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The Staff of the Magi says :

The staff has 50 charges for the following properties. It regains 4d6 + 2 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 20, the staff regains 1d12 + 1 charges.

Spell Absorption. While holding the staff, you have advantage on saving throws against spells. In addition, you can use your reaction when another creature casts a spell that targets only you. If you do, the staff absorbs the magic of the spell, canceling its effect and gaining a number of charges equal to the absorbed spell's level. However, if doing so brings the staff's total number of charges above 50, the staff explodes as if you activated its retributive strike (see below).

This seems to imply that the staff isn't limited to holding 50 charges just that when it goes over 50 charges it explodes. So, let's say you have 40 charges and dawn comes around without you noticing and you get 12 more charges. Does the staff explode?

Maybe this is why they're so legendary.

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This is the difference between two different rules and a word choice: gain means something different from regain, and the Spell Absorption rules are separate from the recharge rules.

  1. At dawn the staff can regain charges. These won't go over 50, because you can't regain something you never had.
  2. During spell absorption, the staff gains charges. Unlike regain that has a built-in English meaning of a natural limit, gain does not have a built-in meaning that limits the increase. Only during spell absorption can it go over its original 50 charges and explode.
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    \$\begingroup\$ So for clarity's sake, if the staff has 40 charges at dusk, when dawn comes around you roll that you regain 12 charges, then your staff willbe charged to 50 charges and that's it, the other charges are 'wasted'. \$\endgroup\$ – Cronax Mar 19 '18 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Cronax Right. (Unless one rolls really poorly and gets 5 or less on the 4d6.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 19 '18 at 16:10
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No, recharging will not cause the staff to explode

However, if [absorbing the spell] brings the staff's total number of charges above 50, the staff explodes as if you activated its retributive strike.

This effect is only activated when you are absorbing spells. There is no similar effect listed for recharging and thus no reason to assume that the effect applies to that scenario.

Likely, the narrative reason for this is that you are forcing too much magical energy into a volatile magic object when you put the full energy of an enemy's spell into it. Whereas recharging overnight is a gentle energy gain that cannot put it above its maximum.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It's like filling a jug with water from a faucet, versus attaching it to a water pump and trying to fill it over capacity. \$\endgroup\$ – Adonalsium Mar 19 '18 at 17:13
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No: Specific over general and recharging vs absorption mechanics.

If there was a risk of standard daily recharges, the text block would have detailed that. Instead, the description calls out a specific difference in what happens when you choose to your reaction to absorb magic cast directly at you. This overrides the standard charging rules and has it's own stipulation on a risk of overcharging.

There is no risk for overcharging with a daily natural recharge.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that "test" should be "text"? \$\endgroup\$ – phyrfox Mar 18 '18 at 21:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @phyrfox: Definitely seems so. I've edited out the typo. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mar 19 '18 at 3:07

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