On the Wizards Panoply: Focus & Familiar

A few years ago +Benjamin Baugh created a post about the accoutrements of wizards on Google+. It's a great idea and I wanted to examine the suggestions in greater depth.

The objects presented are talismansfocifamiliarscabalsraiments, servantspacts, and sanctums, in order of difficulty of acquirement.

Humans themselves are relatively poor conduits of magical or elemental energy.

The basic conceit of this system is that humans are incapable of safely wielding any magic beyond the first level of power. 


  • Attempts to cast magic of a level higher than 1st require a roll on a retribution table. 
  • This limit can be increased by the acquisition of accoutrements. They may be acquired in any order.
  • Each accoutrement acquired increases the level of spells the caster can cast by one. 
  • No type of accoutrement can be applied more than once, even if you own more than one. Each one only counts towards spell levels you can cast once. 
  • These are generally acquired and lost during play. 
  • If lost or destroyed, that type of thing can't be used again until you have gained a level or a year and a day have passed. 


A large obvious magical tool used to focus and direct spells, such as a staff, rod, or occult weapon.  Each spell level invested in a Focus penalized a target's saving throws made against your magic by 1.

All wizards must carry a focus, even if it is devoid of enchantment or power. Those without a focus grant their opponents a +4 bonus on all saves or they have a -4 penalty to hit the target. Without the focus they cannot effectively direct their magical energies.

In addition, foci can act as spell batteries. For every 1,000 gold spent (in the form of precious gem dust), a focus can be enchanted with temporary power, or charge. Each charge is equivalent to a single spell level. A wizard can cast a third-level spell without it being lost for three charges. Most foci limit the types of spells these charges can be spent on, depending on the individual foci.

You can also discharge your magical energy through the focus. For every spell level of the spell you discharge, you can do 1d6 points of damage to a single target within 30. This damage is considered force damage, like a magic missile, and is blocked by the same magics that block magic missile (broach of shielding, etc.).

In addition, attempting to wield magic without a focus creates an astral disturbance, detectable for dozens of miles. Considering the possible danger of people wielding magic beyond their ability, there are certainly people who look for such things.


Oakenhart Wand: This is a gnarled branch, nearly 18 inches in length. It feels of livewood and is encircled by vines. A small quartz crystal is nestled in the tip. This focus connects wizards of weather and nature to the earth. Spells can be discharged through the wand to heal 1d6 points to a target per level of the spell discharged. The spell also allows the caster to transmute any of her spells of a greater level into one of the following: Pass Without Trace, Massmorph, and Plant Growth.

Crystal Ball: This is a translucent crystal sphere. It exudes energy that makes hair stand on end. Usually within a setting, this allows the user to bypass the line of sight requirements for targets—any target that the crystal ball scrys on can be the target of the spell. The wizard may expand a first level spell slot and the focus will levitate and orbit the user until the next exposure to dawn's light.

Rod of Dragon Control: This is a cold iron cylinder, with the head of a dragon on one end. The user may expend five charges or spell levels to summon a small red dragon hatchling, as Summon Monster III. The wearer can utter Commands, as the Cleric spell that affect only dragons. Dragons have a -4 to their saving throw versus this effect. Reaction adjustments for all dragons is at +2, and any dragons must save versus rods, staves, and wands before they can attack the holder of the rod.


Form a magical bond with a small intelligent magical creature.  Familiars can't fight, but can scout, distract, and provide other useful aid.  Each spell level invested in a familiar allows the creature to aid you in performing some task, adding a 1 point bonus to your roll.  

The familiar is your constant companion. By the very nature of the magical bond between the caster and the animal, the animal is protected. When on your person it has access to a small, nest like, interdimensional space, rendering the familiar immune to damaging fireballs, exposure to the vacuum of space, drowning while the party spent 8 turns under the influence of a water breathing spell, and other fridge logic moments.

Familiars are usually small, normal animals. A robin, a small snake, a black cat, a toad, owls if you're creepy etc. Sometimes wizards desire more powerful aids. For every spell level sacrificed to the familiar, the wizard may have a more powerful familiar, with hit dice equal to half the level of the spell level sacrificed. Classic more powerful familiars include pseudodragons, imps, quasits, hell hounds, and shadows. For the cost of an additional spell slot, the wizard can see through the eyes of the creature.

In any case, because of your bond with the familiar you are effectively one creature. During combat, you and your familiar share actions. If your familiar dies, you lose 1d4 hit points permanently.

Part I is here

If you like this, let me know. Or check out the other stuff I write.

Hack & Slash 

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