I am pondering creating an epic-level wizard character, who through excessive use of Mordenkainen's Disjunction on artifacts has permanently lost all casting ability as well as all his class levels and drawn the ire of at least one god.

So now he has to start over from scratch with a non-casting class, but he likes to continue pretending to be the big-shot wizard he was, and occasionally even forgets he has lost anything at all.

"You fools shall feel the power of my fireball!"
- nothing happens -
"Oh, right, forgot about that..." - take out wand of fireball; use magic device
"Now, feel the power of my fireball!"

To be clear, this character has probably no hope of permanently fooling anyone but the most hapless rubes. The idea is not that he is a con artist, just that he got a little unhinged after his loss of power, and has his own ways of coping (mostly denial and rejection of reality).

I was thinking I need a rogue with high ranks in use magic device and a lot of wands and scrolls, with a pimped-out pet rat as his ex-familiar. But I am a little fuzzy on the details.

For example, can he bluff someone into being charmed, and what other options does he have to fake high-level spellcasting powers? He also need some sort of half-believable excuse for whenever his magic fails to materialize at all.

Which feats and items do I need to make this concept viable so that he can keep up with the rest of the party? (I would like to limit this to mostly core, perhaps with a sprinkling of extras, but nothing too obscure)

Is this even feasible with the costs of scrolls and wands at low levels?

Are there better ways to accomplish this concept instead of a rogue with use-magic-device?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You ask about "low levels" and "epic". Do you mean low spell levels? What do you mean by core, SRD? Is this character concept intended to be playable? How many levels of "after the wizard" do we have to work with? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 9:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BrianBallsun-Stanton Well ,the character used to be a high-level wizard, so he needs a way to reliably cast low level spells and occasionally fake high level spells. regarding core/srd, I am a little unsure on the correct terminology. Basically I want to avoid too obscure sources that a lot of players will not know or have. \$\endgroup\$
    – HugoRune
    Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 9:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ For scrolls, though. You'll need to be able to make a DC 20 + caster level, which at Level 10, would be a DC 30. You'll have a 23 in UMD, not counting CHA bonus, which I've been assuming to be 0. \$\endgroup\$
    – Axoren
    Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 9:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think this might be funnier if he fully knows he's faking it and embraces this. Having him behave alzheimer-like doesn't smell very fun. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 11:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, playing a cunning and deceiving trickster may have its charms, but the way I am imagining this is more a character who got a little unhinged after the devastating loss of his life work, and his way of coping is pretending it is just a minor setback, or simply ignoring it. \$\endgroup\$
    – HugoRune
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 21:57

5 Answers 5


You won't be an effective combatant on UMD alone. You just won't, not without substantial splat support.

To be effective:

Just build a mundane badass.

You don't need to fight with Fireballs for people to think you are a big-shot magic-slinger. Display your badassitude by knowing things (accomplished with skill checks) and taking charge (accomplished with role-playing).

In combat, you can rely on fighting with a sword or staff (think Gandalf in like 90% of the fights he gets in). Build your character around being proficient in this area.

When asked, why doesn't the character regularly use magic in combat? He doesn't need to. Using the high art of magic for mere killing is vulgar. Casting spells attracts the eyes of Hidden Evil Guys. Excuses abound, and he may even believe some of them himself, if you want.

In any case, I suggest you focus on making the character functional without even a scrap of magic. This gets much easier the more splatbooks you add. For some things you could add to your wishlist:

  • The Warblade class from the Tome of Battle. Supreme intelligent fighter.
  • The Factotum class from Dungeonscape. Has a tiny bit of spells, but overall it's a class for smart characters.
  • The Knowledge Devotion feat from Complete Champion. Use your knowledge to hit harder.

But when you really need magic, go all in.

You can maximize your UMD check on more or less any character. This allows you to keep some really big spell bombs in reserve.

This is different from regularly fighting with UMD. This is buying a few high level scrolls as soon as you can afford and reliably activate them. This should happen at a level where casting a single high-level spell completely ends the encounter. Have you seen what a casting of Black Tentacles does to low CR enemies? They usually just die.

Overall: Talk big, fight smart, carry an underpriced nuke.


Being a caster-from-items isn't possible on any sort of realistic budget.

Assuming that this is a character backstory concept and not literally the case, I would either play this as the wizard choosing to be level-drained back down to 1. As an intelligent "not a spellcaster" I can only recommend the Factotum from Dungeonscape. While it's not a pure "caster-as-items" it's a skillful intelligence based class that can take Arcane Familiar (Complete Arcane) after level 3. (Arcane dilettante can be represented as you learning a few spells again, despite the "curse" of disjunction."


A Somewhat Obscure but Semi-official Option

The prestige class charlatan appears on pages 62-6 of Dragon #335. The Brilliant Gameologists' forum has a very short charlatan handbook that describes (but doesn't reproduce) many of the class's features.

The gist of the class is that, instead of casting spells, the charlatan convinces folks that he cast spells, is casting spells, and will cast spells by, respectively, taking credit for everyday occurrences, using misdirection and alchemical items, and making threats. Although not combat focused, it remains a pretty spiffy prestige class.

It's only 5 levels long, and a now-spell-less wizard would certainly find it appealing. The class even has the skill Use Magic Device as a class skill.


An evaluation of being a Rogue depending purely on UMD.

There's not really much to say except UMD check success rate.

In regards to wands
Level 1 wands will be your friend.
Level 2+ wands will make you cry.
Look into getting a staff.

Skill Focus (Use Magic Device)
Magical Aptitude

You must be able to make a DC 20 UMD check regularly, and this is only really possible by Level 10 (that's when you start to make the check even on a natural 1). As a level 1, you'll fail half the time.

I suggest you make magic items in the mean-time, if your DM will allow you to take Craft Wondrous Items as an Ex-Wizard. Making an item that gives a +10 bonus to UMD costs 10,000 gp or 5,000 gp if you make it yourself.

Bonus Needed | Level | Cost to Buy | Cost to Make

+10 UMD | Level 1 | 10,000gp | 5,000gp
 +9 UMD | Level 2 |  8,100gp | 4,050gp
 +8 UMD | Level 3 |  6,400gp | 3,200gp
 +7 UMD | Level 4 |  4,900gp | 2,450gp
 +6 UMD | Level 5 |  3,600gp | 1,800gp

So, looking at this, assuming you took both feats I listed, the soonest you could get a 100% chance at casting wands is Level 5. It is the soonest that you can afford such an item, while still being within the guidelines that no one item you own is over half your expected wealth for your level.

If you make the item yourself (half cost), you can get the item by level 4. However, you lack a caster level to qualify for Craft Wondrous Items. It's up to your GM or a party crafter to get you where you need to be by level 4.

This is all assuming a CHA bonus of 0.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't there a limit on skill checks bonuses over which the item becomes epic ? Anyway, it could be interesting to mix +UMD and +CHA since +1 CHA for example is quite cheap (only 1000 gp), which is great when your CHA score is odd. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 21, 2014 at 12:38

A wizard who lost their spellcasting still has wizard spells on their spell list and would not need UMD checks to activate appropriate scrolls/wands.

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    \$\begingroup\$ well, this is supposed to be my character's backstory. No matter how nifty it is, a backstory cannot give me skills; but that is easily explained away by saying that this wizard's actions angered the gods so much that not only his spellcasting but all his class abilities were taken away. \$\endgroup\$
    – HugoRune
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi pareus, welcome to RPG.StackExchange.com. We're not a forum, so this sort of answer isn't helpful. Please take a look at our About page to understand how we work. \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Commented Jul 22, 2014 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HugoRune, that should be in the question. As is, this answer actually makes a good point, even if it needs to expand on it (I think), if you are indeed a Wizard who's simply lost their casting. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 7:49

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