A wand is a magical instrument through which a mage channels magical powers for more complex and powerful results. Most spells are done with the aid of wands, but magic can be accomplished without the use of wands. Casting with a wand is performed with an intention, an 1 incantation, and a gesture. When these align properly, the spells are successful, although their potency depends on both the wand and the user.
Wands are unique instruments, with the various wand components each attuned to their respective magical affinities and resonating together in complex fashion. These resonances generate various harmonics with the emotions or spirit of the user and the type of magic they cast. A properly crafted wand, when correctly matched with the user, resonates with the user's magic and amplifies the spell being cast. Careful selection of a wand is therefore key to a wizard’s success in spell casting. An artificier who creates wands is oftentimes called a wandmaker, or sometimes (depending on the application of the wands in question, a weaponizer.
Wizards are generally not of a singular aspect, and their magic is often a blend of affinities, so there are multiple wand-wizard combinations that will be perfectly functional. Wandmakers can, to various extents, divine the essence of a wizard and greatly assist in the choosing of a wand. As can be surmised, there are many wand combinations that will work poorly or simply fail if a wizard attempts to use them, so you should be cautious in borrowing or taking a wand and expecting a functional result. Your nature and magic can also change over time, as a consequence of age, life transitions, and significant events, which then changes the wand-wizard interaction. Famous examples of wands ‘switching allegiances’ are the consequence of a wizard changing their nature to such an extent that the wand falls out of tune with their magic. In these cases, the wand may come into the possession of a wizard whose spirit better resonates with its essence.
Accordingly, you may find that you need different wands throughout your life as a wizard, as you continue to grow and hone your magic. This is especially true if you come to specialize in a particular form of magic. Some Wizards have a regular wand for quotidian spell casting, a combat or dueling wand, and other wands for more specialized purposes. Finding the right wand can take some time, and having one made for you can take much longer. A backup wand that matches your affinities is therefore recommended, in case of breakage or loss of your primary wand.
Acquiring a Wand
Most mages buy their first wand when they are eleven—just before starting their magical education. They may try out multiple wands until they find the one that best suits them. Some mages inherit wands from their families and must learn to wrestle control of the artifact that has a long history with another. Mages from poorer backgrounds can be gifted a wand from The Cinnabar Society or may use one of the school’s loaner wands until they purchase -- or create -- their own.
Parts of a Wand
Wands are typically formed as a long shaft, usually of wood, that surrounds a core of magical substance. The interaction of these two elements is unique-- even though two wands may have cores from the same creature and the shafts come from the same tree branch, they will not be exactly alike. Although the parts of a wand are organically dead, they are magically and spiritually very much alive.
- The Wand Shaft
- The wand shaft can be thought of as a tube or pipe surrounding the wand core and directing the magical energy of the spell. The properties of the wand shaft should match the emotions and spirit of the wizard. This will determine how the wand interfaces with the wizard’s hand, how much precision and control the wand affords the mage, and how robust the wand is in the face of intense or overwhelming magical energy. Historically, various types of wood have been used for the shaft, including maple, holly, oak, cherry, cedar, willow, yew, birch, and alder (see chart). The availability of these will vary depending upon the wizard’s geographical location, but any reputable wandmaker will have a suitable variety to choose from. Bone has long been used by certain wizards as a wand shaft, but these individuals have generally been practitioners of dark arts and this material is best avoided by law-abiding wizards.
- In modern times, artificers have experimented with creating wands from other materials, and today we may see wands with shafts made of wire and clay, glass, metal, or other natural and synthetic materials. Advances in artificery are introducing additional alloys and resins of potential use to spellcasters. Wizards are divided about how they feel about these “new-fangled” wands. Some purists believe wood is the only proper wand shaft material, while others believe that wands should incorporate other elements and that restricting the shafts to wood is limiting their magical abilities and creativity. The magical behaviors of these new materials is not well understood and they are a subject of intense study by wandmakers and artificers alike.
- The Wand Core
- (see: Wand Core Properties)
- The core of a wand is a magical substance laid within the axis of the wand shaft. Usually comprised of hair, feather, or bone fragments extracted from a Magical Creature, the core is the part of a wand that is most attuned to the wizard’s type of magic. The materials used for wand cores can vary widely, although certain wand-makers may prefer to use certain materials. A wide variety of cores have been documented, including cactus cat spine, lightning snake bone, snipe antennae, triple eagle feather, troll whisker, and wyvern heartstring. The properties of the wand core determine the level of sheer magical power the wand can channel and which types of magic the wand has affinity for. The compatibility between the properties of the wand shaft and the wand core are of clear significance, and synergy between them can significantly impact the results of casting. Ill-crafted wands, with a core and shaft that are poorly tuned, can result in unpredictable and even harmful spellcasting. It is believed that some dark wizards purposefully create misaligned wands in order to harness the negative energies and disharmonies for their own power and use. Tricksters with more ability than sense may also build and set out wands with haphazard effects for their entertainment as other wizards attempt to use them.
Other Wand Characteristics
- Length and Rigidity
- Additional important characteristics of a wand are its length and its rigidity. These are usually selected by the preferences and affinities of the wizard, but several points should be kept in mind. Very short wands show some loss in magical puissance/effectiveness, while overly long wands are easily broken and get caught on clothing and objects in the wizard’s path. The length of a wand must both harmonize with the bearer and suit their aesthetic and personal preferences. The optimum is generally close to a golden ratio between the length of the wand and the arm of the wizard. You should thus begin looking at wands that are roughly two-thirds (0.61 times, to be more exact) the length of your arm. If that does not feel right, then wands somewhat shorter or longer should be tried out until you find a point where spellcasting can be performed with the most ease. Wand flexibility ranges from unyielding to springy. Flexibility has interesting effects--rigid wands are more appropriate for ritual magic that has exacting requirements for motion and timing, for example, while flexible wands can add peculiar filigrees useful for charms.
- Surface Features
- The powerful magics involved in creating a wand usually causes the surface to have a slightly rough surface. The wandmaker may leave this as is, or polish the wand to a smooth or glossy finish. With regular use by a wizard the grip obtains a characteristic smooth patina. Heavy spellcasting may result in the front end of the wand becoming rough, or even pitted, depending on the magics used. Also an artifact of the wandmaking process, the runes that are sometimes found covering a wand are there to secure particularly energetic or unstable cores into the shaft.
- Crystals And/Or Gemstones
- These things may occasionally be set into the wand in order to balance or augment particular affinities of a wand. These are sometimes also added by wandmakers or Artificers for better wand-wizard matching. Some wands display a variety of bumps and ridges, which are typically added by the wandmaker to smooth out certain wand resonances. When crafted into the wand grip, these can improve the wizard’s hold on their wand. These features are useful if expansive gestures are required during spell casting, and also if the wizard lives in cold climes and often must wear gloves. Finally, wire is an uncommon feature on wands, but when seen is usually found with those used by Artificer wandmakers, or by Artificers seeking to tweak wand function. Wire that is loose and not magically bonded to the wand shaft can have unpredictable effects on spellcasting, however.
All these different factors have various effects on the character of the wand, but these rules are subtle. The characteristics of a wand also seem to have some influence over which kinds of magic the wand is particularly suited for. A comprehensive description of each of these is beyond the scope of this guide and the interested student should consult their teacher or seek out the relevant literature.
(see: Wand Wood Properties)
The type of wood that one's wand is made of can affect how the wand casts certain types of magic, whether it has an elemental affinity, and how well the wand attunes to a particular mage or Wizard. Artificiers who specialize in wandmaking oftentimes go to extreme lengths to learn or record these properties so that they can make tools that are perfectly suited not just to the task at hand, but also to the wizard set for the task.