Monday, July 4, 2022

D&D Character Class: the Wand Maker Pt. 1

Return to Wandcraft:

Part 1: Initiative, Deflecting, Disarming, Wands’ Natures
Part 2: Wand Allegiance, Improvement, Attitudes
Part 3: Pliability, Requirements, Preferences, Affinities
Part 4: Otherworldly Wands

Art Credit: Magic Wands by Davesrightmind on Deviantart
Wand Makers

Wand makers focus on mastering wandcraft, studying the lore of wands, and producing them to be sold as a regular business that entails adventuring to secure components. They see their creations as their progeny. As much as possible, they keep track of their ultimate fates. For this, they maintain a book of wands listing details about their wares and other devices they come across. These curious tomes often feature additional page attachments inserted when space runs out about a particular entry, resulting in disorderly foldouts. For these specialists, reputation is key, and rivalry among the best can be fierce. Wand makers do not specialize in any school of magic, which might otherwise interfere with their abilities to craft certain devices. They do possess spellbooks and can both create magic scrolls and cast spells from them like any other magic-user. Multi-classing the wand maker is acceptable, just like any magic-user.

Tools of the Trade

Wand Making
          Wand makers cannot craft devices with which they are incompatible (see The Nature of Wands in Part 1). They can start enchanting wands rated “+0” as early as level 3. The odds of success are: (10 + [Best Spell Level x5] + [Int x2]) – ([Wand Rating +1] x5). “Best spell level” (abbrev. bsl) refers to the highest spell level the wand maker is able to cast. For example: a level 3 wand maker with 16 Int would have a 47% chance of success enchanting a “+0” wand. The advancement chart indicates what wand ratings can be enchanted at which experience levels (look for it in the next article). A small but important detail: wand makers are the only spellcasters able to enchant rated wands.

           Philosophy: Rated wands are inherently hard to enchant because they can improve and eventually reach self-awareness (see From Apprentice Wand to Artifact in Part 2). Wand makers cannot craft devices imbued with intelligence. A wand must therefore attain self-awareness on its own. The wand makers’ paradigm demands they allow “saplings to grow” and perhaps one day become artifacts, much like parents releasing their children to live their own lives. This feat is their source of personal pride and professional prestige.
            Tracing the pedigrees of ancient wands back to their makers is a way for the latter to be remembered well after they depart this world. For this reason, they document their wares’ descriptions in their wandcraft books. They append their records whenever they learn of their creations’ fates. Like unique swords, wands are often given names—a moniker plus the maker’s name, such as Firesoul of Koryphon, Phoenix of Eriandal the Elder, etc. Sentient wands always remember the names given to them despite not being self-aware at the time.
            Other Types of Magic Items: Provided they know the right spells, these specialists can create or recharge conventional wands (such as wands of fireball, wands of paralyzation, et al.) using established game rules. These wands are mindless vessels containing magic—they do not ever become self-aware. Wand makers cannot craft anything but wands and scrolls; the enchantment process for everything else, like staves, potions, armor, weapons, and other magic items, lies entirely outside their competence.
            Cost and Time: The cost of crafting a +0 wand is 500 gold, vs. 1,000 per “plus” rating thereafter. If all core components were acquired while adventuring, then halve these costs. How much markup the wand maker charges a client is entirely up to the player. Crafting a rated wand takes 8 days for a +0 device, +8 days per “plus” modifier thereafter. A +4 wand, therefore, takes 40 days to produce.

Setting Up Shop: During the wand makers’ early levels of experience, they embark on a life of adventuring to collect core components, cash, and earn some much-needed experience. At level 3 or later, they can start crafting wands between adventures to build up stock. Whenever they feel they have enough in reserve, they can open shop: either a place they rent, have purchased, or have built from the ground up. Some are even known for dwelling in wagons or small skyships, traveling from one small town to another, leaving when demand dries up or seasonal winds shift. The place of business only needs a storefront where clients might try out wands, a workshop and stockroom in the back, and living quarters. The cost of facilities should be covered in established game rules.
            Stocking up the Shelves: Naturally, wand makers have to possess core components and wood, bone, or ivory samples needed for their wares. This determines what wands they can craft. When adventuring outside settled areas, roll a Perception check (Wis) for each hour spent seeking wand-grade wood samples, suitable bones, or intact ivory material, such as a fallen beast’s tusks. Up to 1d4 can be found with each successful check. When not actively looking while exploring, the DM can roll a Passive Perception check once per day, with a –2 penalty to the rolls. Add a +2 bonus if a friendly druid is present in the party. When a sample is found, roll on the Original Enchanter table in Part 1. Use common sense with respect to climate (amaranth and agar, for example, only grow in warm regions). Solid and fluid core components are acquired during adventure encounters or if purchased from someone (see enchantment cost earlier). A successful magic-jar spell variant retains a small fraction of the target’s spirit inside a small container. The above explains why an adventuring wand maker’s kit might include 15-20 empty jars at the onset. Good record-keeping is indispensable here to maintain updated lists of collected samples, core components, and completed wands. The work continues from there, boxing wares, labeling them, and so on.
            Custom Orders: Wand makers typically focus on +0 and +1 wands because they are easiest to sell. Anything more potent involves Pliability, Preference, and Affinity which limit sales (see Flick Wendigrint’s Dictionary of Wand Woods and Other Materials in Part 3). For this reason, wand makers prefer getting prepaid orders for specific wands before crafting anything rated +2 or better. The higher the master crafter’s level is, the more often custom orders should materialize. Reputation is everything.
            Liabilities and Protections: There is a liability with running a place known for housing expensive magic items. Burglary while out adventuring is a risk. Professionals always mark their wands, not only because they are seen as unique works of art, but also to be able to recognize stolen property. A wand may also be protected by a Dweomer Regulated Mastery spell encrypted into the wand’s enchantment. It prevents the device from being used at all until its seller removes it to complete a sale (this idea came from CA2 Wings of Darkness, pp. 40). Guilds of spell hackers specialize in breaking protections on stolen magic items and on high-value spellware. A renowned wand maker would be well advised to mentor one or two apprentices on-site and pay for guards.

Dweomer Regulated Mastery (Abjuration)
            Magic-User Spell level 2
            Range: Touch
            Duration: Until Dismissed
            Effect: Prevents an enchantment from functioning
            This oddly named spell is cast on a magic item such as a wand or a scroll during its enchantment process. The effect is permanently encrypted in the magic item’s enchantment. The original creator can switch it off with a command word. When active, the DRM prevents the item’s magic from taking effect; it also blocks any attempt to obtain its command word by way of an identify/analyze spell. Dispelling its magic only suppresses the item’s enchantment for a short period of time, but it does not remove the encryption since it is effectively “baked in.”
            Finding a magic item with an active DRM suggests it was stolen. Spell hackers are often affiliated with a thieves’ guild. They resort to add-on enchantments to bypass DRMs. It is a crude, ad-hoc, and unreliable measure. Odds of the bypass failing (even roll) or the magic item malfunctioning (odd roll) are: [1d10% per week during which the item is used at least once] minus [5 x original hacker’s bsl]. Check each time the item is used. The bypass can be reinstated, usually for a stiff fee. If the magic item malfunctions, it is permanently ruined. Unscrupulous fences or shady wand makers occasionally sell hacked magic.
            Spells on a scroll bearing an active DRM appear as nonsensical gibberish. They can't be copied or cast from a protected scroll. Hacking takes 1d4 days x original enchanter’s bsl, often charged at the rate of 100gp per day. Magic-user/thieves (or magic-users with thieving skills) can start hacking spellware as early as level 3. If an initial hacking attempt fails, all future attempts against the targeted magic item or spell incur a –25% penalty.

Fame and Fortune: Selling wands can be lucrative. Wand makers also earn experience from any profit their sales generate (monthly sales amount minus business costs, such as rent, purchases, enchantments, wages, etc.). Aside from gold and experience, wand makers seek prestige since it affects their businesses. Each wand sold to a compatible client is worth 1 Prestige +1 per wand modifier, so a +4 wand earns its maker 5 Prestige. Reputation drives demand, as shown in the chart below. Selling a wand to a prominent character (a noble figure, city official, politician, guild master, rich merchant, etc.) yields a 1d4+1 Prestige bonus, or to a head of state a 2d6+3 Prestige bonus. A wand bonded with an epic hero or demigod earns its maker another 3d8+9 Prestige. These gains only count once per personality, and are valid provided the fact is publicly known. Hiring a bard for advertising purposes wouldn’t hurt in this respect—add +2 Prestige to all of the above.



Custom Orders


1 per fortnight



1 per week


d3 per fortnight

0-1 per month
(+2 or +3 wands)


d2 per week


d5 per fortnight

0-2 per month
(+2 to +4 wands)


d3 per week

Round up all fractions:
d2 = d4/2, d3 = d6/2, d5 = d10/2
0-1 (odd 1, even 0), 0-2 = d3–1

            Sales: The wand maker must make sure the prospective client is compatible with what’s in stock or what can be crafted. Then comes the role-playing aspect where prices, custom orders’ turnaround times, and other conditions are negotiated. Walk-ins don’t place orders—they purchase what’s in stock, usually +0 or +1 wands, or they head off to check a rival wand maker. Custom orders are for more potent devices. To determine what a walk-in or a custom order requires, roll 1d6:

  • For +0/+1 wands: 1-4. +0 wand, 5-6. +1 wand (or conventional wand with spells level 1-2).
  • For +2/+3 wands: 1-4. +2 wand, 5-6. +3 wand (or conventional wand with spells level 3-4).
  • For +2/+4 wands: 1-3. +2 wand, 4-5. +3 wand, 6. +4 wand (or wand with spells level 5+).
            Closing Shop: While the wand maker is out adventuring and the shop is closed, clients will seek competitors in the region. A shop loses 5 Prestige per full month during which it remains closed. Apprentices and henchmen do not conduct business in the wand maker’s absence.
            Competition: There is usually not more than one wand maker per 10,000 inhabitants within a 20-24 mile radius or not more than 3 in a city with 30,000+ residents. Naturally, demand for +0 wands should be higher for businesses located near a school of magic (treat as a +5 Prestige bonus). A large city offers the widest and most affluent customer base, but it also attracts competitors. The quality of the neighborhood is also critical (+/– 0-3 Prestige). The most prestigious wand maker is in the best bargaining position (+1 to Bargaining checks), while the lowest fellow on the totem pole may be forced to undercut rivals’ prices to stay in business or offer some other incentive (gold bonus for a referral leading to a sale, customer loyalty discounts on recharges for conventional wands, free miles on the local skyship, buy two and get 10% off the cheapest, allowing a buyer to trade in a second-hand wand when buying a new one, etc.). Upscale establishments resell trade-ins to smaller shops better suited for second-hand wares. Provincial towns are less affluent, but wand makers there have little or no competition.
            Fencing: Evidently getting implicated with selling stolen goods could result in a catastrophic Prestige loss. On the other hand, a low-life or disgraced wand maker operating in a slum can become notorious for fencing hacked goods, in which case a negative score might actually be a good thing from the local thieves’ guild's point of view.
            Hired Staff: A successful master crafter can hire less experienced wand makers to meet demand or to forage for wood samples and core components. A novice wand-making PC could start as an apprentice and earn experience as a salesperson. The master crafter and employed wand makers split Prestige evenly when the latter sell devices they crafted; the shop owner also retains a 10% cut on those sales. All Prestige is combined, however, as regards the overall frequencies of the shop’s walk-ins and custom orders. Employees eventually leave, taking with them their earned Prestige, in order to set up shop elsewhere (most likely another town). Monthly odds someone leaves are 1% per earned Prestige unless other incentives help retain employees (Bargaining and Persuasion skills are critical here, along with other arrangements, such as healing discounts at the local temple, profit sharing, pension plan, room and board, free tuition, etc.).

Click here for: Prerequisites, Class Advancement, SpecialAbilities

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