13
\$\begingroup\$

Question:

Can my druid character use "heat metal" against a "wand of lightning bolts" to make it damage the caster unless it is dropped, or potentially even damage the wand itself (melt solder or metal-contacting thermosetting adhesives)?

Background:

Here is a link describing the wand:
https://www.dndbeyond.com/magic-items/wand-of-lightning-bolts

It says that the wand makes an effect like the spell "lighting bolt".

Here is the description for lightning bolt: https://www.dndbeyond.com/spells/lightning-bolt

Here are other lightning-related magic items that might give hints about the construction:

Thoughts:

The material components for the 'lightning bolt' spell are 'a bit of fur and a rod of amber, crystal, or glass'.

  • The wand is potentially likely to connect some part of the material component to a handle, and in jewelry many gem-holding elements are soldered grips with metal. Heat metal might hit the solder and damage the wand causing a magical discharge in that case.
  • If the components are organic, like a glue or plant-based adhesive with a wooden handle, then heat metal might be totally ineffective.
  • The name of the spell is 'heat metal' so it might cause metal to literally get hot enough to cause real heat damage.

I did not see any questions along this line on this forum.

\$\endgroup\$
4
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Do any of the answers adequately answer your question? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov Oct 10 '20 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ They are brilliant. I love them. Several do. I usually wait a day or two to select the "accepted". For what it is worth, I have up-voted answers that were informative and well made, which is most of them. \$\endgroup\$ – EngrStudent Oct 11 '20 at 0:33
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ In universe, I feel like if this worked and it wasn't strictly required to craft a wand of lightning bolts out of metal then all savvy enchanters would very quickly move to metal-free construction. Last thing you want is an angry adventurer getting in your face because they almost died after the second-level spellcaster burned your wand out of their hand. In other words, I wouldn't expect it to work. \$\endgroup\$ – aroth Oct 11 '20 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @aroth - it might be an interesting eccentricity of the field. It is not like all magic is without learning, without development, without trial and error. There might be multiple paths to "Rome", like there are multiple nuclear weapon strategies. Some might have strengths and weaknesses. I think a world with messy magic items is going to be a little more plausible, and a little more entertaining for role-play. \$\endgroup\$ – EngrStudent Oct 13 '20 at 23:40
25
\$\begingroup\$

It is entirely up to the DM.

There is nothing that tells us what the wand of lightning bolts is made out of, so it is up to the DM. You provide some good reasoning that it may not be made of metal by citing the material components of the attendant spell. On the other hand, the image of the wand from the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 211) does appear to be metal:

Additionally, in the Dungeon Master's Guide, we have this statement:

A magic wand is about 15 inches long and crafted of metal, bone, or wood.

So it definitely doesn't have to be metal, but it can be.

Heat metal

If the DM decides it is made of metal, then it is certainly an eligible target for the spell heat metal (PHB, pg. 250). But be aware, heat metal does not do damage to objects:

Any creature in physical contact with the object takes 2d8 fire damage when you cast the spell.

Heat metal only deals damage to a creature holding the object, not the object itself.

\$\endgroup\$
0
15
\$\begingroup\$

It is up to the DM

Unless the material of a magic item is specified like it sometimes is in adventure modules and for some specific magic items:

Iron Flask


Wondrous Item, legendary

This iron bottle has a brass stopper... (DMG, pg. 178)

In any other case, it is up to the DM what a specific magic item is made of.

Material Components

The material of the magic item need not be related to the material components of a spell that the magic item can create. From the Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 141):

The spell is cast at the lowest possible spell and caster level, doesn’t expend any of the user’s spell slots, and requires no components unless the item’s description says otherwise.

While a DM certainly could use the components as inspiration when deciding the material of the magic item, it is not a requirement that the magic item's composition be parallel to the material components.

Would Heat Metal damage the wand?

Heat metal as a spell does not necessarily damage the object that it affects:

Choose a manufactured metal object, such as a metal weapon or a suit of heavy or medium metal armor, that you can see within range. You cause the object to glow red-hot.

If the spell was meant to damage the object, it would almost certainly say so. Not to mention, magic items are particularly resilient when compared to normal objects:

Most magic items, other than potions and scrolls, have resistance to all damage.

It also, almost certainly, would not cause the wand to discharge. There is nothing like this in the rules apart from spell scroll mishaps (which having nothing to do with breaking down the material of the magic item).

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Nice addition on addressing heat metal damaging the object. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 9 '20 at 15:31
6
\$\begingroup\$

Possibly. Since it's not explicit in 5E, the DM may opt to take inspiration from earlier editions.

In the 3E DMG, it is said of wands:

A typical wand is 6 inches to 12 inches long and about 1/4 inch thick, and often weighs no more than 1 ounce. Most wands are wood, but some are bone. A rare few are metal, glass, or even ceramic, but these are quite exotic.

Immediately next to that latter clause ("A rare few are metal") is an illustration of the wand of lightning (the only wand pictured in the book), that looks like the following, apparently metallic:

3E DMG Wand of Lightning: thick cylindrical handle with blade-like lightning extension bolted at end

In the 1E era, Dragon Magazine #101 (Sep 1985) had an article "Charging isn't cheap" by Peter Johnson with full details on appearance and manufacture for all wands in the game. While mostly wood, this description says that the exterior seems to have copper wire running down the length of its exterior.

Wand of lightning (12th-level magic-user): During a thunderstorm, gather a piece of wood splintered from an oak by lightning. Before the rain stops, attach an amber tip to one end of the splinter (amber is associated with lightning in many old texts). Fashion a handle for the other end, using neutral laurel wood, attaching it with copper wire. Enchant the wand. Go to a swamp, corner a will-o-wisp, and throw the wand through it (any hit passes through the creature). The wand is then fully charged and may be completely recharged in the same manner. The command word is in the instructions the maker originally found, but is unintelligible until the wand is activated.

In summary, most editions of D&D seem to depict the wand of lightning with at least some component of metal in its construction.

\$\endgroup\$
1
  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems strange to claim that 5e is not explicit on these points, which include an illustration of a Wand of Lightning Bolts and a general description of wands, when (as noted in another answer) the 5e DMG includes a general description of wands and an illustration of a Wand of Lightning Bolts. The 3e information here doesn't seem to contradict or expand on that 5e info. \$\endgroup\$ – recognizer Oct 12 '20 at 8:18
2
\$\begingroup\$

It depends on your GM

Magical items in DnD are generally fluid and up to the DM's discretion as to what materials they are made of.

However, I pose a small frame challenge to this question. You link to the material components of the spell Lightning Bolt being a rod made of amber, crystal, or glass (the fur is irrelevant). This leads me to believe that you believe the wand to be made of the components of Lightning Bolt. Which is not generally how this works. In much the same way that a Staff of Fireballs is unlikely to be made of equivalent volume of bat guano and sulfur, the wand can be comprised of any material suitable to making a wand.

Put in another way, when you store spells in items like the Ring of Spell Storing or the Pearl of Power, you utilize the materials when storing the spell then expend the spell without material components through these magic items. But the items themselves are still respectively a ring and a pearl. So to with enchanting gear found in the Dungeon Master's Guide: Creating a Magic Item section. You must expend the spell necessary to create the item (Lightning Bolt for a Wand of Lightning Bolts seems reasonable but DM's are given high freedom here).

So in summary, talk with your GM about what the wand is made of. But keep in mind that the creation of the wand is separate from the material components necessary to cast the spell.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.