Magic Focusing: Variant for Charged Magic Items

This is an update of a post originally made on 1/9/2016.

I’ve been reading through old issues of Dragon Magazine for things to convert to 5e. While I’ve found plenty of cool articles and short fiction to read, (not to mention Snarf Quest and Wormy), there has been a lack of things that would port well into 5th Edition.

Then I was reading issue #111. While I’ve barely got into the issue, the first article really caught my eye. Good Stuff, For a Spell. Magic Focusing, a New Dimension for Possessions, by John M. Maxstadt. It provides a variant idea for powering charged magic items such as wands and staffs.

The old school 81 charge wand of fireballs, for example, never struck my fancy. Players either hoarded charges and mostly forgot about them, or used them at every opportunity, blasting everything until all charges were gone.

I’m not really a fan of 5th Edition’s 7 charges that regenerate, either. I’m not really sure why, but it just doesn’t seem right to me.

What the article presents is really just an idea, not fully fleshed out. He leaves “the details of the individual items up to the individual DMs and designers.” He calls them “magic focusing items”.

Magic Focusing Item

A magic focusing item allows a spell caster to power it with their own spell slots to activate the abilities of the item. A magic focusing wand of fireballs itself has no charges, but allows you to cast fireball if you power it with at least a 3rd level spell slot. You don’t have to have fireball memorized, or even have it as a spell known to cast it, as long as you focus your spell slot through the wand. Powering the wand with a 5th level spell slot works the same as casting a fireball with a 5th level slot.

Magic focusing items can not “store up” spell slots cast before hand. The spell slot must be used at the time the effect is desired.

More than wands can be magic focusing. Any item with charges can be “converted” into a magic focusing item. A staff of fire can cast burning hands, fireball, or wall of fire, as long as the user powers it with either a first, third, or fourth level (or higher) spell slot.

Many other items can me magic focusing as well. A ring of feather fall, an amulet with the shield spell, or a bracer of web.

Non Spellcaster Variant

You can spend one of your Hit Die, or gain a level of exhaustion to power a spell focusing item. Each hit die or level of exhaustion expended is equal to a spell level.




The grey elves have a stockpile of Vril magic focusing wands and staves, which they use in battle. This frees their wizards to learn other spells than the ugly spells of war.

Art: Wizard Holding Wand. Creative Commons Zero – CC0

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