action in the attempt. Furthermore, if triggering the item would expend a charge, or use up the item, the item uses up that resource as though it had successfully triggered. This means that a rod will lose a charge, a scroll will crumble to dust, etc.
Retry Allowed?


Provokes AOO?

No, but the action required for the item itself may provoke instead.