[RPG] Are partially charged wands generally purchasable


In the D&D 3.5 DMG rules are given for the pricing of partially charged wands, which one may explicitly purchase during character creation or sell during play. So long as the wand's final adjusted price is under the magic item gp limit for a town, is one entitled to purchase them via the RAW without DM approval? There appears to be widespread agreement one cannot, here, but I don't understand why this would not be possible.

In particular, the PHB states:

All the items described in this chapter are assumed to be available to
PCs with the wherewithal to buy them. Many of these items are very
expensive and rare. You won’t find them on the rack at a store in a
town. But a character with the coin to buy an expensive item can
usually connect with a seller and get a desired item.
If you want to buy something not described in this chapter, the
general rule is that you can buy anything that costs as much as 3,000

Best Answer

For the purposes of this answer, I am assuming that the DM is running everything just as given in the book, even when they are just recommendations or suggestions and the rules explicitly acknowledge the possibility of exceptions.

The rules don’t really entitle you to anything

You are affirming the consequent, unfortunately. The rules state that if an item costs more than the town’s limit, you definitely won’t find it. The converse, that if it does not cost more, you definitely will find it, is not necessarily true.

I personally think they should...

Now, generally speaking, I think this is a problem and that the rules more-or-less should also guarantee that items within such limits are available. Many classes are utterly dependent on magic items, and not just on the general concept, but on getting certain specific magic items, to function on anything like a level-appropriate level. Failure to get them results in a character significantly less powerful than his or her level would otherwise indicate, and the exact degree to which his or her power has been reduced is rather difficult to judge. (Of course, this would matter a lot more if CR was at all reliable to begin with, which of course it is not; encounters were judgment calls anyway. But exacerbating that unreliability by moving away from the assumptions baked into the system only makes such judgment calls harder.)

...but would make partially-charged wands an exception to that anyway

But in the case of partially-charged wands, those are particularly problematic. A 1-charge wand costs 60% what a scroll of the same spell at the same caster level costs, but is more durable, more easily kept accessible, and easier to use (both for spellcasters and those making Use Magic Device checks). There is therefore absolutely no reason to ever have a scroll if you could get a 1-charge wand instead.

Furthermore, you cannot make partially-charged wands: new wands always have 50 charges. They only become partially-charged through using up charges. Therefore, no one can make a business crafting and selling partially-charged wands: the only place you could hope to find them is in a pawn shop. This gives a rather significant reason why you should not expect them to be regularly available.