Im trying to figure out the interaction between wands and holding touch spells.

From my understanding, using a wand is not actually casting a spell, and as long as you were holding the wand and not picking it up, using it would not discharge a touch spell that you are holding.

So the various actions that would discharge the spell, touching something/someone, casting a spell, have not taken place. So if you keep using the wand, lets say its a wand of shocking grasp, you should be building up the number of shocking grasps that will discharge at once when the correct situation occurs.

Is my line of reasoning correct, or have I missed something?


2 Answers 2


Activating a wand actually does count as casting a spell:

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.

(Wands; note that Staves have the same description)

Spell-trigger items don’t necessarily involve casting, but the only extant examples of them (staves and wands) do.

  • \$\begingroup\$ d20pfsrd.com/magic-items#TOC-Using-Items >Spell Trigger: 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. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Nov 18, 2015 at 16:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Fering Nothing there says it doesn’t count as “casting,” it just says it’s more simple than spell completion (which is, itself, more simple than regular spell casting from scratch). You are explicitly completing the casting of the spell, and according to the wand (and staff) description, that counts as casting it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Nov 18, 2015 at 16:40

To answer your question directly, no, charges of shocking grasp would not build up. Wands are spell trigger items, which mean they constitute the entirety of requirements to cast a spell once they are activated, and by activating them you are casting the spell.

Activating a wand of shocking grasp casts the spell and gives you a "held charge" of shocking grasp until you discharge that charge, but, just like any other casting scenario, casting another touch spell (whether through a wand, through a scroll, through your prepared spells or by any other means) will still "waste" your existing held charge.

This is per the rules in the magic chapter:

Touch Spells and Holding the Charge: In most cases, if you don't discharge a touch spell on the round you cast it, you can hold the charge (postpone the discharge of the spell) indefinitely. You can make touch attacks round after round until the spell is discharged. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates.

Some touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets as part of the spell. You can't hold the charge of such a spell; you must touch all targets of the spell in the same round that you finish casting the spell.

Given the scenario you're describing, all that's really happening is you're throwing away uses of your wand.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you please give me the rule which says using a wand IS casting a spell? \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Nov 20, 2015 at 22:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ What makes you think that using a wand isn't casting a spell? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2015 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because otherwise it could have been a very simple addition to the rules. There's also the fact that it doesnt use YOUR stats, which to me is the most compelling argument. I just went and read staves at make a counter point and they also use spell completion. Mostly it comes down to that I just dont see characters using magic items as casting those spells. Anyone with a high enough check can use a wand, but only spell casters (not counting racial) can cast spells by themselves. \$\endgroup\$
    – Fering
    Nov 24, 2015 at 3:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Guess you can't use a wand with Shield in it, since Shield is Range: personal and Target: you, and you aren't the one casting a spell. As for spells that target other things, if you aren't casting the spell, how are you selecting the target? If you rule that using a wand is not casting the spell then you can't use a wand because, you, as the non-caster, cannot select a target for the spell. Either you are casting the spell and thus can select a target, or you are not casting a spell and therefore cannot select a target (and thus cannot even make use of the item). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 24, 2015 at 18:05

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