When you picture a powerful wizard or sorcerer, you probably see them with a staff. From mangled branches of wood to ornate metal rods, there are a lot of really incredible staves in fantasy.
So it makes sense you’d want your mage to have one of these magical tools as well.
Today, we’re going to be talking about one of the most powerful staves in all of D&D: the Staff of the Magi.
What Is the Staff of the Magi 5e?
The staff of the magi is a legendary magic item that can be used to cast some incredibly powerful spells. Its user can deflect spells with it, absorbing the energy and creating charges that can be used to cast some very potent spells.
Be careful not to absorb too many charges though, or you might end up dealing with some very unfortunate consequences.
Staff of the Magi
Legendary Staff, Requires Attunement (by Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard)
This can be used as a quarterstaff with a +2 to attack and damage rolls. It also provides a +2 to spell attack rolls while you are holding it.
The staff has 50 charges and regains 4d6 + 2 at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 20, the staff regains 1d12 + 1 charges.
You have advantage on saving throws against spells. As a reaction, you may deflect a spell that targets only you.
When you do so, the staff gains charges equal to the spell’s level. If this would put the staff over 50 charges, the staff explodes (see Retributive Strike).
You can use an action to cast the following spells using your spellcasting ability.
As an action, you can break the staff in two, breaking it and creating a magical explosion that fills a 30-foot sphere. (This also happens if the staff goes over 50 charges.)
There is a 50% chance that you teleport to a different plane of existence, protecting yourself from the blast. Otherwise, you take force damage equal to 16 x the amount of charges in the staff.
Other creatures within the radius must make a DC 17 Dex check or take force damage based on their distance from the blast’s origin, as shown on the table below. On a successful safe, a creature only takes half damage.
This staff is just absolutely deadly. Hopefully, you’ll never be put in a situation where it explodes or you have to break it. Up until then though, you basically gain capabilities far beyond that of a 9th-level wizard.
It’s a +2 weapon, which is nice, and even gives you a bonus to your spell attack rolls along with advantage on saves against spells, but that barely even scratches the surface.
This staff really shines in the charges that it has available for use.
For all of the staff’s spells (except for conjure elemental), the cost in charges is the same as the level of spell slot you’d need to cast the spell regularly.
That means 50 charges is almost exactly equivalent to a whopping 50 levels worth of spell slots. For comparison, a level 20 wizard has only 20 levels worth of spell slots.
While you won’t be casting any insane 9th-level spells anytime soon, seven 7th-level fireballs is nothing to shake a stick at.
If that weren’t enough, this staff also has the ability to absorb spells that target only you. If you’re in battle with any sort of spellcaster, you’ll likely be picking up a lot of extra charges over the course of a single battle.
As an added bonus, this is one of the few magic items with charges that has the ability to regain said charges when it drops to 0.
We all know a critical success on a d20 roll is tough, but that doesn’t make it impossible.
Worst case scenario is that you wait until you can absorb another spell or until the next dawn when you get a fair amount of charges back anyway.
I must warn you though, the repercussions of overcharging this staff are beyond lethal.
If you don’t manage to teleport out of there and save yourself from the blast, you’ll be taking over 800 points of force damage. That’s enough to deplete the highest possible amount of player character hit points twice and then some.
So you know, try to avoid that. It should be pretty easy.
In most cases, using the staff’s spells will be enough incentive to keep its charges around the nice safe 40 area. Anything 41 and lower is going to leave you enough wiggle room to absorb even the most powerful spell in the game.
DM’s Corner: Legendary Items
As you can probably already tell, this item has some incredible power. Giving this to a character is like bumping them straight up to 25th level, which doesn’t exist for a good reason.
This staff will make your caster more of a menace then they’ve been at any point in your campaign, and you’ll have to adjust combats accordingly (after they’ve had a few encounters to feel like a god).
Naturally, this means that you shouldn’t dish out a legendary item like this lightly.
An item this powerful should only ever be reserved for fourth-tier play (17th-20th levels). Even then, this might feel a bit game-breaking for a while until you’ve figured out how to plan for it accordingly.
I highly suggest handing out this weapon when the time is right, but don’t beat yourself up if the next five or so encounters you run feel insignificant.
Give yourself a break, let your players have some fun, and learn as you go. After all, this game is supposed to be fun.
I’d also recommend including this as the prize for a whole quest line. This is the kind of item that is handed to you by a god, not the kind of item you find in a troll’s cave.
Staff of the Magi Spells
If this magic stick could just absorb 50 levels worth of spells, it would be worth it as a magic item, but as we’ve discussed, it can do so much more.
Let’s take a look at the spells this gives you access to and see just how powerful this really is.
Free To Cast
Light is already a cantrip, but if you didn’t have it on your list, you can consider it a fine addition to your roster. Alternatively, the next time you get the chance, you can replace it with another cantrip from your class’s spell list.
Extremely straightforward, this spell creates light. What would a staff be if you couldn’t use it to just lead the way?
This is another cantrip that you are either gaining access to or removing from your known spells.
Mage hand is nice to allow you to interact with things you’d otherwise be unable to reach, although like all spells, it does have its limitations.
Getting into the leveled spells that become indistinguishable from cantrips for you, detect magic is an awesome spell to get free access to. On a whim, you get 10 minutes of knowing where magical effects are coming from.
Protection from Evil and Good
Protecting a creature of your choice from almost half of the creature types is a huge benefit.
Unfortunately, this spell normally gets ignored at higher levels because it’s not worth it to burn a spell slot when you might need to switch your concentration to a more important spell.
Now you don’t have to worry about the cost analysis. Just cast this if you think it might help, and get rid of it if it isn’t doing much.
Being able to magically lock as many things as you want is an insane ability. Sure, someone might be able to dispel it or cast a knock spell to suspend your effects, but they could do that anyway when this cost a 2nd-level spell slot.
It should be noted that you can’t “double arcane lock” something.
You can only have one arcane lock acting on a door or other sealed object; otherwise you’d be able to set the DC to break the seal as high as you wanted. Unfortunately, that’s a little game-breaking.
Enlarge is one of those spells that just feels ridiculously powerful when you first get it.
Doubling or halving the size of an ally or foe, respectively, has a huge effect on the battlefield. Plus, there are so many other ways that this can be used that make for some really cool interactions.
When you’re in fourth-tier play though, this spell is pretty insignificant. Aside from using it to give advantage/disadvantage on strength saving throws, there really isn’t much sense in putting your concentration into this spell.
That being said, it’s now free to cast, so you can simply use it when you don’t have anything else you’d rather be concentrating on.
For just two spell slots, you can create a burning sphere that deals a pretty modest 2d6 damage to creatures in its way that fail their Dex save or half as much on a success.
This is a concentration spell, and you’ll be able to move it around as a bonus action on your turn, potentially ramming it into more targets.
This isn’t that impressive, but if you need a quick way to burn a couple charges, this works well.
Invisibility is a huge spell. Being able to turn your allies invisible can have so many uses in any part of the game, and you can now do it for just two charges.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to upcast it with the staff, which means you can’t target more than one ally. Still, this is a great spell to have on deck.
Now, due to the knocking sound this spell makes audible up to 300 feet away, you won’t be using this when you’re sneaking around.
However, if stealth is of no concern, this is a great way to unlock a door, even one under the effects of an arcane lock.
This is one of the coolest and grossest ways for a character to lay a trap.
It lays a decent size web that is held up by at least two supporting structures (walls, trees, statues, etc.) that restrains any creatures that fail a dexterity saving throw.
Breaking magical effects is another spell that has an almost infinite amount of uses. As with Invisibility though, this spell suffers from the inability to be upcast.
That means you’ll only be able to automatically end effects caused by spells of 3rd level or lower with three charges of your staff.
Wall of Fire
Creatures can easily pass through a wall of fire unlike a wall of force, but they’ll be taking some significant fire damage to do so.
This means that whether you’re using this offensively or defensively, you’ll be setting up a very useful spell for a bargain at only four charges.
At almost half the cost, this can potentially be more powerful than your fireball or lightning bolt.
While it will deal less damage to a single target, it will make difficult terrain until the end of your next turn. Potentially keeping your allies safe and giving any of them with ranged attacks an extra turn to tear up your enemies is huge.
Passwall is a really cool spell that can be used to make your way through walls or most barriers, even ones that are 20 feet thick. The ability to cast up to 10 of these makes some really unique scenarios possible.
If you were willing to burn up all of your charges, you could burrow 100 feet through a mountain or into the ground, whatever suits the strange scenario you find yourself in.
Of course, this spell only takes an action to cast, so you could also create a hole underneath some of your enemies, dropping them down 20 feet for some fall damage and removing them from the battle for an hour.
After that, just launch some of your fireballs into the hole, and call it a day.
Mage hand’s big brother is a pretty impressive spell with a variety of uses in and out of combat.
You can restrain your enemies, throw them off a cliff, submerge them in lava, or whatever your heart desires. This spell can get very exciting if you let your imagination run free.
This is perhaps one of the more powerful summoning spells out there. An elemental on your side can shift the tide of a battle, even if a single creature doesn’t do much to change the action economy.
You’d be better off using seven charges on either of the following spells, but if you fancy yourself a conjurer, you’ll really enjoy this spell.
Fireball almost needs no introduction at this point. It is an extremely powerful AOE damage dealing spell, and at 7th-level it’s going to be dealing 12d6 to anyone in range that fails their saving throw.
Just try not to burn a whole town down with the seven iterations of this you can cast.
Lightning bolt is almost the same spell as fireball, except it covers a much different range. Instead of a 20-foot sphere, this spell deals damage to creatures in a 100-foot line.
Put yourself in the right position, and you’re dealing some serious damage.
Admittedly, this spell is a lot harder to get as much damage out of, but it’s also a lot safer for any of your allies.
While all of the other spells you can cast with this staff are incredibly useful in day to day life as an adventurer, plane shift will be used in rare circumstances. That doesn’t make it any less powerful though.
This spell allows you and up to eight other creatures to link hands and teleport to another plane of existence.
This is a quick way to make your DM cut a session short or do some serious improvisation. In all seriousness though, virtually unlimited access to other planes of existence is world-changing – just ask an MTG player.
All in all, we’ve got a lot of really impressive spells.
There is a lot of utility on that list, so don’t feel like you’re forced to just constantly launch balls of fire onto your enemy. After all, archmages don’t get to where they’re at just by burning down cities. Well, most of them at least.
Who Should Wield the Staff of the Magi?
This magic item can only be attuned by wizards, sorcerers, and warlocks. Any of these classes is going to be a great candidate to wield all of this power.
Still, if you had all three of these characters in your party, who would be the most deserving?
Realistically, a warlock can use the extra “spell slots” the most. While they won’t be able to use this to cast their warlock spells, this is a great way for them to feel like full casters in the more traditional sense.
Also, while wizards have access to every spell on this list and sorcerers can learn about half of them, warlocks gain access to very few of these spells.
In fact, most of these spells are only available to specific warlock subclasses.
Sorcerers are the next best candidate as they can also use some help in the casting department from time to time.
Mainly, this access to an insane amount of spells means that a sorcerer can focus on using their sorcery points for metamagic instead of spending half an hour doing math to create the amount of spell slots they need.
Lastly, if a wizard is the only caster of these three in your party, they are very lucky. A wizard needs no help to be an absolutely terrifying caster.
Putting this in their hands will have a similar effect to Gandalf’s transition from “the Grey” to “the White.”
I won’t go as far as to say that you’ll rival gods, but I won’t say that deicide isn’t a possibility.
What are you waiting for? You have a lot of charges to burn through. Get out there, and take your rightful place as Archmage of whatever plane you happen to be on.
As always, happy adventuring.