Your Obedient Serpent (athelind) wrote,
Your Obedient Serpent

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Every so often, I go scouting the web for photos I can use as visual references and game-props. You know: swords, sci-fi blasters, firearms.

Since I'm currently playing a D&D spellcaster, I recently prowled around for wands. To my surprise, there's actually a substantial wand market out there, which is largely divided into two segments: Harry Potter Fans, and New Age Practitioners. There are also Stage Magicians, but Stage Magic Wands are really quite a small percentage of the offerings one finds.

Considering all the cheesy, slapped-together clumps of lumpy pewter, junky quartz and epoxy that I've seen at conventions and gem stores claiming to be "New Age Wands", I really wasn't expecting much from that side of the market. To my surprise, however, there are some GORGEOUS pieces out there. The Wand Workshop makes both wooden wands and ones crafted out of carved selenite. If you can't abide talk of chakras and vibrations and wands "finding" their "partners", just skim over it and look at the pretty pictures.

This made me realize that fantasy gaming pretty much ignores the idea of the Wand as a Magical Tool. Dungeons & Dragons is one of the few games that even acknowledges wands at all -- but a typical D&D spellcaster totes around a whole array of different, single-purpose wands. The resultant mental image of a "wandslinger" draped in a bandolier of baroque batons doesn't look like anything out of any fantasy or folklore of my acquaintance.

Between that "Magic Gun" approach and the mainstream tendency to think of wands largely in connection with tuxedoed stage magicians and gossamer-winged godparents, I guess most gamers find the Magic Wand a little... silly.

The staff, on the other claw, remains popular -- in part because it has Tolkien Chic, and in part because the option to Whup Someone Upside The Head with A Big Stick can often prove useful. Sometimes they even get game mechanics to reflect something beyond their utility as a Blunt Instrument -- Fantasy Trip and GURPS both offered spells that allowed you to use a staff to extend your reach.

Somehow, though, the idea of using one's purified and consecrated Ritual Tool to bludgeon someone seems... crass. A Wand is a magical tool, and nothing else; it's not a hand-to-hand weapon. In pre-D&D fantasy and folklore, when a wizard pulls out a wand, you know he's not gonna just smack someone with it: spells are about to fill the air.

Unless you're playing MAGE, however, no game really gives you a benefit for using a wand as a General Magical Tool to focus your attention and the spell ritual. Nothing stops you from from waving your little baton around or flourishing it like Mr. Potter, but mechanically, it's just an affectation.

Thinking about it, "With my Favorite Wand" would be an interesting Favored Use for Ironclaw spells -- but Favored Uses for IC spells are of dubious utility, since everyone pushes to become Adept. The Blessed Magics of the Doloreaux, with their Paths of tree and vine, would work quite well if the Blessed used a Wand carved from the appropriate wood.

I don't really have any conclusions or suggestions to wrap this up. Does it bug anyone else to let an LJ post just... trail off? Too many years of writing essays, I think.

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