I die a lot because I don't trust my wands to be more helpful in clearing multiple monsters that surround me (magic traps and Rodney/summon nasties), and the useful ones are all beams and rays. I've recently learned that breaking a wand acts like a grenade instead of a gun. Also, you need to be resistant to the wand's effect. What I wonder is this, "If I break wand, does a +1 charge have the same effect as a +10 wand of the same type?" Physics would suggest that the energy stored would make the higher charge more powerful, but gameplay suggests that breaking is breaking, nothing more... Please clarify. Also, I know that +0 charge usually does nothing.

2 Answers 2


It depends on both number of charges and type of wand. The 3.4.3 spoiler on breaking wands has details; the short form is, most wands do from 1 to (charges * 4) damage, with some wands doing nothing, wands of cold or fire doing twice that, and lightning or death doing four times that. Wands also have their normal effects (burning spellbooks, freezing water, teleporting items/enemies, etc).

If you want to really get into the details, it happens in do_break_wand() in apply.c.


According to the source code, wands do the following damage when broken:

  • Wishing, probing, nothing, locking, enlightenment, opening, secret door detection: no effect
  • Death and lightning: 16*number of charges
  • Fire and cold: 8*number of charges
  • Magic missile: 4*number of charges
  • Striking: 1 to ((1d6+1)*number of charges)
  • Everything else: 1 to 4*number of charges

Note that wands of death, lightning, fire, cold, and magic missile have fixed damage levels for a given number of charges, so if you want to maximize your effectiveness, use one of those.

The damage type depends on the wand type, so normal resistances and effects apply (eg. undead aren't affected by breaking a wand of death, flammable objects burn if you break a wand of fire, and breaking a wand of light lights up the room).

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