Wands are a really, really sweet deal. Even if you aren't a spellcaster, especially if you aren't a spellcaster.
Wands are cheap! A first level spell wand only costs 750gp, which is in reach of even a 1st level character after just two adventures. The wand comes with 50 charges and when you divide it out, that's just 15gp per use. Depending on the wand, the benefits can be huge.
Compare that to first level potions (50gp) or scrolls (25gp) and it's just a no-brainier that the wand is a definite way to go when you want to use the spell often.
Wands are flexible! This can't be stressed enough. The only requirement for using a wand is to either A) have the spell on the class list, or B) have a rank in Use Magic Device and make the roll.
Option A is simply having a level in a class that can cast the spell. A first level Wizard could be handed a Wand of Wish (the most powerful spell in the game), and be able to cast it without effort. Option B is a bit more challenging in that the Use Magic Device difficulty check is 20, so you need a good bonus for it to be reliable.
In particular, this makes Rangers and Paladins quite versatile, as they are martial characters that also have spell lists. Even though at 1st level they don't have any spells, their class does have a spell list, and thus they can pick up a Wand of Cure Light Wounds and cast it just fine and act as a party healer right from the start.
Wands don't weight anything! As has been a theme in many of these articles, getting items that don't bog you down and require you to recalculate encumbrance are a nice perk. Add wands to this list.
BUT I'M NOT A SPELLCASTER!
True, you might be a Fighter who'll never ever end up casting a spell, but it's bound that someone in the party will be a spellcaster, and so all you have to do is buy the wand and in each adventure hand it to your party member and asks politely if they could use the wand on you. Pathfinder is a team game, so use that teamwork to its utmost!
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A WAND?
Not all spells are equal, and there are definitely certain types of spells that work well in wands, and others which are terrible. Here are a few principles:
Long Duration – The longer the effect, the more you are getting out of that spent charge. There are a few spells that will last for an hour, some that last for 10 minutes, and several that will go for 1 minute. All of these can be really handy because, in general, a combat encounter is going to last for roughly 5 rounds, which ends up being about 30 seconds long. Thus, the 1 minute spells will normally last you an entire encounter. If you know that you're about to get into a fight then you can even cast it before opening the door and rush into the room and usually have time to spare.
It can also be fairly common for multiple encounters to happen in a short period of time. You clean out one room of monsters and find some more in the next room, so those 10 minute durations might last you through several encounters.
So if you look at the overall band for you buck, if an adventure has around four encounters, and you use the wand in each of them, then you've got around 12 adventures worth of magical effects being used. That's four levels of your character, all for 750gp!
It should be noted that some spells that have an “instantaneous” duration are in effect an infinite duration. A Cure Light Wounds spell heals you of hit points in a permanent manner. The healing effects don't ever expire, so keep that in mind when looking over durations of spells.
No Saving Throws – When you cast a spell on a creature that requires a saving throw to resist, the difficulty number that you use is going to be based on caster level. If you want your wand to just cost 750gp, then the DC value is going to be that of a 1st level caster. That might work at 1st level, but after that the creatures are going to be able to easily resist it. So focus on spells that will “just work.”
THERE ARE TOO MANY SPELLS, JUST TELL ME WHAT TO GET!
Yep, there are too many spells, and it does take a long time to look through them all. Here is a breakdown of some good, cheap wands that you should consider, all of which cost only 750gp:
Cure Light Wounds (bard 1, cleric 1, druid 1, paladin 1, ranger 2, witch 1, inquisitor 1, alchemist 1) [Instantaneous] This really is the #1 wand to have. Almost half the classes can use it, allowing for Cleric free parties if need be. Be a good sport and at some point in your character's career pick one up and pass it around to help our your party members.
Infernal Healing (cleric 1, blackguard 1, sorcerer/wizard 1) [1 minute] Sounds a little creepy? It is, but as Yoda said about the dark side, “Quicker, easier... more seductive” and this is the case with Infernal Healing. It gives you fast healing 1 for one minute. That means after combat you'll be ensured 10 hit points of healing, rather than the 1d8+1 from Cure Light Wounds. The number of classes that can use is are far more limited, and it does make you glow with an evil aura for awhile, but if that isn't a concern, this will do a better job to patch a party up. Needed book – Inner Sea World Guide
Enlarge Person (sorcerer/wizard 1, alchemist 1, summoner 1, witch 1) [1 minute] If you are a melee character then Enlarge Person gives you some potent advantages as it grows you to large size. You get reach, which is huge in the system. You can stand back, hack away at opponents that are not directly next to you, and if they move around much they even provoke. If you match this spell up with a martial character armed with armored spikes and a reach weapon, then they now can hit things up to 20 feet away. Oh, and your strength also increases, making it easier to hit and you hit harder. Just remember, it's only good for melee. Throwing or shooting weapons instantly shrink when you let loose with them, so you have to look elsewhere for a different buff.
Gravity Bow (ranger 1, sorcerer/wizard 1) [1 minute] Are you an archer? Then this is the buff for you! Imagine having the whole combat allow each of your arrows to cause 2d6 damage instead of 1d8? Cast this on an archer before you rush into the room and watch opponents explode from a hail of rapid shot bow fire. Book needed – Advanced Player's Guide
Mage Armor (sorcerer/wizard 1, summoner 1, witch 1) [1 hour] Great for anyone who wears little to no armor, such as Wizards, Monks, Sorcerers, etc. It grants a +4 armor bonus for a whole hour. If you know you're going into a risky area then a hour is usually a good enough amount of time to cast it before stepping into danger, and it may end up lasting you through several encounters. If you are a Monk, it's almost crazy not to pick this wand up and have it ready to hand to a spellcaster.
Shield (alchemist 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, summoner 1) [1 minute] A little less flexible than Mage Armor, but at a minute in duration this is still a very useful buff spell to have on hand as it gives you a +4 shield bonus. Are you a Monk who knows on the other side of those doors is the Boss battle for the adventure? Get it fired up with Mage Armor and you're walking in with a +8 to your Armor Class! Is there an incorporeal creature that is sucking the life out of everyone in the party? Tap this on a character to help them avoid getting hit.
Protection from Evil (cleric/oracle 1, inquisitor 1, paladin 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, summoner 1) [1 minute] It's safe to say that a good deal of the things that you'll be fighting will be evil. This spell grants a whole slew of bonuses, and if you know you're dealing with some really evil stuff, casting this on the front liners of the party can reap huge benefits. With the 1 minute duration it would even be possible to tap a few PCs before charging into the room.
Bless (cleric/oracle 1, inquisitor 1, paladin 1) [1 minute] This is a classic spell for a Cleric to cast because it is so good. Everyone in the party gets a bonus on to hit rolls and saves versus fear. 15gp to give everyone that extra boost is worth it for a good deal of fights. Plus, it frees up the Cleric to cast a spell on their turn that is more specialized for the occasion.
Expeditious Retreat (alchemist 1, bard 1, inquisitor 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, summoner 1) [1 minute] Do you need to be somewhere now? Do you want to use your acrobatics to tumble past enemies and have movement to spare? How about allowing the Barbarian to make a 70 foot charge? Despite the spell's name, Expeditious Retreat can be a phenomenal offensive tool. You add +30 to your speed for a minute and that means you can pretty much be where ever you need to be. Put it on a Rogue so she can easily get into flank position, put it on a Monk so he can leap across the ravine, grab the McGuffin and then jump back.
Touch of the Sea (alchemist 1, druid 1, sorcerer/wizard 1) [1 minute] This is a bit more situational, but anyone who's been playing PFS for a bit knows that deep suffocating water tends to be close by. Got full-plate? Get a +8 to swim check, take 10 on your swim roll if you like, and move 30 feet through the water. Instead of heavy armor being a death trap, make your character into a deadly predator in the water. Book needed – Advanced Player's Guide
Feather Step (bard 1, druid 1, ranger 1) [10 minutes] Rough terrain is a bummer, everything takes twice as far to move through and you can't even take 5-foot steps, which makes it hard to either avoid getting hit, or laying the smack down with full-attacks. With this wand, problem solved... and for 10 minutes! Book needed – Advanced Player's Guide
Longstrider (druid 1, ranger 1) [1 hour] The real drawback to this wand is that it only is useful to a Druid, Ranger or someone with a good UMD roll. However, if you have the right setup you're getting +10 feet of movement for an hour! For many PFS modules it is quite possible that all of the encounters will occur within a hour's period of time. It is very plausible that you could use this wand for yourself throughout the entire campaign without ever expending all the charges. The other potent option is that with that hour long window, freely tap it on the whole party and then go down into the tomb and see just how much “movement is life” is in fact true when the whole party is zooming around.
Comprehend Languages (alchemist 1, bard 1, cleric/oracle 1, inquisitor 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1) [10 minutes] I went back and forth on adding this to the list. It's a solid spell. It lasts a long time, lots of casters can use it. I think the only real problem is that in PFS so far, language just hasn't been a bit issue. Thus, despite the wide flexibility, it is still very situational. As the campaign progresses, and now that the Inner Sea World Guide is out with expanded language lists, this might end up being a useful tool to have.
Disguise Self (alchemist 1, bard 1, inquisitor 1, sorcerer/wizard 1) [10 minutes] Wouldn't it be nice if the whole party was invisible? Well, you can get something similar by just disguising everyone. With a 10 minute window you can tap the whole party with this wand and make them look like the guards, or goblins, or whatever. Can make for some great roleplay moments also.
Unseen Servant (bard 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, summoner 1, witch 1) [1 hour] Quite simply, if you can't imagination the possibilities with this spell then you're likely doomed going into any dungeon. This is a great spell, but spellcasters aren't really thrilled with preparing it for the day. Put it in a wand though and it can get used in a host of ways. Trap springer, crossbow (and now firearm) re-loader, put a sheet over it and have it aggro an encounter. It has limitations, but creativity flourishes when limits are set!
Obscuring Mist (cleric/oracle 1, druid 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1) [1 minute] Sometimes things go bad... really bad, and dumping Obscuring Mist on the scene might just save the party. It can also be used to block a view so that you can pass by unnoticed. It can also be offensively by a Rogue if used just right. Rather than cast it in the middle of the fight, have it off to the side and if the Rogue sits just on the edge, she gets concealment, and that means she can do ranged sneak attacks out into the main combat.
Detect Poison (cleric/oracle 0, druid 0, inquisitor 0, paladin 1, ranger 1, sorcerer/wizard 0, witch 0) [Instantaneous] What's up with those holes in the wall? What's up with that coffer sitting on the dais? Do I really want to eat this meal that the Count has served to everyone? Find out quick if there is poison about. Lots of traps use poison so this is a good way of isolating the problem. The wand is cheap to boot at just 375gp.
Message (bard 0, sorcerer/wizard 0, summoner 0, witch 0) [10 minutes] The Rogue wants to scout ahead. The rest of the players groan, “don't split up the party” however it really would be helpful to get a little recon in before everyone tromps down the hallway. Whip out the wand, cast it on the Rogue and let her creep down the hallway. But wait, also cast it on someone in the party and then there is a two way conversation in whispers about details for 10 minutes. With 110 feet of range it's enough for a sneaky character to get some good information, but not far enough that the party can't come rushing to the rescue. The best part? This wand only costs 375gp!
Silent Image (bard 1, sorcerer/wizard 1) Want to make a distraction? How about a Dragon high above in the air flapping its wings? An Ogre waving a huge mace above his head over on that hill. There are lots of ways that unique situations can be used to make a silent image be very handy for a party. With 440 feet of range and up to a large size creature/object, there is a lot of utility with this wand.
1st level wands really are a good deal and if you plan it out, regardless of your class, you can reap huge benefits if you just coordinate with other players on how they get used.
The higher level spells are temping, however to go up to 2nd level spells puts you back 4500gp. You might be able to justify a few spells at that cost, such as Invisibility or Lesser Restoration, but to afford that kind of wand means you'll be at a level where a spellcaster might just be able to cast those types of spells for a lot less.
last thing that I would caution is that ideally you're using these
wands outside of combat. While it is possible to use many of these in
combat, the real problem is needing to spend an action to pull it out,
another to use it, and perhaps another to put it away. Unless things
are desperate, it's likely that you could be using your actions better
during this time. So don't get carried away with buffing yourself up
with lots and lots of spells, unless you can get it done fast and
efficiently so that you can reap the full benefits over the majority of
That's it folks! This article could have gone on and on, there are a lot of nice spells, though very specialized that can be put into wand form. The above however definitely have a degree of flexibility that will allow them to be frequently used, and that's a good thing. Spending 750gp for just in case moments and then never used is just a waste of gold. Get out there and use them!
If you have the tools, you have the talent!