Tools of the Magic User

More of a repository for myself of the various rules/fluffs about the tools of the trade for magic users. Styled roughly for 5th ed DnD (if only because its all my groups play at the moment), and driven by the lack of anything exciting for Wizards/Sorcerers to really do with their arcane focii. I mean, if you think the weapon list is bad, at least there are actual mechanical differences outside of weight between weapons. It really is attrocious, why would you ever go with anything other than the cheapest/lightest one available? So, I think arcane focuses are gone from my games, as are material components really (I mean, as cool as the concept is, as of now I don't have a way to actually make them as fun to keep track of as they are to use, and no one uses them anyway because of stupid focuses). And thus; these are their replacements, stolen mostly from various other people because they are better at thinking about this stuff than me.

Stolen from:
(hopefully I will discover how to do the nice neat links I see other people doing at some point. I'm lazy like that.)

Essentially, these I think will mostly replace cantrips, and be a mite bit more predictable and standard. Essentially, a wand is a small stick, containing the rough energies of a single spell, that can be cast over and over, and is fueled by the owner's life force. Most anyone can create a wand if they're smart/well versed enough (poss. reqs Int 13 and Arcana prof). They reduce the maker's max HP by an amount dependent on the power of the wand, and the wand's usage dice, that determines when the wand finally runs down.

There are enough really cool and useful cantrips that people (and by people I mean me) want to take but can't justify giving up those precious cantrip slots on, I feel. I think I may entirely nix damaging cantrips entirely for the sake of putting them in wands, but we'll see. I personally think wizards are good enough as it is without the inclusion of always on hand spells that are just as good as actual weapons, given the destructive potential of spell slots on top of that, but that might just be me. Anyway...

Staves, Rods, Whatever
Also Stolen from:

Solidified laws of magic, they grant their bearer phenomenal power, and are the end game for most wizards I should think. Less bonus spell lists, more containers for spell-modifications a la metamagic but more whacky and wild, or for bodies of knowledge and bound and trapped otherworldly beings, warlock patrons in sticks. You see a wizard with a Stave, you know he's a badass.

The general idea here and for Spell Scrolls and Grimoires is inspired by the Grimoires of Wessex that I read in Broodmother Skyfortress but which I am lead to believe first appeared on Jeff's Gameblog, I'm sure if you've found me, you know enough about D&D blogs to know Jeff's.

Spell-Books are essentially individual to each wizard, a compilation of lab-notes and contractions of magical un-logics and incantations that each wizard has tamed to their own tongues. The writer of any given spell-book can use their spell-book to prepare and memorise spells, and also cast spontaneously from, as long as they still provide the magical impetus (i.e. spell slot). However, any given spell-book is mostly only legible to the Wizard that wrote it. The writing and scribbles within are so idiosyncratic to the mental landscape of the writer that even to other wizards it's mostly illegible nonsense, even if they're reading a spell they themselves know. A wizard can decipher another wizard's spells, but it takes time, and probably a lot of it. With enough study, you could probably become proficient in the scrawls of specific wizards, but that's probably not worth the effort. Usually.

In many ways the opposite of Spell-Books, they also contain spells, with one difference. They can be understood by anyone. Sort of like books of well layed out and simply displayed magical-proofs that anyone can follow along with, as opposed to the idiosyncratic short-hands of a wizard's spell-book. Copying a spell from a grimoire to your spell-book is simplicity itself, and even non-casters could probably memorise a spell (though probably only one, two at most) from it with enough study. Thus they make fantastic treasures, rare as they are.

The downside to grimoires, however, is that they are ludicrously, insanely expensive, difficult, and time-consuming to actually make. It is one thing to write a spell in your own short hand, decoding that into the fundamental expressions of magical source code for a grimoire is an entirely different league of complexity. It is even dangerous, and potentially lethal to write down a grimoire-spell wrongly. You also can't cast spells from them spontaneously, they are simply to verbose and wordy to cast in anyway other than as rituals.

Spell Scrolls
Something of the middle ground between Spell-Books and Grimoires, they are idiosyncratic as spell-books are, but they are roughly legible to others as well. Creating a spell-scroll is difficult, but not as difficult as a grimoire. Anyone can cast a scroll's spell from it, as long as they provide the impetus (i.e. the spell slot), and a spell can be copied from a spell-scroll into a spell-book/grimoire, but it does require decoding in the same way as a spell-book before it can be copied from.

In desperate times, you can use a spell-scroll to cast its spell without a spell slot, (such that even non-casters can use a spell scroll in this way) but doing so not only consumes the spell-scroll, but also erases it from the mind of the wizard that originally wrote the spell scroll, and stops the person who cast the spell from ever being able to cast it again.

Scrying Orbs
This one is mine, haha! Take that OSR community! I will be invited to your luxury drinking bars and sup from your golden tables one day!

A real scrying orb is essentially, charged to the brim with magic, and tremendously valuable to the right parties. Much like a wand, it obviates the need to know divination spells to cast them, though it doesn't provide the impetus for them. They don't start off knowing all divination spells however, and any that it doesn't know can be imparted into it but a wizard that knows such a spell, meaning that once the spell has been imparted, no more knowledge of it is required. Unfortunately, they are somewhat rare. The wizards who are actually capable of creating them have no real need of them for the most part except for convenience, so they are not often made.

Arcanite Crystals
Mine too (and might actually be one of the best things I've come up with in my estimation).

Magic is transformative for wizards, certainly figurative, sometimes literally in application, and literally literally for all wizards. Casting spells eventually turns your bones to shimmering arcanite crystal, its why wizards are so fragile. The skeleton of an archmage is literally priceless due to the magnitude of the arcane-energies that reverberate through their bones.

In practical use, Arcanite is the fuel for the most powerful rituals, and allows for wizards to cast spells of a level higher than they might normally be able to manage. They can also be used to provide impetus for spells (essentially acting as extra spell-slots) but they do require a certain amount of time to recharge afterwards. They will eventually burn out when used enough, as represented by a usage die.

There are stories of certain biomancers who have managed to surgically remove their own skeletons, prop their own sacks for flesh up with manufactured replacements, and utilise their own bones to terrifying effect, the personal connection to the arcanite they use magnifying its potency. The odd necromancer has also been said to animate a powerful wizard's skeleton, effectively now having a travelling magical power-house wandering around besides them.

Divine Alternatives
As an addendum, I've also made a small list of equivalents for Divine Casters, which are similar in most ways, but a bit different too, and a bit cooler in some cases I think.

Wands - Reliquaries: Allow you to cast the miracle that was most associated with the saint the Relic originally came from. Doesn't require any HP sacrifice, but does require a offering to recharge once the use die runs down (which are probably also a little smaller on average than wands use die).

Crystals - Offerings: Sort of, they more function in that most clerics need to give regular offerings to their deity to keep up their Divine Favour, and a good enough offering might occasionally grant the pious cleric extra "spell slots". They can't be cynically offered either, their Deity/DM would know the difference between one honestly offered and one offered because the Cleric just wants another spell.

Rods - Sainthood: Again, sort of. On becoming a saint, you are a saint of something, which you can channel through your miracles. It is also a way towards immortality for clerics, much like lichdom for wizards.

Spell Scrolls - Litanies: You can recite a litany to channel its inherent miracle, but you must always have the slot for it.

Grimoires - Sacred Texts: i.e. your faiths bible-equivalents. You can't cast from it spontaneously, only as a ritual, and you can't add to them (unless you're starting a heretical off-shoot, which is a whole other kettle of fish) but they do have generally larger lists of available spells than arcane grimoires, and might have other abilities inherent to them, such as being able to invoke angels.

Rods - Words of God: Again, sort of. The Words of God are the real deal, the literal power of gods actualised as verbal pronouncements that you can learn, if you are devout enough. Once mastered however (and the methods of mastering are as obscure, difficult, and potentially blasphemous as you might think) you can invoke them for essentially free power over the word you have mastered, and alter miracles using them that you cast as well. Dangerous to have, but powerful. Learn enough, and you could essentially act as a god yourself.

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