However, with that said, there are a lot of serious advantages that come with wands in Pathfinder. Since they're playing such a big part in my current game, I thought I'd talk about some of them this week.
|They are all shapes. All sizes.|
What Are Wands?
There's a lot of fine print in Pathfinder, so let's make sure we're all on the same page. A wand is a spell-trigger item that holds a single spell of 4th-level or lower. A wand can be used without a check by any character who has the spell contained on their class's spell list, even if they can't currently cast the spell (such as a 3rd-level paladin being able to use a wand with a paladin spell in it). Those who lack the spell, or who lack spellcasting at all, can make a simple Use Magic Device check to activate the wand. Once activated the spell is cast, and it uses the caster stats of the person who created the wand. Those stats are assumed to be the minimal necessary to cast the spell, unless someone specifically paid for more, finds a wand with unique stats, or it was crafted by a PC in the party.
There now, we all on the same page? Lovely! On to why wands are great.
Advantage #1: Wands Do Not Provoke Attacks of Opportunity
This is particularly useful if you need to heal yourself from that last smash you took to the head, but it's equally handy if you plan on attacking with a wand. Even small spells like shocking grasp can be devastating if they're in the hands of a rogue or a slayer, who now needs nothing more than a touch attack to get their sneak attack off (though getting through spell resistance with a wand is tricky at the best of times). Activating a wand is a standard action, but it's worth noting you can draw it as a swift action from a spring-loaded wrist sheathe, or as part of a move action if you have a BAB of +1 or higher and you're keeping it in a bandolier. You can't Quick Draw them, generally speaking, but it's possible there's an archetype or feat that I've missed that lets you do so. If there is, toss it in the comments so I can add it in here for people's reference!
Advantage #2: Wands Free Up Spell Slots
|Well, guess I don't need to ready that one for today, do I?|
For example, endure elements is an extremely useful spell if you're going to the tundra, or to the desert. And regardless of the caster's level, it lasts for 24 hours once it's been cast. So rather than eating up a bunch of spell slots with that one, put it in a wand, and bam, you're all safe from environmental penalties for a day. Delay disease is another useful spell to have in a wand, because it provides 24-hour protection from any disease, giving you time to ready a spell to cure it if you didn't have any available at the time. Spells like mage armor and defending bone which last for hours per level benefit from having a higher caster level on the wand, but the caster's stats have no effects on the spell other than the duration, making them two more solid candidates. And, of course, wands of cure spells are always handy for knitting yourself back together after brawls, or in a tight spot where you don't want a poor concentration check to get someone killed.
Most importantly, by not eating up your spell slots by keeping these preparatory spells on-hand (because you won't always need to protect yourself from disease or poison, but when you do it's good to have that spell ready-to-hand in a wand), you can prepare a wider variety of spells overall. And for those you're using your actual spell slots for, you should focus on spells where your caster level and stats make more of a difference (increasing damage, DCs to save against the spell, etc.). Because if being a higher-level caster, or having higher casting stats, doesn't change the spell in a meaningful way, then a wand should be able to handle it just fine.
Advantage #3: Wands Spread Around The Action Economy
|Don't worry, boss, I got this. You get the cleric back up!|
As an example, say the warpriest makes a wand of silence. It's particularly effective when used to counter enemy spells, but unfortunately their initiative is rarely high enough to use the spell to its best possible effect. So they give the wand to the rogue with the double-digit initiative modifier and the maximum ranks in Use Magic Device, and said rogue keeps it in the holster on the side of their bandolier. Since they are the most likely to go first, they'll be the ones who can ready an action to pop the point in space above the enemy wizard's head just as they go to cast the spell, rendering it completely moot until they move out of the area of the silence effect. The rogue could also use the spell to stop the enchanter from issuing orders to the fighter once he fails his Will save on a dominate person spell, defusing what was a dangerous situation.
Additionally, if more members of the party have the ability to act quickly, or to do damage control, then it provides more options to the group as a whole. If someone is hurt, and the cleric has the chance to either destroy a big threat with a spell that could end the fight, or stopping a compatriot from dying, that's a tough choice. If the magus can step in with a wand to cure the downed party's wounds, bringing them back up to positives and stopping their bleed, now the cleric can apply their action to what's most effective. And gods forbid if the cleric goes down, because that's when the ability for someone else in the party to snatch out a wand and de-fib them back to life comes in quite handy.
Also, as a fun side note, there's a magus arcana that lets you use wands with spell combat, turning you into a dervish of casting and slashing on nearly every turn. And since wands don't provoke, this allows you to get the most out of your turn as long as you've got a full clip of these spell trigger items.
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