The Genius Guide to Rune Staves and Wyrd Wands PDF (based on
Rogue Genius Games
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Welcome to the first Genius Guide product to present a whole new class of magic items, the titular rune staves and wyrd wands. In many ways this book is an offshoot of our Loot 4 Less line of magic item books, the main difference being the items presented in Rune Staves and Wyrd Wands aren’t restricted to a 25,000 gp limit. Indeed, rules included here can be used to create items with a cost as low as 1,500 gp, or as high as 150,000 gp.
Fans of the Loot 4 Less line of supplements presenting low-cost magic items will be pleased to see a number of elements from those books (such as the Behind the Counter sidebars on pricing) have been continued in this product, so sit back, read, and enjoy a whole new take on wands and staves!
What Are Rune Staves and Wyrd Wands?
Both rune staves and wyrd wands are examples of a new kind of magic item: the magic implement. Defined broadly, magic implements are handheld devices that assist spellcasters with their casting in much the same way magic weapons assist characters in combat. Wyrd wands give casters enhancement bonuses to caster level checks, attack rolls, damage rolls, and possibly one other area, while rune staves can grant bonuses to a wide range of spell-related effects. Both are assumed to have arcane writing built into them (called "wyrds" or "runes," depending on which implement they are scribed on) that allow them to enhance every spell cast by their wielders, rather than being spells-in-a-can that take over when a spellcaster is out of other options.
This pdf is 7 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, leaving 5 1/3 pages of content for you. So..what are these staves?
Essentially, this pdf introduces a general new kind of magic item class and offers staves and wands as examples for this class called magical implements. Essentially, magical implements add extra punch to spells you cast when wielded in one hand while casting, adding e.g. +1d6 damage plus 1 per plus of the wyrd wand. This excessive damage is added after applying metamagic effects from any source. A cost table as well as a sidebox dealing with a more purist approach are also included in the rules-section.
Excessive information is given on how to create more wands/staves and price them accordingly. 23 qualities for wands and staves are given and, if you desire to do so, the whole system is completely compatible with the crafting system and thus is easily implemented and expanded upon, offering you the choice to add the qualities to regular staves.
From the rather elemental-focused qualities that add to their respective element's damage or substitute an elemental quality, there are also supportive qualities that grant additional attribute bonuses to an ally you buff, prevent the spending of a spell the enemy has saved against to a wand that enables you to use subdual damage with your spells, a nice slew of abilities is presented.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 3-column standard and artwork is nothing to write home about. The pdf has no bookmarks. I really enjoy the well-crafted new class of items, as I consider the iconic usage of a staff while casting to be vastly superior to the arcane-ammo approach of the regular game. However, this pdf has one major problem: It's too short. There simply are not enough qualities to make the staves truly imaginative and if you want to implement these tools, you only have the barest minimum of options available. This pdf would have greatly benefitted from having 2-4 additional pages (which is not too much for the price point) with SOME kind of different information. While I e.g. get the need for elemental staves and wands, I think that due to them being mechanically identical and using even the same means of construction, some space could have been cleared in favor of a general elemental staff. 3 staves that substitute energy, 3 that deal added elemental damage and sacred/profane staves that enhance aligned spells mean that 5 of the 25 spells are minor cut-copy-paste variations of the same quality, further thinning out the content we get. In the end, additional content would have made this a 5-star file - as written, though, it just does not offer enough content to stand up to similarly-priced magic item books like NNW's books on Orbs and Staves. My final verdict will thus be 3 stars due to not offering enough content.
The production values, editing, grammar, and spelling are all quite good. Not perfect, but the number of errors are low and on par with other professional publications.
The sidebars and discussions of why some things work as they do are welcome and helpful. IF anyone chooses to modify the rules, knowing why some elements are presented as they are helps when making changes. The comparisons with standard staves and wands are especially helpful.
The concept of the magical implement appears in D&D 4E already, and is a somewhat similar in function there. The exection here is better suited to D%D 3.5 and to Pathfinder. Users of the varians from Unearthed Arcana for Magic Effect Rating and "Players Roll all the Dice" may be especially interested in how this ties to those options (which, essentially, were a preview of what was coming in D&D 4E).
The pricing and costs are modeled on those for enhancing weapons and armor, in that there is a base price based on the total enhancement bonus, there is a maximum of +5 on the enhancement bonus itself, additional effects are priced based on equivalent enhancement bonus value, and the overall effective total for an item is up to +10 total. Anyone used to working with the Magic Weapon or Magic Armor tables in the Core Rulebook should have no problems with this.
The mix of abilities is a bit light, and could use some fleshing out. That is probably a good element for an expanded, print edition, or in a compilation. THe mix presented here is a good starter set, and enterprising GMs will be able to create additional ones with no more difficulty than creating new weapon abilities. One gap, however, is diversity. While damage-dealing spells are covered well, other types are less well represented. Damaging spells, particularly those based on elemental effects, have multiple options, while other spell types have only one.
The most notable thing missing, however, is a discussion of how the implement's enhancement bonus combines (or is not combinable) with a weapon enhancement bonus. For that matter, there is no discussion of how the Arcane Bond with an item might be used. A Wizard with a staff as his arcane bond item would be interested (probably eager) to add some of these effects as well as weapon enhancements. The pricing sidebar talks around the issue, even mentioning adding the Holy weapon power to an implement.. but avoids the next likely topic of mixing weapon enhancements with implement enhancements in the same item. This may be because, as noted in the brief mention of the Holy staff implement, the pricing pushes out beyond the Loot for Less boundaries, but it seems a significant omission not to address the combination more completely.
The layout is a bit jarring. The pages are laid out in landscape for 8.5x11 paper with 3 columns. The cover page, however, shows the cover occupying 2 columns and the first portion of the text in the 3rd.That gives a feeling that the pages are somewhat awkwardly linked together.
The art is good, mosty evocative of the theme. The cover's near-naked female spellcaster seems a little gratuitous, though; dark robes might have been better given that she seems to be raising the undead.
I really like the concept and execution. The options presented are a good beginning, but need more fleshing out, and the interaction with weapon enhancements needs to be defined. This material will probably be of great interest to players with multi-class characters, in helping them make up some of the gap from lost caster levels.
Great addition to add more flavor to Staves and Wands
Super Genius Guide to: Rune Staves and Wyrd Wands by Super Genius Games
This product is 7 pages long. It starts with a cover, and intro. (3 pages)
This section explains how the new staves and wands work, why they decided to do this and a side bar about how these wands don't work like normal wands and Staves and how you can make them work like normal ones. The cost shows how much they cost to make, they are limited to adding a +5 but the chart goes up to a cost of a +10 in case you want to add more features to a single wand.
Next we get into the new effects you can give these wands and staves. There is 23 listed effects. They do anything from. (3 pages)
Alluring – You add your bonus to skill checks when used against targets under the effects of “charm” type spells.
Arcing – Changes the damage type to Electric. So fireball does electric dmg instead of fire.
Frosty – ads 1d6 of cold damage when cold based spells are cast using it.
In addition to the new effects the +1-+5 bonus from the stave or wand also come into play. They add a bonus to hit(if one is required), bonus damage to first dice of damage. (examples, 5th level wiz cast fireball would be 5d6+5 if used with a +5 wand, while Magic Missile would be 3 missiles, the first one doing 1d4+1+5, while the other two do 1d4+1) and to all caster checks to over come SR or effectiveness such as with remove disease etc.
It ends with credits and OGL. (1 page)
Closing thoughts. It also has sections on how to add other effects to these wands and staves. Such as a holy staff etc. It gets into the costs and why the choices where made. The enhancements are interesting and for the most part for me this makes staves and wands a lot more interesting than before. Before they was just battery operated spell devices you pulled out now and again to cast something. Now they can effect and change how your magic works, which makes them a lot more interesting.
Now I do have one critic about the book. For damage based spells these are great. For other spells they are still nice because of the new effects. But really the bonuses don't really come into play except on the damage based spells. Except on rare cases, I would have liked to have seen the bonuses have more effect on other spells. To give people more of a reason to want a +5 wyrd wand to use with charm person for example. Yes some of the effects do indeed do this. But it always helps damage spells, regardless of the effect. I would have liked to have seen something like that added for other spells.
I thought about it, I consider saves but discarded it quickly. But perhaps you could add the bonuses to the level of the spell for determining duration? Not sure but something like that would have been nice to add. So really that is my only critic of this book. The art is fair to good, with a mix of black and white and color. The writing, layout and editing was very well done as you would expect from SGG. So what's my rating? I am giving it a 4.5 review, only thing keeping me from giving it a 5 is the one critic I mentioned. I heartily recommend this product.
The idea of it is very cool, seems balanced after my first read over, and will make things even more interesting.
I have a wizard who has a masterwork family bow, and simple making it a +1 bane this and that seemed a waste for a wizard. So I plan to use these rules and make the bow a with the magical enhancements rather then a combat bow. Plus I am sure I will find other ways to use these a fey magical items just to add more magic top the fey in my Kingmaker campaign.
Reread it and another very cool idea is to make the item a book or tome. Still requires them to grasp it, plus I can fill is up with spells that fit the theme of the enhancements. I can totally see a Fiery Wyrd tome, filled with fireball, burning hands spells as well as enhancing those very spells when the book is in hand. So neat!