There are three main types of elemental wands: flame, cold, and lightning. Magic-users may craft any of these wands beginning at first level. Crafting requires a sympathetic component, which is not necessarily required to be valuable. Some examples: a bonfire, the remains of a monster with an elemental affinity, a hand lost to frostbite, a branch struck by lightning. In addition to the sympathetic component, 100 GP worth of components are required per wand level, along with one week of work. Thus, a third level wand costs 300 GP and takes one week to create.
Along with the sympathetic component and ritual materials, an object for the wand itself must be procured. Simple objects may be used for the wand (such as a yew rod or a bone), though wands made from such mundane materials crumble to dust, shatter, or otherwise fall apart when exhausted. More finely crafted wands will simply cease to function when used up and can be enchanted again in another wand creation ritual. Traditionally, wands are batons, though this is not required. For example, consider the famous jewelled storm gauntlet of Hyssiasto of Urtar.
The use of a wand does not require an attack roll. Instead, enemies must make a saving throw versus wands and then take 1d6 damage upon failure. Damage from wands is considered magical. Range is as thrown weapon. Especially vulnerable targets may take extra damage (for example, a creature of fire might be vulnerable to a cold wand, and soldiers in metal armor are vulnerable to lightning). In general, this is operationalized as penalty of 1 to the wand saving throw and +1 damage per die. A natural saving throw of 1 results in two dice of damage.
The destructive potential of any given wand is not unlimited. At the end of any combat during which a wand is used, 1d6 is rolled for exhaustion. On a roll of 1 or less, the wand has lost its enchantment. If wands are used outside of combat, exhaustion is checked for at the end of an exploration turn.
The three types of wands also have the following additional effects:
- Flame: ignite oil or flammable materials such as paper
- Cold: slowing and penalty to actions requiring fine motor control
- Lightning: also damages those touching target (or in water with, etc)
Wand level has several different effects. A higher level wand in the hands of a more experienced magic-user is more difficult to resist. Enemies take a save penalty equal to the lesser of wand level and wand user spell capability. Spell capability is the highest level of spell that can be prepared (which is pretty much magic-user level / 2). That is, higher level wands must be crafted to take advantage of a higher level magic-user’s power. For example, the targets of a fifth level magic-user’s third level wand make saves at -3 (because the highest level of spell that a fifth level magic-user can cast is 3). The same magic-user would have the same effectiveness with a fifth level wand, because of being unable to fully take advantage of the wand’s power. Additionally, the wand level is used as a bonus to item saving throws that the wand needs to make.
In addition to the standard attack, there are two alternate ways that wands may be used: surge and final strike. Surges do one extra point of damage per wand level (assuming the target fails the save) but require an immediate check for wand exhaustion. Final strikes do one extra full die of damage per wand level (assuming the target fails the save), but also automatically exhaust the wand.
Having two or more wands of different elemental affinities in close proximity can be dangerous. If either of the wands are subject to an event that would require a saving throw (such as being blasted by dragon fire), both must succeed at an item saving throw. If either wand fails the save, the wands rip apart in a vortex of unleashed magic power. The detonation causes 1d6 damage per wand level to any spiritually attuned (that is, spell casting) creature within five feet. Additionally, a wild surge or magical mishap occurs (roll on any such table, maybe this one or this one). Thus, most sane magic-users carry only one type of wand. Note that this risk of meltdown is only present due to miscibility; having a single type of wand does not carry the same risk, even if the wand is destroyed.
There are legends of many other kinds of wands, but the methods needed for their creation are more obscure. Magical research or the discovery of ancient manuals is required.