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A Necklace of Fireballs sounds like a cool item. Cast Fireballs by throwing its beads, hah! However, it doesn't seem to be practical due to its cost.

  • The market price of the Necklace of Fireballs is 150 GP per each 1d6 of damage dealt.
  • A Scroll of Fireball costs [25 GP x 3 (Spell Level) x Caster Level], so it is 75 GP per 1d6 of damage.
  • A Wand of Fireball costs [750 GP x 3 (Spell Level) x Caster Level] per 50 charges, or 45 GP per 1d6 of damage.

So, any reason to actually use the Necklace besides the idea behind it being cool?

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Basic answer is, anyone can use it. There are no skill checks required or possibility of failure (unless you throw really poorly). Does not require class features or special actions. It also does not take up a magic item slot.

There is also the fun a DM can have by including it in a pile of loot just before the PC's encounter frequent fire damage...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Also, maybe, it's more hard to identify dangerous weapon in necklace rather in magic wand or magical scroll. So it makes sence for me if you are roleplaying and want to do something sneaky. \$\endgroup\$ – Elmo May 25 '18 at 4:26
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While a Necklace of Fireballs does come with some downsides - cost and fragility - when compared to a wand or scroll (though, of course, scrolls have their own fragility issues) of Fireball, the Necklace does carry with it the advantage of ease of use.

To use a Necklace of Fireballs, one does not need to make a Use Magic Device check, nor does one have to fumble around in their pack, scroll case, sleeve, or pocket as one might typically need to in order to retrieve a scroll or wand. The Necklace also does not occupy the throat slot while it is being worn.

This advantage of accessibility (and fragility!) might seem a bit underwhelming at first, but consider a crafting wizard with the feat Leadership - such a wizard could equip any of his followers with a Necklace of Fireballs and be confident that the Necklace will get used. (And, as a crafter, he would be saving 50 percent of his cost for equipping his followers.)

Or, consider a DM handing out a loot pile - many DMs (myself included) like to roll for loot piles ahead as part of preparing an adventure. When a Necklace of Fireballs shows up in the loot, I can be confident that that item will get used by someone, as it requires no special skills or training. That ease of use makes awarding loot more streamlined.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you list crafting discount here, you should probably also list it for scrolls and wands, since they can also be crafted for future use, and they don't require CL 10 for that. BTW, followers are not your soldiers -- they could help you, but usually wouldn't die for you. \$\endgroup\$ – Baskakov_Dmitriy May 23 '18 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ The crafting discount isn't as useful vis a vis equipping NPCs of unknown background or class. Scrolls/wands also benefit from the crafting discount, but do not benefit from the "ease of use" advantage. As the basis of my answer is predicated on that ease of use, the discount to craft a wand or scroll is less meaningful. Saying A has an x does not suggest that B cannot have an x, only that the answer was concerned with the cost in re ease of use. Reduced cost without the ease of use is not mentioned because it is not germane to the answer. (The parenthetical aside is just that.) \$\endgroup\$ – NFeutz May 23 '18 at 16:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ (As for differences on how Leadership ought function - it is important to note that at no point did I suggest that followers are soldiers; only that a crafting wizard could outfit his troupe with Necklaces of Fireballs and not have to worry about imparting any training or additional effort. That is as far as my supposition regarding Leadership forayed, and exactly because many people find the feat to be controversial in execution, or to be subject to heavy DM discretion. In a certain campaign and setting, those followers might well be soldiers. "A rose by any other name.") \$\endgroup\$ – NFeutz May 23 '18 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Baskakov_Dmitriy (Caster level isn't usually a prerequisite for an magic item's creation. So, while the typical off-the-shelf necklace of fireballs is created at caster level 10, technically a necklace of fireballs can be created by, like, a Wiz5. See this question.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 24 '18 at 2:21
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In reality, the necklace of fireballs simply isn’t that good

Sure, it’s easier to use than a scroll or wand of fireball—though that tends not to matter very much to an adventuring party, since much of the party is going to be able to use wands, either as a result of their own spellcasting or because the UMD check is pretty easy to hit. Having low-level, untrained NPCs along with you to hand out the necklace to is just a logistical mess and unlikely to be effective, even if you can get past the issue whereby the followers provided by Leadership are not suicidal. Maybe a thrallherd could do it, but, uh. A thrallherd with a legion of suicide bombers is not a character I’d be comfortable playing with.

And sure, you can horde a whole bunch of them together, if you really want to, for one massive blast—expensive, though, and an eternal wand of explosive runes can do the same thing more cheaply. Harder to detonate, but usually that is a good thing when dealing with explosives—Alfred Nobel made the fortune the funds the Nobel Prizes because he invented TNT to replace nitroglycerin, not because TNT provided more force but because nitroglycerin explodes if you look at it too hard, while TNT you actually need to be trying to get it to explode. In the world of explosives chemistry, making new chemicals that blow up is easy—it’s making new chemicals that blow up only when you want them to that’s fiendishly difficult.

And all of these things are in comparison to a wand of fireball or an eternal wand of explosive runeswhich are not good items themselves. Direct-damage spells tend to be rather difficult to use, requiring particular feats and class features to improve them because the base spells are on the weaker side. Otherwise, weapon attacks are usually better, and obviously those don’t use spell slots. The spells certainly can be used, of course, but when you put them in an item, you eliminate almost all of the options for improving them—even just increasing their caster level costs lots and lots of gold.

So in practice, all three of these items are pretty poor, and the necklace of fireballs is for most situations in most parties the worst of the three. You are almost-always better off just selling each of these and buying something more useful to you.

D&D 3.5e isn’t balanced and not everything has a real benefit

There are many, many, many options in this game that are strictly inferior to other options. Necklace of fireballs is a nice example, but there are more serious ones. I mean, consider the class tiers—this is not a balanced game. Any time you find an item or a feat or whatever else that just seems straight-up weaker than something similar, chances are it is simply weaker. It happens all the time. No harm in asking, of course, but it’s something to bear in mind.

Which means the necklace of fireballs is only really useful as a trap

If it’s in a pile of loot that is near where combat might happen, it might explode. If it is in a pile of loot and the players take it with them as they continue through the dungeon and get in more combats, it might explode again. It’s a trap—or, if you want to be generous, a gamble the players could take, can we keep this thing intact long enough to sell it, or is it going to blow up in our faces? But it seems to see most of its use as a kind of juvenile “gotcha!” gimmick for DMs who find that kind of thing “fun.”

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The Necklace of Fireballs does massively more damage per action

Comparing cost per d6 damage is a good metric only when time is not a concern at all. In these cases, spells of any sort are unnecessary: a quarterstaff costs nothing and does infinite d6 damage in infinite time.

Instead, we might want to compare the d6s each item can do in a round. Throwing the necklace's beads individually is, of course, a mistake-- one must trigger its explosion clause to make proper use of the item, for example by having the necklaces one intends to use briefly carried by an unseen servant, which one then targets with a fire spell.

A chest full of Necklaces of Fireballs can do as many d6's in damage in a single round as you can convince an unseen servant to carry (1,160d6 damage for 174,000 gp, to be precise), and this is, of course, merely an example of what's possible-- other easily summoned creatures have much higher strength scores. A fireball scroll maxes out at 10d6. This makes the necklace, when properly used, at least 100 times more effective than the scroll in terms of the action economy. What you are paying for with the necklace is primarily that extra speed-- if you don't need that speed you should use cheaper items like scrolls or wands or mundane equipment instead.

N.B. the necklace also does not require UMD or caster level checks to use, but such requirements are hardly an obstacle to an item-focused character in any case.

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