So I was GMing for the first time my custom Pathfinder campaign, and my Rogue uses a wand of magic missile with 8 charges left in it against the last opponent of the session, and vaporizes him. I instinctually said he couldn't do that, and he explained that he only needed to make his Use Magic Device (UMD) check to use the wand (which he succeeded) and he's using the wand, not the spell, so he can use multiple charges in the same turn with the same check. It was the end of the session so I didn't want to bog us down with an hour long rule check, so I allowed it and my villain was vaporized by the remaining 8 charges (we are low level still). I've been searching for a ruling on this all afternoon yesterday and this morning, and just cannot find a definitive answer.

My reasoning is: Activating a wand

Wands use the spell trigger activation method, so casting a spell from a wand is usually a standard action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

(We are in agreement here)

Spell Trigger Description:

Spell trigger activation is similar to spell completion, but it’s even simpler. No gestures or spell finishing is needed, just a special knowledge of spellcasting that an appropriate character would know, and a single word that must be spoken. Spell trigger items can be used by anyone whose class can cast the corresponding spell. This is the case even for a character who can’t actually cast spells, such as a 3rd-level paladin. The user must still determine what spell is stored in the item before she can activate it. Activating a spell trigger item is a standard action and does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

(He still agrees with me up to this point)

UMD Description

Use a Wand, Staff, or Other Spell Trigger Item: Normally, to use a wand, you must have the wand’s spell on your class spell list. This use of the skill allows you to use a wand as if you had a particular spell on your class spell list. Failing the roll does not expend a charge.

So magic missile is now as if it were on his class list. Magic Missile has a casting time of "1 standard action"

My understanding here is, is that you can only cast once per standard action. It would be the same in my mind, a wizard preparing magic missile 3x in one day, and expending them all in one turn just because he channeled the magic missile.

Neither of us can find anywhere it say that only 1 wand charge per round, and that is what I think his hangup is.

What stops someone from making a wand of magic missile and use all 50 charges from one turn on the next boss we fight?

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    – Sdjz
    May 28, 2019 at 16:13

4 Answers 4


You cast one instance of a spell at a time from a wand.

From the rules for wands:

Activation: Wands use the spell trigger activation method, so casting a spell from a wand is usually a standard action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity. (If the spell being cast has a longer casting time than 1 action, however, it takes that long to cast the spell from a wand.) To activate a wand, a character must hold it in hand (or whatever passes for a hand, for non-humanoid creatures) and point it in the general direction of the target or area. A wand may be used while grappling or while swallowed whole.

When you use the wand to cast, you are casting a single instance of a spell, just as you are when you cast as a spellcaster. You cannot use up multiple charges at once to cast multiple instances of a spell.

Since you use 1 charge per instance of a spell you cast from a wand, and it takes at least a standard action to cast a spell from a wand (per the above rules), you can only use 1 charge a turn from a wand.†

:Pending other special abilities that let you do so, shorten the time to cast from a wand, or grant additional actions you can use to activate the wand.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You posted when I was still writing. Still, +1 \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    May 28, 2019 at 16:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Gotta go fast :P \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    May 28, 2019 at 16:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is one way how this can be done, by using an optional rule: You can BREAK the wand, which results in all remaining charges being released at once. The reason this rule is optional is because it's up to GM fiat what happens when all that magic power is released. A wand of magic missile - if new - has 50 charges on average. Having to resolve 50 casts of magic missile would take... forever. \$\endgroup\$
    – khaoliang
    May 29, 2019 at 13:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @khaoliang That's probably a house rule that needs to be worded up significantly to avoid being overpowered. That is, 375 gp buys a wand of ray of frost that's good for a 50d3 1-shot attack! \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2019 at 1:33

You most certainly can use more than one charge per round when using magic items. Some effects of the staves even require you to so. You can't find a limit in the rules because it is not here.

The reason why you cannot fire more than one missile from a wands per action is different. Per your own quote:

Wands use the spell trigger activation method, so casting a spell from a wand is usually a standard action that doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

Emphasis mine. Even if you use UMD, you are still casting a spell, so all of the usual limits of casting spells apply. And you can't combine three identical castings of a spell into one action, casting a spell (singular) takes an action. This was already discussed on this site recently.

Rule of fun and what would be the ruling at my table

UMD is all about doing impossible things with magic items. Let him do this, but pump up the difficulty, make it use 3d4 charges instead of 3, and make mishap easier. If he still wants to try, yeah, I'd totally agree. But it has nothing to do with the rules as written.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify, with UMD, the PC ... is not required to meet the other spell requirements when using a wand via UMD... correct? Because it says use the spell as if it were in your list of spells... which couldnt be if you didnt meet the criteria. And especially given that a rogue, the only magic I posses is my silver tongue and nimble fingers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Acts7Seven
    May 28, 2019 at 17:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ When casting from wand using umd you take casting rules, then apply changes made by wand rules, then changes made by UMD rules. Wand rules says that you don't need aby components as they are already spent by wand creator. Thus, you don't need that. UMD says you can cast from a wands as if you had this spell on your list so you can, no need to worry about this requirement. If spell had any requirements like you can only cast it if you are good — then you need to meet them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    May 28, 2019 at 18:08

No, you cannot use multiple charges from a Wand of Magic Missiles in one round.

Wand, Spell Trigger, and UMD citations all withstanding and agreed upon, using the wand is a standard action. The Caster Level (CL) would determine the power of the spell that can be released by the wand. If it is a standard magical item which is made using the minimal caster level required for the spell then it only releases one magic missile per casting/wand-use. If you want it to release 5 magic missiles per use of the wand then it needs to be manufactured with a CL9 with the appropriate raised costs.

Staves with options for using multiple charges at once do so to trigger spells higher than 4th level. Wands are restricted to 4th level spells or less. This allows Staves, which have a maximum of only 10 charges, to contain more powerful spells.

Using 50 charges would take 50 standard actions. Not possible in a single round.

The spell cap (4th) on wands prevents a quickened wand of magic missiles as the spell would be considered 5th level. You could quicken a wand of ray of frost I suppose as that only comes out to 4th level after the meta-magic. You could use the quickened wand of ray of frost twice in a round. Once as a swift action and once as a standard action.


So to wrap up, if the wand was crafted by a level 9 wizard, A wand of magic missle could cast 5 missiles as a single attack Via UMD (use magic device) from any PC succeeding at the UMD roll. Those could hit one or many targets As long as specified prior to the roll. And the lesser the level of the wizard crafting the wand, The less missiles could be fired.


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