Do you still like, or ever liked, "Wands of X" and similar mechanics?

I started D&Ding with AD&D 1e and got really into it with 2e, so it's not like I haven't been around the block a few times.  I enjoyed the game, but I do remember some quirky rules or "conventions" of the game that always sort of irked me.  They were not necessarily "bad" or "unsound" mechanics.  I just didn't like the feel of them.

The biggest offender for me was "Wands of X" and other magical items that had spell charges.  In some cases it felt okay, like a ring that grants 3 wishes.  But that felt okay because it echoed established fantasy tropes like Aladdin's Genie/Djinni, or any number of fairy-tales.  3 is nice number with good narrative rhythm.

But a Wand of X with 50 charges?  Ugh.  It felt awkward and artificial to me.  Aside from some potentially unfortunate mechanical aftereffects (like a Wand of Knock devaluing the party's rogue/thief, or a Wand of CLW acting as a band-aid stick), the overall feel of this sort of magic gun with a clip of spells bothered me.  It didn't echo any fantasy narrative I was familiar with, and all-around felt silly to me.  I wasn't sad to see this convention go by the wayside.

Anyone else feel this way?  Did you feel it for the same reasons as I?  What were your reasons for not liking it?

Or did you really like these mechanics, and the feel they evoked?  Did it evoke the same feel as it did for me, but you just liked it?  Or maybe it evoked something that I missed?

Please share your thoughts.
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I was usually pretty neutral.  I never LIKED it, because in many ways it felt like a patch for trying to solve the problem of casters running out of spells.  I didn't care for the fact that the rogue was better served with wands of Knock and Find Traps maxed out Use Magic Device than actually learning to pick locks, either.
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I was usually pretty neutral.  I never LIKED it, because in many ways it felt like a patch for trying to solve the problem of casters running out of spells.  I didn't care for the fact that the rogue was better served with wands of Knock and Find Traps maxed out Use Magic Device than actually learning to pick locks, either.



Maybe that was it.  "Oh no!  Casters can run out of spells and be useless!  Let's give them an easy way to circumvent their only real weakness!"  Certainly that was a mechanical issue for me.

What about "feel", Salla?  Did you like, dislike, or remain neutral on the idea of magic items with limited charges?  Do you like what that evokes, setting-wise, or did it bother you?
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Yeah, it seemed to me that the correct way to fix the issue of casters running out of spells would be to make them not run out of spells (see: 4e's at-will powers).

As far as feel goes ... neutral.  It was what it was.  It seems most appropriate to a setting where magic has notable effects on sociological development (which should be all of them, of course).
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Mmmm... I think it fits Eberron more than, say, Forgotten Realms, and surely much more than Dark Sun. It's something I think would be commonplace in high magic high technology settings, much less in settings where resource management is key (i.e. Dark Sun).
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I never really liked it, it just always seemed well, necessary at low levels (I forget how many level 5 magic users I saw with wands of fireball or sleep, or staff of the archmagi). Then at high level...
I do like the way wands are done in AD&D, but I don't much like the generic, "any spell under a certain level" can be put into a wand of 3E.  It took me a little while to come to grips with the 4E method of wands:  "They're really not storage devices at all!" was my first thought.  Then I realized they ARE storage devices, but for (generally) only one spell at a time, with an automatic recharge capability (of 5 minutes or 6 hours).  I would say that the wand mechanics (and powers, in general) were major driving forces in the way I built my 4E campaign world.

-DS
I started D&Ding with AD&D 1e and got really into it with 2e, so it's not like I haven't been around the block a few times.  I enjoyed the game, but I do remember some quirky rules or "conventions" of the game that always sort of irked me.  They were not necessarily "bad" or "unsound" mechanics.  I just didn't like the feel of them.

The biggest offender for me was "Wands of X" and other magical items that had spell charges.  In some cases it felt okay, like a ring that grants 3 wishes.  But that felt okay because it echoed established fantasy tropes like Aladdin's Genie/Djinni, or any number of fairy-tales.  3 is nice number with good narrative rhythm.

But a Wand of X with 50 charges?  Ugh.  It felt awkward and artificial to me.  Aside from some potentially unfortunate mechanical aftereffects (like a Wand of Knock devaluing the party's rogue/thief, or a Wand of CLW acting as a band-aid stick), the overall feel of this sort of magic gun with a clip of spells bothered me.  It didn't echo any fantasy narrative I was familiar with, and all-around felt silly to me.  I wasn't sad to see this convention go by the wayside.

Anyone else feel this way?  Did you feel it for the same reasons as I?  What were your reasons for not liking it?

Or did you really like these mechanics, and the feel they evoked?  Did it evoke the same feel as it did for me, but you just liked it?  Or maybe it evoked something that I missed?

Please share your thoughts.



I've only experienced the old ways through video games, and can say that those charges made me never use the item in question for fear that I'd need it later.  Meanwhile, wands and other magic of 4th edition made me feel like it was a daily, not "campaignly" decision to use magic items of any kind, least of all wands.

tl;dr I like 4th's version because I feel more prone to use them.

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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
I started D&Ding with AD&D 1e and got really into it with 2e, so it's not like I haven't been around the block a few times.  I enjoyed the game, but I do remember some quirky rules or "conventions" of the game that always sort of irked me.  They were not necessarily "bad" or "unsound" mechanics.  I just didn't like the feel of them.

The biggest offender for me was "Wands of X" and other magical items that had spell charges.  In some cases it felt okay, like a ring that grants 3 wishes.  But that felt okay because it echoed established fantasy tropes like Aladdin's Genie/Djinni, or any number of fairy-tales.  3 is nice number with good narrative rhythm.

But a Wand of X with 50 charges?  Ugh.  It felt awkward and artificial to me.  Aside from some potentially unfortunate mechanical aftereffects (like a Wand of Knock devaluing the party's rogue/thief, or a Wand of CLW acting as a band-aid stick), the overall feel of this sort of magic gun with a clip of spells bothered me.  It didn't echo any fantasy narrative I was familiar with, and all-around felt silly to me.  I wasn't sad to see this convention go by the wayside.

Anyone else feel this way?  Did you feel it for the same reasons as I?  What were your reasons for not liking it?

Or did you really like these mechanics, and the feel they evoked?  Did it evoke the same feel as it did for me, but you just liked it?  Or maybe it evoked something that I missed?

Please share your thoughts.

I liked the idea of charges.  It made wands different from other magic items.  Also, depending on their check, I would only give a rough idea of how many charges were left to create some suspense
I never really liked them that much. Basically they existed only because the system resource management almost required it.

I'd rather have a wand with 1 charge per encounter or X charges per day. Or a wand that lets you cast spell X by powering it up with a spell of same or higher level (spell expended without effect). Perhaps an artificer would then have a few extra "wand uses" on top of his spells as a special feature.
We never told/were told how many charges a wand had back then. You used the wand once to figure out what it did, then you used it when needed until that unlucky turn when nothing happened. I (and as far as I can tell, everyone I ever played with) loved rods, staves and wands in 1E/2E. I don't think a single one of us has used a wand in 4E or given one out as treasure in almost four years of near-constant play. 
I'd rather have a wand with 1 charge per encounter or X charges per day. Or a wand that lets you cast spell X by powering it up with a spell of same or higher level (spell expended without effect). Perhaps an artificer would then have a few extra "wand uses" on top of his spells as a special feature.



I really prefer this method to the traditonal wands.  I loved Scribe Scroll and Craft Wand in 3.5ed as a way to keep my halfling wizard in the game.  It was nice to have some sort of back-up item for adventuring Shocking Grasp wand at low levels, etc- just do avoid being a dagger tosser or crossbow wizard.  

But the resource model is one I want to get away from.  I think the +2 Wand of Magic Missile is pretty cool from 4e.  I like the idea that wizards can use magic items to improve their chances to hit/cause damage.  I like having an encounter power or daily built into an item without worrying about keeping track of charges or burning it out entirely.  


Wand of Cure Light Wounds (level one- 50 charges) - was just a weird mechanic my group really fought hard to avoid, "Okay so rather than waste the cleric's spells between combat to heal the party up, we are going to go to the magic shoppe and buy three wands for -xxx-gp.  That way when we are out of combat we can get our hit points back."  Did not like this at all.       
I didn't like the old AD&D style wands with charges, but if you played a low-level AD&D wizard and you didn't have one (even a lowly wand of magic missiles) you were pretty much useless in combat and it would only be a matter of time until your head was stuck on the end of an orc's spear...

 I guess what I really didn't like was Vancian magic... I hope they attempt to make low level mages somewhat useful such as in 4E and don't make high level mages into the vastly overpowered pre 4E versions... although a bit more damage potential would be ok
I never really liked the old style wands. I'd be happy if they stayed gone.
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I too was never a fan of charged items.  I'd be fine with seeing them go the way of the dinosaur.

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I'm for them staying gone.  They were okay in AD&D, when the brakes were still on, so to speak.  The 'clip of magic bullets' feel was still there, but the items were rare enough, ime, that it wasn't too bad.  In 3.5, they were just so accessible, though, that it got pretty bad.  Every group seemed to have a few CLW wands laying around.  Miracles should come in Clerics, not in Cans(excepting Warforged).

What I think would be cool is to have a new Wand of X mechanic, where a caster can use a wand of X when casting X to boost X's effect.  Like a Wand of Magic Missile could be used to have your magic missile spell produce an extra missile. 
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Yes, hated the old wands with 50 odd charges, but really liked the 4e equivalents that gave an encounter or daily use, or that gave a boost when a particular spell was used. Incidentally I like magic items and consider them an integral part of D&D and I like the 4e powers as well.
I used to really enjoy wands of X in previous editions.  

First, you need to determine the wand is magical and figure out the command word to get it to opperate.  This took some time, research, and resources on the part of the group.  

Second, once you have knew what the wand did, and how to opperate it, you never new how many charges the wand had left.  

I don't remember if it was actually in the rules or just how I was doing it, but a wand would radiate magic the same if it had 45 charages or if it had 0 left, once you tried to use it when it was out of charges it would drain the last bit of power and become inert.

Wands of Cure Light Wounds didn't even exist in 1st edition according to the encyclopedia magica.  

All magic items in my games tended to have story behind them too, and were basically unique (the group would never find a second wand of fireballs in the game - they were just too rare for it).   
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I'm neutral on both pre & 4e wand mechancs.
I think the biggest problem with the way items changed from AD&D to the later versions is how absurdly easy it was to get them. Once a player had it easy things got stupid. It felt like I was running a magic item surplus store with all of the junk the players could now just pony up the price for. 

The entire character building process seemed to revolve around the player having this stuff. If you didn't give it to them then they were effectively gimped to the point where you had to constantly adjust the encounters to work with less than optimal characters.

I liked it much better when I could put minor and useless items in a treasure to increase the gold piece value with out worrying if the right character would get the right item or if it was going to throw off the careful balance of power I'd established in the party.  


Before the advent of magic marts a wand with 10 charges was something to husband. You used it if you absolutely had to. I wasn't likely to drop another one into a treasure trove any time soon. I never gave out fully charged wands and it cost too much in time and money to charge them up. 

They can't break your game if you are the one doling them out.
 
In general, I like charged magic items.  They're nothing more than a stack of consumables bound up into a single convenient package.


In specific, I don't particularly like the 3E Wand of X system, where any spell of a low enough level can be made into a wand.  It made them feel too mass-produced.  However, I enjoyed the 2E system, where wands were just charged magic items that had powers that cost charges rather than a receptacle for a single spell.
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I love the IDEA of magic users walking around with magic items, but really despised the way they were implemented.

A wand of cure light wounds 50 was ridiculous. A wand of cure light wounds that can be used once per encounter is not so bad. Same with a wand of fireballs or whatnot.

I ran with the idea of wands being encounter powers you had to recharge, rods effecting the spell you cast in some way, and staves having both functions but being a pita to carry around. (I would let you wear a bandolier of wands and rods but one staff was it.)

So I do not mind the items proposed function it was just they did it wrong. I think that mages are balanced without such items so no item should increase effectivess by more then 10% or so at absolute most. They should not greatly enhance peak performance. (well this is exactly what rods should do but it should be minor) I have no problem for instance with a rod that adds and extra d6 fire damage if that is all it does when it is held in hand.

I would also be very careful with the lvel you allow such items to exist at. I drop stuff as loot all the time but it is MINOR. You do not give a level one mage a wand of fireballs. You give him a wand of summon bunnies. If he wants the fireball wand he has to make it himself :p
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Personally I've always found wands lame. I just like the 'visual' look of casters with staffs, orbs, or even weaving spells with their hands. Wands are just so not cool to me, so I never gave them out as loot, so I don't have too much experience with them.

But the whole 'charge' issue is ok with me when the charges are low - 50 is to much. 
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Personally I've always found wands lame. I just like the 'visual' look of casters with staffs, orbs, or even weaving spells with their hands. Wands are just so not cool to me, so I never gave them out as loot, so I don't have too much experience with them.  



Heh, that was my old response, now after the Harry Potter shows came out I changed my mind. But honestly the wizard does the casting the wand is a focus is so much closer to umm myth and legend that yeh charges are tacky.
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I generally dislike counting charges and ammo in RPGs. Not just wands but arrows and sling bullets and similar things too. It always seems to me like it's an unnecessary bit of bookeeping most of the time. Even prior to 4e I houseruled that my players could assume they carried effectively unlimited nonmagical ammo for bows and slings, pending DM intervention (which never had to occur). And I would have done something similar with wands if the situation had come up, probably making wands have a certain number of uses per fight or per day instead of 50 total charges.

So it's not surprising I like 4e's take on ammo and wands much better. All ammo is unlimited and wands have both passive properties that are always on and have activated spells that can be used once per day or once per encounter. I'd definitely rather use that sort of system than keeping track of wand charges and ammo.
I liked them - but I liked them as a rare and uncontrolled resource for the players (i.e. in AD&D).  That is - something they occasionally found in treasure - often before they could even cast the spell for themselves and thus represented powerful and rare magic.

I hated them - but I hated them as a commodity to be manufactured, used and discarded by the players (i.e. in 3.x).  That is - something they made or purchased - usually as a way to get around the limits of Vancian magic and thus represented cheap and commonplace magic.

Carl
+1 for CarlT's view.
I liked them - but I liked them as a rare and uncontrolled resource for the players (i.e. in AD&D).  That is - something they occasionally found in treasure - often before they could even cast the spell for themselves and thus represented powerful and rare magic.

I hated them - but I hated them as a commodity to be manufactured, used and discarded by the players (i.e. in 3.x).  That is - something they made or purchased - usually as a way to get around the limits of Vancian magic and thus represented cheap and commonplace magic.

Carl


Yeah, Carl's pretty spot on, here.
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I always like the Wands of X in 1e.  They were still a limited resource (and you usually didn’t know how limited) but usually had enough charges that they could still be used frequently. I thinked they worked great in 1e.  In 1e I had an elf archer with a magical bow that had charged.  It did a lot more damage when using a charge so it gave me another option that I couldn’t abuse because once the charges were gone there wasn’t an easy way to recharge it (I never did get it recharged).


I played very little 3/3.5 but from the description of wands in this thread I don’t think I would have liked them.  In general I am not a fan of easily produced magic items.  Nothing inherently wrong with it, it just isn’t my taste.

 Any Edition


I always like the Wands of X in 1e.  They were still a limited resource (and you usually didn’t know how limited) but usually had enough charges that they could still be used frequently. I thinked they worked great in 1e.  In 1e I had an elf archer with a magical bow that had charged.  It did a lot more damage when using a charge so it gave me another option that I couldn’t abuse because once the charges were gone there wasn’t an easy way to recharge it (I never did get it recharged).


I played very little 3/3.5 but from the description of wands in this thread I don’t think I would have liked them.  In general I am not a fan of easily produced magic items.  Nothing inherently wrong with it, it just isn’t my taste.




+10

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I always like the Wands of X in 1e.  They were still a limited resource (and you usually didn’t know how limited) but usually had enough charges that they could still be used frequently. I thinked they worked great in 1e.  In 1e I had an elf archer with a magical bow that had charged.  It did a lot more damage when using a charge so it gave me another option that I couldn’t abuse because once the charges were gone there wasn’t an easy way to recharge it (I never did get it recharged).

I played very little 3/3.5 but from the description of wands in this thread I don’t think I would have liked them.  In general I am not a fan of easily produced magic items.  Nothing inherently wrong with it, it just isn’t my taste.



I would be against the unknown charges thing.  Mainly because I'd never use it for fear that I might run out.  Then again, I'm the guy who buys 99 of every consumable item I can in Final Fantasies, even though I know logically that I'll never use them all.  And any time I head to a town I stock back up, even on starting potions I had.  Just in case.


I dislike being caught unprepared.  Adrenaline hurts like hell and makes me sick.  x_x  I play games on easy or ultra cautiously for a reason.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
I would want to see wands of X for any power that can be gained as a at will trough a feat.

so you could get the feet to cast magic missle as at will power.
or could keep buying wands of magic missle if you dan't want to spend the feat
I always like the Wands of X in 1e.  They were still a limited resource (and you usually didn’t know how limited) but usually had enough charges that they could still be used frequently. I thinked they worked great in 1e.  In 1e I had an elf archer with a magical bow that had charged.  It did a lot more damage when using a charge so it gave me another option that I couldn’t abuse because once the charges were gone there wasn’t an easy way to recharge it (I never did get it recharged).

I played very little 3/3.5 but from the description of wands in this thread I don’t think I would have liked them.  In general I am not a fan of easily produced magic items.  Nothing inherently wrong with it, it just isn’t my taste.



I would be against the unknown charges thing.  Mainly because I'd never use it for fear that I might run out.  Then again, I'm the guy who buys 99 of every consumable item I can in Final Fantasies, even though I know logically that I'll never use them all.  And any time I head to a town I stock back up, even on starting potions I had.  Just in case.


I dislike being caught unprepared.  Adrenaline hurts like hell and makes me sick.  x_x  I play games on easy or ultra cautiously for a reason.




The game should not be designed around your personal problems.

 Any Edition

I agree with Carl.
...
I hated them - but I hated them as a commodity to be manufactured, used and discarded by the players (i.e. in 3.x).  That is - something they made or purchased - usually as a way to get around the limits of Vancian magic and thus represented cheap and commonplace magic.

Carl



I differ slightly with this. As I mentioned in a post above I didn't like the 50 charges game mechanic, but I did like that casters had the option to craft wands. I see it as analagous in theory to fighters being able to craft armor or weapons. Yes, there were some game balance issues in 3e because there was no limit to how often wands could be used each fight and 50 charges is a huge number of charges, but in principle had wands been able to fire only once or twice a day or something like they do in 4e I think that would have addressed that particular balance issue.

So I'm all for the ability to make your own wands just like I'm all for the ability to make your own magic items of other sorts. I'm just not fond of the 50 charges play mechanic and the way wands in older editions could be used over and over and over if desired right in a row.
I always like the Wands of X in 1e.  They were still a limited resource (and you usually didn’t know how limited) but usually had enough charges that they could still be used frequently. I thinked they worked great in 1e.  In 1e I had an elf archer with a magical bow that had charged.  It did a lot more damage when using a charge so it gave me another option that I couldn’t abuse because once the charges were gone there wasn’t an easy way to recharge it (I never did get it recharged).

I played very little 3/3.5 but from the description of wands in this thread I don’t think I would have liked them.  In general I am not a fan of easily produced magic items.  Nothing inherently wrong with it, it just isn’t my taste.



I would be against the unknown charges thing.  Mainly because I'd never use it for fear that I might run out.  Then again, I'm the guy who buys 99 of every consumable item I can in Final Fantasies, even though I know logically that I'll never use them all.  And any time I head to a town I stock back up, even on starting potions I had.  Just in case.


I dislike being caught unprepared.  Adrenaline hurts like hell and makes me sick.  x_x  I play games on easy or ultra cautiously for a reason.




The game should not be designed around your personal problems.




To be fair, 4th edition was in a way.  I knew if a power was at-will, encounter or daily, and when I could use it depended on the tactics of the encounter and the flow of battle, as well as if I had already used it.  All parameters accounted for. 

Games might not need to be designed around a person's personal problems, but the overarching need to allow for a diverse number of players does require thought and planning so that anyone can play the game and enjoy themselves.  Games should initially be designed to include everyone, especially one that is not a video game in this day and age.

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." --Bill Cosby (1937- ) Vanador: OK. You ripped a gateway to Hell, killed half the town, and raised the dead as feral zombies. We're going to kill you. But it can go two ways. We want you to run as fast as you possibly can toward the south of the town to draw the Zombies to you, and right before they catch you, I'll put an arrow through your head to end it instantly. If you don't agree to do this, we'll tie you this building and let the Zombies rip you apart slowly. Dimitry: God I love being Neutral. 4th edition is dead, long live 4th edition. Salla: opinionated, but commonly right.
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You have to do the work first, and show you can do the work, before someone is going to pay you for it.
69216168 wrote:
If you can't understand how someone yelling at another person would make them fight harder and longer, then you need to look at the forums a bit closer.
quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
I was just messing with you, but if the rules say that the player is unaware of the number of charges it would be easy for your DM to rule differently.

 Any Edition

I liked Wands of CLW in 3.5, because it solved the issue of post-combat healing requiring the party to rest after every fight. However, I think that surges and short rests solved that problem much more elegantly in 4E.

Too bad they will probably throw it away in 5E.
I liked Wands of CLW in 3.5, because it solved the issue of post-combat healing requiring the party to rest after every fight. However, I think that surges and short rests solved that problem much more elegantly in 4E.

Too bad they will probably throw it away in 5E.



Have you seen the thread, which presents wounds to do the duty of HS, and surgeless healing as being the rarer healing which removes wounds? its almost a reflavoring as far as balance you cannot be inspired after you have taken more than N wounds. IE hit points remain energy/inspiration/luck quickly recoverable but those ummm obcessed with hp = wounds now have something different to look at. And it swaps across wth heroic reserves for those who wish to evolve healing surges to there more active uses ;p
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I would want to see wands of X for any power that can be gained as a at will trough a feat.

so you could get the feet to cast magic missle as at will power.
or could keep buying wands of magic missle if you dan't want to spend the feat



+1  

This might be a great solution if you really want these types of wands in the game.  
I liked Wands of CLW in 3.5, because it solved the issue of post-combat healing requiring the party to rest after every fight. However, I think that surges and short rests solved that problem much more elegantly in 4E.

Too bad they will probably throw it away in 5E.



LOL, for some reason this made me picture a bunch of adventurer types all setting down on the corpse of an Ogre and then someone pulls out a six pack "Hey, who wants a frosty cold CLW?"

Coors Light WoundsTongue Out
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