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Let's use a wizard holding a Wand of the War Mage (DMG, p. 212) in one hand and a Wand of Winter (HotDQ, p. 94) in the other hand as the example:

Does the character get to add the bonus granted by the Wand of the War Mage to spell attacks available from the Wand of Winter, or just for the wizard's own spells?

Upon further research I found an answer from Jeremy Crawford about the difference between using a magic object and casting a spell:

Eric Wykoff
‏@edge2054

@mikemearls @JeremyECrawford Does using a magic item to cast a spell fall under the Use an Object action or Cast a Spell Action?

Jeremy Crawford
@JeremyECrawford

@edge2054 @mikemerls An action is one of those named actions only if it says it is.

So, using the Wand of Winter would fit in the Use a Magic Item type of action. Does the bonus of the Wand of The War Mage still apply even when the wizard is not casting a spell, but using a magic object?

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The bonus applies to all spell attack rolls, whether the source is from a magic item or a class spell.

Wand of the War Mage says:

you gain a bonus to spell attack rolls...

It doesn't say anything about the spell even having to be cast or that the bonus only applies to class spells unlike something such as the Rod of the Pact Keeper which specifically states:

you gain a bonus to spell attack rolls and to the saving throw DCs of your warlock spells.

It doesn't matter if you're using an object or casting a spell, the bonus still applies.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please check the edit section of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Seyres Dec 24 '16 at 18:15
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Yes

As you note, the Wand of the War Mage says

...you gain a bonus to spell attack rolls...

so, presumably, you gain this bonus if you are casting a spell (as opposed to, say, activating an item which itself casts a spell).

Page DMG 141 has an Activating An Item section, Spells subsection, which reads

Some magic items allow the user to cast a spell from the item.

and goes on to list other ways in which you're effectively casting the spell, but not using your own spell slot. This category includes Staffs that even use your ability modifier. For comparison, take a look at Command Word items, which simply produce an effect without anyone/anything casting a spell per se.

Since the boilerplate text for a wand is

While holding it, you can expend 1 charge to cast the ______ spell from it.

I conclude that you are casting the spell (but the 'from it' clause means you aren't using your own slots). Since you're casting it, and the Wand of the War Mage applies to any spell you cast, I would say its bonus applies.


Finally, none of the above logic depends on what action type you used to cast the spell. You might use a normal action, bonus action, reaction to cast a spell directly. You may use some other method to cast a spell, such as via an item. You're still casting a spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Please check the edit section of the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Seyres Dec 24 '16 at 18:15
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The bonus does apply.

Firstly, as stated in Purple Monkey's answer, the item doesn't specify the origin of the spell attack roll as a qualification for the bonus. So, the bonus then applies to all spell attack rolls, regardless of the origin. The Wand also doesn't say that you need to take the "cast a spell" action to gain the benefit. So, we don't need to worry about the "use a magic item" scenario

But what if the spirit of the wand is that it only works on spells cast by the wielder?

Even in this case, the bonus still applies, because the language on all spells being cast from items is "you cast..." meaning that even when casting with an item, it is ultimately still the wielder that is casting the spell. This is the exact reasoning used in this answer to a similar question about using class abilities for spells cast through items.

Even sage advice suggests this is the proper stance to take

There are two relevant sage advice questions that help draw this conclusion. One about drawbacks from casting Wish from an item, and one about concentration on a spell cast from an item.

In regards to the question "Does casting Wish from a magic item (scroll, Luck Blade, Ring) have the same negative effects as the spell?" The answer was:

yes, if the item specifies that you are casting the spell and makes no other exceptions. 1

In regards to the question "If a magic item casts a concentration spell (e.g. bless - Necklace of Prayer Beads), does the PC have to concentrate on it?" the answer was:

Yes, unless the item says otherwise.

So, it's clear that unless the item description specifically states that the item rather than "you" are casting the spell, the spell is being cast by the wielder, not by the item. The item is supplying the enery for the spells, but it is the caster who is actually manipulating that energy into effect. Thus, the wielder should also be able to draw on the power of the Wand of the War Mage to get the relevant bonus since they are the source of the spell.


1.  This answer was supplied by Mike Mearls, who is typically not given as much authority as Jeremy Crawford. However, Crawford chimed in on that sage advice for extra clarification and did not correct Mike in any way, effectively agreeing with Mike's ruling.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This answer says otherwise: rpg.stackexchange.com/a/50094/23462 \$\endgroup\$ – Seyres Jan 9 '17 at 2:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Seyres Seems to me like JC is contradicting himself a bit. If the case really is that you aren't treated as the caster when it comes to magic items, then why would a ring of three wishes cause you to lose the ability to cast wish? \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Jan 9 '17 at 2:52

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